Earthquakes and Adrian Grenier: The Universe’s Way of Reminding Me I’m Irrelevant

Among all the uncertainties that come with moving to LA, one certainty is that you will run into celebrities; whenever you find yourself buying a breakfast burrito at your local spot, a spot you feel like is underrated, unknown, and therefore yours in a city where nothing is yours, and saying, “oh, that looks like that guy from Law and Order,” it’s usually because it is that guy from Law and Order, and yeah, he likes breakfast burritos, too. Oh, and this is his spot, not yours.  That’s why the owner you thought loved you like his own flesh and blood just bought “the guy from Law and Order” his breakfast burrito. Don’t flatter yourself. So yes, you will run into celebrities, and you will realize they’re much more important than you. This will feel even worse if you’re a poor grad student who skipped the guac because who the hell has an extra $2 for guac?! Just kidding. That’s crazy talk. I always pay extra for guac.

Now that we’ve established what happens at the local breakfast joint, I’ll tell you what happens when you have a celebrity run-in at a bar in Hollywood. I’ll give you a hint: it’s worse than paying for extra guac. Last weekend we went out to a whisky bar in Hollywood. This isn’t something we necessarily like to do. A night out in Hollywood is like choosing to go to a party with every frat guy you’ve ever known, and wish you had never known, and every girl at every frat party who makes the word feminism go on suicide watch. Now make all these Neanderthals dress a bit fancier, and replace keg stands with self-entitlement and vodka red bulls, and there you go, Hollywood. No offense to Neanderthals, I’m sure they were lovely almost-human beings. So yeah, not really my jam. But alas, that’s where my story takes place. That being said, I don’t dislike this bar; it’s pretentious and crowded, but it has been tolerable in the past. Plus, they make a tasty Old Fashioned so what do I care about feeling homely and inconsequential?

At some point (many points) in the night, I need another Old Fashioned, so I walk to the bar and ask the bar tender, who is also a Megan Fox impersonator, and from what I can gather, possibly a bar-tender impersonator as well, for an Old Fashioned. She takes three other drink orders (making me nervous. Not sure if she’s going to remember all this) and starts mixing some drinks. Everything is looking good.

*Tap on the shoulder*

Now, I don’t know about other women at bars, but if I get a tap on the shoulder, especially one that consists of three aggressive and impatient taps, I’m not turning around. This has to do with self-preservation and natural selection.

*Tap on the shoulder*

For Gods sake. I turn around. The tap was getting more impatient and so was I.

Short Man…er, um, Short Guy: “Excuse me. Would you mind taking a photo of me and my good buddy here?” says the short guy who would make “The Situation” look classy.

Me: I look back and my drink isn’t ready. Damnit. “Oh yeah, of course!” Why the hell did I say it like that? I’m annoyed, can’t I sound annoyed? Why am I always so enthusiastically polite?!

I go to take the photo, touching the screen a couple times to make sure it focuses. Again, I’m not sure why I’m so concerned about the quality of this guy’s bromance photo, but I am. As soon as it takes, I experience that moment I’ve already told you about, the “oh, that looks like (insert celebrity name here).” Now, because I’ve never been an Entourage fan, I didn’t know this celebrity’s name. I merely knew him as the cute guy from Drive Me Crazy with Melissa Joan Hart, shout out to my sister and all the cheesy teen-romance movies we loved to watch. I had just taken a photo of some jersey dude and his good buddy, Adrian Grenier. I knew something sounded weird when this short guy asked me to be his personal photographer. In my experience, no couple ever asks a random person to take a photo for them and also feels the need to qualify their relationship to the photo-taking stranger… as if I might respond, “actually, no. I don’t even know if you guys are friends. If you were good friends, I might consider taking your photo. But right now, I’m unclear about the nature of your relationship. I’m not sure why you both deserve to be in the same photo.  If I take this photo right now, I would look at it and think, what great friends! They go out to bars together. They smile together. THEY TAKE PHOTOS TOGETHER. But that would be a lie. My conscience won’t let me do that.” Then I would slowly pass the camera back to the short guy in the bar with an expression that suggests I am a person of honor and integrity.

Moving on. I take the photo and turn back to the bar, hoping my delicious Old Fashioned will be waiting for me. It isn’t. Megan Fox is still mixing drinks. So I put my elbow on the bar and rest my head in my hand in the most dramatic way possible, complete with a pouty, thirsty expression. In the middle of my pouty performance, I feel another elbow aggressively challenge my elbow’s position on the bar. If you are a bar frequenter, you know the importance of elbow placement and its relation to the time it takes to receive a drink. ELBOW PLACEMENT IS IMPORTANT, PEOPLE! So I don’t move my elbow. But this elbow, this goddamn boney elbow, keeps pushing and I’m forced to take up less space. I look over to find the stupid face connected to this entitled elbow, and it is in fact, the stupid face of Adrian Grenier. Not only does he take my valuable piece of elbow real estate at this bar, but also, he leans forward on both elbows so that Megan Fox will realize whom she really needs to pay attention to. And it works. She walks over, acting like she doesn’t recognize him, except for the fact that she absolutely recognizes him and turns into super–animated Megan Fox who now has to bend over to find every ingredient it takes to make an Old Fashioned. Honey, you’re not fooling anyone (that’s probably not true. She’s probably fooling every intoxicated man in here), the bitters isn’t kept next to the floor drain.

She points at him. One finger. It’s a signal. It’s his time to order and she’s in charge. Nice move, Megan.  You’re soooooo cool. I’m now bitter, annoyed, childish, and sober. A dangerous combination.

Adrian: (I can call him by his first name. I took a photo of him and his good buddy) “Um, I need a water, no ice (gag me) and do you have (no idea what kind of tequila he asked for, but he did ask for tequila).”

Cool-Megan-Fox-Bartender: “Hmm. Do we have ___?” She asks the other bartender in a way that would make you think she was playing the role of her life, the role where she magnanimously asks the other bartender whether or not they have a specific kind of tequila. Bravo! Encore! Except not really, because I want my drink.

They don’t have the tequila he wants, nor do they have the next 3 kinds of tequila he asks for. I’m sorry, but since when are people particular about tequila? Doesn’t tequila mean the exact opposite of particular? I thought you ordered tequila when you absolutely do not want to be picky about anything.  You order tequila and you don’t care about your taste buds, your dignity, or who wakes up next to you. You’re probably not even in your own house. Alright, that might be a little bit of projection, but I think there’s solidarity among tequila nights.

