Tuesday, April 15


...as soon as i get a digital camera (it's been nagging at me for some time now), i will be able to spiff up these posts with some fine images. Until then, you'll have to take my word for it that this weekend i observed an immaculate "8" (no, it was not infinity instead), in the guise of a rubber band lying innocently in the street. A day later, i was astonished to find a "9", in the form of a twisted up/curled up piece of paper, lying a few blocks away.
Amazing the things you'll see on a bike ride, when you're paying attention to the road, and not necessarily in the way that you should be...

Friday, April 11

friends, and "friends"

i was that girl.
the one who everyone made fun of.
when i was little, i was always off playing by myself, looking at bugs; daydreaming. Around this time, my friends were:
~Molly, probably my first (and still one of my best, in memory) friend; her mother ran a daycare, which i was placed in for awhile. Molly and i were the same age, and inseparable. We grew up together and worked at her mom's daycare, which was very fun. We had lemonade stands every summer, supplemented with homemade cookies, in front of the Berkeley Bowl until we got "too old" for it. Climbing on roofs and finding as many snails as we could in her yard were two of our favorite pastimes. When we got older, we would ride bikes around town and spend our allowance on Mexican food (usually flautas). This was our first big taste of what it was like to be "grown-up". Her mom and stepdad (who annoyingly called Molly "Girl" 99% of the time,) took me camping many times, and even to Death Valley once, which is still one of my favorite memories. Later the neighborhood was shocked when it was revealed that her stepdad was actually an escaped member of the I.R.A., in hiding here in the States. Crazy!
~Jody, a sweet, sweet lad; also technically my first boyfriend. ;) His is another (amazing) story for another day. Our friendship ended way too soon.
~Dara, a super-blond waif who didn't hold your hand so much as she just let hers lay in yours, limply. You could tickle her merely by wiggling your fingers in her general direction. She was extremely gentle and sensitive. Had a bratty little sister named Bridget. Last i heard she had beat thyroid cancer and was married with a kid.
~Colleen, a very brief friend of mine whose parents spoiled her rotten, if memory serves. She had a doll collection, the kind with lots of curls and frilly dresses and tiny polished shoes. She also took ballet classes, which i attended one of and was shocked at the snottiness of the girls there. She had beautiful long red wavy hair, though.

Eventually i got a boy's haircut (super-short, with a tail!) and only wore overalls, which earned me the loving title of "Muskrat!" by the local children. Often i would be asked (usually on a dare), "Are you a boy or a girl?" ::snicker, run away:: This was around the time that i played with dirt a lot and frequently shimmied up trees, taking solace in the non-judgmental branches and pinecones. Didn't have a whole lot of friends around this time, hmm..
~Alexandria, a sassy young girl who had a much older sister and brother, a dad rarely seen, and a mean (alcoholic?) mom. She lived in a huge, picture-perfect house with rose bushes in the front yard and even a white picket fence. Sometimes i would pretend like i actually lived there, instead of the loud, tiny, mold-infested dank apartment around the corner. We played with Play-Doh a lot, also Strawberry Shortcake & Rainbow Brite dolls. She and i were madly in love with the movie La Bamba, and knew every Richie Valens song by heart. I had a crush on her older brother, Owen, who used to constantly whack me on the leg with the end of a wet towel. Around this time (that would be the '80s), many wonderful things were discovered, such as: Slip 'N Slide, Atari, and Lite Brite. Also, this is when i Got Caught Shoplifting. We dressed up one afternoon and headed down to the drugstore, specifically the candy aisle. We filled our giant boots, cuffed pant legs, and fake purses with Twix, Rolos, Skittles, Snickers, Milky Ways, Abba Zabbas- you name it. Then we craftily headed up to the checkout counter with one Caramello apiece, to buy (so smart!!). We paid the .50 cents each, then headed out the doors to victory. Twenty feet out, with the rush of what we had just done really starting to buzz in our heads, from behind us a voice came, boomingly: "Your momma let you buy that much candy?"
It was the security guard.
We really should have just made a run for it, but i think deep down we really were good kids, and scared. I remember one of us saying, "Yeeeaaahhh..?", all unsure and warbly, and the security guard, clearly not buying it, just holding out his arm and saying, "okay, come on- let's go." He was trying to sound comforting, but i think we both started bawling right away upon re-entry. He marched us to the office at the back of the store, right back down the candy aisle, where i wailed: "I'll put it baaaaaaaack?" but it was too late. We were criminals. They actually took mug shots of us, with our respective piles of pilfered sweets sitting on a tray in our laps, while our parents were called. Alexandria and i were forbidden to see each other ever again, and i was grounded for 2 weeks. Even though we did see each other again, our friendship sort of fizzled away, especially since she started getting somewhat popular and i was still a chubby bookworm who ate frosting out of the can when upset. Last i heard, Alexandria had joined the Peace Corps, or something similar, and had done some work with children down in South America. Good for her.

