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Happy Holidays

To end this probably-memorable break, we got Oswald neutered yesterday. We picked him up at 3pm; it's 9am the next day and he's still not really awake. He didn't get stitches, but they also cleaned his ears and took blood and gave him a booster shot of his vaccines. That plus a little snip snip is traumatic enough to sleep for 24 hours. By all rights I should have slept for 24 hours after the trauma of paying for all that.

I ended up actually relaxing this break, but I feel as though I've done nothing. I didn't sleep much the past two weeks, I drove around Southern California a lot. I didn't see people, I didn't get any work done. I have no plans to get work done at this point. I read a book, but I didn't finish either of my Bitches, nor did I start reading my journals or any other articles. I saw a couple movies, but one ended in hysterical crying because it hit a little too close to a home I've been avoiding. I'll tell everyone that I relaxed, but I'll remember how much I worried.

Or maybe I'll remember this break as limbo: that place where the virtuous penguins go to reflect on their past and await their future. I won't remember being particularly happy this break, but whatever sadness I felt is going to seem small compared to what I'm expecting will come next.

This break, my life right now, is a comma, with no other purpose than to force the reader to take pause. Not for dramatic effect, mind you, nor for a clever aside; this comma is for readability only, continuity. We have to break the run-on sentence sometime.

One-Armed Scissor

Why do I have a thing for creepy old men?

I know part of it is that they are simply better actors-- more believable, putting themselves out there more. That in itself is sexier than anyone who's too concerned about his looks to really lose himself in a character. And maybe it just so happens that the best actors tend to play someone creepy at one point or another... and then do it so well they get typecast for a while.

It's not like I never have a celebrity crush on younger fellas. It just so happens that the men who impress me more are older, I guess. They're choosier about their roles-- I'll be going to see the new Alice in Wonderland, for example, because I would follow Alan Rickman off a cliff, not because I have any faith/interest in Johnny Depp or Tim Burton whatsoever anymore (*cough*sellouts ruining my favorite musical*cough*-- sidenote: I know Alan Rickman was also in Sweeney Todd, and has also been in some other terrible movies, but he is the silver lining of all those terrible movies, and hearing him sing in Sweeney Todd was maybe the highlight of my month).

I guess I sort of have a thing for creepy young men, too, if you think the younger actors I trust most at this point are Joaquin Phoenix and Robert Downey Jr. They haven't exactly given people the warm fuzzies with their roles. Other than giving me the warm fuzzies.

This all goes back to Eran's burning question: what is happening in our brains when we love the villain? What is the relation to how good and believable the actor is? To me, that relationship is everything. Pushing the boundaries and losing yourself in a passion for your art is everything. So again, maybe it's the empathy with someone, something you secretly, painfully are too. And if misery loves company, your limbic system pangs to be with the tortured villain, creepy as he might be.

I think that pretty much describes my relationship to all art.

Take this sinking boat

I have so much to say: work, politics, school, friends, family, money, love, angst, frustration... but the words don't exist.
Fashion just keeps getting more and more ridiculous. I *wanted* to do some impulse shopping yesterday after hearing that good ol' UCLA wanted to change my TA assignment AGAIN the week before classes start (stressful much?). But I couldn't bring myself to even buy a bra at Vicki's Secret. Malls are a fashion wasteland right now.

I like a pencil skirt as much as any other girl. I've never really been able to wear one because of my Buddha, and really, who wants to show off a less-than-flat lower stomach? Apparently even that is desirable now. I saw some high fashion pencil skirts that balloon around the top-- ironically, just about where the Buddha would be on a non-model.

Is this going to be the new trend? Models don't want to look so controversially skinny anymore that they're wearing clothes that make them look fatter? It certainly seems that way. Baggy clothes are super in right now, and it's not just that '80s resurgence. When you wear something baggy, you're trying to hide your body (and be comfy, but that's another story). It used to be that fat people were hiding their bodies; now, are designers trying so hard to relate their size 0 models to the average overweight American that they're hiding their super-skinny bodies?

