This past spring semester at SMC, in addition to continuing with the web design series of classes, I took a class I’ve been wanting to take for a long time now. I was curious. The class was Creative Writing and there’s no way I would even attempt to break down the emotional impact this class had on me (after a particularly emotional 2010), but I enjoyed it immensely. It’s doubtful that I really am good at any sort of fiction writing, but another aspect of the class that I loved was the assigned reading and thorough discussion that followed. We were given numerous short stories from all over the globe, all by very acclaimed writers—from Borges to Welty and Kawabata to Carver—and we broke down these stories to get a better understanding of these wonderful literary masterpieces, as well as how they were crafted. I’m not one to shy away from stories I don’t always understand, things that bother or stick with me because they weren’t tied up neatly, but I don’t always give them a good mulling over. My teacher got us thinking, or got me thinking, and though to some he might seem a tad pretentious, I don’t believe so. He’s read A LOT, studied a lot, taught as well as been published a lot. He’s quick to admit what he can and cannot write, or that he has and still does write crap and has to really work at it. He doesn’t dismiss popular fiction, but he wanted to get us thinking about the short form and study the words, the intent, not just plot driven machines that wrap everything up in a bow at the end. He gave us a list of authors to take the library with us, on our happy reading journeys, and I told my husband that I intended to take it and try out every author on the list. It’s 2 columns, front and back, and though I have read and own books from a few on the list, I’ll just have to be sure to sample something else. Rice says I should blog it, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t really want to give my own critical analysis of what I read, nor would anyone care to hear it. I’m not that smart. It’s just a new goal I’ve set for myself, no matter how long it takes, and one day I hope to take the 30b class, which is treated like we are all writers in a workshop, right there at lil ole Santa Monica College. For that, I’m grateful.

While I’ve just read a Margurite Duras (L’Amante Anglaise) I am picking up one more from the library today because she is one of my faves (Blue Eyes, Black Hair)

Next, Yasunari Kawabata’s The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa.

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The year hasn’t been going along fabulously. There is a lot of nasty things going on with my teeth and gums and a couple of weeks ago, it was bringing me down. Not only was I having self-image issues, but those problems opened the door for many of my other inadequacies to come out and play, and leave me to obsess over (job, relationships, parenting, money, the ability to make soup, etc.).

After a big L.A. rain, which I knew dumped a good deal of snow up in the mountains because the air was scrubbed so clean they were actually visible from my street, or freeway drive into the valley each morning, I decided I wanted nothing more than a fun day in the snow. Tubing in Big Bear would have to be just the thing. Though I was fretting about money, I ran around trying to find the most on-sale boots that would work. Never mind that the guys’ are these bulky, rather ugly black things (mine are super cute!!) I think I got us all set up with actual snow boots for under $100.

What started out as a fairly organized morning—get the troops up and dressed, supplies packed, coffee made, everything stuffed into the olive car like a pimento—turned into The-Longest-Drive-To-A-Two(.5)-Hour-Destination EVER. I also had just gotten my period.

There are some narrow roads once you’re off the freeways and heading up into the mountains. Since it had recently snowed a lot up there, some of the two lanes were now only one, with high snow banks sitting in the outer lanes. Also, it seemed everyone had the same idea we did—it just snowed! Probably a TON! Let’s go to Big Bear this weekend and have some fun! You get just so far, inching a long, looking out at the great views and though it’s becoming painfully clear how long it’s going to take to go a mile and no, this traffic nightmare doesn’t seem to be the cause of some big accident, you cannot turn around. You can’t pull off for a break. That would mean trying somehow to inch back into the long windy train of cars who’ve been sitting in the same shit for as long as you have, and they are just as pissed off as you are. At one point, while we sat idling, waiting to inch along some more, I wasn’t even worried if Kieran or I had to use the bathroom. We would just get out, run into the nearest restaurant or station, take our time, have a drink (hell, have three!) and catch up with our car that would only have moved a few feet.

