2009, Reprise

January 1, 2010

Comparatively, I didn’t post much in 2009. Factors including busy-ness, tiredness, and laziness contributed to the lack of writing, but I also just needed a break from posting aspects of my life online. I needed to live them instead of feeling like I was looking through a camera’s eye — a photographer snapping away at life instead of living it.

It has been the best and the hardest year of my life. In cliche blogger fashion, here’s a list of accomplishments and set-backs:

– I lost a very dear friend to the epidemic called breaking up

– After several rigorous interviews, I got my amazing job working with women rescued from prostitution in India. Also, my supervisor and only co-worker at said job is pretty freaking awesome.

– At that job, I have spent the past year learning, learning, learning. I have been humbled and honored to have the position, but it is a lot less glamorous than it sounds. Like any job, there are good days and bad days.

– I left my life in Los Angeles and moved to Orange County — a bittersweet deal.

– For the first nine months in Orange County, I suffered from the strongest sense of culture shock that I’ve ever known.

– I gained an amazing house three blocks from the beach, with the most fantastic roommates I could’ve dreamt of having.

– I traveled to India in April and October.

– I was a bridesmaid in an Indian wedding.

– I visited the Red Light Districts in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Tenali.

– I rode in a rickshaw, ate food so spicy it made my mouth bleed, felt heat so hot I think I melted a little, became part of a family across the world, and saw and understood love in a way I had never experienced it before.

– I witnessed an argument in Telagu between a pimp, a madam, and the leader of one of the social organizations we work with.

– I saw my family in May, August, and December.

– My brother came to visit in May, and we went to an Angels’ game, saw the new Star Trek movie, ate Indian food, went to the beach, and had an all-around good time in between my work and the conference he came to LA to attend.

– Friend K moved away in May. It was very, very sad.

– I went on vacation with L to San Francisco, Jackson Hole, and the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming.

– I started attending a Wednesday-night church and a Monday-night support group with people who are quickly becoming my Orange County family. After meeting weekly with them for three months, I realized I hadn’t felt a grain of anxiety for about that long. I attribute this to their prayers, support, love, and honesty.

– I lived through three of the most busy months of my life and am thankful my friends have been incredibly understanding about how I’ve neglected them.

– I turned 27.

– My car was towed, and I had to spend a lot of time at the DMV. Thankfully, a good friend came with me and read to me out of the book, How to Make Anyone Fall In Love With You.

– I got an amazing tan.

– My very, very dear friend A.S. and her husband and daughter moved to Southern California in November. I can’t tell you what an incredible blessing it is to have their lovely selves close by.

– I went on several very bad dates, some of them hilariously bad. I desperately wish I could blog about them.

– I started dating a lawyer. A lawyer? A LAWYER. I’m so professional, even in my romantic pursuits. His name is C.K., and, no, he is not a fragrance from the ’90s. He took me out for southern food and mini golf on our first date. Just give me sweet potato fries and a giant wooden windmill, and I’m happy as a pup. Oh, yes, and he is a pretty stellar person as well.

– I went to the ER for the first time in my life with a kidney stone. Said kidney stone is still just hanging out in my vital organs.

The year was a blur of change, grief, and beautiful moments of losing who I thought I was and accepting who I really am — the good and the bad, the strong and the weak, the anxious and the hopeful. Though the difficulties were few, their magnitude was overwhelming. I had to re-learn many things and had to reintroduce myself to myself. I think that’s kind of what happens when you break up with someone you’ve been with for a long, long time. You forget who you were when you were alone, and once you’re alone again, you find yourself with a stranger.

But I have learned who that stranger is again, and I’m a better person because of it. At least I think so.

It’s been an incredible year. And an incredible decade, which included the end of high school, college, various jobs, various living situations, various states, deaths, births, and so many incredible people God brought into my life to carry me through the past 10 new years. It has been a joy to know you all and to experience your grace and love.

