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Anything Goes

Anything Goes The Writing Thing

Unripe Passionfruit, Overripe Passion

July 19, 2016

What used to be a large plane of grass is now the literal fruits of my parent’s laborious efforts to turn my childhood backyard into an orchard of sorts. Among the bounty is a passionfruit vine which prompted a realization: I think I’ve only ever had passionfruit mixed in some tropical concoction, possibly with alcohol. What the hell does passionfruit actually taste like? They did not ripen before I left my parent’s house, so for now my answer is sugar and novelty.

Summer is whizzing by like some thug who’s just snatched a woman’s purse. On the actual bright side, the delayed darkness helps me pretend I have more time to pursue the things I like to do (and often, the things I convince myself I like to do). Right now, through a tall café window, I can see headlights floating in every direction on this summer night. I soak up the magic of this urban city moment, but only briefly before I return to a self-centered wish that this won’t mean traffic as I head home.

Back to pursuing things with my fake extra time: as always, reading things and writing things. I bounce back and forth between non-fiction and fiction. For now, though, I think I’ve had my share of someone telling me how to read or write more, and someone just has to shove me into the pool already. Or I need to close my eyes and make the jump myself. For all my “research” on how to be the best creative person I can be, the one thing I’ve tried most to execute is planning and outlining before I start actually writing. This seems to reel me right into my biggest problem of all: trying to identify an actual problem. Which is the point of any story right? I always end up writing about the most un-suspenseful things, circumstances that would universally be agreed upon as boring. I feel like characters are supposed to climb up a steep mountain in the hot sun to attain greatness and the ones I write just lie in bed and cry about dropping toast on the floor. I feel like someone wanting to run without even knowing how to take a step. Maybe epiphanies can only occur if you’ve plunged into the depths of dissatisfying output like I have.

That’s meant to be more subjectively observational than self-deprecating. When it comes to doubt, I find it’s good to acknowledge it (so it doesn’t feel neglected and then punch you in the heart) but to leave it sitting on the other side of the room while you keep working. Sometimes that works for me. Other times I give into doubt, wind up watching or reading something, then get so jazzed about how good it is that I fall into the longing of wanting to write all over again.

Anything Goes Food Life Lessons

On Getting Older.

June 1, 2016

It’s times like when I have to throw out an old credit card that I have no idea how to discard of properly that I feel like I can’t possibly be an adult. Yet as of over a week ago, I’m another year older.

I ended up cutting the card into little strips, splitting them up, and then throwing several pieces away in each of my apartment’s garbage cans. That should be sufficient, right?

I’m 27 now and I’m not going to induce any eye-rolling by pretending that 27 is “old.” I will say, however, that I sailed through my mid-twenties without much evaluation on aging–until now. In general, I don’t care about getting old at all except that it means my parents are also getting older. But there’s a part of me that wants a new age, like a new year or season, to change the tides and offer something new. Then I realize that turning over a new leaf is ultimately up to me, a conclusion that itself possibly signals the wisdom of aging. Of course, part of my proactivity means coming back here to chat. Another part is my decision that there’s no room for people who aren’t good for me in my life. And so last Sunday, I began to eliminate people who spoil Game of Thrones on social media from my life. You could say this means my standards for acquaintances are higher than ever. You could also say they seem lower than ever. Both, I think, would work.

I celebrated my birthday the way any 27-year-old should–however I wanted to. For me, this meant $100 worth of Taco Bell and board games. I know how some will respond: Taco Bell! Ugh, fast food! Do you know how bad that is for you? That’s not special occasion food! That’s not authentic!

But I can’t hear them, the crunch of corn shells are too loud and they’ve already gone the way of the Game of Thrones spoilers.

 

Anything Goes Experiences Holidays

Visiting My Family for Thanksgiving Recounted in Unspoken Thoughts

December 1, 2015
  • I’m sleeping in my old room next to a huge pack of dixie cups and several dozen rolls of toilet paper piled up in the middle of the floor because my room was turned into a glorified storage closet shortly after I moved out.
  • A bunch of old home videos have been converted to DVD by my dad. I looked like Joseph Gordon-Levitt (in his 3rd Rock From the Sun days) when I was a 11 because I used to part my hair down the middle. Also, I used to say really fucking embarrassing things at that age, like “I’ll sock ya!” I had a ton of annoying kid energy, the kind I still do when I’m alone in my apartment.
  • Under “I have good parents” memories I’m banking the time my dad stood next to the sweet potato casserole all night and declared how good it was over and over again because it’s one of the only things I’ve made for Thanksgiving, ever.
  • We’re sitting by Nordstrom’s at the mall drinking coffee. My mom asks my dad, “should we tell her?” And then they decide that now is the time to tell me what they would like me to do with their bodies when they die. They also asked for feedback on their plans.
  • My dad tells a dirty joke and I don’t understand it. My parents then have a debate over whether I’m old enough to know these things. I’m present for the entire debate but have no say in the matter. Sadly, they decide that I’m an adult. They explain the joke and I bleed from my ears.
  • My visit home is almost over and I can tell that my parents are getting sad. Who will help them google Pat Sajak’s and Vanna White’s salaries when I leave?
Anything Goes Experiences Rambling

I Talk About The Weather More Than Anybody I Know

November 2, 2015

Everybody has their thing, I suppose, and I’m starting to realize that my thing might be talking about the weather–you know, that subject you discuss when you’re absolutely awful at small talk. That’s a strange thing to fixate on when at the end of the day, I live in a very temperate climate that has a range of about 20 degrees throughout the entire year. But I’m the type of person who likes to talk again and again about a few select things and after all is said and done be completely willing to start the same conversation all over.

