Tag Archives: love

Life’s All Pain (?)

Greetings, followers! I have a new blog post up on my podcast’s website. Would love for you to give it a look.

Ever feel like the weirdest person in the room? Ever feel like your mind is entirely too twisted? Ever feel lonely, scared, sad, and pathetic?

Ever watch Peep Show?

Read more here.

peep show main

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Ee Da Dee Da Deh.

Happy two days before Thanksgiving, all.

I posted a new blog to my podcast’s website this morning. You can find it here.

I thank you all.

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“Downton Abbey,” Dammit.

I’m trying to write a post about Downton Abbey for my entertainment themed blog, but I keep looking at the clock and thinking that I should get to bed.  It’s getting kind of late and I have too much to say.  I wanna turn my light off soon.  Plus, I wanna watch an episode from season two, and episodes of Downton Abbey are about 50 minutes long, so I should get to it if I wanna get to sleep at a halfway decent hour.

Watching Downton Abbey again feels strange.  When I first started watching it several years ago, I had just become unemployed.  My mother and I devoured the first season in a day and a half, just in time for the premiere of season two.  The second season was also a blast — progressivism and Spanish Flu and temporary paralysis.  There were only two or three episodes left to air when my mom came home one day and told me she had bought the entire season on DVD at Barnes and Noble.  This meant we didn’t have to wait another several weeks for the thrilling conclusion — the answers were at our fingertips.

“Wait, what do you mean it’s already on DVD?”

“The British version,” she said, smiling mischievously.  “The episodes have already aired in the UK.  Now they’re all on DVD.  At Barnes and Noble.”  We laughed like villains.

About a year later, season three premiered.  I had a job.  It was a silly job, but it was something.  I didn’t have work the day Downton Abbey came back on, though.  It was an exciting afternoon of coffee drinking and pajama wearing.    Then, a few days afterward, my mom and I had a fight.  I downloaded the rest of the season and watched it without her.

It was a stupid fight.  I guess it was necessary, though.  Well, no, not necessary, but kind of unavoidable.  That’s ok.  We’re close, so that’s what happens.  If I ever have a daughter, I hope I fight with her, too.  It’ll hurt, but it’ll be better than never fighting with her.  You only never get mad at people you don’t think about.

Anyway.  I watched the rest of season three by myself.  I was really sick that day.  I couldn’t breathe through my nose.  I was sad, and sick, and alone, and then sad things happened on the show and I felt even more sad and even more alone.  I couldn’t tell anyone about what I had just seen, because everyone else was watching it legally, and I couldn’t tell my mom, because she hadn’t seen the episode yet, either.  Because she was also watching it legally.  Without me.  Because I was mad at her.

Two months later I moved out of my parents’ house and immediately got sick again.  This time I had a fever and my throat was on fire.  All I wanted to do was lie on the couch and watch Downton Abbey, because it’s a great show to watch while you’re sick, even though it’s only going to make you sad.  I kept putting it on, but every time I did there was all kinds of, “This isn’t my thing” and, “This is boring” and, “We should rent Wreck It Ralph.”  There was also Branson.  Tom Branson.  Jealousy over my attraction to Tom Branson.  The chauffeur.  The Irish chauffeur.  The fictional Irish chauffeur.  And for all my reassurances of, “Tom Branson isn’t a real person,” I was never quite forgiven.

But that’s all over.  That is so, so over.

Season four premiered on Sunday night.  I didn’t watch it ’till Monday.  And it was silly.  And it made me happy.  And some parts of it annoyed me, and those parts made me want to email my mom.  So I did, because we’re not mad at each other anymore and haven’t been for a long time.  Because we love each other.  Really love each other.  So we worked things out.

Watching Downton Abbey in my own apartment makes me feel like I’m getting away with something — like I’m meeting up with someone I was temporarily estranged from, or catching up with an old friend I was previously banned from seeing.  Either way, the series is entirely too important to me.  I’m ok with that, though.  Why should I be embarrassed?  I watch the show and I feel happy and sad and excited and nostalgic and I think about love and sadness and change and forgiveness and good riddance.  There are worse things I could do than love Downton Abbey for deeply personal, totally inflated reasons, right?  I mean, just because it’s dramatic and stylized and British doesn’t have to make it stupid.  Right?  I mean, it’s not stupid.  It’s…It’s…

it’s motherfuckin’ Downton Abbey, bitchesAnd I’m gonna watch as much of it as I like.

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While I Was Sleeping.

Last night I came home to find a pile of envelopes with my name on them.  They were from places like UCLA Health, Keck Medical Center of USC, Wells Fargo…oh, and that company I have to pay to keep our water on.

“Fuck, fuck, fuuuuuck” I muttered while sorting through the pile of bills, bills, biiiillllls.

My roommate laughed.  I laughed.  Then I sighed.

“Dude, I know that once 2014 gets here my life is still gonna be my life, but I really need 2013 to be over.”

“Yeah,” she said, her tone softening.  “You’ve had a pretty rough year.”

I had a difficult time getting to sleep.  When I go to bed anxious — as in, “I’m lying down — why is my heart racing?” anxious — I have a tendency to, ya know, fall asleep for a few seconds and then wake up gasping for air.  It’s very strange.  Eventually I’ll fall asleep and stay asleep and everything will work the way it should, but during those moments where I find myself suddenly sitting up in my bed panting…well, it’s terrifying.  I described it to a doctor recently.  She still said I was healthy enough to be operated on (thus the bills), and she turned out to be correct about that.  I’m basically saying I don’t have regular Sleep Apnea.  I don’t think.  I mean, when I go to bed in a perfectly fine mood without a care in the world (rather, with a manageable amount of typical day-to-day worries), I sleep like a friggin’ log.

Anyway.  Enough about my myriad anxiety manifestations.

When I finally conked out, I dreamt I was at a party.  I don’t remember who hosted the party, but it took place at a beautiful cottage in a picturesque, woodsy location.  Imagine a Thomas Kinkade painting and then add a bunch of people standing around with red SOLO cups.  Everyone was outside talking, and CHRIS O’DOWD was there.  That’s right, ladies — Chris Friggin’ O’Dowd, the cutie-est, most patootie-est Irishman around.

