Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sorry for the extended absence blog, since I spend about 6 hours a day writing for The Frisky, I usually want to run screaming from my computer when I'm done. I enjoy my job, especially when something I was proud of goes to ABC News or CNN, but there's something so fleeting about blogs. I can pour my heart out on day and five hours later, it's in the's kinda soul-crushing sometimes. So, in case you missed it on The Frisky, I'm going to repeat of a piece I wrote about my mother and music...since apparently I can't get it together to make anything an archive here.

How Singer/Songwriter Chris Garneau Helped Me Through My Mom’s Battle With Cancer

I vividly remember the best and worst night of my year. As Barack Obama cheered “Yes, We Can,” my mother was absent-mindedly thumbing what we all agreed was a lump on her chest. I took comfort in the fact that she said it hurt—cancer doesn’t hurt. She’ll be fine, I thought. But as we toasted champagne and hugged each other for Obama’s victory, with brows slightly furrowed, I prayed for my mother, my strong and stubborn mother. I didn’t go with her to the doctor—my father did. I probably slept until noon, which was a common occurrence since I’d just driven all my belongings and my cat 1,991 miles from New York City to Santa Fe in three days. I was jobless, tentatively moving to Los Angeles in a few months and had no idea what I was doing with my future. And it turned out that my 58-year-old mother, my best friend and deepest confidant, had breast cancer.

My mother fought hard, not once feeling sorry for herself, using her weakened energy to write disheartening newsletters about what she was going through. After a double mastectomy, she came home and I cooked pumpkin ravioli and roasted chickens. I kept shutting down the voice in the back of my head, that tiny voice warning me that the cancer could come back. Even though my lovable, inscrutably honest mother was here now, it didn’t mean she would always be here. What right did I have to keep two parents who’d both survived cancer?

I tried to play it off like I always do in awkward situations, making jokes to keep up her spirit, lovingly calling her “Cancer Momma,” using all my strength to hold back tears every time I saw her, and refusing to admit that she could ever be in any real danger. I secluded myself to the guesthouse and did what I always do when I need to silence my brain; I put on music. That winter, the only record I cared to listen to was Chris Garneau’s achingly beautiful Music for Tourists. I like to think of it as a more morose, less Jesus-loving Sufjan Stevens combined with something gypsy-like and Dresden Dolls-esque. I played that record on repeat for three months straight. I listened to it drinking alone in the guesthouse and driving around windy dirt roads lined with squat salmon adobe houses. “Looking for an exit signs, looking for a lucky nights, and my darkened and boring rhymes, face it we’re living in war times.” It resonated with me—every New York anxiety, every self-conscious/self-absorbed meandering, even in what seemed to be the most rural hippie-art colony in America. Every lyric hit the bruise in my heart.

I listened to the record, and it kept me in this magical sphere, bringing me just to the point where my eyelids filled with tears, but then keeping them there just before the saline spilled and forced me to smile at the cheeky, conflicted lyrics and painfully gorgeous melodies. “Men doing men thing times, chewing candy and tobacco lines, drinking heart pruned pints, tossing nickels and dimes.” I listened to it in the waiting room at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, while my mother received radiation. It kept me incubated in the world Chris had created, which was just like my world but more eloquent, less pathetic, and prettier. Afterward, I went wig shopping with her, trying on the most ridiculous and then scouring the store and finding the only one that looked like her. Feeling glowingly proud about winning each trial.

She survived the cancer, the double mastectomy, the radiation, and the chemotherapy. She survived the hair loss, traveling back and forth to the Mayo Clinic, and being tired all the time. In the spring, I moved to Los Angeles, because as hard as I tried to stay by my mother’s side while she healed, she refused to let me put my life on pause any longer. I retired Music for Tourists in the move, as it only reminded me of the winter I spent crying and self-medicating.

