Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ladies, Frost Yourselves

You gays.
Guess what.

No really, guess.

I'm waiting.

Come on.

Seriously, just guess.

I don't know, any guess.

Say it out loud.

Say it.

You're not saying it.

I can hear you not saying it.

Come on.

Just fucking do it.


You know, this is exactly why I don't talk to you at parties.

On the off-chance that you did guess: ERRR you're wrong except-there's-a-distinct-possibility-that-you-may-be-right.


Whoops, how did this get in here?
Yessir, almost immediately after I had shit all over the bakery for not calling me back and gone into the "empowered by embitterment ex-girlfriend" mentality, they called me up and asked if I could come in.


So here we are! I am now officially working as a full-time cake decorator. I love it so far. It is a lot of work-- that is, they have me coming in virtually every day of the week-- but there are a zillion and one people of all ages and backgrounds who work there, and every one that I've talked to so far has been incredibly friendly and welcoming which makes the work incredibly enjoyable. I mostly work out front decorating cakes with a girl around my age and an older guy who can be seen wearing a Dodger's cap on any given day; he's one of my favorites so far. The two of us speak in Spanglish that's about 70% Spanish, since he doesn't know much English and I look for any opportunity to practicar mi Espanol. I think I'm the only white person who works there, and one of a very select few who isn't bi- or tri-lingual. Dodger's cap man-- let's call him Rudolph, 'cause he's got red hair and his real name starts with 'R'-- told me that I'd soon pick up some Chinese in addition to Spanish, since a lot of people who do the baking in the back almost exclusively speak Chinese. So I'm very excited about all of this. I love speaking and learning new languages, and I get the sense that the other people at the bakery can tell, because they've all been so inviting, helpful, and friendly. Even those who I talk with in English have been nice. Everyone's just... really nice. It's amazing. It's wonderful. Until I started working for TLG I never really knew what it meant to work with/for nice people... only crazy people, and more so the ornery kind of crazy than the pleasantly amusing kind of crazy.

Oh yeah, and also I decorate cakes. That's been pretty cool. My supervisor started me off with a tray and a big cone of whipped cream icing, and I practiced making a whole variety of different styled borders on the tray. Day 2 I attempted to take on the frosting rose, which proved to be a lot harder and a lot easier than it looks. On the one hand, the other girl who decorates cakes (who went to culinary school and has been here for two years, mind you) can bust out a gorgeous frosting rose in ten seconds or less, and do that time and time again. I've been working on my rose since yesterday, just making and tossing them back in the frosting tub over and over, and only today did my flowers start to look a little less like cabbage heads.

Or this.
The frosting can be difficult to work with because it's whipped, which means it isn't as stiff and it gets melt-y a lot quicker than something like fondant or that gum stuff, but it still holds its shape and can be used to make a lot of different things.

"Like tacos? And three-armed baboons? And penises?"

Sure, why not. I would get the okay to draw a penis on a 9-year-old's cake sooner than I would the Power Rangers, 'cause a penis ain't copyrighted material.

So... yeah, welcome to that new thing that will probably be talked about in this blog a lot now. P.S. this blog may or may not just turn into a bunch of pictures of cakes and selfies of me in a hairnet. Does anyone have a problem with that? I thought not.

In other related news, I have had a couple recent revelations:

Recent Revelations 

(and other potential titles for my collection of original poems about leaves)

1. I currently have about 6-7 jobs. Literally. What the figurative fuck. Not that I necessarily have 6-7 jobs' worth of hours, but G. Hossafat-- how on Earth did this happen?! I'm supposed to be a yuppie! But I guess I'm a working yuppie, because after a recent mental tally I realized I'm tutoring through two different agencies (in addition to some independent private tutoring), teaching at TLG, proctoring with Princeton, cake decorating, internshipping, and I recently agreed to be Production Designer for another Chapman thesis film in November. I don't know how this is all going to work, but so far it's quite wonderful because...

2. For the first time ever I have achieved a state of financial semi-independence. You remember how much I was whining about this?! Or, maybe I just kept ranting about it in my blogs and then hitting 'backspace' by the end because it sounded as loserish as thinking about it made me feel. But yeah, with all the odds-and-ends work that I've been picking up over the past couple months I didn't realize that I've actually been coming fairly close to my target monthly income, and now with a full-time job lining the cage I discovered that I'm doing all right. Even in the least lenient itemization of monthly expenses that I gave myself, I have a decent little pool for the category of "leisure" (booze, prostitutes) and possibly some left over. This is, as you can imagine, the best combination of surprising and exciting. I haven't felt this way about money since my first summer job. Not the car services one-- that never happened, no matter what I might blurt out during hypno-therapy sessions. The first summer job I consider "real" in some capacity was working at a panini/smoothie/salad franchise called Blendz the summer before my junior year of college. That was all right I guess, but I worked with crazy people.

3. I have like, no time to write anymore :(. That's the one (anticipated) downside of all of this, but I'm determined to make time. It may mean my writing process will slow down a bit-- or it might not, who knows-- but god help me if it stops. It won't. It can't. I must write! Insert pretentious writer bumper sticker conviction!

4. Quick, easy, low-fat, homemade Thai curry is, like, a real thing. I made it for the first time last night on an inkling and all I can say is, thank god for inklings. See, I have this little jar of Thai curry paste, and I've been sauteeing vegetables and such in it, but it never tasted that good because it's aromatic but bitter. The recipe for Thai curry says to mix curry paste with coconut paste or condensed milk or something, which is way too fatty/unnecessary/probably expensive for me to ever want to purchase. But, what's this? There's an entire carton of vanilla almond milk in my refrigerator? Why, that's the same exact freaking concept as coconut milk, isn't it? ...It worked. Oh boy, did it work. It was curry THAT TASTED LIKE CURRY, and I got to put all the veggies and such that I wanted into it! The veggies and tofu took the most amount of time because I baked the potatoes and tofu in the oven, but once everything was in the pan it only took about five minutes. This is next level. You don't understand. Thai curry is literally my favorite food, and I just figured out how to incorporate it into my catalog of dinner staples. STAPLE ALL THE CURRY.

