Always writing or drawing something. Currently working on #100Days 30279 is the number Listed gave me, so I'll stick with that for now.

#100Days Day 13

100Days Day 13

It's Monday.

Over the weekend I could hear someone screaming racist slurs in the street. Like, really, really loud. Screaming, not like a sane person, but very deranged and agitated.

There were two things that bothered me (aside from the obvious fact that this was happening at all); one was the fact that no one seemed to be reacting to this. I know that when someone is acting unhinged, especially a possibly homeless person whose behavior can be unpredictable, it's best not to engage with them. So I wasn't surprised, but still uncomfortable. No one told the person to be quiet, no one opened the door to see what was going on, no one did anything. Yes, no one including me, although my unit is close to the back of the building and not near the street. Which leads me to the second thing that bothered me...

The way my building is set up is that we have a small apartment house, maybe six or so units, right next to our building, and we are separated by a driveway that belongs to this other building. Because of the proximity and the echo chamber created by the driveway, you can hear a lot of the sounds coming from either building quite easily. For example, I can hear my next door neighbor and his very loud laugh quite clearly, I can hear when he has lady friends over, I can hear the woman down the hall coughing (which she's been doing for almost a week, yikes) and I can hear the clink of silverware when the people in the building next door are having dinner. Not an unusual phenomenon in a city with closely-placed apartment buildings, but how is this relevant to this story?

It occurred to me, given the volume and clarity of the sound of the screaming, that there might be a chance that the offending racist may actually be someone in my building or even the building next door. This is what really terrified me, and may have played a role in my failure to leave my unit and see what was up. Like, is it possible that someone like that lives in my building? My neighbors are, in general, very nice and pleasant people. The tenants are very diverse: we have a mix of male and female, young and not so young, singles and couples, and white, black, asian, pacific islander, latino, and probably other backgrounds. Who in our building would scream like that and say such horrible things (which I can't bring myself to type here, but suppose you can only imagine)? Who in the neighboring building would say such things? I think it's less likely that it was the people across the driveway, since the majority of the residents there are immigrants from Eastern Europe. An accent would have given it away.

Still, it was uncanny: I have alarmingly sensitive hearing (a blessing and a curse) and I can usually pinpoint where a sound is coming from. Considering where my unit is located combined with the intensity of the sound, it just doesn't seem likely that the screamer was on the street out in front. A bit later, I checked the Citizen app just to see if anyone had called the police or reported the incident to the app, but there was nothing. Like it didn't even happen, but I know that it absolutely did.

I felt so awful after the incident: awful that I didn't do anything, awful that there really wasn't much I could do (the police are not going to come for someone yelling slurs, we've got too much other crime here), and awful that I lived in a place where someone would scream that. Most of all, I felt awful for the tenants in my building and neighbors who lived on my block who were reviled by this person, simply for existing. Yes, the offending person may well have been mentally ill, but it's hard to deny that we live in a society that is gradually beginning to normalize this type of hatred.

#100Days Day 12

100Days Day 12

I did not build my bookcases today.

I opened one of the boxed they came in (I ordered two) and it looked like it had opened in transit because the contents were all disheveled and the instructions seemed to be missing. I didn't have the patience to go looking for the parts in that particular moment, so I did other things instead. I did laundry, I went to the market, I did my online language lessons, I worked on a drawing, I scrolled through social media (of course), I cooked dinner...but I did not build the bookcases.

I have books, but I do not have bookcases. I had a bookcase once. When I lived in a house many years ago, I had a floor-to-ceiling bookcase. It contained all sorts of books, some of which I had since I was an undergraduate. I toted my books across the country (but not the bookcase, which we determined was too big to move) and from apartment to apartment. As time went on, and work opportunities dwindled and the cost of rent rose, I started to shed more and more objects. I was reluctant to part with my books, not really because I used them much (I'm not someone who re-reads a book once I've finished it, and the reference books were obsolete) but because of what they represented. They were a part of me, a part of my history and background, a symbol of my education and experience. Besides, it was (and still is) a part of my identity to be someone who owns books. After all, John Waters once famously said, "If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't f*** them!" Of course, my ownership of books is more tied to my ability to be seen as an intelligent human being, not tied to my sex appeal, but you get the idea.

As we found ourselves moving more frequently due to our struggles with landlords, at some point I started keeping my books in storage crates, and using the crates as a makeshift bookshelf. That would've been cute if I was a college student, but as an adult well past middle age, it's not a good look. I saw no need to get a proper bookshelf, partly because I couldn't afford one and also because I feared, at any time, I could be compelled to move in a hurry. It just made more sense to keep them in the crates so that if a 30-day notice, UD summons, or Sheriff's letter was taped to the door (all of which have happened at one point or other), I could just grab the crates and chuck them in the back of a rented car and head to the next place.