The worst part is that all this up-sizing is being forced on the rest of us. We all *want* to look like the celebrities, and since we can't all get down to that ridiculously slim ideal, we can at least dress like they do. So now we dress in baggy shirts, baggy pants, and once-sexy skirts that now create and accentuate faux-fat deposits.

Another, somewhat-related thing I've noticed is that fall fashion has been a lot more forgiving of people in the size-large category. Almost too forgiving. I don't even know what size I am in *jackets* at H&M anymore-- I was a 14 about 6 months ago, now I'm suddenly an 8. I haven't lost enough weight to warrant even a single size drop, let alone a triple size drop! Not to mention that my boobs have grown again somehow. How did I end up buying a size 8?

I don't want to complain too much about American fashion finally accommodating the bulk of the American people. What bothers me is that fashion only does so when it's--pardon the pun--fashionable to do so. Summer clothing was skimpy and sizes ran small. Admittedly empire-waist was there, and dominant, to forgive belly pudge, and even Daisy Dukes aren't as popular as pedal pushers anymore. But even if I could fit my 36Cs into an empire-waisted shirt, they would've fallen out in under 30 seconds, and while most pedal pushers and jeans focused on lengthening their legs and waists for the size-large crowd, they forgot all about leaving more room for ass.

Now, one season later, sizes are running big.

I used to shop a lot less than I do, but I still went into Forever 21, Wet Seal, and Charlotte Russe in search of something good. This is part of the game for them, I know, and this whole "sizes are arbitrary" thing is half of what led me to shop at Marshall's and Loehmann's instead. But now even Marshall's and Loehmann's are doing the same thing. And again, I know it's not that I'm going up and down in size that often. I was one weight for 10 years and now I've been another weight for 2 years. My body--unfortunately--doesn't change.

I'll forgive high-waisted pants and skirts, thin cardigans for boys, poncho-coats for girls, big pockets on every shirt and dress. I've even slowly begun to embrace things like leggings and skinny jeans (so long as the skinny jeans have a flare). But I am sick and tired of sizes and styles accommodating the models first and the public who actually buys and wears the clothing second. Make up your mind, pick a base size, and go back to the fundamentals of designing beautiful clothes that will flatter a range of body types.

Wall Street died for your sins.

That's it. Now the weak economy has turned completely sour, and is hitting home. Hitting my home. And that is unacceptable.

But really, what can we do about it? Like Nora said, we're helpless, and maybe everyone would feel better if we just rioted. This was going to be my year to finally start some investments, prepare to pay back my loans. Clearly this is not the year to be doing that. I had a inkling that my first year as a finance-forward person was going to be a bad one for the economy. It just figures, right? So now that money is just going to sit in my savings, until I have enough to invest with Bank of America. It'll be a while on my $400/week salary that doesn't even start coming in until Halloween.

My mom's living trust is through WaMu. Now she has to move that, not like it's a lot of money, but it's all that paperwork and uncertainty. Now she's going to move back to the bank she hates most, Bank of America, because they're the most secure at the moment. How sad is it that she thought she was secure, she thought we were finally in the clear, and once again, someone came in to ruin everything. At least time it wasn't someone related to us. For once.

It is a little satisfying, to know that the first companies to collapse are the ones with the worst customer service. AIG is a nightmare for car insurance, Merrill Lynch was never known for being a great realty company, and we all know my vast array of problems with WaMu. And you know it's a little bit satisfying that WaMu died before Downey Savings.

The other nice thing about this is that it's pushed Obama back ahead in the polls. He probably would've gone back ahead anyway, since McCain has done a great job of making himself look like an ass lately, but this helped speed up that process.

So now we're all socialists, with socialised banking and insurance. Why not add healthcare to that list?

I'm sick of politics. I'm going to put my flea-covered feet up and watch Family Guy.

