Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Break-Up Letter

Dear Slog,

It pains me to say this, it really does. But on some level, I think you knew it was coming. We both knew. And I guess I could go a lifetime not saying it, but I respect you too much, you've done too much for me, for me to leave without a proper goodbye. I don't want this blog to be a ghost town that exists forever, abandoned, on the internet and creeps people out because it's always just there. Like MySpace.

We need closure, Slog, because we've been so important to each other. You got me through some of the darkest days of my last Moscow winter. You were there for me when my plans for the future (moving to LA?!? working in television?!?) started to stress me out. And, most important of all, you provided just the right outlet when I wanted, nay needed, to share my thoughts on the bathrooms at LCSC, or honey, or just really had to post an All-4-One music video. Thank you for that.

Thanks most of all, though, for allowing a forum for me to meet some lovely new people and receive encouraging comments from my friends and family. I can't tell you the number of times that I woke up in the morning and found blog-comments from friends, and started the day on a much happier, hopefuller, note. What a beautiful thing!

Now, though, our lives are going in different directions. More specifically, my life is going in the direction I really, really wanted it to, and as a result--your life is going nowhere. Sorry about that. Something I've come to learn, as I work hard at my entertainment-industry, "watching television is research, no really, it is" job, is that a person like me only has so much creative brain juice on any given day. Right now, all my brain juice is bypassing this blog completely in order to be available to me at work, or when I write the scripts I'm trying to write.

I don't have enough juice to keep you going. See? It's not you, Slog. It's me. I hope we can be friends down the road. I mean, we're both adults, right? After all, I could've said this.

Goodbye, dear Slog! I'll miss you!


PS: My profoundest thanks to everyone who read my blog over the ten loooong months of it's life. I don't think you know the impact you've had. I was surprised and completely encouraged by your support. Much, much love.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

Last weekend, I reactivated my Netflix account for the fifteenth-billion time. Maybe some of you reading this had that one tortured, teenage, on-again, off-again love affair with someone you totally loved but just couldn't make it work out, no matter how hard you both tried?

That's me and Netflix.

But, we've started it up again, even though I know I'm only going to end up getting hurt. Right now, it is so, so good. Instant viewing, friends. Instant viewing. I've been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer like it was my job (except for when I'm doing my actual job for twelve hours a day). And last weekend, I saw something on Netflix I've always, always wanted to see.

The woman I am named after.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: Hey, that's Betty Joan Perske!

Oh you're not thinking that? Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske, then changed her name to something she found a little more glamorous. (Strange side note: Humphrey Bogart was born Humphrey Bogart, and didn't feel compelled to change his name at all. So cool.)

And Lauren Bacall, dear friends, was cast in two episodes of the late 1970s classic The Rockford Files, as one Kendall Warren.

So, there you have it.

Here's the legend that has developed in my own head concerning my name. I imagine my parents watching TV, clicking through the channels with their brick-like remote that had four buttons on it total (I remember this remote), with my mother hugely pregnant on the couch. Then, The Rockford Files comes on, beautiful Kendall Warren crosses the screen, I give my mother a swift kick to the ribs to let her know I like the name, and two months later, I am born screaming and hairy as an ape and my parents smile down at me and, with tears shining in their eyes, they say, "We shall call her Kendall."

What my parents have actually said was, "Lauren Bacall played a character named Kendall on The Rockford Files and we thought it sounded like a good name, so we picked it."

Somewhere along the way in my self-mythologizing, I decided something else: Kendall Warren was a powerful and successful attorney, wise and no-nonsense, upholding the law and punishing criminals in a good-looking suit. And my parents gave me the name because they knew I was going to be powerful, with an infallible sense of justice.

So imagine my surprise when I sit down to my Netflix instant viewing to watch The Rockford Files, Season 6, Episodes 2 and 3, to meet at last Kendall Warren, this woman for whom I am named, to whom I feel connected each time someone calls me, or when I put my signature at the bottom of a check.

And I find that Kendall Warren is not an attorney at all, but a broke hanger-on traveling in circles of the world's wealthiest and most powerful people, getting along by hook and by crook. She's got no job and she's got no money.

What the what? I could actually hear the record scratch as my brain worked overtime to revise the story I'd told myself my entire life. Some part of my identity felt compromised by this information. Who am I, I asked myself? And why did my parents name me after a (very pretty) social-climber who knows how to get a free lunch?

I handled the news the way I handle most news: I got myself a snack. I exchanged a few pleasantries with Fatty the Hamster. I came back and resumed watching, anxious to see how this new story would play out.

When the episodes had ended, and Rockford had saved the day (and Kendall Warren) I was back to being okay with my name. Because Kendall Warren was resourceful, and she was a scrapper who cleaned up real nice, and she was a woman who knew how to work the system. And maybe, at this point in my life, that sort of resourcefulness will serve me better than a good-looking suit and a knowledge of penal codes.

Not to mention that the most important aspect of my name-origin story isn't that I was named after a powerful lawyer. The most important aspect of my name-origin is that I get my name from a TV character. As if my parents knew, nearly twenty-eight years ago, that I would end up here in LA, doing exactly what I'm doing: scrapping.

Nominally yours,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do.

Last week, I took a field trip to the Los Angeles Zoo. It was educational.

I took the slog, and photo-documented all the weirdest animals I saw. Sadly, I didn't write down the names of any of them, so I can't even tell you what many of these creatures are called. But they are beautiful. (And, okay, I know flamingos, and the emperor tamarind because that one was my very, very favorite--it's the little monkey with the serious white mustache).

As I walked the zoo, getting a little sunburnt, because apparently in LA you should wear sunscreen if you're going to be outdoors for five hours, I had the disturbing realization that we--homo sapiens--are like the plainest animals on the planet. In fact, we're downright boring when compared to flamingoes (flamingos? my computer is telling me both are correct) whose knees bend backwards, or goat creatures with crazy shaggy hairdos and spiraling horns.

I had also forgotten that sometimes, at the zoo, animals stare back at you. Especially meerkats. It's like nobody told them they're the exhibit. And I wanted to say, "Hey, don't waste your time watching us. What've we got? Some flexible thumbs, and wimpy skin that is allergic to sunlight. You know who doesn't need SPF? That crazy blobby warthog thing next to the flamingoes (flamingos?)."

I rode the bus, the LA city bus, to get to the zoo (and lest you compliment me on my resourcefulness, I should tell you that Kate--my roommate's best friend and our houseguest this week--figured out all the logistics. I was, as they say, along for the ride). Here's what I saw:

A mother clutching her daughter's overalls so she couldn't fall out of the bus seat.

A little boy who begged and begged for his grandmother to sit next to him, but she didn't, so he had to sit next to his sister, which he obviously found pretty disgusting. Until he forgot she was disgusting, and they told each other jokes and made each other laugh the whole way to where they were going.

A constant rotation of people taking seats, and then offering up their seats the moment they saw someone older, or more infirm, get on the bus.

An ancient, ancient man who shuffled onto the bus, then helped another ancient man onto the bus at the next stop, and then they got off the bus together, and a very young man with a skateboard helped them down the stairs at their stop.