5. My hands may smell like cake but the rest of me smells like absolute shit. I really had better shower before my internship tomorrow morning. Ciao, dahlkink!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How the Other Half Thrives

Yesterday I got a very real glimpse into what my life would be like if I had been a business major. And I gotta tell you, folks, it was pretty sweet. I had no idea what I was in for when I went to interview at this company that randomly hit me up-- apparently they saw my "administrative assistant" targeted resume on Why? Because every production/cable company needs administrative assistants, and I'm trying to get in any way I can. The interview was for some random life insurance company, which sounded dismally boring, but I figured hey, know what else is boring? Weekends when you're broke and unemployed. So I put on my big girl interview dress, my big girl business heels (which double as my big girl party heels on Friday nights), slung my big girl briefcase over my shoulder (some people get cars for their graduation...), and drove to a big, shiny-ass building over by Wilshire and Fairfax.

You can imagine my surprise that anyone in a building so shiny and important would ever contact lil' ol' "former money handler at the Sachsen Society bake sale." I mean, Jesus, of all the jobs I've ever held only one or two of them would I posit as even remotely legitimate. I guess I got off to an awkward start with my first job being selling auto care packages door-to-door on commission. For a month. Guess who's not a very convincing auto services salesperson? This 16-year-old.

The building my interview was in was actually part of a massive, shiny complex, and in the heart of it there was a stellar farmer's market going on. "Oh..." I thought to myself, "so this is what people with money get to do on their lunch break." Bear in mind that my idea of big spending is getting a taco bowl at Chipotle, and that past options for my "work lunch breaks" have only ever been Fatburger, some hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint, bringing lunch from home, or just not having a break to begin with.

Inside was another story. Literally. The company was on the fourth floor in the "North Wing." Of course, being the naiive little bumpkin that I am, I took the elevators going to the "South Wing." Jesus H. Christ, I've never worked at a place that had "wings." At best we had actual walls dividing rooms, and even that I consider a luxury.

"Okay, Jessica, your office will be on the other side of this screen."
The interview itself was a trip. I "passed" Round 1, which was literally a 2-minute conversation that served as some proof that I could pass as a normal person within a 2-minute time frame. Round 2 was me, the CEO, and about 30 other applicants of every demographic all in a small room together. We were each given a clipboard with a survey to fill out, that asked us many questions about how competitive we consider ourselves and how much we care about money.

I don't think I filled out that survey correctly. Whereas I thought de-emphasizing how much I care about money was some kind of testament to my integrity, the second the CEO began his presentation he made it very clear that money was his sole prerogative. This guy really, really liked money. You could tell whenever he'd start listing figures that he had to restrain himself from grabbing the people in the front row by the shoulders and shaking them, yelling, "Money! Can't you smell it?! Can't you feel it?! MONEY MY BOY, MONEY!"

"There's a swanky farmer's market outside! It's going to be ALL RIGHT!"
The job-- nay, career-- promised swift mobility, zero lay-offs, bonuses as far as the eye could see, and starting salaries that made the woman next to me nod uncontrollably and murmur, "Mmm-MM" over and over again. Seriously. When he began talking about how much money we would make as a starting agent all sorts of thoughts started running through my head: "Maybe I could stay here a year. Wait. No. Look at that five-year bonus. Okay. Five years. Just five years and then I'll have saved all the money I wanted and then I can go off and be a screenwriter. Ha. Screenwriters. Poor people. I'll be a rich screenwriter. RICH. MONEY MY BOY, MONEY!"

And then the CEO asked me to get down from my chair.

Despite how much the concrete possibility of being rich wrapped itself around my brain and made me heavily reconsider my entire life for a moment, I knew that, as nice as it would be, I would have to turn it down. This wasn't a job ("which means Just Over Broke," the CEO told us as if "job" was actually an acronym), this was a career. Something I would have to dedicate my life to. I would be Jessica the Insurance Agent. I would be rich. I would work in a shiny building. I would go to fancy farmer's markets for lunch. But I would be fucking miserable because I would have no time to pursue what I actually want to do. And at no point in my life did selling insurance or working at a major corporation ever sound appealing to me. I would hate it. Not to mention I would probably suck at it. Would you buy life insurance from me? I wouldn't buy life insurance from me. I would, however, buy a short story about the misery of selling life insurance from me. Or, I would if I had money. But I don't have money. Because I'm a writer.

I get the feeling that at several points in the future, I'll look back on this interview and think, "You fool. You naiive, idealistic, devilishly good-looking fool!" But for right now, I'm chalking it up as my first resistance to selling out. What kind of person would I be if I had spent the past 22 years of my existence babbling about how I was going to be a writer, and then within 6 months of graduation I gave up and became an insurance agent? No amount of money could compensate for that weakness of will. It probably wouldn't hurt, but I know I'd be miserable.

So back to looking around for minimum wage jobs that make me happy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Moons Over My Bloggy

So, not much has changed since you last heard from me. I still live in Chinatown, I'm still tutoring/teaching/interning/balling, and my thick black moustache is just as full and bushy as ever. But a few exciting things have happened in the past few days that I think are worthy of having words typed about them.

For starters, a good friend of mine just moved back into da hood. In case you were wondering, that's not slang for my returning crack addiction. I'm three days clean and I have a Dave N' Busters game token to commemorate it. My friend-from-Jordan-who-I-met-in-Prague-and-who-goes-to-school-at-Occidental just returned from taking a year off from school, during which he directed commercials and such in Jordan. He's my film homie. And he's back in LA! Which means it's about to get twisted.

