Wednesday, November 17, 2010

San Fernando Valley of the Dolls

Some time ago, a fellow playwright asked for names and descriptions of pills I've taken in the past for bipolar disorder (as part of research for his play). And I realized I've taken a lot. Treatment of bipolar disorder requires somewhat constant vigilance as far as looking for new medications, and tracking what's working and what's not. I tend to wonder how these pills affect other people differently than they affect me, so if anyone else out there has experience with such things, I'd love to hear what worked and didn't for you.

Why am I sharing this? It's a little personal and probably a little scary, but my determination is to do what I can to lift the stigma on mental illness. It's a disease, just like any other, which requires medication and attention. I've always been very open and honest about it, and I think all the people in my life know if they have questions about it they can always ask. And also the title of the blog was just too good to resist.

Here is my Zagat's guide to brain pills.

Halperidol: This was what I was on in the hospital in Italy. Its nickname is Haldol. There is something called the "Haldol shuffle" - the description for the walk that you develop when on too much of this drug (which I was) - because you kind of zone out and can't really be bothered to lift your feet when you walk. Scary shit.

Risperdal: This was one of the first antipsychotics they tried me on. It made me extremely antagonistic and angry. I think at one point I threw the bottle of Risperdal at my mom. I was on this for an extremely short amount of time.

Zyprexa: I was on this one for a long time. It causes intense carb cravings, and I gained about forty pounds on this drug. (Which I've since lost, thank you Weight Watchers.) Other than the weight gain, this was a very good drug.

Abilify: I think I was on this one for about a year. I don't remember any negative side effects - I think at some point either it stopped working or we wanted to try something new.

Geodon: I was on this for years - ridiculously expensive, so much so that my doc was prescribing double doses but since they were caplets filled with powder, I had to break them in half and divide the powder and wrap each half in foil. It made my kitchen table look like that of a low stakes drug dealer. The nice thing was the 40 mg pill is my favorite color (turquoise). The bad thing was it occasionally caused my mouth to lock so that I was unable to speak. And then more and more occasionally until I had to switch to...

Lithium: Which I probably should have been on from the beginning and I'm frankly still not sure why it wasn't. It's older than time, it's an element so it's pretty natural, it works really well for me and I feel more like my old self now than I ever have on meds. As of this edit (2015), I've been on it for a couple of years and it's still great. Minor side effects for me include thirst which leads to licking my lips a lot which makes me look like a creepy old man sometimes.

Lexapro: An anti-depressant, which is often mixed with anti-psychotics to manage the lows of bipolar disorder. Sometimes I'm on this, sometimes I'm not. You have to be careful with anti-depressants because they can cause mania. In fact, when I was first going to doctors in Italy, they suggested that I take Prozac, and my spidey sense told me not to. Turns out I was right - my breakdown would have come faster and been much worse if I had taken the Prozac. I have to monitor my feelings really closely to know whether or not I should take the Lexapro. Currently not taking it.

Ativan: Absolutely my favorite of all my drugs. It is possible to develop an addiction to this anxiety pill, but I've managed to be all right with it. It is the most "Valley of the Dolls" of all the pills - it takes the edge off. And it also makes time move faster. Good for plane trips and anxious situations.

I think that's it. It's common for bipolar people to go off their medication, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. It happens to the best of us. For a while I was putting stickers in a dayplanner to mark that I took a pill each night. But it's become habit, and I don't think I've missed a day in over a year. Yay me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Politics and Negativity

Lots going on. Here's some political stuff.

Letter to a Whiny Young Democrat - I wholeheartedly agree.

What the Fuck Has Obama Done So Far? - Thank you.

The Case for Obama (Rolling Stone)
- Yes.

George W. Bush is an AssHat
- No, that's not the title of the article, but this really pissed me off.

And speaking of pissing me off - here's an update on my positivity campaign:

I think I've abandoned it.

I lasted about a week, I only flubbed a few times, and I dutifully wrote all the negative things I said down in my little bitch book. And it was an interesting experiment. I really do think I was happier during that week, and I was definitely more aware of my negativity. And that's something that I'd like to hold onto. But it's unrealistic and probably unhealthy to expect myself to be Little Mary Sunshine all the time - it's just not natural. Bitching is healthy (and fun!), and I've found if I bitch about something it sticks it in my head long enough for me to figure out if it's something I can change or something I have to accept. Bitch, think, process, move on. Suppression and smiles are all fine and good for some people, but those people are the ones that freak me out a little. And sometimes they're the ones that wind up going on a shooting spree in a Carls Jr. I'm just saying.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm Positive

I can be a pretty negative person. I often soften it with "I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but...", which is really just a creatively passive-aggressive way to bitch. So I've decided to go on a month-long positivity campaign. My cohort in this endeavor is my friend Libby. We each have a "bitch-book" in which we can write down our complaints if we must, but we can't say them out loud. And if we say them out loud, we have to immediately write them down in the book and then, I don't know, say something positive about the situation. (We didn't really come up with a good punishment for negativity--any ideas? And no, I am not putting a dollar in a jar every time I bitch. Well, maybe.)

There were two catalysts for this campaign. One of them happened on Tuesday - I had a date that night, and I was dreading it (yes, an internet date. Sigh.). All day on Tuesday, I was extremely negative about it - it's not going to go well, why am I doing this, I hate these things, it's like a job interview with drinks, blah blah blah. I basically ensured through my thoughts that there was no way on earth this could possibly go well.

About an hour before the date, I decided to chant about it (for those of you new to this blog, I practice Nichiren Buddhism, which involves chanting the phrase "nam myoho renge kyo" which means "I devote myself to the mystic law of cause and effect through the sound I am creating"). I chanted for a half hour (I was just gonna do fifteen minutes but that clearly wasn't enough) with the intent to change my negative attitude and allow this date to not be awful.

And it wasn't. In fact, it was great. And I really honestly think if I had gone into it with the negative feelings I was carrying around all day, no matter how nice and charming and funny the guy turned out to be (which he did), it would have been awful. So that was catalyst #1.

Catalyst #2 was at my Buddhism meeting last night, when my friend Marc casually threw out the term "bitchkrieg," (a bastardization of the word "blitzkrieg," basically meaning "bitchstorm," or more literally "bitchwar"...anyway I think it is hilarious and I'm totally stealing it) and I realized how often I'll go on a bitchkrieg about things. Things I bitch about fall into two categories - things I can control and things I can't control. And there is no reason to bitch about either. If I can control it, I can change it. And if I can't control it, I need to face it, deal with it and move on. There's no room for bitchkriegs in either scenario. It's not enough to say I'm grateful for everything that is good in my life. It's time to live it.

So for the next month, I am all puppies and rainbows. And if you hear anything negative come out of my mouth, feel free to call me out on it. I promise not to bitch you out.

(*btw, I got the image above from a blog called "F*cked in Park Slope," which I think is pretty hilarious. It is, however, in a post about dating.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hot Link "Wino" Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, people! A few alcohol-related finds around the internet and in LA.

Here is a handy-dandy BYOB database that lists restaurants where you can bring your own wine, and the corkage fees (and sometimes, no corkage! Score.). The website defaults to the New York area, but you can change it on the right side under "region."

Article about fill-your-own wine containers in France. I hope this comes to the States, I love this idea.