So, when i was about eleven, my mom left my dad. They had been separated for a few years, but this was it. My mom woke us up in the middle of the night, put us in the car wrapped in blankets, and drove us to our new home in a neighboring city, Alameda. Enter the worst few years of my life. I think my first friend was..
~Wana Chiu. Yes, i still remember her last name. For some reason it seems necessary when i think of her? Anyway, she was a small, quiet girl with long straight black hair and a mumbling way of speaking. We actually didn't talk very much. Sometimes we would go to her house, where there were always massive amount of Peeps, for some reason, which we ate constantly. Often we would just walk to the park in silence along the sidewalk, and swing for hours, never saying more than ten words to each other. Nonetheless, we were good friends in that neither of us really had anyone else. One day we were sitting against a wall in the schoolyard to eat lunch, along with many others, when some boys decided that it would be funny to torment us by throwing a basketball at the wall, hard, right next to our heads. I think we might have both been crying a little during this. Nobody stopped them, and finally the worst happened. One of the throws hit Wana square in the face, and she dropped her sandwich and cried out, as blood began to gush from her nose. The boys scattered. I ran her to the nurse's office, and she stayed home from school the next day. I can't even remember if i told, but i do remember being taunted by those boys for months after that. Either i didn't tell, and they called me a coward, or i did, and they were punishing me for getting them in trouble. Either way, 4th grade was no fucking picnic. I didn't see Wana very much after that.
~Nikki. Right around that time, my newly-divorced mom was sort of trying to get back out into the social scene (not to be confused with the Man Market). A woman she met had a daughter around my age, but who went to a different school. I remember she wore a uniform, and was very chubby, possibly more than i was. We were basically forced to hang out together when our moms would meet up. It was okay, but we never really had a whole lot in common. I remember being annoyed by Nikki a lot, but in retrospect i think it had a lot to do with the fact that she was an only child being raised by a single working mother, and likely needed friendship waaayy more than i did... Once we all went swimming at a local pool, where i rudely ignored her and swam out into the deep end (she couldn't swim yet, and was always in the shallow area, with arm puffs). My brother swam over to me with a message: "Nikki wants to talk to you", which i responded to by taking a breath and immersing myself completely under the water. i watched his legs and arms treading jerkily in the blue for as long as i could hold my breath, then came back up to the same query, repeated with urgency: "Nikki wants to talk to you!". i went under again, over and over and over, ignoring both her and her message through my brother. i think it may have been the meanest thing i've ever done, and sometimes i still wish i could contact her and apologize.
~Lydia and Faith. i lump these two girls together for a reason. They are the same girl, only with different appearances.
i can't remember which one i met first, but it doesn't really matter. Something trivial was shared in common, perhaps a fleeting interest in the New Kids on the Block, who knows, but suddenly i found that i was friends with-gasp- someone popular! And now i remember, actually. It was Lydia. She had long, rocker-ish hair, wore blue eyeliner, and had giant boobs. This was weird for an early 12-year-old, but hey-it happens! Her family lived in a bad neighborhood in East Oakland, where i saw 3 separate cats get hit by cars on her street. Her parents were some serious Harley Rock 'N Rollers from decades past, and they were pretty burned out. But also awesomely fun. Lydia and i would actually play with Barbies, of all things, in her garage with her little brother Wade. Theirs was another family i wished would adopt me, but it never happened. I guess they went to church regularly, and one Saturday night i finally was allowed to sleep over, but only on the condition that i attend Sunday School with Lydia the next morning. She really wanted me to, even though i don't think i had ever been in a church up to that point, and was scared shitless. The next morning was absolutely awful. was forced into one of Lydia's hideous, chestly-ample Sunday dresses (i was much smaller now; her mom had even nicknamed me "Feather"), and we drove to the church, where we sat at a table with a bunch of items in front of us, instructed by the headmistress to write down how each of these items related to Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Um, whaa?
I was totally lost, and of course felt guilty and embarrassed and ashamed for not knowing the answers while everyone else around dutifully scribbled down the answers. A piece of wood, a chalice, a crucifix, some other stuff i can't remember. Lydia didn't even help me cheat! tsk.
Soon after this, there was a new girl at our school: Faith. Faith changed everything; she was a bad girl at heart, under her plaid skirts and brown ponytail. She and Lydia were instant friends, of course, both rebels without a cause. "We" played a lot of tether-ball in those days, but as the third wheel i was often merely there as a scorekeeper. These two vixens became closer and closer, and thus begand competing with each other more and more, the way girls that age will often do. This evolved into a game of pretending to be nice to me and asking me to hang out with them, in order to make the other one jealous. It took me way too long to figure this out. By the time it dawned on me that our friendships were completely hollow and had nothing to do with me whatsoever, 5th grade was over, which meant that it was time to go to a different school. i never saw those two again.