On Finding a Setting

August 13, 2008

This evening D and I had a conversation on the phone that lasted more than our typical phone conversations now-a-days. Actually, we had an argument, but that’s not what this post is about. In the midst of all of it, during the resolution of the whole thing — the time when we are done with the heightened feelings and adamantly trying to prove a point, when we both re-cap what we need and try to find some sort of compromise — I closed my eyes for a moment and could picture my apartment back in Arkansas so clearly, right down to the feel of my bed and the cat’s tail ticking against my leg and the way my bed creaked when I moved. We spent a lot of time talking on the phone in those days, back when he was the California branch of our relationship.

It’s funny that the very thing the argument began with (our arguments rarely end with what they began with) was the very thing I was picturing: Setting. This post is not about the argument, so I’m not going to go into the details of what transpired. For the past few days, however, I’ve been attempting to put into words a discovery I made on the beach Saturday. But I’ve also been trying to challenge myself to improve my writing style so it’s slightly less amateur and emotive. Today I tried writing a post entirely devoid of “I” as a subject. It just doesn’t work in blogging. This is what I came up with:

“One of the major components that separates a seasoned writer from an amateur is the emphasis on setting. The category of seasoned writers is by no means this girl’s dwelling place, but freshman year fiction writing left me with a better understanding of setting in writing. Heck, this blog nearly tripled in its readership once it took on the personal of a Midwestern transplant living in Los Angeles. Or maybe it was the advertising to friends on Facebook that did that.” Can you say boring textbook? I just need to stop trying to justify blogging with failed attempts to turn this entirely narcissistic thing into something literary. It’s a blog. Of course it’s going to have a high degree of gush.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that often amateur writers neglect setting in their work, and they leave their poor characters floating around in a readers’ mind in banal, shadowy places like generic bedrooms, rather than putting them someplace specific. In real life, we live in specific places: not just any room, but my room with the pile of laundry on the bathroom floor and the broken blinds and the stale scent of herbal shampoo. Not just any old park, but the park with the statue of the man who invented the chocolate bar. J.R.R. Tolkien is so fantastic with his settings that I am having such a terrible time getting through The Lord of the Rings. Any time Frodo or the other hobbits think of the shire and how they long for their home, I start crying. Homesickness…meh.

Saturday, le roommates and I went to the beach, and the fact confronted me that I’ve only been to the beach three times in the last seven months even though is less than five miles from my apartment. And by going to the beach, I mean donning a bathing suit with at least a slight intention of getting wet. Saturday was the first day since I moved here that I actually immersed myself in the Pacific. And then I realized that part of the reason that I have been homesick to some degree since I left for college back in 2001, moving away from Minnesota for the very first time, is because I have never given myself a chance to get to know the land in any other place.

If you were to ask me about Minnesota, I wouldn’t just say that I lived in a house there or went to high school there. I would tell you about the countless snow structures we built and how we would hang our mittens and hats and scarves over the radiator in our first house to let them get warm before we put them on. I would tell you about the mulberry bushes in the backyard and how they would become so ripe and juicy that you could bump the branches and they’d fall to the ground, washing it in purple, and how the birds would poop mulberry seeds all over the patio. I would tell you how our family built that patio with bricks and sand and cement blocks, and it all went quite well until the ice that winter built up under the bricks made them explode. Every winter the fire department would flood the park for ice skating, and Jack Frost would paint our windows. I remember how it feels to lie in my bedroom, the exact way the bed fits my body, and how it is to wake up there to the sounds and smells of absolute comfort — to knowing the people you love most in the world are only a wall away. When I was a little girl, in our first house, I could always tell who was coming up stairs by the rhythm of their steps. Mom would always stop at the bottom to pick up toys and bring them up. There were twelve steps at my first house. Sixteen at my second.

I never gave myself the chance to know Arkansas that well. There was the damp and musty feeling of our house on Maple Street, where I lived with 3 other girls, and the sounds of the frogs outside my window in that studio above a professor’s garage. There was the feeling of desperation and sadness when I finished college, broke up with my boyfriend, and moved out of that apartment all in a few days. But the same elements and concretes are not there. I was so busy being productive that I didn’t take the time to memorize the number of steps from the ground to my door. These were merely places, apartments for a temporary life. It’s no wonder they never felt like home.

