Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This strange, surreal limbo I'm living in continued this past weekend. Is limbo the right word? I don't think I'm really between one place and another place, but I am sort of in no place in that I am in a place of no ground, in that most things that happen lately can't possibly be real, except they are, like this run on sentence, which cannot be written by someone who teaches writing in the academy, which is what I like to call the university, because it sounds more elite, as if the university needed to sound more elite, as if we're not already criticized enough for being elitist, and I know you know what I mean, you know?

1. The weirdness that is the collection of garbage that accumulates on my street. Like everyone owns enough couches in this poor neighborhood of mine that they can just throw away one couch per person per week every week ever. And also, a ship. Among other things. And the boys next door draw graffiti in the dirt on my rear windshield when I leave my car in the same spot for too long, but because I see them every day, they're smart enough to not take their art to the next, more permanent level. What good boys.

2. The weirdness of Bar Sinister with N. Hours of hair and make up and chains and clothing that is tight and black and not acceptable in a certain kind of public. And that's all before even leaving the house. A bar turned goth club on Saturday nights, complete with an S&M showroom upstairs. Hollywood. Which is pretty much where I live, only here, a few miles east, we call it "Silver Lake." A night that ended after the sun came up [though not first without a stop at a hotel that I don't completely recall] and that required a morning of hang over soup for brunch and some weird ocean water plasma miracle hippie california witchcraft glass capsule and a bottle of $10 freshly squeezed green stuff.

3. The weirdness of going to the house of a retired couple who I met on an airplane between my two homes [CO --> CA]. The best kind of weirdness. When you realize that you made a connection simply by being the ridiculous person you are. Roberta & Ben invited me to their house in the suburbs of Los Angeles for what turned out to be their family Thanksgiving dinner since they're all going out of town for real Thanksgiving. I sat in a room full of loving strangers who wanted to know everything about my life, wanted to fix me up with the various sons of their various friends, and I felt totally at home, but like an uncanny home, but not like an uncanny home since this wasn't at all unsettling or pejoratively fantastic. It was peaceful. And filled with hummingbirds. Hundreds of them. And home cooked food. And a small backyard paradise complete with persimmons, which I tired for the first time ever [and LOVED] and tortoises.
Two inch high fence protecting tortoise eggs.
The welcome sign Roberta made just for me, because she is the most adorable.
The voting duck on the dinner table to remind us all to vote.

4. The weirdness, or rather, the privilege of being able to work as a tutor at 826Echo Park. Outside of which there is a curb where the following stencil reminds me to always check every available outdoor surface in case there might be some great art there I would otherwise miss.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Every time I try to refill prescriptions at my grocery store in Los Angeles, they tell me I've already filled that prescription for that month. They verify my birthday. They look again at the screen. I demand that it's impossible, that I was not even in California on the supposed date of my prescription refill. Finally, we discover that they're looking at Alison Pearlman's file. Alison Pearlman, who has the EXACT same birthdate as me. The only difference between us being that "man," who must have remained in her family name out of strength, unlike our "man," who hid from potential religious persecution when we came to this country and became less Jewish and more subaqueous.

I of course searched for this other me on facebook, and found a woman I thought was a match. Emailed her after realizing she, too, pursued her PhD in the humanities, and that she is a professor, which I aspire to be. Though our email exchange was interesting, she is not the me I'm looking for as we do not share the same birthday. And thank god, because I take pride in being a 24 year old PhD candidate, and if she were 24 and already a professor, I might cry. But, as she pointed out, this means the other us is out there somewhere in Los Angeles, refilling my asthma medication, and probably complaining every time the pharmacy gives her the wrong birth control pills.

Where are you, Alison?

[Somewhat related side note: when I look for any combination of Ali/Alison/Allison Pearl/Pearlman on facebook, I am presented with an alarming number of results. Alarming because all these years, I thought I was the only one. And if these others are just like me, they'll be disappointed in their lack of individuality, too. I want to start a disappointment club. A club for Ali/Alison/Allison Pearl/Pearlman where we can discuss our various Jewishnesses, how people mistake us for middle eastern men, how our last name is just a little too lustrous for our less than sparkly lives.]

