Buddha and Groucho and McConaughey, oh my!

cropped version of Image:Grouchoicon.jpg - &qu...

Image via Wikipedia

Strap yourselves in, friends, because I’m going all over the place tonight, and you must be this tall to ride this ride…Onward!

My renters moved in on Thursday – I am just now getting over one full week of cleaning, moving furniture, buying hardware for the bathroom, renting a dumpster, calling for bulky trash pick-up, having an estate sale (no good at haggling, so the next time I have a bunch of stuff to get rid of, it’s either going on Craigslist, or to Out of the Closet, now my exclusive thrift store for donations, you will understand why as you read on) and waiting…for the man to come over to install the dishwasher, the locksmith, the Salvation Army (who, by the way, never showed – boo, SA!), and several minor anxiety attacks later, everything seems to be resolved, except for a couple of tasks – no emergencies, for the moment, anyway.

I know what you’re saying: “Julie! Why did you wait until the last minute to do….EVERYTHING?”  And you would be entirely justified in saying it; I have no defense, just an overwhelming sense of relief that it’s over, and I can relax.  At one point during last week, I had changed my clothes, since I had been cleaning the bathrooms (I was soaking wet and covered in Soft Scrub – yes, I know it goes on the walls and not on me, smarties), went to the store, and when I returned, discovered that the sweater that I was wearing was inside-out, with a gigantic label showing at the back of my neck. Fabulous.

My last night in the house, I thought about all of the memories that were made there, and was a little sad, because I didn’t want to let go of those memories by having someone else come in and sweep them away.  Then I realized that my memories were always going to be in my mind, and nothing could take them away. Reminds me of a quote: “The only thing that remains the same is change.”  (You gotta take your epiphanies where you find ’em, don’t you? A little Buddha, a little Hereclitus, all on the bathroom wall of a poolhall – talk about a state of flux!)

For me, April is a transitional month; no fantastic movies, it’s the middle of the semester at work, and I have no idea how to dress, because the weather feels like it’s in between winter, spring, and summer.  I have a lot going on right now, aside from my new responsibilities as a landlord; started a yoga class last week, and hoping to make it twice a week (Sunday afternoon yoga in the park, can hardly wait), still painting the kitchen, and planning on finishing the two bathrooms by the middle of the year (fingers crossed). I’m also in the middle of knitting two scarves, reading, getting ready to walk the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon (I’ll be walking 13 miles), and…did I miss anything? No wonder I feel a bit…scattered.  Looking forward to yoga (and a little side order of meditation) to help me find my center – and hoping it’s not made of cream cheese, the way I’ve been eating in the last week.

No fantastic movies, but I did see a good one last week – “Lincoln Lawyer” kept me interested from beginning to end, and not only because these three were in it (someone needs to write a movie and cast Matthew McConaughey, Josh Lucas, and Ryan Phillippe as brothers; seriously, look at them!):

“The Lincoln Lawyer” – good plot, rocking soundtrack, Marisa Tomei and William H. Macy in solid supporting roles, set in Los Angeles, and…sorry, can’t keep my mind on what I’m writing. You should see it – it is good (the book was written by Michael Connelly, also good), and Matthew McConaughey deserves the nice reviews; he also deserves to make more films like this one. And why isn’t Josh Lucas a huge star by now?  What is the holdup, Hollywood? He has shown that he can play both leading man and character roles; give him work, now! Sheesh, what’s a girl gotta do? (Trivia question: both Matthew McConaughey and Josh Lucas have played coaches in two different movies; name those movies! No Googling allowed.)

I will leave you to your Sunday evening ruminations on the state of existence, or the state of blonde, blue-eyed actors who need good scripts, if that’s your idea of a good time. I was thinking of closing with a quote by Buddha, but hey, a little Groucho Marx works too: “Spring in the air!” “What? I should spring in the air, and fall in the lake?” Or something along those lines….you go have a week, now!

Yarnbombing

Seems like all I want to do lately is read books and write – I’m still in the middle of “On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac, as well as a book of letters between Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (I’ve changed my old rule of one book at a time to one fiction and one non-fiction book at a time).  I am at the point in both books where I’m not quite at the engrossed stage, mostly because other things have been on my mind.  One result of reading more is that I have less time for knitting.  However, recently I learned of a phenomenon that may get me back into yarn and needles; it has been occurring in Europe, Canada and the United States, most recently at Cal State Long Beach.

