Thursday, October 28, 2010

Humble Abode

And when I say humble, I mean rustic... My penchant for old things has finally reached its pinnacle with our new home. Built in 1932, the Spanish fourplex that we live in is simultaneously shabby and beautiful. Damaged during the Northridge earthquake, our second floor unit has such a slanted floor that you can roll a pencil down to its sagging corners.
But I am determined to reveal its utmost potential! This is hard to do on a budget, but as I set out to take my little iPhone photos of my favorite nooks, I realized I have had some very good luck at finding inexpensive treasures. I also realized that I am a hopeless street scavenger...real classy.

Let us begin at image 1 with the mint-green vase that cradles my little succulent.
Vase: $7 on ebay
Succulent: Poached from a floral arrangement at a wedding

Image 2
Glasses: $10 for a set of 5 from the Jewish Council Thrift Shop; these occasionally debut as vases, thereby doubling their value!

Image 3
Painting: free, by me. If you can't afford art, make it.

Image 4
Frame detail on a Japanese painting from different Jewish Council Thrift Shop: $15
Also pictured, though quite foggy, red stocking screen print obtained in rather hazy time of life and a print from best friend, Kelly Ball.

Image 5
Embroidered pillow cover: $5 for a pair at local garage sale.
Bulgarian doily: A gift from Zlatka, my Stepmom's Mom.
Huge beautiful chair: free, bitches.

As a curbside scanning freeloader, this chair may be my crowning glory. Some call it disgusting, I call it fate. One day, my friend Michelle came over to see our new place before work. Seeing as we'd be proceeding to our place of employment using, for her, a foreign route, she decided to follow me. As I wove the way through Pico Blvd. and beyond, I screeched to a halt. There she was: the mustard colored chair of my dreams (because our collection consists mostly of 70s stragglers, we have a lot of mustard-colored furniture). Perfect condition, brass buttons and filled with down.
Michelle stopped behind me and, after failing to put the chair in my caboose, we put it in hers. See what I mean? Fate. If Michelle hadn't followed me to work, I never would have been able to claim my rightful place upon this velveteen throne.

My sister-in-law thinks I bought it on the hush, and, to hide the extravagance, invented this story. But I know the truth. It was a gift from God.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Just Love Old Stuff

About 6 years ago, on a magical night of good wine and conversation with a friend, I was introduced to the beautiful little world of stereoviewers, stereoscopes and the three-dimensional amusement of a bygone era.

Stereoviewers, or Stereoscopes, allow small, side by side, images to converge into one curiously rich 3D experience. As soon as my friend set me up with one of these, I fell in love. As a Jane Austen-loving girl who grew up putting socks on my hands like they were gloves at a ball, I found my key to the past where I belonged. He had boxes of the photographs and I think I looked at all of them.

He sent me home with a spare viewer (yes, this awesome photophile had a spare stereoviewer) and I have amassed a small, but precious, collection since.

Above, you can see a couple of favorites from my collection that really come to life through a viewer. The Kremlin, whose water emits a perfect reflection in 3D, and Swedish women picking sugar beets in their bonnets; they look like aligned mannequins picking at the soft soil.

People collected these as tokens of a land they may or may not have visited...almost like flipping through an issue of National Geographic at exotic things you'd never see otherwise.
The photos still allow a vicarious experience, but of a time past. And I love them for that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

back in the saddle

After a very complex transition between jobs, company I keep, feelings that I feel, and hobbies that I neglect, I think I am ready to start blogging again.
I began a new job at Craft, and, while the caucaphony of clattering silver and gulping patrons was not something I missed about this industry, I found something quite unexpected.
The people. Oh, my colleagues, how I love you! Brought out from behind my rather bleak and weary shell, I am perfectly at ease being my unpredictably sensitive and offensive self with them. I am even lovingly nicknamed "No Filter."I kind of like's true.