New bar alert! Well relatively new. Spring Street Bar opened in April, but I just recently discovered it with my friend Marc. Tons of delicious microbrews and craft beers, knowledgeable bartenders, friendly clientele, and best of all, dog-friendly patio! Bear is a fan. Yelp reviews (including my own) here.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Accidental Hip-Hop Teacher

It's been awhile. I think the reason I've been resistant to update this blog is because I feel like I have to report on my after-school program, and I don't love the update. But in the spirit of "growing" and "letting go" as the tagline of this very blog reads, here it is.

I have five students (which is two more than I had last week).

And I'm teaching hip-hop, which I'd say is the form of dance I am least comfortable with. But these kids are not into modern dance. They're into hip-hop. And hip-hop (or "hippity-hop" as my mom calls it) they shall have.

So the BEAR program (Building Enrichment Arts Resource) is not a wild success. But, as I have to remind myself, it is also not a failure. No, I'm not teaching 30 kids. But you know what? I probably couldn't handle 30 kids. Ninth graders are loud, man. And they're like magpies, getting distracted by shiny things. I have five students - but they are awesome. There's one kid who is so comfortable in his fabulously gay skin that it makes me want to cry tears of joy. With all the recent stories of homophobic bullying, it's so refreshing to see a kid that is allowed, nay, encouraged by his peers to be whoever he wants to be.

I was tempted to give up. And I've been getting butterflies in my stomach every Monday and Thursday morning knowing that I have to teach, entertain, impress and corral my five students. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not that great at hip-hop and also not that great at telling ninth graders to quiet down and pay attention. But I'm there. And I'm learning. And so are they.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


September 11th, 2001 is one of those days where you remember where you were, what you were doing, who you were with. Or I should say, most people remember. I don't.

September 11th, 2001 fell into the period of recuperation after my psychotic break. I was still transitioning back into reality, and I was going through a period where I was sleeping all the time. My parents got me out of bed, I went and looked at the television, but I couldn't process what had happened. I went back to bed. It was just another day in an interminable chain of days. I'm normally a very compassionate and sensitive person, so the fact that I had no reaction to the tragedy really speaks to how "not myself" I was.

In the play that I'm working on right now, my main character, Sophie, is wrestling with the question of whether or not to take her pills for her bipolar disorder. She's an artist, and she feels that the pills dull her reality and creativity. They make her "not herself." Her brother, Jack, argues that when she doesn't take her pills, she's also not herself. There's no solution.

I've come so far from where I was nine years ago. I'm finally starting the after-school arts program I've been dreaming of for years. I have a house. I have a job (and sometimes three or four). I'm responsible for two animals. There was a moment that I remember from that period after my psychotic break when the therapist said it was most likely that I'd never live on my own, never be able to hold down a job, never be able to fend for myself. I remember hearing that and saying "No. That's not true. Not me."

As a writer, sometimes, yes, I feel like I could be more creative, and in fact was more creative before I was diagnosed and had to start taking medication. But I was also a loose cannon. It's not always easy. There's not always a great option. But when I think back to my emotional numbness in the face of a national tragedy, I know which choice I've made for myself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

It's been a while. I've been busy writing...doing...being. The after-school program is a go, and that'll be starting up on September 14th. I'm in the last 20 or so pages of the play (and rewriting the same 7 over and over). And my improv troupe just had our second sketch show, for which I was one of the writers. So that's my life in a nutshell lately. And without further adieu, here are some links:

Rent Food Broke - "resources for the unemployed and under-employed in LA." Articles on being frugal and notifications about cheap/free goings-on in Los Angeles.

Advice from Brandon
- the premise is that he doesn't always know what he's talking about, but so far he's been pretty right on.

I read an article somewhere (New York Times? Maybe?) about simplifying one's life, and I followed it to a bunch of blogs. I'm not pretending I'm going to whittle my belongings down to 100 items (my snowglobe collection alone outnumbers that), but I do like the idea of simplification.

Rowdy Kittens - "a blog for people interested in simple, minimalist living."

Becoming Minimalist - about a family of four living a minimalistic lifestyle.

So there you go! Hope to see you more often around these parts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

It's Not All Pillowfights and Pedicures

I used to be a guy's girl. Most of my friends were male, I didn't have many close girlfriends, I didn't particularly like girls. I thought they were mostly catty and gossipy and mean.

I'm not sure when that changed, but when I look at the names in my "favorites" list on my phone, or think about my plans last weekend, or need to talk to a friend, the girls on the list far outnumber the boys.

I was having a rough night last night, and I called my best friend just to talk. I think she could hear something in my voice ('cause chicks are in tune like that) and she said she was coming over. I protested a little bit, because I didn't want her to have to drive all the way over from downtown, but ultimately I said yes, please, come over. And it helped enormously - in fact, sitting in my backyard with a beer, my dog and my friend, I was so appreciative of my life that it became really difficult to remember why I was upset in the first place.

Maybe it used to be a badge of honor for me, being a tomboy. Maybe I just had less emotions. Maybe I didn't have as many boy problems, and therefore didn't need girlfriends to share them with. Whatever the case may be, I really couldn't be happier to have such an amazing group of strong, wise, wonderful women in my life.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Novel Idea

I just finished one of the best books I've read in my short existence - "This Is Where I Leave You," by Jonathan Tropper. It's rare that a book makes me laugh and cry, but this one did it. I also dramatically gasped and covered my mouth at one point. Seriously.

For the past year or so I've been following a number of writing-related blogs and websites. I'm not in the process of writing a novel, I don't know that I'll ever be in the process of writing a novel, but I find the world of publishing to be fascinating. Query letters, slush pile, form rejections...I've just been collecting information for a pursuit that I may or may not actually, ahem, pursue. For now I have my plate full with playwriting and sketch writing. It occurs that there are probably blogs and websites about playwriting. I should find them. But for today - here are a bunch of links from my files.

SlushPile Hell - Excerpts from awful query letters, with hilarious commentary. File under "people are dumb."

Janet Reid, Literary Agent - Self-explanatory. She gives really good advice and shares fun links.

Query Shark - Ms. Reid runs this blog also, where she critiques query letters and allows the writers to re-submit them based on her notes. Extremely informative.

Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent - Another agent blog. He also does a weekly critique of a writer's first page, selected at random and open to comments from his readers.

Editorial Ass - An anonymous former editorial assistant who is now an editor.

So for any of you out there who actually are writing a novel, and aren't following these blogs, enjoy! I fully expect to be thanked in your acknowledgements.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I was with a friend last night talking about my car accident (he didn't know that I had crashed my car), and I said something that I remembered I had wanted to write about here. It's basically that things are a lot easier to accept when they're your fault.

When my car broke down last year on the way up to Mammoth, I was outraged. In the carless couple of weeks that ensued, I was frustrated and annoyed. How dare my car just decide to stop working? The bastard. Even though I was still going to get it back, it was an inconvenience and I was pissed.

Then I totaled my car. Which was completely and totally my fault. Of course I was upset, but I got over it a lot faster. Is it that it's easier to be angry at the world than at ourselves? I tend to think that I'm harder on myself than I am on anyone else, so I would think that would extend to fault, as well. But I guess not.

I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to channel that quick recovery time to things that are the fault of the universe, or other people, or gravity. I guess I could just assume that everything that goes wrong is probably, in some way, my fault.

I don't think that'll cause any issues at all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

The only reason I watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey is for the Gawker update.

And lately, I've been watching Top Chef for the same reason. And because I have a giant crush on Tom Colicchio.