Sometimes I think that I will never feel at home again unless I get married, have kids, and settle down somewhere. Nothing reminds me of home more than watching my niece and nephew play and seeing again the things that are important to children. For my niece, it is wearing pink, putting on chapstick, and reading books. My nephew just wants to run everywhere with his binky in his mouth. They want other kids to play with, adults to entertain them, and lots and lots of cookies. They remind me of what it was like to grow up with an older brother and what it was like to have such a big living room… what it was like to have a house not just cover you, but protect you. There were all the alcoves and crannies to that place… the towel cupboard you could climb inside and close the door, the secret storage closet in my brother’s room, the turning cupboard in the kitchen corner where breakfast cereal was kept.

At the same time, I know that my life is here in L.A. now, at least for the next few years, and I need to be investing myself here. I need to pursue the land with the same intention that I pursue the friends I am making here. I need to count the steps from my carport to my apartment. I need to go to the beach every weekend and find a spot to memorize. I need to stop floating around in this generic place and make it specific. I need to find my setting.

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

Inspiration

April 8, 2008

Yesterday evening one of my favorite art bloggers, Emily Martin of The Black Apple, posted a link to a podcast of an interview on Craftsanity. The interview is a long one — over an hour and a half — but inspired me at this I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life period because Martin took something that she loved and made a successful business of it in just a few years. I listened to part of the podcast last night before going to bed, and while I enjoyed hearing about the process of her business, I was struck by how similar her experience living in Brooklyn for a few months was like my recent experience moving to L.A. Martin says that when she moved to Brooklyn, people never asked her what she was doing in Brooklyn — the moving to Brooklyn in and of itself was the large accomplishment. I’m not patting myself on the back here in saying that moving to L.A. was some gigantic feat. It’s just that what Martin said about it resonated with me. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that anyone besides my mother asked what I DO at my job. A year ago when people would ask my parents what I was doing, my parents would have to tell them that I was working at a church in Arkansas. Now they can just say, “She moved to L.A.,” and that is interesting enough. Perhaps it is such a huge accomplishment because of the sacrifices one must make to live in cities like New York or L.A. or Chicago or San Francisco. The cost of living is so high, the traffic is so crazy, parking gives you ulcers… I paid $400 a month back in Arkansas for my huge one-bedroom apartment with two walk in closets and abundant parking. Now I live with two other people and pay… well, that’s my secret. It’s shameful for a mid-western girl to admit how much she pays for rent in L.A. I’m doing all right though. Working at a church for a year back in Arkansas and getting paid on the non-profit organization level taught me a lot about what my mom likes to call, “living on a shoe string.” Plus I’m not too far removed from the student stage of my life when having $60 in my checking account was a solace.

So, what do I DO here? And more importantly, is this job contributing to the big scheme of my life? Well, I work at an organic juice company in Santa Monica, as I’ve stated before. It’s a small start-up company, but it’s quite successful, and the products are high-quality and sold nationwide. The company has grown 50% in sales since last year. It feels weird for me to be talking about all this because business never really interested me until I took this job. My official title at said job is Administrative Assistant, but I mostly assist on the financial side of things. This is a new realm for me, and even though the thought of entering numbers and searching for missing pennies and balancing accounts once sounded like prison to me, I have to admit that I sort of like it. My last job was almost entirely creative, and while I loved it, my creative energy was completely sapped at the end of the day. It’s kind of nice to have a job that is one giant formula, so all I have to do is plug the numbers in.

And the real reason I am kind of liking my job is because I’m learning a bunch of things about running a small business. Now, I’ve only worked there a few months, but I did grow up in a small business as well, so I’m catching onto things pretty quickly. And even though this job isn’t the answer to my quarter life crisis, at least it seems to be leading somewhere. Which brings me to another somewhere:

Today I signed up for a beginner and intermediate sewing class. It’s an adult evening class at a nearby elementary school. It starts April 21 and will continue for 5 Mondays, 6:30-9:30 p.m. I know how to sew already at a rudimentary level, but my skills need some refinement.

And this class, small as it may be, fills me with excitement. Maybe I’m not doing exactly what I want to be doing right now, but in some ways I believe this class may be the beginning of something very fulfilling.

Emily Martin’s podcast

Today the post was going to be about blogetiquette: my definition of what should not appear on a blog, for reasons of gentility and just plain Not Embarrassing Yourself Later. I’m sure that I have broken some of these rules, and I am probably about to break more of them. This morning I realized that I need to do a little honest writing here, a little something that shows what’s really going on.