I guess this is just common courtesy, but I saw so much of it--and I was on the LA city bus, so I expected the sort of indifference that mass transit in a huge city would seem to invite. What I saw, the whole ride, was a surprising gentleness and desire to connect. People just wanted to be helpful.

Then, at the zoo, I was walking behind a big man in oversized clothes. He had lots of blue tattoos like I associate with gang tattoos. He even had a tear drop tattooed under his eye. My brain categorized him as "a rough sort," and I wondered, "what's this guy doing at the zoo?"

He passed a woman pushing a stroller just at the moment her frustrated toddler managed to launch himself right out of his seat and sort of flip towards the pavement. I froze, frightened for the ensuing injury. But in a single, swift, and gentle motion, before the kid could even hit the ground, the same "rough sort" swooped him up and landed him back in his mother's arms, like it was the most natural thing in the world. No hesitation. He didn't even pause, or miss a step. The woman said thank you, dumbfounded, and the kid had this dopey, wide-eyed expression like, "What the hell just happened?"

It was all kinds of heroic.

And my point is that even up against such exotic, curious animals as flamingos (flamingoes?), tapirs, and emperor tamarinds, we people can hold our own.



Monday, June 28, 2010

At Last, AT LAST!!

It finally happened!!! At long last. I was wondering when it would happen--if it would happen, even--and it did.

I saw my first CELEBRITY. My first FAMOUS PERSON. It couldn't have been more perfect. It was all I could've hoped for. There I was at the Ralph's, buying some healthy groceries (tortilla chips), when I turned around and, just a few aisles over, a bonafide STAR. Who was it?

Who was it??

This guy:

Sonny Crockett. Nash Bridges. Don Johnson.

And now, for you, this gift. From Don J. Soooo smooth.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Los Angeles for the Lonely Hearts to write this without sounding like a total, how, how...

Nope. No way around it. Last night I went to a concert by myself. I can't be sure, but it certainly looked like I was the only one who traveled solo. (Especially judging by the number of people who made out with each other's faces the whole night long--they either came together, or they're very, very friendly.) I got myself a nice comfy seat in the balcony, and tried to act like I was completely okay with being alone.

(This is Josh Ritter. He played last night. I'd travel to the ends of the earth (alone) to watch him. He's that good.)

Actually, I got very busy with my phone--sending profound emails to my mom ("Hi Mom. I'm at a concert!"), rereading old text messages, reaching out to people I haven't spoken to in years. Just pushing, pushing, pushing the little keyboard letters, to let the other concert-goers, and most importantly myself, know that: I KNOW PEOPLE, people! I've got FRIENDS! Plenty of people would've LOVED to come to this concert WITH ME, but they all live in OTHER STATES.

Then, I got tired of looking at that tiny screen. I put my phone away. I decided to give up the ghost, and own the fact that a) I traveled alone and b) I'm totally new to this town. I also decided a beer would really help my efforts at self-acceptance. So, I began to avail myself of the various venue employees, who were conveniently dressed all in black. (Luckily, this is LA, so all black stands out. In New York, I would've been lost, lost, lost.)

I said to one, "How do I get a drink?" He said, "Go down and get a bracelet." I went downstairs.

I said to another, "I'd like a bracelet so I can drink," and he said, "Ask that woman." I asked that woman, who said, "No, you don't need a bracelet."

I went back inside, and the woman taking tickets said, "No coming and going," and I said, "I just thought I had to get a bracelet." She said, "You do have to get a bracelet, because you look about nineteen." I said, "Thank you. So can I come and go back for my bracelet?" She said, "Okay."

I procured the bracelet! I tried to order a drink downstairs, but the man in black said I had to order upstairs. I went upstairs, but saw no bar. I asked the woman taking balcony tickets, "Is there an invisible bar on this floor?" She said, "No, there's a bar upstairs. Up these stairs." She pointed.

I said, "Can you tell I've never been here before?" She nodded and said, "That's alright."

I was relieved. I ordered my beer. I found my seat. I pretended the open seat on either side of me was just part of my massive throne, and that I, Kendall, did in fact RULE THIS WHOLE TOWN.


Monday, June 21, 2010

The one where I make a mess of metaphors.

A wise person once said, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." This is especially important when you don't have a job. Otherwise, I'd be going around town in a Sunset Strip Emperor's New Clothes scenario, which would garner plenty of attention, but not the right kind. Or, alternately, I suppose I could stay in my pajamas all day, and shuffle around like the women pushing their shopping carts up and down Fairfax. But I promised my mom I would come home before that happened.

So, every day, I wake up and I dress like I have a job. Then, I make a list of things to do that includes things like, "Buy cotton balls," and "Eat lunch," and "Where is the ATM?" These mundane tasks have become the cornerstones of my day. That's okay, for a little while. And I've got a few forges in the fire, too. Is that the expression? "forges in the fire?"...

--Okay, after about twenty minutes in the bowels of the internet, I can tell you that it is "irons in the fire," but the hearth in which those irons are fired up is sometimes called a forge (and also a smithy). (Usually, though, the word is used as a verb, meaning to shape or mould). Anyway, I'm sure I've totally bored any of you who've stuck with me thus far. Sorry. I fancy myself a wordsmith, and this slog is my smithy (forge).

Back to business. I've got a few irons in the fire. And trust me when I say that I'm going to strike while the iron is hot. Etc. Etc.

While I wait for the irons to get hot enough to strike, little things keep reminding me that I've made the right choice. Exhibit A: the magnets on the fridge at my apartment.

The thing is: these aren't my magnets. They were already here. But they express the very underpinnings of my own heart. Aren't they BEAUTIFUL??

Sartorially, magnetically yours,


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Los Hombres

These, here, are Los Hombres. The men. (And me. Can you guess which one I am?) JT used to be just un chico, but he turned 21 a month ago--so, Hombre. T has the beard, just to let the world know that he's total Hombre. And then, my dad. The original Hombre.

Today is Father's Day, so I felt like looking for a picture of me and my Dad, and then my two brothers came with it. No matter--they're my dad's kids too--so far as we know! Wink, wink. -Also, they'll be dads someday (in the distant, distant, DISTANT future), and they'll be super good at it. They're muy chulo.

(In LA, you see a lot more Spanish, so I'm practicing bilingualism, which I really believe in.)

Do you think we look alike? I hope so. I think the Hombres son guapos.

(I also think this bilingual slog is starting to read like an episode of Dora the Explorer.)

Here are some things about my dad:

1. He can play music by ear. I still don't understand how that works. He hears music, then he sits down, and he can play it. Like a genius music freak: Mozart, Yo-Yo Ma, My Dad.

2. He used to make his kids a dessert of milk, bananas and brown sugar. Now it doesn't sound all that appealing, but at the time: Nectar of the Gods.

3. When I was younger, sometimes he took me camping (never far from a clean, flushing toilet), and sometimes he had to take me to fancy-shmancy father-daughter dinner dances. He did both, without complaining.

