Times, They Are A-Changin’

December 15, 2008

My friend N works at a fancy church in Bel-Air, and last night she gave me a free ticket to her church’s Christmas program. At first I didn’t think I was going to make it – this week is crazy-busy for me, and the busy-ness started Friday night. Then some plans got cancelled, and I was able to get all dressed up and fit in the performance. I had never been to the church before even though N has invited me several times, and I have to say that it was a beautiful sanctuary with incredible performers. The church is on a hill, and the city lights of Los Angeles glowed beneath it. Afterward, D’s brother G (N and G are dating) and I stood in their meeting room, drinking hot chocolate, playing a game of “spot the ugly person” because everyone was pretty and shiny and well-designed… even the lady whose hairpiece looked like a poodle. We actually couldn’t find any ugly people. I pointed out a guy with neck rolls, but G looked at me chastising-ly and said, “But that guy is really nice.” I said, “I’m sure all these people are really nice, but you know, he’s the type of person you’d see in a normal church.” So, our game of Find the Ugly Person turned into a game of Find the Person You’d See In a Normal Church. Even the old people were glamorous. I saw this seventy-year-old woman wearing Jackie-O glasses, and I wished she were my eccentric great-aunt who would have invited me to come stay with her in her Bel-Air mansion over my teenage summers and would have encouraged summer-lovin’ romances with cute surfer boys who played the guitar, and wore hemp necklaces, and whose leg hair would have perpetually held sand. G and I only found two people for our game. As we scanned the room one final time, I said, “And that’s about it.”

 

It was a lovely program, and, as usual, I got all teary in the beginning. For some reason Christmas concerts do this to me – perhaps it is because my favorite time to be home is over the holidays when all my family on my mom’s side gets together. We don’t have a whole lot of traditions in my family – Thanksgiving and Easter are usually spent eating out – but Christmas is the holiday for sitting around, eating and talking, after going to my grandmother’s church. This year will be my twenty-seventh year going to her church, and even though they have had the same program every year since I was born, and every year since my mother was actually in that Christmas program as a child, I look forward to it more than I can say. When I went to the concert last night, I was thinking about home and Christmas, and then I got this overwhelming feeling of, “How in the world did I get here?” worshipping in a church in Bel-Air, with a huge window in the sanctuary through which to see the city lights of Los Angeles below. I had to stop singing during “Hark the Herald, Angels Sing,” because I got all choked up when I thought about this past year adjusting to life here, and the year previous to that when coming to California was only a goal, and I constantly woke up in the middle of the night feeling anxious and wondering, “How in the world am I going to save enough money to do this? How am I going to survive in a city of thirteen million people? Where will I work? Where will I live?”

 

In the past few months, I have gotten pretty settled into my life here, but it seems that I am not the type of person who thrives off of settling. I discovered a few years ago from reading a book called The Passionate Church by a British minister named Mike Breen, that some people are Settlers, and some people are Pioneers. The Settlers have a gift for going to a place, throwing down some roots, and cultivating that place for long periods of time. The Pioneers will go to a place, conquer it, settle into it for a little while, and then leave it to the Settlers, so that the Pioneers can move on to new territory. I am definitely a Pioneer, and I thrive when I am constantly investigating new places, exploring, conquering, and then moving on to something else. Los Angeles has been good for me because whenever my wander-lust bites, I can go just about three miles away and have a new place to explore. This city is expansive. It goes on forever, and everything connects, and there are all these little pockets waiting to be discovered. I am constantly finding a new favorite place.

 

My life may be going through some more changes in the next few months, but I’m not sure – there is only the possibility. As far as I know, I am staying in Southern California. Beyond that I really can’t say over the internet what is up, except that this morning I drove to work in the rain, and traffic was slow, so it gave me time to think. There is a great possibility looming on my horizon, but nothing is definite. I trust that God will put me in the place I need to be, and if it’s not where I think it should be right now, then I’ll just keep on settling in where I’m at. But it is still nice and hopeful to know that good things are out there, and that a life beyond office work is a closer possibility than I previously thought. My life has constantly gone through this pattern, where I finally get settled into a place, and then this whole other book of possibilities blows open, and the pages rise in the wind dramatically like a great paper rainbow.

 

All In a Sunday Afternoon

December 14, 2008

Today while waiting for my coffee at a coffee shop, a man walked by with a live parrot on his shoulder. He simply picked up his food and went to a table. I seemed to be the only one in the room with a surprised/amused expression on my face. No one else even noticed.

And then later, as I was driving home, I drove past the Ivy on Robertson, which is a fancy restaurant where fancy people go to eat their fancy lunches at a fancy price. Outside was a bright green Lamborghini and five young valet boys who were staring at it, sheepishly smiling and exchanging glances, as if they were waiting to see which one of them would have the balls to ask her out.

All I Want For Christmas

December 14, 2008

Ann: So, we’re exchanging gifts tonight, right?

D: Yes. By the way, what do you want for Christmas?

Ann: I already told you. All I want for Christmas is my dignity.

D: I can’t afford your dignity. How about I get you a reason for living instead?

Ann: I already asked Santa for that.

