Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Happy Friggin New Year

while i could care little for xmas, i do enjoy the festivities that accompany the new year. after initially worrying that i had loser plans this year, i rounded up some friendly troops for an evening at club sugar in santa monica. i'm gonna try to look HOT tonight. i bought brand new everything for the occassion -- new dress, shoes, even matching jewelry. i'm also gonna get a wax and actually wash my hair. if anyone's still looking for something to do, i think the cover is a very reasonable $10.

in other news, my girl raidis spent the past couple days with me before leaving late last night. she just lives over the hill in my hometown of van nuys, but she needed to get away from her house and we needed some long overdue QT. so spent our time together eating, getting drunk, gossiping, shopping and watching 'sex and the city' DVDs. i really love that girl. she's my best friend whom i've known now for 15 years. here's a pix of her sexy ass on halloween:


the day before that, i saw my other best friend -- the male version of raidis -- jon-david, whom i've known for 12 years. (unfortunately i don't have a photo of him as a domintrax.) i went to visit him at his mom's house in freezing antelope valley. it must have been 40 degrees. we also spent time eating, drinking, gossiping, etc. it was a lovely few days of back-to-back best friends.

up ahead are a few more scattered friend visits and entry into the alone zone, a place i relish but visit all too infrequently. i thought of making a foray into SF, but think that's unlikely now. so i'll ride out the rest of my vacay reading, sleeping and hopefully working on this god-forsaken website, if i can motivate my lazy ass. anyway, happy new year to you and all the rest of that jazz.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Merry Friggin Christmas

look at me, blogging daily now. seems there isn't much else to do. pablo left this morning for argentina for two weeks, leaving me without anyone to kiss come new year's. i'm sure juice will oblige, but how am i supposed to sneak her into a jumpin club for a midnight smooch?

anyhow, i've gone and done something uber-girlie to pass the time, at least for the first few days of solitude -- i've rented a bunch of DVDs of old 'sex and the city' episodes and plan to curl up on the couch wearing warm socks while eating bon bons. well, more like atkins bars. (still on low-carb.) i'm just gonna veg, no deadlines hanging over me, no interviews to schedule. just lazy dayz ahead.

and yes, merry f-ing xmas. while i do like the season, i don't really care for the actual day and its eve for obvious reasons (i'm jewish). when i was younger, i remember my christian classmates being in disbelief that i didn't celebrate the day, that is was somehow impossible not to. "but, at least your family has a special dinner that night, right?" they would ask. "no, we don't acknowledge it at all," i would answer. "but it's christmas!" they would say, as if saying it that way suddenly changed everything. "umm, nope. we don't do anything," i would insist. "well, then santa must not like jews!" guess not. but that's okay, cus i never gave a shit for that fat bastard either.

i'm still looking for something to do on new year's eve. virtually everyone i know will be out of town or otherwise occupied. if you'll be in hell-lay and have ideas, please e-mail me pronto.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Hawaii, Part Two

aloha, punks. ready for the second installment of our hawaii series? what follows are details of the eerie psychic experience! oooh. aaah.

Lan Vo
that's her name, in case you ever find yourself in oahu wrestling with life's questions and sixty bucks to spare. she's a vietnamese lady in her forties, maybe fifties, and she has a thick-ass accent i often could not cut through. "please, no smoking, eating or drinking. thank you. have a nice future," the sign near the receptionist read.

since lan is booked months in advance, the only way to get an appointment with her is to arrive early and sign the walk-in list in hopes that some of that day's clients cancel or just don't show up. we were the first ones there at 9am, and lo and behold her first appt was a no-show, so i went in (kiana managed to get her reading first thing after lunch, so we spent the better part of the day there, leaving at around 3pm.)

she took out regular playing cards, prayed silently while holding them, and then had me shuffle and cut them into three stacks. she then spread the cards onto the table separating us and began asking me questions, while gluing her eyes onto my face, which makes me a bit nervous. then she seems to abandon the cards altogether and just begins spewing things out, one thing after another. some are past events, others are premonitions for the future. this continues for close to half an hour, with me interjecting often to ask questions or ask her to repeat herself because her accent's a bitch.

