frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Untitled

I am thinking a lot today. It is Rilke's fault, and the fact that I actually have some downtime at work, and am not drowning in all the red ink that has threatened to overtake me over the past week, and which spills from my pen like blood all over seemingly countless pages! But that sort of wounding is for the ultimate good, after all.

Ah, but about Rilke. i have been reading his Letters to a Young Poet when I have no jobs to proof, and he made me almost cry today, except that I did not let myself because it might have been awkward trying to explain if a co-worker came suddenly into my office, as they do. (The work can be demanding, but it has not reduce me to tears...not yet!)

Rilke writes nothing that is entirely new to me, but much that touches a certain place in me that corresponds to what he writes...I mean, if I can explain it, a place that has always known what he says, and thought of it, and tried in various ways to express it. And it is like how I feel when I play a particular chord in the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"--this one chord always makes me want to close my eyes, because it is so sweet it hurts. And I can't say how, but I know this chord belongs to me, comes from me in the playing of it, just as much as it belongs to beethoven, and came from him when he penned it.

In Letter #3, Rilke talks about gestation and birth, and I think a lot about those things. Not because I am a woman and I want children, because I don't, though I am. But because I have felt the past two years that I was caught up in a pregnancy of sorts...my own or the world's, I don't know. The transitions of my life, recently, have taken place for the most part in 9-month stretches--9 months in New Zealand the first time, 9 months the second; then 9 months working in a transitional job and struggling through feelings of such disappointment, such anger with God, that it perplexes me to remember them, and I hardly recognize myself in those months.

Now perhaps I am embarking on a new time, but toward what? And what have all these pregnancies brought forth, after all?

That remains to be seen. But I like what Rilke says:

Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.

In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn't matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn't force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!


(trans. by Stephen Mitchell)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Allow Me To Introduce...

my brother, the pod person.

I have suspected for some time that E-rock is not like the rest of us--and by rest of us, I mean human beings. He seems to live in this world of perpetual good luck, where everything he does or wants to do works out in golden spades. Midas would be jealous of this man.

For example, people give E-rock--on a regular basis--random things like expensive running shoes, snowboards, and computers and they don't ask him to pay for any of them. It's weird, especially since these people aren't always even his friends. One time, a complete and total stranger gave him the keys to an expensive hotel room in Tahoe and told him to make himself, and his friend T, at home.

Now honestly. These sorts of things do not happen to normal, everyday people. (Especially that last one.)

I remember one time driving around Huntington Beach with E, and he was completely amazed at the fact that he was having difficulty finding parking. "I always find a place to park!" he said in wonderment. I looked at him, disbelieving, and said something along the lines of, "Welcome to the world of the rest of us." Because who on earth finds good places to park in HB on a sunny, beautiful weekend? No one, that's who! But I did not suspect the truth even then (which was, of course, that it was because I, a normal human being, was in the car, thereby effectively blocking by my mere proximity his alien find-awesome-parking-place powers).

Last night, though, it all became abundantly clear, through one short conversation that started like this, "Oh by the way, I won tickets to Vegas."

(And you better believe it wasn't ME that said that.)

I stared at my brother. "What?!"

"Yeah."

"No wait, what do you mean, you won tickets? Won them how?"

"On the radio. I listen to this talk radio station and the other day I called in and I got these tickets."

"To...Vegas."

"Yeah. Wanna go?"

Cue "Twilight Zone" music.

What made this really eerie was the fact that we had been talking a few weeks ago about taking a trip to Vegas, because we were bored and we thought it might make for a fun little adventure, but we couldn't find any tickets at a good price. Then suddenly ("by the way"!!!) he just WINS tickets. I mean, come on! Talk about blowing your cover, Mr Alien Man.

Well, I guess there are worse things in life than finding out your brother is not actually from Planet Earth. One might be that he would decide to take someone else with him to Vegas.

So what can I say? Beam me up, Scotty.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for many things, of course--God, family, friends--you know, the requisites. But I thought that I would dedicate today's post to you--my legions of frogg files readers! Because I certainly am thankful for you. Many's the time I thought about quitting this silly blog, and then someone would say they like reading, or that something I wrote made them think, or laugh, and I would say to myself, "Ok. If one person is still getting something out of it, then I'll keep it up just a little longer."

