Thursday, April 30, 2009

Les questions of life. And firemen

After that last post, I almost regret posting again because now the last one will move further down the page. So, to get over that I'm including extra firemen photos...
OK, now on to other things...
1. What are your current obsessions? Um...firemen....And dancing, 80's music, my latest art project.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? My comfy loungewear...with sexy undies!

3. Last dream you had? Don't want to say because it was kind of naughty. No firemen were involved unfortunately (darn!) but someone not at all my type, someone kind of sleazy looking and not at all attractive. Afraid to find out what that means.

4. Last thing you bought? Groceries.

5. What are you listening to? Barack Obama's First 100 days speech.

6. If you were a god/goddess who would you be? Cupid, I'd love to be able to cause people to fall in love.

7. Favourite holiday spots? Any place new, Paris, NYC, Walt Disney World, my sister's house to spend time with my 5 nieces and nephews.

8. Reading right now? Knock em Dead, the ultimate job search guide. My dad gave it to me and a few years ago I might have been offended by the gift. This time I thought, that was nice, I could use some help come to think of it.

9. Four words to describe yourself. Intuitive, thoughtful, emotional, creative.

10. Guilty pleasure?....
11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? P. G. Wodehouse, Jerome K. Jerome, Terry Pratchett, Will Farrel sometimes, Jim Gaffigan, Frasier and I Love Lucy reruns, my future husband (whoever he is).

12. Favourite spring thing to do? Hiking, lounging around in cafes, wearing pretty dresses while running errands...

13. Planning to travel to next? Maybe to my sister's before she moves to Fiji, then Paris at the end of the year.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately? Gourmet hot chocolate I made with Schoggi swiss chocolate, chocolate ice cream from my freezer, chocolate flan L. treated me to, a burger, shake and fries from In & Out Burger.

15. When did you last get tipsy? A few days ago when I couldn't sleep and I downed a sake cup full of red wine.

16. Favorite ever film? Toss up between Amelie, Howl's Moving Castle, A Christmas Story, Pride and Prejudice, Stranger Than Fiction.

17. Care to share some wisdom? Maybe to enjoy yourself no matter your circumstances, life goes by so fast. And to always listen to your inner compass, it'll never steer you wrong.

18. Song you can't get out of your head? Bang a Gong by T. Rex....hmmm, please don't analyze that answer.

19. Things you are looking forward to? Paris, Fiji, going out dancing Saturday night.

20. If money were no object, where would you choose to live? I'd have apartments in Paris and New York and a cottage by the sea, either here in California or Italy.

OK, one more, one more! One last thing, does anyone know any firemen they'd like to introduce me to?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Firemen for sale

At $20 a ticket, I wasn't sure at first if the firefighter auction at the Red Devil Lounge would be worth the expense. But it did give me a socially sanctioned excuse to ogle these guys... And I must say there are some amazingly beautiful men out there making sure the world around us doesn't burn to the ground. And how enormously satisfying it was to see them strutting, posing and selling themselves to the highest bidder. It makes me wonder how a lawyer's auction, or an animator's or a lowly cubicle worker's auction would have gone? Would we women have whooped it up for the sexy office guy? Sure. Maybe. Men, I think, are amazing creatures in general. But there is something about a firefighter. It's not just the uniform. With policemen and soldiers, for example, there is the underlying association of violence, the ability to kill if needed. But a fireman embodies strength and responsibility without that darker aspect. He rescues children and kittens and can carry heavy equipment on his back for hours without getting tired. He looks like this without his shirt on...And if he's sweet faced, likes to have fun and doesn't take himself too seriously... then he's basically the perfect guy.
Oh man...if only I'd had a spare three, seven hundred dollars. My fabulous friend L. didn't let that stop her. Getting her groove on, she caught the attention of a certain firefighter there to cheer his buddies on stage. They were texting the next day. I on the other hand got into a catfight by the bathroom. Looking for the end of the line, I asked this woman if she was waiting. Instead of answering the question she brought her face within an inch of mine and yelled, "F--- you!" Well...maybe it was the role reversal thing getting to me. Or maybe I just don't like a--holes of either gender. But I shot back at her in kind, wanting very much to give her a good knock on the head while I was at it. But I'm not a violent person. So instead I took the gum I'd been chewing the last hour or so out of my mouth and stuck it in her purse when she wasn't looking. So there!