After an amazing amount of time, Megan Fox is able to get little Adrian Grenier his beverages. I say “beverages” because I think it makes him sound even more entitled. Oh, and I say “little” because I was astounded by how small he was. IMDB says he’s 6’0”, but apparently there are other places, other than bars, that Adrian receives a little bit of “room.” He takes all his drinks and leaves. I guess I always thought I would be pleasantly surprised when I finally had to interact with a celebrity. Like, there would be some moment where the celebrity would be incredibly polite and thoughtful, and I would think “gosh, that was so sweet of him/her. They really are just like everyone else!” Well, I guess that’s true in a way, because a whole hell-of-a lot of people are assholes at bars, so yeah, Adrian is just like everyone else.

At this point, I’m not even sure I want my drink anymore. I’m cranky. And I don’t have my delicious Old Fashioned. I stand for a moment debating leaving all my dreams of sweet perfection behind, when Megan Fox makes eye contact with me. I didn’t expect her to remember what I had ordered or even my face, but a light went on in her head. Her eyes got real big and she started shaking her head up and down. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant (that wasn’t a very transparent emotional manifestation), but she frantically started making an Old Fashioned. Huzzah!

Cool-Megan-Fox-Bartender: “I’m so so sorry, sweety. This is your Old Fashioned right here.”

Me: That’s right, bi-otch! That IS my Old Fashioned. And I’m mad. “Oh, that’s totally fine! Don’t even worry about it!” Damnit, Jené! You always let me down. Stop being so polite! You deserve to be a little mad right now! “Take your time!” AHH!

Cool-Megan-Fox-Bartender: She pours the bourbon REALLY strong. I perk up a bit. “Here you go. Again, I’m so sorry.”

It gets even more amazing. Typically, if a bartender ignores you, there’s no apology. There’s no admission of guilt. Hell, most of the time if a bartender ignores you, it’s YOUR fault. Despite your mother’s lies, YOU are not memorable. But this gorgeous bartender (note I called her gorgeous because my opinion of this woman is growing), apologized to me and it actually felt genuine. She knew that she had sacrificed me to the get-in-good-with-the-celebrity gods, and she felt bad. I go to hand her my credit card but she shakes her head.

Gorgeous Bartender: “There’s no need for that. I messed up. This one’s on me.”

Me: Dumbfounded. I am in love with this woman (well that changed quickly. Apparently I’m easy). “Oh, no really! I insist!” What am I trying to court her or something? Probably.

Gorgeous Bartender: “Nope. Just come back for another drink later.”

Done! That was not a particularly pleasant experience, but it doesn’t take much to put me in a better mood. While douchey Adrian Grenier made me feel like all of humanity deserves to be stuck in the movie Groundhog Dog, drinking shitty tequila and waking up next to Jabba the Hutt, this bartender made me feel like prancing through fields of wildflowers, drinking perfect Old Fashioneds.Probably says more about me and my volatile moods than anything else. Nah, it just shows how much I love Old Fashioneds.

Anywho, the night ended up being a pretty successful night, and I went to sleep happy and tipsy. Those are synonyms, right? Around 5 a.m., I wake up a little startled and look around the room, noticing that everything seems to be shaking. Now, I’ve never experienced an earthquake, so I had no clue what was going on. My initial thought is, did I really drink that much? Man, I’m getting soft. But then, Mia let out a little whimper, and I knew she wasn’t drunk. Pretty sure, anyway. I’ve seen her eye the liquor cabinet a few times and look a little thirsty. That could be because she’s a dog and she’s always thirsty, but I can’t be sure.

Me: “Mia, you gotta hold it together! We can’t BOTH be hysterical. You’re the sober one in this situation (I think).”

I do talk to my dog like this. I know, it’s weird. But the shaking ended, and with it my first experience of an earthquake in California. It was a little unsettling, but that’s more because I couldn’t determine my level of intoxication. I lay back down and started thinking about whether or not I knew what to do in the case of an earthquake. I very quickly realized I didn’t. That’s probably something I should Google. In the morning. Because I’m tired.

Most fancy TV shows have reenactments of traumatic moments, so I obviously needed to stage one of my own. This is me and Mia scared of an earthquake.

Photo on 4-4-14 at 4.28 PM

(Notice she still looks a little drunk. I told her it was just a reenactment, but she insisted the photo accurately capture the essence of the moment)

Reflecting on the earthquakes that have happened here in California and in Chile (my amazing little sister and her boyfriend have been living in Chile for the last year. They’re fine) over the past few weeks, has made me think about how we take such pride in our “progressive” existence—the ordering, the planning, the structuring. But all it takes is a little party, a slight shimmy from Mother Earth to knock everything to the ground.  I’m not trying to make less of earthquakes or natural disasters with my lighthearted and jokey banter. Maybe I am. I just find it terrifying and funny at the same time. It grounds me in a weird way, cheesy pun intended.

But then I realized that I’m probably taking too much from that earthquake. Let’s be honest, that realization wasn’t mine to have. It was for Adrian Grenier. He was probably late for some celebrity thing. You know, those things that celebrities have to do.

Mother Earth: “Damnit, Adrian. You can’t oversleep! You have important things to do today! People need to be reminded of their unimportance! I mean, I guess I could do that, being Mother Nature and all. But I’m tired and prefer you do it today.”

“Oh, go back to sleep, Jené. I’m not talking to you.”


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What Exactly ARE You Talking About, Sir?

How can things get so weird within a 15-minute time frame?

We always have a brief break during our 4-hour grad seminars and last night I decided to run down to the bookstore to grab some Tylenol and hot tea, the usual. Doesn’t sound that complicated, I know, but it gets weird. I walk up to the cashier and ask for a medium hot tea.

Cashier: “Oh, we don’t have any tea right now.”

Me: Frustrated look. They always have tea. I can see the tea….“What?”

Cashier: “We already broke down the machine.” He must be new.

Me: I turn to look behind me. “You don’t have hot water?”

Cashier: “Uh, no.” He takes my 5-dollar bill.

Me: Still looking frustrated. I continue to stare at him.

Cashier: “Sorry, we usually break everything down 15 minutes till close.”

Me:  I sigh. “Its fine. I just didn’t realize I couldn’t get hot water.”

Cashier: Face brightens. Ladies and gentlemen, we have some movement upstairs. He’s thinking. “Oh…wait. You only need hot water, right?”

Me: That’s how this thing called “hot tea” works. It’s pretty incredible. “Yeah…”

He then tells me I could go run over to the machine to make sure it’s working before I pay for the tea. How do people have jobs?

I run over with a cup and test the hot water that I’m sure is working. WOAH! It’s working. So I hurry back over to the counter and realize there are people in line, daring me to cut them (they don’t know what I’m going through). So I slowly get in line. The cashier is conveniently avoiding eye contact so he doesn’t have to anger the line either. So I wait. Fast-forward a few minutes: I walk up to the cashier, once again.

Me: “Hi again.”

Cashier: My tone makes him nervous. “Okay so what tea would you like?”

Me: “Green tea, please.” Still trying to use my manners. Shout out to my Mama. I was raised right.

Cashier: “Oh, um, we don’t have green tea.” Yes you do. You DO have green tea. You have to read.

He brings the teas over to let me choose, and I choose the Ginger Peach GREEN TEA. He nods to himself as I pull the tea bag out of the dispenser. He’s happy that he could provide such great customer service. And that I was able to find a comparable alternative to my usual comfort of green tea.

Cashier: “Okay, that will be $3.88”

Me: I shake my head. No, it’s not $3.88. But I don’t want to explain and I’m late for class. “You can keep the change.” I was not as polite this time. Sorry, Mom.

I run over to the hot water, which still works, imagine that, and put the tea bag in the cup. As I stir the tea, I realize there are floaties in my cup, and those floaties are tea leaves. I pull the tea bag out and find that it is in fact, ripped, and also empty. I am now steeping loose-leaf tea. A very pricey loose-leaf tea I might add.

Honestly, at this point I’m fine with having chewy tea. I just need to get out of this bookstore and away from this infant cashier who is making his mother proud with his first day at a real job. That’s how I make sense of this experience anyway.

As I’m walking back to class, I pass a man who seems to be smiling at me. He’s slightly older and wearing what appear to be swim trunks with a tie-dye shirt and a zip-up hoodie. He doesn’t have books. Or a bag. Or anything. Just casually walking on campus in his pool party get-up.

As I’m passing him, I conclude that yes, he is smiling at me. And then he did something very strange. He flashed me one of these:



Followed by this statement: “That’s what I’m talking about.”

I, of course, responded with this face:


 No, sir.  I think you are mistaken. We were not talking about anything. We were merely in the same geographic location at the same time. That does not give you permission to pretend that we are old friends. Contrary to what you seem to think, I can’t read your mind and we were not mid-conversation. Also, this isn’t a pool party. And if we had been talking about something, I would hope it would have been about your poor wardrobe decisions, and why that loud zip-up hoodie doesn’t compliment anything under the sun, particularly not that cheap-ass, tie-dye, fruit of the loom shirt that you’re strutting like you were Right Said Fred (who was NOT too sexy for his shirt, dare I say anything). That’s what I’m talking about.

However, his confidence made me slightly uncomfortable, like he knew something I didn’t. Maybe he really likes tea. Maybe he knows why that baby cashier thought it was logical that a bag of tea leaves and hot water would cost 4 dollars. Maybe he knows that my brisk walking pace is the result of wanting to get back to class on time and he’s acknowledging my steadfast commitment to punctuality and higher education. Maybe he knows EVERYTHING ABOUT ME. Maybe he can read my mind! My thought process really got away from me. So instead of thinking this guy was a total lunatic, I decided he was probably some wise sage and I was being tested. So I shot him back one of these:


 Thanks guy with the obnoxious face and loud clothes. For making me so eager to get back to class to study books and fiction, things that make sense, in contrast to this strange 15 minutes of reality that I still can’t fully comprehend.

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Riding (Costco) Shopping Carts is NOT for the Faint of Heart

I hate Costco. I really do. I hate going there, I hate walking around with a shopping cart the size of a Buick, I hate waiting patiently behind people who have to consider everything they walk past because their lives demand lots of things in bulk. I mean really, don’t people go to or join Costco for something in particular? For instance, Jonathan and I finally broke down and got a Costco membership so we could buy dog food. Our house is a zoo and we go through dog food like a sorority house goes through toilet paper and tampons (which we also buy at Costco. Toilet paper, not tampons. I do not need that many tampons). I really hate buying toilet paper at the grocery store. I mean, it’s bulky and annoying to carry. It never fits in my basket, never mind a grocery bag. I’m angry just thinking about it. Either way, I go there, I buy dog food, and possibly toilet paper, and I get out. The end. Well except for today. That wasn’t the end.

Sometimes you have to spice things up a bit, you know? I really hate running errands, and I especially hate running errands on my day off, because I want my day off to be just that, a day off of the things I have to do every other day. (Man I’m using “hate” a lot in this blog. I apologize if you’re having a fairly positive day and have to read through all my negativity and bitterness). So as I’m leaving Costco, and crossing the parking lot/football field to my car, I realize I have a pretty straight shot to my car and the parking lot has a slight slope to it. Hmmm. My cart has already begun picking up a little bit of speed, and I think, Why not? This could be fun. I now know to bail anytime I have that thought. This is called learning a lesson, people.

So I do a little jog to get the cart REALLY going—and I know you all know how to do this maneuver. You start jogging a little bit and then you do a fancy little skip, leap onto the cart, lean slightly forward, and smile like a dog with its head out the window of a moving car, squinty eyes and flapping tongue included.  While riding shopping carts can be pretty fun, we all know that the fun is usually ephemeral and over-rated: the cart never stays moving for long, your car isn’t that far away and the ride stops as fast as it started, and you never go as fast as you—okay, while I would normally say “you never go as fast as you want to,” that was not the case today. If there was one thing I learned today, it was that a gargantuan shopping cart with the wheels of a go-cart, holding 2 Costco-sized bags of dog food, moving in a downward sloped parking lot with an average sized person on the back, means the shopping cart is going to move WAY FASTER THAN YOU EVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED. And you’re going to be scared. SOOOO scared.

When I started to realize that I was picking up speed, I got a little nauseated, and held on tighter, hoping that no car in the near 15 feet was going to decide to back up. Let’s be honest, they wouldn’t notice me until it was too late. And boom. Hilarious obituary + moral lesson for children everywhere. So I hold on and focus on my destination; I’m in field goal range, but I decided to go for 2 and now I have to commit. Any hesitation will get me killed. Or I’ll just ding someone else’s car as I jump off the moving cart, which would be totally embarrassing. Yes, that’s what I found embarrassing about this whole situation.

Everything would have been fine had it not been for this damn woman who sideswiped with me her disapproving expression (see what I did there? You thought I was going to get hit by a car. But I didn’t. Worse. I got mean-mugged). A woman standing by her car, probably waiting for the out-of-control shopping cart to hurtle pass her, put her hand on her hip as I neared, and as I passed by her in a blazing half-second, I heard that one little word. “Really?” And I’m sure you can imagine the tone of that snarky rhetorical question and everything that it implies. Here is a list of definitions of the utterance, “really?”:

A) You’re an idiot

B) Are you really that idiotic? Is that even possible?

C) How old are you?

D) And where are your parents?

Can’t forget E) Oh, you’re not here with your parents because you’re 25 years old?

And F) You’re “really” 25 years old?

G) Do I even need to say “really?”

And the list goes on and on. While I did not have time to reply, and also because I understand the concept of rhetorical questions, I did manage to shoot off a goofy, guilty-as-charged smile that probably said something along the lines of “You’re right. I’m sorry. I’m incredibly immature. But DO YOU SEE HOW FAST I’M GOING? WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?!”

 In case you’re having a hard time imagining this particular sequence of facial expressions, it goes like this: 


While this encounter was brief, and I made it to my car without getting run over, I still went home feeling sheepish and confused about how I actually pay rent. Or manage to bathe myself—okay I don’t do that on the most consistent basis, but it definitely happens sometimes. The worst part about the whole thing, is that this was not the first time something like this happened. I know, I know. My sophomore year of college, I was definitely scolded by an older woman in the parking lot of a grocery store for riding a grocery cart. But instead of “really?” it was “get down! You’re going to get hurt!” And while I was humiliated, I listened to her. I got off the cart and knew that she was right. I was going to get hurt; thank you older woman for looking out for radical infants like myself. So what’s the lesson here? While I would like it to be that people should mind their own damn business so I can ride my shopping cart in peace, I think it actually means that some people (like both of these wise ladies I have had the privilege of knowing very briefly) grow into actual adults who make sound decisions and recognize danger, and I continue to make the same decisions over and over again, and never learn. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? I think it is.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry, Mom.


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Sometimes We Don’t Get to Have TWO Good Things. Sometimes We Have to Choose.

There are days when we sit, bored out of our minds, in endless amounts of traffic on the way to work, and then there are days when we throw up all over ourselves while sitting in endless amounts of traffic. Unfortunately, today was not the former.

Last night, I made a huge mistake [insert Gob impersonation from Arrested Development]. I allowed myself to find justifications for eating Panda Express. It’s late and I’m tired. We (my brother and I) just finished a long and exhausting weekend that has already been packed full with unhealthy eating and drinking decisions. I’ll eat healthy tomorrow. Jon wants Panda. Why not? If ever there was a punishment for eating unhealthy, this is it (although I think I’m a fairly healthy eater so I would argue the punishment didn’t quite fit the crime).

We’re at Panda and I make my decisions. Chow Mein: check. Orange Chicken: check—but wait a second! What’s this? Honey Walnut Shrimp, you say? Why yes, that does sound absolutely scrumptious! I’ll have that. Famous last words. I’m confident that I do not need to describe the way the rest of my night went. All I can add to that to-be-expected-after-eating-shrimp-from-panda-express-narrative is that alternating between reading Native American narratives and retching your guts out over the toilet is no easy task. SO much page turning, SO much puke.

Well this morning, I genuinely felt better. There was no trace of liquid or solid left in my poor stomach, and of course, I was starving.

Side note: Why is it that you’re always starving after puking your guts out? I mean logically, yes, I understand why. But emotionally, I do not understand the impulse to want to consume food after it has been violently and unnaturally ripped from your intestines—a process I now refer to as “the emotional trauma of honey walnut shrimp.”

But, I’m feeling confident this morning, (which is usually a bad sign) and I decide to have egg whites and earl grey tea. Easy does it.  Nice and light. I start to walk out of the kitchen, and I throw up a teeny tiny bit in my mouth. I stop. I swallow it back down. I compose myself and head for the door. Now, my life is not the movies. “Whaaa?!” I know, but really, it’s not. If it were though, this would be the scene where the camera slowly zooms in on the leaking gas tank, foreshadowing the inevitable calamitous explosion that will happen at the end of the movie. There may be no leaky gas tank in my story, but there was a calamitous explosion.

Traffic in LA is already dangerous enough, but the fact that you have to expect every single person on the road to not see you, even if you are driving an enormous black SUV, makes it slightly more dangerous. As I’m driving down the 5, I notice that traffic seems to be lightening up. *Angels Sing* I start speeding up, and notice that the car next me appears to be moving into my lane. My lane that I am in. My lane that I am driving in directly next to him, and my lane that also has a concrete barrier on the other side. It dawns on me that this car is not merely drifting into my lane accidentally; the driver legitimately does not see my car. I immediately panic, smash the horn, and slam on my breaks. This is what people refer to as “the perfect storm.” (I also refer to the route home from the bars which includes a 24 hour-taco-bell and doughnut shop as the perfect storm….)  Nausea + elevated heart rate + adrenaline rush + slamming of the breaks = my stomach’s realization that it was in fact, still upset, and no, did not want egg whites and early grey tea anymore. I raise my hand to my mouth hoping to keep it in, but instead, my fingers merely filter the projectile vomit, causing the puke to land on my steering wheel as well as my pants.  Disssguuusssttting.

While this was a particularly bad situation to be in, this was not the worst part of the moment. What’s worse was that I managed to keep some of the vomit in my mouth. I’ve been told that we all eventually come to a crossroads in our lives, and my crossroads happened to involve real roads and real vomit. As I sat there, hand over mouth, mouth filled with vomit, I had a choice: spit the vomit out all over the pants that may or may not be salvageable at this point (keep in mind I’m on my way to work and I’m only 50 percent positive that I have a change of clothes in my car) or… swallow it back down. I have never been so conflicted or nauseated. But as I’m debating between my two equally appalling choices, I’m growing more queasy. I had to make a choice. Fast. And…I swallowed (insert whatever joke you want to say right now. Go ahead. Get it out of your system).  I swallow the puke back down and lift my vomit-covered middle finger out the window. I mouth the words “Fuck. You.” as I pass the man in front of me. I still have puke around my mouth as I say the words, hoping this man could somewhat understand the trauma and pain he has just caused me. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t even look at me. He continues to drive to his [higher-paying] job in his nicer [smelling] car.

The good news is, I live out of my car, and always have a change of clothes. The bad news is, one of my students today complained about not feeling well in hopes that I would let her leave class without being marked absent. Ahem.

Student: “So if I had to leave early today, how early could I leave without it counting as an absence?”

Me: “What time do you have to leave?”

Student: “Oh, no time in particular.”

Me: Confused look.

Student: “I’m jut not feeling well, so I kind of wanted to leave early but I don’t want to be counted absent.”

Me:  I stand a moment, staring blankly at the illogic coming from my student’s mouth.  “So you want to leave, but you don’t want to be counted absent.” It’s a statement, not a question.

Student: She smiles at me, mistakenly thinking my statement is playful.

Me: “Did you throw up all over yourself today?”

Student: Looks around at other students. She doesn’t answer. She knows it’s a trap.

Me: “Well? Did you?”

Student: “Well…no….”

Me: “Well sometimes we don’t get to have TWO good things. Sometimes we have to choose. Sometimes we want that honey walnut shrimp, but we can’t have that AND not demolish our stomach lining. Sometimes want to be able to drive to work and be on time without throwing up all over ourselves, but we can’t be on time AND not vomit in our own lap. You can’t have both good things. You are either sick and absent or sick and present. But you can’t have both. “ I am realizing at this point that the student is intensely uncomfortable. There is a long silence.

Student: “I guess I’ll stay.” She quietly goes about workshopping student essays while sniffling loudly.

I know, I know. It was a bit of an over-reaction but I mean, seriously?  What kind of question is, “can I be absent but counted present?” Granted my answer wasn’t the most logical thing in the entire world, but in my defense, neither was the question.

I tried to make up for it at the end of class. I hand the student a packet of Emergen-C and tell her that I humiliate myself on a daily basis, which causes frequent and life-threatening crankiness. She seems uncomfortable with my too-honest-confession and awkwardly leaves the room without saying anything else.

I walk to my car, hoping the drive home involves less vomit but knowing I can’t expect to have two good things. I don’t even know what that means. Can’t have two good things.  The nonsense I come up with astounds me.

Meanwhile at home, my dog has apparently managed to cut his nose open, and is bleeding all over the wood floors in the house. Sooo… as I walk into the house after a fairly nauseating day, my dog rushes up to me to get his usual head-rub. I reach down to pet him and he lets out an enormous sneeze. I’m confused. What’s all this red stuff? I look down and realize my pants and shirt (the second outfit I’ve changed into today because of vomit) are now covered in blood from my dog’s nose… And here comes that bastard, honey walnut shrimp!

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Dinosaurs Using Contraceptives Would Have Been Easier to Explain

I expect absurd things to come my way. I am fully aware that things happen in my life that are strange and ridiculous, and very rarely do people share my kind of luck (I wonder about the horrible crimes I apparently committed in a past life). But this last week, I was completely knocked on my ass. I put down my guard for a second, and bam! I’m caught with my pants down.

The server on campus has always given me problems. I’m locked out of my account on a weekly basis because for some strange reason, IT enjoys it when I call them and make unwarranted (bad) sarcastic jokes about how archaic their system is? Either way, I was locked out of my account this week. I left voicemails. Soooooo many angry voicemails. And yet, they didn’t unlock my account. While IT doesn’t seem to manage campus e-mail accounts in the most effective manner, they do know how to listen to voicemails and usually unlock my account within 24 hours. After 2 days, I have to try and contact a human person from IT, which can prove to be difficult considering their hours of operation are from “as soon as I start working and can’t call” to  “earlier than anyone in the history of world ends the work day.” Why can’t I have that job? I’m pretty damn good at starting the day late, taking extended lunches, ignoring phone calls, and leaving early. But I digress. I’m connected to about 15 different people who all continually tell me the problem isn’t theirs (of course) and I need to be connected to the person I was just on the phone with previously (logically). After 15 repetitions of the same conversation, a woman at student affairs tells me that I need to come into their office in order to read a letter…a letter that explains why my account was de-activated…. And while this was the most concrete answer I had received about my little dilemma, my crankiness couldn’t be stifled.

Woman: “So you’ll need to come into our office during our hours of operation (Ha) and read the letter.”

Me: “Hmm. I could do that. I guess…. Or! Maybe you could just read me the letter right now? And I promise to nod and understand and then we can move forward with this whole thing?” (TA DA. Problem-o solved).

Woman (not liking my tone): “No ma’am. You have to come into the office to read the letter.”

Why this woman was making me physically come into the office to read a letter (that they apparently were NOT planning on mailing to me at any point?) was beyond me. But my boss is a saint and allowed me a few minutes to go take care of whatever shenanigans were happening with my account.

I walk into the student affairs office and am handed two letters. What could take two letters to explain? I open the letters, worrying slightly at this point. My eyes were immediately drawn to words such as “illegal activity,” “violation,” “inappropriate behavior.”

God damnit! I knew I shouldn’t have shown that Colbert clip in class. I told my students not to be offended but apparently the Colbert episode on the women’s health Nazi-plan and his imitation of a T-Rex’s futile attempts to put on a condom was too much for my class. Always review those clips ahead of time, Jené, always! Even if they are so damn funny. In my state of panic, I can’t quite digest what I’m reading.

Me: “I’m sorry. I’m not sure what’s going on. Or what this letter is saying. There must be some kind of mistake.”

[C’mon. look at me. Do I look like someone who would be in involved in illegal activity? I make a facial expression that I hope is somewhat of a blend of innocence, intelligence, maturity, and confusion…although I’m sure I just looked constipated.]

Receptionist: “Well. If you turn the letter over, you’ll understand the specifics of the problem.”

Me: I turn the letter over obviously flustered. “I still think there has to be a– “

Receptionist: She cuts me off. “Right here.” She points (very aggressively I might add) to a particular line. “This is why you’re account has been locked out.”

I look at where she’s pointing and expect to see some information about copyright or dinosaurs and contraceptives. Unfortunately, I don’t see either of those issues. Dinosaurs with contraceptives would have been easier to explain. Instead, I see that I’ve been accused of downloading music illegally on the campus server. *AHH* And (yes. There’s an “and”) the file I was found downloading illegally was an mp3 file entitled “Pop That *@#$%” …… Ahem.

I do not make eye contact with the receptionist at this point. Instead, I let out an enormous guffaw, shuffle my feet nervously, and sit back down in the waiting area.

Fan-fucking-tastic. (Excuse the language. Its circumstantially appropriate).

Okay, so I don’t remember downloading this song necessarily, but I may or may not listen to crude and dirty rap music when I work out. So what, who cares? But seriously? Of all songs to get caught for. I mean, I download illegally, and I do it with taste and class! I’ve downloaded Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.” But of course I’m not going to get into trouble for something that might make me seen like an intelligent and cultured grad student who has just been wronged by the system and can’t even afford to buy good music… I’m going to get in trouble for “Pop that *@#$%.”

It was almost too much to bear. I wanted to break down to the receptionist and confess all my greatest illegal downloading sins, just to preserve some dignity. But I held back. I sat in my seat and looked down at my feet, patiently waiting to meet the president of student affairs and apologize, apologize for the wrong that I had done. I had forsaken my steadfast commitment to tasteful and moving music for the lowly and rudimentary 2 Live Crew. And I was ashamed.

President: “Ms. Pledger.” It wasn’t a question.

I don’t respond and walk quickly into her office. As I look up at this woman, she seems to be smiling at me, an action I cannot explain in the slightest.

President: “Are you a TA for Mrs. ‘so and so’?”

Me: “Um, no. I’m a TA for the English Department,” I’m slightly confused about the casual and friendly conversation.

President: “Oh really? You just look so familiar and I could have sworn that you were a TA for a friend of mine in the Philosophy Department.”

God knows that would have been helpful. If only I had personal ties to this woman so we could discuss this matter, laugh about how ridiculous life can be sometimes, and then talk about our plans to have brunch and mimosas next weekend.

The president, who I might add is in a surprisingly good mood for this particular occasion, proceeds to tell me how the university receives notifications for copyright infringement and how they’re able to trace particular computers. She then asks me questions about my actions on my computer that seem to suggest that this woman is under the impression that I had made a mistake. Thank God.

President: “Okay well let’s take a look here.”

Oh sweet Jesus. She hasn’t read the file. She hasn’t even read the letter yet. She genuinely thinks this is a mistake.  

President:  “So it says here that you were identified as downloading an illegal file using some program called ‘torrent’ and that it was an MP3. The MP3 was called—“

Me: ( In my head) NOOOOOOOOO….

President: “Hmm. Okay. So the file is. Um. The file is called ‘Pop That—‘ Um. Yes. So the file is called Pop That—, Pop That—…“

She can’t finish the song title and the smirk is forcing its way onto my face. I try to repress that stupid smirk, but the effort becomes painful. I have to take a sip of my coffee to avoid mocking this serious matter and getting fired.

President: “So, do you recognize this file?”

I can tell this is a loaded question. She’s not asking about the file, she’s asking about my character, my dignity. She has no idea what to make of me, this seemingly put together young TA, dressed in teacherly clothes, who may or may not be a stripper on the weekends.

I give some lazy excuse about how I’m sure the song is on my computer, but that I don’t remember downloading it, and yes, there’s some program on my computer, but a friend gave it to me, and I don’t know how to use it yet [insert some joke about being technologically challenged]…and it may or may not have been open while I was logged in…verbal diarrhea is what happened. And while I thought this rambling was an admission of guilt, this woman seemed to really soak it all in. She almost even looked as if she sympathized with me.

President: “Of course, of course. Well let me explain to you the course of action.”

She goes on to explain how I should write a hand-written apology to the RIAA and attend a lecture about copyright infringement and responsible downloading…yada yada yada. At this point I’ve tuned out. I’m going to be just fine.

I go outside to get started on my hand-written letter of apology. I sit down at one of the patio tables on campus and begin (I am also simultaneously having a realization about how much of a child I still am at 24 years old. Imagine that).

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to sincerely apologize for what I have done. I understand that copyright infringement and illegal downloading are serious issues and I want to apologize for illegally downloading my favorite song “Pop That*@#$% by 2 Live Crew. But in my defense, you should listen to the song. While I understand that I should have paid for the download, and I will never download illegally again, just listen to the song and you tell me if you don’t feel the immediate and overpowering desire to download that jam so fast and just pop that %$*@#. Listen to the song. It’s okay, really.  Stop resisting. Pop that *@#$%.You know you want to…

P.S. I’ve included the $1.29 that I owe you. Although at this point, you and I both know that what I gave you, what I opened you up to, that kind of exposure to the transformative powers of music, is priceless. You’re welcome.

I could actually use that $1.29 back…. Did I mention I’m a grad student?

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Is “Snow” a Word for Cocaine?

My first quarter as a college instructor has gone surprisingly (and miraculously) well. I’ve obviously had my moments of idiocy, but they have either come few and far in between, or I have managed to make my students feel as if my absurdity is somehow a reflection of their own behavior. Thank God for that. But my worst moment this quarter came at the most inopportune time. Aside from the composition course I teach, I also facilitate a workshop that assists students with their English 101 courses. A few weeks ago, I was notified that I would be observed in my classroom, and immediately panicked. I didn’t panic because I think I’m worthless and unequipped, but I do know that sometimes, when I feel like I’m under a lot of pressure,I say strange things, or forget how to speak, or pass out, or make self-deprecating jokes that actually invite responses of pity instead of laughter. So with that in mind, I went to my workshop and of course my students decided to inform me that the information I was giving them about timed essays was irrelevant because their instructors were not giving them timed essays. Of course I didn’t have anything else that I was going to talk about instead. Of course the woman observing me looked unimpressed and maybe sorry for me? Ugh. I don’t know. But what I do know is that my students have listened to me at some point during the quarter because one of my students admitted that she brought in her paper in case we had time for peer review. YES! I will take credit for that. This is what we do in THIS workshop. We have extra papers to look at because these students value this course. And are over-achievers. Because of me.  Well that’s definitely going too far but that was the logic in my head at the time and that was the message I was trying to send via brain waves to the observer.

As we started going over the paper, I again started to panic. The other students had very little to say. The essay we were reading was an analysis of song lyrics. Do I even need to mention that the song lyrics were pretty surface level? I mean, once you’re naked, there’s nothing more to expose (I think?). But onward we went. I tried asking the students specific questions but they trapped me. They led me in the wrong direction. They started focusing on the symbol of snowflakes in the song. The song was a pretty typically shallow insight into prostitution and drug-use and my student had made a jump from snowflake to cocaine. In my head this association made sense, but that is only because I am a particular audience…with a particular kind of knowledge…and particular experiences. The students in the workshop were not as convinced and decided to probe the writer about her seemingly unfounded association. So I jump in with confidence and brilliance to help my student who is struggling to explain why she made her obvious connection.

Me: Oh I get it! You know, cocaine? Like  “snow?”

Students: Hmm? No. We don’t know. What’s “snow?”

Me: *gasp* Oh God. Think fast. “Oh I don’t know. I thought that’s what you were saying. Didn’t you say that “snow” was a word for coke?” (Note that I say “coke” instead of “cocaine” because I’m an informal, vernacular speaking, idiot)

Students: That’s not what we were saying. Is “snow” a word for coke?

Me: Um. Er. Eh. Goo.  Actually, I don’t know. I think I misunderstood. Let’s move on.

Students: I mean, I guess if there’s a lot of coke, then it might look like snow, right Miss P?

Me: I don’t even know. Sure, why not. At this point it doesn’t matter.

Students: Like if there’s a huge pile of it or something. (They all nod in agreement. They have done some major critical analysis and they are proud. Close reading of a text: Nailed it.)

Me: *sigh* Good work you guys. (I’m trying to hide my own sweat and shame). Today is a good day to get fired.

I left the classroom slightly uncomfortable, but the observer was a normal sympathetic woman who humored me.

Observer: “So how do you feel that went?”


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What exactly are they doing in the financial aid office?

I honestly believe the financial aid office is out to ruin my life. I’m fully aware that a lot of people probably feel like this, but this is my blog and therefore, financial aid is out to ruin my life. I dread the fall because I realize how much of my time will be spent on hold, waiting for someone in the financial aid office to answer the phone, who won’t be able to answer my questions anyway. Today was different. The financial aid office is obviously a mess at the moment, and I have a theory that their organization system resembles my desk during finals week. Today I sat on hold for an hour and 26 minutes, to be exact, and when that glorious moment came when someone answered, they accidentally hung up on me. When I looked at my phone and saw a blank screen, I overreacted terribly and swiped all the books off the coffee table. I stared at the books on the ground and immediately felt like an asshole. I hurried to put everything back in place and was thankful that no one was home to see that road rage isn’t my only anger problem. Apparently, I’ll never be that girl who can just throw something and leave the room in a powerful fit of furry to make a point. I realize my dream of spouting off a witty monologue while tossing a martini in the face of someone I loathe will never happen. I’d probably offer them a napkin and apologize. Or something equally embarrassing. Either way, I had to sit on hold for another hour and a half to figure out why the hell I have no financial aid this year. The voice on the other end asked me to hold while she figured a few things out. I prepared myself to wait on the line for a minimum of 20 minutes, but the strangest thing happened. The woman was gone for maybe 2 minutes before she told me that she had posted my awards and they were now available for me to accept. I know I should have been euphoric at the news, but I was mad as hell. What in God’s name are the doing in the financial aid office if in two minutes they can complete the job they were supposed to do a month ago?? I mean, seriously? Do they sit and wait for a cue to do the only job they’re supposed to do? I should be happy, but I’m not. I’m angry and self-pitying. After the book tossing incident, I should have known what I was going to do next. I spouted off what I thought was going to be a witty and sarcastic comment that would leave the voice on the other end embarrassed and sorry. I proceeded to say to this woman, “Really? That’s all it took? What are you guys doing in there? Squats?!” I have absolutely no idea where this reaction came from. I can’t believe “squats” was all I could come up with in that moment. Of course they’re not doing squats in the financial aid office you idiot. Besides, those one-liners only happen in the movies! Bad movies! The woman’s reaction made me feel worse.

“No ma’am. We’re not doing squats.”

No. They’re not doing squats. She’s an adult and I’m a child. Who likes to overreact for attention.

It’s a good thing I have wine in the house. (Who am I kidding, when don’t I have wine in the house?)


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Do I look like a grad student?

I’ve recently realized the epic variety of things to do in LA and it’s a new goal of mine to experience as many things as I can. Last night we decided to watch ET in a cemetery…yes,that’s exactly what I said, and that’s exactly what we did. It was such a great experience and everyone I went with agreed that this would be a weekly occurrence next summer, as this was the last showing of the season. As usual, we were incredibly unprepared. We waited in line not knowing if we would actually get in, how much the event would cost, or if we needed cash. We were also surrounded by people carrying enormous picnic baskets, wine bottles, blankets, chairs, and some even managed to bring low sitting tables. These people were regulars and we were the tourists. It’s slightly irritating living here and constantly making choices that make me look inexperienced but I figure that’s the torch we have to carry as young 20 somethings regardless of where we live.

We did end up getting into the movie, found a “cozy” spot in the cemetery, and cheered at all the heart-warming and nostalgic moments of ET. Before the movie started, I even managed to slip outside and pick up 2 hot-n-readys from Little Caesars and mini-bottles of pinot grigio. It was a wonderful moment. Drew Barrymore made an appearance to introduce the movie (the perks of living in Hollywood) and it turned out to be a slightly gloomy night making the atmosphere especially enjoyable.

After the movie we decided the night wasn’t over and we were going to stop by this bar in Hollywood that we frequent often considering we don’t spend a lot of time in Hollywood. I was closing my tab when an attractive man with an accent decided to strike up a conversation. I don’t remember much of the conversation. Not because of the amount of alcohol in my system, but because of the unbearably boring subject matter and cliché comments. Did I mention he had an accent? He said he was from Paris. He also said he’d find my blog so we’ll see about that. Anyway, while I was fairly uninterested in the conversation, one comment struck me as indirectly insulting. After telling this guy I moved out here for grad school, he made the observation that I looked like I was here for grad school. What in god’s name does that mean? On top of that, he was surprised I was a literature major. He would’ve guessed science because I looked so serious. Alright, at this point I’m searching for a mirror. I’ve never considered myself serious or serious looking, and for a reason I don’t need to explain, looking like a grad student in the land of the rich, famous, and beautiful implies I’m exactly the opposite. Plain, broke, and a nobody. I’m usually pretty aware when I think someone is trying to get my phone number but in this case, I’m not so sure.

Overall, really great night. But I couldn’t help but stare at myself in the mirror this morning…

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You Want Me to Do What?

The job search has been defeating. I’ve heard the term “economic depression” but until recently, I’m not sure I fully understood what that term meant. Nor do I think I’ve fully felt the effects considering I’m young and still satisfied by a serving job (satisfied may be too strong of a word). But either way, I’m frustrated that I don’t seem to be qualified to even pour someone else’s coffee. One of the most demeaning conversations I’ve ever had happened while talking to a temp agent. I had filled out an application with a local temp agency and signed up for an interview. I received a phone call later that day and was told that I didn’t have enough experience to qualify as a temp. I don’t have enough experience to qualify as a temp. I would type this sentence one more time but it’s painful. I proceeded to pose a rhetorical question to this surprisingly peppy secretary. (In the back of my mind I can’t help but think I could do her job 10 times peppier). “So you’re telling me my BA in literature and creative writing, my internships and volunteer work, and my enrollment in a masters of literature program means absolutely nothing to a temp agency.” I understand the secretary’s discomfort from the silence on the other end of the line. “Um. Well. That’s right ma’am. I’m very sorry. Maybe contact us when you get a little more experience?”