This transition to California has been hard. I’m not going to go into all the little details of it because I don’t believe in writing things that I wouldn’t tell people to their faces. Especially on the internet. (This would be one important rule of blogetiquette that many, many people violate.) I might make exceptions in a journal, but journals are meant to be private outlets of thoughts and feelings.

But I can talk about myself and some of the things that I have been going through. Most writers tend to be inward people. We are the shy ones, the introverts, the ones who don’t really want fame but have to write anyway because it possesses us, and the fame sometimes just comes with it. It is hard to write anything worthwhile without an audience.

I made an important discovery about myself a few months ago when a Myers/Briggs expert came to my workplace and went through the Myers/Briggs test with each of us. My personality type (INFP) came up as a person who has high ideals for herself — so high that she often can’t reach them. And when she doesn’t reach them, rather than realizing that she’s putting too much pressure on herself, she gets upset at herself and begins a downward spiral. It is so easy to get sucked into that spiral and have a difficult time getting out. It’s happened before, in a life-altering way, so I feel better equipped to deal with it through talking to friends or positive self-talk or even therapy. It’s infinitely more easy to deal with something when you realize that it’s happening.

This Myers/Briggs expert warned me that when I went to California, I’d have to be careful. “I have such a soft spot in my heart for INFPs,” he said. “You need to surround yourself with people who you trust who are going to encourage you and support you when you move. Moving to a new place can be incredibly discouraging.”

This move has been especially hard because I had such a wonderful time with my family while I was home in Minnesota for those few months. I am very homesick this week, not because I necessarily want to go back to Minnesota, but because I miss my family so much that I get tears in my eyes every time I think about them. I know that coming to California was the right decision, and I’m going to fight through this because I can’t live my whole life in the circle of their safety. I’ve got to get out and do my own thing for a while. It’s just that with them I am always home, and here I am not.

Yesterday I acknowledged for the first time that this move has turned my whole world completely upside-down. Just before this, I was in the safest place possible. Now I am living with people I barely know, far away from my closest friends, in the second largest city in the United States, without a job. D is the only person I have known long enough to trust, even though I know many people who are trustworthy, and I even feel bad about depending on him so fully — not because he has made me feel that way but because my over-idealistic personality type tells me that I should be independent all the freaking time.

Plus it’s just difficult to transition from living on your own for the past six years and never having a real curfew in your life, to living under the roof of kind and generous people who raised their children a lot differently than how you were raised.

Also, even though I am overjoyed to finally be in the same city as my boyfriend, moving from a long-distance relationship to a close-distance one is harder then you might think. Roommate J had a similar experience with a guy she used to date, and she told me that finally becoming close-distance almost broke them. I know D on a very deep, communicative level because of the long-distance part of our relationship. As far as the detailed, every-day planning, interacting side of things, I’ve never really experienced that with him except for the few times we’ve seen one another in person. And those times were always with the starry-eyed attitude of, “We’d better savor this while we can because it’s going to be over soon.”

We’ve had a lot to talk through. I’m invading his turf. I’m adopting his friends. I’m expecting him to make adjustments in his life to fit me into the every-day-ness of this. My whole life has been one giant adjustment for the past several weeks. Yesterday D and I had a very good talk about one important thing that was bothering me. It was good. Through all of this, it’s good to know that I have strong allies in Roommate J and D.

And my best friend L is coming down from San Francisco this weekend. She has a habit of swooping in and saving the day at the exact moment that I need her, and I’m getting all teary-eyed right now just thinking about her. It will be nice to have a bit of home for a few days. Also, my friend LR lives in Irvine, and I need to get together with her this week. She is another strong ally who I haven’t seen in a very long time and miss considerably.

I just pray that God leads Roommate J and I to the right jobs and the right apartment. And that whatever He’s developing in me right now will develop quickly and help me later on.

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On New Year’s Eve, after dropping my mom off the airport, D and I drove to Santa Monica to enjoy some of the 70-degree weather on the beach. It was amazing. Shortly after, rain fell for about three days straight. I’m glad I got that first little dose of California weather so that little surprise of rain didn’t daunt me. It was actually kind of nice.

