Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Nitro was a great guy. I never before met a cat who shook hands and played fetch. Knowing he -- and my mom -- were suffering broke my heart. I called her yesterday because I just had a feeling. Turns out she'd gotten at least one other call like that. Maybe people know. We have radar.
I'm having a hard time these days as I struggle with the idea this this isn't something we're getting away from. Everyone -- we're all going to die. We don't know where and we don't know how. We only know it's inevitable. And even I -- the master of getting out of it, whatever It is -- won't escape.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Then he went up and told her to be quiet. Not so nicely. Later, when she got louder again, he went back up and said: "You're screaming again." He kind of scared me when he did it. But I like how assertive he can get when needed.
Looks like I'm going to be opening up my wallet and saying ah, both for Oliver's dental and for my show. I met with Martin yesterday and we're starting to hash out what needs to be done and how it's got to happen. Awesome.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
On Friday, Adam and I took Oliver to the vet for a limp and what we suspected was a cold. The limp turned out to be an ingrown claw, and the vet also noticed a drop in weight. He's down from 12.6 pounds in late October to 12.0 today. She asked permission to do a blood panel to find out what, if anything, may be going on.
I gave permission, got off the phone, and broke down. Oliver is 19 years old and in the near-decade I've had him, I've never had anything but a positive report from the vet.
When we picked him up later that day, the vet told me to relax. "He's in amazing shape for such an old cat," she said. "Cats usually live 15-16 years, tops. Oliver's doing great."
I should know tomorrow about the bloodwork results. It could be kidney disease, or a thyroid problem, or diabetes, or arthritis. He's also developed this completely bizarre habit of shrieking over his food -- Adam and I will come running at top speed, and Oliver will be standing there over his bowl looking as confused and dopey as ever. It's as if he's unaware that he screamed at all.
No one ever said being a pet owner is easy. He looks happy, he seems comfortable, he's eating and being social and doing everything a healthy cat does. But I was telling Warren and Carl all this, and Warren said: "Allison, not to minimize your cat being as old as he is, but every day he lives is a victory. I've seen you come so far in the time you've had him. You've done so much."
It made me feel good.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Yeah. That's what I learned last night. Pain is part of life. Suffering is our reaction to it.
So what's pain?
Pain is the difficulty.
Everything that's going on right now.
I'm stoked about getting married. I love Adam more than I can say. I don't mistake our marriage for the wedding, or vice versa. The marriage is going to be stellar. Planning the wedding has sucked royally.
- Susan B. Anthony
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I'm someone who's learned to tell the truth. It's not hiding that makes things less scary, it's facing it (whatever IT is) and sharing your struggle with the outside world. That, of course, comes at a cost. Truth-telling means you run the risk of alienation, rejection, and ridicule. I will come before the audience to take that risk.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
"We are for City leadership that insists everyone in Oakland observe simple respect for the community. We must turn around the attitude of making concessions to boom cars, open street dealing, sideshows, wrecking of public events, and disruptive party houses. There is no "cultural" excuse for making the lives of innocent residents all across Oakland miserable. City leaders must draw the line, not give Oakland a national reputation for thug rule of the streets.
"We are for a moratorium on residential development projects. Oakland does not need the two main kinds of housing promoted by the city council in its role as the redevelopment agency: neither more overpriced condos for young professionals, nor subsidized low-income housing. Our money should not help developers sell condos built like stacks of ship containers. As for so-called affordable housing, Oakland has 28 percent of the people in Alameda County but 55 percent of the income-based assisted housing, and this housing is concentrated in flatland districts while other parts of the City bear none of the travails that have accompanied these projects. We need peaceful, comfortable neighborhoods for the current residents of the flatlands – a mix of hard-working middle-income and poor people who all want peaceful communities for themselves and their children."We are for a rollback of redevelopment districts. These districts starve basic services of tax money, funneling the dollars largely into residential projects. Redevelopment amounts to welfare for politically connected developers, who get rich then use their wealth to grab even more public money for themselves.
"We are for imposing accountability on social programs. From the PUEBLO scandal to the latest illegal raid on the Measure Y fund, social programs in Oakland are scattered, overlapping, inefficient, out of control, and a breeding ground of political corruption. We are for fewer, consolidated programs run by public departments, not by half-secret nonprofit agencies. The City should largely confine itself to helping implement county, state, and federal job training, probation, and other programs. These levels of government have a broader tax base and the responsibility to run their criminal justice and penal systems well to achieve real rehabilitation."
Equal expectations of all Oakland residents. Imagine that.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
It's a great scene. It has to be seen to be appreciated. Adriana comes home and there's Christopher, higher than the ozone layer, conked out on poor little Cosette's neck. Classic!