Here he is in HBO's "Family Tree."  ::Sigh::

Here he is in HBO’s “Family Tree.” ::Sigh::

You guys, he was so into me.  Yes, in the dream.  He was…he was just down.  He was so down.  He wanted The Steff.  More than that, though…he seemed to genuinely like The Steff.  He kept smiling at me and laughin’ at my jokes and givin’ me compliments like, “You’re so interesting!”  I was so happy, you guys.  I was so tremendously happy.  Somehow, for some reason, Chris O’Dowd wanted to hang with little old me, and it felt perfectly natural and perfectly perfect.  He was a gentleman and a sweetheart and I felt completely at ease with him.

Now, years ago, I described a celebrity-themed dream to my first therapist (I say this like I’ve had dozens…I haven’t).  In my dream, Dustin Hoffman guided me across a busy crosswalk on the Las Vegas strip.  He looked me in the eyes and told me something profound, which I ended up forgetting, and then I woke up.  My shrink was trying to help me figure out why Dustin Hoffman, of all the artists in the world, was the one who was offering me guidance.  To her, it was no accident that my brain conjured up images of Dusty while I slept — there was a very real explanation.  You can read about it here.

So, why, out of all the cute men in the world, was Chris O’Dowd the one making me feel special at a party?  I don’t know the man.  I don’t read internet gossip about him and I don’t know anything about his personal life besides the fact that he’s married (to a woman who has her own interesting damn career).  What I do know is that I find him very funny in his movies and television shows, and I find him very charming in interviews.  I love that he was on Girls.  I love that he was in Bridesmaids.  I love that he was on a Christopher Guest show.  I love that he stars in the film adaptation of one of my favorite books (that happens to have a kickass female protagonist).  I love that he co-created and co-wrote a comedy series about a little boy with an imaginary friend.  It’s called Moone Boy.  It’s on Hulu.  It’s the sweetest show ever.  Watch it now.  


"Moone Boy"

“Moone Boy”

If I ever learned that Chris O’Dowd was a total asshole, I would not only be very disappointed, I would also be very surprised.

Still, why him?

Because he’s entertaining.  Because he seems like he’d be fun to hang with.  Because he’s creative and has interesting ideas.  Because he’s not a Hollywood dickhead and his beard is awesome and I love his curly hair.  He’s unpretentious.  He’s hilarious and OUT THERE without being over the top.   He’s driven.  He’s successful.  He gets shit done.  And dude, when you watch Bridesmaids, you’re supposed to root for Kristen Wiig to end up with Chris O’Dowd, not Jon Hamm.  And ya know what?  It works.  Ya don’t sit there thinking, “Yeah RIGHT.  Like this Irish dude could ever upstage The Hamm.”  Ya sit there thinking, “Girl, he made you a cappuccino.  Calm down and get back into that damn bed.”

But really, I want to wake up tomorrow and find Chris O’Dowd in my room holding a cappuccino talking about how he wants to bake all day.  I would feed him allll the cupcakes.

Perhaps I’ll dream of that tonight.  But for now, back to last night’s dream…which took a rather dark turn right after I told Chris O’Dowd I was going to go inside the cottage for a drink.

“I’ll save you your spot,” he said, smiling.

By “spot,” he meant the spot where I was sitting.  At that point, everyone at the party was sitting on a wooden railing that lined a concrete walkway that lead to the cottage.  I smiled at Chris O’Dowd.  Then I stood up and walked away.  Moments later, I heard a loud CRACK.  Then I heard screams.  Then I heard a large THUD.  I turned around and saw that the wooden railing had snapped, sending the guests tumbling to the concrete.

They all landed on their heads.

Including Chris O’Dowd.

I screamed.  I looked around to see if I was the only one who hadn’t been sitting on the railing when it snapped.  I saw one dude standing by the railing — his eyes were popping out of his skull as he he struggled to remove his cell phone from his pocket.  He kept dropping it and picking it up and crying.  I ran over to him and yanked his phone out of his hands and called 9-11.  After I hung up I ran over to Chris O’Dowd to see if he was ok.  He was unresponsive.  As I sat next to him trying to wake up him, I noticed that a few of the people who had fallen had opened their eyes.  A few of them were wriggling around, trying to stand up.  One of them looked directly at me — his eyes were completely white.  Completely.  No pupils.  No irises.  He started grunting.

Like a zombie.

Then they all started wriggling and grunting and murmuring and I was terrified.

I looked toward Chris O’Dowd, but he was gone.

Just then, the paramedics arrived.    They did a quick examination of the guests who had fallen.

“They all have brain damage,” one paramedic told me.

I gasped.

Then my alarm went off.  And I woke up.

Perhaps I need to start looking on the brighter side.  Ya know.  Just bright enough to prevent future dreams of finding a worthy companion and then immediately losing him to a freak accident.  Perhaps this is simply a dramatic re-telling of every relationship I’ve ever been in.  Perhaps this is an unearthly, yet spot-on representation of the last year of my life.

Perhaps all of the above?  And perhaps tonight I’ll watch some Moone Boy before bed…just to help put me in a slightly better mood.

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1956 Called. Apparently It Doesn’t Want Petty Misogyny Back.

Holy Mother of All That Is Holy.

Yes, “Mother.”  Life-giver.  Caretaker.  Diaper-changer.  Housekeeper.  Chef.  Chauffeur.  Goddess Supreme who deserves nothing less than complete and utter reverence.

This article, if you can even call it that, was brought to my attention this afternoon by a good friend of mine via facebook.  It’s titled “Things women must learn from men.”  (That’s right.  It doesn’t even have proper capitalization, and yet there it is, in writing, for all the internet to see.)  This friend of mine deemed it, “one of many reasons why no one likes Yahoo!”  I opened up the link expecting to see some asinine dissertation on lipstick shades and sexting, but, instead, I saw something a couple million times more terrifying.

The piece begins:

Things women must learn from men

Beyond doubt, women are the finest creations of the Almighty. They posses some qualities that are even beyond the comprehension of men. However, if they adopt some of the qualities of men too, they will undeniably be the better sex.