Okay, after that I wonder who will read on about my personal life. There is the party I went to the next day which made me reconsider certain things, then the psychic readings I got on Sunday which made me reconsider what to put my faith in. A lot has happened lately so....oh hell, lets scroll back up to the firemen photos shall we?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fiji on the horizon

(photo from

It's official, my sister said today. Her husband, who works for the US state department, is being sent to Fiji (instead of Nepal which would have been cool too) for three years. And as she told me this I could not help but feel a twinge of separation anxiety. Maryland to California and back again, no big deal. I can go back and forth twice, sometimes three times a year. But Fiji...

Yes, but it's Fiji!!!!! Treehouse resorts, hours away from New Zealand, biggest city in the colonial south pacific, scuba diving... And though it may mean I see my sister and her family only once a year, I get to go to Fiji! I get to go to Fiji! Hurray, huzzah, hippie-aye-yeah, hurray!

On another note, L. and I went to El Rio last night for swing goth... (swing goth instructor Brian Gardner and student, flickr)

Yes, swing goth, or 'partner dancing with a darker twinge' according to the flyer. One of the strangest dance experiences I've ever had. Imagine partner dancing, 40's style, to Nirvana and Billy Idol. Weird, oh boy was it, but fun. And we met some very nice people there. People who asked for numbers...

It reminded me of Jane Austen, specifically the Netherfield ball. Would I rather dance with Mr Collins, Mr Bingley or Mr Darcy? For better or worse, a man's ability to lead during a dance does tell a woman a lot about him. Perhaps all she needs to know. For instance, if you make a mistake while he is in the lead - I repeat, he is in the lead - does he say something insensitive and stupid like, why did you forget...? A Mr Collins for sure. Or is he so experienced that even though you've never done this dance before he enables you to have fun while you're learning? Not quite a Mr Darcy (older, more sociable) but somewhere within the same range. And even if he is not so good a lead because he is learning the dance himself, is he so enthusiastic and polite that it's almost endearing? A Mr Bingley...almost. And unfortunately, I'm not a Bingley kind of gal.

Conversely, in Northanger Abbey, Henry Tilney compares dancing to marriage saying it's the duty of each partner to attend only to the other at least during the duration of the dance. I didn't always do that, but found my attention wandering now and again to other possible partners settling on no one in particular. So it's safe to say I'm not Catherine Morland. I'd rather be Elizabeth, anyway.

I'll end with a photo from El Rio, an amazing gypsy punk band I unsuccessfully tried to identify. They were so good, wish you could have heard them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weddings and how they make one feel/reflect

Les voila, mes chaussures... Not my ideal choice, a bit too casual for a wedding maybe, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to dance in shoes that high. But I did like the four inchness of them and the way they disappeared on my feat so that my cute little strapless remained the main focus of my ensemble. And, thank goodness, I was indeed able to dance in them.

My dress (yes, that's teeny weenie me in four inch heels), I'm the one not dressed as a bride...

But I confess I didn't give as much thought to the wedding of my best childhood friend as I should have. I missed her bridal shower. I didn't start my dress and shoe search until days before the wedding. I even forgot to RSVP. The thing is, though we live only miles apart, we inhabit different circles. So while she was preparing for her wedding and living in the same place and going to the same job she's had for years and years I was going wherever the wind blew me, preparing for art exhibits, helping my sister with her 5 kids because her husband was in Afghanistan, looking for somewhere to take root.