Adam loves and accepts me. Holy cow!
Saturday, January 12, 2008
These words of wisdom from the schmuck who inadvertently fired into Harmony Road Music School and hit Christopher Rodriguez, most likely paralyzing this young boy for life.
I've known plenty of black males who found ways of motivating themselves to face the challenges and obstacles in their way. It took strong family support and it also took individual strength. Isn't it borderline racist to say that young black males are the ones who need special help because they can't do it on their own?
I don't want to hear cries about social justice. Social justice means that a 10-year-old kid can take a piano lesson at four in the afternoon without worrying about a bullet in his gut.
Friday, January 11, 2008
The majority of Oakland is a cesspool. And the thugs who make it a cesspool are bleeding into other, nicer, areas -- Rockridge, Lakeshore, Piedmont. Crime is way up in the Bay Area. It's insane that any parent should be afraid to send their kid to piano lessons at 4:30 in the afternoon, at Pleasant Valley and Piedmont.
Fuck these thugs. I don't know what else to say or do, but I'm sick of seeing them standing around with their long white t-shirts and their gold teeth and their ignorant attitudes. There's a reason downtown Berkeley sickens me. Now Piedmont. Where next?
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The cats are in the flower beds
A red hawk rides the sky
I guess I should be happy
Just to be alive
We have poisoned everything
And oblivious to it all
The cell-phone zombies babble
Through the shopping malls
While condors fall from Indian skies
Whales beach and die in sand
Bad Dreams are good
In the Great Plan
And you cannot be trusted
Do you even know you are lying?
It’s dangerous to kid yourself
You go deaf, dumb, and blind
You take with such entitlement
You give bad attitude
You have No grace
You have no sense of consequence
Oh, my head is in my hands
Bad Dreams are good
In the Great Plan
Before that altering apple
We were one with everything
No sense of self and other
But now we have to grapple
With this man-made world backfiring
Keeping one eye on our brother’s deadly selfishness
Everyone’s a victim here
Nobody’s hands are clean
There’s so very little left of wild Eden Earth
So near the jaws of our machines
We live in these electric scabs
These lesions once were lakes
We don’t know how to shoulder blame
Or learn from past mistakes
So who will come to save the day?
Mighty Mouse. . . ? Superman. . . ?
Bad Dreams are good
In the Great Plan
In the dark
A shining ray
I heard a three-year-old boy say
Bad Dreams are good
In the Great Plan
- Joni Mitchell
Metafilter critique here.
Monday, January 7, 2008
However, I did relate to this snippet of a New York Times story tackling this oh-so-timely issue (I have to say: I'm not ahead of the curve on most things, but I was sold on the home office nearly a decade ago):
Mr. Wiese, who is writing a how-to book about exploration for teenagers, acknowledged the problem. “Nicci tends to be a lot more intense,” he said. “Especially with lighter work, I can be watching a ballgame. If I saw a funny e-mail coming through I’d want to share it. I’d get these glances from her, like, ‘I’m working!’”
I can so see Adam and I in that. Fortunately, he's getting better. Or am I getting more patient? Nah.
- Why are you doing a show?
- What is that show?
- What do you want the audience to do/think/learn/feel?
- (Most important) WHO is Allison Landa and what is her journey?
ME: What are you working on?
HIM: Nothing much.
ME: That's fine. When you don't go to grad school next year ...
HIM: Shrug. Smile.
ME: Think of your mom. She really wants you to go.
Hey. I do what I can.
Also, I'm meeting with a director later this month. I've worked with Martin before and he is the first person to show consistent, sustained interest in working with me. Pretty cool.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Also, here's the last part of "Little Girl", the story I read on Pirate Cat Radio yesterday. Bummer that streaming was down -- both my mom and Adam's mom were trying to listen in.
In 2004, two and a half years after we met, I was accepted to graduate school. Finally a triumphant end to a four-year quest. I realized that I could push and push and ultimately get what I wanted. I understood that some things actually do lie within our reach.
Little Girl was gasping her last. She had a broken head gasket, wonky axles, and leaky power steering fluid. People could hear me coming from literally a mile away: click-click-click, wheeeee.
My student loan money came in: Enough to replace Little Girl. Enough to buy me a car that would reliably take me from Point A to Point B.
I emailed Adam. At that point we hadn’t spoken in three weeks. The silence was my decision, not his.
As of this afternoon, Little Girl is sold. I didn’t see the point in keeping two around.
An hour later I got his first response.
Let’s have a moment of silence. She was a good friend.
He was right. She was a good friend. But we need to know when to end things. We need to understand when to stop pulling out the pain like toxic taffy. We have to know when to say enough is enough.