Speaking of bad movies/television, I still have not seen Sex and the City 2 or Eclipse. But I feel that the "lolcat repertory players" versions that I linked to will suffice for now.

And in the opposite of "pop culture will rot your brain" news, I don't think I've touted my friend Steph's blog, two years on an island, in my links yet. So there it is. She's a fantastic writer and days away from being a new mom.

(the picture? just because.)

Stop & Breathe Light

There's a stoplight at the intersection of the Chandlers (north and south) and Tujunga that I call the "stop & breathe" light. It may have something to do with the orange line, but I swear at some point, traffic in every direction and all walkers are commanded to stop at the same time. It's like a safety meeting - nobody moves, nobody gets hurt.

Even if I'm running late, this light doesn't piss me off. It's not a particularly long signal, and it amuses me to catch the other drivers looking around, as if wondering "who exactly does get to go right now?" The answer is no one. We all get to sit here for a moment and collect ourselves. Breathe. And go.

The opposite of this calm, meditative sort of signal is the crosswalk by the metro station on Lankershim, just one block east. It goes from red to blinking red, which means you have to treat it as a stop sign, but the pedestrian signal is still in its countdown. So every time I think I'm okay to go, some human comes running out in front of my car. And if I wait too long, some cranky driver will honk from behind.

I guess if it's between "stop and breathe" and "go (if you dare)," I prefer the former.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big News

It seems fitting that this news will go in my 100th post.

I think I may have found a school at which I'll be doing after school programs in the fall. I blogged about this a couple of months ago - about needing to get off my rear and start working on my non-profit. Well, by a wonderful string of events, I met with a principal of a charter high school that is completely lacking any classes in the arts. It's a brand-new school, with just a 9th grade class. And the first day of school is in a little under 2 months.

This is a project that has been in my head for ten years, and it's a little surreal that it may be getting underway so quickly.

My next step is to email this principal (who seems really fantastic and I think we'll get along great) a proposal of what I'd like the program to look like. So I'm off to work on that now, but just wanted to pop in here and share the good news.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hot Wednesday

No links, just 100 degree heat and the overwhelming desire to not be at work, and instead to be with the boy who is moving in 2 days.

The universe works in mysterious ways - I've been wanting to have a positive, respectful romantic connection with someone for quite a while now. So of course, the universe delivers in a sort of twisted and yet beautiful way, by handing me a guy with a time limit.

For now, it's about enjoying the moment and not worrying about what happens next. Which is a lesson I am always trying to work on, so thanks universe (I guess).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

Adding to the list of "blogs that make fun of hipsters," Unhappy Hipster takes photos from magazines and websites and gives them ridiculous captions. Thank you sister for the link.

Jezebel (which is hilariously described as "Gawker's ladyblog," which sounds dirty to me) posted an article lambasting the Daily Show for treating women poorly/not hiring them. The female employees of the Daily Show countered with a wonderfully written letter (I love the 2nd P.S.) addressed "Dear people who don't work here."

The KCRW Pledge Drive is coming up - here is the page to sign up to volunteer. I did one shift last year and it was really fun. This year I'm doing 2 shifts - Wednesday August 11 at 8:10 pm, and Tuesday August 17 at (gasp) 5:50 am. That Tuesday is the final day of the pledge drive, so it should be a busy morning on the phones. And if you volunteer, you get a discounted membership for the year (which comes with a fringe benefits card).

LA Works is a volunteer registry/database where you can sign up for shifts as a volunteer in the LA area. I will be volunteering with Children of the Night in September (that was the next available shift).

And something that always makes me happy, a new Hyperbole and a Half blog post. This one's about giving a dog an IQ test.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On My Journeys through the Internets...

...I find gems like this (from the AT&T Billing Glossary):

Refers to connecting a device to a network via a modem and a public telephone network. Dial-up access is similar to a phone connection, except that the parties at the two ends are computer devices rather than people."

I like the metaphor. And good on them for even having this in their dictionary in the first place.

But it did make me giggle.

And so did this:

Cramming happens when a telephone company or third-party provider charges for services or fees that the customer has not authorized."

Well that's not very nice. But nice of AT&T to alert us that they may or may not be doing that.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oh, the Humanity

I was in a car with a friend from my Buddhist practice this week, and we were talking about people's natures - basically what we would put on the back of someone's hypothetical "card." I asked him what would be on the back of my card, and he said I am one of the most "human" people he knows.

For a moment I was a little taken aback - after all, the phrase "only human" is often used to explain away someone's bad behavior or characteristics.

But he went on to explain that while some people hide behind appearances or pretend to be something they are not or in some other way shelter their true selves from the world, he thinks that I'm extremely honest and open. At least I think I'm remembering correctly. So, I'm human. Yes.

Yesterday I went on a first date, with someone I met on a dating site. We had exchanged a few emails, and in one of his messages he asked what my play is about (in response, obviously, to me telling him I'm working on a play. Or maybe it's in my profile. Whatever.). I responded via message that it was about family, mental illness, and boys.

Now, going into this date, I was more thinking of it as practice than anything else -- like an interview for a job you don't really want. He's a little young for me and not really my type. A little bit about him - he's a med student from the Bay Area. Lives in Brentwood. Nice enough, just not for me.

So yesterday, we're drinking coffee and playing backgammon at a cafe near my house, and the following conversation occurs:

Him: So you're working on a play.
Me: Yeah, I'm just trying to figure out how to write the 2nd act.
Him: So you said it's about mental illness? Do you have experience with that?
Me: Um.

At first I tried to sort of play it off, but then the little voice inside my head said "fuck it" and I was like, "Actually I'm bipolar."

His response?

"Oh - I just did my psych rotation a couple of weeks ago."

He didn't cut and run right there. We talked more - about his psych rotation, about college, our families, usual first date stuff. I pretty much knew the whole time that there would not be a date 2. Which is fine, since it was just a practice date anyway, but I do wonder how much of the reason for that is due to my open, honest "humanity."

The thing is - I'm really working on not thinking of myself as bipolar before all else. It's hard. It's especially hard when I force myself into labeling myself to total strangers. So what do I do? Stop discussing the subject matter of my plays? Don't admit to being a writer? Be coy? What would you do?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

And we're back. Viva USA! Viva Mexico! Viva England!

Here's an article about the lack of comment on the referee's call in the US/Slovenia game. I have a love/hate relationship with FIFA's refusal to use instant replay - on one hand, it keeps the game's old-school roots, but on the other, it really blows when the ref obviously makes the wrong call. Thanks Sister for the links.

In Lee Wochner's blog, he writes about the so-called Millenial Generation, which I am in just under the wire (*"lucky me," she writes sarcastically*) - those born from 1981-2002.

DM Graphics has a new website (I wrote the About Us section, which features a pic of Bear)! Also please become a fan on Facebook. I'm trying to introduce my dad's company into this millenium (and only 10 years late).

That's it for now, but I reserve the right to come back and add more links throughout the day. Happy hump day, and happy World Cup!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lots of things have happened...

...since I last posted. I have quite a bit of fodder for blogging, but I'm afraid I'm still too close to it. However, I did want to share the words my Aunt Laura read at my grandma's burial. She wrote this herself and I love it:

"A mother is like the sun, her children are the planets. She is the eternal light that radiates warmth, love and energy for her children. She nurtures her children equally at all times. She maintains and distributes harmony and joy among all. When she slumbers, the moon and stars shower and honor her in brilliant luminosity. She is the center of the center of the universe."

