Men must’ve been walking on the roof, and I said as much. “What are they doing up there?” I asked when the building moved.

The night before the earthquake D and I were driving back up to L.A. from Newport Beach after spending Sunday and Monday in the O.C. with best friend L and her boyfriend JT. Saturday night offered a birthday party at D’s house up in the Hollywood hills for a roommate; spending the night at JT’s aunt’s home — a big-whig CBS person; a Sunday brunch with JT’s sister and brother-in-law — a studying architect and a cinematographer; a Sunday afternoon lounging on JT’s grandma’s deck in the Newport Bay while watching JT windsurf; a Sunday night snuggling on the couch to the romantic-est of romantic movies, American Psycho; a Monday driving around Newport in a 1970s convertible Volkswagen, license plate similar to but not exactly THE THING, with a surf board sticking out the back; and a Sunday early evening watching JT, L, and D surf (and attempt to surf) in our very own little section of the ocean.

In the car, on the drive home, we were tired. And satisfied. We love our friends. In the quiet satisfaction of the drive, I sang aloud the song that has been stuck in my head for days and days now, Natalie Merchant’s “San Andreas Fault,” a song I put on a mix CD for D before we started dating. It is off the album Tiger Lily, an album that has been somewhere in my head since I was 14. I know every lyric on it. When I was 14, I almost wished I had a broken heart so the song “Seven Years” could be true of me. It was that lovely and tragic, and I was that masochistic. Still, “San Andreas Fault” is my favorite on the album:

Go west
Paradise is there
You’ll have all that you can eat
Of milk and honey over there

You’ll be the brightest star
The world has ever seen
Sun-baked slender heroine
Of film and magazine

Go west
Paradise is there
You’ll have all that you can eat
Of milk and honey over there

You’ll be the brightest light
The world has ever seen
The dizzy height of a jet-set life
You could never dream

Your pale blue eyes
Strawberry hair
Lips so sweet
Skin so fair

Your future bright
Beyond compare
It’s rags to riches
Over there

San Andreas Fault
Moved its fingers
Through the ground
Earth divided
Plates collided
Such an awful sound

San Andreas Fault
Moved its fingers
Through the ground
Terra cotta shattered
And the walls came
Tumbling down

O, promised land
O, wicked ground
Build a dream
Tear it down

O, promised land
What a wicked ground
Build a dream
Watch it all fall down

For as long as we’ve known it, the West has beckoned people with dreams; first those literal gold-diggers with their shovels and pans, those unsinkable Molly Browns. Then Hollywood boasted gold, a Golden Era where riches dwelt not in rocks but in pictures. It is that gold that people come with their pick-axes to claim now-days. There are so many people here, so many, many people who are fighting for that gold, like Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester in A Star is Born. One must wonder if this role resonated a little too deeply with Frances Ethel Gumm/Judy Garland when she played it. Like me, she was born in Minnesota. She crossed the fault line into Hollywood. Perhaps she wouldn’t have died of a drug overdose or attempted all those suicides without all those insecurities about her appearance, exacerbated by studio execs pushing her to be a skinny woman. She might’ve had a long and happy life in Minnesota. Perhaps there really is no place like home.

Sad songs are always the best songs, and I never really understood “San Andreas Fault” until I moved to the wrong side of the actual one. At 14 I didn’t know much about youth even though I possessed it in abundance. Now that youth is ticking away, it has become a precious commodity, more precious than the number in any bank account — even William Randolph Hearst, circa 1928. I moved here not for a dream of wealth, but for a dream of youth. I came here to spend my years of sweet lips and fair skin in a land of water and seemingly endless sun.

You would think that a City of Dreams would offer its residents lovely neighbors, that the opportunities would abound like the pigeons, and all the people would drown in gold and get grills for their teeth. But maybe L.A. is called the City of Dreams and not the City of Successes because so may come here with a dream and leave without it. It doesn’t slip through just any old crack. It slips in the San Andreas Fault. That’s why we have earthquakes: All those orphan dreams are rolling around down there.