Here’s what happened at CSULB in the last two weeks:

Yarnbombing; I believe it’s also called graffiti knitting. I understand it as knitting in the urban landscape, either knitting directly onto the item or knitting something and finishing it on the piece.  Here are more photos of yarnbombing (and how spectacular is that bus?) The crocheted water tower cozy was designed by New York artist Robyn Love:

This discovery has made me giddy, I will confess to you. The combination of a passion for knitting with the potential for doing something that beautifies the environment, and confounds law enforcement, makes me happy in a way that few other things do these days.  I am on the lookout for yarnbombing gangs in the Lakewood/Long Beach area (I hope there’s no initiation, like being able to knit something directly onto another member against their will, because I’m liable to crack under the pressure).  If you want to see other small and large fiber art additions to the landscape, take a look at  Yarnbombing; lots of photos and resources for textile freaks who want to take their art up a notch.  For my knit and crocheted friends, we could start our own yarnbombing group….sssh, it’s a secret (oh, wait…)!

Untying knots

Ick, sick at home. I think today is the first day of fall, isn’t it?  If it is, my being sick would make perfect sense. I always seem to get sick when the season changes, and also when the craziness at work subsides.  There is still much to do with my mother’s estate; I am planning on getting her house ready to sell, so now I have to become an expert at “staging,” which, in my understanding, is making a home as presentable and desirable as possible to get it sold. I have had some advice in this area, which has been very interesting for me, as I have absolutely no experience, nor any idea what I’m doing.

At the same time, I am beginning to make some slight progress on the house; the roof will be repaired next week, and one of the bathrooms (the one with walls – long story) is now deep blue and green, with a new sink and mirror.  The next step is new tile, and a new shower..I will definitely post pictures as rooms are completed; my house is a complete “before” picture, so I will be beyond thrilled when everything is transformed.  I know the house will never be completely done, but I already love having color on the walls, and am motivated to put more on other walls as soon as possible.

I had a massage yesterday, with a massage therapist named Mike that I’ve seen twice.  We discovered yesterday that I am a bundle of knots, and that I even have an incredible amount of tension in my jaws and temples.  I have a lot of very stressful, recurring dreams, about tsunamis, giant snakes, insects, rotting apartments  (the same rotting apartment in more than one dream; one that I’ve never seen in real life, and it feels like home whenever I dream about it), and being on the run from the police (I’m not on the run from the police, honestly; apparently, I enjoy being on the run in my dreams, though), and yesterday morning I woke up with my teeth sunk into my bottom lip. Mike tells me I’m holding a lot of tension – yup, biting through my bottom lip would be a good sign of that, I’ll bet. I need to start doing this:

And this:

Ok, maybe not that; maybe this:

I gave up yoga, but now I think I need to start it up again.  It’s hard for me, because I get annoyed at the moves, and I want it to be over – but if I concentrate on what I’m doing, I feel like a new person at the end of the class.

*****

I caught up on “Mad Men” today, and couldn’t help but draw similarities between Don Draper and Jax Teller.  Both are bad boys who are at the top of their social structures, with father issues and big appetites for women and power. Their uniforms may be different, but they fight some of the same battles, both internal and external.  And here they are, just in case you’re more visual than verbal:

Obssessed? Maybe – it is so nice to know that television hasn’t completely gone south, and that these two dramas (and many others I just can’t seem to find time to watch yet) are better than most of the movies I’ve seen this year.

Gotta go – started reading “On The Road,” (never read it, and it’s in my “started but never finished” bookcase), and I’m excited to get a good part of it read tonight.  My rule is to read one fiction and one non-fiction book at a time, and I’m also reading a book of letters between Kerouac and Ginsberg, which I think is a nice complement to “On The Road.”  I don’t know if any of this is interesting, but I enjoyed writing it, so here you go!

Hey, read this thing I read! And watch this thing I watched! (via Madame Librarian’s Blog)

Instant love for Marcel the shell; and Jonathan Franzen’s newest book is on the way to my house as of yesterday – “The Corrections” is one of my favorites.

