Transitional Forms

April 11, 2010

Sometimes things just strike me as remarkably funny, and I cannot explain why they make me laugh.

For example:

Pretty soon they’re going to be telling us that people evolved from cats.

I am sorry if you did not laugh. I recognize that sometimes my humor does not translate. Like the time my co-worker was wondering why her desk had a small, cubby space in it, enclosed by a small, swinging door.

“It is not useful space,” she said.

I told her, “It is where the puppies are kept.”

And I still laugh out loud about that moment.

You do not need to tell me. I know it is not really funny.

So, this happened back in December, and it was really funny. But maybe you had to be there.

I have a brother. He is older than me and lives in South Dakota and teaches at a university. He is a smarty pants, and I miss him. He likes to read books and gave me a book for Christmas called The Ugly American. I thought he was trying to tell me something passive-aggressively. And then he told me that it is about cultural awareness — an area in which many Americans are lacking. Both of us travel to Asia for our jobs. It’s kind of neat to have that in common as adults. Someday I hope we will be able to hang out in India together.

My brother also really likes basketball. He has two kids, a girl and a boy, and I love them. When we were both at our parents’ house in Minnesota over Christmas, my brother was trying to watch a game on ESPN. However, his children were not in support of this decision. They protested, and my brother, being a good father, found a solution for the issue:


There was that one summer when the Western Tent Caterpillars killed the saplings in our front yard. Thousands of them came – their eggs and their poop wound in the fiber they stretched from trunk to branch, from branch to limb, from limb to leaf. The fascination came because we watched them hatch, and day after day, we watched this science project in our own front yard. We watched their life emerge as the trees slowly died. Where did the Western Tent Caterpillars come from? How could the voracious little feeders consume the trees that had been there since before we were born? They were saplings, and I was six. When my mother lamented the attack of the Western Tent Caterpillars as they ate away her trees, she let me take a gallon-sized pickle jar and pick them like raspberries.

Maybe it was their softness and squishiness, their reputation as the teddy bear of the insect world, that made me want to hoard caterpillars. Perhaps it was because I could catch them without a net – their insufficient eyesight and slow, sticky movement prevented them from taking flight and escaping my little fingers. In a jar, we could watch them change, in fast-forward, larvae to cocoon to chrysalis to flight, like on the nature films.

Alan collected bugs. Entomology, he called it. He had an army of empty jars ready for his new specimen and various paraphernalia for the killing and preservation of insects: a wooden case with a plexi-glass front that slid in and out, a layer of corkboard, a box of stick pins, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a bag of cotton balls, a bottle of clear nail polish to make their carcasses shine. He figured out different ways to preserve their delicate bodies even through the violence of dying: death by freezing for the grasshopper, death by suffocation for the spider, death by drunkenness for the monarch, who was likely not the first monarch in all of history to die this way.

Alan couldn’t preserve the caterpillars – they would dry up and shrivel like raisins – and he didn’t have sophisticated enough methods to prevent it. So, when he caught a caterpillar we’d keep it in jar, waiting for days. We’d feed it leaves on broken branches and give it one small twig on which to bind and later change, a diagonal stick in a circle of glass. We sustained the life we would eventually take, nourishing it to its different phases of change. We’d watch with excitement as the cocoon grew around it, and hoped to soon see a beautiful butterfly break free in a spectacular metamorphosis. But they were always brown months, too depressed and undernourished from jar-life to fly. A few days after the epic struggle to tear apart that cocoon, they always died, robbed of the triumphant moth-life of pinging against lightbulbs on summer evenings.

But this pickle jar full of caterpillars was like nothing we’d ever experienced before. I had stuffed that jar full of their soft, wriggling bodies, and before they started weaving their tents again, I put my hand inside and felt all that squishy velvet all over it. This was the best pet a girl could ask for – a jar full of softness, a whole gallon of cuddly. I put a few sticks inside and waited for them to make their cocoons and change. Surely butterflies instead of brown moths would come from this plethora of caterpillars.

I wanted to bring my caterpillars into the house with me, sleep with them in my room, but Mom made me keep the jar in the garage, unlike Alan’s insects, who got to hang out with the corndogs in the freezer.