When the earthquake happened I stood up. Others I know dove to the floor. Apparently the plastic electrical plates burst off the walls in office buildings close to the origin of the quake. D’s sister E had an awkward moment with her boss under a desk. In my office, we stood in the hallway, each in a respective doorway, watching the juice our company manufactures slosh in the bottles to see if the building was still swaying and that it wasn’t just our scared little knees. A California-native hugged me. This was my first quake, wasn’t it? Was I scared?

Scared? No. So thrilled I felt it through my whole body? Yes.

It isn’t really the San Andreas Fault that scares me, even though my new homeland will supposedly someday fall into the ocean. My own faults scare me much more… faults like financial irresponsibility, worrying so much about my life that I fail to live it, the ways that I take my anger out on the people I love, the inability to figure out what I’m really doing with my life, my tendency toward depression. Meanwhile, youth ticks away. My birthday is next month. My twenties are more than halfway over.

The earthquake didn’t really scare me because the ground did not jump or shake here like I expected it to. I expected it to shake us like pennies in a jar. Instead it moved like the L.A. traffic does when you watch it from the Hollywood Hills at night. All those lights snake up the hills, in a choreography of curves and different sounds. Sometimes when I’m driving home I listen to the classical music station because its like we’re in an orchestra. Enter Ford F150 with your booming tympani; come gently little old Volkswagen Beetle with your flighty piccolo; El Diablo, bring your classical guitar; don’t forget your French Horn, Mercedes Benz. When you’re in it, it can feel jerky and unpracticed — some people play the wrong notes. But when you look above and see it happen with a different perspective, all of it works together. You see the beginning, and you see the end and all the lights and buildings and hills in between.

And when those faults do act up as they inevitably do — the Angelinos have been expecting The Big One for years now and are relieved this small one came to relieve some pressure — perhaps it truly is the best idea to run to the first doorway and stand in it until the swaying stops, and on scared little knees, take a new step.

Yep.

After having Natalie Merchant’s song “San Andreas Fault” stuck in my head for the past several days (I even sang it with D last night in the car on the way up to L.A. from Newport), I realize why:

Today I experienced my first one of these. Yup. Click the sentence before to read about my own little earthquake. It’s the one at 11:42 a.m., the 5.6 originating in Chino Hills.

And here’s the CNN article about it all.

Now I can’t get Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” out of my head.

Did anyone else notice that that guy from Flight of the Conchords also l plays Elf Escort in The Return of the King? D and I both noticed it at the same time and had to stop and rewind. It was thrilling. If you haven’t seen the bottom video, you must watch it.

Happy Monday. Prepare to giggle.

– I will never get used to how delicious fruit is in Southern California. This Minnesota girl is a big fan, indeed. “Raspberries!!” – Carol Channing in Thoroughly Modern Millie

– I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I heart Trader Joe’s

– My boyfriend is a genius.

My best friend is a genius.

– I finally watched The Return of the King, the 3rd in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, last night with D, and I cried through the whole ending and the hereafter. Best moment? There are two that parallel: when the dwarf and the elf are going into battle, and the dwarf quips that he never thought he would die fighting beside an elf. Then the elf (oh, Orlando Bloom… how we love you) asks him if he ever thought he would die fighting beside a friend. SPOILER ALERT… don’t read this next part if you haven’t seen it, although I am probably the last person my age on the face of the planet who hadn’t seen it until last night….

When Sam and Frodo are sitting among the ruins of Mordor on the tip of a rock as lava is flowing around them, Frodo tells Sam that he is glad that Sam is with him at that moment. *sobs* Also, my gosh, isn’t it amazing how, in the end, Gollum was the one who really saved Middle Earth?? Afterward D and I sat outside on his veranda in Laurel Canyon, talking about all the amazing parts of the movie. I kept shaking my finger up to Heaven and saying, “Oh, you Tolkien, you,” with narrowed eyes and a smile.

– I am very, very thankful that I have friends who are this loyal. I kept thinking about them throughout the movie. Thanks, guys. You’re AMAZING.

– Best friend L is coming this weekend, and we’re going to talk about setting up an Etsy shop together. No promises yet, but we’ve been talking about becoming craft fair gypsies together ever since we made purses three years ago. We’re also going to party like it’s 1999, baby… when we were 17.