We are two wild and crazy production designers!
On Friday, for instance, we saw a House of Blues show with my friend from Whittier. It was my boss/co-worker's birthday and she was promoting for one of the bands, so she scored a bunch of free comp tickets and invited me to bring some friends out for the show. Hey man, if scoring brownie points with bosses means I get to go to free HOB concerts, then call me Duncan Hines.

It's slightly cheaper than Betty Crocker and I can't taste the difference.
The show was a lot of fun, and a cool experience since my only other HOB encounter was San Diego my sophomore year of high school when I went to see Shinedown and Trapt. Had my first "wall of death" mosh experience and everything.

When this was cool, I was THE coolest. But you see the problem already.
And yes, my dad DID chaperone.

The three of us had a great time just being out and listening to live music; we even got food after the show at this restaurant on Sunset Strip called Carney's. It's a revamped train car, which I think is something we can all get on board with.

Chew chew
Cheap, delicious food-- especially if you're a vegetarian, because hot dog and hamburger joints assume that any food without meat in it is worthless.

And wouldn't you know it, Saturday evening held adventures as well. My Jordanian friend-- we'll name him G-Baby, because that's what I call him-- and his Jordanian friend-- we'll name him Salami, because that's what G-Baby calls him-- came over and hung out after I got off work. It is moderately entertaining hanging out with two dudes who randomly cut into 5-minute conversations in Arabic and use trans-culturally ambiguous phrases, like "Good boy." Not really knowing what to do, we decided to walk around Chinatown and maybe grab dim sum or something. Well, that sum went dim real fast once we realized we had walked right into Chinatown's annual Chinese Moon Festival. Crowds flocked to Chinatown to celebrate... the moon. I'm not saying that because I don't actually know what it's about, I'm saying that because that's what I read on Downtown was all a-flutter with food vendors, craft tables, displays and demonstrations, confetti bombs going off every five minutes, rides, acrobats-- seriously, I saw this guy balance teapots in ways that will forever change my life.

And I had NO clue this whole event was going to happen. But as someone who is incredibly impatient when it comes to waiting for Christmas, this was a pretty stellar surprise. G-Baby, Salami and I got to watch gnarly acrobat/dance/theatre performances and enjoy all the sights, smells, and colors of the festival.

Dragon tales.
As an added bonus, I was finally reunited with sushi burritos at my favorite food truck, Jogasaki. And for dessert, a bomb-diggity green tea shave ice off this truck called "fluff ice" or something. It had red beans on it, which I decided is actually pretty good. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be okay with beans, let alone the concept of putting them in a dessert; but hey, you move to Chinatown, crazy shit happens.

You mean like giant balloon replicas of the moon? Yeah, something like that.
After we had our fill of the festival the three of us decided to drive out to Santa Monica in the evening-- 'cause why not-- and we bummed around the pier, which was as colorful and glow-y as ever. Some dude was playing a didgeridoo (spell check seal of approval), making him the Pied Piper of kids on drugs. That was amusing.

In less amusing news, the bakery has dicked me around for a solid month now, meaning I should have moved on three weeks ago. Maybe I should bake a cake for the anniversary and decorate it with dollops of frosting poop. I only held on because they kept acting like I was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but being a bakery I should have known they would place more stock in cupcakes. Sigh. Kind of a bummer; I was excited to romanticize the shit out of that crummy little minimum-wage position. But now I get to move on, meaning I'm going back to the drawing board and trying to figure out how to juggle five jobs and an internship in a way that is somehow profitable. I think this all proves that I have work ethic but am a complete moron.

What else is gnu.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Joy of Doing Nothing

I finally managed to tap into my written communication skills long enough to type out another blog, so three cheers for that. And three thumbs way down for being incredibly bored!

Yup, it's one of those days. I am becoming well-acquainted with what seems to be an ongoing post-grad paradox, that whenever you're busy you wish you were free, and whenever you're free you wish you were doing something. Well, my internship boss is out of the country for two weeks. This means I'm doing nothing but watching film festival submissions from my bed for two weeks. Hooray! Watching movies in bed because I have nowhere else to be! I do this shit anyway and now it's kind of a job!

No. No hoorays. Well, okay, it is pretty sweet that I don't have to feel guilty about spending all day in my PJs, and that I can meditatively cook meals in between films instead of gnawing on leftover rice and beans that I hurriedly scooped into an old salsa container because I only allotted myself 5 minutes to make lunch before leaving for my internship. But agh... my brain! My soupy, inactive brain! I am not interacting with any human beings or accomplishing any significant task. I mean, geez, even walking to the post office yesterday made me feel good for a minute. "Hey, look at me go, I'm walking... all by myself!" This, on the other hand, is just... so much sitting. And staring. I guess cats would make better film festival reviewers than I would. Or private investigators.

Now of course, the second I step outside to face the world of responsibilities and obligations I know I'll pine for my bed and begin thinking of all the things I could be using my free time for. I could finish the painting I started last week, or revise my shitty scripts, or start new hopefully-slightly-less-shitty scripts, or look up writing jobs, or run errands, or jog, or join a writing group, or coat myself in a layer of peanut butter and run down Broadway screaming, "Do ye dare look upon me, mortals!" All viable options. At least I'm blogging, which is one of the items usually on that list. Whoo! Gold star.

This is all very temporary. (I tell myself.) I'll be back to going out and driving places and wearing shirts with sleeves soon enough.