It took us FIVE HOURS to get to Big Bear Snow Play. For ONE day in the snow, only 3 hours left of play time before they closed. Tons of people in the parking lot. Luck started to change when we found rockstar parking, got tickets rather quickly, and Kieran turned out to be free. Kieran enjoyed one ride down the little kiddie slope and was ready to pack it in. That’s right, he DID NOT want to go up to the big runs that last year we couldn’t peel him away from. After all we went through. I panicked. I knew I was about to lose my shit. Earlier, I was ready to buy myself an award for dealing with the shittiest drive ever to a day destination, ON MY PERIOD, and keeping it all together with smiles and laughs (ok, there were groans, but I’m human, damnit) and for WHAT? For me or Rice to take turns riding down the slopes alone, waiting in long lines by ourselves while someone watched Kieran make snowmen because he’s the only one with gloves? No, nu-uh, this was not happening.

And in my shiniest of shining moments as a parent, I basically threatened my child to make him go tubing down a hill with us. Everything that he holds dear to him in his little 5 year old life—I threatened to take that all away. For a month. Maybe more. Oh, the horror. He cried, then started to wail, until Rice talked him down to a whimper as we practically forced him on my lap and down the hill on that inner tube. I am fully aware that to everyone around us we were The Worst Parents Ever.

After that, though, you couldn’t keep him off the slopes. We got in more runs down those hills than I can count. My kid was the one who, after sliding down to the bottom, with his eyes closed for most of the runs, wanted to go right back up to the top again. See? Sometimes horrible threats work wonders on your kids, even if it IS only for something as stupid as snow tubing!

Somehow all that unpleasantness in getting up and getting going in Big Bear disappeared completely when, in our luckiest occurance of the day yet, we ran into friends who were staying at their parents cabin a few blocks away. And they had spare space, air mattresses and blankets! Now we would not be forced to somehow make our way out of Big Bear when others would be doing the same, in a rehash of that horrendous traffic! In a pretty spontaneous move for me (I think too much—what about Kieran? What about my contacts? Toothbrush? Comfort?) I agreed we should take them up on this opportunity. Our friends all seemed to love Kieran, and he had a snowball-fighting blast with them as well, freeing us up to have some beers and just relax.

After all that, I am amazed I have not lost my new-found love of snow (growing up in PA made me lose all love of snow for many many years). Because in So Cal: we are able to leave it behind.

Hello out there. Hello to you, person who is so caught up in defending the sanctity of marriage ad nauseum. I just wanted to point out something about your precious, sacred, heterosexual marriage.

I’m in one of those. Yep. Found someone I love who makes me snort loudly and geeks out with me and puts up with my moods who just so happens to be of the opposite sex. We got engaged in due time, but then I ended up pregnant. Hanging out and enjoying our son while sharpening our parenting skills, we waited a few years to officially tie the knot. But then, we went right on down to the courthouse and made it official. Ahhhhh. Marriage. Yet in no way divine or sacred, in the religious sense.

You see, I’m an atheist.

We both knew there would be no church blessings, prayers or hymns involved in this union. This was purely to get all the rights and privileges brought to us by the lovely United States of America. So, in a sense, haven’t I ruined the “sanctity” of marriage just by….marrying? If you happen to use the first definition of Sanctity: noun, holiness, saintliness, or godliness. Well all that is just bull to me. Phooey on you, I didn’t do it for or to be blessed by any god. And if you are so God abiding in your thinking, then more than just gays have ruined marriage: anyone divorced, those married who choose not to have children because your big reason for marrying is procreation, and myself, for not only having a child out of wedlock but being atheist as well.

And if your definition is Sanctity: noun, a sacred thing, with no religious implications whatsoever (which I kind of find hard to believe, but I’ve a decent imagination) marriage is sacred, like “reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object” sacred. Well, shoot! I find it hard to believe that homosexual couples can’t be dedicated to each other. Or at least less dedicated than any heterosexual celebrity couple has been to their marriage. Really, does anyone believe that?

If we heteros got married with no religious meaning, totally by the state, why can’t anyone do that much? How would that offend or affect you? Wouldn’t I have been making a mockery of your religion had I stood in front of the church, making vows all the while rolling my eyes and thinking “to me this is utter bullshit, why didn’t we just go to the courthouse?”