– The guy who lives upstairs is really, really annoying. He’s always having loud parties on his balcony or pitching really bad film ideas to people on his cell phone and then getting offended when it seems that the person on the other end is telling him that it’s a really bad idea. And he also sings in his shower really early in the morning. But tonight I can hear him listening to Radiohead, and it’s kind of a nice muffled background for this lovely evening, in my bedroom with the balcony door open.

– I felt a drop of rain yesterday. Oh, I miss rain.

– Got my hair cut. Pictures soon.

– Really, really need a pedicure but am thinking about buying the supplies and learning to do it myself. Gas is really, really expensive here right now. It’s gone down from what it was in the past few days, and it’s still $4.30 per gallon. As much as I miss my 1983 Cutlass, I’m rejoicing that I don’t have to fill her tank anymore.

– Am going to see The Dark Knight tomorrow at the Arclight on Sunset Blvd. Today my roommate G served Christian Bale and his family coffee at Starbucks. A FEW BLOCKS AWAY FROM MY FREAKING HOUSE.

– E and I watched Legally Blonde a few weeks ago, and today we watched Legally Blonde 2. These films have taken on a whole new meaning for me since I moved to California. I do not mean this in a demeaning way. I am beginning to want my own sparkly, pink bathing suit, as well as purse dog. Perhaps a Harvard Law degree is in my future.

– I need to do laundry so badly that I actually purchased new underwear yesterday. Though I have been lazy in doing it, I do have an excuse — last week all the coin slides in the washers in the apartment complex were jammed. Now they are fixed. I still have not done my laundry.

– But I did clean the bathroom today.

– And clean up the kitchen a little.

– And buy groceries and other necessary supplies.

– And buy a chocolate bar that was absolutely unnecessary, but then again, maybe it will come in handy later.

– I want a cat. Oh, how I miss Francis.

– I apologize for all the times I used the word “really” in this post, and how I left the subject off of a few of the bullet points.

– It’s 8:46 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I am home with no plans. I am wearing my pajamas. This is not what I imagined life in L.A. to be like, but man, oh, man. It sure feels like the good life tonight.

*EDIT

– As of Monday, D and I will have been dating for 2 years. We’re not real big on celebrating these milestones, but tonight we both acknowledged that it’s kind of a big deal. To anyone who jumps the gun, this DOES NOT mean an engagement. A few weeks back Roommate Boy J had a dream that I got married in October. Then he asked me if I had ever thought about getting married in October. “I haven’t even thought about getting married,” I told him. And that, internet, will not change for quite a while.

Dear Los Angeles,

At first I thought I ought to write something heightened and romantic to celebrate our six-month anniversary. It would be a vulnerable comeuppance, full of all the six-month sentiments I have developed for you in our time together. I thought I should go to a place fitting for this sort of letter, taking my quill and pen to the ocean, for instance, to write to you from the very edge of the continent. Or I could bring my pencil and notebook to the gardens at the Getty and tell you about art and flowers. Yet the more that I thought about the atmosphere for this letter, the more I realized that the most appropriate setting is right here, in the bedroom of my little, messy apartment, full of the every-day noises that are slowly becoming home.

Right now there are six of us living in our three-bedroom apartment, which is quite a change for the girl who used to live alone with her cat, slowly degrading into a life of crochet and watching library movies on her laptop computer. Four of us are legally bound to our place, and the other two are here for the summer, completing internships before they return to their respective institutions of higher learning, both in the South, where it rains. I would not have mentioned the South, except that it rains. I miss rain. You would not understand, Los Angeles. It has been so long since I have smelled the earth.

Right now the closest thing to rain is the sound of E’s shower in the next room. There is also the faint movie mumblings from the living room where M and J are flattened against the couch, watching the TV, and there is the periodic clank of dish and spoon as G washes the dishes. I will never get used to the noise of our little house, nor your noise, Los Angeles. Over my bedroom balcony waft in the noises of the second largest city in the U.S. (I mean you, you fat, fat city) — the distant freeway, the chatting pedestrians on their evening walk, the passing sirens, and the nightly helicopter hover, which I like to pretend is the news instead of the LAPD spotlighting its latest criminal’s rise and fall.