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The City of Santa Monica from the beach

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Last week D and I drove to Los Angeles proper to meet up with G, D’s brother. We parked on a side street, and as we were walking back to the car, D stopped and said, “Whoa!”

“What?” I asked.

“Look,” he said.

I looked where he was looking, and lo and behold, three black cats sat statue-still, staring at us with their glowing yellow eyes.

“Creepy,” I said. And then I promptly pulled out my camera, hoping no drug dealers lived in the house and became suspicious about why I was snapping pictures of their cats.

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This is my new purse, the one I mentioned yesterday. I love it.

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D’s roommate JC and D sing karaoke at our local haunt, The Sunset Lounge. The Sunset Lounge is a little dive bar in Fullerton, boasting one room full of pool, darts, smoke, noise, and mostly terrible but fun karaoke-ing (karaoking??). D and the other members of the Six Men Who Rule the World From Three Bedrooms enjoy coming here to kick back and do boy things. I enjoy it as well, though my nicotine allergy sometimes prevents me from staying too long. The people are nice, no one is hitting on anyone or trying to impress anyone, and it’s so loud that I can just sit and watch without scrambling to make conversation. I tend to go on sensory overload whenever I’m in a busy place, and I like to just sit and watch and memorize the details of a place… the haphazard plaques on the wall that haven’t been dusted in years and the man in the leather jacket who reminds me of Spanky from The Little Rascals and the way that D smiles when he is having fun with his friends.

They keep trying to get me to do karaoke, but long ago I made a vow, a principle for my life, that karaoke would never spill from my lips.

“Ann, are you going to sing?” They always ask.

“Ann Clipperton and karaoke do not socialize,” I say.

Someone always pipes up with a point about how you don’t have to be able to sing to do karaoke.

Obviously.

“It’s not a question of whether or not I can sing,” I say. “It’s a question of principle and personal choice. Are you trying to compromise my ideals?”

So, nights after nights pass where Ann Clipperton refuses to socialize with karaoke, and D again suffers the embarrassment of having to sing Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe” with his brother.

My highlight of this past week has been D’s roommate JC singing “Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice for karaoke. When he first chose the song at the prompting of a new, terrific girl I met the other night, AM, I thought, “Hmm, that’s an interesting karaoke song.” But the second JC started singing, everyone at the table: B, AM, RS, D, G, and I all started singing along, with passion and flare. My favorite moment is when I started singing the tear-jerking, gentle chorus to D’s roommate B: “Can’t take my eyes off of you/Can’t take my eyes off of you…” and how we kept glancing innocently at D, who was glaring at us with his hands in the air, like, “What is this?”

Another favorite thing about this adventure in California is how much I like D’s friends. I feel so comfortable and safe and accepted with all his roommates. I love AM, the girl I met last night, and now I’ve got her digits. Our JBU friend RS flew in yesterday. D’s brother G remains an all-time favorite of mine. Spending time at G’s house in Hollywood with his roommates has also been grand. My fabulous roommate JS arrives this evening. I am so thankful to already have a solid network here on which to build. It only gets better from here, right? That would be terrific. Because here is already pretty good.

Yesterday D’s roommate B returned to The Astounding House of Six Men Who Rule the World From Three Bedrooms, so I decided to go home early for the first night in a week. D, B, and I were playing Boggle at the table when I realized that D and I have been spending time together every day and evening this past week, and geez, I hadn’t had any significant alone time in over two weeks, and man, D must need some guy-time now that his roommates are coming back from the break. So, I says, “D, I’m going home,” and he says, “What for? Are you okay?” and I says, “I’m fine, but you need to spend some time with your friends.”

I went to bed at 9:30.

I can’t wait to actually have my own friends here. I mean, I love D’s friends, but I also need my own. You know, like, girls.

Perhaps I will sign up for a church small group at Mosaic. It’s nice that some church services meet in the evening, so even if I find a morning church somewhere else, I can be involved in both.