During the pandemic, I found myself spending more time at home. Over time, not only was I turned off by the sight of these crates, but I began to notice how they seemed to be a magnet for dust. Years of owning pets, running a ceiling fan nearly round the clock, and just living in an arid climate in general created an almost overwhelming dust situation in my apartment; the open slots, nooks and crannies and molded plastic pockets of the crates captured the dust and helped cover the books inside with tiny gray puffs of who knows what.

After seven years in this particular place, I've come to realize that maybe I've outlasted my transient existence. I no longer need to have my personal belongings "getaway-ready" and can finally make my environment more pleasant and welcoming. Also, I am very fortunate to be in a financial situation (finally) to be able to afford modest furniture and not feel terrible if I have to leave it behind if, and when, I eventually move out.

So I guess what I'm saying is, these crates are not only ugly and dust-collecting eyesores, they're also a symbol of a much sadder, more desperate time in my life. Making these bookshelves are an exercise in my moving on from that period. Sadly, I just now located the instructions in the box at last, and now it's too late to start building. Another day, I suppose. I've had the crates for this long; it can wait.

#100Days Day 11

100Days Day 11

When I was a junior in high school, I took an art class. It was pretty good: the teacher, who was about seventy (or that's how old she seemed to me) let us use a very wide variety of media, including acrylic paint. We had just been studying abstract expressionists; and of course, being the rage-filled teen that i was, I fell in love with that style. So, I took every color of paint I could, covered a large canvas in black, and attacked it with these short, furious strokes. Chaotic, but ordered.

I really liked the finished product, and when I proudly showed it to my teacher, she said, "wonderful! Do you know what I see? A school of fish!"
I just looked at her. I was speechless. I was like, lady, this is not even remotely a school of fish. This is me fighting with my mom, this is me protecting my younger brother, this is me trying to stay under the radar to avoid danger, this is me pushing my bullies against the lockers so I get the first strike. "Do I have to make them fish?"
She was insistent. She took a brush and showed me where to put the "eyes" on them. I was like, ok, fine, I want a good grade in art, I'll do what you say. But I never forgot it. I was so pissed.

So I made a replica of the painting, using a digital painting app, 42 years later...without the eyes. Take that, probably dead art teacher.

If someone tries to tell you what your art is, that's fine if that's what they see; but don't change it to suit them. Totally defeats the purpose.
It's not friggin fish.

#100Days Day 10

100Days Day 10

I kind of wish it was #10Days instead of 100, but on we go...

The other day I almost tripped while taking out the trash. Our dumpsters are behind the building in the courtyard, and there's a secure door at the back of the first floor hallway that opens to the courtyard.

Lately, there's been a folded-up piece of packaging propping the door open. It looks like cardboard, but a bit heavier, like it's coated in plastic or some other reinforcing material. It's stuck in the door to keep the door from closing and subsequently locking; a person would need an electronic fob to reopen it.

This "thing", we'll call it (for the purposes of this entry), is what I almost tripped over while taking out the trash.

The building management (and I imagine, many of the tenants) do not like the door being propped open; it's a security hazard, one that may seem trivial to most people but legitimate concern if you live in a major city plagued with petty crime, as the tenants of my building do. In fact, a tattered paper memo has been taped to the back door leading to the courtyard since at least November of 2021 advising residents to keep the door closed for our safety.

I don't have the heart to kick the "thing" out of the way, in spite of it's threat to my personal safety on more than one level. I know who has placed it there, and I even go through the trouble of making sure that it doesn't move out of place by sliding it back in the door jamb with my shoe--even when my hands are full of trash bags. It's been put there by an older woman and/or her adult son, both of whom sit in the courtyard several times a day to smoke cigarettes and look at their mobile phones.

In my building, there are three types of apartments: one bedrooms, studios, and units called "bachelors". The difference between the studios and the bachelors (besides around 200+ square feet) is that the bachelors don't have a walk-in closet, kitchen and sometimes not even a bathtub (only a shower stall). Some of the bachelors have a coat closet, microwave and dorm fridge, but others don't even have that; they're just a room with an adjacent bathroom.

The smoker woman and her son live in one of these bachelors.