4. Once, I tried to say that I liked spending time at home (because I did like spending time at home--I love it), so I said, "I guess I'm just really homely." My dad shouted, "What did you say?? You're not homely! You're beautiful!!!" I said, "I just meant I like being at home." And he said, "Oh. You mean homey." The point is: Dad is a slang term for "booster of self-esteem."

5. I am not sure if this actually happened or not, and I keep forgetting to ask my dad, but I have a very vivid, clear memory of being at the beach as a really young kid. I was wandering in the surf, when a wave crept up and swept me off my feet. I remember floating on my back, and seeing the expanse of gray sky, and feeling myself moving with the waves away from the beach. I didn't even have time to freak out. Then, my dad's head loomed into my field of vision, and he grabbed me out of the water. And I was like, "Yeah, I knew he'd come for me."

It doesn't really matter if that memory is factually true, because emotionally, it totally is.

Happy Father's Day!!

Yeah, That's Right. I Built Something.

Hello Slog,

What's that? You want to see pictures of sunny, vibrant Los Angeles? Pictures of me hiking in Topanga Canyon, or eating lunch at a patio table at Urth Cafe? Self-portraits that I've taken with all the super-hot, friendly celebrities I've run into while I've been down here?

I don't have any of those. What I can offer is this series. I call it Target Mission: Buy Kendall a Cheap Desk, Some Assembly Required, The Building Of Which Will Stress Her Out.

(In the first two pictures, I'm waiting for the desk, which took one million years.)

As you can see, LA is all about glitz, glamour, and something that Target invented called the "Cam Lock System," which basically means that you build furniture by sticking a bunch of stuff into little holes, and then pushing the pieces together and hitting them with the meaty part of your hand. It's pretty fine architecture if you ask me.

I wouldn't have these pictures if it weren't for my mother, who, while we built, coached me. She adopted a tone of voice I hadn't heard since I was much younger and had put off building my Pioneer Day Covered Wagon Diorama until the very last minute. Or, in high school, when I had to go to Kinko's at three am to bind my Junior Paper. (Before I had a driver's license, my mother had to drive her panicky, procrastinatory daughter to Kinko's at all hours--All Hours--of the night). She has this voice she can use that makes it physically impossible, impossible, to blow a fuse--which I was more than ready to do when I first learned of the intricacies of the Cam Lock System, and what "some assembly required" actually means.

It is a voice suffused with honey and maternal love, and it is the voice she used while we built this crummy desk. I had almost forgotten about that voice! I'm glad I remembered.

And lo: a desk was built.

Can you see on the laptop screen that I interrupted this very blog to take the photo? That's what slogging looks like, right there! I'm letting you peek behind the emerald curtain, Slog. Again, glitz and glamour up the wazoo.

Listen, I'm sure my fabulous life is about to start any second, but in the meantime, there is furniture to build, hangers to buy, toilets to clean, and an entire busy city to get to know. Thankfully, I've got my mother--and her "Don't fly off the handle" voice--to talk me through it.

And Pretzel M&Ms, which make all things possible.

Yours in carpentry,

PS: Dan and I had a big debate about whether I should bring my My First Toolbox with me to California. I said, Nah. Dan said, You're being an idiot. The record should probably show that Dan was right. Tools are good.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Exit Strategies

When I was younger, I used to like throwing a blanket over my dog. Anyone else? Once the blanket was over the dog, she lowered her front legs, kept her butt in the air, and started walking backwards in an attempt to escape. Apparently, a dog's DNA tells it this is the way to respond to being covered in a blanket. It didn't work; usually she'd walk into something. The blanket stayed where it was. The whole performance was awkward, ungainly, and highly entertaining. Then, my anemic little conscience would assert itself, and I'd take the blanket off.

When I thought about leaving Moscow, I decided I didn't want it to be like that. I didn't want to do the equivalent of an awkward, backwards dog-walk out of Moscow. I wanted to leave forwardly, with my butt not in the air but rather right where it should be, behind me. I wanted to say goodbye to everyone and everything with grace and finesse.

It worked. Mostly. (There were some unnecessary tequila shots; I witnessed a strange, awful experiment in gastro-intestinal control, as well as an ill-fated tree-climbing attempt; I played a never-ending game of Buck Hunter at the Alley, where I would've done better if I'd understood sooner that killing "cows" is, in fact, how you lose the game. In each of these instances: little grace and even less finesse.) But there was also low-key, high-quality time spent with friends; a final, reflective run through the arboretum; last glances at a little downtown I've come to love; all my favorite food--because for the rest of my life, when I hear the word "Moscow," I'll salivate--I have never eaten so well; a festive backyard party; a chocolate cake; some stellar mixed tapes; and a sunny drive home on the interstate.

My car is packed beyond all reason, which reduces my visibility to nonexistent, and every time I have to lane change to the right, I have to do it mostly blindly. It is frightening! But each time, I take a deep breath and tell myself I'll be just fine: after all, so far, I've been so lucky.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Love Is Not a Pie.

I stole that title from someone else.

Amy Bloom named one of her short-stories "Love is Not a Pie," and while I don't remember the specifics of that story, I always, always remember the title. I think the title is beautiful. (Once, I could've told you what the story is about, but that was before I began "Operation Fit-Kendall's-Entire-Life-Into-One-Flipping-Car," and got rid of my copy of the story. An irony that may--or may not--become apparent by the end of this post. I don't know yet.)

Anyway. Love is not a pie. I keep saying this to myself, because I keep also saying, Love is not a desk. Love is not a dresser. Love is not three half-wilted house plants, though I think I could make a decent argument for how they're a solid metaphor for love. Love is not that sweater I've had for four years. Love is not a pair of shoes. So away they go. To live another life with another keeper. Or, to rot in some dump. Let's be honest.

Love is not a futon. Okay, but my futon is about as close to love as any inanimate object could be. And even if love is not a futon, I love my futon. So we're clear.

Friends, concerned friends, keep reminding me, "Uh, Kendall, there are these things called U-Hauls." Or, "Kendall, your Jeep could definitely pull a little trailer." Something I love, love, love about my friends: they seem less concerned about the fact that I'm moving to LA without a clear purpose or a job, than they are about the fact that I'll be moving with only one-eighth of the belongings I once had. To me, this is the most profound compliment. They trust that I'm going to be just fine! They're more worried--and correctly--that getting rid of most of what I own is a daunting, dangerous prospect.

And they're right. I'll probably (definitely) miss some of the stuff I'm giving up. But love is not a frying pan (though, I do have a nice frying pan and it might actually fit in the car). Love is not even the sweet, spider-filled apartment with a writer's nook that catches the very best morning light. I can part with it. I can part with all of it, when it comes right down to it.

Each morning, I wake up in an apartment that looks a little less like the place I used to live. The other day, I woke up in a room that will soon have someone else sleeping in it (creepy), and looked at the dresser (sold!) and the closet full of my dear, dear clothes and shoes (seriously down-sized). I already felt disconnected from them. Love is not a bedroom. (But love sometimes happens in the bedroom. Ba dump bump.)