I was reading “The Onion” yesterday during my commute. And I got so engrossed in an interview with Jonathan Franzen. I’ve never read any of his books, but this dude has shit figured out, so much so that I’ll have to seek out his work. I really like what he has to say about reading and writing and communicating electronically. I couldn’t trim this down, it just all speaks to the core of my being: I think novelists nowadays have a responsibility—wh … Read More

via Madame Librarian’s Blog

Desert days

It’s 10:00 on a Saturday night in Palm Springs. I’m staying at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club:

Lots of party people here, which is fine – today it was fun to watch people and listen to conversations around me while I was by the pool.   The hotel is dog-friendly, and I watched one guy hold his French bulldog under the shower by the pool, which the little pup really appreciated, since it was well over 100 degrees. I also dropped a little money on video poker at the casino this afternoon, and did a little shopping (but not enough shopping just yet, ya get me? There are shops on Palm Canyon Drive that are calling my name, and I will be answering later this evening).

I started reading “Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters” while I was lying by the pool; too bad no one writes letters anymore, because they give great insight into a person’s thoughts and life.  I think it should be required for all of those who are writers, or who want to write, to write letters.  Emails are not the same, not even close.  Emails are quick and easy, while letters are slow and intimate.  And love letters?  Don’t get me wrong, sweet talk is sweet, no matter what; it just seems like sweet talk is even sweeter on paper than on a computer screen.

I am beyond exhausted, and happy to be here.  I have much to think about these days – this little hop out to the desert is like a punctuation mark on the year, and when I get back home, I can start rebuilding.  If it sounds a little dramatic, it’s because it is.  I have a lot to figure out, but for the next two days, I’m just going to let it all roll by like it’s all on a cosmic Lazy Susan, only instead of this:

It’s sort of like this:

*****

Room service this morning, and deciding what to do today.  I think I’ll get in the truck and start driving, see some new things. Or maybe jump in the pool, before the hipsters next door wake up:

Epic.

Mud.

Trying to get my act together this morning – my head is full of lists of things to do.  Immediate tasks, like housecleaning, laundry; then other tasks – going through Mom’s house, and getting it ready to put on the market.  Then there is the third list, which involves settling her estate –  my mother kept everything in order, and showed me where she kept the important papers, which has made this part of it easier.

I’m watching “JFK” with Kevin Costner – seeing this movie made me buy the book “Crossfire,” which is much like the movie, only more so.  Full of details about the Kennedy assassination, and the conspiracy; I will tell you that I am big on conspiracies, because I believe everybody is in cahoots with everybody else (Love that word “cahoots”!  Let’s say it together a few times, and bring it back into common usage; the time to yell “They’re all in cahoots!” has come again!). The comedian Richard Belzer wrote an interesting book on the subject, called “UFOs, JFK, and Elvis.”  Even if you find conspiracy theories hard to swallow, you might like this book, and it just might make you think twice about a few things.  There are so many good actors in the movie, and the actual footage of the parade and the assassination is unforgettable.  Whatever your politics, I doubt you can look away.

I went to Glen Ivy Hot Springs yesterday for some sun and relaxation.  Beautiful place, but the tone seems different; I was sitting by the main pool around 1:30 in the afternoon, watching two parties of drunk women (one was a birthday party, and the other was a bridal shower) drinking and bellowing at one another in the water.  I had a nice day alone, got some sun, and some mud, but the spa atmosphere seems to have been replaced by a party atmosphere, which wasn’t really what I was looking for.  At least I know how to approach Glen Ivy next time I go – with a big bottle of “Whoo-hoo!!!!!” in my purse.

Here’s a little mudgirl for you…attractive! If you go, I recommend doing this, your skin will feel great afterward.

Time to tackle my lists – onward!

Yammering

First day of my little vacation; it’s not so much a vacation as it is a few days away from work.  Shopping at H&M in South Coast Plaza today, then back home – my husband left at 4 am to catch a plane to San Antonio for business, and after he left, my dog Paco decided that this would be the perfect time for me to chase him around the house, before he finally gave up and fell asleep next to me.  After playtime, I watched “The Pick Up Artist” with Robert Downey, Jr., Molly Ringwald, Dennis Hopper, and Harvey Keitel, until I was able to fall asleep.