Imagine being in your "golden years" (I assume she's older than me, which puts her in her sixties or seventies--but the smoking may make her look older) and having to live with your adult son in a walkup apartment that's less than 200 square feet. She and I chat sometimes, and she told me in a sad, resigned voice how hard it is. She is unmarried (I didn't ask if she was widowed or divorced), doesn't appear to work, and evidently from another country where it seems she had to leave as opposed to have left by choice. She had her older son, a very friendly and cheerful young man, living with her for a while; he later left to go to Texas for work, and he was soon replaced by his younger brother. The younger brother seems more surly and reserved than the older one.

She talks of how hard it is for her sons to find work, how there's no privacy, no room for their things...how anxious she is about the looming date when the COVID tenant protections will expire. She doesn't know where they will go if they get evicted, or how she'll pay for the back rent.

It's a sad situation, one that I suspect many residents of my city are in. She is always friendly, always says hello and asks how I am. When I return the question, she always half-smiles and shrugs. "I know," I say.

The courtyard, I imagine, is very important to them. It's really like another room that they live in; an extension of their tenuous existence. This is why I don't shut the back door: it's not like anyone else is using the courtyard, and I figure if they're out there, we're safe. As safe as we can be, anyhow. Any of us.

#100Days Day 9

100Days Day 9

I started a new audiobook today, and it's already riveting.

Part of the reason is because it's written by someone I know, but another reason is because the story is incredibly compelling. It's also funny, horrifying, triumphant, tragic, and a host of other adjectives, but let's just stick with compelling right now. I'm only on the first chapter (after the dedication and prologue, of course).

The author, besides being a person I know and have been acquainted with, was also Australian of the Year for 2021. She's a survivor of grooming and sexual assault by a trusted adult when she was a teenager. She has told and retold her story over and over again, giving a voice to many other survivors who don't have one. Her story isn't just about the crimes themselves that were committed against her by this adult, but also how these events colored and impacted the years of her life that followed.

Anyway, I don't think it's too soon to recommend the book: she's shared some of her story already, and I know more people need to hear it. If the rest of the memoir is told with the same humor, candor and fierceness (and honestly, why wouldn't it be?), then I know it will be incredible.

I'll write a post recapping it when I'm finished, but for now you can check it out here: https://amzn.to/3FiiarK

I hadn't planned on using this blog to promote anything, but this seems worth it. After all, if I'm writing every day about things that have an effect on me, then that justifies including it and sharing it for anyone else it may benefit.

#100Days Day 8

100Days Day 8

I can't believe I almost let this day get away from me without writing. So now, I'm in a rush.

I did do a lot of reading today. I listened to an audiobook, which counts, because it wasn't a podcast; I read a lot of articles, mostly from the New York Times; and I read the new issue of a newsletter that I've recently subscribed to.

I also read some social media posts, which I've been trying to get away from, and lo and behold it robbed me of time I could have spent writing. It also very nearly caused me to get into a facebook-comments-thread argument with a friend of mine, which would have been stupid had it actually happened. Fortunately, it did not.

I also felt mentally so scattered today, and it's hard to write when I feel like that. Not impossible, but hard. That's something I have to get over because it doesn't seem like a legitimate excuse to me. However, if I hadn't written at all for that reason, there would be no good reason to beat myself up over it: so I guess it's good that I sat down at the keyboard.

This weekend I hope to get started building my bookcases. The bookcases are significant, but I'll save that story for the weekend, when I'm not rushed and have the emotional bandwidth to explain it.

#100Days Day 7

100Days Day 7 --one whole week!

Today I was getting ready to take a bath and I remembered something my dad once said to me.

I was a young girl, maybe around nine or ten. I had just taken a bath, and then after I came out my dad went into the bathroom to shave (we had a small house back then and I think there may have only been one bathroom). A moment later, I went back and told him he had to leave because I had to use the toilet; he looked at me, face half covered in shaving cream, and said, "You just took a bath, and now you have to go? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?"

He left and I used the bathroom, but that statement stuck in my mind: what did it mean? It's so weird that all these years it's been a puzzle. I mean, I have a feeling I know what he meant, but as a kid, I really latched onto that statement. I remember thinking: defeats what purpose? Taking a bath? So that means when you go to the bathroom, you aren't clean anymore? Like, my child brain just ran an analysis over this data repeatedly: so if you take a bath, once you go potty (mind you, I didn't even specify to him if I was going #1 or #2--I'm pretty sure I just had to pee)...once you go potty, that's it? You're now on deck for a bath?

Like, there was no traumatization, I don't feel "dirty" or think human waste is dirty (well, no dirtier than it actually is, let's be real), but no one had put it to me in those terms before, you know, intellectually.

