Wednesday, December 3, 2008

something else happened last week

excerpt from a phone conversation with my mother:

"i can't believe you're 30. i'm so old."

"mom, i'm the one who just turned 30 for fuck's sake. you're not helping."

"this isn't about you. this is about me"


"i can't believe i'm old enough to have a daughter who is 30."

ad infinitum.

yes dear readers, much to my mother's dismay, i turned 30 last week. i didn't want to make a big fuss and i didn't want to get shitfaced* so i went out for mexican food with a few friends. this was followed by cake, cupcakes, gifts and an impromptu keyboard jam session at kathy's condo. kathy & georgia collaborated on the most amazing birthday cake ever:

pancake cake! my friends are the best. thanks for making 30 feel pretty OK.

*according to blogger's spellcheck, "shitfaced" is a real word. "blogger," however, is not.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

thanksgiving casualties

fresh sage is tough and therefore difficult to mince, so the night before thanksgiving, i thought i had a genius idea when i threw the dark leaves into the coffee grinder. a real genius, however, wouldn't stick her finger into the grinder before the blades stopped spinning.

blood sprayed onto the white tile countertop when the blade cut through the front of my fingernail and into the flesh beneath. it could have been worse. i don't know why slicing into your finger by way of your nail is so much more jarring than a regular old cut, but it is. at least to me anyway. the tenacious nail is still hanging on though it's probaly just a matter of time before it blackens, rots and falls away.

i shouldn't complain. my friend bryan lost the tip of his thumb preparing food for our thanksgiving party. he arrived having adhered the bit of flesh back onto his digit, secured with a band-aid. i suspect it will go the way of my fingernail...onto the sidewalk. or maybe it already went into the gravy.


shannon bravely prepared a turkey because she didn't want our omnivorous guests to go without. i am a pescetarian, and shannon is vegan, so we don't see much poultry around these parts. in the days leading up to thanksgiving, i would rummage through our fridge and accidentally poke the soft bird, incognito in its plastic grocery bag. i'd pull my hand back, uncertain what i'd touched. remember those haunted houses from childhood where the mad scientist proprietor would stick your hand into shoebox full of spaghetti and call it brains? or a bowlful of eyes, which were really just grapes floating in water? the bird in our fridge was similarly befuddling.

for Chef Shannon the Vegan, cleaning the turkey was the biggest challenge. thanksgiving morning, i heard the squeals and the "ew! ew! ew!"s and the "yuck! yuck! yuck!"s coming from the kitchen. i abandoned my blowdryer in the bathroom and ran to the scene, ever helpful, armed with a camera. shannon was hunched over the sink, elbow deep in the bird's gash.

"how do people do this?" she reached inside and extracted the giblets.

i shrugged and snapped a pic. "how about some wine? is it too early to start drinking?"

shannon's gag reflex was in full-effect.

between four and nine p.m., guests trickled in and out of our apartment, assorted entrees in tow. the omnivores agreed that the turkey was up to snuff, which is an impressive feat for a chef who couldn't taste test. the menu also featured mashed coconut yams, lentil chestnut stuffing, onion torte, biscuits, dueling gravies, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, fennel, walnut & persimmon salad, faux turkey, fennel apple bacon stuffing....and more. there was also dessert, which included two vegan apple pies shipped with love from babycakes in new york, courtesy of shannon's mom and dad. bryan made his now-famous pistachio rosewater cupcakes. unlike our drop-in guests, i was in for the long haul, and over the course of five hours, i don't think i ever really stopped eating.

your hostesses ate their weight in mashed yams.

i think one of my favorite moments of the night occurred post-party. as kathy, ji and i drove to the cat & fiddle for digestifs, the aforementioned bryan (also en route to the bar) pulled up alongside us -- a pot precariously strapped to the back of his motorcycle. it's not every night you see a leather-clad biker carting leftover mashed potatoes around the city.

in conclusion: the second annual Cheremoya Thanksgiving Party was a success. because our apartment can get pretty warm when we entertain, i had circulated an email the day prior, warning, "don't wear a sweater!" so of course, nearly everyone wore a sweater, proving once and for all that no one likes to be told what to do. whatever - we've hosted toastier shindigs. and besides, in heat, there is intimacy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Get Well Soon

This Saturday, November 15th
9am-3pm at the Doll Factory
1920 W. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles Derby Dolls are partnering with St. Vincent's Hospital (3rd and Alvarado) to provide free medical services to people of the community.

Services provided:

Mammograms for women over 40 (please call for an appointment)
Clinical Breast Exams
Pap Smear Referrals
Chair Massages
Glucose Screening
Flu Shots
Body Fat Composition Testing
Blood Pressure
Information on low cost insurance programs

For more information, please call 213.484.7929.

Friday, November 7, 2008

where were you?

Beer Committee Meeting minutes, Nov. 4, 2008:

On this day, the L.A. Derby Dolls Beer Committee (not to be confused with the Pizza Committee or the Committee Committee -- though there is some overlap in membership) convened for a special session at Big Wang's Wings in Hollywood. For years, the Beer Committee's Beerbrarian has been riding her bicycle past Big Wang's Wings on her way to the Hollywood YMCA (though its existence barely registered on her radar before this night). Big Wang's Wings is one of those things the Beerbrarian sees past rather than sees, sort of like a billboard for Yes Man. Clearly, this has been the Beerbrarian's loss. Big Wang's is a little piece of the Real America right in the heart of Hollywood. To walk through its barn doors is to step into your past: in an instant, you are back at that Midwestern college you never attended, boozing it up with your fellow Ag majors.

Big Wang's boasts 37 high-definition TVs and will serve your Budweiser in a ginormous Beer Tower with a nozzle dispenser. Members of the Beer Committee (henceforth BC) do not drink Budweiser, and instead opt for several pitchers of IPA (but later concede that nozzles would have been nice). The Beerbrarian was served her Ketel and soda in a pint glass.

In addition to the aforementioned Beerbrarian, BC members present for this special session were The BEO, the BE-co, the Laegeraision, and the committee medic, or B-EMT, (who arrived late, but was appropriately dressed, wearing scrubs and a Cedars-Sinai track jacket. Clinical, yet sporty).

All BC members proudly don "I voted" stickers.

Agenda items: Watch election results as simultaneously projected on Big Wang's 37 screens. Drink beer. Eat wings (omnivores). Eat nachos (vegetarians & omnivores alike). Witness political history in the making. Feel humbled to share this transformative moment with fellow Big Wangers, who shout and cheer and clap and hug and eat their wings and drink from their beer towers. The BC is caught in the zeitgeist -- a touching (albeit sticky-fingered) display from the Real America found in a Hollywood strip mall.

Following Barrack Obama's acceptance speech, BC members commence ritual shot-taking. On this night, the shots are chocolate cake, which taste rather bittersweet knowing that things aren't looking so good for Prop 8. Though not projected onto any of Big Wang's 37 screens, BC members have received this unfortunate news via text message.

The meeting is adjourned, and the Beerbrarian stumbles to her ride, which is locked to the lone rack outside of Big Wang's. Before mounting her bike, the shivering Beerbrarian wraps her neck in a scarf. Fall has finally arrived in L.A.

See? Things are changing already.