Although the circumstances were not ideal, I feel very blessed that the other "planet" (my sister) and I were able to be there for my mother and for each other through the darkness of losing my abuelita. I am proud of all of us for staying strong and helping each other through it. And I am grateful for my family in general.

It's been a tough few weeks, but I've proven a lot to myself about my own strength and the strength of my bond with my family.

Monday, June 14, 2010

PSA for Bibliofiles and Movie-o-philes

There's been a lot of emotions (quoting "Fantastic Mr. Fox") on this blog lately, so here's some useful info for those who live in or near North Hollywood. The branch library on Tujunga has movie days! Here's the schedule for the rest of June (with links to IMDB pages):

Thursday June 17: North by Northwest, 2 pm
Friday June 18: Everybody's Fine, 3:30 pm
Saturday June 19: Double Indemnity, 2 pm
Thursday June 24: Sherlock Holmes (the new one I think), 2 pm
Friday June 25: The Young Victoria, 3:30 pm
Saturday June 26: The Spy Next Door, 2 pm

I can't make most of them, but it seems like they have a good mix of old and new movies, and I think everything is pretty kid friendly.

Here's a link to the website, and here's a link to the North Hollywood branch, where they post their schedule of events.

Also - if you were not aware of this you should be - you can reserve books at the library to be picked up at a branch of your choice. It's like Netflix for books except it's free (well, and it doesn't come to your door. But it's more like Netflix than Blockbuster because you have a "hold queue"). And something many people don't know about the library - you can return books at any branch, it doesn't have to be the branch from which you checked them out. (As long as it's still in the LAPL system - Santa Monica has its own libraries).

To quote a funny (and sadly now deceased) friend from college, Phil Pentel - "Books - Check 'Em Out!" (I know he didn't originate the quote, but he said it all. the. time.)

Random Poetry Monday

I wrote a poem on the way to work this morning (don't worry, I wasn't driving). In honor of Father's Day, I guess.

A Daughter's Work

We play hardball
With spongy nerf toys
Ribbons in our hair
We want no one to see us cry.

We spout facts and figures
Keeping emotions out of it
Voices steady
Heads held high.

We practice in front of mirrors
Wear talismans and worry stones
Fingers clutched under table tops
Bugs squashed with stiletto heels.

We try harder
But harder isn't good enough
We keep laughing
Hoping to make you crack a smile,
We try harder still.

Friday, June 11, 2010

sad poems make me cry.

Elegia Para Tu Ausencia - Eugenio Florit

Te fuiste aquel minuto para toda la muerte
a navegar en hondos oceanos de silencio
con un largo camino de pupilas dormidas
y un bando de palomas prendido a tus ensueños.

Ya estaras por ausentes claridades de luna,
mas tuyo que en las flechas de tu reloj de oro,
donde contabas tanto minuto sin orillas
para la sed de alas que quemaba tus hombros.

Y habras saltado mares que la inquietud miraba,
abismos en la timida soledad de tu ausencia;
y en la noche habras sido tenue brisa caliente
junto a aquel pedacito de tu amorosa tierra.

Largo abrazo de alientos sobre las amapolas
y una risa, y un canto sin palabras ni musica;
y un aquí estoy gozoso de pasados insomnios,
y un para siempre calido en la fria llanura.

Como partiste en brazos del silencio apretado,
resonara mas viva la luz de tus palabras;
y en cada estrofa de aire se enredara un acento,
y en cada mariposa te naceran mas alas.

Gozo de estar ya vivo para el eterno dia,
de saberte en el agua, y en el sol, y en la hierba.
Haras entre las nubes Nacimientos de plata
y encontraras tu nido en un arbol de estrellas.

here's the english version:

Elegy for Your Absence
H.R. Hays

In that moment you sailed for all of death
Into profound oceans of silence
With long hours of sleeping pupils,
And a flock of doves caught in your dreams.

Now you are already in distant moonlight,
More yourself than in the arrows of your golden clock
Where you reckoned such a shoreless moment
For the thirst of wings that was burning on your shoulders.

You shall have vaulted seas stared at by inquietude,
Abysses in the timid solitude of your absence;
And in the night you shall have been delicate warm breeze
Close to that crumb of our amorous earth.

Long embrace of breath over the poppies
And a laugh and a song without words or music;
With a “Here I am,” glad of past wakefulness,
And a “forever” warm in the cool plain.

As you leave pressed in the arms of silence
The light of our words shall echo more clearly
And in each stanza of air an accent shall be entangled
And in each butterfly more wings shall be born to you.

Gladness of being alive for that eternal day,
Knowing yourself in the water, in the sun, and in the grass.
Among the clouds you shall make nativities of silver
And you shall discover your nest in a tree of stars.

This one, and the last one I posted, are going in the program. Which I have been putting together, which surprisingly helps me keep my mind off things. Interesting.

Also, the dress in the photo? Now hanging in my closet...until I can get to a dressmaker. Anyone know a good seamstress in the Valley?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things I've Learned About Death and Dying This Week

When dealing with the death of your grandma, here are some helpful tips I've learned this week.

1) It's not okay to be mean to strangers just because your grandma is dying. They don't know that. Try being overly nice instead so you can get rid of them faster.

2) If you live next to someone who is dying and she didn't like you when she was conscious, she probably doesn't like you when she's unconscious. Stop coming over. Send flowers or a card instead.

3) It's ok to cry.

4) It's not comfortable to be crying all the time, so try to set some time aside for just that, and then you can get some stuff done too. Including eating. Don't forget to eat food, or you might die too. (that's what I learned from Noodle.)

5) It feels really awful to plan a funeral when the person's still alive, but you kind of have to. I'm lucky I'm a stage manager.

6) Never underestimate the power of singing to the sick...or in your car for yourself.

7) If your grandma's dying, your mom gets to be more upset about it than you do. You'll probably get your turn eventually and then you might wish you had been nicer at this time.

8) Smiling helps. Even if you don't want to at all. It actually makes you feel better to smile and be kind than to frown and be mean.

9) Don't forget why you're there. I mean that on many levels - you're there because you love them, but you're also there to be helpful. Etcetera.

10) You don't have to wear makeup (unless you want to).

(The photo was taken about a month ago.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Not-So-Hot Link Wednesday

My grandma's dying. This helped:

June 8, 2010 Daily Encouragement from President Ikeda:

President Toda often said that the final four or five years of one's life are decisive. No matter how good the preceding years may have been, one's life ends in defeat and sadness if the final few years are miserable. On the other hand, someone whose last four or five years are happy and filled with joy can be described a winner in life. No matter what happens, even if we should fall sick, we must never grow discouraged or allow ourselves to be defeated. This is vital. As long as our spirits are undefeated, we are victors.

If you'd like more quotes like that, go here.

I also buried a cat yesterday - the grey one, Noodle. I pasted in a picture of her little "tombstone" (a stepping stone from Home Depot). The plant is a white bird of paradise.

So yeah, no other links today. It's being a rough week. But here's a poem that I read when I buried Noodle yesterday, and that I'll probably be reading again at a funeral within the next week or so.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.
(Mary Elizabeth Frye)

That also helps.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Stuck in the Middle with You

On a recent trip to Mammoth, I got stuck in an elevator with my dad. Now, if you've met my dad, or even if you've heard me talk about him, you know this is not an ideal situation.