What else can I really say today? I’ve been applying for more jobs. I updated my resume on Monster today. I’ve been searching Craigslist daily. The newspaper has been the subject of my consistent perusal, and I’m keeping my ears and eyes open. I’m almost afraid to get excited about finally being in California because I don’t have a job yet; therefore, I don’t know how long I’ll be staying. I like a sense of permanence just as Emily Dickinson likes “a look of agony/ because I know ‘tis true.” Yesterday it finally stopped raining, raining, raining, and while it is still chilly for Southern California, my goodness, this weather is fantastic.

And then there is the boy. Yesterday we were driving to the train station to pick up B, and I admitted to D that I’ve been mad at him for the past day or so. Well, first I admitted that I was mad at him right then because of something he did. He said, “I’m sorry,” and I said, “Well, you should be. Apology accepted,” and then we both started laughing. If it had been a sitcom, our laughing faces would have freeze framed at that moment, only to be the background for the scrolling credits.

And then, amid our laughter, I told him the dark and sickly truth: “Actually, I think I’ve been mad at you for the past several days.”

“Really? Why?”

“Yes, really. But I don’t think I realized it until last night. I’ve been mad at you because I don’t have a job yet.”

It’s funny how my attitude about seeing D has changed now that we are seeing one another on a regular basis. I don’t have the sense of gratefulness that I had on vacations of seeing him, or the sense of urgency to spend loads of meaningful time with him. We’ve watched a bunch of movies. We’ve sat at Barnes and Noble and done literary things. We’ve hung out with his brother and friends. We’ve gone to church. I taught him and his brother how to air up the tire of his car. We’ve played with kittens.

Yesterday I realized that I have already gotten so comfortable with him that I’m taking him for granted in a way that I never did when we were long-distance. Before, I missed him, all the time, every day. It wasn’t a pathetic sort of pining way of missing him. It was just constantly with me as I lived my life and did the daily things. It wasn’t really pining, but wishing: I wish D could come out with me and my friends tonight. If D were here, I wouldn’t have to go to church alone. It would be nice to go out to lunch with D today. One great thing that we both acknowledged about our long-distance relationship was that we never took one another for granted.

For the past week, his roommates have been either gone or out of the house most of the time, and my future roommate has yet to arrive. I don’t have many friends yet, and I’ve been depending on D quite a bit to learn where I’m going. My world has a pretty small radius right now: my house, D’s house, Panera, Starbucks, and the real stretch is the Chick-Fil-A (Top 5 Quick Service Restaurants: 1. Chick-Fil-A, 2. In and Out Burger, 3. Subway, 4. Jack In the Box, 5. Wendy’s) in La Habra that I hunted down my first day here. I have driven to Hollywood a few times but have yet to do it on my own. This is a new feeling for me – the sense of dependency that I have not really experienced since I left for college in 2001. And it annoys the shins out of me.

That is why I have been mad at D. My sense of dependence on him has robbed me of my independence. So, while he is all helping me adapt and taking care of me and being so wonderfully protective (do you know just how romantic it is to have a strong, sexy boy usher you through a crowd of crazy Hollywood people? Whew. It’s hot.), I am resenting him because of my own failure to take steps of my own. Or because none of the places of employment that I have applied to have responded yet. In a few ways, I have been taking steps. I just need patience… and trust that God has me here for a purpose.

Yesterday D asked me if we’d been spending too much time together. I was hesitant to answer even though I know the answer is, “Yes.” The hesitancy comes from how comfortable it is to depend on him. While the dependency is aggravating because it’s not really how I operate, it’s also safe. I am the kind of girl who has a few close friends rather than a network of distant ones. Those close friendships are hard to build. They take time and effort and a dollop of vulnerability. At the same time, I know that missing D has always been a vital component to our relationship, and now, even though I’m currently living just a few blocks from him, I need to let myself miss him again, so I can come to him at the end of the day excited to tell him about all the great or discouraging things that happened to me, on my own, in this new life.

For Reals?!?

December 21, 2007

The shower is generally a prime location for deep thoughts, and this morning was no different. Today it occurred to me that most reality shows on television are about people who, in many ways, don’t have a lot of common sense or may lack some of those down-to-earth qualities that average people have. Do people ever get turned away from reality shows because they’re too smart? Do the producers meet their quota for smart people after just a few and send the rest home? Or are smart people just too smart to even want to be on the show in the first place?