-- past: one of the first things she tells me is that i have two degrees (and i'll eventually get one more, which i think is unlikely). she sees last summer's trip to europe, and that i've been moving around alot (and i will continue to do so, she says). she sees the scholarship money that i received from USC this past semester and that i "make reports" for work. she sees my back surgery and that i have recurring bladder infections, but says that neither is of serious concern.

then, as if in a vision, she sees pablo and begins to describes him, saying that he has three tattoos (he does), one of which is a formula across his back (it is); that the hair on his head is thinning, but he has plenty of it on his chest (all true); that he has a greencard and is not from around here (he's from argentina); describes one of his old girlfriends as being tall and blonde (erin, i've met her); says that he is an engineer who does programming and has recently left his job (true that); and that his name is "something with P and B." there's a lot more pablo talk that follows this, but i'll keep it to myself.

she also sees my ex, describes him, and we discuss him briefly. we then move on to my family, and she spells out my sister's surname -- "N-G-A-I" (her husband is chinese). she tells me things about their marriage, but that their kids will be fine. she tells me how my grandparents died and that my paternal grandpa -- whom i was named after and who died before my birth -- was a "good man." this sends a chill over me.

we talk about my parents and she sees that my dad had a brain tumor when i was growing up and that it made his eye twitch. she also sees my mom's hysterectomy. she also sees the history of diabetes in my family and tells me that as long as i'm careful with my sugar and salt intake, i won't get it. she also saw my dog's hip dysplasia ("she walk funny") and said she has 7-9 years, which bummed me out a bit.

-- future: there was certainly more about the past than the future, which is to be expected. she did provide some insight, however, which i am sure is subject to change. namely, that i'll marry only once, have two girls and a boy ("maybe twins"), will write a book that will be successful, will travel all around the world, will get a new car in the next year, will own a horse (!) at some point in my life, will work in either radio or television, will get a new dog, could own my own business, will teach at some point, will always live near water, and will be OK overall. "you worry too much," she tells me, causing me to smile. she also tells me to go see a dentist because i have a cavity and that my cholesterol is high. (there's much more, but again, i'll keep it to myself.)

i can't explain how i felt when i walked out of there -- definitely rattled, introspective, somewhat elated, somewhat disturbed. i sat quiet for a long time thinking and trying to remember everything.

now, of course i know better than to take this as the ultimate gospel. but i've always believed in the metaphysical and this woman certainly had the gift. she's probably the only one i've ever met who has, and i've seen my fair share of charlatan card and palm readers over the years. this whole experience has left me feeling a bit more spiritual than before.

and although she touches on everything, lan's specialty is health. she told kiana years ago that a lump in her mother's neck was not cancerous and did not need chemotherapy. turned out to be true. i would definitely consult lan on health matters, and probably other stuff as well. i'm sure i'll see her again and would easily recommend her to others. i have her number if anyone's interested.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Hawaii, Part One

damn, what a good time i had. i hope to return over spring break for a continuation of the goodness. here is a partial lowdown of the weeklong trip:

-- fly me to the moon: can i just tell you how much i love my very dear friend kiana? i've always believed that having friends with diverse professions is beneficial: a doctor friend for free medical advice, a lawyer friend for law consultations, a chef friend, a hairdresser, a masseuse for obvious reasons. but a flight attendant is just as valuable, and kiana's indentured servitude to American Airlines translated into a first-class, roundtrip ticket to honolulu for just 200 smackers. i dined on duck salad, shitake-encrusted rib eye and guava cheesecake and downed an entire bottle of merlot on my own. (i'm a fearful flyer, i needed to relax.) it was lovely. i'm never flying coach again. well, as long as kiana is still my friend. did i mention how much i love her? here's a pic of her on her wedding day:

-- accommodations: since kiana is from hawaii, we stayed for free at her grandpa's house in manoa valley and rented a car from enterprise. we didn't spend too much time at the house, just paid visits for sleeping and clothes-changing. her grandparents are adorable japanese people in their eighties who rise early every morning to pull weeds out of the yard.