Watching the movie made me think of several things before I fell asleep – how Robert Downey, Jr. went from ‘8os kid, to Oscar contender (time to watch “Chaplin” again) to drug addict and convict, then to blockbuster movie franchise star. I also thought about how Dennis Hopper and Harry Dean Stanton, two great stars, were both cast as Molly Ringwald’s father in two different ’80s films (what was the name of the movie with Harry Dean Stanton, for 1000 points?); I also thought about Dennis Hopper being cast as another drunk father, in “Rumble Fish” (time to watch that one again – Mickey Rourke as the Motorcycle Boy?  And a soundtrack by Stan Ridgway? Um, yeah!) and how sad it was that he was gone. Then I thought about Harry Dean Stanton as that guy who’s wound around Diane Ladd’s finger in the David Lynch movie, but I couldn’t remember the title of the movie;  Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern are in it, but that’s as far as I got.  Is it a wonder that I’m ever able to fall asleep?

I’ve never been very good at taking vacations.  Whatever I’m doing, I always feel like I should be doing something else – since Mom is still in the hospital, I won’t be going anywhere, except during the day.  Tomorrow is going to be the warmest day of the week, so I will be off to the beach to bury my toes in the sand and read “How To Kill A Rock Star,” which is a fun book about a woman journalist who falls for (you guessed it) a rock star. I love rock and roll, and I love New York (never been, doesn’t matter, I know I must have lived there in another life, which is how I can love it without ever having been there), and I’m having a blast reading the book.

Also, I just finished “Ask the Dust” by John Fante, and I can’t get it out of my head.  Fante’s fiction is pure poetry; he writes of desperate characters struggling to survive and create in early 20th century Los Angeles, who come together and fall apart. And I just discovered there’s a movie with Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek.  I’ll have to have a look at it…and if you are looking for a book to read, I recommend this one.

If you have the time, here’s a clip from “Rumble Fish,” in honor of the late, great Dennis Hopper, and also because the movie is too cool, from beginning to end.  Have a wicked good week…

Book it

Eh, sickness; my stomach is in an uproar, so home with my puppy and my Mac.  I’ve been thinking about focus lately; my life feels like a music video, with so many quick cuts and changes, that I can’t seem to finish anything that I start.  I have twenty books that are half-read, six or seven knitting projects that are half-done, and even writing here, as much as I love it, feels like I’m all over the place, with thoughts that are half-developed.  I love writing more than most things in my life, and I love that I’m alive in this day and age, where I can have the immediate gratification of seeing my writing in print, and of  immediately having others read what I write.  But….now that I’m back into it, I want to do it better – someone I knew in another lifetime once told me that the best way to improve my writing is to read more.  I’ve only been reading websites and blogs recently, with the occasional magazine and newspaper; it pains me to admit that I haven’t finished a book in years.  All of those half-read books are sitting on my bookshelves, taunting me:  “Here we are!” “Hey, bet you don’t remember what I’m about, do you?” “Where’d you leave off, Julie? Oh, guess you’ll have to start me over, huh?”

When I was a kid, I used to go to the Dana Branch Library on Atlantic Boulevard in Long Beach every week.   I would check out a few books a week – as I got older, I wouldn’t check out as many, but I would still go to the library on a weekly basis.  I was an English literature major in college, but somehow managed to graduate without reading many of the great classics.  I can remember sitting and reading for hours in the chair in the living room, with my feet up over the side on the armrest ( I have never been able to sit in a chair the way that it was designed to be sat in), and being really happy.  These days, with so much noise in my brain, if there is something that I can have to make me happy, and it’s as easy as picking up a book, I’m going to do it.

My friend Jason loaned me the book, “Ask the Dust,” by John Fante, months ago; I’ve started it twice, and haven’t finished it yet.  I have started it again today, and intend to finish it this week.  In addition to the treasures that are languishing unread on my bookshelves, the L.A. Times summer reading list sounds very interesting (the book on the Burton/Taylor love affair will be perfect to take to the beach in a couple of weeks). Biographies and non-fiction have always held my interest over fiction, and I have a soft spot for Steven King – “The Stand,” “It,” and “The Shining” being among the works that I’ve gotten lost in.  The last book that I finished was “The Corrections” by Jonathan Frantzen, and I recommend it – it’s a fictional novel about a dysfunctional family with parents who are older, and the issues they go through. For me, fiction has to be stunning and unusual, or I get bored quickly, because I can see the formula at work in the story.  “The Corrections” is both of those things, and also sad and a little grotesque, two more qualities in fiction that I greatly appreciate.  My reading more will benefit you as well, gentle snowflakes – I hope that more books in my brain will equal more fascinating blogging, which will equal more enjoyment for you, yes?  As the summer warms up, we shall see…