Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Break was 50% wonderful, peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful, and 50% ridiculous and frustrating and weird as fuck. I had all these plans for break. I never stay in Los Angeles when I don't have school, so this was going to be the first time I stuck around and really got to explore without pressure or a schedule. But the universe decided I'd had enough awesomeness lately and that it was time for some bullshit. Ok, not really, I'm only one person and the universe doesn't actually make decisions about me because it doesn't care, but you know what I mean. Maybe you know what I mean. 

The bad 50% involved: 
1) being bitten by a poisonous spider whose venom made my thigh swell up like a softball, made the skin turn hard and hot and oozy, 2) a hit and run accident in which I was severely rear ended on my way to yoga by some dumb chick who FLED THE SCENE IN THE MIDDLE OF TRAFFIC, 3) a kitchen sink that burst and flooded my kitchen, 4) an earthquake that woke my ass up at 6am during my week off, and 5) charges I never made on my credit card from my hacked paypal account. Basically all of these things are hilarious to me. Some of them are shittier than others. I had to pay a $1,000 deductible because the girl who hit me fled and the cops never found her. $1,000 even though I was driving safely, following the law, and was the victim of a crime. I tried to get them to give me the bright yellow Fiat rental car, but it was due for service so they couldn't. My spider bite finally healed, though there's still a big splotchy patch that's fading slowly. I made the best of break in spite of this crap. I didn't make it to a lot of places I wanted to visit because I had to wait around for repairmen and police and rental car companies and mechanics and blah blah blah, but the stuff I did do was just the right amount of refreshing to prepare me for the final 6 weeks of the semester. Also, I keep this flannel shirt in my car because my retired lady from airplane gave it to me about a year ago. She said it was her favorite shirt and it didn't fit her anymore and she couldn't bring herself to get rid of it, so she asked if I'd keep it. You know how your mom always told you to bring a jacket because what if you get stranded on the road and it's cold? Well my mom always told me that and on Saturday I got stranded with a fucked up car waiting for the cops and I was only wearing tiny yoga clothes and this flannel made me feel safe and warm.
And here's my sad kitchen sink, because let's not pretend I don't fill this blog with the boring, mundane business that is my life most days:

The good 50%--

The first day, Saturday, I walked around my neighborhood and took photos of the new art. Then I sat at Intelligentsia and drank my favorite drink while reading a book. Strolled home. I love my neighborhood. I will never leave. Ever.

Sunday I drove down to Santa Monica, bought a sea salted caramel iced coffee from Dogtown, walked two blocks to the beach, stood in the waves and drank my drink, then lay in the sun for hours doing nothing. After doing nothing, I decided to take a walk down to Venice beach to meet my friends at The Erwin Hotel's rooftop bar, one of my favorite places in the whole city, for some drinks and dinner. I walked around in my swimsuit and sarong and flip flops and everything smelled like salt and felt like sun and even though I don't technically live in a beach town, it sure as hell feels like I do. Even all the way over here on the east side. Sea breeze is the best. 
We watched the sun sink into the Pacific, then watched the full moon rise over the city. It was everything LA is. Glitter and gold and perfect.

On Tuesday, L and I tried to drive up to the Getty Villa for brunch, but it is randomly closed on Tuesdays, which we did not know. So we came up with a quick back up plan that involved me basically taking her on the date I went on with my ex when he moved back to the country last August. That date turned out to be less of a date and more of the worst day ever, so taking L there helped me reshape those memories around these beautiful places so I can call them my own again. We went to Kristy's in Malibu for a fancy tuna lunch overlooking the ocean, then I took her to my secret beach and we went for a walk and found funny things like those little sea creatures and weird birds and strange people.

Wednesday I drove up to Agoura to see Retired Couple from Airplane for the first time since the end of 2013! I saw B just as he was leaving to go be an usher at a show, then R drove me to this lovely place where we took a walk and gushed about how amazing California is. Then R and I made dinner and sat outside on the back porch watching the hummingbirds flitter and the day fade. 

On Thursday I finally got to see the James Turrell exhibit at LACMA. They didn't allow photography so I don't have much to show you, but it blew my mind. I walked around that glowing cube thing for like 30 minutes just thinking and writing and feeling weird feelings. Then I waited in line for a long time to go into this room that was all white and had glowing light that changed colors. It's the closest I've ever come to what I'm looking for, which is a non-existent horizon. I'm not talking white out. I'm talking a place where you literally cannot tell the difference between earth and sky. Where you can't tell distance. Where there is nothing but you and light and infinite horizon. I almost experienced that in this room. I couldn't tell if my eyes were opened or closed. Those little squiggles you see when you have your eyes closed, I was seeing those after a few minutes even when my eyes were open. It made me breathe differently. It made me breathe.