So, watching she and her father walk down the aisle, I was unprepared for the intense emotions I began to feel and the tears I began to discreetly shed. What's this? Am I crying? Why am I crying? Why would I cry now, I wondered, when I didn't cry at my sister's wedding. Or at any of the weddings of my innumerable cousins. Moreover, she's been living with her new husband some five years now. What's the big deal? This is just a formality, a symbolic gesture.

Yes, but symbolic gestures are a big deal. They are potent, jam packed little concentrations of meaning. And even if one hasn't consciously considered it, some part of us has been busily calculating a specific meaning all our own.

Thus, watching my best childhood friend getting married, I began to cry (discreetly) and didn't stop crying until I got home late that night because:

1. I'm a sucker for romantic movies and Jane Austen novels and, through our many hours long conversations when she first started dating her husband to be, I witnessed her falling in love with this seemingly too good to be true person, this Darcy mixed in with Colonel Brandon, willing and hoping alongside her that this romance would endure and flourish especially after the messy break up she'd recently experienced. And here at long, long last was the happy conclusion to their courtship story, proof that true love and fairy tales do come true, a garden wedding in the gorgeous, green California hills, a conclusion so worth waiting for I cried.

2. We met when we were little kids, when I was best friends with someone else at the time, someone who refused to make friends with the new girl because no one else, but me, would either. And for a few strange weeks I found myself being fought over by two little girls, one popular, the other unfairly excluded and teased, until I chose the right one. The one who knew how to make a sad child laugh and how to bring a shy girl out of herself by tempting her into childish adventures. One who would share her lunch when my father (who was always either drunk or hungover) would forget to pack me anything or worried if he ever got more than verbally abusive when it didn't occur to anyone else in my big huge family to worry about me. We were each other's true friend, sister and advocate when we needed one most, when our real sisters pretended not to know us, and no matter how life takes us in different directions there is a bond between us that cannot be broken. And watching my soul sister and life long friend get married made me so happy I cried.
3. When my sister got married I was in my early twenties. I could wait. And then, one experience after another, some disappointing, some heartbreaking, some a relief to get away from, at some point I began to wonder if my turn hadn't come about yet because I might have been irrevocably warped by the denial of love in my earliest years. I did have the tendency to choose the wrong man who would then push me away. Or I would push the right man away because, no matter how wonderful he actually was, I still feared he was just like my dad. I also feared I was unlovable. But not anymore. Now I feel openhearted, whole. I feel ready. I feel like should another wonderful possibility walk into my life today I have the self assurance and courage it takes to dive in, eyes wide open. But at yet another person's wedding, someone who grew up with good, loving parents, I could not help but wonder, will I miss this experience because my father was an a--hole and my mother didn't know how to stand up for herself? God how unfair that would be. And so I cried.

4. I was not one of the bridal party. And though our differing schedules and priorities would have made it impracticable, the fact that I was sitting down witnessing her marriage instead of taking an active part in it only served to show the space that has grown between us. I wish she lived close enough to be part of my women's circle. She would have told the woman I consider difficult off a long time ago. I did once, oh hell yes I did, but it got me nowhere. She would have just chased the bitch off for good, niceties be damned. I miss my childhood friend. And so I cried.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poetry again

Wednesday L. and I went to the Starry Plough...
and I have to say it wasn't quite the wordy escapism I'd hoped for. Maybe because the finals are only weeks away and competition to become Berkeley's poet in the nationals was fierce that night. Or maybe because my favorite poet is Rumi, someone I read over and over again gleaming new things from each time, whose words I want to hear in my final moments (a hundred or so years from now) because he wrote about love and transcendence.

Most slam poets, hopefully not all, seem to write mainly about what annoys or frustrates them. And when they write about love, or more often, sex, it's in the aggressive I love to f--- you kind of way. And though their poems are amazing works of art, honest expressions of the modern mind, it's not stuff I could listen to over and over again. Even with their varied topics, man boobs, hair, Disneyland, punk rock, crushes, etc. after a while they all sound pretty much the same. They begin with the easygoing intro and end with a loud, clanging conclusion. Then the poem is scored and the audience reacts to those scores.

