As It Turns Out…

February 26, 2008

I spoke too soon. What seemed to be developing into a black eye is actually allergies. The bright, red blotchy-ness of my left eye led me to believe that my eye had suffered bruising at the whim of D’s elbow. On Sunday night, however, the redness and eye boogers spread to my right eye, thus incurring the fear of the dreaded Conjunctivitis, e.g. Pink Eye. I took the day off work on Monday and went to the doctor only to find out that it is not, in fact, Pink Eye, but an allergic reaction. It could be from a lot of things… smog, pollen, dust, whathaveyou… but I’m positive that the cigarette smoke I was around on Friday night is the main perpetrator. My eyes always feel like they’re burning when I’m around cigarette smoke, but I’ve never had a reaction quite like this. It’s actually been a little bit scary. Of all the body parts that could get hurt on me, my eyes are in the Top Five List Of Body Parts NOT to Injure. So, sorry, no pictures for now. We’ll just have to wait until D actually gives me that shiner, and by that I don’t mean Texas beer.

The illness that has ransacked the majority of Southern California in the last month or so has also pillaged my body. I spoke of it briefly in a post from a few days ago, but let me tell you, this thing is hanging on, and it’s not fun. I can’t sleep because I’m up late coughing. The worst part about it is that my voice has been gone since Saturday, and though this wouldn’t seem like a big problem for a staunch introvert such as myself, it really is getting difficult.

You see, I’m having a really hard time right now and not being able to talk to anyone about it makes it even more difficult. While moving to a new place in a big city is an amazing adventure, all adventures come with their booby traps. Tonight I started crying on the phone with D, which was pretty funny and pathetic now that I look back, and I told him, in my raspy, almost-nada voice, “I feel like I’ve been running up hill for the last four months.” Life will always be full of moments of joy, followed directly by the inevitable banana peel on linoleum. This is called Adulthood. I can’t think of a single day in the last few weeks where I haven’t teared up at least once. Even during the Oscars (several times). (And by the way, my amazing boyfriend won the Oscar pool, thus gaining around $80. I was very proud. And it was very weird watching the Oscars on television in Hollywood when they were actually happening less than a mile away.)

Anyway, today has been especially bad on the emotional venue: I finished the third season of LOST, which is, by the way, the greatest season so far, and how in the world do you people live without a little LOST in your lives? It has changed my life, and I’m not even kidding. I cried through, oh, about the last 20 episodes.

But the thing that really makes me concerned about my emotional health is that my dad and mom sent me a Dayspring e-card over the internet today. It has really sweet music and a sheep knitting socks, then suddenly a gust of wind lifts the sheep up and twirls her around and sets her down, and her socks fall a little ways from her on the grassy hill where she sits. Then the card says something like, “Hoping Jesus knocks your wooly socks off,” and let me tell you, people, I not only teared up, but I SOBBED through the WHOLE THING. I’m like a pregnant woman on her period during menopause.

Now, before you go shipping me off to the loony bin (“I don’t want to go to the loony bin… I want to go to the brewery.” Name that movie, and I’ll give you a prize), please understand that I had just finished watching Season 3 of LOST, which really is something to laugh and cry and whoop about. And I had just finished admitting to D as well as I could through my whispery voice that stuff has been pretty rough lately.

“I just wish I knew what I was doing with my life,” I told him, convinced that all my problems will vanish as soon as I find my destiny.

“But you’re in California,” he said, “you are doing something with your life.”

So, I’m going to keep running up that hill, even though that ridiculous e-card made me miss my family more than I’ve ever missed them before. I’m going to keep running because I’ve made it this far and because D told me tonight that he feels calmer when I’m around and because my brother and his family are coming to visit in a few weeks and because I have a job and an apartment and a life that I am doing something with right now, as I sit at the kitchen table in my pajamas.

That’s Quite a Shiner.

February 24, 2008

Yesterday D gave me a black eye. When I text messaged him this morning to let him know he had done so, he wrote back, “Are you serious? I’m so sorry,” and after I told him he did indeed, and that it doesn’t hurt (much) — it just looks bad — I’m sure he went off to tell his friends that he gave his girlfriend a black eye.

Never one to get into fights as a young child, I have only had a black eye two other times in my life. Once, as a little girl, I fell off my bike, and I think I hit the handle or something. This is only a vague remembrance. My brother, incidentally, had a similar accident the same week, and Mom refused to take us anywhere because she was afraid people would think she was abusive.