Monday, October 27, 2008

roller derby: the new volleyball?

i wasn't able to attend the halloween-themed baby doll brawl this past weekend due to a previous commitment (which i will write about soon), but the pics are already pouring into LADD's flickr photostream. the photographs of the junior derby skaters are slaying me with their adorableness.

this is one is the spawn of roxy cotton!

all photos by rinkrat.

junior derby leagues are popping up all over the country and i think this bodes well for the future of the sport. if the trend continues, the next generation of derby skaters will take the game to another level. can you imagine if the derby skaters of today had started training in middle school? insane.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


bookmobiles, colombian style.

my non-profit should get a couple of these guys. i would love to ride through compton on a burro.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the worst witch

a couple of months ago, i started working with a non-profit organization that provides books to under-served school and community libraries. we accomplish this through facilitating a partnership between the under-served library and a book donor. typically, the donor is a school in an affluent community with a surplus of books in its own library. the donor school will weed their library for duplicate copies of quality, high-interest reading material (we're not interested in throwaways). additionally, most donors hold a book drive for their partner school, and in the end, will provide anywhere between three and five thousand books. on top of this, my organization will bring in approximately 2500 brand new books that we've purchased at a considerable discount.

every saturday during the academic year, i am at a different school library in parts of the city i rarely visited before: compton, south central, south gate, etc. (one exception was last saturday, which found me in koreatown -- a neck of the woods i frequent whenever i feel like imbibing at one of the neighborhood's many pirate-themed watering holes). on saturdays, we bring the book donation into the school. volunteers from both the donor school and the recipient school turn out to help organize and process the books. they also paint murals.

although i've only been with this organization a short time, i think it's safe to say that i love my new job, and it's among the most rewarding work i've ever done. it's a pretty incredible thing to walk into a school library in the morning and be greeted by empty bookshelves, and then, only seven hours later, to leave behind a collection of labeled, processed books that kids can check out immediately, and to see an amazing mural from Where the Wild Things Are painted on the wall where there was only blank space before. Not to mention the incredible volunteers who make all of it possible -- folks who are truly passionate about literacy. I have never encountered a group of people so thrilled to alphabetize and apply spine labels and shelve -- and do keep in mind that you're talking to someone who went to library school.

in other news, i made whirlwind trip to phoenix the weekend before last. in the course of my 34 hour visit, i:

- spent five hours in a room with an embalmed corpse. catholics call this a wake.

- was tormented all night by a witch (explanation: my mother bought one of those endearing motion-activated halloween lawn ornaments -- a witch who cackles every time someone walks past, OR, apparently, every time the wind blows, which happened ALL NIGHT LONG last sunday night. naturally, i didn't notice said decorative witch perched outside my mother's front door earlier that day, so as she cackled relentlessly throughout the night, i couldn't discern the laughter's source. from my nest on the living room sofa, i thought i might be losing my mind. the moment i started to doze off, i'd be forced awake by that terrible sound. it wasn't until the morning, when i asked my mom if she heard any menacing laughter during the night, that she introduced me to her adorable toy, which i learned can be deactivated quite easily).

- rolled around in cat shit (during one of my failed attempts to escape the happy witch, i tried to sleep downstairs in the den. the cat must've tried before me, and was so spooked by the maniacal laughter, that she shat the sofa. the smell was awful, and even after i went back upstairs, i couldn't escape it -- the unmistakable scent of eau de cat shit followed me from room to room. only later did i discover feline feces smeared into the sleeve of my cashmere sweater. i probably deserve this for attempting to sleep in cashmere in the first place).

- did not sleep

- recited the lord's prayer approximately 50 times

- same goes for the hail mary

- speaking of which, have you guys heard about this? given that i only find myself in a catholic church once every three years or so, i can barely keep up as it is. and now they want to mix shit up on me?

- ate dinner at pita jungle.

i know everyone says this after a funeral, but seriously guys, when i die, cremate me, and sneak my ashes into a pepper mill at inn of the seventh ray.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


bitches be damned. photo by rinkrat.

i am not going to recap here, but i will say that the fight crew finally got a much-needed win (yes, against the new kids, but still!). DF over at losanjealous wrote some kind things about my performance, so i will just paste:

"As the bout winds down, Vulvarine ices the Crew’s victory cake with a record-tying ten-point jam, and even Tara Armov gets a turn as jammer. But the final word goes to Judy Gloom, who punctuates her return to form after a long road back from injury with yet another five-point jam, earning honors as the game’s top-scoring jammer, and putting the exclamation point on the Fight Crew’s 78-23 victory over the Varsity Brawlers."

you can read the entire article here, but i particulary enjoyed this closing bit:

let us conclude with a reading from the Book of DF (24:17): Behold, for many years the league had labored with but three teams, which is kind of an awkward number when you really think about it. And lo, the skaters did multiply, and the committees did meet and the prophet Demolicious said unto the world, “Let us begat a new team.” Yea, and unto them a child was born bearing purple fishnets and skate wheels of the finest polyurethane. And although that newborn child did get well and truly smoten by the women from on high, the bout still brought great tidings for all (especially the Fight Crew, who were totally overdue for a win). And the great god of roller derby looked down upon all this that which had been created, and He saw that it was good, and He said, “Fuckin’ A.”

the crew celebrates. photo by charlie "shutterthug" chu.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

vacation over

i spent four days near san felipe, mexico, where the sonoran desert meets the sea of cortez.

behold the world's largest saguaro:

if i can find time this week, i will write more about the trip because it deserves to be chronicled.

for now, it's back to business. i'm skating another game on october 4th. this one will be better.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

this is water

it was a single pancake, almost as big as the plate it was served on, stuffed with with peanut butter, chocolate and bananas. no butter required, and maple syrup was applied sparingly. i took my time with it.

the game was a massacre, a blowout: the final score was 74-36 in favor of the sirens. it was an especially not good game for yours truly. post-mortem, when my team rolled our bruised bodies to the infield and offered our rivals the customary high-fives of defeat, i stood there with my arm extended, my palm enduring slap after slap after slap, feeling like i'd completely let down my team. i was so disappointed.

i had a lot riding on this game emotionally. things aren't going so great in other parts of my life (the sort of "not so great" that requires a lawyer, for example), so i have been throwing myself into derby training. maybe it's irrational, but i was convinced that if my team had a good game, and if i performed well in it, that things would be better -- that everything else that is shitty right now might stink just a little less. instead, i rolled off the track saturday night feeling empty and discouraged. everything that was already shitty became full-blown diarrhea. what was the point?

in the fight crew dressing room after the game, as my teammates placated themselves with pizza and beer, i received this text message from my roommate: "david foster wallace committed suicide yesterday."

my reaction was visceral. i let out a yelp, which became a cry, and i'm sure anyone who was watching assumed that i was blubbering over fight crew's loss. "oh my god," i said. tears rolled down my cheeks, and i stared at my cell phone as if it had betrayed me.

i don't think i've ever had such a strong emotional reaction to the death of someone i didn't know. but i did know him, or at least felt like i did. there are a handful of writers who, when i read them, i experience something like a psychic brain connection, that uncanny sensation of holy shit, we're in each other's heads. it's the feeling of completely getting another person, and thinking that if i was as brilliant and talented, this, this writing, is exactly how i would communicate my experiences.

he lived 50 miles away.

DFW told david lipsky once in an interview, "If a writer does his job right, what he basically does is remind the reader of how smart they are. Wake the reader up to stuff that reader's been aware of all the time."

exactly. thank you, DFW, for articulating my experience of reading your work so well. you were doing your job right.

i never read infinite jest, that behemoth of a novel for which he is best known. it was DFW's nonfiction work that got me. my introduction was his essay, "a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again," about existential dread aboard a cruise ship, and it made a DFW devotee out of me. in his essays, i adore his trademark, copious footnoting, but in his fiction work, i find it stylistically tedious. so i've mostly stuck to his nonfiction over the years, a body of work substantial enough for me to feel justified in saying that he is among my most treasured, favorite writers.

if you've never read any DFW before, here is a good place to start: a transcription of the Kenyon commencement speech he delivered in 2005. i only discovered this speech yesterday, and its message, so hopeful and inspired and devoid of cynicism is a funny thing to read after you find out that its author hung himself.


i left the after party on the early side, and arrived back at my apartment before 1 a.m. as i walked up the driveway, still in my uniform, i could see a group of my neighbors gathered in the courtyard, drinking and talking, which was not an uncommon scene on a saturday night. as i approached the stairwell leading to Number Three, my domicile, i heard, "there she is! the roller derby superstar!" my building manager, marcie, came racing down the walkway, rolling toward me on red vintage roller skates. she fell into a bush at my feet.

"you were amazing tonight!" she said as she extracted herself from the bush's grip.

"you were there?"

"yeah! i think that was the greatest thing i've ever seen. and you were fantastic."

one of my neighbors jumped in. "it's all she's been talking about all night," he said. "and she's been rolling around the building on those skates."

"i don't think i had a very good game," i said. "my team got creamed."

"i thought you were great," she said. "i was totally blown away. i'm bringing everyone in the building to the next one and we're gonna have a cheering section for you."

despite the critical role that alcohol must've played in her perception of the game, i was, nevertheless, touched.

and when i woke up in the morning, after devoting a few hours to nursing my hangover, i went for a run -- aches and bruises be damned. i raced downstairs, and found marcie in the courtyard, watering the plants. as she dragged the hose along, distributing the spray among the jungly foliage, most of which she had planted herself, i noticed her limp. i was listening to my ipod, so we exchanged only a quick wave and a nod before i took off running.