Then I thought, "what is making that terrible, terrible scratching noise against one window of my beloved little bedroom," and I opened the blinds for the first time in several weeks. And I was surprised to see this tree fully, suddenly in bloom.

Love is not a tree, and I definitely can't take this tree with me to California. So I'll just have to enjoy it while I can, forgive it the terrifying scratchy noises it makes against my window, and remember it fondly after I'm gone.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pants Off Dance Off (PODO).

Here in Moscow, there is a saying that started...oh, somewhere. Somebody once said "pants off dance off," and it stuck like, well, like my shower curtain if I may say so without getting too graphic. Now, whenever we're having a really good time, or proposing to have a really good time, someone describes it as "Hey, PODO!" But it's never an actual pants off dance-off, it's just become a bit of slang, meaning "to have a really good time."

Do people say this off the Palouse, too?

Through the magic of the internet, I have done some credible academic research (Wikipedia--putting that graduate degree to WORK), and it turns out that PODO is a strip tease show that airs on something called "Fuse." Here's the real nugget of info that you'll probably need in order to function: it was hosted in its first season by Tila Tequila; in its second season by Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner of Full House); and in its third season by Willa Ford. What a list! What ladies!

In case you don't remember:
(You'll notice the lack of PANTS, as if foreshadowing where her career would go.)
(She looks like a lovechild sprung from the loins of Whitney Port from The City and Quinn from Glee.)
(I apparently have a lot to say about this video.)

I bring all of this to your attention because, um, I wanted to. And also, because today I've had pants on the brain. It's Pants Day here at the Spider House--the day I wash all of my pants. Or, almost all (I save a pair to wear, of course). I'm curious as to other people's pants washing habits. See, I have plenty of clothes, but only so many pants. I operate under the assumption that pants don't need to be washed like other items. Especially jeans. I mean, right around day ten or eleven is just when they start feeling really perfect and lived in. So, then, once every six weeks or so, I have to do a mega round of laundry because every pair of pants I own is due for a washing.

Should I be washing my pants more? Am I normal??

Here's what's probably not so normal: because of my height, and the relative length of my legs, and also--if I'm being really honest--a potentially expanding hip/thigh/butt region that causes my pants to hit higher on the ankle, none of my pants go in the dryer (ever). (When I lived in Spain, my little senora refused to understand this, which is why I walked around like a huge American high-water wearing dork and now I don't have a hot Spanish husband.) It's imperative to maintain the precious length of the pants by hanging them to dry. So, on Pants Day, my apartment looks like this:




On every door, on the back of every chair, hangs a wet pair of pants, looking like so many bodies that somebody de-footed and then chopped in half. And today, as I went about hanging them all, I thought to myself, "I wonder if I should tell my soon-to-be-roommate about this, or just let her find out for herself next Pants Day?"


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing...Redux

(Here are some friends and I, and our interpretation of a Shakespearean comedy of errors.)

You can't see it, friends, but I'm pouring out a little of my ice cold diet cola in honor of two very important people. My parents. Mom and Dad. Oops, careful, trying to keep it off the keyboard.

Why am I pouring some out for my homies (and did we all listen to enough bad rap to get why I would pour diet coke on my desk? I hope so)? Because they're wise. And when I was younger, and people told me that I'd someday realize they were wise, I was like, "What-ever." But today is someday and my parents are a couple of brainiacs. Why? Because (obviously predicting the limits of my adult attention span) they offered me parental advice in bite-size pieces I remember. They offered the Fun Size candy bar equivalent of parental insight. Some examples:

1. You're going to be fine.
2. If you can't sleep, just rest with your eyes closed.
3. Kill them with kindness.
4. They'll get their come-uppance. (This one went with number 3, filled me with an ominous/passive sense of vengeance and was usually in reference to whomever had most recently been mean to me.)
5. Hate is a strong word.

Even though my parents said, "Don't say shut up," or "Don't say butt," (bottom is more gentile), they never said "Don't say hate." Instead, they would say warningly, "Hate's a strong word," and the weird warning tone of it made me so nervous that I would rescind. "I don't hate my brother," I'd say. "I strongly dislike him." And we all seemed to be okay with that.

Then, yesterday, I dropped at least two (TWO) H-bombs in a single post! What came over me? Astute commenters were concerned. And rightfully so. Natalie said, "You HATED it? How is that POSSIBLE?" And Lynn said, "After all, it's Shakespeare." Right! I don't hate Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare.

Here's what I figured out today, in between getting quotes for shipping my mattress to California, canceling my account, and taking pictures of the furniture I'm trying to hawk (anyone interested??): I dropped the h-bomb, I used the strong word, not because I hated the movie, but because I strongly disliked how it had fallen in my estimation. My vehement reaction was not to the actual film, but rather to how my feelings about it had changed. (Although I still maintain that the Claudio-Hero story really bugs.)

I make my big move to LA in two weeks, and it is terrifying. I have no idea what I'll be doing in three weeks, or one month, or six months. And renting the movie was an attempt to cling to old, familiar memories. Then I was denied the pleasure of the cling! It had me all worked up. Still, I don't need to take my anxiety out on Shakespeare, or Claudio. (Grrrrr, Claudio.) I'd do better to remember Fun-Sized Parental Wisdom #1: You're going to be fine.

So, in conclusion, to end with a bad bit of word-play, my post yesterday was really much ado about nothing. But it was also much ado about something, just a different something than I thought yesterday when I wrote it. You dig?



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing...No Really: Nothing.

(Those two in the middle are the ones I hate the most.)

Well, I've revisited my childhood, and I was not impressed. I was a little grossed out, actually.

This past weekend, at the Bloggers Conference to End All Bloggers Conferences, I spent about nine hundred hours talking with my friend Natalie. We are good at the business of talking. Very good. Mostly, we talked about how we were hungry (again) and where on earth should we eat (again), but when that thread of conversation wore thin, we talked about childhood. I said, "You know what movie I loved, loved, loved when I was younger? Much Ado About Nothing."

When I love a movie or television show, it is like that film becomes the wallpaper of my very heart (or, if we're working with DVDs, it becomes the very shiny, mirrored wallpaper of my heart). I fall deeply in love. So for several years of my tweendom I imagined I was a seriously sun-tanned Beatrice, exchanging witty barbs with Benedick--who I loved in spite of myself--and fighting valiantly to redeem my slandered cousin, Hero. In my real life I wandered around singing the theme from the film, which had me using words like "blithe," "bonny," and "hey nonny nonny." It made me pretty cool to the other seventh graders, let me tell you.

Today, in a fit of nostalgia, I watched Much Ado About Nothing again.

And I hated it. My brain started making all these complaints. For instance, Hero is accused of having sex before marriage, and so her betrothed, Claudio, is entitled to fly into a rage and assault her, while saying terrible, unforgivable things. Then, her father joins in on the verbal attack. Nobody cares to believe Hero's protestations of innocence (except Beatrice, I still love Beatrice). Then, nary a day later her name is cleared (oh! it was another woman with dark hair they saw in the window--tricky!), and Claudio feels like a douche, and she smiles beatifically and all is forgiven! That easily! Then they're married and it's all blithe and bonny, and it put me in a foul, foul mood. I caught myself saying, "Don't marry him, Hero. Put his balls in a vice."