Also, as my only act of rebellion in my entire life, I got my eyebrow pierced my freshman year of college. I had a black eye from that for about a week. And it really wasn’t an act of rebellion or anything that serious or sinister. I just wanted one.

This black eye was a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I went down to D’s place yesterday to spend my Saturday with him, and we were cuddling. He reached down to the floor to grab something — maybe his phone? I don’t remember — and when he sat back up, his elbow was out, and it hit my eye. I said, “Ouch,” because it hurt, and he apologized and asked if I was okay, and I said, “Oh, it’s fine,” but then I woke up this morning with a huge eye booger in the corner of my eye. Apparently the injury caused my tear duct to work overtime. The mirror shows an angry, red eyeball and a small purplish bruise beneath my eye. You can’t really tell unless you look at it closely, but that will probably change tomorrow. If it looks any shinier, I promise to post pictures.

I’m going to tell everyone that I got it defending my boyfriend’s honor.

I am sick for the sixth time since October. I took a sick day from work today, and while it’s not fun when your body aches all over and burns with fever then chills up, it is nice to have a day of rest. Why have I been sick so many times? I wonder if my immune system has been all wacky because of stress. Since October, this little body o’ mine has undergone almost constant stress, what with moving twice, saving money, finding a job, finding an apartment, and all the other obstacles, tra la la.

Speaking of stress, I went to the DMV this morning even though I’m sick because I need to get all my driving stuff transferred over to California. Thankfully I made an appointment, so I didn’t have to deal with the front desk lady who was reaming out the guy in front of me because he didn’t get the title on his car changed and had bought the car in July. She stood up behind the desk, turned to the people waiting in plastic chairs and yelled, “Did you hear that, y’all? Don’t you come in here trying to change over a title that should’ve been changed back in Ju-ly. If your car had gotten impounded, you wouldn’t be able to get it back.” I was standing behind Reamed-Out Guy when it happened because I hadn’t yet realized that I could slyly escape that line and move to another line for those who already had appointments. Reamed-Out Guy turned around and glanced at me — probably for sympathy — and he had a can-you-effing-believe-this??? look on his face and ultimate fear in his eyes. I smiled at him and widened my eyes, like, “I know, Dude. I know.” I then caught sight of the sign just above the counter, which said the line I was standing in was for inconveniences customers who had not made appointments. I had made an appointment, hurrah! hurrah! and stepped over to the much shorter line for appointments only. The only thing was, I forgot my passport or birth certificate. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I rushed home, hoping I could find my passport in the boxed rubble that is currently my bedroom, but I have no idea in helsinki where my passport is. I used to keep it in my jewelry box because I could find it easily there, but since I packed everything up and sold my jewelry box on a garage sale (it was getting too small for the multitudes of precious gems bestowed upon me by a vast queue of handsome suitors), I have no idea where I put it. I know exactly where my birth certificate is. In Minnesota. In my filing cabinet.

Drat.

So, I came home, exhausted from the exertion of skirting Mean DMV lady and from the effort of wildly digging through the boxes of rubble to find the passport. Geez, it annoys me when I can’t find stuff. But, I brought the paperwork with me and am filling it out to have it ready for my next DMV appointment on Tuesday.

Now I am in my pajamas, getting fat on chips and M&Ms, hoping my fever goes down so I won’t be so cold anymore.

Here are some photos. I’ve been trying to post these for a while, but the internet has been wacky:

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I snapped this on the commute home one evening. This is Los Angeles on a clear day, just before sunset. If not for this, the commute would kill us all. And, more realisticly speaking:

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This is LA on a normal day, taken atop of D’s brother G’s street in Laurel Canyon. The other day Mom told me she wanted to be in California too because I was telling her all the terrific adventures I’ve been having. Then I said, “Mom, the pollution and traffic are killing me.” When people say it’s bad, there’s no pessimism about it. IT’S BAD. But there are, literally, breaths of fresh air, and when they come along, they’re spectacular.

(Speaking of breaths, there’s this guy I know who is originally from Italy, and he constantly says, “breathe” in statements, such as “we can hardly breathe,” except he says it pronouncing a “d” instead of the “th”, and I constantly think he’s coming on to me: “We can hardly breed.” “Let’s clean some of this up so we can breed in here.” “Whew, I can finally breed.”)