Two poets competing in the dirty haiku round. They only had minutes to write their haikus before performing them. Off duty poets looking very arty and cool.
Course this begs the question why am I complaining about poets who seem to do nothing but complain? Fine, on to other things...

Shoe shopping. My best friend from grade school is getting married tomorrow and I have three dresses to choose from...And the one I choose depends on the shoes I find later today. Ooo, exciting right? Which one is it going to be? Sorry, you'll have to check in later for the results...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Looking up, learning to see

Friday, my formerly irate friend and I renewed our vow of true friendship over coffee. Fitting since our friendship was first formed over coffee. Coffee the magic brew. Anyway, I admit, while preparing for it, I'd run through a fevered checklist of reasons why I was right and she was not. At the same time I had to laugh at myself for doing to her what I was mad at her for doing to me. Why do we do that? What evolutionary purpose does it serve? Hey, you know all that crap you've been mentally beaming my way? Well, right back at you double time, so there! I reminded myself she's a tried and true friend, one who cheers me on when I succeed and tells me next time when I don't. One who would, without my asking her, arrange for me to display my work at a local gallery. Would the woman I consider difficult ever do that?

So, after a warm hug & chit chat, I told her about Monday's adventures with L. and she wished us lots of man luck for that night's planned escapade. It would be a slow night though, the music at our usual haunts not quite our thing. Still, nothing like a late night coffee chat with another tried and true friend...

Saturday, having already decided to skip the reunion, I made up for it by spending the afternoon with my dad. He talked about buying a lake house for his retirement, his plans to see his father in the Philippines one last time and how often they've talked on the phone lately. He also threw in the odd insult here and there for my mother's family. Couldn't go the entire meal without his insulting someone. But overall he was surprisingly nice.

Once I would've sat there grumbling. Saturday I just listened, sad he'd squandered away so much because he needed always to be right, to play the victim. And now, the permanent sorrow in his eyes, the stoop of his shoulders...there's nothing left to say, no recrimination equal to the hell he put himself in. Maybe, I hoped, if my dad spends enough days fishing by that lake he'll develop into a more pleasant, more mature human being and my sister will bring her kids over here more often so I won't have to fly east every time I wanted to see them. Maybe. But I've tried playing peacemaker before. Let tomorrow bring whatever it brings...

Easter morning, I went for a pancake hike on Mount Tam. Given my sense of direction I usually factor getting lost into my travel plans but it was hard enough getting up that early on a Sunday. So, I missed the hiking group I'd planned to go with but, thank God, ran into another group likewise heading towards the West Point Inn and their $10 pancake breakfasts. Making quick friends with them I begged they let me tag along lest I wander the mountain, searching for pancakes, and my hiking group, until I 911'ed the lost, hungry hiker emergency relief team, hoping there is such a thing. A compassionate lot, they were happy to help. And I ended up liking them so much I ditched my hiking group (who I didn't know all that well anyway) to hike back down with them after breakfast. Funny how things work out...
After the hike, some browsing downtown. Can you believe I was this close to these potential bites of happiness...and I didn't buy any? Not a one. I blame it on the pancakes.
This being Easter Sunday, the shops were nearly deserted. Empty or not I love window shopping.
This one is pretty enough to make a painting out of. What do you think? Look up!Look up!
Wonderful things, wonderful people, are all around us.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


As an artist from a family of non-artists, Catholic non-artists, with a liberal sprinkling of accountants, engineers, and housewives among the olive tree, I'm used to feeling somewhat guilty every time I'm around any of them. You're taking art? Don't you want to make money? Still not married? Don't you want kids like your sister? Sell any paintings today? No? Well, maybe tomorrow. Anything from the agency? No? Well, maybe tomorrow. Any word from Pixar? Well, maybe tomorrow. Not married yet?'s your sister and her kids? How many does she have now?