Friday, Lo and I went shopping for swimsuits to wear to Dinah Shore in Palm Springs and for a dress for me to wear to my friends' upcoming wedding in Colorado in April. We found both! We spent way more time in Beverly Hills than I ever want to spend there again, but it was worth it. So was the expensive brunch I bought myself at Cafe Gratitude before meeting up with Lo. Spring break treats are the best.

On Saturday and Sunday, my final days of break, I returned to my normal yoga classes, to my yoga community where I get more support than I even imagined possible from anything. And on Monday I went back to the spring semester. Six weeks left. Those six weeks will be filled with my best friend's golden birthday and her epic party, Dinah Shore in Palm Springs with my LA crew, my parents visiting LA [!], a trip to Colorado for a wedding, grading, paper writing, final project making, and then, finally, the thing I am always waiting for: Summer.

Friday, March 21, 2014

AWP Seattle was my 6th AWP. I was such a snarky jerk the whole time. I don't even know why. I had a great time, I just really enjoy how drastically AWP opens itself up to sarcasm attacks. I'm always skeptical when people take anything too seriously, and that kind of attitude is in abundance at AWP. Not that people shouldn't respect themselves, each other, and their work, but come on, 10,000+ writers in one place at one time... some funny shit's gonna go down, especially when the conference organizers make a public wall displaying all tweets with the #AWP14 hashtag. I also frequently used the #AliEatsSeattle hashtag. Because, for real, Seattle was like an epic festival of flavor. I ate at Biscuit Bitch, Sazerac, Black Bottle, Lola, Some Random Bar, The Pink Door, some bar & grill near the market, and the crepe stand outside the conference. I ate clams and oysters, chocolate covered bacon and s'mores, beignets and egg scrambles, biscuits and crepes, salad and pizza and molten chocolate cake.

In addition to eating Seattle, I also got to explore Seattle with two of my best friends from college because even though a much needed major rainstorm hit LA the day I left, Seattle was bright and sunny most of the time we were there. I'd only been to Seattle once before, when I was 18 and with my family. I had just graduated from high school, I was about to move to New York City to go to college, I was obsessed with only three things: the book Fight Club, my boyfriend, and going to parks with my friends. So I didn't really notice Seattle back then. I made up for that on this trip.

I got to see so many of my friends read, which, in addition to drinking with my friends and buying my friends' books, is my favorite part about AWP.

I got to wander the book fair, got to say hi to all my folks running their respective tables of awesome journals and presses. R even let me take a photo with this rocket ship at the Versal table. 
AND I found myself, lake wandering, desert spirit that I am, in a photograph in my professor's newest novel! 

Every AWP since DC, which means DC, Chicago, Boston, and now Seattle, I've found myself at an art museum on the last day. J, N, and I went to SAM before I left for the airport this time and we found these exploding cars and we found some music except not really, and it was finally raining outside when I walked to the light rail to head back to LA.


I bought Jake's final book, Abide, which was published after he passed away. I bought it following the reading five of his friends gave in honor of him and of the book's release. I went to the table, gave the woman my credit card, and when she handed me the book, I felt a wave of nausea because this is the first and only book of his I've bought from someone other than him. It's the first and only book of his that he won't sign and inscribe. And there is everything wrong with that. I took the book over near a wall, sank down onto the floor, and sobbed while I began reading. It is so hard to have lost someone so, so talented, someone so endlessly inspiring, so infinitely strong, even in their passing. 

Most people I know hate AWP. Even the people who go every year. And I get it. It's a lot of networking, at lot of ego inflating, a lot of people pretending to know people and work they don't know. But Jake brought me to my first AWP when I was 20 years old to help run the Copper Nickel table and I got sick first thing when we landed and was no help at all. But I did attend two events that year. One was Ander Monson reading for Hotel Amerika. Another was Jake reading. The first time since he came to my high school in 2005 that I'd seen him read. We were in some strange building in Chicago, I think part of Columbia College. I sat on the wood floor because I was too sick to stand. I come to every AWP now not even because I really consider myself a writer, but because sitting on the floor watching someone I admire read something they made with their words opened up a door to a whole new world for me. And now that that person isn't here to occupy that world with his physical presence, I feel like I want to occupy it with mine, not in replacement, but in reverence.