I've never really been huge on friends- always tended to hang out more by myself, which is fine, actually. These days i have basically one, and she lives 448.568 miles away from me, front door to front door. In high school i hung out with quite the cast of characters, but then didn't we all? I suppose that's another (boring) story for another time.

Saturday, April 5

i call bullshit.

You know what i hate? Advertising.
i hate ads that insult my intelligence. i hate dumbed-down language and i hate how there are ten million prescription drug ads everywhere these days. i hate commercials that yell at me. You know what? If you have to resort to screaming in order to hawk your product/program/New Wonderful Invention, it's probably not that important, which is why you felt you needed the gratuitous volume. Also, i hate ads that tell me, directly, to do something: "You have thousands of pores on your face. Make them look smaller."
...No! Don't tell me what to do! Are we children? Do we need these unattached voices telling us how they think we should be living our lives? Do we need to have 50 choices when presented with the relatively simple task of purchasing a toothbrush?

But the worst thing of all, in a way: the celebrity sell-outs. In high school i started to notice this phenomenon, maybe because that's when you're really trying to suss yourself out, and you project yourself onto someone else; an ideal, an idol. Like having a dress you made simply by looking at a mannequin, and it never quite fits when you actually put it on. But you admire them, anyway, for the inspiration they gave.
So when these people, these people that you admire for their singing skills/acting talent/physical beauty/uniqueness in a craft, begin showing up and speaking force-fed lines about products and services that you feel you are way ahead of, it's a huge let-down. I'm talking to you, Kate Winslet, Robert fucking DeNiro. What are you people doing? Don't advocate credit card use! People in this country are ridiculously in debt as it is! And Kate, well- you're almost worse, because it's the young girls that look up to you, isn't it. People who have no conception of credit, let alone budgets or interest rates or bounced checks or collections offices.

Nat knows all about how i feel with regards to this issue, and his answer has always been, "but they are actors. They pretend as a career; they are acting in these commercials as well. What's the difference?" and the difference is: In a film, they are sort of asking you to suspend belief. You know it's surface, shallow, and fake, in a way (unless of course, they achieve the rare feat of truly losing themselves in their character, in which case- huzzah!). But when that same hollowness comes across when they are portraying themselves, that's when the truth prickles. They are doing it for money, people. Nothing more. And one could argue that they are simply acting for money, as well- it is their job. It is how they make a living. But there is absolutely no meaning or culture or history or stimulation in standing in as a prop for a campaign to sell deodorant, or credit cards, or soft drinks, or any of the other myriad useless bric-a-brac with which we are constantly being bombarded in order to live what we are told is a truly "fulfilling" life. So to the celebrities, i say:

Stop being a part of the demand. Without Demand, there would no more goddamn Supply, don't you get that?!?

Thank you.

p.s.) Obviously, i have no problem with celebrity being used for good, such as soliciting for charities and the like. It's still mildly depressing, that it has to come to that level, but at least it is easier to believe that it is something that they actually care about, not to mention that it may even do the world some good, somehow.