Oh I’ve no doubt you know how I voted on Prop 8. And, why yes, I am very interested in the federal court case going on now.

Ahhh, ringing in the new year. Guess it happens once every…year.

This was the true story of 13 (and a half) friends, choosing to stay in a house in Paso Robles for 3 days/2 nights, to find out what happens when we’re all very polite (after you) and start getting real (parents getting toasted around their kids).

This time, we celebrated with some friends we hadn’t seen much during 2009, driving all the way up to Paso Robles and renting a house in Equestrian Estates. Ohh la la it was, with an insane suken jacuzzi tub, large open kitchen, backyard playground, hot tub and 4 bedrooms. The decor was rather questionable (rodeo kids room? painted flowers and white wicker room? wallpaper?) but it was large, and we all played nice, even with an almost one year old screaming bloody murder ’round 4am. (Kieran slept right through it. Such a trooper.)

There were wine tastings, pilgrimages to downtown, merrimaking along with a heavily chlorinated hot tub and a demonic alarm system going off around 1am (just to make sure we were all AWAKE IN THE NEW YEAR). Rice was the hero of the (early) morning, disarming the alarm while we realized it was not linked with some 24 security outfit, just there to hopefully drive the would-be robbers insane enough to say “eff this, that retro/non flatscreen tv is totally not worth this.”

I miss it already.

The gang, sans Charlie. He had to leave for some game at the Rose Bowl. Oregon maybe? 😉

Hello there.

Let me start off with: I graduated from college. I’m married, I have a 5 year old son. I live in the insanity that is Los Angeles and I love it. I’m a young 33 years old. And I have something that over time I grow ashamed of which I wish I could just get the *beep* over.

I have been at my job for 10 years.

It’s totally unheard of for someone my age in such a large city, in a creative field to have the same job for 10 years, right? I’ve used all teh same excuses over and over to explain. 1) They were extremely flexible when I was helping my boyfriend (now husband) deal with cancer and I was so new here I had no vacation time. 2) When I got pregnant unexpectedly and life outside work changed, they are still totally reliable and flexible with emergencies and time off. 3) I’m pretty well respected and often praised for my work. Before the damn recession, I was rewarded (albeit small) when I jumped in and help out when other magazines or projects were derailing. 4) It’s atleast a somewhat  creative outlet, and though not always fun, it’s not flipping burgers, or restocking shelves or listening to an asshole boss scream at me day after day. Yes there are some tasks I’ve grown so accustomed to I feel I can do them in my sleep, but there are downtimes when I can surf the net or relax, or run out shopping for props and then style photo shoots, or now jump on learning something new (Web, Flash) which might benefit the company, and me at the same time.

Then why do I feel so ashamed to still be here?

I’m in the Art Department and there does tend to be a lot more turnover in the other departments. When new people come in, I end up getting to know them or I have to work with them, and the moment they start to complain about the lameness of the place, that’s when I start feeling low. They’ll make it sound so bad or uncool here, and yeah, I get it and usually agree.  That’s the signal for the heavy 10 YEARS to fall from the sky and smack me in the head and suddenly it is I that is also incredibly lame.

I haven’t taken much inititive to even go interview on any new jobs. I don’t have much faith in myself or my abilities and as the years pass, and I look at the job sites, I see them wanting new or different things from my job title. It scares me for a lot of reasons. I’m not overly ambitious, I just want a job I like that doesn’t work me to death so I can have a life aside from it. I’m not a person who wants my career to be my life, but I definitely want to have one. I want it to be creative yet safe. Something that doesn’t scare me every morning about having to go in that day.

And now with this economy, I would want something that wont have me chasing down the next job because this one didn’t last.

So why do I let others and myself get me so depressed time and time again, by the mere fact that I’ve been at this company for a long time?

During a recent conversation with my dad, he thought it a bit strange that after telling me his story about a neighbor with a 1 year old who was about to deliver twins, I would react with a fervent “oh *bleep* that’s like my worst nightmare!” But I think I may understand the misconception that he has of me, as I’ve encountered this before. It’s the idea that just because I am a mother, that I have a child, I should love children and want to have more.