Friday, September 12, 2008


things have been slow the past couple of weeks here at the Hollywood Librarian mainly because the real-life Hollywood Librarian has been insanely busy. some highlights and low points: i started a new p/t job (highlight); had a brush with the fuzz (extreme low point...we're talking death valley); finally made it to the beach and swam in the ocean (el matador to be specific, and this was a highlight); went to vegas (not sure if this qualifies as a highlight or low point); and, finally, was attacked by bees (highlight because i escaped unstung). my car has also been towed twice in past two weeks (neither time for an accumulation of parking tickets, thanks).

just a reminder that i'm skating on saturday. it should be a very interesting game. fight crew is finally back with a rotation of solid jammers after so many injuries in the first part of 08. unfortunately, our blockers haven't fared so well: both tawdry tempest (co-captain) and kubo will be out with injuries. and broadzilla, arguably the crew's most formidable blocker, has a family wedding obligation this weekend. we'll be skating with three subs.

while i'm very much looking forward to the game, i might be more excited about saturday morning brunch. i'm a health nut with a suppressed sweet tooth, and i'm planning to indulge on saturday. game day = pancake day.

it's been two years since i've had pancakes! bring on the maple syrup. jammer fuel!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

olympics, come back!

another bespectacled athlete. this one is gold medalist high jumper Tia Hellebaut of Belgium.

remember my last blog update wherein i wrote that i was going out of town this weekend? i am now feeling wishy-washy on that front. suddenly staying in LA and pumping iron and maybe finally hitting the beach sounds more appealing. and i am going to baja in few weeks. please advise.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

summer's end

i didn't mean to attend sunset junction last weekend, but on saturday night, my favorite local band, the jail weddings, was playing at el cid, which is one of my favorite bars. i had nothing better to do, so i applied my stila warpaint, attached a flashing red light to my back, and pointed the bottecchia eastward. silver lake ho! i entered el cid through the back alley, avoiding the sunset junction crowd the best i could, and inside i met up with kathy and georgia who were there on my recommendation.

the band's set was delayed (one of the singers was stuck in traffic...go figure), and so kathy, g, and me ventured outside the bar and into the heart of darkness. as we three worked our way through the throngs of shirtless dudes and dewy-faced hipsters, inhaling the carnival smells -- funnel cake and sweat -- a band played on the main stage. i had just mentioned to kathy that the only band i had any interest in seeing on saturday was broken social scene.

"isn't this them?" she asked.

i paused to listen for a few seconds. whatever it was, it sounded terrible.

"i don't think so."

and then as if on cue, they started playing the instantly recognizable, "it's all gonna break."

"oh nevermind."

i was immediately relieved that i did not drop $20 on this shit.

kathy and georgia spent a few minutes agonizing over whether or not to purchase fair food, and if so, of which variety. it would have been a logistical nightmare, involving waiting in at least two lines (one for tickets and then one for grub). fortunately, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes funnel cake-making demonstration, which completely spoiled their appetites, and forced us to contemplate the inevitable skin problems which must plague the makers of funnel cake. so we headed back to el cid where i danced to the jail weddings, and they grew bored and went out onto the patio.

after the show, we escaped through the back of the bar with plans to check out a party. we took the alley and i walked my bike alongside them while we chattered about the night so far and the night to come. it was too late when we realized that the alley had dead-ended and we were trapped in a parking lot. an escape would involve either climbing a fence or going back the way we came. they voted for the fence.

"but i have my bike," i reminded them.

"that's ok. we'll lift it over the fence."

i can't remember the last time i hoisted my bike over a fence, but i was definitely at least 6 inches shorter and wearing far less expensive clothing. it went off without a hitch though, and it's funny how something like scaling a wall with your closest girlfriends and lifting a bicycle over your head can make you feel 11-years-old and giddy with mischief, but it does.

we eventually made it to the party on foot, where we danced in an empty living room and splayed ourselves out in the grassy backyard, and confessed things to each other in the bathroom. i think i drank enough to kill whatever was left of that 11-year-old living inside me. i was reminded of so many summertime backyard parties attended in arizona during college which i don't encounter as frequently here in LA.

shamefully, i was too drunk bike back to hollywood at 2 a.m., and so the benevolent alie swept in, and delivered the derelicts to our respective bunks: micah to angelino heights, georgia to k-town and me to beachwood. and then she trucked it all the way back to eagle rock where the angels must go to sleep once their flask of vanilla vodka is tapped.

in other news, i am going out of town this weekend, though i'm still not sure where. i'm hoping it's san francisco, where i haven't been in a year. there's a slight chance that business might send me to vegas, which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world because it means hanging with my bff amy, who will be in vegas (by way of phoenix) on the same business. it would be my fourth trip to vegas this summer. i haven't been anywhere else. not even to the beach.

ideally, amy would be in SF and we would be riding our bikes through golden gate park, but those days are long gone. in vegas, the only thing we ride are the escalators.

dicky, amy, me in amy's SF apt (R.I.P.), august 2005.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

ersatz meghan

saturday morning i went for a run. it was 10:30 a.m. and i was making my way up beachwood with plans to run to the top, hike hollyridge trail, cross over to bronson canyon, and then run back down to JGHQ. i set out feeling pretty good and olympian about this plan. so i'm running up that hill when i pass another meghan. this meghan is leaning against a wall that encloses the front yard of a spectacular home -- one of many in my neighborhood.


i'm amazed that i even hear her because a) i am hard of hearing* b) i am listening to my ipod and c) did i mention that i am running? but somehow i catch the call of my name, and so i turn around, and jog back to where she is leaning.

"oh, hey meghan! i didn't see you there."

this meghan is my ex-boyfriend's current girlfriend. she lives two blocks away from me. she's about four inches taller than i am and is also a redhead, but doesn't need to worry about her roots. today she is covered in sweat and there is mud streaked across her face and stomach (visible because she is only wearing a sports bra). she is panting.

we are friends and so we chat. this meghan has been running since 6:30 a.m. and has covered 18 miles, which included forest lawn cemetery and a treacherous route over the cahuenga pass ("it was so dangerous! i almost died!"). she is training for a marathon in october.

i told her that i was going to run up the hill.

"that's tough," she said graciously. "it's a straight incline. i've never ran all the way up beachwood from the bottom."

after talking to the other meghan, i felt slightly less olympian, but i soldiered on, propelled by the new yorker fiction podcast coming through my earbuds.

the run was challenging, and i certainly did sweat a lot, but maybe only because i kept my shirt on the entire time.

and now, an olympian after my own heart:

dayron robles of cuba. note the specs.

*jg trivia: i have prosthetic stapes bones in both ears! insert lame special olympics joke here. yuk yuk yuk.

Monday, August 18, 2008

triangle choke

just like everyone else i know, i've caught a bad case of Olympics fever. last night i was completely smitten with shelly-ann fraser and her performance in the women's 100-meter. she started victoriously pumping her fist in the air before she even reached the finish line. for an agonizing moment afterward, i thought she'd collapsed from exhaustion, but no. turns out that she merely felt like rolling around on the track with her beloved jamaican flag, smiling like the cheshire cat if the cheshire cat had a mouth full of metal.

and what about the legs on these broads?

holy shit. sometimes i worry that roller derby has morphed my gams into the stuff of an r. crumb cartoon, but next to these runners, i'm skating around on a couple of toothpicks.

clearly, god planned the Olympics with "inspiring judy gloom" in mind because LADD hiatus offically ends today. not like i've been honoring any such hiatus: i've been skating, working with a trainer, and tearing shit up at the Y in preparation for my first post-injury game with the crew on Sept. 13th. LADD's amazing AV guys even made a promotional trailer for the bout, and somehow recruited christian bale to do the voiceover.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

LADD do-gooding

here's what the derby dolls have been up to during our summer vacation. these are slightly dated already, but better late than never:

Mayor Villaraigosa addresses kids

mayor villaraigosa inside the doll factory on the citywide mayor's day of service. photo by rinkrat.