-- heavenly weather: PERFECT. you could be naked and never get cold, nor did it ever really get hot. it maybe dipped once to 72 degrees and the locals began talking about it being "freezing." no rain, just infrequent bursts of drizzle that seemed to pour out of a cloudless sky. "hawaiian sunshine," kiana called it. we took advantage of the great days and spent many of them on the beach, drinking beer and smoking doobs while watching the surfers do their thing. i couldn't have been more relaxed.

-- pidgin: i also spent a good part of the week studying the most bizarre pseudo-language called pidgin. it's kind of like an asian creole based on dumbed-down english and loaded with hawaiian words. it has the unfortunate side effect of making its speakers sound like idiots, much like a boston accent does. not everyone on the island speaks full-on pidgin all the time, but many words and expressions seem to appear in everyday conversation. helping me with my studies were the two illustrated versions of pidgin to da max. so goddamn funny. if something's yummy, in pidgin you say that it "brok da mout" (broke the mouth). if someone's gossiping, you might urge them to "no talk stink." and if someone's staring at you, feel free to ask them "i owe you money o' wot?"

-- food and boob: the best thing about visiting with a local is that you don't waste your time in waikiki walking up and down that commercialized boardwalk. instead, kiana took me to the local hotspots and the best eateries. the food was soooo gooood, i can't even describe it. as a lover of all things fishy, i was in heaven, chowing down on sashimi daily. we also spent much time shaking our tail feathers at various bars and clubs throughout the island. all went well except for one night when a drunken meathead approached kiana's friend kimi with a digital camera and asked to photograph her (38DD) breasts. and later that night, we saw a seemingly insane girl take out her breast in front of a bouncer and squeeze milk from its ducts to prove that she wasn't lying when she said she was lactating. that was about all the tit we could take, so we hurried back and stayed up late talking about boys.

that's all for now. check back in the coming days for Part Two of our story, which will be all about my eerie visit to the psychic.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Thanks, Skanks!

so yes, another thanksgiving passed, and i'm glad it did because i really dislike turkey. never have i tasted a juicy turkey breast -- always dry. dark meat's not bad, though. but the best thing about the day is that it marks the start of the winter holiday season, which i really do enjoy. seeing houses done up in lights, smelling that xmas pine and feeling the cool chill in the air just gets me all warm and fuzzy inside.

what sucks about it is all that gift-giving nonsense. maybe if i had a ton of money to blow, i'd buy something nice and thoughtful for everyone i know, but i got no dough, and the pressure to spend and the commercial nature of the season make all those presents seem insincere. i'd rather take that money and buy my homies big birthday gifts instead of little holiday trinkets that i probably stole from the clearance table, anyway. i'm sure this will make me sound like such an asshole, but a word to the wise: if we're tight and you're thinking of getting me a little gift for the holidays, don't bother cus i can offer nothing but gratitude in return. i know, you're not expecting something in return, we all say that, but i'll feel guilty if i have nothing for you, and i have neither the time nor money to deal with malls in the coming month. let's just know that we love each other and that's enough. (but if you're my mom, a digital camera would make me so happy.) yeah, what a scrooge i am. bahumbug and all that shit.

and on that note, i wanted to get to the real purpose of this post, which was to recognize all the wonderful blessings in my life. (see, that's what the holiday spirit is truly all about.) so let's all take a collective pregnant pause before moving on to the list of all the things i'm thankful for this season:

  • my parents (duh.) the older i get, the more i appreciate the people who were there from the very beginning and who will certainly be there until the very end. i adore my parents, and am glad we get along so famously. their love and support have always been unconditional and selfless. they never hesistate to tell me the truth, for better and worse, or to tell me with teary eyes that they're proud of me. nope, mom and dad, i'm the one who's proud. (how bout that camera now, ma?)

  • the rest of my family. yeah, them too. even though my older sister, tatyana, used to torture me relentlessly during our youth, we make pretty good siblings now. and though i like to think that she and i are very different, i know that fundamentally we're the same on the inside. same thing with my cousin, gitella (you, too, roman!). and my niece and two nephews -- paulina, jack and derek -- are golden as well. they're growing up to be awesome little people.