After we established that the elevator was, indeed, not going to move, we pressed the call button. The operator suggested that we try to open the doors. I went over to the doors and tried to pull them open, as instructed. My dad yelled at me to stop, so I stopped, and got my fingers crushed in the doors. As I was jumping up and down, yelping in pain, and cradling my fingers, my dad was shouting at me and trying to get me to hold his Blackberry - which I promptly grabbed in my palms and threw on the ground (I tend toward the dramatic).

I then got a lecture on how I am "too impulsive," and he hopes I learned a lesson (not to follow the instructions of the elevator tech guy?). I shouted at him to "shut up, shut up, would you please just shut your mouth?" He did. And then I tried to break the tension by asking if he had ever been stuck in an elevator before. His response? "Don't change the subject." It went on like that for about twenty minutes, and then all of a sudden something shifted. I don't even remember how, but we wound up sitting next to each other on the floor of the elevator looking at the pictures he's taken on his phone (we're both amateur photographers). Thinking back on it, it makes me tear up a little, because I think that's a memory of time with my father that I'll have in the back of my mind forever.

A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook from his father - "There are three sides to every story. My side, your side and the truth. And no one's lying." And I'm sure if you asked my dad what happened in that elevator, he would tell you a different version of events.

I later said that Mammoth must hate me - last time I went up there, my car broke down, and this time, I got trapped in an elevator and lost my turquoise sunglasses.

But I don't think that Mammoth hates me. I think that Mammoth forces me to assess my relationship with people and things. I also think that the 45 minutes that I was stuck in the elevator with Dad was worth at least two therapy sessions.

And the condo found my glasses and mailed them back to me. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

Two posts in one day? Wha...but...ok. But don't get used to it.

Hot links, hot links, getcher hot links here!

Hyperbole and a Half - I know I've linked to it before. It's that good. My favorite line from this most recent post: "I would have shanked an infant for juice."

Evidence that the apocalypse is nigh - click if you dare.

What's bad? LuAnn from Real Housewives singing her "new 'hit' single."

What's (arguably) worse? Ramona from Real Housewives' "model walk."

Saw this band The Hollabacks on Monday night, they were super good. Kind of Ben Folds-y if Ben Folds were a hilarious gay fella. (not sure if that link is going to work, just search for them on the Facebook)

Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter! I am nohojax.

Happy Hump Day Humans!

Make New Friends...

Sorry I got that song stuck in your head. What song, you say? "Make new friends, but keep the is silver and the other gold." That one. You're welcome.

For some reason this past year I've been making a lot of new friends. Many from my Buddhist practice, some from theater stuff, a few from improv stuff, a handful from random life stuff. I remember having a conversation with my improv buddy Joe when he was a new friend, sometime last year, about how it's a lot different making friends when you're 28 vs. when you're 8. When you're 8, the "getting to know you" conversation consists of about three questions - where do you live, what school do you go to, how many Barbies do you have.

Now there's a whole history behind us when we meet people. And that, combined with my short-term memory problems, means I ask a lot of the same questions and can never remember which stories I told to whom (I really don't want to be that girl that tells the same story over and over...but I fear I might be that girl). It also means I have to pick and choose what's important to talk about, how much is over-sharing, how much is too much.

I recently went on a friend date with Libby (that's her blog I linked to up there about the Barbies) . Before we even went into the restaurant, we sat in her car and downloaded each other on past relationships, where we grew up, school and theater stuff, more stuff about past relationships...

During dinner, we found the things we have in common (about a million), talked about current and future writing projects (and made plans to collaborate), talked more about past relationships... Ok it was mostly her talking about past relationships, I don't have much to offer in that arena.

At one point we talked about how making new friends is kind of like dating. You're tentative, you don't want to seem too eager, sometimes you feel like your new friend is out of your "league," you hope they like you, you think it's going well but you're not sure. I even sent her a text the next day saying "i had so much fun! this is the official post-date text."

We've had two more friend-dates since then, and our friend-tionship seems to be going very well. In fact, we had a 3 am phone conversation last night when I was suffering from an evil recurring nightmare. It was nice to have someone to talk to about it, and it was nice to get off the phone with an "I love you, I'll talk to you tomorrow." We're still in the honeymoon phase. :)

Actually, that's the one thing that hasn't changed from 8 to 28. I love my friends, and I tell them so. I have a few friends who I always tell I love them when we get off the phone - no matter how long it's been since I've talked to them, no matter how often we talk, no matter if it was a five-minute conversation about logistics or a two-hour ramble about life. So I guess with some friendships, the honeymoon phase never ends. And that's why it's nice to keep making new friends. (hey, I'm a poet!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tornado Warning

Growing up, one of my absolute favorite movies was Twister. I wanted to be Helen Hunt's character - a cool, independent woman who drives around the Midwest chasing tornadoes and trying to drop little robot-looking things inside of them.

On occasion, that movie would make me tear up a little at some of her lines - something like "the tornado skipped that house, and skipped that house, and took mine." If I remember correctly, the tornado killed her parents and that's why she was so close to Aunt Meg.

The reason that Helen Hunt is trying to drop little robot-looking things inside of a tornado is to improve the tornado warning system. At one point Jami Gertz's character, the stupid fish-out-of-water girlfriend of Hunt's character's soon-to-be-ex-husband who comes along for the ride (hijinks ensue), asks "but aren't there already tornado warnings?" and Hunt's character explains that they're not good enough, they're not nearly good enough.

I had a manic episode last week (or the week before? the weeks tend to blend into each other during such times) but luckily caught it before it got really bad. (Or did I?) I mean, it was still bad - paranoia, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, emotional rollercoaster, inappropriateness, and lack of judgement. (In positive news, I lost 4 lbs.)

The nice thing is - I've been able to catch it so much earlier. I'd say since I got back from Italy I've probably had 4-5 severe manic episodes (two of which resulted in job loss, one of which was a full psychotic break). The signs have always been there, but I've had to hone my skill of reading them and reacting. It can be fun to have a certain level of mania, but then the world drops out from under you and it's no fun anymore. And for a long time, because of the fun of mania, I've been resistant to calling my doctor right away. I'd say, even this time, I called him a little too late. But at least I called him.

The other difference with this time is that the past 3-4 episodes were my fault because I went off my meds. (Not intentionally. Bipolar people have one of the lowest rates of successfully staying on our medication. Some of this is because people feel better and don't want to deal with the side effects. In my case, it's an issue of forgetfulness.) This time I did not go off my meds - I think I've only missed two doses since my last psychotic break. I did everything exactly how I'm supposed to. And I still started to lose my mind.

This is scary for a few reasons, but thank god I'm getting better at recognizing the signs. And I know as I continue on the crooked path of my life, I'll keep working at it. So maybe after all these years, I did wind up a little like Helen Hunt pushing robot-looking things in the middle of tornadoes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anatomy of a Mix Tape

My friend and fellow playwright EM Lewis is moving to Princeton for a fellowship, and she recently posted on her facebook wall that she would be in need of some moving music ("music to move to," not "music to make her emotional." But I have both.). I thought I would make her a traditional Jackie mix, but my iTunes is sort of broken since I had to move all of my music off of my computer so that my computer would, ahem, keep working (I have a lot of music and an old computer).