Speaking of the weather, it’s finally colder in Los Angeles which means I spend every spare moment I get drinking chamomile, lighting tea lights and sitting around watching Frasier. The other night we had a windstorm and there was a terrifying trifecta of a pipe rattling against the next building, dried foliage hitting my porch and the clatter of my kitchen window. I had fallen asleep on my couch and I woke up to what I thought was someone breaking in. For the rest of the night I lied there with my eyes wide open listening to every creak and squeak, suddenly feeling like the age of my building was so much less charming than it had been before. My apartment has all sorts of quirks that make up for the lack of decor I keep procrastinating on. I might not be giving myself enough credit, though, since there’s a really great Forrest Gump poster I temporarily taped up in my kitchen when I moved in this summer that’s still there. I really should decide where I want to put that.

In between drinking tea and envying Frasier’s apartment, I’m enjoying another thing I talk about way too much–this recording of Cold War Kids’ First. If you think you’ve heard this song a thousand times, this will make you feel like you’re hearing it anew, all stripped and full of that feeling you get in your chest when you’re reminiscing a little too much. Definitely worth listening to another thousand times.

 

Anything Goes Holidays

Trying to Be Festive

October 27, 2015

caramelcorn

Fall is my favorite idea of a season, and I say idea because a little bird told me that we don’t have the real version of it here in California. I’ve definitely seen an orange leaf here before but I’m sitting on my couch right now with two fans on either side, so you tell me. Beyond having a great sweater with the word “tacos” on it that I’m bummed I can’t wear yet, I just want to enjoy the excessive amounts of string lights that come with the last three months of the year. I’m also really obsessed with pumpkins just like the rest of the world, stopping short of snorting pumpkin spice of course. The reason for this obsession is a crass half-joke-half-truth for which I haven’t found the perfect opportunity to use. That’s an every world problem, my friend.

There’s no way I’m going to get any trick-or-treaters at this apartment and truthfully, I’d be surprised at any parent who felt this complex looked safe enough to not only allow their kids to walk by but to encourage them to seek out the tenants and beg for treats. I did a couple of crafts and now I have tons of candy corn and melts everywhere, and that weird who-am-I-kidding with trying to be crafty aftertaste. I could probably scrape a layer of sugar off my countertops, which is all the more reason to give sanding my island another go. I put a tub of caramel apple popcorn on top of my microwave and when I see it, I feel like I’ve succeeded in decorating for the season. Maybe it’s the idea of popcorn as a festive shape–I mean, you do put strings of popcorn on Christmas trees–or that warm caramel color that’s so quintessentially fall, but that plastic tub full of popcorn that’s way prettier than it tastes makes me feel like I’ve just hit the nail on the head with autumn decor each and every time.

Anything Goes

I Like a Good Disappearing Act

July 28, 2015

If I ever stop to reflect enough, I usually find that I’m somewhere I didn’t think I’d be a year ago, for better or for worse–and I always find that comforting. Any role unpredictability can play in my life is a relief, which is probably partly due to the fact that successful people always say things like “I’d never thought I’d be here in a million years.” Though, logically, it must be something plenty of dissatisfied people say, too.

I don’t mean to imply that a lot has changed, because it hasn’t. I’ve been busy enough to feel a baseline level of mild stress, but tonight I care less about to-dos than I do about writing something here. I’m a little out of practice and I can feel it. There’s an excessive amount of self-editing going on right now and it makes me feel like I’m in stop-and-go traffic.

I did move into a new place which was as consuming as you’d imagine–in a good way overall. I feel like I’m in a space that is more mine than any other place I’ve lived in was. It’s such a work in progress and in the middle of summer it’s more of an oven than an apartment, but I love it. More on that later.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry that I’ve been gone for a while, but I’m back now and I’m really, really glad for it. Cheers!

Anything Goes The Writing Thing

Looking Back on Old Notebooks

February 6, 2015

notebook

I practice the artsy habit of always keeping a notebook with me because like illness, inspiration can strike at any time. I can’t seem to go fully paperless because after so many years of having an iPhone I’m still terrible at using the keyboard (RIP Blackberry :(. Why’d you have to fall off that mountain?) While we’re on the subject of paperless, I don’t think I have it in me to switch to e-books any time soon either. I had a horrible nightmare that somebody came to clean my room (fucking terrible, I know) and when they touched the books I spun around and screamed “NOT THE BOOKS. NOT. THE. BOOKS!!!!!!!” I really had to think about that for a minute to make sure it was actually a dream. Too real, guys.