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A few weeks ago Roommate J and I were still staying with D’s brother G because we had yet to find an apartment of our own. I had just started my job and had the opportunity to go to a promotional luncheon for fresh produce growers to attend and promote their products. (I work at an organic juice company. I tell people that I squeeze the oranges all the live-long day, but really folks, I’m the bookkeeper.) I got a whole bag of free food, and I brought home a vegetable tray for the three of us to sup together. So, we had dinner on the floor of Galen’s bedroom (the only warm room in the house as Californians do not believe in central heat) and drank the product of my labor: blood orange juice.

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This is Roommate J and me on the same evening:

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On Valentine’s Day, D and I celebrated the fact that we’ve been poking one another on Facebook for an entire year.

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You know it’s a special occasion when I wear earrings. I don’t own any of my own, so I borrowed these from Roommate J.

He came over and made me dinner:

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Later that weekend, D came over again, and we celebrated my first paycheck. I took him to dinner on Washington in Culver City, which is only a mile away from my residence. And let me tell you, Culver City is magical in the evening, dining el fresco with your boyfriend at a delicious Italian restaurant, with well-dressed people milling by and white lights wrapped around all the trees on the boulevard. This was one moment of breeding breathing amid the traffic, smog, and general frustrations of living in a big city.

Yesterday a man came into the office and reamed me out for parking in the Tai Kwon Do parking behind my building. This parking was not marked with any signs, but he told me that if I did it again, he’d charge me. I felt bad, started taking it personally, and said, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware I shouldn’t park there. I’ll move my car right now.” I should’ve not let it bother me and said, “So, you’re a Tai Kwon Do master? If it were anyone else I would have fought you for it.” A friend once told me that the city hardens you and squeezes out your sensitivity. I have experienced that to a degree, but it is my goal to hang onto that sensitivity I have, which some consider to be a fault, but I consider to be valuable.

More Trafficking…

February 13, 2008

Los Angeles traffic is everything people say it is and then some. My place of employment, thankfully, has provided me with the option of coming in at 8 a.m. instead of the usual 9 a.m. work time so I can miss traffic in the morning; taking a 1/2-hour lunch break; and leaving at 4:30. For the most part, I forgo the craziness of the traffic. The first week I arrived I realized that learning to drive in Minnesota has prepared me at least somewhat for the wonky city traffic: Driving with L.A. drivers is like driving during a blizzard.

It is a rare occurrence when I don’t see an accident on the road in the course of a day (Mom, don’t panic). Over and over again, the audacity of my fellow-drivers on the bright roadways of this sunshine-y state baffle and perplex me, while, so far, providing more cause for laughter than for bitterness. Take yesterday for example:

I am driving home from work and stop at a red light, which promptly turns green. I begin to proceed across the intersection when a white Lexus SUV sitting on the intersecting street guns it to make a right turn in front of me. I repeat, I have the green light. So, I honk. Honking is just what people do around here. Then big sunglasses lady inside tells me I’m #1… but with the wrong finger. And not only does she extend said finger in the rear view mirror, but she also shakes it… a good strong shake, not a dead-fish shake.

Los Angeles may be the only place on earth where other drivers get pissed at you when they make traffic violations.

*EDIT*

I forgot to tell y’all that it’s only a month until I get to see these beloved little people!!! (My brother and sister-in-law and their two kids are coming to visit next month. Disneyland, here we come!):

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Niece Lydia

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Nephew Ezra, and yes he is holding a bust of Elvis.

Living In a Movie

February 11, 2008

On the way home from work today, I was waiting at a green light for a homeless woman to cross the street so I could make a left turn. She stopped in the middle of the street, reached down, and picked up something, while I was waiting for her with a line of cars behind me, unsure if I should just go around her, lest she decide to run right in front of me. I figured she must’ve stopped to pick up some change, but I realized I was wrong when a thunk hit my roof, and I looked up to find her waving her hand dismissively and glaring at me. All I was doing was waiting to make a left turn. I didn’t even honk. There’s a reason Los Angeles’ largest industry is film: More often than not, living here feels like living in a movie.

Back On the Internet

February 10, 2008

Hi, Friends. This is a post I wrote about a week ago while living with D’s brother G in Hollywood. Since then I have moved into my own apartment — today is day 2 living at our fabulous place! I haven’t had internet access except at work for quite a while, so I haven’t been able to post. Now that things are getting much more settled, and now that I have my own place, I should be able to post more frequently again. Without further ado:

Today was a day of firsts, full of Big City fodder. I am having trouble making my brain work right now – have not started having new job dreams at night but am betting they will seep into my sleep tonight – and I hope I can make sense of all this, because I can’t tell you how awesome the last few days in the big city have been. I might just have to write a list for the sake of letting my mind rest. That’s what you get when you work a largely financial job. I am enjoying my work, but man, there are a lot of things to learn, and many of them require me to stretch my thinking. I look forward to the day when all this comes easily, and I come home from work aching for a creative outlet rather than aching for a shower and a bed.

Today I had my first celebrity sighting since moving here. This might be my first celebrity sighting ever. Actually, no, I take that back – I once saw Kevin Garnett at the Target Center (former Minnesota Timberwolves basketball player), and David Robinson (former San Antonio Spurs basketball player) allegedly waved at my brother and me at another Timberwolves game. We aren’t certain, but it just might be so. Also, when I was little, I met Christine Wyrtzen and got her autograph. Now, maybe you don’t know who she is, but we certainly did as children. She hosted a kids’ program on Christian radio called Critter County when I was little, and the only disappointment when I met her was that she didn’t bring Sydney the Squirrel. And yes, friends, I still do have Ms. Wyrtzen’s autograph.

Anyway, my first REAL celebrity sighting took place this evening, and it’s a good thing D’s brother G was in the car with me because I totally would not have known who the person was unless G had said it. We were driving down Hollywood Boulevard on our way to Los Feliz to find a diner after I got home from work. I had a hankering for some pancakes. We saw the limo and the flash bulbs and slowed enough to look over and see who got out of the limo. She stepped away from the photographers and to the fans to sign a few autographs, and there was this tiny, cute little lady in a bright green dress, whom was none other than Beyonce.

Which really got me thinking, you know. Not about Beyonce, really, or even green dresses even though I want to look up a picture of the dress she was wearing once I have stable internet access. What I was really thinking about was a flannel graph. You know… flannel graphs… those felt boards that Sunday School teachers used to use with all kinds of felt characters and felt settings to illustrate Bible stories. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to set up a flannel graph in my apartment, with scraps of felt nearby so friends who come over could leave their mark on my apartment by creating something for the flannel graph before they leave. Now I have another idea for the flannel graph. Once I move into my apartment, which should be Thursday (!!!!), I need to make that flannel graph, and part of its purpose will be to chronicle my celebrity sightings. For every celebrity I see, I will make a flannel graph character.

Incidentally, Beyonce is the only celebrity I’ve seen so far, though I narrowly missed Donald Sutherland the other day when roommates J and J and I were having lunch at Subway in Santa Monica, just a few blocks from where I work. However, I keep thinking that I see celebrities, or rather, one celebrity in particular: Stephen Spielberg. This phenomenon has gone on since even before I arrived in California; indeed, it has been a years-long occurrence where not a few months pass before I think I see Stephen Spielberg. My Stephen Spielberg sensors have been even more acute lately, now that I am consistently in Hollywood, and I drive through Beverly Hills on my way to work. I find myself staring at important-looking bearded men in BMWs or Lexi (plural Lexus), or sports cars, all the while thinking, Stephen Spielberg? STEPHEN SPIELBERG?

I’ve yet to see him. And even if I did see him, I’m not convinced that I would believe it’s him. I also thought I saw Dustin Hoffman in Panera the other day. G got up and pretended to get more coffee just to get a closer look. No Dustin Hoffman, but at least in that case, G verified that the guy did look an awful lot like Dustin Hoffman.

Today I also wrote a check for more money than I’ve ever spent in one check in my whole life: $1,647.50. Welcome to becoming a renter in Los Angeles. The good news is that I totally planned the exact amount I would need to get started in L.A. whenever I was saving money to get here. That is a huge sigh of relief. The roommates and I signed a lease today, and we can move in on Thursday. The apartment is way more than I wanted to spend – I’m not going to tell you how much per month because it will give you an aneurism, and I can’t be party to your death – but suffice it to say that I will have to make some major sacrifices. But it’s okay. My roommates and I might consider taking on a few more roommates in the future. I can afford the place. It’s in my budget. But it would be nice to have a bigger cushion.

Yesterday I yelled for the first time ever in a football game. How could one not get caught up in the triumph of the Giants’ final touchdown in the Super Bowl? For the first time in my life, someone took the time to explain to me what was going on in a football game. Millions of doors opened for me, and the light shined in. D has enlightened my life in so many ways, but perhaps the most important was on that momentous occasion, when a Great American Pass Time finally made sense. It changed my life.