But isn't it spring?

I know Halloween is coming, school is starting, and we have a presidential election coming up. Somehow, though, I feel like it's Valentine's Day (though not my birthday), Easter, time to pick out summer dresses. Maybe it's the weather. My allergies are killing me.

Maybe I'm trying to avoid autumn. I have enough problems in my life to not be worrying about the election, and America, that's for sure. Sarah Palin has brought the polls and predictions markets back to 50/50, despite the deluge of lies and spin from the Republicans, the lawsuits from arresting 400 people at the GOP and the cease-and-desist notices because nobody thought to get the rights to any of the music they played at the GOP, the citizens from abroad trying desperately to get American citizenship so that they can vote for Obama, and the angry angry feminists and Hilary supporters who want to see Palin smashed for not representing women well enough. You know what that means: Evangelicals and fundamentalists still make up a majority of this country. We just didn't see them before Palin came on the scene.

The Republicans ability to spin and smear is truly amazing. They continue to lie about Palin's and McCain's experience despite being outed already, and they say Palin has more experience governing a town in Alaska than Obama has from working in the Senate, because she had *executive* experience--and used that executive experience to get more money for Alaska in one year than for any other state in the past few years combined, AND for fewer citizens. She may have said no to that Bridge to Nowhere, but she only said no after she realized she'd have to spend some of that hard-earmarked money for Alaska on it. Then she said no to returning the $27 million the government gave her for it.

She has great foreign policy experience-- hell, she can SEE Russia from Alaska (if you haven't heard, that is one of the Republicans' favorite arguments for her foreign policy experience. That's like saying I know all about Catalina because I've been able to see it my whole life)! Nevermind that she doesn't know what Bush's foreign policies are, or has only been out of the country once in her 44 years of life and 10 years a politician. She still thinks that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were behind 9/11.

She had a shotgun wedding, she's making her daughter have a shotgun wedding, and while Alaskans and McCain advisors swear up and down that she won't force everyone else in America to have a shotgun wedding when they get pregnant out of wedlock... power is a very potent drug. She's already abused her power twice, and is now trying to block subpoenas so that the American people can't catch her.

She doesn't believe that global warming is manmade. She's been shooting wolves from helicopters because they're bringing down the population of her favorite animal to kill-and-eat, caribou. She doesn't think polar bears should be considered endangered. She doesn't believe in evolution, and wants creationism--not even intelligent design, we're back to creationism--to be taught in all schools, parochial or not. They didn't even teach creationism in my parochial schools, for God's sake. Her town charged rape victims for rape kits, $1200 a pop, if you can't afford it, your rapist will just go free. And if you get pregnant, Palin will judge you for not letting that rapist's baby live. But even if you do, you still have to pay for the rape kit to find out who the father is. So chances are, no child support either. That's going to help middle-class families.

But I guess no one's planning to vote for her because she's smart.

What baffles me is that all this spin has worked. I really, truly thought McCain had shot himself in the foot when I first heard all this, and now I'm convinced that we're going to see a President Palin. I don't know if you've noticed, but Obama is running against Palin now. And it's dirty, and it's upsetting. It's not upsetting just because I don't like Palin; honestly, unless you're Cheney, VPs don't generally do much, particularly when they have so little knowledge. The issue is that people are *expecting* John McCain to get a 5th bout of cancer in office and his old body, made older by his POW experience, is just going to kick it... making Sarah Palin president.

So then what's going to happen? There are a couple scenarios in my head. First of all, the economy will go to shit, so we'll drill holes in the rest of America to try to become more energy independent and thus boost our economy. Unfortunately we'll only be boosting our fuel economy, which is going to do shit for unemployment, unless you want to work in a factory. Global warming will continue, our air pollution will become as bad as China's. The dollar might gain some strength, sure, but it's gaining strength now and the American people are miserable. A strong currency alone does not make a strong country. Eventually the new strong imperialist in the world (perhaps Russia, perhaps some country in the Middle East, made strong on our mistakes) will realize that fundamentalist Christians are just as evil as fundamentalist Muslims. Thus World War III begins, in a way that no American had expected. And with our lady-commander who had barely heard of these countries a year ago... we'll be in good hands, because she'd seen their country before, from Alaska.