Mayor Villaraigosa - Demolicious - Jordan Farmar

mayor villaraigosa, demolicious (LADD founder) and laker jordon farmar. photo by rinkrat.

and now for some adorableness from the LADD junior derby camp. all photos by agata chokabitchski.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

parasomnia lite

sunday night, lei (longtime friend, former roommate) and i attended mike birbiglia's one-man show "sleepwalk with me" at the ucb theatre. that label, "one-man show," always makes me cringe a little because i associate it with performance art and/or vanity vehicles for self-obsessed actors. fortunately, neither of these sweeping generalizations applies to mike's show, which has plenty of great stuff going on: stand-up, confessional storytelling, and yes, there were even some theatrical affectations. the piece felt very fresh and honest even though he's clearly performed it dozens of times, and the ucb is such an intimate space, that whole thing was really effective. at times, i was reminded of a spalding gray monologue. the primary arc of mike's story was about his struggle with parasomnia, and it culminates with the terrifying incident that finally compelled him to seek treatment for his condition. there were lots of great asides throughout where you get insight into mike's relationship with his parents and a couple of girlfriends.

i haven't listened to it yet, but it looks like mike tells his sleepwalking story on this week's this american life. i imagine this is a truncated version of what you get with the live show.

mike has a knack for clever analogies, and one of my favorite moments of the show was when he explained falling in love for the first time. i was going to attempt to paraphrase it, but fortunately i just discovered the bit on his secret public journal:

"[love] makes us all a little delusional. I think deep down we think we have a secret special skill that no one knows about and if they knew they’d be amazed because our secret special skill is amazing. And then eventually we meet someone who says, “You have a secret special skill.” And you’re like “I know!”

of course, it's much better when you hear him deliver it in person, especially that last "i know!" which is drawn out, and accompanied by raised eyebrows and a couple of affirmative nods.

i've had my own (comparatively mild) struggles with parasomnias, so "sleepwalk with me" resonated. my sleep disorders have evolved over time, but i've always talked in my sleep, and as a kid, i used to sleepwalk. one of my mother's favorite tales of parasomnia involves the time i somnambulated into the bedroom she shared with my stepfather, pointed our remote control at their bed, and issued the directive: "change the channel." yes, i was a latchkey kid with a very a strong attachment to my family's tv set.

if you've never experienced sleep paralysis, i don't recommend trying it. torture aside, i'm hard-pressed to imagine a more terrifying sensation. it's happened to me more than once though fortunately not in years. sleep paralysis works like this: you wake up and are fully conscious but are unable to move your body. sometimes it's accompanied by hallucinations. i've never been buried alive (knock on wood), but i imagine the feeling is similar (minus the suffocation part, i suppose).

back in the early 00s, my sleep was often disrupted by an inexplicable, crippling pain in my legs. i went to the doctor for this one, and she unloaded several sample of boxes of vioxx on me, which, in retrospect, i'm very thankful i never took. that's no longer happening, but my sleep issue du jour is being torn from my slumber by a sensation of numbness/tingling in my hands and arms. you know, that pins-and-needles feeling of "my hand's asleep!" except that i'm asleep and this shit is waking me up and it's pretty fucking annoying -- especially when it happens several times throughout the night. i've been performing some always advised internet self-diagnosing, and while it could be a circulation issue, it may also be another type of parasomnia. given my history, i'm inclined to think the latter. anyone out there have any experience with this one they'd care to share?

but enough about nighttime demonic visitations. unless he got sucked into an epic game of the show (which is not implausible), lei is cruising in his red toyota camry as i type this, en route to north carolina and his final year of law school. last week concluded his stint in LA as a summer associate. i am sad to see him go, but the good news is that he accepted a position with the firm, which means that he will be back in LA permanently next summer. i'm not sure about the red camry though, which has been with lei as long i've known him. in high school, it was his parents' car. when he came home on breaks from college, it was the camry that transported him from gilbert to where i was living in tempe (the catch was that he'd always have abandon whatever we were doing at 10 p.m. to pick his parents up from the chinese restaurant where they worked). then when lei and i moved in together and started library school, he finally inherited that car from his folks. these days, the camry's exterior has developed a war-torn aesthetic. i have no idea how many miles are on that beast, but i'm sure it's considerable.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

i almost forgot

a couple of weeks back, fox news did a very fluffy piece on the "return of roller derby" featuring yours truly.

They report. You decide.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

wedding date for hire

anytime a friend mentions some dreaded wedding they're obligated to attend, i am quick to offer my services.

"looking for a date?"

i love weddings, particularly when i don't know the people getting married. watching two strangers pledge their eternal devotion to one another is like watching a movie. slipping into my fancy pants, gorging myself on finger food, and dunking my slice of wedding cake into a never-empty flute of champagne is my idea of a quality saturday night. and all for free? yes, please. sign me up.

i accompanied an ex to an A+ wedding on saturday evening. outside the greystone mansion, we navigated the garden paths, trying locate the ceremony. the invitation had said "formal or semi-formal," which was puzzling. it's like saying "dress for the ball or the beach." i erred on the side of extreme caution, and wore a macabre black lace anna sui dress. a summertime garden wedding in beverly hills, and i looked brazenly gothic. around my neck, an antique black onyx dangled, worn to cool the ardors of love.

we turned a corner and bumped into a well-dressed gentleman eating a banana.

"we're lost," said the ex. "do you know where the ceremony is taking place?"

"i hope so. i'm the groom." he kindly pointed us in the right direction, which of course was the opposite of the one in which we'd been headed.

my date, a college friend of the bride, introduced himself. the groom turned to me. "so you must be meghan," he said. i was impressed. had he studied a set of wedding guest flash cards the night before?

post-ceremony (which was near-perfect: brief, touching, and devoid of religion), the date and i walked the same path and discovered the groom's discarded banana peel, empty and yellow, hanging on the wall. the last hurrah.

the reception was held at the beverly hills hotel, and upon our arrival, we were presented with miniature brown boats (the groom is a sailing enthusiast). on the paper sail, the name of our assigned table was written.

"i think they're chocolate," i told him. it was the cocktail hour, and we were being assaulted with mojitos and skewered coconut lobster tails.

the tiny vessel was balanced on his extended palm. he narrowed his eyes, inspecting it.

"chocolate? are you sure?"

"pretty sure. smell it."

we brought the boats to our noses, sniffing simultaneously.

"you're right," he said. "definitely chocolate."

we tossed the paper sails and popped the boats into our mouths. the date scowled.

"i think i just chipped a tooth." he spit the boat back into his palm, newly slick with saliva.

"bad call. definitely plastic."

other reception highlights included: asparagus-wrapped mushroom hors d'oeuvre; a trivia contest; a spirited LC vs. dewey debate; my date pouring booze down my throat, attempting to lure me onto the dance floor (he was eventually successful).

once, i attended the birthday party of an acquaintance, themed "let them eat cake." per her request, every guest brought an entire cake. it was a well-attended event. i think there were at least 30 cakes inside the golden gopher that night, including a couple that were illicit substance-infused. i felt compelled to sample almost every variety on offer, and then fell into a Cake-Hole, growing numb all over and losing the power the of speech. i wandered deliriously from the bar, sugar-sick and stoned, and somehow stumbled into a metro station. on the train, i curled into a little ball on my seat, and coasted back to hollywood. that night i learned an important lesson, something that most people figure during a childhood birthday party: there is such a thing as too much cake.

at the wedding, i was having "let them eat cake" flashbacks. i was overwhelmed, and (still not completely trusting myself in presence of so much frosting) a little frightened by the volume of dessert on offer. wedding cake service followed a separate dessert course. and on the way out the door, there was a table towering with jumbo gourmet cupcakes.

"please take some with you," the bride urged the guests. "i don't know what we'll do with all of these cupcakes."

my date proceeded to grab a box meant to accommodate four cupcakes and stuff it with eight.

"what are you going to do with eight ginormous cupcakes?"

"eat them, obviously."

"you're going to eat all eight of these cupcakes before they spoil?"

"i was going to give one to you. maybe two if you behave."

"i have eaten enough dessert tonight to last my ass the month. i'll pass."

"cool. more for me. hold this while i get the car."

he thrust the cupcake box into my arms. the lid wouldn't shut and pink frosting was oozing through the cracks.