Thursday, April 3

(It's all) Relative.

At the risk of having everyone think terrible things about me (go ahead, you know you want to! and you'll think whatever you want anyway), i feel there are some things i need to get off my chest.


Just to get everybody up to speed:

i am 28 years old, living in san diego with my boyfriend of 8 years, who is 32 and a philosophy grad student at UCSD (which is why we live in this horrendous city). We moved down here in September of 2006 from Berkeley, which i miss almost every minute of every day. My aunt graciously offered to let us stay in her condo, rent-free, until i found a job.
Well- that's the kicker.

You see, i haven't found one yet.

Yes, i've had a couple of interviews, but one was at a place where the lady asked me to "tone down" my eye make-up, after basically already hiring me, so i thought i was in, which made me really ticked off! Especially since we had got along really really well, and i thought i had already toned it down, for the job interviews, ya know? i guess i just wasn't ready to do that for someone.
Next was a flower shop in La Jolla (tres chi-chi area of San Diego, ugh) where they also basically hired me, except it became clear that instead of actually helping customers, (helping them to choose flowers, arranging/wrapping said flowers, and sending them on their way), i was to be one of many in-store positions, such as a "greeter" or a "cashier" or a blah blah blah- you get the point. i don't even think i would have been handling any of the flowers directly; instead i'd be parading customers around the store and trying to upsell $200 candles and dried orchids to them. No thanks. Don't want to be a cog in that particular uptight, perfumed machine.
Lastly, there was the small and crappy flower shop here in Pacific Beach. i was training there, and everything was going swimmingly, until i was informed that my shifts would all be me working by myself, "is that all right?" ummmm, no, actually! It's not! Having been held up once at the flower shop i worked at in Oakland (which was also primarily an out-door shop), i'm not trying to count money at the end of the day right on the sidewalk, in plain view of people, at night, by myself.
And would you believe what the woman said to me? "aww, that's a shame, heather.. we really wanted you to work here. but that's all right, i mean now, at least, you know what your limitations are."

"limitations"?! Oh, i'm sorry- looking out for my own fucking safety has become a failing of mine, somehow?

So would you believe i ended up working for her anyway? Yep. Mother's Day of last year, and Valentine's Day of this year. She's asked me to come back and help for Mother's Day again, and i'll probably say yes. This is mostly due to the conversation i had on the phone earlier today with my aunt, which i'll try and condense for you.
(Things you should know about my aunt: she is extremely passive-aggressive, projects things on to me that she wants to believe are true, and in general simply does not understand how things work in the real world.)

A few cases in point: when we moved down here, after a twelve-hour U-Haul drive (which she was kind enough to accompany us on, in her corvette- because there were "still a few of Grandma's things left in the condo" to deal with), we opened the door to find...
.....A SHITLOAD OF STUFF. Basically, everything- everything my grandma had ever owned. Was still. Here. My aunt had dealt with none of it. (The story goes like this: my grandmother [my aunt's mother], who my siblings and i didn't know hardly at all, had passed away here about 7 or 8 years ago. Then, a few years later, the unit upstairs from here flooded horribly, and the entire floor [our ceiling] caved in, ruining this space completely. It had to be totally rebuilt; recarpeted, repainted, furniture/fixtures had been ruined and thrown away, etc. etc. Now supposedly all the work was "done" by the insurance company, but that became the biggest joke i've ever heard.)
Now, i don't want to seem insensitive. If you knew me, you would know that my biggest fault is probably being way TOO sensitive (inherent sarcasm aside)... and i haven't lost a parent, so i honestly don't know how hard that can be. i can only imagine. But frankly, please don't tell someone that they can move into a space, if that space is simply NOT LIVABLE.
She had mentioned to me that there were a few things left in the condo to take care of, "little things", so of course i was like, "no problem!"; just so happy to have somewhere to live. But nothing could have prepared me for what was behind that front door.