I have to say, though, my current pessimistic attitude is largely due to a submission I just finished watching called "Improvising" by Clare Fogerty. I'm sure she won't mind the bump. It was a feature-length film that, as far as I can tell, was completely improvised as a sort of documentary-style narrative about a girl in an LA improv troupe trying to figure out what it is exactly that she's doing with her life. It was one of those movies that doesn't have a specific plot or perfect "arc" or anything, so much as a chronicling of a point in time in someone's life. Seeing as it paralleled pretty well with my own-- the artist out in LA, teaching because that's the only alternative to doing, not sure how to chart whether things are "on track" or not-- it definitely hit home. And the fact that it hit home now, when I'm still at the green age of 22 and the protagonist was probably closer to 25 or 26, was mildly disconcerting. You mean this is only the BEGINNING?

Come on, even the OCTOPUS is getting more exercise than me?!
Of course I know that there's a world of hardship lying ahead. I'm bracing myself for it now, by trying to find as few reasons to be a cynical fuck as possible. But I guess "bracing myself for hardship" is getting off to a bad start.

I just want to feel like I'm moving. Constantly. Capitalism totally got to me, and I very much subscribe to the attitude of "progress" and "growth" and all those things kindergarten teachers pay attention to. Maybe I should start making report cards for myself at the end of each month. Heck, I'll even put a sticker chart on my door and give myself a little smiley face for every time I achieve something. And there will be finger painting and macaroni necklaces at Thanksgiving!

...It seems my idea of progress has regressed to regression. Looks like I made a boo-boo.

Life is slowing down, but it will pick up again soon. It has to. Because I have a very specific order for how things are going to go. I'm going to get a job, and then based on my schedule I'm going to find a writer's group-- who knows, maybe a hiking group, too-- and I'm going to go to writer's groups which will make me a better writer, will help me meet new people, and will give me something to do. And after that it doesn't matter, because the sun will engulf the earth and all but god's chosen ones will transcend the flames of sin. I've made out with a girl before so... kinda like running a red light on your driver's test.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Friends and Split Ends

It's incredible what you can accomplish without verbal communication. Namely, getting trendy haircuts. Yes, that's what I did. There's this hair salon in Chinatown that I often walk past called Hill Street Hair-- a very small, low-key kinda place with ridiculous prices. Good ridiculous, though; like Kristin Wiig ridiculous. Not Seasons 4-and-up of Weeds ridiculous. So I thought I'd give it a try.

I walk inside and this is what I see: a teenage boy in an apron, a pretty older woman chatting away in (Mandarin? I wish I was at least not ignorant enough to know what language I'm not understanding), a very old man sitting in the back with his arms crossed and staring off into space like the ceiling tiles were giving a lecture on theoretical physics, and two salon chairs. I felt like I had walked into the middle of somebody's living room, if said living room was owned by an avid collector of hairstyle magazine cut-outs.

It was the Christopher Dennis of hair salons.
I started out with some timid English, the kind where you put an arbitrary question mark at the end of your statements so you sound as nervous as you do uneducated. "I wanted... to get... a haircut?" I quickly figured out that I was far from their average customer and was worried they might just stare at me until I left, but instead the woman smiled in a very friendly way, nodding and gesturing to one of the chairs. As I got settled in and she began putting all the smock-age on me, I could tell we were both having the same internal monologue but in two different languages: "How are we going to make this work?"

Luckily, I had anticipated that language might be a barrier. Well, in this case, language wasn't really a barrier so much as circumstantially useless tool. "Going on a camping trip? Here, take this ceiling fan." The tool that proved most useful was, of course, my smart phone-- or as I like to call it, electronic co-dependency simulator (except that I need the phone more than it needs me... erm 0_o). I had already pulled up a few different pictures of the type of hairstyle I wanted. Kiera Knightley, by sheer coincidence, got the A-line bob I was going for. I felt sort of awkward referencing her picture, since it probably seemed like I was saying, "Make me look like this celebrity."

"If you could take an inch off the bottom and liposuction my face, that'd be great. kthx"
But even before I had pulled up Kiera's glamour portfolio, the hairdresser was about to hand me a magazine she had sitting out on the counter. We both got the same sense of how to go about this: point at picture and say, "Me want."

The rest of the haircut went fine. She did exactly what I asked for and there was very little need for words. In fact, she talked throughout most of the haircut, but to the old man and the teenager hanging out in the back of the shop. It felt like when you go to get your nails done and the ladies speak in Vietnamese without looking up, so you're not sure whether they're talking to you even though they're clearly not. The man said absolutely nothing the entire time I was there, and the boy said very little as well. I couldn't imagine what this woman could be saying to a wholly unresponsive room the entire time, but at least there wasn't the pressure of feeling obligated to respond.

This entire experience cost me $7; $10 if you include the tip. Put some what-what in THAT butt.

This concludes the hair cut chapter of today's blog. If you flip the page we will now be reading selections from...

Los Angeles: The Friend Zone

One of my best friends who I lived with virtually all four years of college just recently made her own move up to Los Angeles to start a new job. By "just recently" I mean she did it yesterday. And her job starts Monday. Girl is ON it. She moved into an awesome little apartment in Los Feliz, which for anyone not in the know falls in the Silverlake/Echo Park category of being a cute/trendy area with a downtown strip sprinkled with niche cafes, restaurants, bars, and shopping boutiques. It's essentially one of the nicer parts of Hollywood where the homeless people don't all run around in sequin-y Halloween costumes. Go forth, young people, and eat your quinoa salads upon cafe terraces.

