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.