Obviously, the movie is the same, and I have changed. This is probably good news, because I was kind of a wreck at twelve (although, I'm currently eating hot cocoa powder directly from the packet, so my act is not entirely together now--powder everywhere!). And I worry that maybe it's because I'm a hard-hearted shrew of a woman, but an explanation that better protects my ego is that now I like more interesting stories.

For instance, Keanu Reeves plays Don John, the bastard brother to Denzel Washington's Don Pedro. He's a total sourpuss, hell-bent on ruining everyone's lives just because he can. I'd completely forgotten he was even in the movie. When I watched this time, I thought to myself, "Now, he's interesting. How did he come to be this way? What does he think he'll accomplish? What was his childhood like? Has he ever loved anyone?" Because Don John is the character with real complexity, you know? (And the irony that he's being played, woodenly, by Keanu Reeves is not lost on me.) I like complexity. Now that I'm full-grown, I find myself rolling my eyes at the happy ending, and siding with the play's great villain.

So, the first hypothesis was correct after all: I'm a hard-hearted shrew. But you know who has it worse? The tweens who, in fifteen years time, will have to go back and watch Twilight. They're in for it.



Monday, May 31, 2010

The One in Which I Attempt to Combine Two Seemingly Unlike Things

Hello Slog.

Will you indulge me?

Tonight, I am feeling the weight of the Memorial Day holiday. I've been thinking about men and women who have died in combat, and about soldiers who lived but were never the same, and about those who are currently serving, and hoping to get back home to their families. I want them to come home. Many of them won't, and I'm not sure what, exactly, makes it possible for us to acknowledge this reality and still continue about the business of our lives. But somehow we do. I do.

I also think about each one of those soldiers and the many, many love stories of their lives: mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, spouses, sons and daughters. Imagine Arlington, row after row of small white crosses, and that each cross has its own intricate web of love stories spreading out from it. Then it is possible, I guess, on Memorial Day, to honor not only the loss of life, and the sacrifice of so many, but also, to honor love, which absolutely surrounds each sacrifice made.

So, in honor of all the love stories this Memorial Day, and because I like it so, so much:



PS: If you think marionettes are creepy, don't watch the clip. Also, if you think marionettes are creepy, you're wrong. They're beautiful.

Just who do you think you are?

(this is how I cop 'tude. Baditude.)

Yowza. Yowza. Yow. Za. I'll tell you what, Slog. Right now, I don't even recognize myself. Who am I? For the past five days, I've done nothing but surprise myself. I mean, you hit twenty-seven, and you think you've finally got the beginning of a semblance of what makes you tick, and Blammo! You're not who you thought you were. To wit:

I've been in Utah for the past five days. I don't go to Utah. I've never been there in my life. And I went for a blogging conference. What? I don't even blog?!?! I slog once in awhile, but you could hardly count that as qualification for attending a conference. While in Utah, I did all sorts of things that I DO NOT DO.

1. I ate drive thru. And liked it. Oh, I liked it. Hamburgers, french fries, chicken wraps, you name it. If you can order it through a hilariously outdated speaker in a lit up menu-board from the comfort of your car, I will eat it! I had no idea.

2. I counted stake centers. In Utah, you'd be wasting your time playing "Slug Bug" (everyone drives SUVs), but turns out, I've got quite an eye for spotting stake centers (brick meeting places for the LDS church--if you didn't know). (LDS is Mormon for Mormon--if you didn't know). (I know--I know lots of things.)

3. I wore a laminated name tag. It had the name of this slog on it. (The name of the slog is too long, btw. Nobody could read it, and if they read it, they probably didn't remember it. And if they read it and remembered it, then they came up and asked, "Oh, what sort of stuff do you do?" and I had to say, "No, no. The title is ironical. I don't do anything.")

4. I attended panels about niche blogging (my niche is: I've got no niche), turning your blog into publishable writing (fat chance), and blogging about faith (I've got faith in television, and fast food, it turns out--and I'm too scared to contemplate anything further). I took notes that said things like "nepotism is your friend," "write to your ideal reader" (that's you!) and "you must be as a duck." I don't totally get that last one, but I love how it sounds.

5. I karaoked, sober, with a new group of friends who do not, on principle, partake of the fire water. It took about three hours for me to screw up the courage (my new friends were brave enough right out of the gate), and I waited until the bar was virtually empty, but the two people that were left were profoundly moved by our interpretation of Ace of Base. (Because all that she wants is another baby...)

6. I (courageously!) hit on a sizable, ukelele-wielding musician after he finished his set at the Blogger Orientation Party. His set, so we're clear, was played in a half-lit conference room full of about sixty or so women, all of us hopped up on sugar, many of them pregnant, almost all of them married. As a token single woman, I was encouraged (read: hazed) to approach this tall drink of water. I tried to be especially suave, but our exchange went like this:

Him (genuine): Nice to meet you. You should friend me on Facebook. Send me a message.
Me (so, so witty): Nah, I'll just stalk you instead.
Me (back pedal): I mean, like on the internet. You know, through social media.
Him (cool as cucumber): Well, if you decide to really stalk me, I'd prefer you come with an axe or a machete. No chain saws.
Me (lost): Well, maybe a double-bladed axe. Or a calicula.
Him (lost): Caligula?
Me (panicking): Calicula.
[That's a weird axe that they used in Fiji in ancient times, I read it in a book once. FYI.]
Me (again): I just wanted to say you did a good job, and now this got all creepy and violent.
Him: It did. But nice to meet you anyway.
New Blogging Friends: So?!? Did he fall in love with you or what?
Me: Yes. Sparks flew.

And throughout each of these strange new undertakings, there was a voice in my head asking me, "Who are you, Kendall? What on earth are you doing here?" And I said to the voice, "Voice, I've got no flipping idea, but it feels good." Because I was taking a vacation not just from Idaho, but also from myself. And here is the weird turn-about that I took away from all this blogger-blather:

It is unexpected, but sometimes I feel the most like myself, when I am doing things that I've never done, or wouldn't normally do, or have no business doing at all, and I just roll with it. Being open to whatever unlikely opportunity presents itself is something fundamentally authentic (a big word at this ole' conference) about me.

So, if anyone finds themselves with a free ticket to, oh, anything, ask me. I'll probably want to go.



Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oh Irony.

Question: What is the appropriate punishment for a slacker-blogger who has simply abandoned her blog for no good reason?

Answer: Send her to a Blogging Conference where she will have to explain to everyone that she used to have a blog once, but that she is monumentally lazy and preoccupied and her blog fell into radio silence.

This is how my life works: three weeks before I am given the chance to attend a conference about blogging--I stop blogging. When I think of the fact that I'll spend two days being the only person at the conference who doesn't actually have an active blog, I get a little twisty, anxious feeling in my stomach that can only be quelled by wine, or bowls of sugar cereal, or bowls of sugar cereal doused in wine (not really that last bit--or not yet, anyway).