By a stroke of luck called a giant car accident, I'm driving my dad's Jeep and the only disc in it is my holiday mix from 2008. So I'm going to make EM a copy of that, since I still love all the songs on it. As I've been listening to it (constantly, on a loop, for the past 2 weeks), I've been thinking about what each of the songs means to me. I was thinking it would be cool to give Ellen a written record of that, since we're both writers and all, but since we're also both bloggers and all, I thought it might be fun to blog about it. So here you are - anatomy of a mix tape from December 2008. I linked to lyrics when available. I also took care to not link to lyrics pages with annoying pop-ups. You're welcome. (Extra thanks to for making that easier.) And without further adieu...

Jingle Bells (Barbra Streisand)

It feels so wrong to listen to this song when it's not the holidays. So wrong, in fact, that I've skipped over it every day but today, and that was only so I could accurately do this post. This is my favorite version of any Christmas song ever. My mom and sister and I sing it to each other to make each other laugh. I think that Toni Collette in United States of Tara (the show that Donna and I are currently addicted to, check it out) is channeling Babs to do her most recent alter, Shoshanna.

Jesus on the Radio (Guster)

I still love Guster even though my sister has informed me that they are not a good band. Nick and I went to a ton of Guster shows in college and their music still makes me happy. This song has my birthday in the first line ("5 am, March 16") and I have no idea why. I also think of Brandon when I listen to this album because of another song that was on a different mix ("Come Downstairs and Say Hello" - another fantastic song).

Everybody Got Their Something (Nikka Costa)

This song was a part of Cati Jean's dance warmup for a short time, and I think it must also have been played on the radio or something because I remember hearing it a lot at some point. It cheers me up but I stopped listening to it for a while because it was so overplayed. Kind of like "Kids" by MGMT (which is not on this mix).

Misery Business (Paramore)

There are so many better songs by Paramore, I'm not sure why I put this one on there. Must have just gotten the CD. CrushCrushCrush is far superior. Sorry Ellen.

The Moneymaker (Rilo Kiley)

I was temp PA'ing on a show at Sunset/Gower and was listening to this song pretty much on repeat. Craig Golin and I listened to it on the way to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles one day and he commented that it was a cool song. My convertible top still worked and I was loving LA even though I had just gotten fired (from a different television job). I also think this song would be great for a pole/strip class - and my friend Natalie teaches those classes, so Nat, here's a new song for ya. One of these days I'll come to your class. :)

Running Up That Hill (Placebo)

This is a great song to run to - something about the beats per minute make it exactly the right rhythm for me. Before I got Bear I was down to 8:30 minutes/mile, and I owe a lot of that to this song. I also absolutely love the lyrics - it's a cover of a Kate Bush song. "Meds" by Placebo is also a fantastic song.

Separate Ways (Journey, Greatest Hits Live)

I love this song, and I love that he says "domo arigato Tokyo!" at the end. Lately it makes me think of my friend Leilani, who calls herself "Reirani" sometimes, which cracks me up. No mix tape is complete for me without a bit of Journey. I sing along, and I sing along loud, and if you've ever done karaoke with me you know that "Faithfully" is my fallback song. In fact, when I went to google the lyrics I accidentally typed in "Faithfully Journey lyrics."

Stacked Actors (Foo Fighters)

I thought Ellen would appreciate this one - I listen to it when I'm having a bad day as a stage manager and I want to kill all the actors (except Tristan and Laura and Rebecca, of course. And a lot of other actors too. I'm such a softie.). Read the lyrics to find out why.

I'm Alive (Heather Nova)

This song is my "ode to bipolar disorder." It's about a guy (as are most sad lady-songs), but nothing and no one has pissed me off as much as my illness. With the help of my friend Marc, I'm working on changing my relationship with that illness. But in the meantime, whenever I get upset I put this song on and it reminds me that everyone deals with being pissed off sometimes.

Suddenly I See (KT Tunstall)

This song and the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" go hand in hand for me. And I like that movie, and I like this song. It also makes me think of Bianca for some reason - probably because she's tall and dresses well. I intentionally put a happy song on after "I'm Alive." Because if there's one thing I learned from "High Fidelity," it's how to balance a mix.

Lift Me Out (Jackie Moses/Jeff Mendel)

I think this is the only time I was so indulgent as to put my own song on a mix. This is one of two songs that Jeff and I recorded in my neighbor's recording studio. He has moved on to bigger and better recording studios; I have not. But I'm taking steps to rectify that.

Esta Cobardia (Julio Iglesias)

Julio Iglesias rocks. This entire album makes me reminisce about my childhood. In this song, I know "cobardia" means cowardice and that's about it. But that doesn't stop me from singing along.

fuck was i (Jenny Owen Youngs)

This song was on a mix that my old friend JRu gave me for Christmas when I was at aforementioned television-job-from-which-I-was-fired. Sadly he and I are no longer friends (on facebook or otherwise). This is a great song and the whole mix was awesome, so thanks JRu in absentia. Some of my favorite lyrics of all time are in this song. And apparently it was also in the tv show "Weeds," which Shelley and I haven't watched since it started kinda sucking.

Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel)

I know Michael Shutt and I share this as one of our favorite songs. This song reminds me of so many things, but the dominant memory is driving over a bridge in the Bay Area with my sister's friends (I think Lils and Kelly and Mere? And maybe Miranda?) going to outlets or something. I was so happy to be in that car with them. I think I'll always have that "little sister" feeling when I'm with my sister's friends. Especially Debbie Lippert, who ate my puzzle pieces when I was going through a jigsaw puzzle stage.

Ping One Down (Gomez)

Because there is a Gomez song on every mix I have made since 1999.

Mirror In the Bathroom (The Beat, aka The English Beat)

I saw The English Beat play at a benefit concert somewhere in a canyon in 2006. They were fantastic live and I'd love to see them again. My mom and I got matching English Beat hats (I have since lost mine) and I bought this album immediately. Another great song on this one is "Save it for Later."

Winter Birds (Ray LaMontagne)

This song was blowing up KCRW in the winter of 2008 and I was loving it.

What I Cannot Change (LeAnn Rimes)

If you read the lyrics to one song, pick this one. I have loved LeAnn Rimes since Tamara played me a recording of her singing "Blue" when she was, like, thirteen. This song makes me cry and makes me want to be a better person. In fact - screw it, it's the end, I'm pasting in the lyrics.

"What I Cannot Change" by LeAnn Rimes

I know what makes me comfortable
I know what makes me tick
And when I need to get my way I know how to pour it on thick
Cream and sugar in my coffee
Right away when I awake
I face the day and pray to God I won't make the same mistakes
Oh the rest is out of my hands

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

I don't know my Father
Or my Mother well enough
Seems like every time we talk we can't get past the little stuff
The pain is self inflicted
I know it's not good for my health
But it's easier to please the world than it is to please myself
Oh the rest is out of my hands

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

Right now I can't care about how everyone else will feel
I have enough hurt of my own to heal

I will learn to let go what I cannot change
I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
I will learn to love what I cannot change
But I will change, I will change
Whatever I, whenever I can

So there you have it - a peek into the selection of 18 songs for one of my holiday mixes. I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane. And I really hope I get my iTunes situation sorted out before the Holiday 2010 mix is due.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Universal Truths

got this in a forward - thought it was good enough to share.

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

20. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

22. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish my makeup.

24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent an ass from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?

29. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

30. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

31. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

32. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my behind everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

we are not our parents.

From the title, you night think this is going to be some emotional post about not turning into my mother. But no - actually I'd love to be like her when I'm her age. Her house looks fantastic and she has great arms.