  • the light of my life, the apple of my eye, my darling puppy juice. i'm crazy about this dog -- like super, crazy, madly in love with her. she's my kid, and for her i'd do what any mother would do for her kid: anything and everything.

  • the man with the master plan, the p-funk daddy, the big-brained sugarbearama: my pablo. although we've had our fair share of relationship bumps and bruises in the past few months, i wouldn't trade the four years we've had for anything in the world (not even for johnny depp). he's truly my best friend, all 6-feet, 5-inches, 260 pounds of his luscious, dark, argentinian self. you wanna know one of the many cool things about pablo? he has an equation tattooed across his back -- the formula for what happens when a neutron star dies, which is his favorite astrophysics fact. strange, yes, but you know that not another mothafucka in the world has that inked into his back. yep, my pabs is one of a kind.

  • my friends, who i love love love, for they are my true soulmates. i gotta say that my friendships are lifelong endeavors, so if you're in it with me, we're in it to win it. fair-weathered just won't do, and i've been lucky to find a mess of people i can lean on, laugh with, cry to or just sit there in silence with. special thanks go to my innermost circle who have to deal with my bullshit on a daily or near-daily basis: raidis, jon-david, sharon, jeremy, kiana, juan, zahra, demetria.

  • ok, this is gonna sound so friggin LA, but i'm very thankful for yoga, which has changed my life in so many positive ways. it really keeps me sane and keeps my rickety back strong. i'm converted for life and urge all to give it a shot. namaste.

  • USC, i love you! the annenberg school for journalism has given me so damn much: knowledge, connections to amazing students and faculty, an opportunity to work and live in london, a $20K debt. umm, maybe that last one isn't too great, but it's been worth it -- definitely. i'll be even more thankful if it'll somehow help me get a job to pay off all that debt come graduation in may.

  • this may be self-evident, but i'm really thankful for all the good music and books that exist out there for the many times that they've served as my therapy, my friend, my fun and my hope.

  • thanks go to all the both evil and wonderful people from christmases past, present and future, as they have helped make me who i am today and will continue to shape my future. i really am grateful for all the gentle souls who've encouraged me, boyfriends who've rejected me, strangers who've affected me and bosses whom i've despised. the best life is a nuanced one, and i'll gladly take a (hopefully small) serving of struggle with my big scoop of success.

  • and finally, a list of honorable mentions: the dorky yet cools guys i work with at CFQ/FF; the great deals and films i find weekly at the 20/20 video store down the street from my ghetto apartment;; all the editors who have ever published my writing; strawberry cheesecake; other good friends: greg, stevie, angela, zee, garron, als, ann, courtney, tania, ali; the kind neighbors who've watched juice for me in the past; my favorite LA restaurant, puran's (on labrea); the doctor who convinced me to quit smoking; this past summer spent in europe; anyone who's ever bought or given me drinks, a meal or drugs; quiet cafes; noisy bars; KCRW, which broadcasts NPR and great music; the new york times and la times for being great papers with fabulously written stories; and, perhaps most importantly, you, whoever you are, if you're not already mentioned here. thanks for hanging in there.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Ghetto Not So Fabulous

today i want to use this space to discuss my wacky neighborhood and how much i've learned to both hate and accept it. since i'm locked into a year lease, it'll do me no good to let my disdain for this shithole consume too much of my energy, but yeah, it sucks here.

now don't get me wrong. i'm not some prissy rich bitch who grew up in beverly hills with silver spoons and picket fences, though i will admit to having a misguided crush on ricky schroeder in my youth. anyone who has been to my hometown of van nuys will tell you it's not the great area that comes to mind when one thinks of, like, the valley. people usually think of places like encino, where michael jackson's family lived, and granada hills, where valley twang is at its strongest.

no, van nuys' great claim to fame is being the porn capital of the world. examine any of your vivid videotapes/dvds and you'll find a van nuys postal address. we also had some gangs, most notably BVN (boyz van nuyz), and tons of undocumented immigrants. but in spite of all that, it was neither the worst nor best place to live -- standard working-class neighborhoods, plenty of used car lots on van nuys boulevard, strip malls galore. in short, it was a slightly rundown suburban hell that could get sketchy at times, but it was nothing like south central or detroit.