From the beginning, this article (feature, commentary, whatever) is a complete waste of time.  First of all, I’ve had enough of The Almighty being used as a tool to minimize womankind.  It’s bad enough that He keeps coming up in the political discussions of the [mostly male] sociopaths who run this country, but does He also have to make appearances in Yahoo! puff pieces?  BAD Yahoo! puff-pieces?

“They possess some qualities that are even beyond the comprehension of men.”  This is just boring.  If I wanted to be entertained by this kind of shit, I’d pour myself a drink, put on Down with Love, and call it a day.  News Flash: there is no “better sex.”  There are amazing men and amazing women, as well as shitty men and shitty women.  And please, let’s not minimize gender inequality and bring it down to the level of Boys vs. Girls like it’s Coke vs. Pepsi.  Please?

Oh, but you’re going to, aren’t you?  You just are.  You so are.

There is no foreseeable end to the battle of the sexes. So it would be wise to come to terms with the fact that both sexes have some qualities that are unique to each of them. Men are creatures of physical strength, chivalry and pride whereas women are creatures of beauty, grace and elegance. However, there are some things that are universal to all men, but went somewhere missing in the case of women. Let’s take a look at some of those things.

Most things just aren’t universal.  That’s not my UC Santa Cruz liberal education talking — it’s just a fact. “‎Men are creatures of physical strength, chivalry and pride whereas women are creatures of beauty, grace and elegance.” I’m gonna hafta stop ya right there…I can accept the fact that my brothers can lift more weight than I can, but I can belch like I have balls.  And what about all those [awesomely sexy] skinny men out there who just plain cannot gain muscle?  Also, who the Hell is to say that men cannot be elegant?  Have ya seen Fred Astaire dance?  Have ya seen David Bowie sing “Ziggy Stardust” in a kimono?  Have ya seen Cary Grant do ANYTHING?

Yeah.  What NOW, Yahoo?

But oh, we’re not even at the rules yet.

1. Dialling down Emotions

Women have a penchant for being dramatic. It is understandable that women are sensitive beings, but having emotional outbreaks over the most trivial things is something that can be avoided for the better interest of all.

All right.  I will be the first to admit that I cried two nights ago when I heard the opening bars of a Tom Waits song come on my iTunes shuffle.  It was one of those moments where I wasn’t sure why I was crying.  I was crying because I was tired.  I was also crying because I was happy.  I was also crying because the moment was perfect.  I was sitting in my room alone typing a list of all my film and music heroes, and then Tom Waits started singing to me, and all was right with the world.  Often times, when punched in the face by a beautiful piece of art, I will let the tears roll free.  (And yes, if it were a certain week of the month, I probably would have cried more.  It’s SCIENCE, assholes.  EVOLUTION. VITAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF HUMANKIND.  That being said, let’s stop minimizing a woman’s period.  My last period made me so sick I ended up in the health center at work unable to walk and unable to drive home.  But, then again, I’m just an emotional woman.  I shoulda stuck it out and crashed my car.  Like a man.)

And let me be even more frank.  Men are emotional creatures, too.  It is completely unfair that males are taught from a very young age that is it not acceptable for them to cry (get nervous, get scared, get excited, etc.).  Who came up with that rule?  And does it really make things easier for everyone?  To just walk around like volcanoes ready to erupt at any moment?  Instead of labeling any singular display of emotion as “dramatic,” lets just accept that humans are meant to have emotions…shall we?  Maybe?

Also, when my high school boyfriend agreed to watch Moulin Rouge! with me and ended up loving it, I fell so damn in love with him.  I also loved it every time he showed up at my house in the morning with an iced Americano.  Ya know why?  Because it’s awesome when men are sensitive AND when they like taking care of a woman.  In fact it’s hot.  So, what does that teach you?  Fuck you, Yahoo!

2. Be More Realistic

Often, women seem to live by a make-believe perspective that clouds the reality from them. While it is perfectly appropriate to be positive, it is not apt to blatantly ignore your flaws and faults. Embracing faults and living with them is something women can learn from men.

Okay.  So women do things like watch wedding shows and dream about their ideal centerpieces.  They also dream about meeting ideal partners who treat them with respect.  Guilty as charged.

“Embracing faults and living with them is something women can learn from.”  Right, uh, because men never spend hours at the gym showing off their hard earned muscles?  Because there hasn’t been an increase in men of all sexual orientations who do things like have their nails manicured?


Think of all the scum bags out there who only date women who have breasts implants.  Think of all the scum bags out there who only date women who are smaller than a size 8.  Think of all the scum bags out there who only like blondes, or only like redheads.  Think of all the scum bags who can’t stand the sight of a woman without makeup. Think of all the scum bags out there who assume that every woman is insane (and rich!) enough to regularly allow a total stranger to cover their vulvas with hot wax in the name of eradicating unwanted, all natural pubic hair.

I could go on?  And I am NOT anti-man.  I’m anti-scum bag.  And this article.

I LOVE MEN.  I love men SO MUCH that I can’t stand the idea of them being portrayed as emotionless, hard-hearted assholes.

3. Be Daring

Life is something that can only be thoroughly enjoyed by taking risks.  Women often hold back on some of the most crucial junctures of life when they should have just taken the leap. Mankind has made numerous advances just because of man’s affinity towards risk.

I think this is a thinly veiled plea for anal.  Yeah.  Definitely.

4. Be Less Intense

Women are always picky on the details even up to the point of obsession. They seem to over-analyze and complicate some of the simplest things in life. While attention to detail is a good quality, women should learn not to push the limits of the same.

“Women are always picky on the details even up to the point of obsession.”  I wore a sleeveless dress to a party a few weekends ago and I didn’t bother shaving my armpits.  No one noticed.

Again, what is this “always” bullshit?  This suggests that men are “never” picky about details, which is completely unfair.  Generally speaking (see what I did there?), men are not completely mindless wastes of space who sit on couches not giving a shit about absolutely anything that transpires in their lives.  That is the kind of man you see in commercials who sits idly watching his pragmatic wife clean the floor with Swiffer wipes.  That man isn’t real, ok?  And if he is, he’s single.  And probably high.

Finally, I’ve dated many a man who had more than a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  “I can’t hang out with you for the next few weeks.  I have a midterm.”  “Don’t touch that door handle!  Wash your hands!”


5. Driving

No offence to the ladies but they just never seem to get the hang of driving a car. They even have a hard time parking the car. So this is one of the practical traits that women can learn from men.

