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Archive for October, 2007

The Battle of the Bulge

October 25, 2007 By: admin Category: Body, Cooking, Fatblogging, Food

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I’m bloated again. My Chinese herbologist tells me this will happen every other month. She says my ovaries are different–one is completely normal, and the other is given to regularly disrupting my life. I hate my ornery ovary.

“It’s a constant struggle,” my father says flatly. He’s a 70+year-old who has kept his weight steady since his 50s by eating rich foods, drinking like a sailor, and traveling the world. “Thanks for the encouragement, Dad” I reply through clenched teeth. Don’t men just sometimes have a knack for belaboring the obvious? The only time I remember be able to snigger when a man got fat was my first High School reunion. Dave Fallon, the former school dreamboat who I somehow (in some vague iteration of heterosexuality) had the incredibly good social fortune to finagle as my prom date, returned not only fat, but really, really fat. At 19 Dave was a porker, sporting several chins and a beer belly that hung decidedly low over his belt. In one, short year Dave had become one of those guys you wonder about how they tie their shoes.

Anyway, so I’m premenstrual again and just about ready to do serious damage. Reminds me of a post-it Laura used to have on our fridge in Carlisle: “I meditate, drink green, burn candles and still I wanna kill someone.”

Men will never know what this is like, this constant forced re-evaluation of the psyche. It’s why they can go on thinking like Neanderthals: they haven’t evolved through PAIN. I remember my friend, Linda Kennedy (one of the coolest names and chicks EVER), freshman year in theatre school… We were studying “method” (or “masturbatory”) acting and she was doing an exercise called “sense memory” that involves working on recreating a feeling you’d felt in the past–hot, cold, like that. She had her eyes closed and was sitting in a chair on stage, writhing back and forth, flipping her long, dirty-blond hair, and moaning rather loudly with an unmistakably frustrated tone. The teacher, in all his optimism asked calmly: “What are you feeling?” “Angry…” replied Linda through clenched teeth. “What’s going on?” came the teacher again. Linda’s response? A full-throated “I’M BLEEDING!!!!!!”

If I had to do sense memory again today I’d go back to the year of my first period. The year my cramps were so bad I thought my brain would explode. Specifically, I’d go back to the day the class bullies–all five of them–cornered me on the recess field, menacing me for some reason I can’t now remember. Emboldened, or perhaps made intimidatingly distracted by the uncomfortable soaked pad between my legs, I pulled out the small pocket knife I’d carried since my brother had brought it back from a trip to France several years before. As the bullies took one step forward I opened the knife without hesitation and asked “Do you seriously want to fuck with me?” It was one of my most favorite days ever. :)

Right now, sadly, there are no bullies to battle, only this growing gut.

Civic Duty, Fire Watching and the Malignment of “Possessions”

October 23, 2007 By: admin Category: Faith, Fire, Health, Mom

For those of you who were living under a rock for the past couple of days, Southern California has been engulfed from several angles by brush fires. Most were accidents, but one was arson. One of the really bad ones was arson.

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All day I was in jury duty, waiting to be called and watching the news like a hawk hoping the winds wouldn’t blow my way – toward my house. I’ve never lost precious possessions in a disaster and don’t imagine I would take it well, especially if it was any of Mom’s stuff. I can even see losing all my cameras and not getting as weepy as I would over M’s piano–the 7-foot concert grand that we can’t lift.

Possessions often get a bad wrap. Several religions say we shouldn’t be tied to any THING. But what if that thing represents all you have of a part of yourself. There’s no crime in attaching joy to something. That’s the way I see it, and so today I glory a little bit in some of the things I own. I’ve taken great pains to acquire some of the things I have. I don’t have much, but some of the things I have are special and I don’t want to part with them yet.