So although this is certainly not what I expected to be doing after my 2009 graduation from UCLA, I can't think of a better outcome from this unexpected detour than getting myself back. Perhaps it's also a symptom of years passing, but I'm feeling a bit more settled in this skin sack. Although my previous job was in a serene, creative setting, I somehow felt malnourished within. This new endeavor piles papers of wine and food print-outs all over me...I know what a fejoia is (do you? didn't think so).

Moving on from fejoias, my point is that I will be blogging again.

The poem in my previous post is the first that I have written in over a year. Inspired to pour out some sort of thick verbal gook, I wrote it after my Nana's death. The week she died, I thought about all the things I wanted to be doing and wasn't. I thought about how she would want me to be happy. Strangely, it helped me to know what I need to be happy when I looked at what she would want for me.

I'll be posting again soon.


On the rarest of openings, being
reminded of that gaping tenderness,
too great to blanket or mend,

An opening with shaking-leaf edges,
the inside is a fact,
a truth-
agape at itself

The beholder becomes an accomplice,
a cursed knower,
reluctant follower
or serene meditation.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lars and the Real Girl: After (Thank God it's Over!)

I know I'm stubborn and self-righteous. But I love a good debate. I married a man who's razor-sharp wit and intelligence can overturn my lifelong convictions. Sometimes, I like being proved wrong. It gives me hope that there is always more to learn.

Well, no such luck on LATRG. Just as I thought, it was another quirky, twee, indie darling with no real value and actors who are encouraged to condescend low enough to portray Middle America.

"Midwestern Life or Country Living?"
*sex doll says nothing*
"I would have chosen the same thing," Gosling says as he lovingly hands his wheelchair bound sex doll a copy of Country Living.

Ryan Gosling was so, very pleased with himself...all bundled up in that rosette-smattered baby blanket that he couldn't pull out of his mouth.

I understand what the writer/director were trying to do here:

This Lars fellow lost his mother while she gave birth to him. His older brother is freaked out by the grief of his father and skips town as soon as he can. Lars is raised on his own by a sad widower (although they never really go into detail about what kind of upbringing he had- a gross oversight considering we are supposed to sympathize with the outcome of such an upbringing). Father dies. Brother and sister-in-law move back. They are happy. Lars is weird. Sister-in-law gets pregnant.

Lars thinks, "Oh dear. My brother's wife being pregnant is bringing up all these issues I have of about my mother's death. It highlights my need for maternal love from a female. I'll order a sex doll."

Then, as a concerned reaction, the community pulls together and gives Lars a version of that maternal love that he needs so much. I get it, but I don't like it.

I think what this does, instead of uplifting the community, is perpetuate the misled sympathy of our culture toward irresponsible, childish men.

Perhaps I'd think more deeply about Lars' psychotic behavior if he were actually given characteristics of a man that is mentally ill. However, he reminds me of those self-absorbed, sexually confused artsy boys in high school who act socially withdrawn because they are immature cowards- NOT mentally ill.

I also found Gosling's portrayal inconsistent and unconvincing. He can only pretend to be completely unattractive for so long. There were quite a few moments where he gave out those steamy, leading-man glances that we all love so much. I wish someone like Paul Giamatti had played Lars. Now THAT is one unattractive method actor.

And now, for your enjoyment, a preview for Lars and the Real Girl Part 2:

Lars and the Real Girl: Before...

If anyone reading these words has previously been subjected to my film reviews, you might have noticed a slightly worn thread of feminist thought woven throughout. This time is no exception.

I am just over an hour shy of my first viewing of "Lars and the Real Girl," a film I have avoided since its 2007 release. I am going at the behest of my sister in law, a fan of the film and a very convincing one at that.