I am not even going to dignify this with my opinion.  I am not going to tell the story of the time when my father decided to teach me to drive a stick shift before I had even been behind the wheel of an automatic and he ended up hitting his head against the windshield because he neglected to fasten his seat belt before DRAMATICALLY yelling at me to slam on the breaks.  I am not going to bother saying that both of my brothers have had minor fender benders, while I have never EVER had a minor fender bender.    I will say, though, that I noticed you spelled “offense” as “offence.”  This tells me you’re probably English.  I know that because I pay attention to detail.  Just like Sherlock Holmes…who, I’m rather sure, had a penis.

6. Forgive All

Men don’t hold grudges; they seem to sort even the biggest fights over beer. Women can surely learn a thing or two from the brotherly bond of men.

The brotherly bond of men?  You mean when you’re paid to beat the shit out of each other in stadiums?  Or when you have one too many beers and end up punching each other in the face and getting thrown out of bars?  Do the men who run the world start hideously destructive wars with each other because they can’t figure out when and where to meet up for a couple pints of Guinness?

To reference my own life again, plenty of males have held grudges against me.  Many of my ex-boyfriends held grudges because I broke up with them.  Ya know why?  They didn’t like being broken up with.  It hurt their pride.  It hurt their feelings.  It made them sad and angry, because these men were (and still are…) human-beings with emotions.  Oh, I was plenty sad and confused as well, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve had more than one Closure Conversation with an ex-boyfriend that led to BOTH of us getting a little bit weepy.

And yeah, men have de-friended me on facebook over trivial fucking grudges.  We all do dumb shit.  ALL of us.

7. Technology Literate

Women and technology don’t go well. While men humbly embrace their geeky side, women like to keep a reasonable distance from it. It wouldn’t hurt for women to learn a thing or two more about their gadgets.

I know ALL THERE IS TO KNOW about my “gadget”. It’s got six different speeds.

Do you have six different speeds?

8. Sense of Humour

Men can be light-hearted about almost anything while women are not that receptive to all kinds of humour. Women can certainly enjoy themselves more by increasing their range of humour.

I don’t know where this is coming from.  Have you not seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  When asked why she is married to Roger Rabbit, Jessica — the ultimate example of realistic expectations, right? — simply states, “He makes me laugh.”  Women LOVE to laugh.  It’s all we do when we get together.  Ever wonder why the words “giggling” and “girls” often appear right next to each other?  It’s because girls often DO spend lots of time giggling.  It’s fun.  Why do you think we love having epic sleepovers so much?  We laugh our asses off.

My first love was Adam Sandler.  I find Jack Black irresistibly sexy.  Drew Barrymore married Tom Green, for fuck’s sake.  And ya know what?  I know plenty of men who loved Ted and hate Woody Allen movies.  How’s THAT for not having a “range of humour”?

The article just kinda ends.  Just kinda sits there.  Like a fucking turd.  There’s no conclusion, or final paragraph of cookie-cutter wisdom that synthesizes all these ideas and leaves the female reader with the boost she needs to transform herself into the perfect woman with the help of these eight easy tips.  Then again, judging by the intelligence displayed within this list, I’m sure that whomever wrote this was absolutely exhausted by the time he or she finished typing and hit “submit.”

I’m exhausted, too.  I’m done with the commercially accepted assumption that Women’s Rights are synonymous with splitting a dinner bill.  I’m exhausted by the fact that there are people out there who read this Yahoo! piece of shit and took it seriously.  I’m exhausted by the idea that young girls are taught that “feminist” is a dirty word.  I’m exhausted by generalities, vagaries, and steadfast expectations.

So exhausted, I am now going to watch The Sopranos with my younger brother and one of my very best girlfriends.  We are going to stuff our faces with guacamole and watch people manipulate and shoot each other.  We are going to laugh at Pauly and cringe at Christopher.  If something offends my brother, I am not going to make fun of him.

Also, I’m gonna brush my teeth for the first time today (as it’s now 4pm and I have company), and I think I should also put on a bra so my breasts don’t get all saggy and give men the wrong idea that breasts are body parts that are just as subject to aging and gravity as their balls are.

Plus, it’ll feel good to get out of this room.  I’ve just been writing here in my bed all day.  On my laptop.  That I don’t know how to operate, apparently.

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part VI: Jack Kerouac

Scuzzy Son-of-a-Bitch #6:

Jack Kerouac

My Future Be-Bop Boyfriend


My high school boyfriend bought me a poster of Jack Kerouac during our senior year.  I had never even read any Jack Kerouac — I was more into Allen Ginsberg’s homosexual rages and Charles Bukowski’s drunken stupors.  Nonetheless, he found a Jack Kerouac poster and thought of me.

He brought it to me one night when all I wanted to do was sit around and feel sorry for myself.  The school year had begun with a bang, to say the least.  I was Drama Club President (go ahead and laugh at me), as well as Co Editor-in-Chief of the high school newspaper (laugh harder).  I had to prepare for our school’s upcoming “Cabaret Night,” as I was hosting the prestigious event and I wanted to do a good job.  There was also the issue of mandatory play rehearsal until 5pm on top of writing a Goddamn play for the spring Murder Mystery Dinner and performing in improv shows every other Friday night.  Add to all this the horrible fucking reality of college applications and yeah, I was one angsty 17 year old.

I was sprawled on my bed moping about how I was losing touch with my friends and blah blah when I heard the familiar knock at the door.  My boyfriend always knocked — he never ever rang the doorbell.  My mom let him in, and he came upstairs and presented me with this awesome fucking poster.

“Where did you get this?” I asked.

“Cost Plus,” he said.

“What were you doing at Cost Plus?”

“They have the coolest chocolate,” he said.

He then procured a small tin of green tea chocolate and offered me a piece.  I didn’t fall in love with it, but I could understand why he did.  It was the same reason he chewed clove gum and ginger gum and got excited whenever he was in a place that carried Beeman’s.  He dug the weird sodas at BevMo and always opted for anything infused with chili powder or licorice.  He loved used record stores and antique stores and was always giving me dusty old Tom Jones albums because he knew my friends and I thought Tom Jones was funny.