My friend... let's call her... Lacy... (she might be laughing if she's reading this right now. Hi, Casey!) lives less than 10 minutes from me now. Words cannot express how effing jazzed I am to have her around. I have a few friends in the area, but this allows me to duck out of some of the worst of that whole missing-people nonsense. A solid 90% of my college memories involve Lacy and consequently, I would be 90% sad if she lived far away. Now that she's in LA I am 110% STOKED for us to check out all that the city has to offer. I mean, just last night we were going through downtown with her family, and on the way we hit a massive flea market/street fair type deal happening around MacArthur Park. Random stuff like that is EVERYWHERE, and now I have a partner in crime to explore them all with me. So, hooray for exploration and friendship and unicorns and stuff. This goin' be

I wish I could say the same for the next 7 hours of my life, but unfortunately I am leaving for teaching/tutoring stuff soon. Today is my first full lesson at the writing center so I'm a little nervous. But then I remind myself that these are good kids. A lot better than the ones I had when I was teaching at the IQ 180 Academy. The kids here are well-behaved, motivated, and tell me I look like Jennifer Lawrence, as opposed to the IQ 180 kids who would tell me whenever an outfit made me look fat (hint: all of them did).

I guess this means I should start getting ready for work. I wonder if there's a way I can somehow pass off wearing cotton booty shorts that say "PARTY WITH SLUTS"* on the butt as part of the lesson plan.

*They don't actually say that.**

**No, they actually do. They're from Florida.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Film Festive-Ill

This evening's blog is brought to you by the letter Y. As in,


Also, who Y'd in the pool?
I was going over to my friend's place and took a bus that said it was going to downtown. Oh, downtown! Cool, great, that's exactly where I'm headed! Except the mobile box of torture and questionable odors made a sharp right the second it hit downtown and then next thing I knew I was trying to catch the last bus out of some part of town that was near a King Taco. And you know what kinda shit goes down near King Taco.

In spite of my continued failure with public transportation, life has been pretty good. My primary task at my internship for the past couple of days has been to watch submissions for a film festival being put on by the arts center I'm interning with. So yes, I spend seven hours a day watching countless films, ranging anywhere from 1-minute avante garde animation shorts to 90-minute features from Korea. I feel like there were no guidelines for this festival other than to submit to it. I guess I'm on board with that idea, but it makes my job very difficult since I'm trying to rate all these films. Should a very good 4-minute stop-motion comedy get the same rating as a very good 60-minute documentary about Norwegian anarchists? (the documentary was actually terrible, I just needed an example.) I'm baffled as to how to properly do this. Now, I do have something of a system, and it kind of works, but it's not infallible. If I watch a feature-length film, I ask myself, "On a scale of 0-10, how okay would I be with spending $7 to watch this?" If I watch something like a 30-60 minute film, I ask, "On a scale of 0-10, how okay would I be with spending $7 to watch this and another film of equal entertainment value?" And with shorts I'll ask the same but with anywhere from 3-5 movies of equal entertainment value. This sort of works, obviously with other variables factoring in. But on the whole, money makes me a harsh critic. With over 50 submissions and a total run time of about 27 hours thus far, lawd knows I need to be-- the festival director wants to screen ALL of them! Hold on to your popcorn, folks, it's gonna be a looooong festival.

^was eligible for the Young Director's Award when he first entered
In other news, it's 11:52pm right now and I just got a call from my landlady. I have no idea how to express the confusion and concern that went through my mind as I saw her incoming call, but she only called because she saw the cabin light on in someone's car on the street and thought it was mine. Guess what? It was. Conclusion: I'm a cotton-headed ninny muggins, and my landlady rocks.

Anyway, I wanted to share a story that might give you (yet another) small glimpse into the rambling joke that is my life. I was crashing at my friend's place in DTLA a couple nights ago and I was sleeping in a room that's up on the roof. The roof breeze was nice so the door to the outside was left open over night. Well, I awoke the next morning [to find I had transformed into a giant beetle] to discover that I had been bitten by mosquitoes not once, but TWICE in two very inconveniently close locations on my upper lip. My lip swelled to at least three times its normal size-- needless to say, I was not pulling off the Angelina Jolie look in any capacity. I looked like that lamp from the Brave Little Toaster. No, not Lampy; I'm talking about the hanging lamp in that creepy scene at the parts shop.

The one that vaguely looks like Steve Buschemi.
On a side note, the song in that scene, "It's a B-Movie," is probably one of the most bad ass songs to ever be featured in an animated children's movie. It's on my iPod along with several other Brave Little tracks.

I put some ice on the monstrosity protruding out of my face, but it took about a full day before fully going down. Good thing my second interview with the bakery was today and not yesterday. Having to explain my lip would have been an unprecedented combination of awkward and exhausting.

Okay, since I let it slip, yes-- I've been interviewing with this bakery. Both interviews went well so far. I haven't wanted to say anything because it's been my experience that whenever I talk up a big game about a job or an interview it always falls through, and then I have to return to the internet with my tail between my legs and say, "Nope! False alarm, folks. I still suck. You may resume your daily business." But then people are already resuming their daily business, because I suck.

Know what DOESN'T suck? My new flatmate. He's been here for like a week and I keep forgetting to talk about him to the millions of internet people who he's never met. Tonight's actually the first time I've had a meaningful/noteworthy conversation with him, and my suspicions that he's a cool dude turned out to be accurate. He's this kid from Singapore who's going to some architecture school around here. He's not the guy I had brought up a while back who was a writer-- but that's okay because this guy is a photographer, which is even better! He showed me his portfolio and he's taken really cool photographs from different parts of the world. Best of all, he really likes film and cinematography and wants to do more film projects. This is freaking AWESOME. I like making movies but I am a horrible cinematographer, and he has a great photographic eye but claims to be a horrible writer. TALENTFUSION-GASM, or, as I believe shallow-and-pedantic academics refer to it, "collaboration." Possibly in the future? Granted, he's in school full-time while I'm over here putting 45 minutes into sauteeing my breakfast each morning, but this could lead to some majorly good things down the road. Summer film project 2014, perhaps. We can enter it in the film festival I'm involved with and I'll TOTALLY pay $7 to watch it!