after that, i lived in my fair share of other assorted, sordid areas in both los angeles and san francisco. can deal with sketch, no prob. when in da hood, i know to keep my hoody on and my eyes averted. i avoid confrontations, walk quickly and act nonchalantly. urban survivalist, that's me.

but before i drift too far into tangentland, let's get back to the current hood and how much i fucking hate it. again, moving here was so we could be close to the metrolink (which finally started running again, yay!), since pabs and i are sharing one car. i could complain about the ridiculous traffic congestion (especially during hollywood bowl season), lack of parking, the charming dog shit lining the sidewalks, but i won't. that doesn't really irk me.

what does irk me, however, are the fucking cop cars that appear at least twice a week on my street. one time, they even taped off the entire block next to mine while they waited for a shooting suspect to emerge from an apartment building. oh boy, was that fun! i was ready to grab a bag of popcorn and stand around watching and waiting with the rest of the rubbernecks.

and another night, i came home to find a mountain of trash -- couches, broken chairs, garbage -- piled high in the middle of my street. i dumbly thought it might be a piece of expressionist art, but it turns out a tenant from a neighboring building didn't like his eviction notice, so he decided he would burn down the entire block by setting the pile of shit on fire.

but wait, i'm forgetting my favorite one: one time i was casually looking out my second-floor window when i saw a cop car breezing down the street, its blowhorn blaring, "quit buying drugs on that corner. hey, i can see you buying those drugs!"

oh yes, the junkies. (funny, as i write this i'm hearing sirens approach -- i shit you not.) seen lots of junkies talking to themselves, yelling at other people, lighting their crack pipes in the parking lot behind my building. there's been some hookers and pimps, too, and there was even that one guy i passed on my way home from the video store one night, the one who ran from a darkened alley, pants falling to his ankles. wonder what lucky lady (or tranny hooker) he left in his wake. silly people, why didn't they just use the motel 6 down the street like everyone else? and let's not forget the miserable couples that argue up a storm nearly every day. there seems to be a set in each building and when they all start their bitching at once -- wow, what a crescendo!

i should have known better. the two "checks cashed" places directly across the street from each other on hollywood boulevard should have tipped me off to what a dump this place is. is it as bad as i'm making it sound? yeah, probably. is it livable for the next two years? yeah, definitely. but as i approach (gasp) 30, i feel a bit crankier and less inclined to live in what i used to romanticize as bohemian centers -- just brimming with life, dude. now i see them for what they really are: GHETTOS. granted, it's still no south central or detroit, it's more ghetto-lite, but it's ghetto enough for me.

i've sworn to myself that my next residence will come equipped with a parking space. the neighborhood should also have well-manicured lawns, and the dumpsters should not smell like dead bodies.

but in the meantime, i've made my proverbial bed. besides, my apartment is really gorgeous and relatively cheap, and i have truly never (knock on wood) felt unsafe here. more annoyed than anything -- especially when i step in that dog shit.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Hermitism and My Diva Moment

(yes, that's a real word. i thought it might be "hermitude," but i looked it up and the noun form is indeed "hermitism." now onward with the entry.)

haven't felt much like doing much of anything lately. maybe it's the change in the weather, which, granted, is minimal compared to worldwide standards but huge if you've spent most of your life in sunny hell-lay. temperature's down, clouds are up. i generally like that scenario, especially when i can be at home with warm socks on and a cup of cocoa, staring out the window as the puddles fill up. maybe that explains the apathy and why i haven't been too interested in the rest of the world lately. friends, school, work, family -- no, thank you. i just want to sleep in and be left alone.

the good news is i can do just that, as the semester is finally winding down, leaving me with just two papers to write and a shitload of ones to grade for my TAship. that, i think i can manage before year's end. then comes next semester, the final semester.

the bad news is i'll have to take one more class than i thought i would if i want to graduate on time. this is because i dropped my thesis and need to make up the units. why, you ask? well, i thought i would try to 'push the envelope,' as they say (sorry for the cliche, but it's apt here), by doing a lengthy broadcast piece on the straight men who do gay porn. yes, the very fascinating gay-for-pay phenomenon that runs through the porn industry. chicks do it all the time, why not guys? i think most people would be surprised to learn that about a third of the guys who do gay porn are straight. i was gonna take that into an exploration of the vast divide that separates sex and sexuality. they're not the same thing. it was going to be educational. stellar idea, i thought.