For a while I would miss home at these moments, and I still do sometimes. I miss the kids playing in the lot next to my dad’s auto repair shop, above which my family lives. I miss the dank, musty basement smell of the shop, and having my dad make his living right underneath our home, just a staircase of 12 steps and three rooms away. I miss the quiet evenings and the settling of summer — the stars in the corn fields and the country drivers, my church and my cousins, and the people who have known me longer than I’ve known me, the people who know me because they knew my grandparents. I miss the hospitality, the neighborliness of it all, in the place where all the Thrift Store Owners know me by name.

Do you remember, Los Angeles, a few months back when I left you for the first time in three months? And do you remember how hard it was for me to come back to you, how I cried all five hours back on the plane, and I wondered why I was coming back — why I had to leave my parents and my niece and my nephew and all the comfort of being known? D was busy that week, and I felt so very alone, surrounded by thirteen-million people, coming home each night to this little apartment with a few roommates that I only just met. I think this is what they call culture shock, a thing I only mildly experienced when I moved from Minnesota to Arkansas for college. But after that initial breakdown, things got better. They really did. I think I came to the decision that I was here, with you, and here I would stay. Perhaps I needed that last goodbye, that last purge of what it was like to be a child.

At D’s encouragement, I have recently begun reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It has been so very long since I have read a book. I think I’ve been afraid of falling back into my girlhood, where I would hide in my room, reading stacks of books, instead of making friends. It is a lot harder to be an obsessive reader when you have a job. I’m only about 100 pages into the first book, and oh, how I’ve cried. I know, I know, it’s a little early to start crying, but Tolkien has just introduced one of the major themes of the book: Home. Frodo is speaking with Gandalf, and he is first realizing that there is a large and courageous journey he must take, and that no one else is going to do it for him.

He has never left his home, the Shire. He tells Gandalf, “I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.”

I read this after I got off the phone with my mother, after I told her I will not be able to make it home for the Clipperton Family Reunion in August. High gas prices have made it nearly impossible. This is the first Clipperton Family Reunion I have missed in my life, ever since I was 6. And I will be 26 next month. Mark my words, Los Angeles: If you do something to prevent me from going home for Christmas Eve with my family, going to Grandma’s church for the same Christmas Eve service I’ve attended since I was born, I will up and quit my job and move home.

You cannot ruin 26 years of Christmas, Los Angeles. I do not care how big you are.

All my love,

Ann

…all you need is a little You Tube:

I forgot to tell y’all that on Saturday while D and I were driving up to his house in Laurel Canyon, I had the most amazingly surreal celebrity sighting experience possible.

For a few years now I have been reading the celebrity fashion/gossip blog Go Fug Yourself because of the hilarious comments bloggers Jessica and Heather bestow upon celebrity fashion. Through Go Fug Yourself, I’ve learned of a B-movie star/model named Phoebe Price. If she hadn’t been fugged so many times for her hideous outfits, I would never have known who she is. I guess the mantra is true: No publicity is bad publicity.

Anyway, as D and I were turning up a street near his house, I saw a woman with long, red hair in a blue and white mini-dress, walking out to her mail box. The moment I saw the hair and the long, white, skinny legs, I knew it was Phoebe Price. And even though she was wearing a hat a sunglasses when she turned around, it was most definitely her. “Do you know who that was?!?!” I exclaimed to D.

“No,” he said.

And then I told him about Phoebe Price. I have never seen her in a movie. I have never seen her in an advertisement. I’ve only seen her clothing publicly mocked on a blog. And for that reason, my friends, she is one of the most exciting celebrities I’ve ever seen. I feel like I know something obscure and strangely fascinating.

And the most interesting thing about this story is that she was fugged shortly after, wearing the same outfit I saw her in. So, now you can see it too. I give you Phoebe Price.

Upon further perusal, I have concluded that her face shape makes her look a little like a Berenstain Bear.