Also-- and I'm going to break the name-secrecy code just this once because my ignorance is worth mentioning-- when he first told me his name I heard,

"Hi, I'm Hugh."

But what he said was

"Hi, I'm Hyu."

Oh, Dgessikuh, you still have so much to learn about the world.

And to end this post with a bang: I went to my first LA-based dentist appointment yesterday. My dad recommended the guy after they met on a Porsche forum, which is kind of weird; almost as weird as your dad showing up to your college graduation in a Porsche and you trying to figure out whether he stole it or murdered somebody to get it. It was all right. The dentist appointment I mean. I don't have any cavities but I need to floss more.  


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and the Sickly

I don't know about you guys, but I was SO stoked that I needed a sweater today. A day that's cold is a happy day for Jessica.

Now, let's not get that twisted with HAVING a cold. Which I do. I have a cold. Utter and complete balls to that. I turn into a middle-aged man when I get sick. At  night my nose gets so stuffy that I sleep with my mouth wide open and snore, or else I just breathe really heavily. Either way, my throat is shot by the next morning and I sound like a baritoned Russian guard when I talk.

I put the "rasp" in Rasputin.
Today is the first day the sick really set in, which means it should be on the upturn soon. In the meantime I'm just making my diet as liquid-based as possible. Tonight during the dinner part of Dog-4-Dinner I got soup and tea at this swanky restaurant with Ben (when I told him I would protect his privacy by giving him a fake name his response was, "I don't want people to think Andrew took you out to dinner, I did!"). Pretty sure that's not how you're supposed to do swanky restaurants, but the way I see it it was a swanky way of flushing all the bacteria and phlegm out of my system. You know, like how Donald Trump does it.

"Take two plates of foie gras and call me in the morning."
Being sick doesn't bother me too much because I eat enough hippie shit that my body manages relatively fine, but I don't like the fact that my nose will be stuffy when I embark on my
tomorrow. Yes, exciting things are happening left and right in the crazy world of Jessica. This was supposed to be an exciting new dental adventure, but now I'm actually kind of dreading it, because when dentists yank your mouth open that wide your only viable breathing option is really your nose, and my nose is down for maintenance right now. They're gonna get a good look at my hairy Russian man side tomorrow.

I don't know why hairy. I just feel like if I were a Russian man, I would be particularly hairy.

In other news, welcome to a new segment I like to call

Misadventures in Obtaining Money

I proctor exams on the weekend sometimes, and last weekend was my first time doing it on my own without any other proctors or Princeton Review folks there. Well, get a load of this shit. I showed up at 8:30am at our "test site," which turned out to be a tiny learning academy inside a bizarre indoor strip mall in some random part of Monterey Park (though truth be told, all of Monterey Park feels that way to me). After wandering around this janky, uninhabited mall for a few minutes I eventually found the room that we would be testing in... and between the room and me was some yellow caution tape, a very large puddle of soapy water, and a large sit-and-ride floor cleaner. Maintenance dudes were cleaning the whole frickin level of this place I was supposed to be giving a test in. What zee fack. It was a chaotic moment in which I wasn't sure whether to dismiss these perplexed high school students or actually attempt to administer a mock SAT exam in the hallway of a Monterey Park strip mall. Fortunately, the cleaners eventually "broke code" and let us under the yellow tape to get to our classroom, so I didn't have to get too desperate. Not this time. But Chimney Crickets, man. Who has to deal with that kinda shit?!

And then in what I might call a Not-Necessarily-Misadventure-But-Adventure-Is-Too-Misleadingly-Exciting-A-Term in obtaining money, another thing I recently began doing is writing online test questions for my tutoring agency. I talked about this before. Well, the ones I did last time I brought this up were $3.50 a pop, and after receiving an e-mail saying they'd like me to keep writing more, I perused the list of possible subjects and saw that LSAT Logic Games are seven bucks a question.

 Okay, so maybe I've never taken the LSATs before or even completed an LSAT question, but I do logic games ALL THE FREAKING TIME BECAUSE I DON'T GET SPORTS AND IT'S LESS STRESSFUL THAN SOCIALIZING, so when I looked up what LSAT logic games are I was like "Dauble you tea eph, I could totally write some of these." So that's what I've been up to. Writing logic games and getting paid to do it. That's kind of cool. At least, if you're going by the J-Mil definition.

Cool (adj): Things that promote intense mental stimulation; e.g. logic puzzles and gifs of cats.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pieces of Rope and What to Do With Them

Some days, you just have to embrace the fact that, yeah, hey, you're going to sweat a lot, and you're not going to look cute doing it. Today was one of those days. But I'm at the uncomfortable juncture where I'm afraid to take a shower because I don't want to give my body any more moisture to sweat out later. I don't know whether the appropriate hashtag is #heatproblems or #personalhygeineproblems.

I was, however, able to channel some good out of the merciless, flesh-searing heat by using it as my own personal dryer. The back yard of this place is strung with ropes that everybody hangs their laundry on, and I fully partake. One thing I learned while in Prague is that I really love line-drying clothes. It's so much better than using a machine. A dryer is like a quarter-guzzling shrink ray bent on stealing energy and destroying the environment. When reported to the police, the composite artist produced this:

...The composite artist may have been an anti-Semite.
What can I say, I like getting in touch with my inner-Amish (inner-Quaker? inner-Colonial-America? I'll take everything on the menu, good sir). It is an oddly therapeutic thing to do. And in this unforgiving heat, my clothes were all dry within 15 minutes. [METAL]

While on my way to the bank today to get quarters for the washer, I passed by an ice cream truck parked outside the nearby high school. I was allured by the side of it, which read "ICE CREAM" in painted letters and featured floating heads of the Pink Panther, Tweetie Bird, and a generic cartoon of a shark. Little did I know that this was a magical ice cream truck that ACTUALLY SOLD ICE CREAM. See, where I'm from, ice cream trucks sell a million and one popsicles shaped like outdated cartoon characters' faces, maybe some sort of ice-cream-in-a-cup deal like a Sno Blizzard, and meth. But never did they have legit, scoop-that-shit-out-on-a-mother-fucking-cone ice cream. This one did. It also had banana splits, crazy nachos-- what the what?! I have been missing OUT. Needless to say, I was very happy with my cookies n' cream on the way to the bank.