But today I am biting the bullet, re-entering the fray, grabbing the bull by the proverbial horns (can you tell I've been reading Lonesome Dove and having cowboy dreams?). I'm going to SLOG ALL OVER THIS THING. Watch your shoes. You might get slog on them...

Last night, some friends and I played Life, the board game. It had been at least fifteen years since any of us had played, but oh, did we remember it. Libby used to cheat to ensure she got to live in the Tudor house. I used to stare at the board, wishing hard that I might land on every "Baby Girl" or "Baby Boy" square, thus filling my little minivan with adorable babies. Times change. Now, Libby wants the Modern Victorian house and I am happy with my one quiet, well-behaved child.

For the first twenty minutes, we mostly lamented the new, cartoony images on the much-busier game board. Why, we wondered, does everything have to change? Why? Then, we got down to playing. It was way more complicated than any of us remembered. Clearly, as children, we'd only adhered to the rules that interested us. Now there are "Share the Wealth" and "Long Term Investment" opportunities. Now there is the "Spin to Win" gambling feature. And, because we are older, and understand the extended rules, we feel compelled to follow them.

See how much Life is actually like life?

As we played, we tried to understand what Life is meant to teach the young children who play it. There are obvious lessons: you will buy a house; you will have a family; you will have a career; you'll make money and you'll pay money. In the end, you'll retire to a big mansion and count your money, and if you made enough of it, you are the winner. Twisted.

But there are other lessons, too. Lessons that resonated especially powerfully to people in their late twenties. Namely, that Life is Random and Absurd. For instance, of the six of us, only Andrew ever had to pay taxes. Two people found buried treasure and collected 500,000 dollars. Kelsey landed on every tile that said she'd won a television dance/singing/game show contest, and raked in the dough. Jacob lost his job as a veterinarian and became a hair stylist. He made the least money but lived in a mansion. He also had to do the only real work of the game, as our banker, which is--of course--a job he didn't get paid for at all. Libby made the most money but lived in a double-wide. Poor Paul, just because he had the highest salary, got sued by anyone and everyone who landed on a Lawsuit square.

And with each spin of the wheel, we waited helplessly to see what sort of hand fate would deal us next. Half way through, Kelsey suggested we double whatever number we spun, just to move across the board faster. So we did, and soon we were tearing along, jumping all sorts of milestones without looking twice. Babies, car accidents, Nobel prizes. We spun and spun again. We raced one another to retirement. And when we got there, we had piles of money and we were all exhausted.

Life seems to reduce the whole experience of a person in the world to a series of purchases, payments, and required milestones. The game offers a few choices, but eliminates most. It forces your hand. Across the board there are stop signs that demand you to stop, to marry, to pick a house or a career out of a pile of limited options. So, the lesson is that life is random, and absurd, and it is sometimes about choice but it is mostly about chance. But if you think too much about that stuff, it will leave you feeling tired, tired, tired.

Luckily, there are good friends, and there is champagne, and there is plenty to laugh about when--in make believe--your friends discover buried treasure, win Nobel prizes, buy homes they can't afford, become veterinarian-hairstylists, get sued again and again, win game shows, or fall way, way behind because they are physically incapable of spinning anything other than a two.

I've missed you,


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sensitivity Training: Part One

The good news: While I have not yet found a partner to run with me the levels of the great Parking Structure of Life, I have found a companion.

The bad news: The companion looks like this for about twenty hours out of every day. Bo-ring.

The other bad news: she is a rescue cat that came with the name Precious (Based on the novel Push by Sapphire--ha). It is not, to be frank, the name that I would choose. But I can't quite bring myself to change it either--it's been her identity for ten years. Who am I to sweep in and name her Lucinda, or Jo, or any other name I would maybe give a cat? So, when she is being charming and nuzzling me, I call her Cat. And when she is doing things I find less charming, I call her Cat.

The other bad news: she's a cat. Which means fur balls, stinky litter box, and after only one week, my apartment now rests under a thin layer of cat hair. Each day, I become a little more of a cat lady. There was also the digestive incident that I will just call "The Bath Mat Event of 2010."

The good news: I am learning sensitivity. The whole idea is that I give the Cat a nice home, and she gives me a major dose of what my mom calls "responsibility for another living being's happiness." Which I have been told I need. Responsibility, sensitivity, awareness, blah, blah, blah.

Because there is a weird myopia that happens when you're twenty-seven and accustomed to living alone: every other living, breathing creature becomes an imposition on your life. For instance, when birds wake me in the morning, I feel irrational rage at their intrusion upon MY LIFE and MY BEDROOM. I hate them, because they're clearly on earth just trying to keep me from getting a full eight hours.

But now, I've got a cat, and I'm sensitive, so I think, "How nice that the birds have trees to be in, and their trees were here before my apartment, so we'll just have to share the universe. Lah-di-dah." Then I check in with the cat, and see to her needs (cat food) before my own (coffee). This, apparently, is what grown-ups do.

I've been working to adjust to this responsibility--and YES, I do realize that cats are ridiculously independent and need very little and this particular cat would probably attempt to eat my face if I fell asleep for too long and she got hungry enough--but it is still a first step in my life! I am her person. She doesn't eat if I'm not around. That's something!

The cat, this cat that is teaching me "responsibility for another living creature's happiness" is weird. She snores. Like human snores. We take lots of naps together, on the futon. And on more than one occasion, I've woken up, which has woken her up, and I wander into the kitchen for a snack because that is what I always do after a nap, and she wanders into the kitchen to pick at the leftovers in her food bowl, and I'm at the cabinet eating chips, and she's at her food bowl, and she looks up at me, and I look down at her, and we both seem to say: "Hey! This is alright."

And on Saturday morning, while I was in bed working on a short story (congratulatory pat on the back for working on a short story!), she curled up at my side and put her head on my chest, and kept me company while I worked. And I'm not saying I've gone totally soft, over-the-moon, my-cat-is-a-real-person, crazy. I'm just saying it was nice.

With enduring sensitivity and a grown-up sense of responsibility,


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nightmares and Dreamscapes. True Confessions.

(Just out of curiosity: do these pictures make you feel warm and fuzzy, or do you kind of want to barf?)

My friend, mentor, and fellow BBC drama watcher, Daniel, hates to hear people talk about their dreams. HATES IT. (I dedicate this post to him, though he doesn't even read the slog.)

I had this dream last night...

I was doing a crazy round of speed-dating in an empty parking structure. You know how it is. For each round that a girl makes it through, she runs up a level on the structure. The goal was to reach the top, and be paired off with the person of my dreams. But, I kept getting distracted, and then allowing myself to get swept up to the next level without actually choosing anybody.

When I reached the top, a bossy woman asked me who I chose. "I don't know," I wailed. "I forgot to decide." Well, she gave me a list of the names that were leftover. But she said I could pick two. The leftovers! I picked the first one, "Eric Smith." I remember so clearly, because I thought Eric Smith had had really cute glasses. (Who is Eric Smith? No idea. In my waking life I don't know any Eric Smith.) Then, I picked some girl, because I am apparently pansexual in my dreams.