When Mom died I immediately went through her jewelry and beautiful skirts to see how I could divvy it all up. I looked down at the treasure-trove of gorgeous, valuable, powerfully-sentimental jewelry and was hit with a cold sweat. I couldn’t conceive of not giving some of it away. Most of it. There was so much power and meaning… and love in these things of my mother’s, so, like she had done in life, I thought it would be best to share them. I selected a few things especially for my aunts and sister-in-law. Things I thought they’d like, and things Mom would have liked to see them wear. It felt good. But then, after a bit of giving, I suddenly stopped and held the rest for myself. All of a sudden I felt a panic that I’d given too much away. Too much of her, and too much of me. I let myself cry for, like, one second, and then I let go. I still have a lot of her jewelry, and Dad has a few of the clothes neither of us is yet ready to release. We have enough. But just enough to make us feel her still a little bit. Is that awful? Of course not.

5:46pm, PST
“Update: MAGIC INCIDENT (LA County near Magic Mountain)- 5:20 pm, October 23. The fire that started near Magic Mountain in Los Angeles County has been stopped near the Ventura County line. 60 personnel are currently assigned to the incident to improve the fire-lines and mop-up hot spots. The fire is being contained at approximately 1,750 acres. It is 93% contained with full containment expected by 8:00 am on the 24th, with full control by 8 pm. Smoke from this fire is blowing into the Simi Valley and Westlake Village areas but should be diminishing.” –Ventura County Fire Dept. aka The Fat Lady…

Fun With Photoshop

October 19, 2007 By: admin Category: Gadgets/Tech, General, Randomosity

I recently met a young woman Photoshop guru. She taught me how to load brushes from this killer site called Aethereality.net, but also how to make my own brushes… The below photo is my most recent attempt at this kind of genius. Clearly, one needs an actual EYE for graphic design, but this shit just makes me so freakin’ happy I’m gonna keep on doing it anyway. :)

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I Finally Learned iPhoto: L.A. Decom Pix

October 17, 2007 By: admin Category: Burning Man

Here is a pic of L.A. Burning Man Decompression. This is a nationwide series of events that give burners a chance to reconnect with their last burn and each other in a cool, vibrant, creative space. In other words, it was a killer rave. :)

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The pic is of a projection on the wall of footage from Burning man. Most of the footage was of the fire dancers who did incredible things the night of the burn. Once M gets her pix developed, you’ll see some of the art from the playa as well as funny pics of M and our new best pal, Mike.

Crossing Over

October 16, 2007 By: admin Category: Burning Man, Gadgets/Tech, India, Music, Video

No, I’m not going to write about that guy on TV who talks to the dead. I’m going to write about L.A. You won’t believe this, but I love it a little. I’ve crossed over to loving it. How did this happen? Maybe it’s because M is finally having some of the life she wants and it makes me so happy to see her living it. Maybe it’s because I have a job I enjoy and and am in a location to do some great work for it. Maybe it’s because we’re finally meeting people who make us feel connected to meaning. Recently, we’ve been spending a lot of time with Burners, and they just — well — fucking ROCK. Two weekends in a row we’ve partied with these crazy, creative, kind folk and had the time of our lives. We have growing new best friendships, and are working with motivated, active people, not the usual all-talk-and-no-action “I came to Hollywood to find my dream and I’m still waitressing” types. Seriously. I’m on a people high. WTF???

Anyway, so things are great, and I’m loving what I’m doing. I finished up a kick-ass short version of the Shadhika promo film–with Usha’s help–and am so excited about the upcoming b roll shoots for the sustainability series. It’s good that I let that one sit for a bit to simmer. There is SO MUCH to cover I actually have to know it all so I can see how best to cut it down.

So…. I’m babbling. *thumb twiddle…* Started watching “Heroes” again. Loving that. Bought a fancy new audio recorder for India and am PSYCHED about it. Actually, I should put up a picture of it, shouldn’t I? Well, here’s the sales picture anyway:

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Meow, right? Edirol R-4: 4-channel recording to an 80 GB hard drive. I can’t even believe I have this thing!!! It’s first test will be M’s show in Ojai. Rockin’!!!!