And here it is, more than a year later since I started! Who would've thought.

Many thanks to Steve for getting me started with the blogging and for all the fun stuff we've done over the years; to Mark for the same thing (except for the idea to start blogging!); to Aunt B for being one of my biggest fans (hey I still have that "creativity" stone you bought me at Harper's Ferry years ago!); to my cousin the noble lady, who is a beautiful, talented girl and a good writer and singer; to beccaline for her friendship and all the laughs; to Single Proposition who is not unaware of my shortcomings as a friend, and yet is friends with me anyway; to andi for encouraging and praying me through a rough time this year; to daily pepper for being a cool writing buddy and a good friend; to beautiphil for being my IWT partner in crime; to Bees for the offer to spend his future lottery winnings on a private jet so he can fly out to see me, or bring me back to NZ for a visit; to expectmuch who said some very nice things about me on his blog once, and who also stops me from being as hard on myself as I try to be; porter for the occasional late-night glass of bourbon and the oscar wilde nightingale story; to skwerlman7 and thelittlekappa who have always been supportive and encouraging, of both me as a person, and also my writing.

If you did not see your name in the above list, you should comment more often...or just let me know that you read the next time we talk! Whatever the case, don't be sad. I am thankful for you too.

I will raise a glass of Martinelli's sparkling cranberry juice to you, my readers, today. Thank you, and remember me as you eat your pumpkin pie! Also mincemeat.

PS After all that, I won't be writing for you for the next few days...off to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I am lucky enough to have a second family who all but adopted me, and who is having their Thanksgiving on Saturday! So I get two Thanksgivings this year! Yay!

PPS and for those of little faith among you, who doubted my veracity on a previous posting, I give you...the dinosaur eating the giant clock! I bet he would rather have turkey though. Feel sorry for him as you gobble yours down.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Dog Ate My Boyfriend, and Other Fun Holiday Disclaimers

Well, it's that time of year again...the time when you, as a single person, are surrounded with what seems to be suddenly ENDLESS, INFINITE amounts of couples holding hands, and smiling endearingly at one another as they stroll through the mall, or eat at McDonald's, or drive cars. And while this may be charming and picturesque and cuddly and all, the trouble with it is that your relatives are seeing these VERY SAME CUTE DARLING COUPLES, so that when they see you (all by yourself) at a holiday function (such as, for example, Thanksgiving), they are more than primed, not to mention prone, to pop The Question.

Namely, "Why are you still single?"

In the interest of public service and the sanity of singles everywhere, I have spent a great deal of time--10 whole minutes, I think--considering possible answers to what has become, for many singles, the Mt Everest of Stupid Questions, and I am proud to say that I have come up with a few ideas that should help the single person to smoothly deflect any well-meaning, but annoying, attempts at deciphering the mystery of why you are not part of a Cute Couple. (If you are not single, you should probably not read this, because you'll spoil the surprise.)

I hereby offer to you my Top Five Answers to The Question, as a way of getting the simple point--"Because I just AM, ok??"--across, without resorting to heavy artillery or weapons of mass humiliation, which after all, tend to put a bit of a damper on holiday get-togethers.

1) Say, "I'm sorry, but that is top-secret information, classified under the Act of Fabrication, according to the third amendment (section A) of the Code of Non-marital Ethics, Statute #342-X71. Technically, I have to kill you now, but I'll let it pass just this once."

Sometimes the best weapon at your disposal is complete and utter confusion. And this phrase has the added bonus of making sure you have absolutely no competition for first-in-line for the food, or for dessert. I bet you won't even have to fight for elbow space at the dinner table; in fact, you just might get the whole table all to yourself! More pumpkin pie for you!!

2) Shrug airily and say, "They were out of the model I wanted when I went to the boyfriend store the other day, and I didn't care for any of the others."

I swear I am going to use this one for real. I can't wait! NB: Men, this would not be a good one to adapt to your singleness situation. It sounds much worse to say that they were out of girlfriends at the girlfriend store. I'm sorry, but sometimes life is unfair like that.

3) Look startled, then amazed as you say, "I'm--I'm single? What the--why doesn't anyone ever TELL me these things! Dammit, where's my publicist?!" Then go running out of the room.

If people don't start laughing at this, I despair of your relatives. You must find new ones, fast. NB: Don't forget to grab a piece of pumpkin pie as you dash away.

4) Pretend you have gone deaf.

This one might be a little tricky to pull off if you have seen or talked to any of your relatives recently. They are liable to say embarrassing things like, "Deaf?! Why, I just talked to you on the phone last night, you weren't deaf then!" That's when you gesture for a writing pad, and scribble down "His name is John"--er, wait. You don't need a writing pad--you're deaf, not mute! D'oh. Ok, so just make sure you pretend to read your relatives' lips as they express their incredulity, and then explain that you have a rare case of Nilaudioconfamilia deushelpmeinsis (you might have to write that down for people, actually), which has rendered you temporariily incapable of hearing, but it's being treated and you expect to be right as rain soon--tomorrow in fact, or maybe even this evening after everyone has left and you have the pumpkin pie leftovers to yourself (mmmm, pumpkin pie!).

5) Collapse into the arms of whoever asked the question, sobbing uncontrollably.

When all else fails, tears are your heavy artillery...and hey, I bet this one will get you extra pieces of pumpkin pie, with whipped cream!

Finally, as a bonus answer, I'd just like to say that "The dog ate my boyfriend" is actually pretty hilarious.

Well, now that you are armed and dangerous with the above responses, go forth and conquer! If nothing else, I am sure that use of any or all of the above answers/excuses to the question of why you are single will be cause for much hilarity and good cheer, and there is nothing wrong with adding a bit of those to the holiday mix, now, is there?

And by the way, just in case I didn't make it clear, I really really like pumpkin pie.

PS Also mincemeat.

NB: I must credit beccaline for the inspiration of this post, since it was her posting of an article about this whole topic (minus the fixation on pumpkin pie), that gave me the idea for my post. Thanks, beccaline! Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Promise is a Promise

Aunt B has reminded me a few times now that not long ago I promised to post a picture of myself with my "new" haircolor (meaning my real haircolor!) here on the blog. I had sort of hoped people would forget about it, and I think they all did except for her, and if it were anyone else I would laugh and gaily renege, but since she is my aunt I want to stay on her good side. Especially because I like visiting her. She takes me cool places like Ocean City, Gettysburg, and Rita's.

So Aunt B, this one is for you! (Sorry I couldn't make it for Thanksgiving, but maybe next year.)



PS Red eye is "in." Trust me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

R U KDING ME?

CNN.com reports that a British mobile phone service is going to start condensing classic works of literature into SMS messages. So now Hamlet, instead of decrying his immortal, "To be or not to be?" will bark out "2B? Nt2B?"

I am so depressed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Vending Machine Blues

Hello, and welcome to an all-new episode of "Frogg's Legs: Adventures in Non-Cooking," hosted by yours truly.

Today's topic, based on my own most recent culinary experiences, is: "Quick Meals for the Busy Professional; or, Don't Underestimate the Power of the Vending Machine."

Of course, if you are a Busy Professional, you are probably not reading this because you are so busy. In which case, I refer you to one of my upcoming episodes, entitled: "Do Not Take Your Blackberry On Vacation, You Psychotic Overachiever. Please." (I realize that has nothing to do with cooking, but I don't care.)

But back to today's show. I'm here to tell you that vending machines, when put to proper use, can save valuable time, and provide important nutritional nutrients, such as Vitamin B12 and Riboflavin. Also chocolate. What more does anyone really need to get through a full workday? I ask you.

Let's take a look at what I ate today as an illustration of what I mean, shall we?

Breakfast: Vending machine Pop Tarts.

I didn't have time for breakfast this morning because I overslept and was desperately trying to get out of the house before 7:30am, so that I could get stuck in bad traffic instead of hideously-horrendous-bad-evil traffic. But I knew there was no reason to fear that I would miss out on the most important meal of the day-- after all, the vending machine at work carries strawberry Pop Tarts! Strawberry=fruit=healthy. So far my day was off to a great culinary start!

Lunch: Vending machine Cheez-Its and vending machine Diet Dr. Pepper.

This mouth-watering treat for the tastebuds came about because I had been given a copywriting assignment at work--my first one. Naturally that meant that I was suddenly inundated with massive amounts of proofreading jobs that demanded my attention, since after all I am the full-time proofreader. So that meant that I had to give up my lunch hour to do the copywriting assigment, because I didn't have any other time to do it. Once again, the vending machine came to the rescue! Cheezits=dairy=healthy. Diet Dr. Pepper=diet=healthy. AND I had the added benefit of an award-winning taste combination! Mmmm-mmmmm!

Afternoon snack: Vending machine Hostess Zingers

When all you've had is Cheezits and Diet Dr. Pepper for lunch, you might find yourself feeling a little peckish (i.e., fainting) come mid-afternoon, so it's time for a snack. I chose Hostess Zingers. Chocolate=delicious=who cares if it's healthy? I had my dairy and fruit group already, so leave me alone! And give me back my Zingers!

Er, sorry. All this healthy food made me a little delirious for a second there. I am better now. Moving on...

That's the end of our show! I hope you learned a thing or two. Until next time, this is the frogg, collapsing in a sugar-induced coma onto her bed. Hopefully she will wake up tomorrow. If you don't hear from her after a few days, DON'T EAT ANYTHING FROM YOUR VENDING MACHINE.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Not Appropriate for Younger Viewers

Every day on my company's internal web site, they feature tips and tricks of the direct marketing trade, including a marketing term of the day. Today's term is (and I am not making this up)--"Hickey."

I would tell you what it means in marketing terms but Safari cannot find the page when I click on the link. Which is too bad, because for once I am quite eager to learn the meaning of a marketing term. Who would've thought.

(By the way, this was almost as good as what happened to my brother last week, when he was online checking the status on a flight he was taking for a business trip. Suddenly he started laughing and called out, "Oh my gosh! Check this out!!" I came into the room and looked over his shoulder to see that his confirmation code--and here I must ask any of our younger readers to close their innocent eyes--was "FHUCKU." Now really, Alaska Airlines, what sort of customer service is THAT?!)

Monday, November 14, 2005

While I'm Driving

So I have noticed a disturbing habit that I am developing as I make this horrendous commute every day; namely, the habit of talking aloud. Obviously that would not be disturbing if there were, say, another human being in the vehicle, but as there is not, it's probably a little weird.

I have also started playing the license plate game with myself, because I've spotted quite a few out-of-state plates on my commute every day. Like today, for example, I saw Connecticut (at which point I said aloud to myself, "YEEESS!! Connecticut!" See? I told you, it's disturbing!), South Carolina, Texas, Illinois, and Florida. And that was just today! I've also spied New York, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Nevada, and North Carolina. Fun!

Other things I see on my way to/from work:

- a cemetery.

- Mulholland Drive.

- Warner Brothers Studios (across the street from the cemetery...hmmm).

- CBS studios.

- CNN building.

-a dinosaur breaking through a roof and eating a giant clock (you don't believe me, but I don't care, it's true).

- Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax (which is a Historical Landmark, since 1934! Whoa! Hey now, that's old for Cali).

- Kodak Theater, near the intersection of Hollywood and Highland (where you can also walk along the famed Walk of Fame, and look at the stars on the sidewalk, with talented people's names on them, like Britney Spears and Bugs Bunny).


Well, I suppose some might call it the scenic route, especially some who might be alot more interested in The Industry (i.e., movie biz) than I am, but there's nothing along the way that I particularly care to see. Except the dinosaur, maybe. That's kind of cool.

(You still don't believe me, but it's still true!)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Thinking About Church

In church today, while we were singing one of the songs, I suddenly had a flashback to my time in Thailand two years ago, and a night when I attended a worship service among Thai Christians who were jumping up and down as they sang loud praises to God, in a room with no walls. They sang in Thai, but I knew some of the songs in English, and though I knew little of any of the people around me, I felt a unity with them that made me smile.

There was a simple beauty in that moment, in that place, that I have let myself forget in the intervening time, growing disillusioned as I have with myself, my faith, and my God. I was glad for the reminder today.