Fun times.

It's been raining the last three day and I've been guiltlessly living up to family fears by lounging around in my pajamas. That and eating lots of chocolate, surfing the internet, trying new recipes, talking on the phone, and dancing to club mixes on my Ipod. Oh, and doing some drawing, painting and writing too.

So it's unfortunate my family calls this doing nothing and I call it working. Thus, I avoid them when possible because the more nothing I do the more work I get done. To them work means going somewhere from nine to five. That's doing something. If one wants to stay home all day to do nothing one gets married and has kids. That's the way to do it. Then one can do as much nothing as one wants.

Work is worthwhile. Art, i. e. doing nothing, is not. Course, if I start selling work for $5000 or more, and so on, then...then I'll be one of the few who beat the odds because everyone knows artists don't make any money.

For me, being an artist is the greatest job in the world when I'm away from those whose seeming role is to make me feel guilty about being an artist. Even though I've learned to let most of what they say go in one ear and out the other. They're doing what families do, making sure their genetic material continues on as securely as possible. It's comforting, really. They're looking out for my future children.

Still, with the annual Easter reunion coming up, and single me not having gone to church in I don't know how long, on top of everything else, I'm thinking up excuses not to go. interview at Disney Studios Monday morning? Who knows? Maybe tomorrow it'll be true.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fame, I'm gonna learn how to fly

Monday night... a club called Fame for 80's night, L. and I had been feeling more stressed out than usual so it took us longer to get into the spirit of things. But after an 80 cent Cosmo, mostly ice, we were up and grooving. And after my third, thank God it was mostly ice, I was dancing on the stage having so much fun I couldn't remember what I'd been stressed out about. And though I had no expectations of meeting anyone, this being the Castro, I did dance with someone who said he loved me for having so much fun (and for being sexy, hee, hee) and if he wasn't gay he'd ask me to go out. L. later said that's what it's all about. Just have fun, don't worry and they come to you, even those who aren't into women like us.

(Ooh, la, la. Tres beaux. But this being the Castro...)

Yup. Fun, mindless fun.

And letting life take care of itself. Stress, worry, trouble sleeping, these are in a way a lack of faith that life will work out in one's favor. And so we exert effort (stress) to make things turn out the way we want them to. Today, I was on the receiving end of an email lecture (I would expect you to...) from a friend who disapproved of my being a b---- this Sunday to the woman I consider difficult. This stirred up a lot of emotions, oh boy, sadness, disappointment...defensiveness. Hey, I really was trying my best, yes I know I brought her in so that's why, I love you, no problem with her being part of the group but please don't, not worth putting a wedge between us, to be fair you, so can you blame me for, I'm sorry...oh, drama, drama, drama!!!!! Underneath this argument were other issues, issues she and I should have addressed earlier. I'd been sensing a bit of blame for being the one to bring this woman, this poor annoying, needy, woman, into the group in the first place, as well as disapproval for my excluding her in most of my social plans, even though my friend has never said anything. And I've been feeling hurt as a result but have said nothing. Didn't she respect my feelings? Or give me credit for having legitimate issues with this woman, or more credit for being as civil as I usually am with her, or any credit at all for trying to transform my feelings rather than demanding we all kick someone most of us agree is annoying out of the group. The one time I....

But that's the voice of the victim again. Eckert Tolle says (I'm summarizing badly) so what if someone doesn't understand your point of view? Will it kill you? No. But it still hurts. In my second, and hopefully more coherent response to her I said this is how I feel, this is how much I can stand of this woman who even she considers difficult and can't take more than an hour of, this is what I'm doing to transform my feelings into acceptance, which I can't do any quicker than I'm doing right now. That's it. Stop disapproving, stop trying to make me feel guilty, and start being my true friend again. (I didn't put it quite that way but that's what I meant.) Other than that, I don't know what else to do or say about this issue so I'm leaving it to God. And trust that friends, true friends, are worth all the drama.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Art and my inner compass

