November 24, 2012

Since neither of us could go home this Thanksgiving Break, Christian and I decided to go to a few places we’ve been wanting to see for awhile but just haven’t had the time to visit.

On Wednesday afternoon, we went to Corona Del Mar. I LOVE walking around looking inside tide pools…this time we found all sorts of anemones. No starfish, but I was delighted to find Christian’s face inside one of the pools.

Thursday was a big day. We got an early start and drove 3 hours to Salvation Mountain. I have been waiting for years to go to this place, and it was just as beautiful as I imagined (and by “as I imagined,” I mean “as all the pictures online that I drooled over”). The “mountain” has a really interesting history… it was all built by one man, Leonard Knight, who used to live right near it in one of those trucks you see past Christian in the second picture.

After climbing all around and inside the mountain, Christian and I ate lunch at a (/the only?) local diner. It was delicious and also kind of sad (we were actually shocked anything was open on Thanksgiving Day, especially because the place felt like a ghost town).

Next, we went to a place called “Slab City,” just a few miles away from Salvation Mountain. It’s basically a community of squatters, but the diversity of the place is what made it so interesting/confusing/scary. One one side of the road there was a group of people with guitars laughing next to a rainbow school bus covered in flowers, and on the other side there was a trailer with a confederate flag waving high. (I didn’t take any pictures because I was already feeling a little too inappropriately tourist-y for the place).

Then we headed to the Salton Sea, famous for its shores lined with dead fish (instead of sand, there are fish bones everywhere…see the second picture). We also found this strangely beautiful red-ish pond(?) by the sea…it was especially strange because in the car just beforehand, we were listening to a Radiolab (on NPR) about why Homer described the sea as “wine dark” in the first lines of the Iliad. (Although, admittedly, the water we found was more like tomato soup than wine…).

Our last stop was a place called Pioneertown, a small town built as an Old West movie set in the 1940s, and still maintained today. All the little shops were closed because of the holiday, but it was cool wandering the dusty roads by ourselves (that is, until I bare-footedly stepped on about 10,000 mini burrs…ha).

On our way home, we stopped by our friend Joel’s house for some Thanksgiving leftovers and board games. I was happy to spend at least part of the day with a big, happy family, because to be honest, even awesome mini road trips are not as good as spending the day eating and being lazy with family. Also, there really are few funnier things than playing Pictionary with 6 little kids.

November 15, 2012

Saturday, a few of us drove up to a place called Oak Glen. It was 15 degrees colder (44! woo hoo!) and we ate lunch at a diner, went to a petting zoo, had mini doughnuts, and drank apple cider. Also, Christian’s hands (mysteriously) swelled up big time and we all oohed and aahed.

**Star-struck**

November 13, 2012

This weekend I got to meet one of my favorite person-that-I-don’t-actually-know’s. (I would say “celebrity” but I’m a little unclear on the criteria for such a title).

I found out on Thursday night via social media that Tavi Gevinson (blogger, founder/editor of Rookie Magazine, brilliant 16 yr. old fashionista) was doing events in L.A. all weekend, and I nearly pulled out all my hair in excitement.

I admire Tavi a lot, and so even though she happens to be the face of the girl-movement I am writing about for my Creative Nonfiction project this semester, I decided* I wanted to experience the weekend as a fan instead of a journalist. (This doesn’t mean I wasn’t frantically writing down overheard conversations on note cards, but rather that I did not approach anyone for an interview.)

The three events I went to–a book signing, a Best Coast Concert hosted by Rookie, and a comedy night at Upright Citizen’s Brigade**–were all pretty energy-sucking. Tavi was really, really sweet, but I couldn’t help but be majorly intimidated all weekend long. A lot of the intimidation was a result of my imagination, but some of it was because I was surrounded by cool kids (and I don’t mean this sarcastically).

One thing that has made my project so stretching and rewarding so far is the fact that I have little in common with the average Rookie reader (or, at the very least, the average Rookie writer [there are about 60 girls & women on staff]). A lot of my pre-suppositions about meaning and about how to make decisions don’t match Rookie’s, but I support the magazine because I think it creates a forum for teenage girls to think and talk about things beyond finding the perfect date-night dress, things like politics and gender and social justice.

