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.