Although at that point, America will not be worth living in anyway. That's the thing that really scares me: everything else that will lead up to the war she can't command. I guess, though, that a lot of that depends on having a Congress to support you, which wouldn't happen. Maybe she'd just be one of those harmless, unmemorable presidents who didn't do anything, not because she doesn't want to (she said she's trying to convince McCain over to her drilling policies, which are more expansive and destructive than even his), but because she won't able to.

Or maybe spring will come and Obama will be president, and Michelle and Hilary will be representing American women, and America will thrive and be a place I'm proud to live in again.

Puppy Toy

The other day I read an article stating McCain and Obama's top 10 favorite songs, followed by commentary from Randy Newman and GirlTalk. And as I judged all of the above (both neglected the Beatles and McCain put two ABBA songsin his top 5--what?), I realized that it's not that easy to come up with your 10 favorite songs on the spot. Not to mention your 10 favorite songs-to-be-judged-by. I don't even know what mine are. Remotely.

My top 25 most played might give a hint. It's been two years now; after two years that should be somewhat accurate and not biased by brief obsessions with this musical or that, or endless loops from being in a certain mood or trying to learn a song. Except it definitely is still biased.

I'm nowhere near making a decision on anything, not even my top 10 favorite artists. I've just been thinking about it a lot lately. It seems like something that I should know better.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Proof that anyone from Monty Python can get away with *anything*:

Last night we trekked up Highland to the Hollywood Bowl to see Eric Idle and John du Prez pilot Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy)--basically their Life of Brian follow-up to Spamalot. It was like a staged reading with the Pacific Chorale, the LA Phil, 4 opera singers, Muppet sheep, confetti, gratuitous fireworks, and of course the Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band. It was way better than Spamalot; believe it or not, we quickly tire of camp. There were a few songs similar to Spamalot (The Final Song; Find Your Dream), but there were also songs that could live on their own outside of the context of the show, such as I Want to Be a Girl. The music tried to cross genres a few times, but the opera singers had a hard time getting out of their training to be bluesy, gospel-y, and Motown-y, so I think it was kept to a minimum.

Highlights included:
--LA Philharmonic playing the full theme from Monty Python's Flying Circus. Almost worth the price of the ticket alone.
--Eric Idle's Bob Dylan impression. He walks off-stage and comes back with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, wearing sunglasses, and spoofs the last song without ever saying a discernible word. He sang like Bob Dylan does, and really well in fact, he just amplified the way Dylan rolls over words as he sings. Not shocking, but it was like "Wow, I can't believe you just did that."
--During the song "Find Your Dream," the horns started to sound a little mariachi-like... and then all the lights on stage changed to be red, green, and white. I turned to Dillon and was like "Not really, right?" He replied, "Notice Eric Idle still isn't back." "If he comes back wearing a serape..." I said. And then the trumpet players stood up, showing that they were all wearing sombreros and black mustaches. And then Eric Idle came out, wearing a cowboy hat and wielding a leafblower. Yeah, he totally went there. In Los Angeles.
--Eventually they had to let some confetti loose, and when they did it was so random they had to show on the monitors the two guys who were dropping the confetti on the chorus. Just in case you weren't sure, right?
--The only time I yelled "What the fuck?" was when the bagpipers came out. TOTALLY random, even for me, and they walked out completely seriously in a line across the stage. Even when they came out again later, it was less random.
--Naturally at the Hollywood Bowl there would be fireworks, but it was really strange. They were sort of added on at the end of the show, and Eric Idle did his closing speech and then told the people in the front boxes to leave and that they had two minutes. So they started leaving, but then he told everyone else to stay. Everyone was really confused; most people had started gathering their things and trickling out when they started "Always Look at the Bright Side of Life" (you can bring a horse to water, but you can make theatre-goers respect actors, and certainly not in LA). So everyone is kinda half-ready to leave, and then the Phil starts playing the Galaxy Song from Meaning of Life, and Eric Idle sings it while the fireworks go crazy, loosely choreographed, ending with a weird smiling sun rising over the stage and shooting fireworks everywhere. Totally weird, but pretty awesome to witness. Dillon got really excited because it was foreshadowing the next musical: "Maybe the way they put Brighter Side of Life in both Spamalot and this, they're going to put the Galaxy Song in both this and the next one."