I wish my dad was still alive, I would love to recount this scenario to him and try to unpack it now. I think we'd have a great laugh over it.

#100Days Day 6

100Days Day 6

I got so nervous, thinking that I was going to miss the challenge today! I'm afraid this will be short and trite, as my mental focus has eluded me; since I was babysitting my friend's dog last night (see previous entry) I didn't get any sleep and my morning was busy walking her, feeding her, giving her an insulin shot and then packing up her stuff.

Then I got distracted by an article in New York magazine about a columnist who had to give up her apartment after 27 years because the landlords sold the building. On the one hand, I'm sure she had paid very little in rent and I can't feel sorry for her regarding that, but on the other hand, it sucks that she had to leave her home after all that time.

I don't know if I'll ever make it back to NYC. I think about it too much and each day I get more and more pessimistic. Not very productive.

Anyway, I'm grateful to be back at work even though I had to have a meeting with my boss.

Back to work!

#100Days Day 5

100Days Day 5

I don't care if you believe in a higher power, the Universe, "God" (or "gods") or quantum physics (or any combination thereof), be careful what you wish for...you will LIKELY get it.

I know the actual saying ends with "...you just might get it" but my experience has been you often get it, particularly if you need it. As in the line from the old Rolling Stones song, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need".

Case in point: as I've said once before, this is a tough time of year for me. My mom got sick during Thanksgiving many years ago, which led to her hospitalization and eventual demise a few months later. Most of my friends go out of town, and many other friends and family live on the other side of the country. Divorced and without kids, that leaves me solo on most holidays.

Since my dog passed away last year, I've just been down in general. Lately I've been missing her like crazy, and just overall miss having a pet. I've had one kind of pet or other since 2001, and this past year is the first one in decades where I've been without one. I look at pet rescue websites and instagram accounts and tear up. I'm reluctant to adopt again, at least not yet, due tot he cost of vet care and the upcoming scheduled travels I have planned for next year. Still, it sucks.

Just when I was starting to really spiral into a depression, I get a text today from a friend who has a senior, disabled dog whom I've cared for in the past. She asks me if, on short notice, I'd be willing to take her dog for an overnight visit tonight while she spends time with a friend who's allergic (her dog usually accompanies her everywhere).

My first impulse was to say no; last-minute plans and requests freak me out, I've been in both a foul mood and also not feeling well, and this dog, to be honest, is a LOT of work. Then I realized: the universe is giving me exactly what I asked for. Not exactly as in I asked to take care of this elderly, basically incontinent, diabetic dog overnight on shirt notice, but I did exactly ask (whether I will admit it or not) for companionship in the form of a domesticated animal.

So there you go. I did eventually say yes to the request, and I'm kind of looking forward to hanging out with this sweet old gal for a night. We'll likely have to go out to go potty at 3 or 4 am, she'll probably pee on my floor, and her farts will seem like they'll peel the paint from the walls, but I don't mind.

After all, most of us will likely get to that point ourselves, and hopefully we'll be lucky enough to have someone else willing to put up with us.

#100Days Day 4

100Days Day 4

I started a newsletter a few weeks ago. Not to promote anything or make money, but rather to keep people updated on my life in a way that was more private than a blog, and without relying on social media.
I deliberately set it up with the intention of only updating when I actually had something to say: I have a couple of friends who use email newsletters this way, and seems more respectful of people’s inboxes.
The problem with long lapses between installments, it seems, is that it’s just enough time for writer’s block to get really, really bad.
This challenge is great: you know that you’re going to write every day, no matter what, no matter good nor bad or eventful or uneventful. However, it’s a different audience; im writing for me here, not for subscribers. Maybe that’s the problem. Whether anyone ses this or not is irrelevant, it’s the act of doing that’s important.
Well, now that I’m “warmed up”, so to speak, im going to give it another go.
Wish me luck.

#100Days day 3

100Days day 3

Posting day three of my 100day writing challenge a little late because I’ve been having some issues with the desktop app. Mobile app to the rescue, fortunately, and not much to report other than I just cranked out three film reviews on Letterboxd, took a long walk to a coffee shop I don’t usually go to in order to support a small business on Black Friday, and took an uncharacteristic (for me) nap, because I feel exhausted after yesterday’s excursion to Universal.
I had grand plans and high hopes of going to the movies again today and maybe even checking out a local Christmas tree display, but it was not to be. Fatigue won this round, but not for long. My hope is to rally tomorrow and venture out for more local shenanigans, or else build the new bookcase I just got. Either would be a win.

What are you doing this weekend?