Now, you may or may not agree with me on the brain-state of most reality TV stars. But let me support my assertions by naming off just a few of the many reality shows featuring people who are less-than brilliant: America’s Next Top Model, The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Girls Next Door, and even America’s Most Smartest Model is pretty iffy. If you gauge smarts on whether or not you can name a river in France (and most of the contestants can’t) or whether or not you can name an Italian designer (um, think just about any designer… Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Roberto Cavalli… and most contestants can’t), well, then I guess these models aren’t really smart. Would they even be considered smart if they could merely recall rote knowledge, as the questions ask them to?

I haven’t watched any of these shows extensively except ANTM, but they all have the same idea. America likes watching stupid people compete, or watching rich people who are also stupid live their daily lives. Now, these rich people may have the tenacity or insanity to make a lot of money, but they do not have the intelligence it takes to raise smart, hard-working children or solve conflicts within relationships.

So, what if we created a show called Smart People, and it was all about, well, smart people. My first though was that I should have a reality show made about me, moving to California. Because I’m smart. And I have smart friends. And we’re funny. It would be about a writing group that gets together for editing, or what we talk about on the weekends, or about the huge argument D and I had the other night about the meaning of the word prolific:

Ann: No, you’re wrong. Prolific has nothing to do with quality. It’s all about the quantity of things. When Dr. B told me I was a prolific writer, she didn’t necessarily mean that it was good — she just meant that I do it a lot.

D: No. When you call something prolific, you mean that it’s good.

Ann: No, D, let’s look it up in the dictionary.

D: I am looking it up in the dictionary.

Ann: So am I, but my dictionary is better than your dictionary.

D: What makes you say that?

Ann: Mine is a $2 dictionary I bought at an antique shop, and it’s like 8 inches thick.

D: Whatever. Yours is just old. Here, let’s ask John [D’s roommate]. John has his master’s degree. You should listen to him. Hey, John, what would you say the word prolific means?

[John’s muffled voice is in the background, but I can’t quite hear what he’s saying]

D [speaking to John]: So, you wouldn’t say that it has anything at all to do with quality?

Ann: YES! I KNEW IT! D, JOHN HAS HIS MASTER’S DEGREE, SO YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM!

Our reality show could also feature us taking IQ tests and looking up things in our dictionaries. We could have specials about writing research papers, and subtitles with definitions of the words we use so the common public could understand what we’re saying. This would especially be helpful with D’s Philosophical Phriends. And if we ever got into fights, the show would feature us having debates in suits, with notecards.

EDIT: My friend Lee Ella posted this video on my MySpace in honor of my upcoming (5 DAYS!) move to California.

The funniest part about this is that the cows’ accents are exactly like those of the middle-age farm wives I worked with at the fruit packing company.

Thankful.

November 22, 2007

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The Extended Fam, Christmas 2005

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Mom and Me In New York, Summer 2006

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Dad, Christmas 2005

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Niece Lydia, November 2007 (Photo by sister-in-law Angela)

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Nephew Ezra, September 2007

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The Extended Fam Crammed Into Brother Alan’s Closet Office (Photo by Angela), October 2007

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Lydia and Her Mom, November 2007 (Photo from Angela)

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D and Me, the Floating Head, May 2007

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L and Me (June 2007)

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Friend AA and the Now Dearly Departed Kate, Faithful Dog and Loyal Friend, May 2007

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Friend AS At Her Birthday Party, April 2007

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Friends MW and MS

I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends and Family!

Subtarranean Homesick Blues

November 21, 2007

I just began writing a post about Superman, but given my state of mind after working a half day and then sitting in my mom’s massage chair for three rounds and then taking a long, gloooooooooooooooooooorious nap, this is all I’ve got for you:

Today at work while tossing thousands of bags of beef sticks in small cardboard boxes on an assembly line, I got to thinking about this music video, a favorite of mine. I saw it for the first time on a television screen at a restaurant on Biel Street in Memphis when I was on a weekend trip with a favorite college professor and a gaggle of my fellow terrific English majors. It’s Dylan. It makes me smile. Call me crazy, but I find the young Dylan very attractive. Here’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”: