Stevel on Funerals

February 25th, 2007

“Expensive funerals are a ridiculous expense. It just needs to be enough to make sure the deceased doesn’t infect the living in any way. Just bury them or burn them.”

Falling All Over Others’ Selves

February 24th, 2007

Today I had lunch with my friend Sarah-Novelist. At the cafe where we dined on gourmet lunchables while enjoying a sun-sparkled ocean view, I was interrupted by a woman falling on top of me. That’s right, I was sitting innocently at a table, in my chair, eating, and a woman who was walking by dove head first ONTO me. She was all apologies, but my bruised forearm doesn’t care. She is a bitch who has no balance.

I was reminded of one of the first times I met Sarah-Novelist (was it the first day, even?), when we sat side by side in a class, and I fainted on her. The desks were very close together and very small, so falling forward meant falling on my neighbor. She thought I was being some freakish kind of friendly, but no, I was merely losing consciousness.

Today I’m intrigued by the coincidence of these two falls in her presence. I suspect she is maybe like Firestarter, but some kind of “Fall-Starter.” I’ll keep you posted.


February 22nd, 2007

Yesterday I tried yoga. This was not in an effort to complete the stereotype of Southern Californians (for that I have been attempting to use the word “totally” much, much more often) but rather an interest in joining my friend Sarah-Architect at the weekly yoga class she says is so great. And although I could write a post like my spa post, in which I describe the tortuous poses with humorous metaphors, it wouldn’t be fair. The truth is, I liked it very much. I liked the directed stretching, which led an entire room full of people to make the same shape with our bodies. I liked the names of the poses—”down dog,” “cobra,” “happy baby”—and the explanation by the teacher of which muscles each pose was meant to work and stretch. I liked feeling the limitations of my body and knowing that with practice, I could get stronger and hold poses for longer. And I liked getting exercise without a whole lot of sweating and pain, both of which are totally yuck (How was that “totally?” Well used?). So, the verdict on yoga is this: Cliche at times, yes, and I did roll my eyes now and then (“Say ‘Ohm?’” Really?), but overall, enjoyable and clearly beneficial. I’ll go again. But I think I’ll close my eyes for more of it, because the ceiling in the yoga studio was this horrible, dotted-punched pattern on tiles that were curved convex and concave to create a wave look, and it kept moving in front of my eyes and making me nauseous. I think it sparked the migraine that kept me awake for the entire night. Or perhaps that was due to the two meals I made of brownie mix yesterday. (Please save me from myself, yoga. Ohm or whatever. Please.)


February 20th, 2007

Recent events have had me thinking, what is this THING we call “love?”

The events were these:


I went with a group of good friends to the planetarium at the Griffith Observatory. We learned about the Big Bang and about the endless universe, which, if I think about it too much, makes me feel like I might throw up. I have only so much Negative Capability. My brain can’t help but take this information and try to do SOMETHING with it. If that something is not going to be an answer to the endlessness of the universe [gag], then how about this: The human race began as exploded energy, everything is motivated by survival-of-the-species instincts, and human emotion is thereby a function of that instinct. Yes, that’s where I went. To a place where all of my feelings are programmed into me for the purpose of advancing the human race. Why do we “love” our families? So we will protect our genes. Why do we “feel” romantic love? So we will mate and team up to protect our genes. Why does it feel so satisfying to be “in love” with Stevel? Because nature made it so it would, so I, wanting to feel good, would help to populate the endless universe with Stevelings. And then together we would protect them from little things like diaper rash and even, by embracing and funding societal interests in science and communication, etc., from big things like AIDS and bombs and the inevitable end of our planet.


I visited the La Brea Tar Pits twice, once with these same friends, and once with my mom, who was here on a visit. I saw evolution and extinction played out in the preserved bones of Ice-Age animals. I thought about animals’ emotions. They are simple, if existent. Human emotions are so complex. Still, there was no emotion I could think of to which I couldn’t assign some biological advantage. Even depression, if I viewed it as an extreme of sadness, could be seen as a motivator to make change when conditions are not optimal for one’s “happiness,” which I think mostly boils down to an individual matching himself or herself up with the activities that feel the most “fulfilling,” i.e. the most maximizing of that individual’s “talents” and “interests,” which are really the things that individual can best contribute to the effort toward advancing the species.


I went for a hike up high with friends, and we saw some amazing fossils and gorgeous views of the city and local terrain. Well, of course, we think our human endeavors—our cities—are cool and beautiful when we view them from above. We may be turned off by things like garbage and crowds (gene competition!), but civilization is neat, right? So why do we also find nature so beautiful? The coolest part of this hike was this cloud that rolled in out of nowhere, moving FAST and enveloping us in cold, poofy mist.

Note: David took those photos. You can see Jeremy‘s photos by clicking here.


Steve and I celebrated Valentine’s Day. We bowled with friends and then today went to Canter’s Deli, which is where Stevel proposed. I also received a beautiful, handmade blockprint card depicting a human heart. This has to be more than the refinement of ages-old, exploded energy. There’s SOMETHING spiritual about love. It makes me want a lot of things that go beyond survival. It makes me want to express myself. It makes me want to put someone else before myself. It makes me willing to tolerate hurtfulness and flaws in certain people. It makes me want to have furry, little creatures who poop in indoor boxes beg me for stinky canned food and sleep with me at night.

I’ve often wondered about compatibility. Some of my best friends are the women who initially lived on my dorm floor. We bonded and stayed close. I mean, I love those girls. And I love the friends I made at my first real job, and my family. What if I had been born into a different family? Would I feel just as much “love”? What if there had been different girls on my dorm floor? Different coworkers? Would we still have become such close friends? Would I have felt just as compatible with them? If I say yes, then I basically acknowledge that these relationships are not special, or “destined,” or anything more than the fulfillment of something instinctual—some pack-animal mentality. That we as humans generally find people who are familiar to us to be beautiful.

But if I say no, then I buy into something spiritual. Connection, destiny. Love as we define it in literature as far back in history as hieroglyphics and as recent as a cheesy Valentine’s E-card.

I think love is both. It’s spiritual AND instinctual. Something that makes the struggle to survive worth it. Something that fills us with longings and desires, to mate and to protect. Something that completes us as human individuals. Something … to live for.

I [Kidney] You

February 8th, 2007

I’ve been teaching a section of creative writing at Otis, and it meets for three hours, once a week. The class is right after lunch, so there’s a subtle drag on enthusiasm, an undercurrent of nap-yawn. Yesterday we had a great discussion, though, about two Haruki Murakami stories we had read. If you have read any Murakami, then it makes sense to you that some of the discussion questions I posed were these:

- Why spaghetti?

- Why a kidney shaped stone, rather than some other shape?

- What if she had been something else, instead of an urban tightrope-walker?

The class came up with creative and intelligent answers for all of these questions. My favorite were the associations with kidneys: They filter things. They have no cliche social connotations (like the heart does). They make you think of beans. And you can donate one. With such insight, I saw the story in a new light. And now, for Valentine’s Day, I think it would be more romantic to receive a piece of jewelry depicting a kidney than one depicting a heart. Or better yet, a real kidney. That’s love.

How are the Cats Handling the Redecorating?

February 4th, 2007

I know you are DYING to know! So we have moved my desk to the living room, had shelves and cabinets custom-built in there to house the new TV and my desk stuff, and generally turned the house upside-down this week. Stevel has been hiding out from the mania at work and in the bedroom. Linus’ response is ambivalence, UNLESS I am using any handheld machine that makes noise, like the vacuum cleaner, drill, blow-drier, or electric toothbrush, in which case, he flattens and slithers to a “hiding place” (there aren’t many places you can actually “hide” when you are a cat who is TWENTY POUNDS large). He also dislikes ladders very much.

Mia, unfortunately, falls into some of her very worst habits. As you know, she likes to lick things, her favorite flavors being (a) leather/suede and (b) furniture varnish. She relishes chewing on platic items such as remote controls, the corners of my laptop, and Stevel’s glasses. She also enjoys eating such delicacies as staples, rubber bands, coins, and splinters of wood. Needless to say, our house is somewhat baby-proofed, sans the baby. When we are doing projects like painting and such, Mia tends to gorge on toxic snacks. Vomit aplenty this week, and we have to keep an eye on it for signs of stripped paint and sawdust. Nothing telling so far, but yesterday she not only skipped her usual begging-for-the-canned-food-beginning-at-3-p.m.-even-though-it-is-always-stricty-withheld-until-dark, but when presented with said canned food, she turned away and returned to the couch to nap in the fetal position (which for cats involves knotting oneself thrice along the spine). She was unresponsive to playtoy-incentives. We worried, but this morning, the canned food is gone, and she is her usual self, growling at Linus and trolling the floor for nails and globs of spackle. If a hammer shows up in the litter box, I promise photographs for you.

Nemeses of Sleep

February 2nd, 2007

Last night was one of those nights when Stevel and Linus team up to conduct a sleep deprivation experiment with me as the subject. Stevel, aka The-Human-Spool, rolled and rolled until the covers were around him like a big tortilla ensnuggling a burrito. Yanking had no effect. In the end I had to wake him, and the untangling required my getting OUT of the bed to remake it. Most nights he manages to somehow jam all of the sheets into the northeastern corner of the bed at his feet, and I’m used to that, but THIS was really taking it too far. Meanwhile, Linus felt like a night of Jazzercise. On my pillow. Several times he treated the side of my face like a treadmill for five minutes or so. Then he went back to his repetitive aerobics-routine motions on my hair. “And two-and-three-and YANK-and-PULL …” Usually I would address such extreme thwarting of my beauty rest by moving into the guest room for the remainder of the night, but I’m working on some projects in there right now, so everything is topsy turvy. We had some new shelves installed in the living room this week, so of course the entire house has to be reorganized and cleaned and etc. etc. etc.

UPDATE: Stevel read this entry, and in all fairness, I feel I should make public his response, which is, “You were mean.” Apparently, this morning I demanded he turn off the alarm with a biting, cruel tone. So perhaps I get what I deserve.