In art school I went to the quick sketch every week where the routine was always the same: ten minute poses, then fives, threes, and finally the ones. I couldn't help remembering these workshops, four years worth of them, while at the De Young Friday. Regardless of what year I was in, freshman to senior year, it was my physical and emotional state which determined the quality of my drawings. Anxiety, frustration or extreme fatigue, resulted in tight, uninspired or sloppy work. But on a normal evening, if I could trust myself and forget about controlling the outcome, then I produced good drawings, drawings I liked. It was, come to think of it, my introduction to meditation. Friday, despite my moody blue-hooing, I produced some drawings I liked. Well, one mainly. And I think it's only okay. But I truly enjoyed the experience of drawing to the sounds of awesome word play and musical coolness.
At the De Young, even the bathroom was cool...
I almost went to the Cellar afterwards, but went home instead. And, the De Young effect wearing off all too soon, I spent the rest of the weekend trying to reset my inner compass. And I'm embarrassed to report that it did take the entire weekend. This afternoon, for example, I was in the Asian Art museum staring at sacred artwork from Bhutan trying to calm my mind managing no more than a fleeting quiet second here and there. And this morning, during coffee with my girlfriends, the presence of the woman I consider difficult (from Mar. 25th post) was more than I could stand. And I was, I confess, a little short with her. Actually, I was a b---- to her to the discomfiture of everyone. What good is that? So I tried to set things straight later on. But even if in the Buddhist way of looking at things she may be one of my greatest spiritual teachers, it's difficult, impossible really, to imagine her ever becoming one of my favorite people. But if it were possible...wouldn't it be one of my greatest achievements? To embrace someone as a friend and sister who has time and again stung and challenged me with her passive aggression?

Now, I am feeling calm, finally. And starting to laugh at myself again. Life should never be taken seriously. It takes away from one's natural charm. It makes one perilously close to a b----. Tomorrow, 80's night in the Castro with L. Yeah!

Lesson I'm learning: Unconditional love... for all beings, for myself, may seem impossible sometimes.
But shall I choose this?................................or this?In short:

Friday, April 3, 2009

What is it I'm looking for?

This Tuesday the awesome J. and I went to the Down Low in Berkeley for karaoke. After nervously downing a beer as I waited through song after song for my turn, I thought I'd make a quick trip to the ladies room and was, shall we say, in a seated position when I heard my name called. I rushed out as quickly as current circumstances allowed, back to my table with everyone shouting, "Where are you going?" To fetch my glasses, unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to read the monitor without them. And with the music starting I had to start singing the moment I hit the stage. But I managed to belt out my signature song, Daydream Believer, to my and, so they said, everyone else's satisfaction nonetheless.

Tonight I've been left to my own devices. And it's a little ridiculous how anxious I've been about it. What's a single woman on her own to do on a Friday night? Minx where Mr Party (all the time) and his cronies are gathering? My future husband or a new awesome friend might also be there. But I'm not really in the mood for places I have to shout to be heard. Then again neither am I in the mood for staying at home. What am I in the mood for? I've been dealing with resumes, cover letters, portfolios, Disney, Pixar, Lucas, not to mention Emerging Blue (where are you?) all week so I'm feeling....uncertain, anxious, hopeful, confident, scared. I'm feeling vulnerable and acutely sensitive. The Lucasfilm job site, by the way, says I'm a 54 % match for a story artist. How do I increase that number? Get hired by Pixar or Disney? Oh, feeling a tad cynical too. No, Minx is not for me tonight. And scouting the internet for alternatives I found the Friday night series at the De Young, beat poetry and jazz with Michael McClure and the Wayne Wallace Quintet. That's what I've been craving. Artistic nourishment. Artistic comfort food. Poetry, music and my long neglected sketchbook in an art museum...on my own. Then, if I'm feeling brave, The Cellar for 80's night...on my own....

Will report how it goes later...