What this post is about is what she was like when she was my age. Or where most of our parents were at my current age. When my mom turned 29, she had a 6-year-old (my sister) and a 6-month-old (me). I have two cats and a dog and even that is a bit too much responsibility.

What happened? When did this generation decide not to get married young, have 2.5 kids and a set career path and a house and a station wagon? I'm certainly not complaining, I just find it interesting. Most of my friends are not married. A couple have kids, but they're the exception to the rule. As a homeowner, I'm also an exception to the rule. We all seem to switch jobs every couple of years - those of us who aren't freelance, anyway.

I honestly don't know if I'll ever have kids - and I'm totally okay with that. Luckily, so is my mom. She tells me often that my sister and I shouldn't ever feel like we need to give her grandchildren.

I don't think my dad feels the same way (he loves babies), so I just don't bring it up. And besides, he has Bear - isn't that enough of a grandchild? For now and for the foreseeable future, it is definitely enough for me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bad Dog!

I was hiking with Donna, her dog Deor and my dog Bear in Wilacre Park recently. On our way back down the hill, we saw a cluster of women and a couple of dogs on the side of the trail. The women were covering something with leaves, and one of the women apologized to the other two for "ruining the rest of their hike." Being the nosy human that I am, I asked the woman with the dog what had happened. She told me that her dog had killed a mouse, then looked down at the dog and said "BAD DOG! BAD GIRL! YOU'RE A KILLER!"

I feel bad for that dog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I totaled my car yesterday. At least, I'm pretty sure it's totaled. The insurance company is going to let me know for sure in a week or so. The accident was my fault, and frankly I'm lucky to be alive, and lucky that I didn't hurt or kill anyone. It's getting easier and easier to find the silver lining when shit like this happens. Do I wish I could go back and change events? Of course. But as I said to my sister this morning - I'm only an idiot if I fail to learn from this experience.

So I'm going to be carless in LA for the foreseeable future. And what that means for you, dear reader, is that I'm going to have a lot more fodder for future posts - the LA public transit system is a feast for the eyes. And I'll be a part of it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

Hiya! Here's some links.

Crab Revenge - This is just insane. If it's a joke, it's a good one, but if it's not, it's pretty damn sad.

A Peek inside the Libby Mind - Some gorgeous honest words from my friend and fellow blogger.

Lee Wochner's blog - My playwriting instructor and one of my favorite people.

20x200 - A great site for those on a budget who have an appreciation for art (so, for everyone I know, basically). They sell limited edition runs on archival parchment for amazing prices - I've bought 3 or 4 of their 8 1/2 x 11. Join their newsletter to get the first look - Wednesdays are photography, my favorite.

What the Fuck Should I Make for Dinner? - Simple and hilarious.

Super cool. Happy Hump Day!

Monday, May 10, 2010


And I'm getting overwhelmed again. There is such a fine line for me between pleasantly occupied and so busy I don't have time to do things like put away laundry or eat food. I just keep scheduling myself tighter and tighter...does this happen to "normal" people out there? I think maybe I just go from 0-60 faster than most, and then don't have the tools to slow myself down fast enough. Ha. A contradiction in terms.

Ah well, time to go to bed. Another full day tomorrow. G'night, blogosphere.


I was downtown helping my friend get her new dining table into her new loft yesterday, and I saw something disturbing. I've thought about it, I've talked about it, and it's still in the back of my head. I'm hoping that writing about it will give me a bit more closure.

I was crossing Main just south of 6th, and as I approached the crosswalk I noticed a man standing in the middle of the road with his pants down around his ankles. There were a couple of bike security people standing around him, stopping traffic in the right lane so he wouldn't get hit. As I got closer I noticed he was naked from the waist down. Then he took off his shirt, then started to take off his shoes so he could get completely undressed.

A cop car approached, and two officers came out and grabbed him. By this time he was stark naked and his clothes were in a pile on the street. When they grabbed him, he tried to get away from him, and wound up bare-assed on the dirty concrete scuttling like a crab to get away. People were laughing. I was horrified. Someone kept saying "hospital, hospital." It sounded like it was the man talking, but I couldn't tell for sure.

Backstory - when I had my psychotic break in Italy nine years ago, I was wandering around the streets barefoot and wearing a pair of purple aviator shades with one lens missing. People were probably laughing. My sister was horrified. Luckily, she was there. Unfortunately for this man, no one was there.

They got him into the cop car, and his clothes were still sitting in a small pile in the street. I was looking at the clothes, hoping that they would put them in the car with him. In fact, if they didn't, I was going to go say something. They did, and the car drove away. Two minutes later, it was as if nothing had happened.

Last night I started wondering where he was at that moment. Was it drugs? Maybe. Was there mental illness involved? Probably. Was he in a mental hospital? Was he scared? Was he alone? More than likely.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm on medication, I have fantastic doctors, and I have the rare ability to be able to write about how it all feels. And hopefully to shed some light on the truth of mental illness (it could happen to anyone, it's not our fault, it's not something to be ashamed of) in my lifetime. So hopefully, next time something like this happens in broad daylight in downtown LA, the instinctive reaction is not to laugh, or to pity, but to care.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Play's the Thing

Goodness, it's been over a week and I haven't posted. Lots has happened - life seems to be on an uphill swing. I actually had to consult my iphone calendar to see what-all I've been up to.

The biggest event of the week for me was yesterday's play reading at [Inside] the Ford - some fantastic actors read the first act of the play I am writing, DSM-V, about my experience with bipolar disorder. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was way nervous about my parents seeing what was an exaggerated but still slightly accurate portrayal of actual events.

It was definitely uncomfortable, sitting in the (back of the) theater surrounded by people, some of whom I knew well and some I did not know at all, listening to my words. It was uncomfortable sitting a few rows behind my parents as some lines that actually came out of my dad's mouth verbatim were read by the most unsympathetic character. It was uncomfortable...but in a good way.

And it made my mom cry. There was actually one really cool moment where she and I were hugging each other and she said "it was just so real," and I said, "yes, but the difference is that I can write about it now." One of my best friends who was with me in Europe when I was in the midst of my psychotic break was also in the audience, and he sent me a note yesterday telling me he's glad I wrote it. And so am I.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

Some links for ya on this fine fine specimen of a day:

LA Guerrilla Gardening: I participated in their "Rock and Crawl" event this past Saturday, and had oh so much fun. Great people, great organization, I love the concept of creating beauty in abandoned spaces.

Hollywood Fringe: I'll be writing for this festival, our entry is ASAP Fables. Tons of theater going on all around LA for this event. I'm really looking forward to being involved.

Hyperbole and a Half: I could not stop laughing at this site. So wonderful.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Theater of the Bizarro

The reading of the first act of my first play is fast approaching, and is becoming more surreal by the day.

While the play is not strictly autobiographical by any stretch of the term (none of these things actually happened), the characters are more than loosely based on my own family. But of course, the more dysfunctional the characters, the more interesting the play, so I had to ratchet up everyone's personality "quirks" just a bit. So yes, the mom seems like my mom in many respects (one of those being the obsessive application of lip gloss) but it's a negative portrayal. As in, if my mother were a bad mother, she would be like this.

But it will still be strange to watch the reading with my mother there, and even more so with my dad if he attends the reading...let's just say the portrayal of him is a little closer to the truth than that of my mom. But it's still an exaggeration. So real life Mom and Dad will be watching the play about Bizarro Mom and Dad and Bizarro Jackie, written by real life Jackie.