Magic knows.
Okayokayokay, so-- craziness last night that I must share with the cyber-world. This is at the risk of openly admitting to my naiive and somewhat reckless decision-making skills, but the story ends with a rainbow and Oprah gives everyone a car.

I was leaving my friend's place late from our Dogs-4-Dinner engagement, and needed to take the bus back home. Okay, first of all, some things you should probably know:
  1. I don't get public transportation
  2. Public transportation doesn't get me
  3. My sense of direction is akin to that of a wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man
The only time I've ever had the faintest success with navigating through public transportation was Europe, because they have that shit on lock. I pray for the day I wake up and-- all across the U.S.-- timetables and stop-by-stop bus routes are posted AT the bus stations. But alas, it's just another item on the list of Things Europe Does Right That the U.S. For No Reason Still Does Wrong. I'm doomed to try and figure out how the hell buses work and where the feck they go, poring over inaccurate bus stop pamphlets like a not-ironically-cool nerd and timidly asking every bus driver, "Does this bus go to..." only to have them brusquely tell me that it doesn't and then close the doors and take me to Lincoln Heights against my will.


I was standing at this downtown bus stop at 11-something at night, waiting for a bus that my phone kept telling me would come. But then it wouldn't, and my phone would re-assess the situation, and say, "Ah, it's cool Jessica, just eleven more minutes 'til the next one." And then 11 minutes later the wrong bus would show up. Re-assess bus time, bang head on bus stop bench, repeat. Eventually I went inside the Famima the stop was located in front of to ask the guy at the counter if he could help. He tried to look up times on his phone but said the buses I wanted weren't going to be there for a long while... I could take the metro, but even if I could figure out how to do that the metro wouldn't take me nearly as far as I needed to go.

Finally, after what felt like several minutes of me saying, "No, that won't work," to all the options the kindly gentleman was giving me, he asked an electrician who was working on something in the store if he could help. Well... the guy didn't know the magical bus route that would take me home, but he offered me a ride instead!

This is the part where you go


Yes yes yes I can HEAR you all the way from my little hilltop in Chinatown. Getting in cars with strangers: bad. I know.


But the guy was very nice and was legitimately being helpful. I didn't know what else to do and the bus stop was getting sketchier with every passing minute, so I took a chance on this electrician whom I had about 10 seconds to fully judge.

10 seconds was more than enough for me to assess that he had no ulterior motive and that he was trustworthy. How do I know? To be honest-- I couldn't ever know something like that. I went with my gut. And it worked out. I hitched a ride outta downtown with a Belizian electrician named Harry... like Harry Belafonte ("Well, hey, jump in the line," was my response when he made that joke). It was a short drive, but we talked for a little and he was very friendly, and not the weird kind of "very friendly." Just... friendly. It was nice. And it was not the sort of experience I ever thought I'd have in Los Angeles.

I get that the odds were slim. By no means am I urging everyone to rush into the streets at midnight and get in strangers' vans, nor do I particularly plan on making it a habit. But it was so incredible to know that I could have this kind of faith in strangers in a place where I least expected it. L.A. as a whole I am still pretty guarded about, and in downtown that feeling is double-fold... you just don't know who you're going to run into. The people are unpredictable. But I guess the joke's on me, because I could never have predicted that someone would be so genuinely kind.

Aaaaaaaand cue

"You get a ride! You get a ride! You get a ride!"

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Dog Days are Beginning

So I'm sitting atop L.A. in a penthouse loft, stroking my solid gold tiger (it's actually a living, breathing tiger), whilst sipping on a glass of... hmm, I don't know the names of any fancy wines because I only drink cheap ones. Busted.

My friends live in this place in downtown, and I recently entered into a Dog-4-Dinner exchange (very different from the kind arranged in K-town) where I come over every now and then to take my friend's dog on a walk when he's at work for a long time. In exchange, he buys us dinner when he gets back. It works out well. Yesterday was Pho, and tonight we ate at a great Mexican place called Ensenada. Horchata, vegetarian fajitas, and... noodle soup? As in, soup with spaghetti in it. Not what I'm accustomed to getting gratis in Mexican restaurants, but that soup was gewd.

Dog-walking is proving to be a very strategic way to get to know downtown Los Angeles. No matter which way we turn we're on some fairly major street each with its own flavor goin' on. The sidewalk is shiny despite the fact that every ten steps it smells like pee. After interacting with so many dogs in the 15 minutes or so that we went out walking, I have a better understanding why. There be dogs all UP in L.A., homes!

I guess you never really notice until you're being pulled around the city by a large hairy dog-divening-rod. Everybody had dogs that were usually chill with all the butt-sniffing and whatever, which was surprising to me. Most dogs I'm holding my breath they don't tear each others' throats out when they first meet... maybe because that's what happens with cats 100% of the time (well that was a dogmatic statement... ah? AH??).

I also got to meet a lot of Angelinos because of the portable conversation piece on the leash I was holding. This dude is a half-labrador half-basset hound. For those of you who don't know what that looks like: it's fuckin' odd. But he's also cute in a way... he's at that age where he thinks it's okay to act like a puppy and not consider the way that works with his exponentially-larger size, so he trips over stuff and knocks into things all the time. In any case, people are usually all enthralled by the weirdness/cuteness of him so they strike up a conversation.

