I know I used to say that I wanted to be a doctor when I was really young, or at least I remember saying that in third grade when we all went around the classroom and had to share what we wanted to be. One kid sincerely answered that he wanted to be a fish. He refused to change his answer even when our teacher tried to redirect him. Eight years old and already way better at life than the rest of us. I bet he’s a great stoner now.
Truthfully, though, I can recall actively wanting to be a children’s book author. I remember waking up one morning in the first house I lived in and deciding that it would be so cool to be a scientist and that chemicals were my thing, but then I spent all morning writing a story about this scientist and drawing lots of colorful beakers and a science lab.
I wonder if I’d still have wanted to write if I’d lived in a vacuum. I’ll explain: I liked journaling early on and I loved making up stories and reading, but honestly, I think someone just thought I wrote something good as a kid and I latched on to that positive reinforcement. You know, you’re just so young and super impressionable, really desperate to find your thing. To this day I think I would’ve followed any path, but someone said I was quite the six-year-old poet and decades later I am still running down this road.
There was also that time when I was nine or ten at the Young Author’s fair. We were waiting for these certificates that we had won or something. It was my birthday, too, and I had overalls with sunflowers on and life was just A+ that day. One of the speakers said that R.L. Stine was also from San Jose and I was completely sold because Goosebumps was so cool. Like I said, I was a fairly impressionable kid and at that age there were no coincidences, only signs. So at that time I knew it was meant to be that I should grow up to write books just like R.L. Stine and what a relief it was to finally find my calling after a hard decade of soul-searching. I like telling that story because it feels so unexpected that R.L. Stine would be from San Jose. And that’s because he’s not. He’s actually from Columbus, Ohio, and I had misheard what the speaker said that day. Wikipedia didn’t exist then, so I never bothered fact checking. It wasn’t until very recently that I found out I’ve spent most of my life chasing a dream inspired by this charming inciting incident which is, in fact, born out of a misunderstanding. I was probably too busy thinking about birthday cake that day to really pay attention so here I am years later, still trying my hand at the writing thing and definitely thinking it’s the coolest job in the whole world.
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.
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.
I can’t say if I’m sure karma exists, but in a weird way, I believe that balance does. Such proof exists in the fact that I accidentally left my car on a street while street cleaning was happening and miraculously did NOT get a parking ticket, but instead was punished with having my side mirror broken off and swiped by somebody who decided to remain anonymous.
It’s annoying that I’ll never find out who did it, but adulthood is full of minor misfortunes like this. I go back and forth between feeling pissed at the unfairness and grateful that something worse didn’t happen. I lean more towards the latter, but I can’t tell if a look-on-the-bright-side approach makes me a well-adjusted person or if it’s a case of mild denial. Mostly I think about how I could stand to be a little more prepared because I don’t think these little mishaps ever stop rolling through.
Now my mirrors are different colors, but my car was screaming for a makeover anyway (really, the upside down ‘s’ on the trunk just wasn’t enough). I have a boring looking car that I am hopelessly in love with. Yep, I’ve never had any work done on my car, don’t even know that much about cars, but I love my car like…another person loves his/her car? No great analogies, just fond memories of bad days when the only alone time I had was in my car. I love that thing. Hopefully I’ll get to drive it for years to come.
I’ll try not to use the word “weird” in this post as much as I usually do to avoid confusion given the artist’s name, but I’m a creature of habit and change is hard.
A long time ago when I was a kid, I had a hard time making friends and I felt like I didn’t fit in. Then one day I was looking on the internet to see if there a song about Spam existed, and I found Weird Al’s parody of Stand by R.E.M. and realized how fine a little strangeness was: how fun it was, how normal it could be. I’ve been a Weird Al fan ever since and Saturday night when I saw him at The Greek, there was definitely a part of me that was going back in time and giving young Nhi a big hug. Is that a weird way to put that? Everything felt so full circle and I was sort of emotional about it.