Today is an important day for Girl From the North Country — not only did Los Angeles Metblogs link to my site thus causing nearly 100% more viewers than normal to stop by, but I also got my first little tidbit of hate mail.

Now, the hate mail doesn’t really bother me — actually, I’m a little touched that someone would care enough to send their very worst. I thought about pulling a Dooce and electronically flogging the perpetrator, because his comment was ridiculous, and I really could make quite a funny post out of it. In fact, this evening I sat right here and thought up some zingers… But I’m choosing not to, even though I find Dooce’s responses to haters appropriately biting and hilarious.

After all this went down this evening, I read an article from the New York Times that may have just changed my perspective on blogging. You must read it. You must. Especially if you have your own blog. I want to hear reactions. It’s long, but it’s well worth it.

I’ve never been one to publish my secrets on my blog. In my early days of blogging — three years ago — I wrote a few things that I probably shouldn’t have, and some wise and caring friends called me out on it. Since then I’ve been much more careful about what goes on the blog and what goes in the journal. I’ve mentioned depression and anxiety, but those are things I tell people about face-to-face because I believe that many people suffer from these ailments and need to know that others have faced the same obstacles and emerged, for the most part, victoriously.

Now, my blog isn’t insanely popular, but since moving to L.A. my number of daily visits has nearly tripled. Most likely it will continue growing slowly and steadily, as traffic does for all bloggers who stick with it and post consistently. But reading this article did bring up a lot of questions in my mind, first and foremost being, just how big do I really want this thing to get?

Many of us bloggers dream our silly dreams about getting discovered through our blogs or making a career of blogging. We often are romanced by how nice it is to have this small bit of life-control, where everyone is so kind, and we have built our own little family through the clacking of our finger-tips.

I love the blogosphere, and I love the people I’ve been able to meet and the old friends that I’ve been able to keep in touch with through tossing up a lil’ ol’ post every once-in-a-blue-moon. Heck, I met D through my first blog. The hate mail comment today was mostly a reality check. With increased growth comes increased responsibility and increased risk. Just how much responsibility do I want from this? Didn’t it start out as a means to keep in touch with friends after college?

I love this blog, and I love sharing about my life on it. I love the input the regulars give me and hope that it brings a shot of laughter or a new insight into readers’ lives. I hope I’ve never jeopardized a relationship or potential relationship through internet indiscretion.

Read the article. Tell me your thoughts.

The Weekend Recap

July 6, 2008

Fourth of July weekend was a busy weekend, indeed, and I most certainly welcomed a paid holiday, a little bit o’ rest, and some great memories made with wonderful friends. I told someone over the weekend that L.A. feels a little bit more like home each day, with a few exceptions, and the time off afforded me a chance to get to strengthen some great friendships. It was a busy, busy weekend. This morning at 11 a.m. I had brunch with the Ladies Who Brunch from my church small group at the lovely friend K’s home. Since then I have spent the entire day in my apartment resting, reading, and eating, save the 15 minutes I spent only a moment ago at the gas station. I filled my entire tank for $50 at $4.55 per gallon. My goal is to make this tank last for 2 weeks. Let’s see how I do.

Thursday D invited me to the wrap party for the film he and his brother G have been working on. D has been working as the producer’s assistant, and G is some type of coordinator. They have been working long, hard hours for the past several weeks, and the wrap party provided them the opportunity to bring their very supportive girlfriends to hear some good music, eat some good food, and schmooze with the Hollywoods. And, thanks to the fantastic outfit suggestions of several friends, I purchased this dress at Forever 21 before the event. It was cute, vintage-ey, cheap, tasteful, hip, and  fit me perfectly. Unfortunately, Forever 21 makes crap clothing, and the zipper broke while I was frantically trying to get ready after work. Hence, I had to throw together a different outfit with stuff I already had. But this conundrum afforded me the chance to wear my new hat. Also, at the wrap party, Tea Leoni touched my shoulder. I was pretty un-star-struck about the whole thing. She was trying to get people who were standing outside to come in and hear Billy Bob Thorton’s band play. I heard one song, and it was great, but I was there to hang out with my friends, and it was too loud in the room to really talk.

