Wednesday, June 30, 2010

success in a handbasket

There’s an old adage, probably at least 20 years old, that, roughly quoted (from a song by the Smiths), goes: “I was looking for a job and then I got a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now.” I bring this up because I’m used to complaining about having too much time on my hands, and I just started a perfectly fine (in the future, I foresee thinking it’s even great) job, so if you are unfortunate enough to be in earshot of me this week, you will probably hear me complain about being overwhelmed instead of the recent common complaint of unerwhelment. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, with some people (me!).

Anyway, I was thinking about free time. Do only single people and Buddhists enjoy free time? Single people spend their free time doing all these great activities where they might just run into someone to fall in love with (dj’d pool parties on the roof of The Standard, artwalks in Chinatown, blah blah blah), and Buddhists know how to chill out: with their free time, they draw out all the daily rituals and relish in the simple acts of doing them…. Brushing teeth could become mind blowing and take an hour …. Laundry can be done while simultaneously chanting under one’s breath, etc. I have no Idea what ambitious single people and Buddhists do with their time but this is life as I imagine it for them. Who else might enjoy having lots of free time? Drug addicts? Cats? Loafers? Obsessed athletes? I dunno. I’ve never known what to do with too much free time, myself. Not including living things, writing is what’s most important to me, but I have a strong love/hate relationship with it. I don’t like talking about writing, and often, I don’t like writing – it’s physically painful to me, often. It’s so frustrating to have an idea and to try to translate it effectively into words, it gives me physical pain when I’m in the midst of trying to write a story and failing at it. Also, I almost never write. I write in short, quick bursts, usually, and when I’m done, I usually only edit for grammatical errors, not for content. So, maybe I can’t legitimately call myself a writer, maybe just a fiction-lover. Anyway, whenever I’ve had long stretches of unemployment, like the one I just wrapped up last week, I always kick myself for not taking advantage of the time to write. But I only get inspired when I’m out in the world a lot, and when I have free time without free money to accompany it, I’m not likely to go out in the world more than necessary. I wrote my first novella on scraps of paper I kept in my pocket when I was a janitor, and the novel I just finished writing was written in my car during lunch breaks from a job that made me cry all the time. Sitting in my apartment watching all the Harry Potters in order, in a row, at least once a week, for at least 2 years, didn’t provide much life-based fodder for short stories. I did part time tutoring in English Language Arts with children from underserved communities during the last 6 months of my CA unemployment period (so I guess I wasn’t actually unemployed during that time, but I’m pretty sure I lost money on that ‘job.’ But the time spent with the children I tutored was, while a bit heartbreaking because it was so easy to get emotionally attached to them and I had only a limited amount of hours to spend with each of them, such a relief to me because it was something productive for me to do with my time. I realize that at least the past couple months have been spent watching movies (like I say, many of these movies were Harry Potter) and crocheting, with some IM’ing and the occasional face to face socializing thrown in.

So, am I a workaholic? No. Am I lazy (meaning, could I have spent all my recent months free time training for a marathon or writing more?)? – sort of, yes. I don’t know why free time makes me as anxious as it does. I know I’ve always relished being the passenger in car trips, and I think the two are related – being a passenger and being bad at enjoying spare time. Maybe I just genuinely enjoy watching movies and crocheting and it’s not as dumb a pastime as it sounds to me.

Maybe I just need to have a full-time job like I just got to force me to interact with the world at large. The whole issue of having had too much time on my hands vs. feeling overwhelmed now (but so relieved to be having a regular paycheck soon) makes me consider the meaning of life in the modern world. What is one supposed to do with a life. A person lives their life and has experiences and learns lessons whether they choose to or not, just by dint of being alive. But, you know, there’s the popular bumper sticker that reads “Follow Your Bliss.” What do the people with those bumper stickers on their cars do with their spare time, or for a career? Do they procreate and take bike rides on the weekend and own their own bakeries or what? What is “success”?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hollywood Forever?