I parked in a neighborhood near The Greek and took a lyft up to the venue, which was brilliant until after the show, when my phone started glitching and I couldn’t hail a ride back down to my car. This is exactly why Mrs. Demedeiros in 7th grade never took our shit when we turned in assignments late because of computer and printer malfunctions–she knew technology was shit and we shouldn’t rely on it anyway. Coincidentally that’s the year I first discovered Weird Al, but let’s just say I’m deliberately tying everything together because I’m just that clever. The walk back to my car wasn’t too bad, but as I had saved its whereabouts on my phone I was left with only a foggy memory of where it was. I tried telling Siri that my touchscreen didn’t work and she just said sorry so I guess it makes it all ok.
You know, it might be the first time I felt too normal for a situation, not that I’m complaining. I could’ve dressed up, especially given that I have some questionable hats from my past hipster life that my old roommate said made me look Amish. Amish Chic–I hope one day when some indie LA clothing brand nabs that name they’ll google it and see it was here first. Vouch for me, guys.
His show is really a multi-media experience. In between songs he plays everything from Al TV clips to shows and movies that reference him–proof positive of his iconic status, not that you needed it. It’s all even funnier live, since you can’t not laugh when Miley Cyrus is projected on the big screen while the accordion plays Wrecking Ball. Every song and moment was pure gold and even now I’m holding on to every joke I can remember. 7th grade me probably never thought I’d see him live, but the day came, I did, and that’s one more thing crossed off the bucket list now.
On being an adult: you will run out of paper towels if you don’t keep an eye on your stock, and you will go years without a dental exam if you don’t figure out your insurance stuff, find a dentist, and make an appointment. These are the accidental ways in which my parents spoiled me, I guess.
I don’t like making appointments–not even for “fun” stuff like haircuts. I get my hair done about once a year and always cringe when the stylist asks me the last time I got a haircut, because they know. They can tell. At the beginning of this year I tried to hack it by getting my hair cut way shorter than I usually do–friends, don’t ever try to “hack” your hair cut. Also, maybe try trusting what you think is cute first and foremost, since your friends don’t have to wake up with your hair.
Anyway, I was a good little adult and made myself a dentist appointment with a new dentist, obviously based on proximity and nothing else. As I said, I hate appointments of almost all varieties so I could hardly be indifferent towards it, and while technology hasn’t brought us to the point where we can be in and out of the chair in 10 minutes, it actually turned out to be pretty pleasant. They gave me some epinephrine and I had that jittery feeling that makes you feel panic-y in an ironically fun way. You know, the way you feel after you’ve had that third cup of coffee. If that wasn’t great enough they gave me the remote and let me choose what Netflix show I got to watch while they worked on my teeth, which hopefully they didn’t regret as I laughed my way through the entire cleaning. I used to think that airplanes were the best place to unplug and disconnect but as it turns out, the 21st century means wifi on airplanes and now dentist chairs are the new airplanes. After all, you can’t be writing emails or taking phone calls lying supine with your mouth wide open, can you?
I’m more of a night owl than a morning person but really neither, though sometimes I admit I get desperate to be that person drinking warm lemon water as the sun rises, rolling out the yoga mat and like, setting my intention for the day or something.
My apartment has no AC and Los Angeles is slowly burning these days, even well into the evening. There’s something about heat that makes me feel like I’m walking with mesh over my mouth, all claustrophobic and uncomfortable. I have a little porch area in the front that closes my apartment off from the outside, so I’ve been daring enough to sleep with my front door open and only my screen door between me and the porch, on a yoga mat on the floor, where potential intruders would get distracted by the absurdity of the image and hopefully run away. I hit my body with an ice cold shower that lasts about 15 seconds in the middle of the night (last night, this happened 3 times), jump out and skip the towel dry, lie out on the yoga mat next to the fan, and try to fall asleep before I feel the heat again.
I’m not so great at getting to bed early so mornings are without fail brutal, even when I incentivize myself with things like avocados in the fridge for breakfast. I have alarm clocks in my bathroom, kitchen, and by my bed so a cacophonous symphony strategically set minutes apart from each other goes off like a violent shake everyday. If I get up early enough, I’ll try to get some writing done at a cafe or in one case, McDonald’s.