"this is disgusting. can we please put some back?"


i rode in his passenger seat from beverly hills to hollywood with the overstuffed box in my lap, and watched as the oil stains spread across the cardboard lid. exiting his car, i noticed that my goth frock had been redone in pink: streaks of buttery frosting snaked down the front, crusted into the lace.

"i'll pay for the dry cleaning," he offered, proving there's no such thing as a free cupcake.

on monday he wrote:

"Hey, thanks again for being such a great date to the wedding on Sat . . . though the cupcakes are such a gross, coagulated mess that I've decided to just toss them out. "

no surprises there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

blood, peanut butter and puke: the BOTB round-up

mom and i had discussed the possibility of a tournament weekend visit, but she didn't think she could get the time off work. a month went by, and i didn't hear from her, so i assumed this was the case. but where my mother is concerned, i shouldn't be so naive. she is notorious for her vacation-by-ambush tactics.

it was the tuesday night preceding "battle on the bank" when my mom called to tell me she would be driving to LA from phoenix the next day. she's staying at my apartment, of course, which had not been sanitized in preparation for a mom visit. i would need more than 24 hrs notice to accomplish this, and so the dust remained on my windowsills.

though she remains a controversial figure, my mother's services proved indispensable during the tourney weekend. on saturday, i arrived at the doll factory and realized i'd left my trusty peanut butter and jelly sandwich on my bed, forsaken in its aluminum foil casing. i called my mom, who was still lagging at my apartment, and she promised to bring the elusive PBJ.

mom! bring me my goddamn PBJ!*

following the L.A. Golden Girls' first match of the day (against OC, who we defeated), i spotted my mom in the stands.

"i have your sandwich, meg!" she called out.

"thanks mom."

it wasn't until later, as i was stuffing that sandwich into my sandwich hole, that i learned just what a headache Mission: PBJ had been.

"i forgot it at home." she told me. "i was halfway here and i had to turn around and go back for it. and then when i was going through security, they tried to confiscate it."

"oh shit! how did you get it in?" i asked, my mouth full of peanut butter.

"i threw a fit! i was yelling at the security guard, and then someone overheard me say that i was your mother. i was escorted inside."

despite my mom's efforts, peanut butter wasn't enough to secure the win against SD. the score was close throughout and it came down to the last couple of jams. LA actually skated an erroneous victory lap before being called off the track by the refs. our winning points were erased from the scoreboard (we'd committed a major penalty during the previous jam, which rendered our points null and void). the refs put another minute on the clock, and the final jam was skated sans LA jammer. SD held onto their one-point lead and won the game.

the golden girls lose and crystal deth sheds tears of blood!

after the match, i joined my mom in the bleachers to watch the LA vs. TXRD bout. it became apparent that she had been swept away by the Orange Flood. as she congratulated me on my skating ("i'm so proud of you, meggie!"), i noticed the peculiar way her speech had become simultaneously rapid and slurred; the telltale orange glow around her mouth; and the giveaway empty cans at her feet.

the league is now sponsored by Sparks, as evidenced by the profusion of Sparks signage throughout the Factory and our rabid, orange-mouthed fans.

eliminated from competition, i spent Day 2 of the tournament (sunday) alongside my mother as a Sparks-drinking spectator. i don't hold Sparks responsible for what went down during the LA Ri-ettes vs. Team Awesome bout, which was the final match-up of the tourney. i'd only had one, but it did lend my buckets of vomit a distinctive orange hue.

in my defense, i didn't feel the puke coming. one minute i'm sitting alongside my mom, the two of us enjoying our respective Sparks (hers regular, mine "the always blue, never sad" light variety), and the next thing i know, i'm blowing chunks onto the back of the VIP sitting directly in front of me. i bolted from my seat and made for the VIP restroom, pausing once to vomit into a trash can en route.

on my way out of the bathroom, i crossed paths with the woman on whom i had spewed.

"i'm so sorry! i'm not drunk you know. i'm just really, really ill."

"it's OK. you barely got me." she was kind.

"i'm so embarrassed."

"don't worry about it. it's not like i know you! who am i gonna tell about it?"

i just hope she didn't notice the name emblazoned across the back of my LA Golden Girls t-shirt.

i returned to the bleachers toting paper towels, and found my mother where i'd left her: watching the game, Sparks in hand. everyone else in the section had cleared out, presumably because of the wretched smell. at my mother's feet was my vomit-encrusted "This Is How We Roll" LADD tote bag. she turned to me.

"where did you go?"

"mom! didn't you notice that i just puked all over the place? look at my bag!"

she looked down, and i watched her orange-tinted lips tighten with repulsion.

"that's pretty fucking gross, meg."

"i know. tell me about it."

despite my profound illness, i was determined to watch the remainder of the game. though i rested my head in my lap between jams, from what i gathered, LA won, and then Team Awesome won, and then LA won for real. everyone was confused: the skaters, the announcers, the crowd, and the refs. it was very tense and dramatic and i think a riot almost broke out (i felt a few empty cans of sparks whiz by my oh-so-heavy head). the moment the game was finally called, i made a mad dash for the bookmobile, and booked it onto the 101. the car ride did nothing to improve my condition. as i was exiting onto gower, i had to pull over to vomit onto the curb, and was only partially successful.

it felt like a million years later that i was finally home, upchucking in the comfort of my own toilet. i couldn't keep anything down until the next day.

my sunday night sickness begs a few questions: is there such thing as too much derby? will your own stomach turn against you as an act of protest against the questionable calls made by LADD refs? does the collective over consumption of Sparks malt energy beverage incite riots? is judy gloom totally gross, and did her car smell like death the next day?

the answer to all of these questions is a firm "maybe" (except the last one, which is an emphatic "hell yes"). though it is worth noting that i received a monday night phone call from the dude i kissed on saturday. he told me that he spent the day trying not to vomit up his internal organs. so yeah, i'm inclined to think it was just a bug.

*photo is actually from the LA vs. SD, but i couldn't resist using it out of sequence.

Friday, June 27, 2008

triumphant return?

i'm skating this weekend with a tournament team called the L.A. Golden Girls. my uniform t-shirt has an image of Bea Arthur on the front and the slogan "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend was Hot Like Bea! [sic]" oh wait, here's a jpeg:

you can see why i haven't been heavily promoting this event here at the Hollywood Librarian. i will also be wearing these:

in addition to my silly getup, there will be some serious skating going on. the tournament schedule and ticket info is on the LADD web site.

this will be your last chance to get some derby action until september. after this weekend, the L.A. Derby Dolls are taking a much-needed vacation. sort of. there's still the mayor's day of service and junior derby camp happening in july. yep, vacation, derby style.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"so loud, you can barely hear yourself drink"

the derby dolls were on the front page of the LA Times this morning (ok, technically, a small photo and a blurb on the front page with the full story on pg. 1 of the California section). i have been working with the Times' photographer since February on this piece, and am so thrilled that it's finally out. and just in time to sell out our "battle on the bank" tournament at the end of the month.

photos by Francine Orr.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

library dispatch

i'm sitting at the reference desk right now, and i just noticed that the librarian working alongside me has a cigarette tucked behind her ear. at first glance, i mistook it for a dirty white pen.

should i say something? is it intentional? she's on the desk for the next 2.5 hours. it's not like she's waiting for a smoke break.

i keep staring at that cigarette. it looks so unhygienic brushing up against her hair. isn't this a violation of some health code or another? mechanics put their cigarettes behind their ears, which makes sense because they work in garages, which is pretty much like working outside. librarians work in libraries where there is never any smoking. did i mention that i work in a community college library? what message does a librarian with a cigarette behind her ear send to our impressionable student body?

can't. stop. staring. i am too hungover for this shit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

seeds in my ears

i have been told on more than one occasion that i have nice ankles, which struck me as an odd bit of praise the first time i heard it. later, when i was introduced to the concept of the cankle, this compliment made a little more sense.

these days, i have one demure ankle and one less aesthetically pleasing ankle. my ugly ankle is adorned with a bulky mass of fibrous scar tissue, which can be seen and felt beneath the surface of my skin. manipulating my bulky mass in his office a few weeks ago, my acupuncturist called it "meaty."

"it's like. . ." he started, struggling to find the right words to describe it further. "do you eat meat?"