But, when they emerged from the crowd, it was a different Eric Smith--no glasses. He stood there, smiling at me, not the person I thought I'd chosen, and then the girl came forward. She walked toward Eric, and he reached out and put an arm around her, and they started kissing. I just stood there like, "What just happened?" Even leftover, odd man out, not-the-right Eric found his match.

And the cheese stands alone.

I woke up in a cold sweat, with my heart pounding, knowing FOR CERTAIN that I don't want to end up at the tippy-top of the parking structure of Life, without having picked somebody.

When I forced Scott to listen to the dream, he said, "Well, there's not too much subtext to figure out there."

Here's why I had that dream:

1. My friend Wendy just recently told me that she knows someone who filled out an eHarmony profile, and was REJECTED. From eHarmony. Millions of people on the site, and a person can just get told, "Sorry, you're on your own"?? I've always assumed that if nothing else works out, there's eHarmony--but MAYBE NOT! This fills me with dread. If eHarmony told me they couldn't find a single match out of millions of profiles, what kind of chance would I stand in 3D? None. None chance.

2. At the grocery store, I told someone I was moving to LA, and she said, "Why not? It's not like you have a baby or anything." Which, though inarguably and wonderfully true, also unsettled me because...

3. I recently read an article about women having babies later in life. It said something like, "What most women don't realize is that their fertility takes a NOSEDIVE in their late twenties, and continues to PLUMMET into their thirties." And isn't that language dramatic?? But also, oh my god, I'm LOSING TIME!!

4. I watched a Paul Newman movie directly before bed. Suffice to say, of all people in the world, ever, he's who I would choose as I ran the levels of any garage--I'd pick him again and again and again. Forsaking all others.

In my waking life, I don't much care if I'm climbing the levels of the parking structure in solitude. I like it fine. But apparently, in my subconscious, I'm going just a little bit crazy.

Daniel would say it's something I ate. My subconscious brain free-associating. Nothing to puzzle over. But I'm puzzling.

In honestude,

Monday, April 19, 2010


(This is from a google image search for "people on busses." I've got no idea who they are.)

(My bus did look just like this. But empty.)

Last week, I did something I've never done before here on the Palouse: Public Transportation. Public transportation is not often needed when you live in the sort of town where you can park your car and forget it for days on end. But friends needed to borrow my car for the weekend--and on account of them always being willing to loan me money, or their baby when I really need to cuddle her--I said YES. I said, "I'll have no trouble getting a ride home from Lewiston." And I thought I was telling the truth. But then, I did have trouble getting a ride home from Lewiston.

So my dear, patient boss (who, at this point, probably would not be surprised if I asked her, "Hey, Mary, can you show me how to tie my shoes? It's so tricky!") explained how to catch the bus in Lewiston to get home to Moscow.

Apparently, you sit at the only bus stop on campus a little before 5:20, and when the only bus comes board it. This made me very nervous. I convinced myself that maybe the covered bench that said "Bus Stop" wasn't actually the real bus stop. (It's too easy.) What if the real bus stop is actually that sign-less shady, grassy spot on the other corner of campus, and I'm sitting in this old, out of use bus stop like a total schmuck? (This really is how my mind works.) Then, I worried that I might get on the wrong bus! I consulted the transit map posted at the Bus Stop. I confirmed, again, that there is only one bus and it says "Moscow" when it is headed North, or "Lewiston" when it is headed South. I was already in Lewiston, so I felt pretty confident that I should board any bus that said: Moscow.

Can I tell you about this bus, that I did eventually successfully board? Well, it has twelve seats. Total. How many of them were occupied on this, my rush hour commute? One. Mine. I was worried that the bus driver would then try to talk with me, but good news! The bus shakes like that taxi cab that transports Bill Murray through space and time in Scrooged. Were I made of cream, I'd have been butter by the time I reached Moscow. I'd been churned.

With no music, no book (tooooo shaky), no talking to anyone (so loud!), I had the strange experience of being an entirely passive passenger. I had no responsibility! I was bored! There weren't even any other passengers to watch. When on public transportation, there is little to do but marvel at public transportation, and also to marvel at the fact that public transportation is, to me, worth marveling at.

But a girl can only marvel so long at the smell, the heat, and the sounds of a bus. I started reading every posted sign I could find. I saw bus schedules on which someone had written, "Obama and Biden" and then crossed out letters, writing over them so it read "Osama bin Laden." I saw a sign that said in jumpy bubble letters: "Anyone can ride the bus, Everyone should." Right next to it, a sign read: "The bus driver has the right to refuse any rider for reasons he/she sees fit. These include, but are not limited to anyone: apparently under the influence of drugs/alcohol; possessing offensive body odor; carrying communicable diseases; a danger to himself/herself or others."

Apparently not just anyone can ride the bus.

Then I thought: I wonder how many people in the world have, at some terribly low point in their lives, exhibited all four of those "grounds for refusal" at once? Probably a whole, whole lot. And of those people with body odor, communicable disease (yikes), and the potential for self-harm, how many of them have mothers, fathers, sisters, husbands, children who worry for them? How does a person become the odorous, dangerous, drunk type of bus rider? There must be a story for each and every one of them. They were babies with sweet-smelling heads. They were little kids who got nervous about school. Then, obviously, something changed: addiction, or illness, or tragedy. But they each have a place they're coming from, and a place they're trying to get to.

On crowded public transportation, I always watch like a hawk for that unsavory type of rider--and I stay well-enough away. But, probably because my bus was empty (I've got a heart, but it can be small and lazy), I was temporarily able to suspend judgment on all those people that bus drivers (wisely) refuse. And it felt nice, I felt lighter, to have put judgment away for even a little while. (At the end of the ride, a woman boarded who was a total mouth-breather, and I found myself, once again, a judgmental little wench.)

The good news for this slog is that I've got my car back, and once again I spend my drives singing terribly to songs on the radio. I haven't gone all bleeding heart for good, or anything.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

News from the Spider House.

Hello Slog!

Sheesh. What does one do when life starts happening and all you want to do is tell your blog about it, but no time! NO TIME!

Things that have happened:

1. A handyman came and put some terrible, terrible, dangerous, deadly acid down my shower drain. It created a chemical reaction that I could hear banging all through the pipes that run all the way under the house. It also made my entire apartment smell like the inside of a hard-boiled egg. The handyman said, "Do you know what this is?" He held up the bottle. "This is pure, concentrated evil." But--

2. My shower DRAINS. This will be especially good news for the AP, because she gets here tonight, and her shower experience will be significantly improved (sorry to other guests--Mom--who had to put up with the bath-shower (the bower, the shath) situation).

3. The clearing of the pipes, by pure concentrated evil, may make it harder for deadly, not-so-itsy-bitsy spiders to make it up the water spout. Hurrah!

4. I had a TERRIBLE dream about getting bit by a Brown Recluse spider (not yet sighted in my apt.), that looked, in my subconscious, like a tarantula encased in a bouncy ball and could smell fear, and would come bounding (bouncing) after me. Spiders. They are the central drama of my life.