I thanked him for the poster and told him why I was sad.  He gave me a back massage while I laid on my stomach, my bedroom door wide open for my parents’ peace of mind.

During Christmas vacation, I tried to read On the Road.  I got as far as Sal Paradise’s affair with the beautiful Mexican woman and their adventures in cotton-picking.  It was all very beautiful and very Beat, but once school started and it was time to focus on the next project, I had to put Jack down.


During my freshman year of college I nabbed a brand new boyfriend who also gave me cute presents.  On Christmas he gave me ceramic figurine of a hummingbird, which was an inside reference to my very first panic attack — an event he got to witness one morning before the sun was even out.  On Saint Patrick’s day he gave me a ring that he had found when he was in middle school and vowed he would one day give to a special girl.  On Easter he sneaked into my room and hid candy eggs for me to find, which made some of the other girls in my dorm “Ooooh” and “Eeee!” and “You lucky bitch!”

He had never heard of Jack.  He didn’t read poetry.  He didn’t read.  I tried and tried to at least get him to read “Howl,” but he always refused.  One night, I finally got him to lie down with me and listen to a recording of Ginsberg reading it.  When it was over, the only comment my boyfriend offered was, “I liked the part about the watches.”  I tried to talk about societal revolutions and war and change, but the conversation didn’t last long.  I refused to give up, so I tried showing him Easy Rider.  When the movie was over all he had to say was, “You’re such a hippie.”

He also didn’t want to watch all the Beat Generation documentaries I rented on Netflix that year.  I couldn’t even get him to watch No Direction Home, even though his roommate had exposed him to Bob Dylan’s music, which my boyfriend claimed to like.  For the most part, anything having to do with poetry or music or counterculture was anathema to him.  This led to many nights of,

“You should come hang out downstairs.”

“No.  I wanna watch my movie.”

“Well come down afterward.”

“Nope.  I’m sleepin’ in my own bed tonight.”

“But I wanna see you.”

“Then watch the movie with me.”

“But I hate hippies.”

“The Beats weren’t hippies.”

Eventually he would go to his room and I would go to mine.  I would watch something about The Beats and he would do something else.  When the movie was over I would lean over to turn on the light, and Holy Metaphors!, I would be face to face with the Jack poster.

This behavior led to writing sentimental journal entries and scribbling short poems in the margins of my lecture notes and drinking way too much coffee and hoping that one day I would meet someone who really got me.  We’d go to San Francisco on the weekends and eat seafood and drink red wine and wander the streets tossing dimes to the bums and scat-diddly-dat-dat-datting back and forth in crazy love.

In August, one month before sophomore year started, I gave all the cute presents back and called the whole thing off.   One day, I came across some old CD’s of Jack reading his poetry with Steve Allen playing piano in the background.  I knew that we owned the CD’s because I had seem them in my mother’s bedroom before, but I had never thought to steal them.  Newly single and newly inspired, I brought them up to school with me in September and listened to “October in the Railroad Earth” while I pinned pictures of Johnny Depp to my bedroom walls.

Soon after school began, my mom took a trip up to Santa Cruz to visit me.  Well, okay, she wanted to check on me.  The split with the hippie hater had been a tough one, and my mom didn’t want me to spend my first weekend back in Santa Cruz sitting in my room and crying about some guy.  She drove up on Friday and spent the night, and the next morning she drove us to San Francisco.  We stayed in a small room at the Hotel Bohème in North Beach, and mom took me to City Lights and bought me Beatnik postcards.  We wandered into The Beat Museum, where we were given a tour by the owner.  He also showed us THIS:

On Monday morning, when mom drove home and left me to get on with my life, I felt absolutely cured.  I didn’t give a shit about boyfriend or ex-boyfriends.  Everything was going to be fine.  Everything was fine.  All I wanted to do was write poetry, and all I needed was my Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen CD.


A few months ago, I quit my job and went on a road trip up north.  Before I left, I checked out an audiobook of On the Road.  I listened to it all the way to Santa Cruz, then a few days later I listened to it on my way to Menlo Park.  When it was time to drive to Alameda I put on The Dresden Dolls, and then when it was time to drive to San Francisco I listened to my new copy of Let Love In.

In San Francisco I ate dim sum in Chinatown and wandered around North Beach drinking Espresso and taking pictures of graffiti.  I had drinks at Cafe Vesuvio and scribbled in a notebook I bought on Valencia.  I was alone, and I was free, and I was happy.

One evening I crashed into the Beat Museum and asked the guy behind the counter if he had access to the Poet of the Month archives.  I told him that I had won Honorable Mention twice in 2007, and that I would like to have copies of my poems.  He explained that he didn’t have physical copies, but he could try to find them for me online.  He worked on his computer for about ten minutes before saying, “I found your poem from April.”  I said, “There’s one from May, too.”  He looked at his computer, then said to me, “That page has been corrupted.”  My face fell.  He said, “I can recover it.  Give me a second.”

About twenty minutes later, he announced that he had fixed the problem and I now had web access to my poem.  I thanked him profusely and bought some merchandise so I wouldn’t seem like a total asshole.

I was never able to find my poem online, but it’s okay.  Somehow, I feel that if I ever found it and read it, I would only see the stupid mistakes and the dorky word choices.  I would criticize myself, and I don’t want to do that.  Instead, I prefer to think that a perfect poem written by a romantic 20-year-old girl is somewhere out there floating around in the informational abyss, never to be seen by human eyes.  I think Jack would like that.

And I never finished listening to On the Road.  I think Jack would like that, too.

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I love flirting.  I do.  I love the stolen glances, the “accidental” arm grazing, the slightly exaggerated laughter, the deliberate “casual” hand touching, the involuntary grinning — all of it.  I love realizing, “Wait a second, this guy’s into me.”  I love realizing, “This is my cue to laugh at his joke.”  I love realizing, “That was bold of him.  Now it’s my turn.”

It’s great.

Good flirting is like a game of catch.  It’s like a dance.  It’s like jazz.  It’s give and take.  It’s a free-flowing, yet calculated volley between, “Hey, look at me,” and, “Well well well, LOOK at YOU.”