Thanks for reading if you got this far. Really. This was the dumbest blogpost ever. You RULE for still being here. Wish I could give you a cookie. :)

“Fucking”

October 13, 2007 By: admin Category: India, Randomosity

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It has been said that theft is the biggest form of flattery. And so, here goes… I stole the following quote from IndiaUncut.com, who stole it from Steven Pinker:

“The Clean Airwaves Act assumed that fucking is a participial adjective. But this is not correct. With a true adjective like lazy, you can alternate between Drown the lazy cat and Drown the cat which is lazy. But Drown the fucking cat is certainly not interchangeable with Drown the cat which is fucking.”

Monogram

October 10, 2007 By: admin Category: Mom, tattoo

I want to get a tattoo. There’s a symbol Mom has loved as long as I knew her. A Peruvian bird. It’s very specific and a bit Aztecish, and perfect and I want to get it. But M doesn’t want me to.

What is it about our loved ones that they have this kind of hold over us? Why don’t I just go the hell out get the fucking tattoo??? And for those of you about to psychologize me, I’ve been over it. It’s NOT rebellion, and it’s NOT some odd screaming out for attention. Rather, it’s a feeble, tiny, PERMANENT attempt at carrying her with me. Yes, permanent. I’m attracted to the permanence of it. Attracted to the permanence of it being the representation of my CONSTANT attempt to connect with my dead mother.

“You needed more time with her.” Jesus, fucking Christ — how obvious is it….???

Un beso,
Alex

Why I’m Not Voting for Hillary

October 10, 2007 By: admin Category: Campaign 2008, Faith, Iraq, NewsQuake!, Politics

The following is a recent article I wrote for Propeller.com‘s original blog, “NewsQuake” (Propeller is the new name for Netscape.com, where I work. “NewsQuake” will be changed as soon as we figure out a name that works with “Propeller.”):

When Hillary Clinton was first elected senator from New York in November 2000, I was living in Brooklyn and was still a huge Clinton Family fan. I’d voted for her husband twice, and now I voted for her. I was thrilled to have the incredibly smart ex-First Lady as my state’s new senator. She was so savvy and politically experienced, poised, charismatic, and–a woman!

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Sadly, the glow would wear off sooner than I could imagine. On October 10, 2002–less than two years after she had been elected–Senator Clinton gave a speech on the Senate floor, discussing the pending resolution that would grant President Bush unprecedented military powers, as well as the authority to invade Iraq. In her 2,476-word speech, Clinton urged the nation to tread very carefully. Saddam was bad, she said, but war was far, far worse. “If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us.” She spoke of tyrannical Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his eventual defeat. “We and our NATO allies did not depose Mr. Milosevic, who was responsible for more than a quarter of a million people being killed in the 1990s. Instead, by stopping his aggression in Bosnia and Kosovo, and keeping on the tough sanctions, we created the conditions in which his own people threw him out and led to his being in the dock being tried for war crimes as we speak.” It started out as a good speech–a great speech–but didn’t end as one. After delivering about three-quarters of a very convincing and passionate anti-war message, Senator Clinton voted for the resolution.

Her entire speech was spin, and I felt betrayed. But I wasn’t the only one. In the years since she cast that vote, Clinton has been haunted by it. She has had to answer again and again for that decision–her presidential campaign has been dogged by it–and she has had to watch as military decisions based on her vote failed time and time again, costing trillions of dollars and many thousands of lives.

Because of her vote, I was angry at the senator for a long, long time. For me, her support of the war was the ultimate line-crossing, an unforgivable act. And yet, when she announced her candidacy for president in January 2007, I decided to give her a second chance (as did many Americans and New Yorkers). Betraying my earlier instincts, I reasoned that the past was the past, and told myself that there was little she alone could do about the current debacle in Iraq. In short, I started letting myself like her again.

As her presidential campaign unfolded, I was once again charmed by her intelligence and poise. I was inspired by the idea that she really could become our first female president, and would therefore be more compassionate. There was a desire for change, a promise of strength, but most of all, there was the hope that Clinton, with her eight-year track record as the most politically active First Lady, could repair our nearly devastated foreign relations.

And then the other shoe dropped.