My thoughts: Absolutely! That’s what I’ll do! Next time I actually get a job, I’ll immediately apply to the temp agency with more experience so I can be hired as a temp. I’m not sure I quite understand the point of a temp agency anymore.

Anyway, I was pretty embarrassed about my inability to become a temp but decided it’d be something I could laugh about later in my award winning novel about the troubles I’ve been through and everything I’ve overcome…blah, blah, blah. Not that I want to write that book but it’s comforting in the midst of being denied by a temp agency.

So I’ve been applying to job, after job, after job, and not expecting to hear back from anyone. Low and behold, I get a phone call. A woman tells me they’ve received my application, verifies the school I’m attending, and tells me I’ve qualified for an interview. I ask the woman if this is the agency regarding student internships. She hesitates but finally says yes. I remember vaguely filling out an application about internships but decide an interview is better than no interview. Just to be sure, I research the name of the company online. Conveniently enough, there’s no clear information on the webpage other than a photo of seemingly happy young students carrying books and laughing with one another. They seem happy. I should be happy too. And making money! The company is tied with a few other companies, who are tied with a few other companies and I’m pretty sure at this point, I’m being taken for a fool. I call my mother for help on this one. After a good 15 minutes of research, we find the answer.

This is a sales company that recruits young students to sell cutlery. Knives to be exact. This company is recruiting me to buy a 100 dollar knife set, walk door to door, and convince the local public to invest in a nice set of cutlery. This sounds like a great idea. Not only am I naive enough to get sucked into this scam, but I’m also going to show up a strangers door, young and vulnerable, and to top it off, I’m going to bring my own knives so the local serial killer who obviously lives next door waiting for young girls to approach him, doesn’t have to overexert himself in his search for victims.

At the same time, they do guarantee 16 an hour…

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A Lemon is Not a Tennis Ball

I’ve moved to California. Los Angeles to be exact. I like to tell people I moved to LA because there’s an entirely different feeling and intention in telling someone you moved to LA than there is in telling someone you moved to California. I use California when I’m feeling existential and I’m thinking about the adventures in my life and the way I’ll look back on my decisions. For instance, I’ll use California when I talk about the places I lived in my early 20’s. Hopefully California is one of many. But I use LA when I’m trying to impress myself. I moved to LA. I moved to LA?? Yes  I did! The naive girl from Colorado who thought Denver was overwhelming is now living amongst the hustle and bustle of LA; the beautiful and famous in Hollywood; the wannabe actors and models; the artists who are above the wannabe actors and models. Etc. I’m not exactly sure where I fit, but hell, I’m here.

Anyway, I’m finally happy. It took me a long while to feel better about living here. After all, I left Colorado and there’s nothing easy about leaving Colorado. I fully realize that people dream of living in Colorado and that Colorado is an overarching goal for a number of people. I’ve also immersed myself so deeply in Colorado culture (growing up in Colorado Springs, spending college in Fort Collins, living in Denver for a year) that my identity is Colorado. I didn’t quite realize this until I moved to Los Angeles and I realized that not everyone’s perfect day involves hiking and fat tire. In fact, most people out here talk about fat tire as if it’s only a beer. Psh, only a beer. They’ve obviously never toured New Belgium, filled a growler, or ridden a bike while wearing fairy wings for the Tour de Fat. What its taken me months to figure out is that while Colorado is where I am the most comfortable and is where I fundamentally belong, that doesn’t negate the fact that LA has a lot to offer me. LA has so much to do that I literally don’t ever have to do the same thing twice. I actually have to make a decision as to what concert I want to go to. My decision of where to eat never involves a chain restaurant. The people I interact with on a daily basis are never the same and I have no idea what to expect when I meet someone new. It’s pretty amazing and I have two guaranteed years ahead of me here.

So, as you can tell, I’m pretty proud of my decision to move out here. I up and left my Colorado home for something new and different. I’m having an adventure. I’ve had some really great Indian food (as well as some really bad Indian food that has left me confined to the pale blue tiles of my bathroom). I’ve been to the Getty and the beach in one day. And I’m starting the masters of literature program at Cal State LA in a week. All in all, I feel ambitious and proud. The only time I’ve questioned my ambition in LA was last week, when I was judged in my own backyard by my orthodox Jewish neighbor.

I live in a Jewish neighborhood (which I love because all my food and wine automatically comes with tiny blessings) and our house is obviously one of the few houses where the tenants are young drinkers who shop on Saturdays.  I’ve recently quit my job. I pulled an “office space” to be exact. I almost cried twice over a waitressing  job but before I could claim I cried again over fried shrimp, I decided it wasn’t worth it and pretended the job never happened. I walked out, ignored the phone calls, and started the job hunt again.   At the time being, I’m enjoying being unemployed with free time in California. I have a lot of hobbies so having every day off leaves me with the time to run, hike, spend time with the dogs, rock climb, play music, write music, work on my short stories, work on my tan, make homemade meals and so on. Who could ask for more? Well the other day, I was up early so I went on a four mile run, made myself breakfast, showered, read 100 pages of On Writing by Stephen King and decided I wanted a glass of wine.  So naturally, I was going to have a glass of wine. I poured myself a nice big glass of 5 dollar wine from the grocery store because in California you can buy wine from the grocery store, and I went outside to play ball with the dogs. I casually looked around the yard for the tennis ball  and quickly decided it was nowhere to be found. What I did find, was an over-sized lemon that had fallen off my neighbors lemon tree. Good enough. I picked up the lemon and threw it across the yard to my St. Bernard’s delight. He bounded after it and brought it back, dropping it at my flip flops. I picked up the lemon, preparing myself for another toss when I noticed my neighbors glaring at me over the short part of the brick wall. The husband and son were both wearing yamachas while playing basketball and had taken time out of their one on one game to send me a judging glance. While I realize what it must have looked like, is it really appropriate to judge your neighbor in this community? Even if your neighbor is drinking a glass of wine at noon and throwing a lemon to their St Bernard for a nice game of fetch, it isn’t appropriate to stare. While it may look like I’m a lazy boozer, I’ve actually accomplished a lot today. I’m adventurous. I moved here from Colorado. I’m going to grad school. I’ve run 4 miles already. I enjoy Shakespeare.

While I make this list in my head of all the reasons why it’s appropriate for me to be drinking a glass of red wine at noon and playing fetch with my dog using a lemon, I realize my neighbors see a young, hopeless, godless, boozer whose dog thinks a lemon is a tennis ball. Wonderful. I love first impressions.

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