Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A World Away from Carmel

Los Angeles is wearing me out. Even though I have lived here for almost 4 years and have been aware almost all of that time how soul-less this city can be, it's just now starting to really catch up to me. I'm being affected by it and that has to stop. Last night I went to do some shopping after work. That in itself was stressful enough, as even doing something as simple as parking at the market is an ordeal during the post-work scramble. Then on my way home from the store, I was nearly ploughed over 3 separate times by idiots in their embarrassingly oversized vehicles who could easily crush my only slightly oversized vehicle as if it were tinfoil. Anything you may have heard about Los Angeles being land of the laidback and happy is an enormous joke. There's no sense of politeness or etiquette here on the roads or elsewhere -- when I finally managed to get out of my car down the block from my apartment, I was heckled by a truck packed full of skeevy 40 year olds as I scurried home, scowling so as to deter them as much as possible from leering at me. It makes me feel hateful, and I am not a hateful person. But, oh man, the resentment I have building for this place where I live...

This past weekend Gym and I drove up to northern California, which is quite possibly my favorite place on earth so far. The drive up was extremely taxing for a variety of reasons that were completely out of our control, but as soon as we arrived in Carmel, all that stress was quickly forgotten. It wasn't just because Carmel is so enchanting (although it is) or because the landscape is so utterly lovely (although it is), but because it's CIVIL. It's SANE. There are no stoplights in the town, only crosswalks, and when you attempt to walk across the street, the oncoming cars will ACTUALLY STOP FOR YOU. This is something that doesn't happen in LA very often, if ever. People here would run you over if it meant they could make it to Starbucks before the morning rush. It's unreal.

I'm starting to realize why it is that I am so desperately tired all the time. It's because 75% of my daily activities are huge struggles. Everything from getting money from the ATM to washing my car is made so complicated here. Perhaps most people don't notice these things or aren't bothered by them, but I'm naturally a very high stress kind of girl, so anything adding to that stress just gets hugely multiplied, whether it should or not. It's only when I take time out to do something small like walk up to the farmer's market on a Sunday morning that I feel much peace here. I'm okay with this in theory because I believe that life is in the details and in blissfully languishing in small moments. But in reality, I have a hard time accepting the thought of living too much longer in a place that makes the search for such moments such an enormous undertaking.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Green Window Sills

When I got home last night, I found that my windows had been misbehaving. The ones I'd left open in the morning were closed, and the closed ones were open, if precariously. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the building maintenance people had been in there at some point during the day and painted all of my window sills white. Sloppy, bumpy, bland white. I'm taking this as my cue to begin thinking about moving, as my darling green window sills (a perfect shade -- dark, but happy) were one of the last things in the building that retained any of the charm that existed there before the new owner took over the place several months ago and began making "improvements." These so-called improvements have made me embarrassed of my building, which I was once quite proud to be living in. It's a little brick building that had a marvelous green awning (now awningless) and smooth, slightly sloping cement stairs in the front (now covered with some sort of ugly Spanish tiles) that looked like it could be in a New York neighborhood. No longer. Now it's a bizarre mix of brick and tile and old and new and it's just... I miss my green window sills already.

Happily, I will not have to see the new white paint all weekend as the wonderful, amazing boy is bringing me up the coast (in the convertible, so I'm going to put my hair in a pretty scarf and wear my huge sunglasses and pretend it's 1955) to Carmel for the weekend to celebrate the one year anniversary of our first date. We're going to drink wine, eat cheese, bury our feet in the sand and be happy, as we are every day, that we found each other.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Four More Days

It's not a sign of a good day when one has already cried at one's desk by 11:00 AM. This job has taken such a toll on me. I feel so beat up. I need this in writing so that I will remember it when I'm freaked out a month from now about having no money.

Being here in this dark little room, sitting at this dark little desk, working for this dark little company makes me feel dreadful, dreadful, dreadful and I musn't forget that.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Missing the Search

I am on the hunt for an old edition of the book MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING by Julia Child. A new edition was released in 2001 for the 40th anniversary of the book, and that one is readily available in most any bookstore. But I want an original, or as close to an original as I can find. One that has a nicely worn dust cover. One that has been thumbed through and propped up and perhaps even spilled on a bit. One that has more history then those sitting on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.

I am sad about how simple this hunt could be. I did a quick search on eBay for the book and pulled up no less then 30 of them for sale. I could buy one for $5 plus shipping and handling and be done with it as simply as that. I don't like that. I want to have to poke my head in every used book store I pass for the next 2 years until finally, on some rainy day on a trip to Seattle I will pull the perfect copy from a low shelf in a tiny, dark store that smells of mildew and pipe smoke. I want my heart to thud out of my chest when I see it. I want the owner of the store to think I am strange as I gasp with glee. I DON'T want the book to arrive via priority mail from some stranger in Nevada who I just happened to give my bid to.

We've got it too easy these days, in many respects. Thanks to credit cards and the internet, we no longer have to pine for things nearly as much as we used to, and that's too bad. When I was little, my dad made me a chart on a piece of cardboard that had spots for 100 pennies. I would dump my piggy bank out and line up the pennies on the chart and when I had a dollar I'd separate it from the rest of my money. I saved up enough to buy a cabbage patch doll that way, and I was unbelievably proud of myself. How are we to fully respect and appreciate our belongings when they are the result of a few moments of thought rather then months or even years of anticipation and longing? It takes the romance out of it, and thus takes much of the pure joy out of it as well.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Wire Photographs

Last night I spent several hours making little stick figures out of wire for a larger project I'm working on. It was the first time in a long while that I've done something that was truly engrossing, and it served as a huge reinforcement of the choices I'm making right now. This is my last week at a "real" job. I'd like to declare that it will be my last week at such a job ever. Period. But I'm not quite brave enough yet. Getting there.

When I finished with the Me Stick Figure, I noticed that I'd given her spirals of yellow wire hair, even though my hair has turned more and more red over the past few years. I'm no longer a blond girl, though obviously I still think of myself that way. Makes me wonder what else I might not be seeing.