I have just uploaded a new profile picture. It’s about time. The last one I had is from December, and a lot has happened in my life since December. I have a bunch of photos I need to post and updates I need to write, but I am going down to D’s country to help D move out of old digs and into a storage unit. There is so much going on this weekend… girls’ night last night, movie night at the Blue House tonight, brunch and church and swing (and a surrey with a a fringe on top) tomorrow… at first I was kind of disappointed that I promised my mad packing skillz to D this weekend, but after last night I’m a little partied out and ready to be with the person who makes me feel safe and calm.

On another note, the new profile picture is not finished. I don’t have the software on my computer to do a simple flip so the title and my face are not so close to each other. I thought about just changing the blog skin, but I still really, really love this blog skin even though I’ve had it for nearly a year. Nothing else matches its literary loveliness and simplicity.

The Boyfriend, Reprise

May 29, 2008

This evening D rode a bus from Vegas to Union Station in downtown L.A., and Mable the Sable and I took our own little road trip to pick him up. We journeyed to untraveled territory, got a little turned around, but soon found our way with the help of the Thomas Guide, which we miraculously have not had to whip out for a very long time. This is good news, being that for the first few months here in L.A., I had the guide sitting open in my lap when I drove anywhere.

After picking D up, he took me out for dinner to tell me about his trip, and then he totally asked me a bunch of questions about this novel that I’d like to write, including stuff I’d never considered before. He will hopefully be up in my country later this week, working in Hollywood for the next month or so as a personal assistant for some big-wig on the film D’s brother G is currently assisting with. And this, my friends, brings to me a sense of the freedom and excitement that comes with summer.

Also, today I went to Whole Foods for lunch. I ordered a slice of pizza, which they warm up in one of those stone fireplaces, but you have to tell the person working that you want it warmed up. I smiled at the lady behind her little glass partition and said, “I’d like a slice of cheese, please. Warmed up.”

“It just came out of the oven,” she told me. “Do you still want it warmed up?”

“Yes,” I said. “I like it really hot.”

She winked at me. “You got it, Mama,” she said.

In other news, there are so many, many things going on this weekend. Friday night is a girls’ night — a bunch of us are getting all dolled up, hitting the streets of Hollywood, and then attending the Sex and the City: The Movie. I am going to wear my Marilyn Monroe dress. I can’t wait for this amazing adventure… I’m going with Roommate Girl J, D’s sister E, and hopefully a few girls from our small group. If all goes as planned, a few small group girls are going out for brunch on Sunday too… and I cannot wait for this. It’s been far too long since I had a close-knit group of female friends. There are a few other things going on that I’d like to do this weekend, like swing dancing with Friend K, but alas, D is moving this weekend AND having surgery to have a cyst removed from his lip, so I think the boyfriend might need some packing assistance from an expert packer.

What an amazing boyfriend D is. He totally inspired me with the novel tonight, and I now have the real first line written out. It needs work, but it’s a place to begin, right?

I promise posts will get more interesting soon. It’s just late, and I’m tired. I haven’t had a real chance to process anything through introversion today, so hopefully these scattered thoughts will soon merge into something a little more cohesive.

Thanks so much for all the encouragement everyone has left recently. I love hearing your thoughts and meeting the people who are reading through stumbling across the blog. Good night all!

Tonight at my church small group, I talked to a Nice Male Novelist who gets up every morning an hour before he has to and writes. He has an impressive amount of completed pages, more than I’ve ever written on a single project — even that novel I wrote in the fifth grade, which I hand-wrote in two notebooks: one a 3-subject and one a 1-subject Lisa Frank notebook with neon cats on the front.

The realization that I am no longer as disciplined as I was when I was a fifth grader came to me during the conversation with this Nice Male Novelist (NMN), and it was a huge kick in the assonance. That is why I am blogging even though it is 11:37 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and I should be asleep after a long day of work and church small group. I told NMN about my plan to write a novel about bigfoot, and then I overheard Roommate Girl J call me a writer, and I felt guilt. Not only should I not be called a writer at this particular point in my life — I should be called a blogger because I blog more than I write — but if bigfoot were my pet, the ASPCA would descend on my home and arrest me for abuse and neglect.