All dressed up and ready to go, but apparently D is sulking. Perhaps he wanted to wear a hat too.

Galen ruins everything.

Billy Bob Thorton’s band provides the entertainment for the evening.

We like each other. Sometimes.

After all of this, I realized that I didn’t get any pictures of me with G’s girlfriend N, who is an awesome little lady, and I had such a fun time with her.

Friday the four of us went to a pool party hosted by a co-worker of our friend AB. It was a great time and the perfect setting for a hot day. Yay, hamburgers! Yay, America! Happy Independence Day! Afterward D and I both took naps because we were exhausted from our cavorting, and then we watched one of my favorite movies, a little-known Steve Martin film called Lonely Guy.

Saturday a whole cohort of D and G fans (not Dolce and Gabbana — D and his brother) came over to my apartment to read through the script of a little project they are working on. The friends gave feedback on it, and the boys got some very helpful critiques. Again, I was so busy hosting that I totally forgot to pull out the camera. Another great photographic opportunity is lost for the sake of etiquette. That evening the boys, N, and I went to a new favorite restaurant, Natalee Thai on Venice Blvd.

Today I had the aforementioned brunch and have been lazy all day. It’s been a welcome break. I wish the time didn’t fly by so quickly.

And while we’re in photo-posting mode, here are a few photos from last weekend, when D and I went to his former roommate C’s wedding. It was an outdoor wedding at a country club, and I most certainly wore a hat.

D found it so attractive that he had to try it on himself…

…and again. notice the finger he recently slammed in a car door.

And here is Blue-Eyes looking a little more masculine.

I’m so California.

June 30th marked the six-month anniversary of my love affair with Los Angeles.

I am trying to write a post about this, and about how July is also a monumental month because as of July 21st, D and I will have been dating for two years.

That is, if we make it to July 21st.

We don’t really celebrate anniversaries in our relationship, and we never ever pay attention to the month anniversaries. Once my brother bought a former girlfriend a cactus as an anniversary gift, and though I found that cleverly hilarious (like so many other things my brother does), D and I have never taken it upon ourselves to bestow houseplants upon one another to celebrate the milestones of our romance. However, a cactus would be a fine choice since I kill every plant I’ve ever gotten, and cacti are hardy little plants. In fact, there is currently a dead plant on top of the apartment entertainment center. We named it after our landlord. Before it was dead. And before the landlord was dead.

(Obviously, because she’s probably still got a good 60 years in her.)

D and I actually got to be together on the year anniversary of our relationship. I was living in Arkansas at the time, and D came to Houston, Texas to usher at a friend’s wedding. I drove to Houston to pick up D and his brother G, and we stayed the weekend at his parents’ house in a small town in Texas. On the night of our anniversary, G tried to convince us to come out with him to a friend’s house. We declined, opting to watch a movie instead and then made out in his parents’ basement like teenagers. This was a momentous weekend because was also the first — and only — time I tasted real Texas moonshine. The making out and the moonshine are not in any way related. And I only took a tiny sip of the moonshine to stifle my curiosity. I imagine that rubbing alcohol would taste similar. And come to think of it, I’ve really only kissed D once anyway, and that was to stifle my curiosity as well. Now that that’s over, we can move on to more important things in our relationship, like how we will coordinate our outfits when we go out on dates.

And now I will conclude this incredibly scattered post which says nothing and everything at the same time. Thanks for y’all’s advice about the outfit for the wrap party. It was really helpful. I will post pictures. And that 6-month anniversary with L.A./2-year anniversary with D post will come soon. I just have to play around with it some more.

Happy 3-day weekend!

P.S. I just remembered how much D hates it when I use the word “anniversary” in reference to him. He also hates it when I call him a mutation of his name that ends with the “eey” sound. So, D-eey, I’m so sorry I talked about our anniversary in this post. I know it makes you uncomfortable, but just remember how much our children will enjoy looking back to this post and reading about their mother drinking moonshine.

I’m kidding! Kidding! Kidding about the… kids. I know, I know. I’m joking… we’re still of the same mind on this issue. At this rate we really won’t make it until July 21st. You have permission to remind me of this the next time you take a joke too far.