I don't know why I go to church sometimes. But after remembering that moment in Thailand, I thought that maybe part of it is because I can look around and see the antidote to my pride, my arrogance, my critical judgmentalism. What is that antidote? It is...other people. Ah, they can be the poison, too, I don't deny it. But I believe in grace--ah, grace, the undeserved favor of a God who loves people regardless of whether they always love him back. And I cannot believe in grace as an abstract theory, but as a vital reality working itself out in people's lives. And so the antidote, the cure, is in knowing that if God can work miracles in me (and I pray that he does), he must be working them in the people around me--even the ones I see in church! And none of them are perfect yet, and lots of them might annoy, bore, or anger me, but perhaps I do the same to them. God knows what he forgives me for, every single day.

It's true that I still do not like "church," the formal, programmed routine with its endless join-the-club type activities that takes up Sunday mornings and various weeknights in buildings across the country, and around the world. But I don't believe that God hates it. I believe he is sorry about it, but he is able, as I rarely am, to look past the program, the imperfections, the posturings, the studied piety, and see individual hearts that are broken, weary, and struggling to be good and love him--just like mine.

I would do better to remember that more often, than to recite the critiques and grievances that are so often nothing more than the litany of my spiteful arrogance.

I am glad that God is love.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Los Angeles; or, Descent into the Seventh Circle of Commuter Hell

It doesn't really matter where you are trying to get to in Los Angeles; you are bound to spend at least an hour in your car (aka the iron coffin). Ask an Angeleno, "How far away is it?" and you will get the answer in terms of minutes, not miles. If you insist on knowing the distance, all you will get is a blank stare, and some half-hearted attempts at guessing. No one ever knows distances to anything in this city, but people are remarkably good at estimating how long it will take to get there.

"You need to go to the grocery store? 45 minutes."

"But...it's just down the street..."

"It's rush hour."

"It's 3pm!"

"Rush hour is 6am-8pm."

"But...but that's all day!"

"What's your point?"

Basically, there are two rules of travel when within the environs of Los Angeles: 1) assume traffic, and 2) assume traffic will be really bad. If you do that, you will help to decrease your road rage levels just a little bit, because you won't be at all surprised when you find yourself going 0-5mph on a three-lane street or a six-lane highway. You'll do what I do; namely, put one side of your iPod headphones into one of your ears (not both, because that's definitely illegal, whereas one is only marginally so!), and sing along to music. You might also call lots of your friends. (And if you are huffing and puffing about people driving while on their cell phones, believe me, you need to experience LA traffic every single day--you'll start using your cell phone in your car too, because it's probably the only time you'll have to talk to your friends anymore. Besides, how unsafe can it be? You're only going 0mph.)

There really is so much you can do while "driving" 50 mph less than the speed limit. Over the years I've seen people reading the newspaper, shaving, brushing their teeth, etc. Maybe you'll write a book. I bet you could write a whole novel in the time it would take you to get from Pasadena to, say, Westwood on a Friday night. (You could write two if you take the 405.)

Distance and time are so out of sync in this town, they might as well get together and form a ragtime band. On Saturday night, I drove to Ventura, which is about 70 miles away from my house (and I only know that because Mapquest said so!). It took me a little over an hour, which is perfectly reasonable. Now, compare that to last night, when I left work at 6pm and it took me an hour and 20 minutes to drive to my piano teacher's house...12 miles away.

Sigh...

Oh well. Happy Friday, everybody. Here's to the weekend at last! It couldn't come fast enough for me...but that's probably because it got stuck in LA traffic.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Oh for Snow!

In the lunchroom today, leafing through the LA Times, I found a special section on the upcoming snow season, and I have just two words to say:

Bring it, baby.

Oh wait, that's three. Well, now you know why I mostly flunked math all my life.

But thankfully you don't have to be good at math to be good at snowboarding, because then I'd hate it, and I just love it.

Uh, yeah. Anyway.

The last time I went snowboarding was quite memorable--well, for me; for one of the friends I went with, it wasn't, because, well, he lost his memory. I think to this day he is not quite certain if he had a good time, though I assure him that it really was an epic day, at least up until the point where we were racing down a nice long run and he took a bad fall, knocked himself in the head, got a concussion, got amnesia, had to go to ski patrol, then ride in an ambulance to the hospital, and eventually go home still not knowing who the president of the United States was or why he was in the mountains that day in the first place.

But thankfully he did indeed recover, although I think he wishes he could have enough of a relapse to forget about his hospital bill--oops.

Ah, good times on the slopes. And no doubt there will be more to come this season, though hopefully with a little less pain and suffering. Stay tuned!