I don’t really know what to say about all this except I need to write. I’ve been experiencing such a dry writing period since leaving college. It’s hard to write when one is not surrounded by writers, but I’m finally coming to the realization that I have to stop making excuses. Writing can be so excruciating at times, and it tends to possess me entirely whenever I write something more intricate than a blog post, so I shy away from it. I don’t have the energy for that right now, I tell myself, when perhaps part of the reason I struggle so much with anxiety is because I have so many pent up stories inside me that need an outlet. Instead of giving them that outlet, I drown all my characters in the cesspools of Too Tired, Not Inspired Enough, My Writing Sucks, and Better Things To Do.

I was jealous of NMN tonight. He has some killer ideas, and he’s doing something with them.

And now I’m too tired to finish this post.

D is officially done with his semester of classes and TA-ing, and I am glad that my boyfriend is back, and you’re gonna be in trouble (ay-la, ay-la…). I often joke that philosophy is the other woman, and these past few weeks it hasn’t really been a joke. Phil is all he talks about. She’s all he does (ooh-la-la). Today I told D that we needed to have a fight because I am full of all this angst.

I said it over the phone: “I think I need to fight with you later.”

“What? You can’t plan a fight.”

“But I need to. I need to let you know that I’m going to fight with you and that you’re not going to be all, My girlfriend’s an idiot and I’m going to break up with her. Remember back in September when we almost broke up, and John was so impressed that I told you, ‘I think I’m going to be mad at you later’? It’s the same thing. Be impressed at my foresight.”

I’m mad because D is dissing me Memorial Day. Just because his dear friend and roommate B is moving far, far away, eventually to end up in the mythical land of Notre Dame (Come on, B. We all know Notre Dame doesn’t really exist) to do his PhD work (Come on, B. We all know that PhD’s don’t really exist… they’re all in your head… yuk, yuk, yuk…), D thinks that he needs to spend TIIIIIIIIIME with BBBBBBBBBBBB or something ridiculous like that. So, D and I were hoping to go to Vegas just for a day and evening this weekend, but then he decided to go with B instead.

Served.

And I realize as I’m writing this that it’s been a while since I’ve updated anyone on how it’s been lately to take the long-distance relationship to the near-sight. I realized this past week that because D and I were predominately talking on the phone for the first, well, 18 months of our relationship, I missed out on a very important aspect of romantic comraderie called Wooing. D wooed me through email and phone conversation. And while we have an incredibly solid friendship because of these aspects of my wooing, I feel like we sort of missed out on the romance. Or maybe I’m the only one who misses that. I realized the other day that most of the time when I see D, I’m in my pajamas and badly in need of a shower. We never had that stage of trying to impress one another through looking pretty on indulgent dates, which may include, for example, flowers, wine, creative activities, dancing, expensive gifts, and the ever-scintilating but later-embarrassing talking like you’re in a movie (“You complete me.”) Although we did once make out in an old post office after hours in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. (Pretend you didn’t read that, Mom.)

Instead of all that wooing-paraphernalia, I got post offices and mix CDs and some of the best emails I’ll ever get. I became Pavlov’s show-stopping dog whenever that special ring-tone ding-ed. I got Christmas and Easter, just like a victim of divorce. I got an earfull of Alvin Plantinga and Linda Zagzebski and a copy of Crime and Punishment which I have yet to read and accidently left out in the rain. I got Annie Hall and 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and the opportunity to share Billy-Collins-love with another person, which then became airborne and infected all his friends. And there was that Vogue subscription I got for Christmas 2006. But where did all of this get me? Romance? I guess. I’m here in California, not just for D, but he is kind of a big deal.

It got me another best friend, and as cheesy as that sounds, as much as it is the ever-scintillating and later-embarrassing movie talk, I have to admit that it’s a pretty good thing.