That said, I felt pretty out of place. But I think that feeling is a pretty universal one, and, lucky for me, writeaboutable (as my Creative Nonfiction professor would say). Also, Tavi said she liked my shirt and that’s all that matters.

 

*this “decision” was also pretty much an emotional necessity, as it took everything into me just to talk to Tavi simply as me, a girl who wanted her book signed.

**Christian actually surprised me with the tickets to UCB. He learned a few weeks ago that she was going to be there (I know, what a great journalist I am…), and told me not to make plans for Saturday night. Apparently when he wouldn’t tell me what we were doing, my first two questions were “Are we going to a comedy club?” and “Are we going to see Tavi?” (I don’t remember asking, but that sounds about right. He remembers because of the enormous guilt he felt about the ease with which he lied to me.)

Asking

November 9, 2012

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about asking and hoping, and how sometimes it seems like an impossibly hard thing to do. (Maybe this has come from a few conversations in Mysterious Fiction class…thinking about mysteries like missing children, or cancer that may or may not come back…things that I have never had to work out in my own life.)

The other day one of the readings for morning prayer was the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman, in 2 Kings. Elisha tells the woman that in a year, she will hold a son in her arms. She, who has wanted a son for so long, responds, “Please, don’t mislead me.” Of course, Elisha hasn’t misled her, and the baby comes. But then, a few years later, he dies.  The woman, in “bitter distress,” says to Elisa, “Did I ask you for a son? … Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”

It is scary to accept good things, because they could be taken from me, and it is scary to ask for good things, because I may not receive them. It seems much easier to accept things as they are, and much less foolish. Praying for change is so often labeled naïve, or idealistic, or lazy, or entitled. And I understand that view of prayer, because I have often felt the same.

So it has been good for me, on the first Sunday of every month, to see the same people approach the altar for healing prayer, over and over again. The same people go and kneel and wait to be anointed with oil, and we all pray the same prayer for each of them, for their bodies to be well. Many of them have been kneeling and waiting for years before I came to the church. There has been healing, but mostly lots of waiting. And always asking, over and over again. It’s a form of humility, I think.

November 3, 2012

“There’s always something to do if you don’t have to work or consider the cost. It’s no real fun but the rich don’t know that. They never had any. They never want anything very hard except maybe somebody else’s wife and that’s a pretty pale desire compared with the way a plumber’s wife wants new curtains for the living room.” – Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

I don’t have much to add to the above quote, but I just like it. We are reading Chandler right now in my Mysterious Fiction class, and his protagonist/narrator, a tough guy detective named Marlowe, cracks me up. This book and Christian and I’s recent obsession with the TV show Twin Peaks have both convinced me that all I want to do after I graduate is be a secretary at a small-town detective agency.

This morning I turned in the longest paper of my semester, so Christian and I went to The Last Bookstore in LA to celebrate. We have been hearing about it a lot lately, and it did not disappoint. It is easily the coolest bookstore I have ever been to. There were tons of nooks and crannies and surprise, and also thousands and thousands of $1 books (I even found a copy of The Long Goodbye (which is perfect because at the start of the semester, I accidentally purchased A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier instead, and was, in a last-minute frenzy, forced to beg Christian to let me borrow the very Kindle I have been scoffing at for the past year). Consequently, my Friday night turned into cutting pictures out of old reference books while watching Dateline. And also, once Dateline was over, listening to the new Taylor Swift album. (I’ll be real…according to my iTunes library, I have listened to “I Knew You Were Trouble” 27 times this past week.)

In other music news (aren’t these paragraph transitions so natural?), Christian and I swallowed our pride and went for a couples costume this Halloween…he was Jeff Mangum, the lead singer of Neutral Milk Hotel, and I was Anne Frank, his muse. Our costume really only makes sense if you agree that In An Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of the best albums ever made, and luckily, our friends are weird enough that we didn’t even have the most obscure costumes of the night (my favorites were Lars & The Real Girl [my roommate and her bf], River Phoenix, and Owen Wilson from the cover of Darjeeling Limited).