But one day, Ben, the drummer I’d loved all four years of college, came to town on tour. When I went to Melrose to pick him up, he was standing with an adorable, diminutive boy who said, “Hi, I’m Chris.” My heart sped up. Chris. Chris Garneau. The boy I worshiped in college was playing in Chris Garneau’s band. The boy I made matzo ball soup for when he was sick, and for whom I pretended I’d always liked Modest Mouse, was drumming in Chris Garneau’s band. He was playing with the beautiful man-child who kept me sane all winter. And so I watched this gorgeous man I still harbor an ocean of feelings for accompany this man I’d silently worshiped for months play one of the most powerful sets in my life. I felt like it had all come full circle. Of course this was how it would end, my lover and my musician savior, who had kept me safe while the woman who’d made me exactly who I am fought that bastard cancer to the ground, were performing right in front of my eyes. And while I watched Chris manipulate something that resembled an accordion and Ben seduce the drums, I thought about my proud mother and how she came out of the dark side of her tunnel, glowing and free of cancer. I cried in front of 40 strangers, and I thought about how much I idolize her, my dear mother, and I couldn’t have been more in the present, taking every breath in, for once in my life.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stuff Boys Like

A lot of guys don't admit to reading blogs. They probably like to pretend they read the news and ultimate fighting recaps or something. But judging from the blogs directed at the male audience, there are several things guys in general are into... in general: phones, side boob, Home Depot, and fight clubs.

Go Go Gadget. You know how girls dress well to impress other women? Well that's how men are about phones. Having the newest model of a phone is like the boy equivalent of having a Chanel suit...except instead of being timeless, there will be a new model every six or so months. Boy gadget blogs are like phone catalogs where every phone is a precious work of art, described in great detail, and anxiously awaiting its unveiling. Boy Genius Report If guys treated their women like they treat their phones, we would be very much appreciated...oh wait but then there'd be another model to covet every six months. Crap.

The Other Boob. According to our trend watch, cleavage is totally passe, anyone who is anything is rocking side boob. For some reason guys are obsessed to the point of shunning whole boob in favor of just side boob. Maybe it goes back to that vixen/virgin conundrum and side boob comes off as more innocent or accidental than a contrived push-up bra? Or because side boob is generally the product of a bra-less breast? I can't believe there's a website devoted to the topic, what's next underboob? Oh wait...that's apparently a thing too. WTF.

Home Improvement. No matter how pansy-ass your man is, chances are he likes to pretend or succeed in building stuff. Men take great pride in their handyman skillz. This is why it pays to push a cart around your local Home Depot in heels and a hoodie. This College Humor girl knows what's up, "Favorite Smell: The lumber section at Home Depot---nothing like fresh cut wood." CollegeHumor You know hearing that makes boys want to build you a loft with their bare all sweaty and covered in sawdust, you guys can cuddle and stuff. Er...I mean do it.

Fight Clubbed. It's no secret that every guy loves the movie Fight Club. It unleashed every aggressive unrequited inkling in boys across the country. Even if a guy isn't actually tough, he's like to think that he could take another guy in a fight. They probably size each other up in the same way girls do when they're hitting on the same guy. Can I take this guy? Hell yeah, I'm scrappy son. That's how guys talk in their head. Even if a guy knows he's going down, he'll fight because losing is still cooler than just watching a fight. Gavin McInnes who founded Vice Magazine went ahead and got his butt kicked to prove this point. StreetBonersandTVCarnage I'm not sure what to compare fighting with in girl world, maybe starting an excellent debilitating rumor or finding nice clothes on sale? I don't really get girls. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Be Good or Be Gone

Cherry blossoms are blooming outside. My roommate's run away. Where should I go? I'm thinking Portland? Los Angeles is brilliant. It's beautiful and sunny and growing. I haven't done much with myself since moving here though. Sarah and I had an epic yardsale and the Hearts Challenger ice cream truck and the Tamale Guy came and there were lots of super attractive people I didn't know there. Then Sarah and I met this guy Matt who took us to Vegas for a weekend and fed us lots of Cheesecake Factory. It was awesome. My best friends Saskia and Demetra both visited me already so I got to explore the city with them a bit. I don't really know what to do with myself these days...I'm looking at classes now to keep me busy and might (shudder) apply for an internship to get some entertainment industry experience and have a reason to leave the house more than once a week. I don't feel actually depressed yet though...I feel pretty good-ish actually. It's probably the sun. Or the pretty boys I'm not dating. Or maybe it's just knowing that I got out of New York alive.