I am proliferation. Or they are. Or we are. Expanding. Synonyms for "proliferate" are all  verbified nouns: "mushroom," "snowball," "rocket."
My life as a graduate student in Los Angeles, part 45244359:

Overpriced food and booze at trendy restaurants post-theory class when I am so overloaded with cultural theory that I forget how overpriced everything is.

Making up for overpriced food by eating at Korean coffee shops where they serve tortilla pizza and some sort of amazing toast stuff.
Evening conversations with personal heros moderated by professors from my University.
Glowing balls of glorious light, of glorious music. The opportunity to ask these glowing balls of David and Trent a question, and to have the glowing balls of light look directly at me and answer.
Sunsets from my California bungalow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'm not sure why I feel the need to post this. I think it's because my brain has finally overtaken my everything else in a battle I didn't realize I was fighting, and I need to knock my brain down a few notches by acknowledging and discussing the following [with the assistance of photos I took many, many years ago]...

I have obsessive compulsive disorder. Not like, oh my god I have to clean my bathroom every week or I can't stand it obsessive compulsive disorder. But, like, every single thing I do becomes an item on a checklist of massive proportions. The movement my hands make under the sink when I wash them, the ways in which I have to position a dish in space in order to then place it in a certain spot in the dishwasher, all of these things retroactively become part of a list of things I must do, that then get checked off when I do them. It's a little hard to explain, but basically my brain superimposes this list/map/grid on top of my entire life and everything I do then becomes a part of that list/map/grid. 

It makes me feel like this:

The reason I'm mentioning this is because it's the motivation behind the excessive sharing that I do here, on facebook, on twitter, on instagram, and in my own personal journals, of which I have a handwritten one and a private electronic/online one. 

Recently I was at a conference where Mark Z Danielewski said something about tumblr that really struck me. He said that tumblr is a way for us to scour the internet for images, quotes, ideas, etc. that we feel define "us," and to assemble those things in one place that then constitutes our identity. Except, he said, that there's always an emptiness at the center of such an endeavor. 
The more I post on here, on facebook, on twitter, the more I feel that emptiness pressing outward from somewhere I can't find inside myself. So why not just stop? There are a few reasons why.

One is, I stopped updating my blog once upon a time after a series of very horrible things happened in my life. And when I finally returned to my blog, I realized why I need it so badly. It reminds me to pay attention. As someone who considers themselves an artist, I am naturally inclined to pay attention, but that attention lacks focus when I allow the negative parts of my life to drown my ability to celebrate those things that I notice. This is explained better in the original blog post in which I decided to continue with this blog. Basically, when I am photographing and tweeting and updating, I am reminding myself, hey, you're here, you're doing something, and it's fun, and you're happy. And it's true. I really started to notice this when I was in Washington DC a few years ago for AWP. That's when I first started being one of those people who tweets everything that they're doing. And through this, I realized I wasn't actually unhappy like I thought I was. I was happy. And posting about it seemed to make it more real. Like if I posted that I was doing something, it was because I was doing that thing, and that thing was pleasurable, and I wasn't so bummed out about life after all. This was the beginning of my being truly, honestly, consistently happy for, I swear to god, the first time in my entire life.

Another is, I am someone who occasionally stalks people on the internet. Not for purposes of actually finding them in real life, but because I revel in that moment when I discover someone's blog or journal and have access to their complaints about their life. If you're reading this, you're also one of those people. And I don't mind. I'm the same as you. We like knowing that we're not alone in struggling. Or we like reading about other peoples' joy so that we can feel inspired or masochistically angry with ourselves for not also living life to the fullest. I know that often when I post on here about all the things I'm doing, that it seems like I'm just having the best time and getting the absolute most out of life. And sometimes that's true. But sometimes it's not. And it's important that you know that. Because the last thing I want my obsessive posting and documenting to do is to make people feel like I'm happier or better or more engaged than anyone else. I'm just more OCD about documentation. I can't not document everything that happens to me. And it's not even so that I can look back on it later. It's because it's part of that list. That grid that organizes my life without my permission but with my full cooperation. 