Good flirting is never obnoxious.  If things are going well, there’s no need for any, “I can bench 335” or, “I hate wearing panties.”  Good flirting is all about subtlety.  You can say mundane things like, “I still haven’t deleted my Myspace” or, “We need a new Joe Strummer album now more than ever,” because as long as you and the other person are on the same page, and the “accidental” arm grazing and deliberate “casual” hand touching remains constant, there’s no need to mention bench pressing and panties.  It’s about wit and word play.  Laughing and listening.  No cheap stuff.  No sex stuff.  Just fun.

Good flirting.  Yeah.


That being said, being flirted with can also really, really suck.  In fact, in many situations, I HATE flirting.  I hate being looked at, I hate being smiled at, and Dear Lord, I hate being touched.  Ew ew ew ew EW.  It’s all so gross.

Gross flirting is like a game of catch where one of the participants has no arms.  It’s like a dance where one of the dancers is doing The Worm naked.  It’s like Kenny G.  There is no give and take.  Instead, one person is doing all the talking while the other person is silently wishing she were dead.  

I’m not talking about being flirted with by someone who is perfectly nice, yet unattractive (which is entirely subjective).  I’m talking about being flirted with by someone who is so downright creepy, the very sight of him hurts your skin.  You feel repulsed.  You feel nervous.  You curse yourself for putting on makeup that morning and for wearing a tank top that reveals the classiest amount of casual cleavage.

Yes, this happened to me today.  I was flirted with.  Hit on.  Or, as the kids are saying, “creeped on.

I met him today at a testing facility.  We were there to participate in a soda taste test.  I’m broke, and dammit, I needed the $25 that was being offered.  Christmas is right around the corner, after all.

Testing facilities are fascinating.  The people who show up to participate in taste tests are fascinating.  They all look beat up and tired.  They all have tattoos and funny hats.  They get confused when they’re told to “Sign your name here, please,” and they seem to love blocking doorways with their awkward, spandex-clad bodies.

After I signed in at the front desk, I took my pre-taste-test questionnaire and stood against a wall.  The door opened, and in walked two of the trashiest dudes I’ve ever seen in my life.  They stunk up the lobby with an odor that can only be described as a mixture of pot and ass.  One of them was portly with curly pink hair, wearing a faded black t-shirt and torn jeans.  He looked like Guy Fieri if Guy Fieri were a burnout from the valley.  The other looked like Matthew Lillard’s meth-addict brother.  I didn’t really catch what he was wearing, because I made sure not to look in his direction.  Why?  As soon as he walked in the room, he looked right and me and said, rather loudly, “YOWZA.”


I pretended I hadn’t heard him.  I looked at my questionnaire.  I played with my clipboard.  I studied my cheap ballpoint pen as if it were the most fascinating object I’d ever seen.  The whole time, I could see from the corner of my eye that the YOWZA dude was staring at me.  Rudely staring.

He walked up to me.  My stomach turned.

“What do we do with this paperwork after we’re done?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, in the most curt tone possible.  I didn’t even look at him.  I was still transfixed by my pen.

“Is this your first time doing one of these tests?” he asked.


“Oh, so you’re an expert?”

“I hope not.”

I looked at him.  Oh GOD.  Oh SHIT.  YOWZA!  That man was HORRIFYING.  I couldn’t tell how old he was because his face was messed up from years of Lord Only Knows.  He had short, curly hair that was frighteningly pube-like.  His eyes were glazed over with a filmy funk.  He had a smile like a rapist hamster.

He smiled some more and laughed.  I looked away.

“I’m Michael,” he said, and he held out his hand.

“I’m Stephanie,” I said.

As soon as I shook his hand, I couldn’t wait to go home and wash it.  Great flirting?  I think not.

“It’s nice to meet you, Stephanie,” he said.  “Do you live in this lovely town?”

“Yeah,” I said, still not looking at him.

“What do you do?” he asked.

In the split second it took me to answer, I considered telling him the truth.  Then I figured it would be too painful to try to explain to him what kind of company I work for.  Plus I didn’t want to engage him.  I thought that maybe if I told him I was a lawyer he would back off, but then I realized that lawyers don’t have to participate in taste tests for $25 checks.

I took a breath.

“Not much.”

He laughed.

“Not much, huh?”


I needed an excuse to walk away, so I decided that it looked perfectly natural for me to walk to the front desk to turn in my questionnaire.

“You filled this out in pen,” said the woman behind the desk.

“…Was that wrong?” I asked.

“Yes.  It needs to be done in pencil.”

A voice behind me said, “Come on, Stephanie!”

Michael “Meth Head” Lillard was standing behind me.  He had followed me.

I grabbed a new questionnaire and scurried back to my wall.  No one followed me, thank Goodness.

I understand that I assumed a lot about Michael.  I assumed that the lines in his face were the result of fast-living instead of age.  I assumed he was a loser.  I assumed he was a creep.  Was that fair?  After all, I was there for the $25, too.  Does that mean I looked as weird to everyone as they all looked to me?

The fact is, if it hadn’t been for the “YOWZA” and the excessive staring, I would have found his overture annoying as opposed to vile.

I may be $25 richer, but I’m also a bit pissed off.  Great flirting.  Where the Hell is it?  I know that it probably isn’t anywhere to be found at a testing center, but come on.  Starbucks?  Some bar?  Some nightclub?  Dear Lord, I’d rather encounter a creep at a testing center than a nightclub — dancing creepers are worst.  I only like dancing if it’s, you know.  Like jazz.


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Turkey Day.

I made a promise to myself a week ago that I would do something kind of crazy tonight.  In the grand scheme of things, this “something” is not really that crazy, but it’s still crazy enough to make me feel like my stomach is made of tiny butterflies.  There’s a lot of nail-biting going on over here right now.

I may not keep my promise; however, despite the darkness, the night is young.

I keep telling myself that I’m going to go for a run soon, but then I think about how cold it is outside, and how cold it was when I took a walk one night this time last year.  A year ago today, actually.  The night my grandmother died.  A year ago.  Today.

My grandparents haven’t had the greatest timing when it comes to the whole dying thing.  In 2006 my grandfather had his heart attack right before Christmas, and in 2008 my Papou had his heart attack right before my father’s birthday.  I, like my mother, assumed my grandma would never die, but she did — last year.  Three days before Thanksgiving.