Soon after they were jarred into new surroundings, my caterpillars started weaving, and like on the trees, they adorned their beautiful tent with eggs and poop, and very soon they suffocated one another with their weaving. The saplings were too far gone to preserve them even after my rescue mission, and I was left with a gallon of caterpillar carcasses and a tent of eggs and poop.

Apparently today was a pretty big day within the Bigfoot subculture, and thanks to gainful employment, I had no idea until I opened my computer after work and found that about 400 more people than usual hit up this blog looking for dishy gossip on the last surviving famous man who does not wax his chest. And along those lines, behold the latest drama in cyberspace, Bigfoot In a Chest.

I really need to get this Bigfoot novel written because it seems lately that we’re embarking into another phase of Bigfoot Fascination, a phenomenon that comes and goes in a fashion not unlike Alien Fascination, Vampire Fascination, or Shows With Sexy Doctors Fascination.

BTW, the latest Bigfoot drama is a hoax. I mean, you can pretty much tell from the photograph. Some good ol’ boys in Georgia apparently spent $500 on an immaculate costume, poured some entrails from the local buchery onto it, and stuffed it in a freezer. In case you doubted that it’s a hoax, those guys at BFRO, the most legitimate Bigfoot curiosity site on the web, have got our backs on this one.

And dude, if I had $300 to spare, I would totally be here at the Bigfoot Expedition in the Redwoods and drag Best Friend L along with me. My favorite part of the advertisement?:

“Every expedition to this area has resulted in at least some Class B activity, reported by multiple participants. There have also been rock throwing encounters and samurai chatter at night.” I didn’t know Bigfeet were samurai.

Perhaps I will email them and see if I can get a scholarship.

In every Los Angeles woman’s life, there comes a day when she is invited to a momentous event, something that no-doubt happens daily in Hollywood, but is riveting to your average mid-westerner: The Wrap Party.

Now, I just texted best friend L for advice on what to wear to a wrap party:

Ann: So, im going to a wrap party thursday and have no idea what a girl wears to a wrap party.

L: Hah, I don’t even know what a wrap party is.

Ann: It’s for the end of filming a movie. The celebration. D invited me.

L: Ooh! Definitely a cute dress. For some reason I thought it was a party where people get together and wrap presents… like a wake but w ribbons and not sad. Hah!

Ann: Ha! That makes sense. I may have to go shopping tomorrow to find something appropriate. I wish you could come with me!

While this mid-western girl is not excited about hanging out with Hollywood girls in skimpy clothing, she is excited about building her own outfit for the outing and hanging around D, and his brother G, and G’s girlfriend N. But back to the outfit, I’m looking for something adorable but not skanky and eye-catching without screaming I’M AVAILABLE. Because I’m not.

Unless you’re David Duchovny.

Who, by the way, could possibly be there because his wife Tea Leoni is in the film (Wife? Wife schmife). Also, Billy Bob Thorton is in it. I just can’t get away from Arkansas. And no, Dick Van Dyke will not be there. He ended up either not getting or not taking the part. (That was mostly fyi for you, Friend AA. There will be no luncheons with Dick Van Dyke where I place a cardboard cut-out of you at the table, and no chim-chimeny-chim-chim.)

Tonight I pulled out my fashion book to look through it for inspiration. It is a binder with ripped out magazine pages from fashion magazines and catalogs throughout the last 3 years. It is my way of holding onto aspects of magazines that I like without having to drag a huge magazine collection with me whenever I move. I put the pictures in plastic page protectors according to category, and each category is divided by tabs. Obsessive? Yes. But I love it. I look through it when I’m trying to get my creativity flowing, and I’m amazed at how many pieces I could create just from revamping something old.

Anyway, I even googled “wrap party” in Google Images to see what other girls have worn to wrap parties. I ended up with a bunch of photos of people schmoozing with celebrities, but not much in the lines of classy-wrap-party-wear.

So, friends, I ask your advice:

What does a tasteful girl wear to a wrap party?

Borderline Serious

June 11, 2008

You may not believe this if you don’t know me for real, or if you know me really, really well, but in real life I am actually somewhat of a shy, quiet person. Some have even thought me stuck up because of my tendency to sit on the fringe of social situations rather than jumping in the middle.