#100Days Day 2

It’s Thanksgiving Day and I’m at Universal Studios. I was here last year, too. It’s one of the few places around here where I can be around people and socially distance at the same time. The year before last was 2020, so I don’t think I went anywhere. It’s still such a blur. Yeah, I think I stayed home and made a vegan chopped cheese sandwich.
This year I’m eating vegan chicken and fried rice. It’s almost 80 degrees and sunny. Last year it was overcast and I had tacos. I’m sitting in the open seating area on the second floor food court. There’s a couple canoodling at a table behind me, and I could swear that it’s the same couple who were doing the exact same thing last year. Either that, or this must be a prime canoodling spot.
There’s a young woman a few tables away from me in a work uniform, likely on a break. There’s a young girl standing by the railing, looking over Citywalk, dancing feverishly to the songs playing over the speakers.
In about an hour I’ll go down to the movie theater and watch a film. Afterward I might walk around a bit to see the tree lights, maybe send a video message to some far away friends, then walk down to the metro station and head home.
I got a lot of nice messages this morning. Some from relatives, others from friends. I’m grateful that people even think of me today. I’m alone on Thanksgiving, but not really alone. I didn’t have to be; it was a choice. I had invitations, but I’m just not ready to be around people yet. Not like that. No one should feel bad for me. I’m ok. There’s a lot to be thankful for.

#100Days Day 1: an experience in New York

100Days Day 1

In October, I traveled back to New York for the first time since January of 2020; in other words, the first time since pre-pandemic.

(For context: I was born and raised on Long Island, just outside of NYC; I went to university there, and aside from a short six-year residency in LA, lived there all my life up until 2012 when I returned to LA)

I was fully aware that I would be coming back to a changed city; I just didn’t know how changed it had become.

The city that never sleeps does, in fact, sleep now.

I arrived late on a weeknight, checked into my hotel, and decided I needed to get a snack. I ventured out onto the streets of Manhattan at 10:30pm to find that there were very few places open. No fast food, no delis, no markets…not even a bodega.
The streets were relatively empty except for a few pedestrians, and I must have looked like a tourist the way I was scanning the skyline for the first time in years.

That was my first mistake.

An older man in an old raincoat, surgical mask dangling from one ear, approached me. He held a piece of paper in one hand.

“Now, you look like a nice lady.”

My immediate response to a compliment is to say “thank you” and smile, just like I’ve been conditioned to.

That was my second mistake.

He went on to reveal, while pointing to this sheet of paper, that he had secured a room for the night, but didn’t have adequate funds to pay for it (as he pointed to a number on this paper, which was something like $150 bucks, and showed a crumpled $20 bill in the other hand). I explained (still smiling, like an idiot) that I didn’t have any cash (the truth, I seldom carry it), and as much as I wished I could help him, I could not.

Mistake number three, in case you’re keeping count; engaging with the stranger.

He replied, “Well,” and pointed over my shoulder to an ATM inside a closed bank, “this other nice lady went into the ATM and got some money out for me, and…” (mistake #4, looking toward the bank and taking my eyes off him, very dangerous)
I cut him off then. “Oh no, I’m sorry sir, I can’t do that. I just got into town, and I don’t have any money.”
When those words escaped my lips, I thought, now you’ve done it. You’ve revealed personal information to a total stranger.
Fifth mistake.

At that moment, however, I got very, very lucky. The man pressed his lips together in defeat, made a fist as if to invite me to “pound” him (I did…#6) and said, “Thank you, you have a nice night” and we went our separate ways.

I walked up the street in the opposite direction, thinking, “you spent over ten years training in martial arts and self defense, and you let that happen?”

And why do I “seem like a nice lady?” WHY??

It’s official. LA has made me soft.

Interestingly enough, when I shared this story with my brother and sister-in-law a few days later, they both laughed in acknowledgement. My sister-in-law said, “It’s the [our family’s surname] face! I tell your brother that all the time!” My brother then went on to tell me a similar story about an incident that happened when they were vacationing in Montana, except in this scenario he was approached by a family in a Minivan who claimed to be from Dubai. Even after exchanging “as-salamu alaykum” (my younger brother is Muslim), he was still manipulated by this dude to take $250 out of an ATM. The grateful minivan driver insisted that my brother accept several strands of “family heirloom” gold that he wore; and the moment that my brother placed them on a jeweler’s counter, was asked: “so, who ripped ya off?”

I still had a great time in New York, but it was a good reminder for me to be on my guard (and do my snack shopping in the daytime).

hello world.

Hello world, I'm thinking about doing this 100 Day Writing Challenge.
What do you think? #100Days