"think back to what it tastes like. that texture in your mouth. that's what your ankle feels like in my hand."

i have an acupuncturist. the needles he sticks into my left foot and ankle feel like they're on fire when they pierce the surface of my skin. he puts them other places, too, those needles. inserted anywhere else, the sensation is weird, vaguely uncomfortable, but i wouldn't describe it as burning.

i tell him this -- that the needles in my left ankle feel like they're on fire.

"that is the afflicted area," he says.

my acupuncturist has many tricks up the sleeve of his white, doctorly-looking lab coat. he has taped seeds inside my ears. he has scraped my ankle repeatedly and vigorously with a buffalo horn (a technique that i later discover is called gua sha). he has applied a curious-smelling herbal salve, vintage 1993, purported to "wipe bruises away," concocted by a revered kung fu master. he has "smoked" the needles in my ankle (that is, to heat them via an ignited bushel of twigs, an instrument that looked and smelled not unlike a blunt).

yeah, it sounds like hocus pocus to me too. i don't know if i buy it, but this particular acupuncturist is sponsoring the league, and treating our skaters at a pittance. i want to be back to 100% badly enough that, given the rightness of the price, i will swallow my skepticism. i will buy it at a reduced rate. and my fibrous mass does seem to be losing weight, though my ankle is a shadow of her formerly svelte sexy self.

i leave my acupuncturist's office in a much better mood than i was before i arrived. i feel inexplicably cheered despite having spent most of the previous hour splayed out and alone in a small dark room, needles rising from my skin, a roller derby voodoo doll. my acupuncturist vanishes before the needles do their magic; i'm not sure where he goes or what he does as i lay there, soaking up the light streaming through the room's single window, and listening to the music made by the sad, sick dogs crying out from the animal hospital located across the alley.

by the end of practice on monday night, my foot was in a lot of pain. it was aching and cramping, but i skated through it. on tuesday, i saw my acupuncturist for the third time. yesterday, i woke up and went to the gym. i did an hour-long class called burn & firm, which involved an ungodly number of jumping jacks and other plyometric drills. then i went to work, and by 6 p.m., i was at the doll factory with my skates on again. i took a break from 7:30-8 to grab a burrito, but otherwise, i was on wheels until 9:30. by the end of practice, i felt like i might collapse from exhaustion, but any ankle discomfort was almost imperceptible. in fact, i wasn't sure if my ankle was only slightly aching, or if my mummification-style tape job was perhaps too tight. a complete turnaround from monday night.

afterward, as i sat peeling off my gear, a teammate approached me.

"wow! so you're totally back to normal now, huh?"

"not really, but i'm working on it."

"well, you look like you are."

"it's an illusion, though it's good to know that i'm pulling it off."

another teammate, leia, sustained a knee injury around the same time i severed the ligament in my ankle. we both resumed skating at practices about a month ago. it was great having her there skating alongside me, knowing that we'd been through the same ordeal over the previous few months. then last week, she went down in a jam, and blew out her bad knee all over again. it had probably been too soon for her to come back -- her injury hadn't completely healed, and now she was back at square one. so, rather than have the fight crew continue to hold her place on the team's roster, she has chosen to step down. she made the announcement at practice on monday night, and it made me sick to hear it.

likewise, i found this new york times magazine article about the injury epidemic in women's sports sad, moving and familiar.

Monday, May 12, 2008

mother's day

my mother wears her stethoscope like a necklace. it is always around her neck - in the car, in the grocery store, when she's cooking dinner. as a kid, i remember her stethoscope brushing against my face when she leaned over to tuck me in at night. she was perpetually on her way to and from work.

my mother is a nurse on the retirement home circuit. she used to work in hospitals, but that was before i was born. some of my earliest memories are of visiting my mom at the old folks home, where she stood beside her med cart, hunched over, counting out pills. the nurse's station bustled with octogenarians, mostly women, in floral patterned muumuus. some sat in their wheelchairs drooling or crying out for their mothers, while others scuttled down the fluorescent-lighted hallway, assisted by their walkers, muttering obscenities under their breath.

"you little bitch," a wild-eyed granny once called me as i stood waiting for my mother. we were the same height, though she was in a wheelchair, and clutching a raggedy ann doll exactly like the one i had at home.

i was terrified of old people.

occasionally, the more with-it grannies would woo me with ribbon candy or butterscotch. given other options, i would have turned my nose at such third-rate offerings, but certainly having something sweet melting inside my mouth, rotting my teeth, was better than having nothing at all.

my mother has worked at a dozen of these places over the years, and one thing is always same: the smell. it's a distinct odor exclusive the old folks home, medicinal and unsavory. it's the scent of antibiotics punctuated with imagined meats: liver and tongue, tripe.

my mom got me my first job, at 16, in a retirement home. i worked in the kitchen. i wore a hairnet and pureed food for the old folks who couldn't eat solids. i'd dump whole pieces of roast beef into a food processor, and scoop the resultant brown mush onto their sectioned plastic plates. beef mush, carrot mush and a pile of mashed potatoes. everything was doused in gravy. after dinner, when i'd bus the dining hall, i'd find the brown and orange sludge crusted into the carpet.

i didn't last very long at the old folks home. soon i was working at the mall like all the other teenage girls, selling jewelry at a kiosk next to the escalator. silverworld.

yesterday, i called my mom to wish her a happy mother's day.

"your mother's been sick," she told me. my mom likes to refer to herself in the third person, most often as "the mama," e.g. "the mama misses you so much!"

"what kind of sick? are you ok?"

"i've had pneumonia for the past couple of weeks. and can you believe they made me go into work when i could barely stand up? i felt like i was going to die."

"i'm sorry, mom. that's awful."

"i know it. i wound up giving it to some of the people on my floor, and now they're dead."

"wait...what? they died?"

"yes, my pneumonia killed them. can you believe that shit?"

"that's absolutely terrible."

"yeah. what are you going to do? anyway, i've got to back to work."

"did you get my mother's day card?"

"i haven't had a chance to go through the mail yet. i'll look for it tomorrow."

"i got you a gift card for the cheesecake factory. have dinner on me."

"oh, my favorite! thanks, meg!"

"sure, of course. happy mother's day."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

another saturday night

some of my favorite photos from 4/12:

DJ judy "i'd rather be skating" gloom with announcer evil e

"where do you think you're going?"

drew barrymore and ellen page

crystal deth or paper airplane?

top photo by papa rappa, the rest by stalkerazzi

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the bookmobile, or: i still need my mother

i ran away from home the summer after i graduated high school, which some folks might refer to as "going away to college," but in my case, higher education was an afterthought. i wanted to be closer to my friends (mostly older) and the vegetarian restaurants i liked and the places where i went to watch bands play. at the time, i didn't have a car, and a night out meant borrowing my mother's silver camaro. it was pretty embarrassing to show up at stinkweeds on a friday night behind the wheel of that beast. so, i finished high school and i was ready to move to tempe and ride a bike.

i didn't sit around and wait for the fall like all those other lazy college-bound kids i knew, either. my mother hadn't even had my graduation photos developed when i moved all of my worldly belongings (a closet full of thrift store clothes, some sleater-kinney records) the 35 miles across town, trading my West Valley suburb for the academic establishment of the East Valley, littered with empty beer cans and sharp sorority pins, controlled by the dark lord, Sparky the Sun Devil.

i spoke to my mother on the phone at least once a week. i still saw her regularly -- a couple of times a month, usually with a basket of freshly soiled laundry in tow. when i moved to los angeles in my mid-20s, our communication dropped to a bi-weekly phone call, and now as i'm about to enter my 30s, we're averaging a phone call a month, a couple of visits a year. but that's what happens as we get older, right? we have less to say to our parents. we don't need them so much because we can, in most cases, afford to do our own laundry.

i didn't communicate with my mother at all from january through mid-march, which is a Gloom family record, and particularly noteworthy as i spent that stretch of time hobbling around and feeling sorry for myself and whining about this forced sedentary lifestyle to anyone who would listen (thank you Internet, my great confidante).

when my mother finally got me on the phone a few weeks ago, after scolding me for not calling in months, she asked how i'd been, and i almost immediately started crying.