And D…

sweet, sweet D…

I really must profess to you now…

that I really, really want to fight with you later.

Thank you, friends, for all your support and prayers. I’m still more homesick than I’ve ever been in my life, but the feeling of loss is inching away. D’s sister E is staying with me this summer while she does an internship at MTV, and we, along with Roommate Girl J, went to our church small group last night. It helped to be surrounded by the few friends I’ve made since moving here. Today I got some praise from my boss at work, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Also, I just got a raise and health insurance, so even though I know I won’t be there forever, it was nice to have some affirmation.

It’s hard to describe what I’ve been going through for the past few days. Last night at small group I told someone that when I got off the plane in Tennessee to see my family, it was raining, and the smell and dampness of it all made me long for home. I didn’t realize how much I missed the sound of my dad emptying his pockets of loose change — a sound I remember from being a little girl, lying in my parents’ bed while Dad added to the wealth of an overflowing and cracked Cool Whip container on his dresser. I thought we must be rich because of that huge mound of change just sitting there in all its shiny glory.

The trip to Tennessee was the first time my two-year-old niece L recognized me without getting shy when I first saw her. My nephew E is walking and charmed everyone at the wedding. Even though my family has always been great, it’s amazing how much those kids complete us. And I’ve discovered that I can make those kids laugh like nobody’s business. Being an aunt is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. My favorite cousins and aunts and uncles were all there, including my cousin S and her husband T. It was the perfect weekend. We went on walks. We went to museums. We went to a farmers’ market in the middle of the square. My cousin R got married. We danced at his wedding. We all went to watch L swim in the pool. She informed us that there were no sharks in the pool. Apparently L has been concerned about sharks ever since Finding Nemo became part of her movie repertoire.

On Monday I cried all the way back to LA in the plane. Like my first year of college, the first several months of this adventure have felt like summer camp. Being reunited with my family and then having to leave again seemed wrong. Culture shock is setting in. I’ve forgotten what that’s like. And I think part of the reason this homesickness seems so much worse than it was in college is because having that niece and nephew have helped me understand a little more what being a parent is like. It has made me understand a taste of how proud my parents are of me and my brother, and how great it must’ve been for them, for those few little days, to have us all in adjacent motel rooms and clambering into the same mini van.

Yes. I miss them. I was crying even before I left them. I was hoping that the time away would make me excited to come back to L.A., but alas, all I can think of is winter melting away from Southern Minnesota and the dank, musty smell of Dad’s auto repair shop. Perhaps it is good to be so far away because when I think of home, I think of perpetual Christmas and all those perfect weekends when it served as the getaway and not the prison. Some days I wonder if any other place could feel like home to me. Even though I lived in Arkansas for six years during and after college, it never had the same appeal. Home has always been a word reserved for the North Country.

Edit:

Sadie tagged me in a movie meme last week and I haven’t had a chance to respond yet. Here is my response:

Top 10 Movies:

1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
2. Rear Widow
3. Sullivan’s Travels
4. My Fair Lady
5. A Very Long Engagement
6. Annie Hall
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
8. Duck Soup
9. Mary Poppins
10. Pretty In Pink

I don’t really tag people in memes anymore, but if they want to do this, I’d be interested to know favorite movies from Katie, Betsy, Amity, and anyone else who cares to comment.

Back From a Hiatus

May 20, 2008

So, I took a rather large hiatus from blogging there — we didn’t have internet again at the apartment, and I’ve been busy.

And homesick. And every time I’d try to write something, it would be emotional drivel. I’ve been dealing a lot with anxiety lately, and it’s made it hard to do anything except lie in bed and watch Gilmore Girls. Still, I’ve gone to work. I’ve done a few really fun things. I bought some furniture with my tax return.

Yesterday I got back from a little vacation to Tennessee to be at my cousin’s wedding. It was an event I didn’t want to miss because my immediate family and extended family on my mom’s side would all be there. It was so good to be with them — for the first time in a few months I felt completely free of anxiety, and I must admit that it was very, very difficult to return to L.A. I’m getting tears in my eyes right now just thinking about it. Yesterday when D picked me up from the airport, I kept tearing up and needing hugs. We got some soup at Panera, and I felt better, but it’s gradual. Right now I’m getting ready to go to work (still on Tennessee time, so I woke up earlier than usual), but what I really want to be doing is hopping a plane to Minnesota. I keep reminding myself that it will get better here. If I moved home, four months down the road I’d be antsy to go somewhere again. When I moved to LA, I made the decision to be here at least a year. I have 7.5 months left…. and a lot of prayers that life will get better, that I’ll make some good friends, that stuff will continue to go well with D. It was just so startling to go from being surrounded by people I’ve only known for a short while, to a whole group of people who have been in my life for its duration.

If you think of me today, please pray for me. I keep tearing up. Even with all 13 million people in the LA area, it can sure be a lonely place sometimes.

Dear Los Angeles,

Four months ago, I packed up my car, and Mom and I left on that five-day journey to arrive here, to you. We had a few detours along the route — a snow storm across the entire state of Colorado, sickness via altitude and diner food, and the frustrations of facing a long drive ending in a highly anticipated arrival. Now I wish I would have savored the drive to you more, let it run longer, but I guess I hadn’t seen my boyfriend in five months, I was ready to leave the cold behind, and my whole body felt rigid with the anticipation and fear of starting a new life in a new place. What would you offer me? What would I offer you?

I still know that feeling well because I experience it every day — sometimes only briefly, but sometimes I awake with that feeling, and it overwhelms me for the rest of the day — the expectancy and fear of living in you. You have made it abundantly clear that so many harshnesses exist literally in my back yard. I’ve become hard to homelessness. I’ve stopped smiling at strangers. You try to trick me into ignoring that area of the city just two blocks from my neighborhood, and that clinic I waited outside when I thought I had pink eye, watching the custodian clean up a homeless man’s vacant bedding with a stick. There was the smell of urine and vomit, and I stood in line with people of other ethnicities, wondering if, at 8 a.m. that morning, I had followed Western Avenue into the wrong part of town. I just wanted to see a doctor. Where I come from, you look one up in the phone book and go to that place. I had no idea that Western Avenue would lead me straight into your slums. Despite those few cautions I felt, I noticed a small Hispanic boy in his mother’s arms right behind me in line, and in front there were those three adorable elderly ladies who said, “How are ya, Honey?” and I knew that even though I was in a place that was unfamiliar, these faces felt familiar and treated me as if I were their friend. I was the only one who dared to think otherwise.  

And yesterday, when I was getting the mail for work, do you remember how I walked by that man who was asking for money, and when I said, “Sorry, I don’t have any” (because you and I both know just how much I paid for my rent today, and please don’t tell anyone because I am a frugal mid-westerner who hasn’t even admitted to herself just how much it is), he smiled at me and said, “You’re so pretty.” He probably says that to all the girls, but you know, it was nice.

So far one of my favorite nights was just last week when friend AA came to visit, and we were in G’s neighborhood, so we picked him up and drove up into the hills to get as close to the Hollywood sign as we possibly could. We drove up onto that very mountain, and if it hadn’t been illegal, we would have done just what AA wanted to do: Do you remember how AA said, “I just want to go sit in the ‘O’ of the sign”? And then we saw the sign closer than we’ve ever been to it, so close that it was huge, bigger than the neighborhood, and we yelled, “There it is! There it is!” This is how I felt when I drove into you. You were such a novelty; in my dreams you seemed smaller — I couldn’t imagine you being that large until I could see you compared with other things — it was like realizing a stoplight is larger than a man. Some days, while I am smelling the ocean in my own bedroom or experiencing yet another day of absolutely perfect weather, I feel like I might just be sitting in that “O.” It feels that overwhelming, that illegal.

Respectfully,
Your Resident,

Ann