Anyway, maybe this is an indication that I’m too self-conscious, but I’ve destroyed most of my past notebooks. No, I didn’t throw them into a bonfire or anything cinematic like that. It was more like deliberate and frustrated tearing before realizing that my underworked muscles were no match for card stock. No, there weren’t any golden nuggets in those notebooks, as much as I’d like to imagine there was something good enough that could be published posthumously and make me a legend. I recently dug up a little moleskine I used to jot notes in, and found this little gem that I thought might be directions to a secret writing spot or inspirational treasure–

Directions to a Korean bbq joint in Los Angeles. I’m so brilliant it’s embarrassing.

Activities Anything Goes Travels

Taking Baths as an Adult

December 20, 2014

Another airport terminal, another post. I applaud myself for getting here early, but then again the seating area by my gate smells like socks. I tried exhaling three times for every one inhale, but it just makes me lose my breath and then I have to take one giant whiff of sock air just to steady my breathing again.

If you know anything about me, you know that once I get an idea in my head I have to try to see it through. That goes doubly if it’s an idea I don’t need anyone else’s help to execute. A couple of weeks ago I got the idea that I should start taking baths again. I imagined myself being more relaxed than I’ve felt in years, lost in my thoughts before coming up with some genius idea for a story–sort of the way men swear urinals are the ultimate atmosphere for inspiration. Well, the bath would be my urinal. Wait.

Then I’d emerge from the bath smelling like lavender or something surgary, the cold air sharp on my skin the way a spicy mint makes your whole mouth tingle. And I’d feel so sublimely renewed because somehow some sort of mental and physical toxicity would leave my body and spin down the drain. Then I’d pass out happy and wake up a new person.

A part of me did wonder if I was too old for a bath, but don’t adults take baths while drinking wine or something? I feel like I saw that on TV, or on Pinterest.

I nixed the idea of drinking while bathing (surprising, I know) since I had a horrible image of myself falling asleep in the tub, but I tried to do everything else right–epsom salts, a candle, some coconut oil. The epsom salts were scented since I was really determined to smell like a sprig of lavender (see pipe dream as described above) but CVS brand epsom salts just make your bathroom smell like detergent. I even tried bringing a book since reading in the tub is a thing, but I didn’t know how to sit and hold it. Sitting too upright with the book made it feel pointless since my whole torso was out of the water, but if I really lied down in the tub I would start sliding forward and the book would get wet, so that didn’t really work out, either. So I put the book down and after I kicked around the salt for a while, it finally dissolved and I eased into the whole thing. It was hot and once in a while I’d lift a limb out of the water and it would feel like my skin was inhaling something crisp and cool. I liked that part best of all. I emerged nowhere near the new woman I thought one bath might transform me into, but more of a wet happy raisin.

Well instead of toweling off and falling asleep straight away, I’m relaxed, a little sleepy, but sitting in a crowded airport about to board a plane. The guy who kicked my duffel bag twice as he walked by is now leaving voicemails and singing the name of the recipient.

Here’s hoping I can get to sleeping in a window seat!

Anything Goes Rambling

Thanksgiving and Rainy Day Food

December 8, 2014

banh xeo

What’d I tell ya? One week, and I’m right back at it.

Not that it took me an entire week to get over my plane nausea, but I’m finally relaxing on a Sunday night with a hot beverage and it seems like the perfect time to sit down and talk a little bit.

Thanksgiving came together quietly; boxed stuffing and hand mashed potatoes. My parents make a real effort to do turkey and the whole thing because I loved it growing up, which is really sweet but if you could only imagine four people trying to eat your traditional Thanksgiving spread it almost seems like a dare. When I was a kid I used to think brining a turkey was some secret thing my dad discovered after intensive recipe testing and that’s why our turkey was never dry, but as the story goes this is the way the rest of the Thanksgiving-celebrating world preps their birds as well. I’m seeing all these pictures and articles on spatchcocking turkeys, though, and I’m thinking that may just be my next trick. I mean request.

I took my sweet time settling back into post holiday life, which in LA, was particularly rainy. It beat down hard and relentlessly, and I hoped for a minute we’d be saved from the drought. Unfortunately, a couple of rainy days in California is probably small beans at best. Rain doesn’t really make me think of puddles and rain boots (proof: I forgot to wear my rain boots and now I probably won’t get to use them until 2015). What it does make me think about is bánh xèo, this crepe-like Vietnamese dish my mom would always make on the first rain of the year. It would be a gray, muddy day, and she’d ask me if I thought it was a good day to eat bánh xèo. If you’ve ever eaten this, you don’t need me to tell you what my answer is. Actually, if you just know me, you don’t need me to tell you.

This all sounds really sentimental, but what I’m trying to say is, it was abnormally rainy for LA this past week so friends and I whipped up some bánh xèo. It’s a good time, learning how to cook better. Also, note to self of the cooking 101 lesson that is always reinforced when I make fried foods: a very hot pan is everything.

As usual, there’s always some stories about growing up peppered into my blogs. I know what it’s all trying to tell me. To my plethora (right?) of underage readers: childhood is so good! Don’t even worry about it.