Rememberances

December 11, 2008

Just a moment ago, out of nowhere, it occurred to me that when I was around fourteen years old, I was absolutely terrified of getting married because my husband would have to see me without makeup on. This came from a girl who had only been wearing makeup for two years. And wouldn’t get married for another 12 years, and counting. And who now only wears makeup on weekends, if you’re lucky.

26.

Yep. The other day this guy asked me, when I laughed at his 1986 birthdate, exclaiming, “I remember 1986!” (that was a good year to be four years old), he asked me, “If I may ask, how old are you?” Remember the days when people used to just ask? Like in high school? (“What grade are you in?”) and even in college (“What year are you?”) and now I have gotten so old that people have to ask permission to ask my age. “I’m twenty-six,” I told him. “I thought you were twenty-three,” he said, like all those customers at Chick-Fil-A when I worked there as a senior in college who told me I looked sixteen.

I’ve still got it.

I’m trying to get into the mind of a seventeen-year-old boy, and it proves to be more challenging than previously anticipated. First of all, though I can remember being seventeen, I hardly remember ever being a boy. Secondly, teenage boys think a lot about sex, so it is hard to get beyond that and figure out what they’re really like. The main character of the novel I am writing is a teenage boy. His name is Matt Hunter, and I thought we were friends, but now I am doubting our relationship. It seems he has not been honest with me. He told me his father left him at a young age, but I’m beginning to think his father is actually dead. He also told me he got good grades, but I think he was just showing off. He must’ve thought I was 16.

Today when I was thinking about Matt, I remembered what my dad’s footsteps sounded like when he was walking upstairs in our first house. Isn’t it funny how everyone’s footsteps sound different, how there is a different rhythm and weight and speed to all? My bedroom was a the top of the stairs, and I always knew who was coming. I was fortunate to grow up in a creaky house, full of hiding places and always messy. I think Matt’s house was similar.

When I have particularly poignant dreams at night, I always dream of houses. If it is a bad dream, it is usually about a house that looks pretty with lots of windows and light, but deteriorates into secret passage ways that lead to crumbling attics. Once a sunroom turned into a room full of snakes. Once my cousins and I got lost in a secret passage, and the walls started moving in on us, Star-Wars-like. If it is a good dream, I am always with my parents, and they have moved into a new house with a big, Victorian bedroom for me, and the room has walls made of windows. I wake up with a sense of longing, the same longing I have when I hear football games on television in the background on a Sunday afternoon and think of my dad.

I really want to live in a house with a family again.

Only 9 more days until I visit home.

Almost a Year…

December 11, 2008

Tonight on the phone D asked where I was at this time last year. It was 16 days before I moved out here. I think I was finishing up working at a fruit packing company. In honor of the upcoming one-year anniversary of my move to L.A., here is a very special list…

Top 5 Things I Don’t Know How I Lived Without Before Moving to L.A.:

1. Arrested Development
2. Sushi
3. Hello? THE OCEAN.
4. Having anything you could imagine within a 5-mile radius of my apartment (no joke… I am centrally located to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Downtown, and the Westside… even though I don’t live in any of these locations — my address is L.A. proper — they are all super close).
5. Fresh fruit all year round. It’s so delicious. It’s like candy, only healthy.

I know it’s been a while since I really wrote on this thing. I have a post about haircuts in the making. The blog is going to be one of my priorities in 2009 — I just need to work out a schedule for posting that works for me. Currently I have taken on a lot of projects, and I’m staying extremely busy. This has been good — for the first time since college, I’m doing a lot of the things I used to love, back when I had time before I had to do all that studying all the time. I got a work bonus about a month ago and used part of it to buy a new sewing machine. It’s been a blast to give it a workout making Christmas gifts. The writers’ group a few friends and I started has been so encouraging and motivating for all of us. D graduates from grad school on the 19th, and his whole family is coming out here next week. And the night of D’s graduation, around midnight, I’ll be flying home for the first time in a year! I’m so thrilled to see my family and so ready to have some time off of work and out of the city…. but it’ll be back again for New Year’s, hopefully spent with a few dear and quality girlfriends that I have made since moving here.

So much has happened since I last posted… I hosted a Day of Thrift and Women last weekend, where I took several friends to a few of my favorite thrift stores. We had a BLAST, and that’s not even a joke. We walked away deciding that we need to have one of these days as often as we can afford. This day spurred me to think up a New Year’s resolution that might be really challenging, but fun. In 2009 I resolve to only buy clothing at thrift stores OR make it myself. This could get challenging when it comes to jeans. Hopefully my weight won’t fluctuate too much :). I think this will push me to sew more. I’m thinking about starting a blog about it.

I’ve also travelled up to Lake Tahoe for a weekend at a friend’s cabin, gone to many parties, explored parts of the city, read a few books, and, oh yeah, written some on a novel I’m writing about Bigfoot. For Thanksgiving a bunch of friends got together at D’s brother G’s house in Laurel Canyon (the Hollywood Hills) and had a giant and delicious potluck, followed by games and camraderie. What a wonderful place this Los Angeles is turning out to be.

Yesterday my co-workers and I had a holiday lunch at a fancy restaurant on the beach in Santa Monica, and I saw Rachel Weisz. I don’t really get nervous or excited around celebrities, but I will say that she was really, really beautiful. I do find it kind of funny, however, that I recognize more celebrities from Go Fug Yourself than I do from watching actual movies and television.