An apartment that hadn't been aired out in years. A whole lifetime of one woman's memories, that her daughter had to sit and go through, box by fucking box. At the precise time when no one had any time for it. Were we allowed to just skim through a box, see that it is filled with dishes, close the box, and simply write "dishes" on the side? NO. We had to unwrap almost every item of dishware, which my aunt would then ask me if i wanted, even after i practically screamed at her that no, i did not want anything. She also believed, incredibly, that the insurance men would fly right over at her whim, and take everything she couldn't (or didn't want to) deal with, and ferry it to the appropriate building- storage or Goodwill. And she believed that they would do all of this at no charge.
...Do you see what i meant about "the real world"? She lives in a total fantasy land.

And i haven't even got to the best parts yet.
There were no light fixtures. No phone jacks. The bathroom door didn't close. The bathroom sink was in the bedoom. The oven was pulled out of its place in the kitchen, and also residing in the kitchen was a huge fucking grandfather clock. Apparently they workers had moved it in there (and broken it along the way, much to our sadness). But even more sad was the fact that we had to move it back out.
Now i don't know if any of you has ever had to move a grandfather clock, but those fuckers are a lot more unwieldy and heavy than you think. It took us more than half an hour to move it ten feet away, a feat not easily helped by the fact that it stood only about one inch from the ceiling, which made it nearly impossible to tilt (even though we shouldn't have tilted it, in the end, but my sister fairly demanded that we do [everything is right when done her way- i'm sure you have a family member like this]).
Whew! is this getting fun yet?
Right. Also, everything was wrapped in plastic and stuck in the middle of the rooms, leaving zero floor space for us to even think of beginning to move OUR ENTIRE U-HAUL OF STUFF in... the screen door to the "patio" was broken, and all of the paint cans, tarps, dust, broken pieces of wood, and generally anything broken or trash from the job supposedly "finished" months and months before was out there for us to clean up.
Somewhere along the way i finally lost my shit, and asked my aunt why she thought it was okay to tell us that we could move in here when obviously it wasn't ready for people to live in yet, and my sister and my aunt teamed up on me and called me "spoiled" and a "princess", which i still maintain is total bullshit. Anyone else in my place would have behaved even worse, let me fucking assure you. Although to be honest, yeah- i wasn't a total angel. There! i said it.

As you can imagine, i just wanted all the stuff out. All of it. There is a time and a place to go through those things, but now was clearly not it... throw it in storage, go through it later. But no. Had to be done right now. My aunt plastered a forced, tight smile on her face throughout the whole thing and continued to wave things like muu-muus (i'm 5'2" and 105 lbs) and wine glasses (i hate wine) in my face and chirping, "heather? any interest?". i nearly slapped her in the face, i'm not kidding. i didn't care "how hard this [was] for her" (my sister hissed this at me through her teeth, in the other room). It was also pretty goddamned hard for me! And you know what? i've spent my whole life as a fucking doormat, always doing what everyone else wants and anticipating everyone else's needs before my own. But this was the last straw for me. i couldn't take it anymore. i was traumatized from leaving the pace where i grew up and had lived, and loved, my whole life (and, quite possibly, become unhealthily attached to), and moving to a city which i hated, to further my boyfriend's career (as good a reason as any, and no one forced me to move, but a little sympathy would have been nice?). Also, i think it was 93 degrees out the next day, when we had to actually move all of our things upstairs. A "freak heat-wave", they called it.


So hm. Not anyone's fault, really, i guess you could say? Just bad timing and two different people converging on the same spaces with two entirely different purposes? i was there to move in, and my aunt was there to finally come to terms with her mother's death and go through every single item she had ever owned and wax nostalgic. Talk about your family drama. Every neighbor in the place probably heard us screaming at each other, a fact which embarrasses me to this very day. My sister later sort of agreed that my aunt had probably used us moving down to San Diego to further her own agenda; that is, go through the condo and sort stuff out- breathe new life into the place, as it were. But i still think that was inappropriate. Sue me.
Please don't get me wrong- i was (and still am) extremely grateful for all of the help i received; my aunt letting us stay here, my sister for driving the U-Haul, etc... i just really wish it hadn't gone down that way. Things have never been the same between me and my aunt since, which i am actually really unhappy about.