5. It's spring in Lewiston, which apparently means: lawn mowers. Here's the weird thing--I can be anywhere on campus: my office, a classroom, the coffee shop, the copy room, and as soon as I open my mouth to speak, a lawn mower starts up in my immediate vicinity. I'm in my office right now and guess what?!? Lawn mower. Lawn mowers are the soundtrack to my life. My students resent it, of course, because I'm shouting even louder than I usually do.

6. I have cut the bloody hell out of my thumb. It seemed, at the time, like a good idea to slice a sharp knife through some soft cheddar cheese in the direction of my fingers. So, when blade met skin, as was inevitable, I simply said, "Well, I knew that was going to happen." And found myself a Bandaid.

7. Hmm...what was the last thing? What was it? I had something else to tell you...Oh yeah. I'm MOVING TO CALIFORNIA. Here's a song about it. (Check out the 1:20 mark for a shout out to Bea Arthur, hallowed be her name.)

Here are some California Raisins about it. I've missed you, Slog! How do you feel about living in California?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Today, I woke up and had a familiar thought: "Do I really have to get dressed, again? I just got dressed yesterday! And the day before that!" Does this happen to anyone else? Do you think, as I do, that finding clothes to wear every day is kind of monotonous and awful?

(FYI: I am grateful to be able to have a variety of clothes to choose from. That's lucky, and I know it. But this isn't a gratitude blog, it's a slog.)

(We miss you Brittany Murphy)

Remember Cher from Clueless, and how much fun she had putting together matching ensembles? Well, that is not real life! In real life, if you're me (and last time I checked, I am) you're so bored with the task of clothing yourself that you just keep a pile on the floor, and pick from it willy-nilly, looking for what's not too wrinkled, or too visibly stained. In real life, we also don't have our closets computerized, nor do we think thigh-highs are acceptable to wear to high school. At all. Right?

The trouble is, when you start out a day feeling overwhelmed by the mundane task of putting on clothes, the rest of your day is probably not going to go well, either, because you've got a bad attitude. And by you, I mean me. I had a bad attitude.

To wit: I put on clothes; I called someone who wants to rent my apartment; I called my landlord to tell him about aforementioned person; I told the landlord about the TERRIBLE things happening in my shower (whenever I run my sink, black gunk spews out of the shower drain. I probably won't mention that to the potential new tenant); I made an appointment at H&R Block to see Captain Kelly (more on that later); I closed my index finger in a bathroom stall at the gym--which is forcing me to type without using it, and it is taking at least twice as long as usual.

Now, Captain Kelly is a tugboat captain, as well as a renowned Moscow Taxman. I saw him last year, and during the course of our two hours (at least), he asked me some very personal questions (why am I still single? do I want to have kids? if I do, I best not wait until it's too late, he knows too many women who regretted waiting, etc.). He told me a bit about tugboats, and about how he got really into grunge music while living in Seattle. He was in a book, even, talking about the best jukeboxes in Seattle.

So, when I brought my bruised index finger into H&R, I was sure that at least I'd get some good stories out of Captain Kelly. But...I think he was having an off day, too. I got only one story (he once dated a woman who said "bunchels of [insert noun]" instead of "bunches." That was a long time ago, but she was a really neat lady), and even worse--I could tell he was frustrated at me for forgetting one of my W2s. I know he was frustrated because he kept saying, "I'm going to take care of you like you were my own daughter, just like you were my own daughter." But, he wasn't saying it to assure me, he was saying it to steady himself. Like, "if you were some stranger, I'd really let you have it and kick you out of here, but I'm not. I'm going to keep dealing with you, like I would have to if you were my own daughter."

So, I left Captain Kelly to finish my taxes (we ran out of time, on account of me leaving to track down a W2), and my awesome day continued with laundry, recycling, running the sink so that the plumber will see the putrid stuff that comes up the shower drain, and then I got in my car. This is the part I've been trying to get to all along (you say: then, by god, get to it ALREADY):

A Justin Townes Earle song was playing, here it is if you fancy a listen:

Isn't it something how a day, and a life, can contain such mundane junk: plumbing problems, missing W2s, loads of recycling and laundry, busted fingers, as well as containing art? Art just kind of popped up right in the middle of all of it, and I relaxed, and my bad mood lifted, because people are out there, making things that are meaningful and beautiful and meant to be appreciated by sloggers like me. And then I thought to myself, Hey, I might just get dressed again tomorrow.

Nine-fingered but powering through,


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Look what the Easter Bunny brought!


I'd like you to meet Cerie. My new laptop. This is now where I am blogging from. As you can see, it is a new, very pretty laptop--young and gamine. Thin. Thus, Cerie, after the character on 30 Rock. We're still getting to know each other, but so far so good. I've promised not to break her, and she's promised not to break me. It seems fair.

But, we don't get anywhere by forgetting where we came from. Here, then, is a photo of the Toshiba Satellite, which I never bothered to name (that may have been where our problems began). It was a good, hard-working computer. I should've taken better care of it. When its internal temperature rose to, I don't know, eight million degrees, I should've looked into fixing the computer, instead of forcing us both to slog ahead, sweating. Honestly, I'm surprised I never got second degree burns from the heat of the keys. My bad, Toshiba. My bad.

This is the laptop on which I wrote my applications for MFA programs, and my master's thesis. (Hence all the food crumbs down in the keys--it's like I physically couldn't compose that thesis without some crumby snack in hand.) It's where I started my Facebook page, and my slog, and lost countless hours researching celebrities and other material for my fiction: favorite such searches include "ice mummies," "dirt-eating," and "marionette horror movies." Doesn't that make you want to read my stories? I know.

I don't know if you can see it, but the oil and dirt from my wrists actually imprinted themselves into the Toshiba, making two heart-shaped stains. Isn't that nice? And also a strong hint that I ought to wash my wrists more? Point taken.

Now I'm in this weird no-man's-land, where most of the work I need is still on the Toshiba, and it will let me turn it on for ten minutes, so I have to prioritize the items I most need to rescue, and then save them to a thumb drive and do it fast. It's daunting.

Also on the fritz: my iPod, my TV remote, and my shower. So, just another day in the endless, endless, battle between me and All The Technology in The World.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

No Computer.


There is so much I want to blog about, but my computer has crashed.




Using a friend's computer. Got to go.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

After two nights of watching singer-songwriters...

I want to MARRY a singer-songwriter.


I understand that they are just people, with all the indignities and imperfections of regular people. They put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. But they also play instruments, and write artful, intelligent song lyrics, and then sing them. And they've got such nice forearms that they show off while strumming their guitars. Many of them have tattoos. And history. I love tattoos and history.

While watching Joe Pug, Ciara said, "I just want to take him home and feed him." I was like, "Get in line." (Hopefully, Joe Pug likes cold cereal.)

This weekend, Birds on a Wire came to Pullman, and I discovered some new musicians that I'd never heard before. Now I want to tell my slog! Here are two videos that will do a little to recreate the magic of Joe Pug and Justin Townes Earle. But if these men ever come to your town, go see them! Please?