I remember seeing the preview for the first time...Ryan Gosling in shabby-chic (not the Rachel Ashwell sort...the Rivers Cuomo sort) cardigan and glasses...introverted and weird, yet still sexy. So this guy is so desperate for a woman that he latches onto a real doll? The kind that I have seen on late-night HBO sex shows where creepy basement-dwellers twiddle a rubber clitoris to elicit the doll's robotically shuddering orgasm? It's just one knife shy of Buffalo Bill.

Moving on...then the preview introduces the big-hearted quirky family and townspeople who, although concerned about Ryan Gosling's delusion, just want to make him (and his "girlfriend") feel accepted.

"Welcome, Rubber Doll! Nice fishnets!"

Now...I'm told by previously mentioned sister-in-law that this is the whole point...that real girls are better than rubber dolls.

I don't know where to begin.

1. There is something strangely reminiscent of Tiger Beat heartthrob publicity in this film/message. Ryan Gosling is a sex symbol. Girls dream about him. Girls who are plain and live a million miles away want to be with him. So his portrayal of a man who goes from plastic Playboy sex doll to one who realizes that women with brains are more his type reminds me of Jonathan Brandis saying he likes girls who can "pig out on a cheeseburger," causing millions of prepubescent girls to gain 5 pounds of hope.

2. I can't stand that simpering anorexic Emily Mortimer. She's one of those "method actors," and I can just see her bursting with pride in her big burgundy sweater as she exercises her way into the role of a Midwestern townie.

3. I have to go watch this now...more to come

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Old Me: A Retrospective

My dear friend and sister-in-law, Emily, has just moved to Los Angeles and is staying at our place for a bit. Bringing a new addition to our humble home requires much shifting about and much shuffling to and from our garage. Upon one of these garage trips- which started as a search for another cat litter box- I found the "me" box. You know, one of those parcels that contains all the main books, cds, letters, journals and bobbles from a certian time in your life. Well- I found it!

It contained:

-many cds (including PJ Harvey (ANGST!!!), Miranda Lee Richards (HIPPY!), Simon & Garfunkel (SMART HIPPY!!), Postal Service (HIPSTER ROMANCE!!!), PETE YORN (HOT!) and Aphex Twin [DRUGS! DANCE!])

-A photo of the awkwardly pubescent me at age 13...again- yikes. It was the summer between sixth and seventh grade and my mom, who's from Tennessee, took me to North Carolina and other parts of the South. While there, we came to see an old college friend of hers who was a single mom with a daughter my age. While I was popping zits in hotel bathrooms and applying oil-absorbing rice paper sheets to my face every five minutes- this other girl- "Jessica"- was loftily gliding her 5'10 willowy frame down streets while every man in eye distance rubbernecked to get a view of this future supermodel. She was also on her 5th boyfriend while I had just started talking to boys on the phone.
That weekend sucked.

-many books (such as Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth," which I have read several times despite its hefty 1,000 page count, "Paris Trance-" a book that I never read and bought because I liked the cover, and "The Elixir" by Robert Nathan- one of my absolute favorites that my junior high librarian gave to me)

-My High School yearbook- where a friend wrote for me to remember "the time we got drunk at your house and were looking in the mirror and said I'd be so hot if it weren't for my face." Yikes.
(and yes that's a picture of my high school gym class doing was a weird school...we did tai chi, as well...and built a racial pyramid...)

-A crystal clock whose origin I cannot tell. I think it was probably a gift to my parents and I swiped it when I moved out.

-A toy Yellow Submarine with George Harrison figurine. After spending my childhood rebelling against my father's love for The Beatles, I became a fanatic in High School and feverishly collected anything "Yellow Submarine-y."
Remember when they used to sell the paraphernalia at Tower Records?

-One of the many journals that Rachel and I used to trade off after we went our separate ways for high school. We'd write in the journal for weeks and then trade and have plenty of reading material for math class. I remember them being rife with mean sketches of annoying teachers and mutual enemies. And we were pretty funny, if I do say so myself.

-A hot pink bustier top that I thought was so cute when I was 18. One last time...Yikes!