"not so great actually...."

i came clean about my ankle, but following her typical motherly expressions of concern ("meggie! oh no! you poor thing!") came the indignation.

"i can't believe you didn't tell me about this. i would have gone to LA and taken care of you. i would have driven you around. i would have helped you pay your rent if you needed to take time off work. how come you didn't come to me? i'm your mother. that's what i'm here for."

but the thing is, it never occurred to me to go to her for help. i knew i was in a lousy situation, but i never once thought my mother could get me out it. i couldn't tell her this, of course, so all could i say was: "i don't know."

"well, that's it. i'm giving you my car."

"your car? but i don't want a car."

"what if you break your leg next time? you gonna ride your bicycle around on that?"

she had a point.

and so that is how the hollywood librarian came to be the not-so-proud owner of a purple 2002 saturn sc. not quite as horrifying as the silver camaro of my adolescence, but still pretty flashy by my bookish standards (new bumper sticker: "i'd rather be driving a suburu").

but guys, listen, just because i have a car, doesn't mean that i am going to turn into a car person (i hope). there are several reasons to resist this transformation. i don't know if you've heard the news, but A) cars are bad for the environment B) traffic in L.A. blows C) i am a driver of questionable aptitude D) gas is fucking expensive. like, almost $4 a gallon. who knew? so much has changed since i was last navigating this rat race at speeds exceeding 17 mph.

i probably sound like an ingrate, but i'm not. i feel very fortunate that my mother did this kind thing for me. in fact, i am reminded of her great generosity every time i slide into my new purple bookmobile, and my nostrils are filled with the familiar scent of her perfume mingled with stale cigarette smoke. i even spent $100 to have the upholstery shampooed, but to no avail. i suspect her presence will always be smelt.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

z-list celebrity

here's some LADD trivia: in addition to heading LADD publicity, judy gloom also serves as league archivist.

over the years, the Dolls have amassed treasure trove of media footage, which i diligently collect on DVD, inventory, and promptly toss into a box at the bottom of my closet labeled "LADD archive." i have long wanted to put our footage on this "interweb" all the young people are abuzz about, but i am just a crotchety old analog archivist, content to while away the years the inside my closet, crotch full o' cobwebs, buried half-alive in documents, subsisting on a diet of silverfish.

in truth, i was lacking the software, disk space and time to convert the dvds and upload them. fortunately, a benevolent friend of the Dolls, the type of guy who has done so much to earn his title of LADD Athletic Supporter, stepped up to help me out. hooray! LADD TV is now live on youtube.

of special interest to the Hollywood Librarian's readership is the No Reservations segment, filmed about a year and half ago at the old Doll House, which you can watch here.

this is a photo from that shoot, taken outside phillipe's original, home of the french-dipped sandwhich. it appeared in Anthony Bourdain's book, No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach. a couple of months ago, i was "recognized" at the gym from the photo in this book.

and once, i played a nurse in a music video.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


before the fight crew/sirens game on saturday, i was approached by ref and long-time LADD athletic supporter, BK.

BK: i spent some time reading your blog this morning.
JG: oh really? how did you find it?
BK: i was just looking up some stuff online, and happened across it.

here i waited, anticipating some kind of commentary, obligatory or otherwise, e.g. "good stuff," "what drivel!" "you need more cat photos," or "stop crying about your ankle already," but nothing followed, and i felt compelled to fill the weird silence.

JG: yes. i have a blog. i write things on the internet where anyone can read them.

we stared at each other for a few seconds before he skated away.

with the exception of georgia, i sometimes forget that people read this thing, and BK's comment (or lack thereof) served as a reminder. it further reminded me of the ambivalence i feel at the prospect of people actually reading what i write in this very public place.

unrelated: i have felt especially pressed for time lately, which is odd because i only do paid work about 23 hours a week. this does not include commuting, and all of the volunteer PR work i do for the LADD, but still, it's not like i'm held captive inside a library or office 40 hours a week.

because of this perceived time crunch, i have become more determined to milk the maximum potential from every minute of my day. for example, i will listen to fiction on my ipod while washing the dishes. right now, i am blogging from the reference desk at work. and last week, i ate my lunch on the bus, en route to the gym from the library. as i ate my pasta from its Tupperware container, i listened to a short story on my ipod. next to me sat a prune-faced woman wearing a head scarf (who would not have looked out of place in a russian bread line), happily popping ruffles potato chips into her puckered mouth.

i am pretty sure that eating on the bus is unhygienic, and quite possibly disgusting by most people's standards. i am probably two steps away from eating my dinner while sitting on the toilet, which is, of course, efficiency incarnate.

speaking of questionable hygiene, last night i had dinner with the aforementioned georgia and kathy at a relatively new vegan restaurant - the kind of place where i think you may need a tattoo to get through the door. the food was yum, exotic beer was on tap, and we had to raise our voices only slightly to be heard over the vaselines blasting in the background. as i was finishing up my delicious tacos, i took note of a pine cone-sized roach scuttling down the wall. i considered whether or not to point out this six-legged patron to my companions, but decided that i didn't want to potentially spoil what was left of our dining experience. shortly thereafter, i excused myself to the bathroom. upon my return, i was greeted by georgia with: "OMG! we just saw two huge roaches!"

so my new my buddy had a partner in crime!

the three of us concluded that no roach(es) could keep us away from the fried pickles at this particular restaurant. honestly, i'm relieved there's a new dining spot to fill the filthy hole in my heart left by the 2003 closure of the deliciouslessly vegan and unabashedly C-rated Luna Tierra Sol Cafe.

unrelated to any of this, i will conclude with a good article about the role of wikipedia in academia.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

getting hurt

i use my body more than most people i know. when i'm not playing roller derby, i'm training to play roller derby, which translates to several skate practices a week, haunting the YMCA, running to the top of one of my neighborhood's many glamorous hills, etc. i also made a decision about a year ago to live without a car. transporting yourself sans motor means depending on your body to get you where you need to go. i have never regretted that decision until recently.

dragging your old bones around town on a bum ankle is shitty. for two weeks, i couldn't ride my bike, or even walk to public transportation. but left with no other options, there were occasions when i did these things anyway, sometimes in the rain or the dark or the cold (often some combination of the three), and possibly to the detriment of my recovery. it has been eight weeks since i tore ligaments in my ankle, and i am not healed. presently, i would put myself at about 65%.

the fight crew has a game this weekend, and i will not be skating. this is my second consecutive game on the injured list. sitting next to me in the gimp section will be another fight crew jammer, leia mout, who is suffering from a knee injury. in addition to our physical injuries, we are both deeply sad, betrayed by these bodies we've worked so hard to condition.

when i talk to other women, civilians, about roller derby, i often hear, "i would love to do that! it sounds like so much fun! but i'm afraid of getting hurt..."

i never used to worry about getting hurt, but the past two months have afforded me time to reflect on that reality. i've concluded that being hurt is for the birds (shitbirds if you want to get specific), and i've developed a greater appreciation for the deal-breaking status "getting hurt" holds for some would-be derby girls.

not unlike the players in other full-contact sports, derby skaters get injured all the time. looking at the bigger picture, i realize that a sprained ankle ain't no thang. it will heal, and i will skate again, and what i need to do is stop feeling sorry for myself and focus my energy elsewhere. but there is so much energy - i have amassed a surplus in recent years, reserved for physical activity - and it's so fucking hard to not expend it doing the things that make me feel good: skating, running, riding my bike.

i think the only reason i've been able to write this is because i'm finally starting to improve (i think. i hope). my limp is mostly gone, and i can bound down the stairs the way i used to, and the aching in my ankle no longer wakes me up at night. nothing will be amputated. it's not terminal. i will survive.

and when i'm ready to start skating again, i'll probably forget this nasty business ever happened even though i shouldn't.

the fight crew recently lost a skater to a head injury. she sustained a concussion during practice, and has suffered from seizures in the months that have followed. she says that her personality has changed, she's depressed and she forgets things. she told us a story about driving and reaching for a cigarette, removing the cigarette from its pack and placing it between her fingers. she made a move to light it, and looked down to discover another cigarette already there, burning. she had no memory of lighting it or smoking it. she didn't know how it got there.

this skater talks about coming back after the seizures stop, when her doctors give her the green light. i'm not sure when or if this will happen, but her determination is both amazing and frightening.