The only other thing of note is how WELL Eric Idle has aged. I mean, John Cleese has aged really well, too (he's what, 70 now and he still looks like he's in his 50s), but I was thinking about Eric Idle and the Kids in the Hall... Eric looks younger than the Kids right now, and he's at least 20 years older (like he's 65 and Mark, for example, is 49). I would've thought Monty Python did more drugs-- maybe drugs are the key to eternal youth.

Stay stay and hold me

I'm envious of people who graduated on time. Not just because I wish I had another year at UCSD--no, no, I was definitely done with undergrad when I graduated--but now mostly because the people who just graduated get to be excited about their new lives. My graduating early and starting graduate school right away was just as, maybe even more, exciting and scary as it is for everyone else now. But it was a touchy subject. If I acted excited around most people, they would take it as being snobby. If I acted scared, people would be annoyed. So I was modest, feigning indifference and quickly learning to change the subject. It's a habit that I've kept with most people even now.

Another sign of the weakening economy(?): the man who picks through our dumpster for recyclables has been coming more and more often. When we first moved in, he came maybe once or twice a week. A few months ago I realized he was coming every day. Tonight as I followed him up the driveway to the apartment, I realized he's been coming more than once a day. Either it's the economy, or the fact that more bros in the building means more bottles.

I've been lazy and resentful: empty-headed, but also guilty for not going into the lab more than 10 hours a week when it's my summer vacation. I should be able to avoid and escape; I shouldn't be forced to come in and work as hard as I did last quarter. And although no one's been forcing me, I see now that I've been so self-conscious because the competition finally matters. Perhaps it only matters because it's such a new field for me: I never had to feel competitive about academics before, or my artistic talents. I knew the fields too well. But this is all new, I know so little, and in being overwhelmed I've regressed into a meek child posing as a calm, content, knowledgeable adult (ifyoutellmeIhaveimpostersyndromeI'llkillyouinyoursleep). I've been thrown into a later stage of life where I'm thinking about marriage and wishing I'm pregnant and looking at 10-year mortgages on houses in a good school district; aren't most people in graduate school supposed to feel like they're still in undergrad, be it a more rigorous undergrad, instead of mini-junior-apprentices preparing their lives to become their future selves?

Other whispers of guilt in my avoidant mindset come from my relationship. Forever oscillating between comfortable and not, throughout all my relationships I still wish I had someone mentally close but emotionally distant, on reserve to encircle and shield me from self-destruction. Though I have to keep reminding myself: who would be content with so little? Not even a character in a book, the same character I kept telling myself, with a Judy-Luttrell-jaded smirk, wasn't real-- until two chapters later when I saw that he wanted more, and was broken, deceitful, manipulative... like any and every other man existing.

The fact of the matter is that I'm living in my head far too much at present, and I badly want someone to pull me out of the shell. But sometimes I'm scared of Dillon, and when I'm isolated like this I don't feel like I have any friends close enough to be comfortable. So here I am: exposed behind walls, guilty, jealous, craving the wrong life for right now, forever collecting my empty bottles for the man who goes through the dumpster.

I want my new glasses.


Anyone else think Viva la Vida is the best Coldplay album since Parachutes, or is it just me?

Or is it just Violet Hill?