Habana Outpost Coming West Coast

My new friend, eco-restaurateur Sean Meenan is as earnest as they come, which is maybe a surprising description for a former Heavyweight Boxing Champ. 40-year-old Sean keeps himself busy, he was the original investor for, the DIY shopping community and Positively Green, the new women's environmental magazine. Meenan also started the awesome nonprofit Habana Works, Inc which hosts monthly workshops on sustainable energy and allows aspiring environmental architects to create environmentally-minded architectural projects that are incorporated into Sean's restaurant Habana Outpost.

Manhattan's Cafe Habana and Habana To Go, and the corresponding eco-eatery, Habana Outpost in Brooklyn were inspired by owner Sean Meenan not just as restaurants, but as chill neighborhood meeting spots that happen to provide social consciousness. The dining experience at Habana Outpost has a totally festive family barbecue feeling...if your family had magically became eco-conscious, Mexican/Cuban, and unabashedly hip. This summer, we're psyched to announce that a Habana Outpost will be sprouting in Venice and negotiations are underway for a Cafe Habana in Malibu's trendy Lumber Yard shopping center.

The festive outdoor venue, Habana Outpost, runs on (and supplies part of the neighborhood with) solar energy from the roof's solar panels. The plant-dappled rainforest-y restrooms use recycled rainwater to flush the toilets. And all the utensils, cups, and plates are compost-able (and shock of all shocks, actually composted) and made from sugarcane, corn, or potato starch. There's even a stationary bike-powered blender to blend your own smoothies (or pay an extra dollar to have the staff pedal), but working up a thirst makes it way more delicious!

Famous for their frozen mojitos and Mexican grilled corn with chili, lime, and cojita cheese, Habana also offers a full menu highlighted by the the catfish burrito, cuban sandwich with roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and chipotle mayo, and cactus salad with a delicious melange of radishes, tomatoes, queso fresco, and cilantro in a spicy lemon dressing. If the food guilt from eating three dinners is killing you, just hop back on the blender bike and think about all the eco-friendly things you did today!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

there we go again, so unsure about it. who we are and where we've been.

If you trace the topography of your love life, could you ever determine if you've come to the destination or if maybe it's just where your car got totaled? Maybe it's where your heart got totaled...remained leaking, sputtering, totaled for three years. If the engine needs replacing, is the vessel salvageable or must you wait for the cells to regenerate into a non-version of what it/you, once were? Maybe if you open the locked files and pour over the details you'll find the story arc. Maybe you'll find another peak to climb. Or maybe you're Sisyphus and you're pushing your totaled heap/heart up a hill only to have it crush you again? Is it a lost cause? Can you figure out from the map you've traveled whether you're damaged goods or whether you're the damager? Maybe you left your own trail of totaled parts behind you. Who puts out the damage report on future lovers? Those walking wounded? If you compile the letters-relationships mapped out but never driven and unfurl the mixtape soundtrack, maybe you could give it all back. The bands introduced, knowledge shared, kisses stolen. If you re-trace your route, could you figure out where you made that wrong turn? If it was a wrong turn? Perhaps every punctured tire, heart-heavy hitchhiker, accidental bridge crossing, were written into your map in the smallest of print? Every time you think you made a wrong term, you're where you are, where you're meant to be, you can't get lost enough.

I found a journal in my high schooled castaways, started from the beginning. The first-this is it-in a long line of I thought it was it before but now I know(s). I found a letter I wrote to myself as a seventeen-year-old girl to the same seventeen-year-old girl 9 months later. Sympathetic. Hurting. Acknowledging hurt. I found the letters from half a dozen love affairs never entered but fully emotionalized. Those tucked-in notes and creased secrets. Very real, very temporary feelings. The immensity of knowing no. this. is. it. And losing it. Laying the map out will probably do nothing to determine where I'm going but sometimes it helps to know where you've been and how you pushed through to now. Ticking. Sleepless. Now.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Worst Part's Almost Over