[Excuse me while I wipe the tears from my eyes after that loud fit of laughter.]

Naturally, I am quite fond of children, and have always known that I wanted to be a mother. I babysat often in my teen years, and while I certainly had my favorites, I also had those whose parent’s would call and I suddenly wanted to jump off a cliff just to get out of it. When I worked a county parks & recreation job one summer where I had to watch over a particular city park for a few hours while providing activities and crafts, I learned something important about myself. I adopted favorites. I treated them well and almost always took their side. But to those who had crossed me, I let whatever they had done shape how they were treated for the entire summer. They annoyed me. I held grudges. I probably doled out a few unfair judgements. Life lesson: never work with children.

Now that I have a child of my own who has grown out of the more “forgiving” baby stage, and therefore has friends that have as well, I realize I haven’t changed much. Just because I have a kid, it does not mean I will like your kid. Or want to take on watching 3 or 100 kids, even for an hour. By the time they start learning wrong from right and can communicate with more than drool and cries, they start showing off that little person that I either warm to immediately or really don’t want to deal with. It’s a bit like I look at them how I would adults. I get my initial read off them, and my feelings will then change over time, based on their good or bad behavior. And the bad behavior I tend to hold against them. Also, the more children there are in a closed environment, depending on my mental state for the day, the more agitated or annoyed I will be. I don’t find them all to be wonderfully charming and full of such vital energy (though I agree they’ve cornered the market on that one), not even my own child, who we are sure to take aside when he’s acting up. Chuck E. Cheese and I should probably never meet up in a dark alleyway, and overcrowded amusement parks leave me packing for the sanitarium at the end of the day. The reason I do not want to volunteer to be in charge of a bunch of kids is: I don’t want to lose my shit in front of your “darlings”.

On the subject of actually having any more children, that one should never be harped on. Among the many things I’ve learned about myself over the years, this seems very plausible: I have the choice between being the anxious/emotional/half-crazed GOOD mom to ONE child or a severely depressed/certifiably crazy BAD mother to a FEW children. Add in cost of living, making a marriage and family work and knowing that just because you give your child a sibling it doesn’t guarantee a beautiful bonding experience, and it makes the decision not to have more that much easier.

So to anyone still unclear as to why I am not having anymore children:  I’m the one that has to raise them, not you. You’ve got enough to do over their with your own. And you’ve got to whip them into shape if I’m going to like them. 😉

Last Saturday, the weekend BEFORE Halloween and all it’s upcoming shenanigans, was quite busy itself. Kieran had been off school for two days, feeling feverish, but by saturday was just a bit sniffly and bored out of his gourd sitting indoors. Well, he would have been, if not for daddy letting him try the “Video Gaming Cure”, where he got to spend hours in front of the tv rally car racing and pretending to be Batman.

4041519390_83372f9ee7_mIt was his first Saturday sitting on the sidelines only watching his Earthquakes, and we ended up going to the Home Depot Center to watch the actual San Jose Earthquakes get smashed by the LA Galaxy. Kieran was distressed for about a minute that we couldn’t root for “his team: the big guys.” His mind was changed by the fact that Rice purchased a Landon Donovan Jersey for him pre-game, and Donovan went on to score 2 goals. Kieran has since sat around looking at the game program chanting “GO GALAXY! GO DONOVAN!” I smell hero worship!

Sunday the Tegan & Sara concert was FINALLY HERE. It seemed we only bought the tix a million years ago. After I proceeded to get tipsy on pumpkin martini’s at Ugo, we made it to the Orpheum Theatre in pretty record time. Oh wait, it was Sunday.

Tegan & Sara did not let us down. They were jovial and talkative, and of course, the music rocked. They played the entire new album along with older faves (I recorded a few of my faves. Bad, bad techy girl!) and left feeling pretty excited for the new album. Now that it is my possession, I keep getting different songs stuck in my head.This is their 6th album peoples! They had me at So Jealous. Check them out!

4047086312_f186a6cbd0Tegan and Sara at the Orpheum Theatre