Two hours later, I got another email.
FYI: As of tonight, I am single.
The moments that matter rarely call for your attention. They’re almost always buried in the minutiae of life, the grocery shopping, the checking of email and cellphone messages, the turning of a key to start a car. It’s the moments we’ll discover later, in reflection and in memory, the times we turn over like grit to realize we’ve found gold.
This was not one of those moments. This moment was a cheerleader, a sign-waver, one of those buzzing planes with an advertising banner undulating from its ass.
Two days later, I drove my new-to-me Toyota Corolla to the café where we’d agreed to meet. My new car was everything Little Girl was not: practical, undented, a consistent starter and a straight shooter. I knew this car would take me to school and back again. I knew I could trust it to help me move my life in the right direction.
Now it’s three years later. It’s raining outside and I’m writing this story and Adam and I are engaged. There still are no blacks and whites in the world. But my Corolla is parked outside, Little Girl is a memory in a picture on a wall, and I have hope.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
I pulled out bits that meant something to me and threw them in a random file. A few choice ones:
"There've been many times when I'd be perspiring -- I do a lot of that on stage -- and I was crying. People thought I was only perspiring, but I'd be crying. ... I used to go with a girl. She also had a madam, and I used to ask her how she could do this and do that and still love me. She said, 'That's my job, but with you it's love.' It's the same thing with me and music." - B.B. King. This quote says so much about how I felt about my journalism job and my creative writing.
"Like coffee ice cream? Harrison says you're colorful, a risk taker, an impulsive type." - From a story about a Dreyer's ice cream taster. I love coffee ice cream.
"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius." - Arthur Conan Doyle
"The fact that there are a lot of good songs means there are also a lot of really bad songs I've written that you never hear." - John Fogerty. I think about this quote all the time.
And both Starr and Flynt reinforce the message that, in America, the pot of gold we're all looking for isn't located at the end of a rainbow, but at the bottom of a sewer. - E.J. Montini. The quote file had lots of Ken Starr references. You can tell I worked at the DR in the late '90s.
"Just keep going. So your shoes get wet." - A member of the Fairfield High band
Sophomorism uses a sledgehammer; wit uses a scalpel. Sophomorism cries out for your attention; wit assumes it has it. - Roger Ebert
There are moments when we can no longer ignore coincidence or cliche. - E.J. Montini
The legendary women of the 20th century, like Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King, did not wait to be given what they deserved. They were not shy, modest or repressed. They were stubborn, spirited, smart, and often loud. - Susan Swartz
"The bigger people are in life, the more big-league they are. That's been my experience. You meet less shits the higher up you go." - Ted Williams in Esquire Magazine
"It's no crime to be weird." - Lt. Carl Sprinkel of Springfield, Ill., on a man who solicited teenage girls for their socks.
About 15 minutes ago, writing at my desk with my headphones on and rain persistently falling outside, I broke down. Adam came over. I told him to go away.
He left. He knows what I'm writing about.
Anyone who knows and understands the fucked-up and strangely magical way in which we came together would understand my tears.
Friday, January 4, 2008
The car handled well. Both the exterior and interior were in good condition, except for the tacky ALOHA SURF stickers James had tacked onto both doors. As advertised, the mileage was low and the pep high.
Imade an offer. He went white under his tan.
Then the phone rang. I heard a lot of baby and okay.
Fifteen minutes later, we were writing up a contract.
“One more thing,” he said. “We’re going to have to go down to Monterey to get the pink slip.”
“I bought it with my ex-girlfriend,” he said. “We need to pay off the bank loan before I can sell you the car.”
Starting a business, my ass. The wife wanted the last vestiges of the ex-girlfriend out of her hair and, in particular, out of her garage. I was in my mid-twenties and had never been in a serious relationship, but I understood what was up.
The next day he picked me up at my apartment in Oakland and we drove the hour and a half to Monterey, top down, not speaking very much. When we arrived at the bank and I met his ex, I understood why he looked even paler under his tan than he had the previous afternoon. She had high, sharp boots and an expression to match.
“James,” she said, “I’m not so sure I want to sell the car.”
Ah. I’d stumbled into the cat’s cradle of an unresolved relationship. Fuck that. I wanted this car.
"I'm going for a walk,” I told them. “Five minutes. When I come back, I expect to buy the car and leave.”
I left, my heart pounding. What if she wouldn’t let him sell the car? But the wet palms were all for naught. When I came back, we did our business. Then I took the wheel and we drove back just as silently as we’d come.“Two pieces of advice,” he said when I dropped him off. “First, if the car doesn’t start, jiggle the key a little bit. Secondly, don’t bother with relationships. Just get a cat.”