Maybe she wanted to make sure no one came over and bothered her.

I admit, I got a good chuckle out of writing that last sentence.  It was a little twisted, a little shocking, and a little harsh.  Just like Her.

Just like Her.

When I was a kid, that was all I wanted to be — Just like Her.  I’m not really sure why.  Maybe because she said funny things, like “Goddammit.”  Or because she made really good grilled cheese sandwiches and always had soda in her house.  Or because she used to let me play with shaving cream.

Now that I’m older, I can’t help but notice how many ways I already am just like her.  Whenever I say or think the words, “To Hell with ’em,” I smile and think of grandma.  Whenever I make damn sure to have the last word, I smile and think of grandma.  Whenever I’m faced with situations that range from somewhat scary to utterly terrifying, I take a deep breath and tell myself, “Think of grandma.”

This act is something I like to call harnessing my Inner Polack.  As someone who is 1/4 Polish, all thanks to grandma, I’m allowed to say that.

I think my height is also “thanks to grandma.”  So’s my foul mouth.  So’s my love of donuts.

Good Lord, she was always the first person to tell me when I “looked great” or when I “looked fat.”  She was also the only person in the world who would offer me meatball sandwiches after I told her I just had lunch.  “You can do it just this one day,” she’d insist.

Dear God, it was no use telling her what was what — she invented What Was What.

I’m giggling right now as I remember Classic Grandma Moments.  I remember sitting on a bench with her at a shopping mall in Downey.  I must have been about four-years-old.  A woman wearing a gigantic back pack walked by us — she had a funny walk — and a bottle of lotion fell out of her back pack.  When my grandma told her she had dropped something, the woman didn’t understand.  My grandma eventually communicated to the woman what had happened, and after the woman picked up the bottle and walked away, I asked my grandma why the woman walked so funny.

“Well…” said my grandma, in her Rhode Island accent, “she’s re-tahted.”

I didn’t ask her what it meant.  I just assumed that everyone who walked funny was re-tahted.

A few years ago, after my grandfather had died and my grandma was practically bed-ridden, my younger brother, Michael, and I went to her condo to say “Happy Thanksgiving.”  At that point, visiting grandma was pretty hit or miss — I either came out of her condo smiling or sobbing.  This time, I’m pleased to report, was somewhat upbeat.  The three of us had a good little visit, and somehow the subject of Women vs. Men came up.

Michael said, “You can’t trust women.  They’re devious.”

My grandma paused, took a breath, smiled, nodded her head, and said, “Yup.”

Michael and I laughed, and then grandma looked Michael right in the eye and said, “Ya think ya smaht, but ya not as smaht as a woman.”

Years ago — and I mean many, many years — I thought that the day my grandma died would be the worst day of my life.  I knew it was inevitable, but I couldn’t help it — the very idea of it was enough to make me tear up.

Then my grandfather died and my grandma had a bad fall and everything changed.  My mother worked herself sick trying to do the right thing and grandma just kept getting older.   I was away at college and phone calls from home became depressing.  Every time I was in town, the phrase “let’s go visit grandma” inspired nothing but pain in my heart.   The days of grilled cheese sandwiches and shaving cream were over.

Last year, I was standing at the stove stirring a pot of homemade vegetable soup when the phone rang.  My mom answered it, and she just said, “Yes, I’ll be right over.”  It was my grandma’s caretaker saying there was something wrong.  This had happened hundreds of times before.  My mom got in the car, and I kept stirring my soup.

Fifteen minutes later I sat down at the kitchen counter with a steaming bowl of my homemade vegetable soup.  I heard the garage door open.  My mom came in, and she told me that my grandma had choked.

“Grandma didn’t make it,” she said.

I couldn’t believe what I had just heard.  After four years of going to visit my grandma One Last Time, she was finally gone.  I hadn’t seen her since her 94th birthday two months earlier.  I cried for a minute, and then my mother had to go back to the condo to deal with…ya know.  Everything.  As usual.

I finished my soup, and then a friend of mine came by to get me for our nightly walk.  I told her what had happened.  She put her arms around me, and when I said, “I’m okay,” I really meant it.

I’m “okay” tonight, too.  The kitchen table is covered with pieces of dried bread that will eventually be made into stuffing.  Michael just got home for the Thanksgiving break.  It’s cold outside, and all I want to do is curl up on the couch with my family.  More than ever, I’m thankful that I can do that.  People don’t stick around forever, even though sometimes it sure feels like they will.

There’s no way I’m going for a run, but I think I will do that crazy thing that makes me feel like my stomach is made of tiny butterflies.  Time to harness my Inner Polack and say, “Hell with ’em.”


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I saw Jason Webley’s 11-11-11 show in Seattle last weekend.  Yes, Seattle is a good ways away from Agoura Fucking Hills, but I wasn’t going to miss the show for anything.  ANYthing.  When he played the opening of “Icarus,” a song Amanda Palmer has covered on more than one occasion, I got kind of…excited.  I thought, “Is she gonna come sing with him?  Is this gonna be the best performance of “Icarus” to ever occur on planet earth?”

This is what I managed to capture.  That’s me saying, “There she is…Wait…” and then screaming “WHAAAAAA!!” when she comes out.  Well, okay, I guess everyone is screaming, but my scream is the clearest, as I’m the person holding the camera.

After they sang “Icarus” together, they sang “Elephant Elephant,” which was damn jolly good.  I didn’t get any of it on film because I wanted to just enjoy the moment (someone else did, though…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQD_MbhwCbM), but THEN, oh then, THEN Neil Gaiman came onstage and read a poem about The Night Before His Wedding, which I did catch on film…and it did make me cry…just a little bit.

You can hear me release an intense “I’m absurdly single” exhale at 1:50.  And I apologize for the shitty video quality — I should probably save up for a new camera.  It could take me a few years, but I’ll do it.

The show went on for a good three hours.  All was right with the world.  Like…ALL was right with the ENTIRE freaking WORLD.