I know... it's been a minute. So I'm living in Hollywood with Sarah Morrison and Weetzie Bat. We have a super cute house that I've been decorating/fixing for the past month and we both have blogging jobs. I'll share more details when it launches of course. But I'm about to go into a new mode up in here, because I'm bored talking about the now and wish to write about the past/future I guess? So I thought I'd put it in real time first and introduce you to my new life...through pictures I took with my awesome new camera! I've been working on my ellipses usage lately, but I'm afraid it's not working out. :( It's nearly 7 o'clock in Los Angeles and the sun's still out. Weetzie is sitting next to me, cleaning her face with her paws. Sarah is at the end of our couch, blogging and sporadically commenting. I painted our living room mustard yellow because it's my new second favorite color...after moss green of course. So we've got the all important Pee Wee Herman shelf complete with Annie commemorative plates and mustache smorking labbit. I've got three antlered wall-mounted creatures so far...this one's from Show in Los Feliz...but it lived with me in Brooklyn before returning to where it belongs, with me, back in California! I found this super random Ronald Reagan portrait (it's made up of a speach he made-the words are the lines in the print) and I painted the background mustard. OMG. You're so bored already...I guess I could have just posted pictures but I already uploaded them all small and now there's all this white space between the pictures and it feels really necessary! Ack! So, um, below we have an Ikea rug and chair, but I got the chair at Goodwill used. I made the log pillow with a log pillow kit from ReForm School in Los Feliz or is it Silverlake? I don't really know where I am half the time. Sometimes, when I've run out of errands to run, I start driving one way down a street and see where it takes me. Usually, it's into a mountain over here. I guess I live in some kind of valley? But not the valley? I spent weeks scouring craigslist for mid century modern furniture and Eames era everything. Then I scoured for vintage wallpaper for the kitchen and ended up with this brown on cream bicycle pattern! It ended up only being enough for one wall, but it's pretty cute. I think. I've been having some frustrating days where I don't leave the house and stress about not making enough money to support myself...but then I have awesome days where I wake up, look up at the warm blue sky and bristling palm trees and feel pretty excited to be in California. It's pretty amazing being two hours from Mexico, thirty minutes from the beach, and less than a days drive from Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Santa Fe. My mom's been writing me long emails telling me that she's worried about my current lifestyle (i.e. not leaving the house) might keep me from meeting my future husband. Meanwhile, I have no desire to be in another relationship right now. I'm in no rush to get married until I am in a place where I can be really proud of myself...not to mention I'm still emotionally bruised from my last venture to that place. Can't a girl catch a breather? I don't really want to get hooked into anything I'm not 100% excited about...which I have a tendency to do. It's much easier right now and be selfish in my new city with my new house! Yesterday, Sarah and I went hiking in Griffith Park and then drove to Santa Monica where we went shopping (with gift certificates) for a couple hours and then went to some awful Senior Frogs-esque joint full of guys that looked like un-stretched Stretch Armstrong dolls. But the place wasn't that awful because we were both exhausted and satisfied and 2-for-1 Watermelon margaritas are delicious. I hate to say it, but I feel optimistic. Sure, there's not much going right right now, but at least it's not going right somewhere where the sun can hit my shoulders and the stars can find me. Maybe my days of indulging in my own unhappiness are over. Maybe they're just going to be a different flavor.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

California Dreaming: The TV Show

It's been a couple weeks...relatively boring weeks. I went to Minnesota with my mom and while wandering around the Mall of America, I got a call. I got a call about a job. I got a call about an awesome job that I started last week! It's a blogging job for a site that doesn't officially launch until the end of February, but we're perfecting it now and it's gonna be totally awesome and for the first time in awhile, I feel good about my writing! I get to write about random news and I learn things every day. Nothing I've written in the past really had any affect on anything and now I feel like I can talk about things that interest me in my own voice without dumbing anything down! Super excited! Now I just need a part time job in LA and I'll be up in the mornings scanning the world for weird things to write about. Then I'm gonna lay around on the beach and make Erika and Sarah Mo come with me. Other awesome things happening, I blogged about Gilt Groupe on Missbehave, it's this super awesome sample sale site (they're having a HUGE sale right now...I bought a shirt and a dress for $50), anyway, whenever someone you invited buys something, you get $25 and apparently 169 people signed up from my link! So yeah, I bought presents for Erika and Sarah and me! I'm getting in my car next Friday, visiting my buddies in Vegas and then moving to Los Angeles officially (and finally). There'll be new drama, new friends, a new home, and lots of awesome new boys to makeout with (hopefully). In other fun news, I found this website called Iron Hymen today that's hil-arious. The road ahead is looking pretty awesome...I have no idea how I'm so excited right now but I'm gonna roll with it! Love you, mean it!