Little Girl was my let’s-see-what-I-can-do car. I off-roaded in her, got her up past where the speedometer stopped counting off the numbers. One night, on the way to a fling, I was so worked up that I backed right into a telephone pole. I didn’t bother to inspect the damage that time. I just said “Shit!” casually, as I’d said it a million times earlier, and tore off.
Two months after Sept. 11, at five-thirty in the morning, I squealed around and around a parking garage on two wheels, “Raspberry Beret” howling on the stereo. Then the squeal turned into a slam – I’d hit a concrete pillar. I jumped out of the car, ran around to the passenger side, checked out the damage, and shrugged. Then I leaped back in the car and kept on squealing.
Two days later, I parked Little Girl in a friend’s backyard and abandoned her. I was off to teach English in Europe for six months. Little Girl was left to rust and sulk, the winter rain washing down on her expired registration tags.
She was still sitting in that backyard in the dusty ass end of Oakland, Asian dance parties and more-than-occasional gunshots echoing around her, when I returned from the Czech Republic. She was going to need some work to become street-legal, and that required money. So I got a temp job, and that’s where I met Adam.
Adam. The point in the story where the tone changes. The moment when the tone softens. The time when I stop, take a breath, and signal to you that this is where things go a little deeper.
Interesting article in the LA Times ... seems the famously high times in Amsterdam may be winding to a close.
I've only been to Amsterdam once. I stayed for a few days and I only saw the city center. That said, I had two observations: (1) It's a beautiful city; and (2) I pretty much hated it. It felt like a Dutch Las Vegas, complete with hooting, hollering frat boys.
Did I partake? Of course. I wound up at a place called Cheech 'n Chong's at high noon and spent the longest afternoon of my life there. Was it an experience I'd repeat? Probably not. Does that mean Amsterdam should be radically changed and Disneyfied? No. But it'll be interesting to see what comes in the next few years.
I do pop off a lot here, and in thinking about it today, I'm beginning to understand that some things are meant for public forums and others for private.
We learn. We live and we learn.
But yeah, I like her. I like the fact that she asked about me tonight. I like the fact that the last time I saw her, the minute I walked into Adam's dad's townhouse, she was full of questions: What are you writing? When are you performing next? How are the wedding plans? Lots of interest. I like that.
It feels good, makes me feel like part of the family.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Okay, so he's not a Republican ... not yet.
But check this out. From the East Bay Express:
Around 7 a.m. on New Year's Day, "I called OPD emergency dispatch to confirm that the cafe had been broken into. ... The dispatcher kindly and regretfully informed me that the response time would be slow due to several murders and shootings that were in the queue." Waters says that, what with several stickups at Pizza Plaza and Jump'n Java, local business owners "are all wondering if and when the time is going to come that we decide we have to leave this town behind, before it makes Republicans out of us."He theorizes that the area's being hit because, "finally succumbing to community and police pressure, the Uptown Market at Aileen and Shattuck finally installed eight security cameras and began actively dissuading their resident thugs from loitering and plying their drug trade there. This has made the usual suspects feel unwelcome and they have begun migrating back up toward, and above, Alcatraz. It's a shame that the best we have been able to do so far is continue kicking these people back up and down Shattuck Avenue."
The Bay Area's been making a conservative -- though hopefully not a Republican -- out of me for a while. The vague, let's-coddle-them social policies around here sometimes turn my stomach. (See my earlier rant on the proposed Oakland Ambassadors, the brainchild of Jane Brunner, who would have these would-be thugs standing sentinel at BART stations to walk little old ladies home from the train.) Common sense, people, please.
My friend Dave said a while back: "Conservatives think it all comes down to personal responsibility. Liberals think it's all about environment." I'm pretty firmly on the side of personal responsibility. It's Momma Thug's job to teach her little thuglet to, well, not be a thuglet. You can social-program until you're blue in the face and you're still going to have these little shits kicking in Christopher Waters' door. Not to mention perpetrating the far worse crimes that delayed the cops' response time on New Year's Day.
This makes me think about an incident I saw at the San Diego airport while waiting for my flight home this afternoon. A kid, probably about two years old, was throwing a hissy. I mean, it was a complete shit-fit. Her mother just threw up her hands and stood over her, waiting for the kid to calm down.
Now I'm a hypocrite, since I have never had and most likely never will have children, but I absolutely don't believe in permissive, passive parenting. Pick the kid up, swat her on the ass, and be on your merry way. You let a two-year-old rule you, and you might wind up being proud of their one accomplishment: Successfully getting away with robbing the Nomad. 'Nuff said.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Now at Lestat's, chilling out, drinking iced tea, and intermittently working. And I got to see Parker today! I'm crazy about that dog.