This was Friday night.  I got back to Agoura fucking Hills on Sunday night.  It is now Wednesday night.  I can do whatever I want with my time — go to the gym, go out to dinner, paint pictures of dinosaurs, etc. — but all I can really do is think about that damn 11-11-11 show.  I’m not going to go into the show’s effect on me — those details (a bunch of crap about FEELINGS and ENERGY and THE UNIVERSE and GROWTH and LIFE) are for my diary ONLY. All I will say is that it was a great time, and I will definitely tell my grandkids the story of the time when their crazy grandma was young and vibrant and ditched work to fly to Seattle to watch a skinny man in a hat play the accordion.

Interestingly enough, I haven’t really felt the urge to listen to any of Jason Webley’s music since arriving back home.  I’m definitely not over it, but I definitely do need some time to reflect…and listen to something else.

The feeling is similar to the one I get after I watch The Godfather — I can’t just turn on the TV and watch whatever comes on after sitting through the greatest damn movie ever made.  At the same time, I can’t just start the movie over…

So, what have I been listening to?

I’ve been listening to this.  And it rocks.  It rocks HARD.  It rocks HARD and it makes me want to spend a lot more time making SPANK paddles and writing poems and painting pictures of dinosaurs.  I suggest you give this a listen.

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Anybody Want Anything?

want |wänt; wônt|


1 [ trans. ] have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for : I want an apple | [with infinitive ] we want to go to the beach | [ trans. ] she wanted me to go to her room | [ intrans. ] I’ll give you a lift into town if you want.

     • desire (someone) sexually : I’ve wanted you since the first moment I saw you.


1 chiefly archaic; a lack or deficiency of something: Victorian houses which are in want of repair | it won’t be through want of trying.

     • the state of being poor and in need of essentials; poverty : freedom from want.

2 a desire for something : the expression of our wants and desires.

Ever heard of California Chicken Cafe?  It’s a restaurant chain here in Southern Cali.  Most everything on the menu involves chicken, and, rest assured, the items that don’t contain chicken contain avocado.  You can also add chicken to any non-chicken item for $1.75.

You don’t know what you’re missing.  Really.  ::Cough::

California Chicken Cafe is a popular lunch option at the office where I work.  I, myself, rarely participate in the California Chicken Cafe extravaganzas.  No, I don’t think I’m better than everyone, I just can’t be spendin’ money on shit that doesn’t bring me immense joy.  Plus, I spent all my money on baked clams and cannoli last week at San Gennaro in New York City.

I regret nothing.

Today, a co-worker was about to make a chicken run when he suddenly cried out, “Anybody else want anything from California?”

There was a pause, and then I asked, “From California?”


I thought for a moment, and then said, “I want a house near the ocean.”

My co-worker laughed.

“No, no, as in, do you want anything from California Chicken Cafe.”

I didn’t want any damn chicken.  I did, however, proceed to ramble about some of the things I do, in fact, want.  When it was time for me to shut up and get back to work, the rambling continued in my head.

I now present to you Ten Random Things I Want.  Some of them are unique to California, and some of them…well…


Ten Random Things I Want

by Stephanie Callas


I want a house near the ocean.  I will live there by my damn self until I decide I want company.  I have not yet decided the exact location of this house, but I know it will be North of Pismo.  It will be impeccably decorated, and feature a killer sound system.


I want my car to be paid the Hell off.  No more monthly car payments.  None.


I want a bulldog.  An English Bulldog.  I will name him Brando and he will be my buddy.  He will be a healthy boy, with no respiratory problems or hip dysplasia, and he will not die of heatstroke like so many English Bulldogs tend to do.  He will be chubby and cute and he will love The Godfather as much as I do.


I want to know how to program computer viruses.   Ya never know when ya may need to rip someone off.


I want the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney.  People will come from all over the world just to get a glimpse of it, and I will charge admission based on my personal prejudices.  60-year-old man in an Armani suit with a 23-year-old socialite on his arm?  $10,000.  Cute hippie-boy with a beard and a beanie who wants to stop and see The Walt on his way to Mexico?  Admission is free!  (This is, of course, not including the food and wine he will inevitably purchase in his effort to seduce me).


I want to be able to travel.  I’m talkin’ far and wide.  I want to wake up, decide that I should spend the weekend in Barcelona drinking from a wine skin and speaking in an English accent and introducing myself as Brett, and then go do it.


I want to be friends with John Waters.  I want to be on a first name basis with him.  When he’s not visiting me in my fabulous house by the ocean, he will be sending me funny text messages and buying me semi-perverted presents.  We will Skype every Monday morning while we’re having our coffee.  He will say things like, “Mondays are just such a DRAG,” and I will say, “Honey, you WISH you were a DRAG,” and he will say, “Honey, the world couldn’t HANDLE all THIS in DRAG,” and I will say, “Honey, you WISH the world couldn’t handle YOU in DRAG”…


I want to speak fluent French.  I will go to Farmer’s Markets all over the world and ONLY speak French.


I want a box of cannoli from Ferrara’s bakery to be delivered to my door every Friday night.  FRESH.  I want them to be all different varieties — regular, chocolate, Nutella, pistachio — and they will all have perfect shells and perfect filling.  I will serve the cannoli to all of my fabulous dinner guests.  Some parties will be small, and others will put Woodstock to shame.  Brando will be everyone’s favorite couch companion, and John Waters will bring out everyone’s inner freak.  Tom Waits will be playing the piano and Patti Smith will be playing the clarinet.  Peter O’Toole will be serving champagne and Leonard Cohen will be handing out white lilies.  Nick Cave and Barbara Streisand will perform duets that bring the guests to their knees in cathartic abandon.  My parents will be excited to be out of the house and my brothers will be happy to be away from school and work, even though school and work is treating them just fine.  All my friends will bring fabulous dates — no assholes, no losers, no fuddy-duddies — and those who do not will be more than thrilled to spend an evening unattached and irresponsible.  No one will get drunk, and everyone will get happy.  The next morning, I won’t have to do one bit of cleaning.  While everyone is driving home, not one person will be thinking about work problems or school problems or money problems or family problems or marriage problems or credit card problems or plumbing problems or love problems.  No one will think, “I should have just stayed home and studied,” or, “I should have stayed in and searched for a new job,” or, “I wish that guy had called me back,” or, “I wish that girl hadn’t been there.”  All they will be thinking is, “I can’t believe I got a picture with the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney.”


I guess it goes without say that I want World Peace, so fuck it — I want Don Draper.

The End?

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