jamming during 2007 championship bout

Monday, March 10, 2008

please forgive the duplication

while most folks i know are loath to lose that precious hour at the start of daylight savings, i woke up yesterday morning and reset the clock on my nightstand with gusto. hello sunshine!

spring is still a couple of weeks away, but at 75 degrees and hardly a cloud in the sky, you wouldn't know it. yesterday i celebrated the near-perfect los angeles weather by riding my bike through griffith park. if i had a doctor, this would most certainly be against his orders, but i don't, and so i went, oblivious to the ache in my ankle. riding up the winding park roads, there were so many moments i wanted to get off my bike and hike the trails, but i knew this would be more damaging than the bike ride, and so i resisted.

i rode up through the hills, and eventually landed at the observatory. i'd never been there.

my injury-induced blogger's block persists. instead of writing about the observatory, here's a related post from my other (not-public) blog, written before i got hurt:

I keep running into Chris - you know, Michelle's brother? I hadn't seen him since we were together, but suddenly he's around the Doll Factory a lot. He's friends with an artist who rents studio space from us. Some nights during practice, on my way to the bathroom, I skate through the empty factory - the spaces where our track isn't - the industrial-looking void filled by bands and vendors and fans during the games. In a room to my right, I'll catch a glimpse of Chris sitting among the dozens of red velveteen-covered busts his artist-friend has made. Affixed to the head of each identical bust is a red velveteen Mouseketeer cap. Chris and I will wave to each other as I pass.

The first time I saw him was back in September, and it wasn't inside the Factory. I didn't recognize him right away. I was riding my bike down Hollywood Blvd, running errands, trying to get everything together before I left for Europe that Monday. I stopped to lock my bike somewhere between Hillhurst and Vermont when I heard my name spoken as a question: "Meghan?"

Standing on the sidewalk, waving at me, he knew that I didn't know who he was. "It's Chris! Tony's friend!" I took him in: the round face, light brown skin, receding hairline. I looked down and saw the belly hanging over the top of his pants. Finally, something clicked. Synapses fired, connections were made, and I saw that house in Highland Park. Early Fleetwood Mac on the TV screen (pre-Nicks and Buckingham). I heard Michelle's band in my head, I saw the 45 on our turntable. And then I was back in our old apartment - at a party we had. Was it a housewarming? Lewis took those black and white photos of us in the Herman Miller shell chair. I was sitting in your lap. Chris was there that night, and I still have those chairs though lately I've been thinking about selling them and upgrading to something more comfortable.

"Oh! Chris! Hey, it's been a while...."

We spent a couple of minutes catching up. He said he was headed to Barnsdall Art Park to fly a kite and would I like to come. He was with another guy, someone I'd never met before, but who looked exactly like the sort of dude who would hang with that crew from our past: crooked teeth, shaggy hair, ill-fitting thrift store clothes. I had promised myself that I was going to fly a kite this summer (this was actually an item on a "to do" list somewhere), but it hadn't happened yet, and here it was September. Summer had other places to be; you could feel it in the breeze. Besides, I was leaving for London in a couple of days. It was now or never.

"OK," I said. "I'm going to Rite-Aid first and then I'll meet you there."

At Rite-Aid, I bought the travel-sized toiletries I needed for my trip plus an ice cream cone. Then I made for the park.

At the base of the grass-covered hill, a Frank Lloyd Wright building perched at its summit, I locked my bike. I climbed to the crest, and when I got there, I turned around and looked. The sky was so blue it ached. I stared into into the face of Mount Hollywood, and the domes of Griffith Observatory twinkled at me. Do you remember that it was closed the entire time you lived in L.A.? It finally reopened after five years of renovation - enough time for us to come here and break up; for you to move to Seattle and then back to Tucson; for me to live through a whole relationship with someone else. I haven't been to the Observatory though this is also on a to-do list somewhere.

Just to the left of the domes was the Hollywood sign: Home, an unpacked suitcase waiting.

Chris hadn't designated a meeting spot. When I turned away from the mountains, I saw a diaphanous penguin hit the sky, sunlight pouring through it - a flightless bird, soaring! This was my signal, and so I followed it.

I found Chris unfurling his line, fishing in reverse, the two-dimensional bird flailing above. Beneath us, splayed out on the grass, his friend was taking pictures as if to prove this day really happened, that we did this thing: We went to the park and flew a kite. Chris handed me the line.

"You want to give it a shot?"

I held the line, felt the tug, watched the penguin twist and dart, slicing through the places where -- in some other city -- there might be clouds.

I read Shortcomings recently. I know you hate Adrian Tomine, but christ, if he isn't you. The Ben Tanaka character, I mean, who reads like a stand-in for the author. It's the constant mocking of everything and everyone; the impossible introversion; the fetishization of white women; the fear of change; the unrelenting negativity. These things make me think of you.

We passed the line back and forth and the friend took pictures. We didn't talk much. Chris told me that he and Alana had broken up. I had a hard time picturing her in my head. Long brown hair and crooked teeth? Seems about right.

I've never found another mouth like yours. Or met someone who makes me feel like you did during those first few months -- before I got pregnant and unpregnant; before we moved in together; before we came to L.A.

Sometimes I think we were always trying to get back to the beginning: You in Tucson, me in Tempe, the driving back and forth across the desert to see each other, and how the very first thing we did, always, was fuck. We'd walk through each other's doors and immediately shed our clothes. Molting snakes, we'd slide into each other's beds, and coil around each other. You were terrified of cars, but you learned to drive for me. Funny how you're back in Tucson, still driving after all those years on foot, and here I am in L.A. of all places without a car.

I never wanted to come here. The thought never crossed my mind until I met you. But look at me now: flying a kite over this city I've made my home. I was wrong about this place. I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time about it.

Soon, I will be riding my bicycle through Normandy on my way to Paris. Outside of Rouen, the rain will start. L.A. has spoiled me. Despite all of the preparations I've made for this trip -- the miniature containers and vials I've filled with my potions, the tiny loofah, the portable speakers so we can dance in our hotel rooms -- I did not pack appropriate rain gear or even a pair of contacts. As the chateaus and pastures and masticating cows blur past, above me the air is crashing. The clouds are too heavy, and so they release their burden onto the four of us, the bicyclists below. The water splatters across my glasses and soon I can barely make out the wheel spinning in front of me. This is why cars have windshield wipers. My companions saw this coming. They are wearing waterproof jackets while I grow heavy with the weight of so much water. I do not give the signal to stop because what's the point? The moment we do, I will be cold. I convince myself that I am moving so fast, the liquid is flying off me, incapable of sticking. It cannot penetrate the fortress of my cotton hoodie. It is a delusion, I know this, and meanwhile, my clothes are reshaping themselves, forming a wet cast around my body. I am being Plaster of Parised. I pretend not to notice.

In the middle of all this countryside, there is a store, a big gray box rising into the gray sky, an almost imperceptible break in the landscape. We stop. Inside this box, it's a bargain basement closeout kind of store, and they are selling Nutella and picture frames at heavily discounted prices. From behind the glass of these frames, of which there are dozens, the same attractive French couple smiles at me. Nearby, something catches my eye: the sheen of plastic packaging in my periphery. Beneath the plastic are a man and a woman in matching rain ponchos. Hers is red, his is blue, and between each of their legs is a bicycle. Their feet are planted on the ground as if they have reached the final destination on their journey - a white room. They are dry, and their ecstatic grins mirror my own. The ponchos fit over their handlebars, protecting their hands and thighs from the imaginary deluge they've escaped. They're practically tents, so we each buy one, and outside of the gray box, we slip into our new outfits, modeling for each other. We look like the Beatles on the cover of Help!, and we pose for pictures, the requisite documentation. Then we remount, pointing ourselves toward Paris. We depart the parking lot in a single file procession, floats sailing in a parade, red and red and blue and then red. Our ponchos are expanding, billowing: flags of victory.

In a few weeks when I return from London, I will step outside the airport and, as predicted, summer in Los Angeles is gone. Fall has arrived, but the palm trees don't notice. I will wear a cardigan, and come winter, a jacket. Maybe a scarf when I'm riding my bike near the Silver Lake Reservoir at night, past our old apartment. I prefer the summer, but if we're really being honest, the weather doesn't change much here.