Really, what I'm trying to say is, I'm equally resentful of and pleased by the effect the internet has on my brain. Yes, it makes my OCD worse. It makes me do things I don't want to do. I don't want to always be telling everyone everything about my life. You may chose not to believe that, but it's true. It strengthens my inclination toward obsessive organization because it allows me a space in which to do that. It has taken everything in me to stop myself from filling out every single box facebook has made available for me to fill out. Did you know they even have a place to list life events like "loss of a loved one" or "adopted new pet?" I DO NOT want to post that information. And I won't. But the fact that I can and choose not to sometimes physically hurts. This might sound completely ridiculous, but I don't really care because I'm not trying to criticize anyone or win anyone over to the dark OCD side. I'm just trying to be honest. Because that's what the grid has been pressing me to do for the past few days. 
It comes and goes, but lately, it comes. Because the times when I have least control in my life, like say when I move to a completely new place or my best friend moves half way around the world, are the times when I become most vulnerable to the grid. So that's what's happening  And I just thought you should know, because you deal with my incessant posting day in and day out, and for some reason, I felt I owed an explanation to... whoever is out there.

Thanks for listening. Here's a disgusting piece of meat shaped like a heart that my dad made once.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What I've been doing this week:

Where I've been doing it:

Why I've been doing it
because there's too much to do and see in this city
because sleeping is not how you make things that are important:

How I'm still functioning:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Listening to Joe Sampson's album. Which is actually a thing. And I actually have it thanks to J, who gave it to me on Tuesday night after I gushed like a 13 year old girl about how much I love her husband[Nathaniel Rateliff]'s music, how I've followed him around for 6 years, how everything he makes makes me explode, how he is my home. He played at the Ford Theater the other night, and even though he played a short set opening for someone else, I paid the near $40 for a ticket because I will always buy tickets to every show he plays within 50 miles of me.
Hearing him play in not-Colorado, in a place that is warm and damp and not on South Broadway was disorienting, but nice. Like part of my home came to me, like I was given something by his presence that those who don't know him were missing. Due to a ticketmaster fluke, I got a front row seat, though when he was in Utah he actually just stood on the floor right in front of me while he played his encore. 
I wont ever be able to explain why he's so important to me or why his voice and his songs define my Colorado more than any other music. 


I walked home from that show. From Hollywood. It was stupid of me, as my brother kindly pointed out as we were on the phone the whole time. I feel safe here. I shouldn't. But I do. I feel safe everywhere suddenly. Not safe emotionally, but safe physically. And it's idiotic. 
So I took the metro the last mile home, because TB made me. 


The night after Nathaniel played, I saw Grizzly Bear with V at the Greek Theater. Also beautiful, but in a different way. I only listened to that music during a very specific period of months, and I haven't listened to it since then, and they did such a good job of changing the songs up that hearing their music again, only slightly different, after so many years, was a little unnerving. Good unnerving.

I'm not sleeping. This happens in the fall. I have an almost mental breakdown, I feel something squirming through my insides, and if I'm not creating, I fall into a hole of crap and ugh and insomnia and depression. But I don't always know that I'm in that hole. I think maybe I am. My brain is losing it. I've eaten like 27 eggs in the past week, which is too many eggs. That's all I know. I can't tell if this city is helping or hurting. Or just resting, benign, waiting for me to give it a reason to cuddle me or punch me in the face.


I bought a dresser from a man named Joe who makes high end, modern furniture out of reclaimed wood. I've pined after this dresser for over a year now, and I justified its purchase by calling it a piece of art. Because it is. I met Joe at his studio several weeks ago and we discussed what I wanted. Yesterday he delivered the finished product to my apartment. Delivered an almost 300 pound dresser to me all by himself. I'm in love with it. Because it's perfect, and because I know he made it, with his hands, with wood that used to be a building somewhere. And frankly, I'm falling in love with everyone these days. I'm not heeding Okkervil River who has an album called Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See. This happened last time. Four years ago. October. Someone important so far away. And everywhere I looked I was in love with everyone and everything and it's perfect and painful and unsettling and maybe kind of nice.