McDonald’s has a turkey sausage and egg white breakfast bowl that I’m admittedly crazy about. The other week I walked in and when I ordered they handed me a rod to hold my receipt in and Lakisha brought breakfast to my table. If that wasn’t enough, she came to check on me twice and told me I was glowing twice (which I was, because I was eating McDonald’s and getting TABLE SERVICE). There’s something about eating a fairly healthy and super satisfying breakfast that would cost $15 at any of the many brunch places in LA that makes me feel like I’m gaming the system and coming out on top–a great feeling to start the day with.
I’m always trying to tackle projects that take ungodly amounts of patience because I don’t have as much patience as I do some sort of yearning for personal growth. On a subconscious level one of these projects must be collecting so much stuff over the years that decluttering could easily take the rest of my twenties, because slowly tidying my life in this studio is a constant these days (more on that later). But the project I’m talking about today is sanding my kitchen island.
I have a teeny tiny kitchen with little room to move around in and to add insult to injury, almost zero counter space. Maybe I eat too much or maybe I’m an undiagnosed spice hoarder but as hard as I try I can’t seem to get rid of kitchen things, even when my blender starts emitting a burning smell and I realize I own upwards of 20 mugs and most of them are identical. For months I went about searching for this kitchen island I had in my head–butcher block, huge surface area to work on with tons of storage underneath, with a little breakfast bar that drops down if need be where I’d spend most mornings drinking coffee at an inspiring 5AM staring out the window into the dreamy view of my complex’s laundry room. I finally found one I could afford on Craigslist and after lugging it up my stairs with a man I’d just met, dragged it into my kitchen and put my forearms exhaustedly on the surface only to realize–
There was a layer of dirt from neglect that’d been collecting and this wasn’t, to my dismay, something to be rectified with a soapy sponge. I can’t claim to know much about sanding things, but I can claim to know nothing about sanding things because that is the truth. I asked a couple of friends about little things, you know, what size grit would work, if they had a sander I could borrow. And without the patience to really be sure I knew what I was doing, I just went at it like a drunk person to a plate of nachos.
The thing is, you can’t just whiz over the entire surface and believe that it’s powerful enough. It required, of course, patience. So I would listen to a Cold War Kids song and promise myself I’d go over one area until I got to the chorus, the bridge, whatever. And I did this over and over again and scraped and wiped and revisited until finally the table looked partway decent, and then I covered the table with oil. It wasn’t a spectacular job, and I’d do it again with an even rougher grit of paper, but it did work and I was forced not to learn patience, but to dig up the sufficient bit of patience I’ve had all along.
I wanted to show you how incredible the moon looked tonight, especially offset by that wispy pink sugar-spun sky, but after trying my hardest to compose it just so, I realized I was taking pictures of a street lamp. In my defense, I had just finished up a really intense 15-minute jog/walk.
I forced myself to go for a run tonight because I’ve been reading The Slight Edge(which I affectionately consider to be more like the huge guilt trip). I used to be not horrible at running long distances and I wanted to clear my mind so I wouldn’t end up doing something weird again like deciding to sand my table in the middle of the night by hand.
I need a sander, by the way, and a lesson in carpentry.
I decided the healthy way to exert my energy was a good run, one of those runs that leaves you dry heaving and beet-red yet full of that fitness charisma. I used to always leave my place and then feel self-conscious that my roommates would judge me by how long my run was, which would in turn force me to stay out and exercise for a considerable length of time. But now I live alone, and there’s no shame in coming back to my place after just 15 minutes. That says something about my internal motivation that I don’t even want to confront right now.
I probably don’t need to tell you that I didn’t achieve a runner’s high, so the usual work stress, life stress, partially-sanded table stress circle in my head, as does the image of my co-worker standing behind me just as x-rated photos popped up on my computer and the hopelessly awkward conversation that took place afterwards.
What’s comforting after a long day though, is the promise of a comfortable couch I’ll relax in while watching old seasons of Louie until I fall asleep. Later, in some dreamy state, I’ll awake, glad to have had a break from thinking too much, beet-red, but only from sleeping in that peak-of-summer heat with the line marks from my corduroy couch imprinted on my skin from my knuckles to my face.