In case you've never been to the touristy part of Hollywood Blvd., which I live a couple blocks from, there's been a growing phenomenon the past few years: people who I can only assume are incredibly poor & in some cases homeless dress up like characters and stand in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Visiting yokels take pictures posed with these characters and then usually understand that they're expected to pay a little something to the person in the costume (like a dollar). Sometimes these characters are a bit of a nuisance, but I'm sure that dressing up like Elmo for dollars on a 90 degree day, as a creative way of panhandling, is probably sort of a nuisance to the costumed people. anyway, here's what recently happened, in this fair city of HOllywood:,0,2280392.story

okay, i always expected there to be a big sweep that'd get rid of the characters in front of the theatre. that in itself wouldn't irk me so much. but here's what local government-sanctioned eyesore takes up the space where they used to panhandle:

oh shit, what happened, is everyone okay?, i thought, the first time i passed by this corporate sculpture, which is in fact some piece of shit corporate stunt to promote King Kong (I guess there's going to be a new one?). And then when i realized that it was just a tourist attraction, i thought wow, how clever. Not really, though. I think it's so fucking crass. Why is a deadly looking fake car crash an okay tourist attraction? and why is it okay to squeeze poor people out of every area they manage to get some small claim on, like the characters who made a few bucks in front of the theater?

it's so, so lame and gross. i hate it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Hmmm, so nobody's very interested in reading my novel in serialized form in the blog format, it seems. Duly noted, and that's okay.

What've I been thinking about lately?

The Lakers Riot that we had here in Los Angeles, the celebratory riot in downtown, got me thinking about human nature & class issues. I was unfairly attacked when I was a teenager, by a mob of people, so my gut reaction is to be upset by groups of people giving in to mob mentality. while I've increasingly come to appreciate the spirit of anarchy, I still have mixed feelings about the Rodney King Riots. It was just so unfair that Reginald Denny got beaten up so bad, it seemed like such a misdirection of anger. But then, his beating was no worse than the beating King'd received from cops who were allowed to get away with it. My husband is usually pro-riot, so I've thought about the good sides of that riot of the nineties, and I do think that it was the result of a bunch of disenfranchised people not being able to control their rage, it released some of that rage. Maybe in the long run, that riot was useful? I'm still not sure.

The Lakers celebration riot was not political like the King riots. or was it? I think a lot of people are upset by how shitty their jobs are and healthcare and unemployment, etc., so when my husband said he thought the riots were sort of cool in a way, I thought about it and thought that it was possibly just another necessary release of people's rage. I hope the rioters didn't hurt anyone and that the property they did damage to was to cars too expensive to exist (I CAN'T STAND that some cars cost more than houses), or to Bank of America or one of the fancy new lofts in downtown that's standing where homeless people's homes used to be (where the fuck are homeless people supposed to live, when even Downtown Los Angeles's Skid Row has been gentrified?). At the same time I constantly wonder if violence can ever truly be productive.

The other thing I have been thinking about is self esteem, because when i recently posted on FB about burning my neck with a curling iron because I was feeling down on my frizzy hair and was trying to tame it, I got a lot of sweet and concerned responses, some of them including advice about frizzy hair management. The fact of how quick the responses came and how sweet they were made me think about self esteem, made me wonder how many people my age still have self esteem issues regarding their looks, and also made me wonder if my hair looks worse than i thought it did - HA!
xoxo Robin

Thursday, June 10, 2010

only child syndrome

I think I might be a textbook case of an only child born of interesting parents and raised in los angeles: i was lonely, did stuff for attention, and much of the stuff done for attention involved art projects featuring dolls (my best friends!). anyway, this particular photo must've fallen out of one of my oldest photo albums last night, when i was scanning some old photos of friends to put up on Facebook. i just found it on the desk this morning and it seemed a bit like magic. two of these dolls were ken dolls i turned into trannies, & the girl dolls were unique in their own right. i brought them to school often, when i was in 7th grade, & me & my "weird" clique of friends played with them at lunch. definitely a sweet bunch of kids who wanted it known that we weren't just anyone, that we were unique. the two tackle fish that the african-american barbie is holding were named alfred and zappa, as my scrupulous teenage documentation states: these were two tackle fish i tied to the end of a scarf i wore on my head almost every day of 7th grade (the scarf is the blue fabric with the gold stars and moons on it that is the backdrop in this photo). the scarf was kind of gypsy-looking and i also wore a lot of jewelry and heavy metal t-shirts with long skirts, so i called myself a Metal Gypsy. Anyway, this photo is pretty funny, only-child's-tranny-dolls'-family-portrait-wise. i documented so much of my childhood as neatly as this photo shows because i always wanted to be famous, & i think a lot of people with the fame desire document their lives this much, to be able to provide good artifacts for all the documentaries that will be made about us someday or something, i think.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

pessimism poem

The ones who want kids will be sterile
and the ones who don't care will be breedy
and like Michael Moore recently theorized
student loans keep employees acting needy
and cancer's a little more cancerous
at County Hospital than at Cedars Sinai
and sometimes when the cookie jar's empty
all you can do is just sigh.