Or, as I soon discovered, use him as a way to try and hit on me. And this is why I'm afraid to wear dresses in crowded metropolitan areas. YOU gave me these over-sized basketball shorts, society. YOU did.

DTLA has a much higher concentration of the colorful people that I associate with LA. And yes, I did realize how racist that came out the second after I typed it. While it is true that downtown is more ethnically diverse than a lot of the... ethnically-specific areas I find myself in, I'm talking about the craziness ratio. In DTLA you get more people in funny hats and platform heels who are shouting at invisible shoulder demons or trying to eat their own lips. Seriously, I didn't think having two centered pupils would ever put me in a minority group. The people are harmless, of course-- or at least, that's been my experience before 10pm-- but it's definitely something different that keeps you more aware of your surroundings. There's very little crazy in Chinatown; at least, DTLA-caliber crazy. We've just got a lot of 120-year-olds creaking around... but they're not crazy; just very, very old. Most of Chinatown has its wires straight, or else they're just keeping all the crazy people locked upstairs.

Tomorrow is a day off from my internship. You know what that means.

No, it actually means doing all the stuff I scheduled to do on the one day where I was free to do them. EXCITEMENT COURSING THROUGH MY VEINS

Monday, September 2, 2013

The One Where the Chick with a Blog Talks About her Feelings

Sheeeeee's BACK!

[50 cartwheels and a back handspring, sticking a perfect 10 on the landing]


[pauses for crickets]


[looks down, realizes crickets have been crushed underfoot]

Yeah, haven't posted in a few days. Why?! Because I was momentarily caught in a gaping hole of insurmountable depression and existential apathy. HOOOOOORAYYYYYY!

Am I making you uncomfortable yet?

How about now?
I'd better not be the only one shaking my groove thang over here. There is so much reason to celebrate! Why? Try the fact that I surmounted the SHIT out of that depression within 24 hours, so you should be happy for me, because the world revolves around me and my emotions and my improper grammar. You should also be grateful that this post isn't the cynical, pessimistic, self-pitying droll that it almost was. An excerpt of an unposted draft from a couple days ago, if you would:

This emotion decided to cling to a sudden overwhelming feeling of apathy and emptiness that was most likely brought on by the intense heat of the sun. The inside of my apartment is baking. The outside of my apartment is baking. I sweat without moving. My fan is more of a noisemaker than a source of viable moving air.

Last night I was extremely over-heated and could not fall asleep as a result. Nothing could cool me off and it was driving me up a wall. Waterboarding would have been a welcome alternative-- in fact, it would have been welcome if it could have reduced my internal body heat in any way.

Yikes. Someone get this gal a therapy dog, am I right?

"Sorry guys, I'm not touching this one. She might bite me."
...And I would have.

Basically, as alluded to by my non-post up there, it was a combination of factors that got me majorly bummed.

Factors That got me Majorly Bummed

1. Heat
2. Inability to escape said heat
3. Lack of sleep from the previous night because of said heat
4. Money anxiety
5. Job anxiety
6. The recent realization that teaching makes me absolutely miserable

And so on and so forth. So here's how that day went: I woke up with a few hours of sleep under my belt, just as hot as when I had attempted to go to bed, and sat in my room all day feeling sorry for myself and my lack of financial independence. In case my innermost fears and desires haven't been leaking out enough through these whimsical little blog posts, I don't like that I'm not making much money and I'm extremely insecure about the fact that I am relying on family to help me out. There it is, all out on the table. Anyhow, I tried to force the day into being a productive one by scouring the internet for potential jobs, of which I found few-to-none. Trying to hunt for a job when you're scraping the bottom of the barrel for a single scrap of motivation is just... futile. It feels like taking on a Vegas-style 5-star buffet after coming straight from a Hometown Buffet. There's very little you can actually accomplish, besides hating yourself more for your past mistakes.

I was in a major funk. It was bad. Until three things happened within close proximity of one another.

3 Things That Happened within Close Proximity of One Another

1. A wonderful human being suggested I go on an adventure
2. Another wonderful human being agreed to go on an adventure
3. I read both Hyperbole and a Half adventures in depression (yeah, I reached THAT point)

These three things combined in such a way that they offset the swirling torrent of self-deprecating apathy that had sat its big flabby ass on my chest all day. I read Allison's insights about being depressed and gleaned something that was useful at the time: there's not a specific way to overcome some shitty feelings, they just sort of happen and then for no reason they just go away. This took some of the pressure off my urge to "fix" my feelings, which in turn fixed my feelings. Ain't that great?

From there, I stepped out of my house for the first time that day and drove to Venice Beach, because a dude I know was having some kinda BBQ or something and I figured I might as well give it a shot. Well. I didn't find the party. BUT I found my friend who I was meeting at the party, so we bailed and got awesome Thai food in Venice and then watched Scott Pilgrim back at my place. I was out of it the whole time because I was so sleep deprived and mushy-brained from the day's miserablosity. He was out of it because he'd been up since 5am to be in a film (yeah, my friends are famous, I also play pool with Charleton Heston on the regs). Bottom line: we were both out of it. But the simple company of someone who wasn't really expecting anything of me other than existing in the same room turned out to be exactly what I needed. That night I went to bed, not too warm, and woke up refreshed the next day.

I tell you, it was like something outta Groundhog Day. I took to the job boards again but found it a lot easier to do when I didn't hate myself the whole time.

"Any additional strengths or qualifications that would make you a good fit for this positions?"

Now, if this were truly a solid, rounded-out story about the power of positivity and the rewards of persistence, I would have some news about a new job-- an interview-- something. But no, I'm still on the hunt. I just feel like I can do it again.