To add to the Bizarro-ness of it all, my mom's friend Ryan will be playing the role of Jack (Bizarro Sibling). Ryan is actually a real-life bizarro sibling - when I was with my sister in New York for Christmas, he went to the big Christmas family celebration with my mom and dad. They've sort of adopted him...and now, more than they know.

I'm trying not to think about the play on the level of "what are my parents going to think?", because I could drive myself insane (ha!) and it's not going to change the outcome. They'll like it or they won't, they'll see themselves in it or they won't, they'll be pleased or they'll be pissed - and I'll cross that bridge (or jump off it) when I come to it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Getting in my Own Way

I want to start a non-profit.

It would look something like this: free after school programs and summer programs in the creative arts for kids in lower-income areas. Basically, a place where kids can enjoy the dance classes, art classes, and theater (and more) that I got to do as a kid - without having to pay the prohibitively expensive tuition that keeps most kids in those areas from being able to take such classes. It would utilize already existing LAUSD facilities as classrooms, and work with local artists and theater and dance companies who would serve as teachers/mentors.


For some reason I keep stopping myself from moving forward. Most recently, I told myself that most theater companies can't even sell enough tickets to have a profitable production, so how would a bunch of kids doing theater manage to sell tickets? But if that were a reason to not produce anything, then very few things would actually get produced.

This project is something that I'm passionate about, and something I think I have the skills to organize and run. I'm putting it into this blog so that I have some accountability and a record that I am still thinking about this idea (ten years after I came up with it), I still want to do it, and I am committing to making some sort of forward movement.

It's time to get out of my own way.

So the next step - this week I commit to researching non-profits in the area that are running similar programs, and research the steps to forming a non-profit.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, but first I have to stop tripping over my own feet.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hot Link Wednesday

Some fun stuff I've found on the internets:

Hipster Puppies - I'm going to try to get Bear in the Hipster Puppies book. We will do a photo shoot this weekend. I did a test shoot and he kept trying to eat my sunglasses.

Vote for the Worst - Their recaps make American Idol somewhat entertaining. What, I said somewhat. I still fast forward through most of the show.

Unnecessary Quotes - Plays on one of my pet peeves. Now if only there were a blog decrying people who capitalize Things that are not Proper Nouns...

Cake or Death...and Legos - One of my favorite Eddie Izzard bits of all time, with Lego animation. Brilliant!

And for anyone who thinks I should have more links after a 4 month hiatus - clearly I have been working very very hard, way too hard to spend all day surfing the interweb.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stuff You Might Like: Produce

I blogged last year about CSA California, where I got a mixed bag of farm-fresh produce. I've actually stopped getting bags from them in favor of going to the local farmer's markets and picking out my own fruits and vegetables (the CSA bag was great, but I didn't get to pick what I wanted). I've been going to the Sunday market on Ventura Place at Laurel Canyon, and the Tuesday market on Woodman at Riverside (in the mall parking lot).

As you probably know, shopping at farmer's markets is much better for the environment than shopping at grocery stores because of the reduction in energy used to transport the produce. (I feel like the "The More You Know" star should fly across the screen at this point.) And it may be a little bit more expensive, but the food is so much better. I did a taste test - I bought some strawberries at the grocery store (because they were 88 cents and I love strawberries) and then I bought strawberries at the farmer's market. The difference was amazing - it was like comparing strawberries to iceberg lettuce shaped like strawberries...the grocery store berries comparatively had no flavor. My friend Donna says it's because grocery store produce ripens on the truck while farmer's market produce ripens on the vine (or in the ground, or whatever). Donna also says that once I start eating fruits and veggies from my yard garden it's going to be even more of a taste difference, so yay!

Both markets have their strengths and are my reviews (titles link to official websites):

Sunday Farmer's Market in Studio City

A great selection of everything, but go early if you want yellow beets. My favorite goat cheese is there (the vendor is called Mom's and it's the herb goat feta), as well as the Japanese cucumber vendor and the guy with the amazing baguettes. There's also a vendor that seems to specialize in root vegetables - I got sunchokes there a couple of weeks ago and they were awesome. This is the market to go to if you want a big selection and would like to try some new things.

Parking can be a nightmare - I almost got into an altercation with an angry driver last time I went. It's pretty crowded and the crowd is unfortunately slightly oblivious to their spatial relationships...the type of people that come to a dead stop in front of you or walk slowly and diagonally in your path. But whatever, it's Sunday and it's early and they're probably hung over. No dogs allowed, but my friend Bethany who has a dog walking/sitting business goes there with a crate and dogsits while people shop.

Tuesday Farmer's Market at Woodman/Riverside

This one's a bit smaller but has some great vendors, and I love that they're there until 8 pm. My favorite vendor there by far, and the best deal, is the flower guy. Where else can you get five stems of tuberoses (my favorite flower) for $3? He'll tell you how long the bouquet will last (usually a week to 10 days) and he's not been wrong so far.

Dogs seem to be allowed - I've seen a couple there and I think I might take Bear today since I'm just grabbing a couple of things. The only drawback to this market is size and selection, but you can find pretty much any basic fruit or vegetable in season. No sunchokes though.

There's a woman who specializes in goat cheese, and I got a tub of cucumber/jalapeno goat cheese once that was spectacular. The fruit guy towards the end has some amazing apples, and the lettuce woman had the best pack of strawberries I've gotten this season.

And speaking of lettuce - both markets have a lettuce vendor with a blend called the "Special Mix." It has flowers, herbs (including amazing purple basil) and an assortment of baby lettuces. I've pretty much become addicted to this lettuce and sometimes go to both markets in one week to stock up.

If you want to read more reviews, here are the yelp pages for both:

Studio City Sunday Market

Woodman Avenue Tuesday Market

Happy shopping!

Monday, April 12, 2010

if you're happy and you know it clap your hands (clap, clap)

I was out for a drink with a friend last night, and we were discussing how he's happier than he's ever been -- even though he's unemployed and not sure what his next step will be. And I realized that I'm pretty happy too.

If you had told me a year ago (or any number of years ago, really) that at 29, I'd be working for my dad and be content, I would have laughed in your face. But. I get to bring my dog to work, I'm not in constant fear of losing my job, I'm learning how to run a small business...and I've been writing more than ever. I'm currently working on more sketches, a full-length play, and will be writing for a theater event in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

I've been chanting a lot, and half the time I am simply chanting my gratitude - for my health, my house, friends, family, animals...the list goes on. When you stop to reflect on the positive things in your life, they seem to multiply.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Well, hi. Fancy meeting you here.

It's been a while. But it's a new month (April Fools' Day no less) and another attempt to update this here blog on a semi-regular basis.

The nice thing is, though I have not been writing here, I have been writing. I'm almost done with Act I of my first full-length play (tentatively titled "DSM-V") and also just had two sketches produced as part of my improv group's March show.

I've been in my little house for almost two years now, and have definitely been growing in NoHo. Previously black-thumbed Jax actually has a vegetable garden going - my lettuce is thriving, peas are shooting up, carrots are carroting and beets are beeting.

And, the biggest change in my life in the past year or so - I got a dog. A mutt puppy from the pound, named Bear. He gets to come to work with me, which is awesome. I've never had a dog before, not even as a kid, so it's a new sort of commitment but one that I'm really enjoying.

Overall, life is good. Which doesn't make for a very exciting blog post but does make me quite happy.