Tonight I realized that since meeting my boyfriend, I’ve become a lot more socially funny. Being with him is almost like taking a class called How to Be Funny. I learn through immersion. I guess his confidence just rubs off on me like imitation gold. Or maybe he just tells enough bad jokes that I know it’s ok to have a few of them flop every once-in-a-while.

I also realized tonight that I’ve become a lot more apt to confront. A lot more honest about my feelings. And a lot more honest about my mistakes. We had an intense conversation the other night. I only almost started crying once. Just once! And that, my friends, is an amazing feat for me. Not that crying is bad — it is appropriate sometimes — but I tend to do a lot of it, being the sensitive, emotional type.

D asked me the other night if I thought therapy was a good idea again. Now, this could be an insult for some, but he was really being very intuitive. The last several months have been hard for me. In college I went to therapy for a semester when I was overloaded with work, and all the activities I was involved in, and having a hard time with some friends. It was really helpful. I’m not ashamed of it in the least. In fact, I think people who make fun of therapy are pretty narrow-minded. It has helped a lot of people get through some rough times in a very healthy way. D asked and was concerned because I started feeling an anxiety attack coming on when we were leaving a movie theater. Now, we had just gone to see the new Indiana Jones flick, and though I won’t tell you exactly what happens or be overly critical, let’s just say that it could very well have been the cause of my anxiety attack.

In a way, D’s question gave me permission to think back on the past few months and look at them in terms of progress. The near-anxiety attack came so suddenly the other day that it was a little scary. We sat on the curb at a lovely shopping center called The Grove for quite a while until I felt calm enough to go home. I hadn’t had a lot of time to introvert over the weekend, and there were so many people, and it was so noisy, and it was a hot day, so perhaps all these things combined pushed me over the edge. And it was a little scary and embarrassing. But the good thing is that I felt it coming, and I was able to talk myself out of it. When I think about these past few months in L.A. and how they have affected me, I realize that I really have come a long way, because three years ago? I would have been having anxiety attacks as frequently as I did while student teaching… every few weeks. Nearly having one for the first time in six months? That’s progress, baby. PROGRESS.

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.

Once Upon a Dream

April 29, 2008

I left work at mid-day today, struggling with a migraine. I’m not even sure what I told my boss before I left. It probably did not make much sense. I had to stay about an hour later to process a few orders and make some phone calls. Now, after 3 hours of sleep, an overdose of ibuprofen tablets, and a hot shower, I finally feel better. I cannot tell you how much I wish my health would return to me. I’ve always been a naturally tired person (need naps!), but I haven’t felt 100% in a long, long time. I need to start exercising, but I think I might have mono, and I don’t want my spleen to erupt. How’s that for an excuse?

All that aside, I love my apartment. It was a glorious day, and now the wind is blowing through the palm leaves and into my bedroom through the balcony door. I especially love the night-time. Summer evenings are some of my favorite things. I can’t wait to return to Minnesota for a family reunion in August. We’re totally camping at this hoe-down of a fair called the Threshing Bee, which celebrates old methods of farming. My grandfather built a windmill on the grounds where the Bee is held, and one of his tractors, an old green  and yellow John Deere is one of the focal points of the train, tractor, and antique car parade. It’s a great ol’ time of threashin’, blue grassin’, and barbeque-in’. I am trying to convince D that it will change his life. We have been dating two years this July, and he has still not been to my hometown. He has still not met my dad. Send him nasty notes, please.

Speaking of D, the other day someone googled “my boyfriend is a model,” and it led them to my blog. It showed up in my stats, and I felt this amazing breadth of anxiety fall from my weary shoulders BECAUSE IT’S ABOUT TIME. IT’S ABOUT TIME SOMEONE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT MY BOYFRIEND IS A MODEL.

(thank you)

And also speaking of D, I am going to be single this weekend. D is going to a retreat for a class at school, and that means plenty of margaritas and inviting the pool boy up to my bedroom to fan me with palm leaves. It also means that I am going to spend the whole weekend sleeping, eating ice cream, and looking very, very closely at my cuticles. Oh, and I’m hoping to go to the one and only Newport Beach community garage sale to see if I can find, among other things, a bicycle built for D. That, and a Free Box full of Gucci bags. Oh wait. I am not really looking for that. That was just what I dreamt about last night. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if I actually have a pool boy.