Long story short, a lot of that stuff was driven away for charity, by a friend of my aunt's who lives down here and had a truck (bless that man- he helped us out soooooo much that day), a few heavier items (the grandfather clock, a couple of dressers, the bed) stayed here since nat and i didn't have a lot of actual furniture, some memorable items (jewelry, photos, papers, clothing/linens) went back up to the Bay Area with my sister and my aunt the next night, and the few remaining miscellany (paintings, some small chairs) went into a corner, which i had to then have put into storage. We don't have a car or drive, though, so we had to call Big Box, load it up ourselves (carefully, carefully, lest anything get ruined even a tad, and my aunt hold that against me for the rest of our lives too), and have Big Box come back and take it away the next day. Pretty dang convenient, actually! So i called my aunt with the rental info; how much it was going to cost ($75 a month- cheap, if you're in the know), when payments are due, (the first of the month) and where to mail the checks to, etc. etc.
So on and off over the past year and a half or so, the stuff in storage will come up. Sometimes she would mention in passing, "oh, i got a late notice from Big Box, do you know why that is?" and i will say, "well, it's the fifth- did you pay them yet this month?", while biting the inside of my cheek to keep the sarcasm from gushing out and choking her over the phone. She will bring up the fact that it is hard for her to pay $75 a month for things that are in storage, especially when half of the stuff in there belongs to me and nat, and can we please just take everything out?


Nothing of mine is in there. not one single thing. She honestly thinks that i would let her pay money to keep my stuff in storage? That's fucking insane! i don't want her paying for my shit! i already owe her so much for rent, as it is! What he hell is the matter with that woman?? Why does she think i would do that- i wouldn't DO THAT!! She brought it up again on the phone today, and i finally got a little hard on her about it. "You know, i've told you at least five times, D____, none of that stuff is mine. It is all Grandma Charlie's. i have no idea what you want to do with it, but it was your idea to put it in storage, because you didn't want to take it home or give it to Goodwill." and she was simply amazed. "Oh, dear! where did i get that idea from, then?" and i could just picture the fake little look of spaciness on her face; head cocked, hand on hip.

Incorrigible, i tell you! incorrigible!!
And i do honestly believe that she knows what she is doing.
She knows.

Then she brought up rent. As she has been so lax on me about paying rent (by which i mean never once mentioning to me that she needed the money), i haven't exactly been- how shall we say- motivated? to find work. Granted, this is a failing of mine.i suppose i was taking advantage of the situation, because ever since we moved down here, i have become an anxious sociophobe, almost never leaving the house. i think some of this is because i kept thinking that living here would get better, but it just hasn't. We need to move to a different area, because there are no places here where i can stand to work. And you know what? i don't care that i have pride about where i will and will not work. For instance, i will not work at Cold Stone Creamery. i will also not work at Subway, Starbuck's, or pretty much any store in a goddamn strip mall. If it really came down to it, of course i would, but if i still have the choice, it's gotta be somewhere i can handle.
So anyway, we really need to move. Somewhere where there is more than ONE BOOKSTORE (no, i'm not kidding). Away from the beach, which we only ever visit once a month for sunsets anyway, and away from the damn drunk college kids who have taken over P.B. with their bikinis, fake tans, high heels, sideways baseball hats, and giant clouds of cologne.

Gotta find a job soon. It will get me out of the damn house, for one, and i will finally be able to send my aunt some money for all the grief i have caused her. She owns (and rents) lots of other real estate, so i had no idea she needed to rent so badly. i do not feel good about not paying rent all this time :/ ugh.

..Heeeyyy, remember when i said "long story short" all that time ago? Yeah, sorry about that. This time i'll shut up for real. Please excuse the outrageously long blog post- it's something i'm having a really difficult time changing about myself. Just can't seem to shut the brain off. i started this blog because i was not in a good place, and i needed something- anything- to act as an outlet for all the swirling mumbo-jumbo detritus building up inside of me. However, it's turned into a new way to hate something about myself- namely, my lack of literary skills, my tendency to run at the mouth, and not having anything remotely interesting to say most of the time. It's turned into more of a diary, really, and who the hell wants to read that? i guess i'm not egotistical enough to write a blog and feel like people actually want to read it. But nobody likes a self-loather, so it's time to nip that little annoying habit in the bud! And i promise, i will work on the long posts. i know they are no bueno. It will be hard, but i will try. For you ;)

next time: songs that need to be un-recorded.