On September 26, 2007 the Senate assembled to vote on the politically psychotic Lieberman-Kyl Amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill–an amendment that, in no uncertain terms, authorizes military action against Iran. Now, let’s put aside for a second the awkward fact that the amendment was being debated while the President of Iran was visiting this country. Let’s also put aside the question of where the troops for such an invasion would come from. Instead, let’s consider how much data there is clearly demonstrating how much Americans don’t wish to launch another war.

As I read the amendment, I wasn’t as terrified as I usually am by such things, because I was sure that Hillary (as I was now calling her) would lead the logical and overwhelming opposition. Here was the chance to correct her earlier, gargantuan mistake. She could use her clout as a presidential candidate to quickly vaporize the lunatic project.

Imagine my sense of betrayal when she did just the opposite, and voted in favor of the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment.

Candidate Clinton has now voted for war not once, but twice. No additional sanctions, no continued, UN-driven multilateral talks–war. It is therefore that, with heavy heart, I give up on her. I have no other choice. If she can do this as a senator, what insanity would she approve as president? She had, and still has, the opportunity to lead by example, to show the world that we aren’t a nation of bullies and Lone Rangers, but rather one for whom diplomacy and negotiation are the stuff of foreign policy. Let’s hope she turns it around. I’d like that, but I’m not going to hold my breath, and, in the interim, will seek elsewhere to cast my vote.

Photos

October 09, 2007 By: admin Category: Mom

Growing up, I always felt invincible. I didn’t start having the death dream until I was in my early teens. Then, a cold sweat after the midnight realization would keep me up. It was only thoughts of Mom that kept me from completely losing my shit and screaming in the dark. Mom was invincible, was my feeling. I certainly never saw myself as ever becoming “one of those people” who’s parents died untimely and before I was ready for them to.

A few weeks ago I unearthed some new photos of my family. Mike and Laura’s wedding pix in particular yielded gems. Mom looks so cute in her rumpled adorable way at a picnic table in Monterey the afternoon after the wedding. I put up as many pictures of her as I could find in the stack because I needed new pictures around me, to comfort me. Tonight, though, they provide little comfort. I look at the picture of my rumpled, adorable Mom and miss nuzzling my nose in her hair. The smell of her always made everything negative evaporate.

I’ve been missing her a lot lately. It’s a longer wave than it usually is, this feeling. Sometimes it’s just so goddamned awful to think that she’s gone, that I’ll never be able to hold her, or smell her ever again. Sometimes anger replaces pain and it’s all I can do to keep my head from exploding. Maybe that’s why I work so much harder now — to keep the explosions at bay.

The Universality of Joy

October 08, 2007 By: admin Category: Food, Living, Music, New Orleans

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My friend Michelle, a New Orleanian, sent me photos of her recent trip to Spain. Among the 234 images taken with her point-and-shoot Michelle captured breath-taking human pyramids, raucous stick dances, and fireworks–in other words, revelry–proving once again that wherever you find a New Orleanian, you’ll find a party.

There’s a unique way that New Orleanians enjoy life. They allow the pleasures of life–food, drink, music, camaraderie–to fully penetrate their minds and hearts. As a result, they just enjoy things more than most folks. New Orleanians are some of the most ALIVE people I’ve ever met. They’re also very present, rarely dwelling on anything for very long. Usually, it’s just too damned hot to dwell.

It’s for these reasons that I find it hard to understand why others don’t try harder to understand the challenges New Orleanians face trying to rebuild post-Katrina. Not only have they been physically devastated, the emotional devastation has to be crushing. To be promised hope and relief and help and to not receive it so long after the fact has to be demoralizing in a way I can’t comprehend. That’s why I’m thinking of going back. I’d like to do a story on one family’s struggle to rebuild. I’d like to get up close and personal as they make phone calls to federal agencies and visit the courthouse to fill out form after form. We have become an ADD society that only “sees” what’s happening in clips on TV. Once a clip is replaced by another, for most, the story is over. I’d like to go beyond the clip and take viewers through what it actually takes to get your house rebuilt in New Orleans.

Anyone have any suggestions about where I should do this?