the faculty disagreed. but wow, some of the looks that crossed their (old, white man) faces were priceless. they gave me every excuse: "it's not the topic itself, it's that it's not 'newsy' enough"; "how do you think this will further your professional goals?"; "what's the real purpose of doing something like this?" and so on. it was an ordeal. there were some heated debates. but in the end, i'm still the lowly student and they have all the power. they insisted i choose something else, but i said if i couldn't do what i really wanted, then i wouldn't do anything at all. so i had my little diva moment and that was that.

i'm not really surprised by the school's resistance, just a little disappointed. if anything, it justs proves their hypocrisy. college can be a pretty liberal place, but only if you want to focus on welfare reform or the three-strikes law in california (two topics of my friends' theses). but start talking about sodomy, and whoa, sister, slow down! i understand, though. it's their school -- they make the rules. but it's my fucking money.

yet in all honesty, i'm a bit relieved that it didn't work out, because it would have been a shitload of work and i was already way behind schedule. it's november already. by now i would have had to turn in my outline. so instead of all that, i'll need to take an extra class. i'm trying to find an easy one.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Publishing Error in My Favor

yay! it's out -- my first big cover story for NoHo>LA. Click on the cover to go to the story, which is about a very funny play called jewtopia. i immensely enjoyed watching the show (highly recommend, if you're local to LA) and meeting the two crazy jewish dudes responsible for it. if you're truly a fan and a friend, you can find the rag in LA's more eastside locales -- NoHo, Hollywood, Burbank, Larchmont, etc -- at coffeeshops, indy video stores, clothes shops and the like. it'll be out for the next two weeks.

truthfully, i'm sure my editor assigned the story to me because of my surname (goldenberg), which is synonymous with "superjew." maybe she figured i could never be accused of being insensitive to the jewish plight and all that, especially since the play is humorously self-depracating. i can certainly understand her concern, as a gentile might have handled the assignment like a hot potato (i think i treated it more like a chicken soft taco), but in any case, i hope she gives me more shit to write about. like i said before, i'm all about them bylines nowadays. i'm sitting on a few other publishing eggs; let's hope a few more of them hatch soon.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Stuff and Things

i'm going to try to get into the habit of updating every sunday night, and more often than that hopefully. sunday is the funday. no, actually, sundays are worse than mondays because they remind of not only how much shit you need to take care of in the week ahead, but of the shit you never took care of in the week before. so the old shit compounds the new shit to give you a whole lotta shit on your plate. well, my plate.

that's what it feels like sometimes -- that i'm just going through the motions clearing shit off my plate to make room for the new stuff. i'm pretty eager to graduate already, senioritis is setting in. the classes i've chosen for next semester seem like the easiest ones offered. it's not that i hate what i'm doing, i fucking love it and know that i will miss it terribly once my graduate schooling is all done. i just feel like i should dedicate more of this school year to writing papers for publication, not for professors. i need more friggin clips, some bylines that prove that other people believed in me enough to print my ramblings, so you -- new editor -- should too. with this in mind, i'm going to refocus my energies on picking up more assignments for NoHo>LA and be on the hunt for other writing jobs as well. if you know of any, e-mail my ass at

anyhow, the weekend was fairly pleasant. i saw an interesting play on friday night with zahra bizarra and then had a midnight meal with my sugar mcman. saturday saw a day of running a few errands and enduring an ass-kicking flow yoga class. last night i went out a bunch of high school peeps whom i hadn't seen in forever and we caught up on all our new and old times. then i met up with pabs and some of his b-school peeps at an after-hours party in venice. we didn't know too many people there and given that this is hell-lay, no one (us especially) seemed interested in making small talk with strangers, so we bailed at an early 3 am, hit up the always open del taco, and fell into bed near 4.

today i've felt like a complete waste of space.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Nothing in Particular

not sure where i'm going with this one, not that i have anywhere i need to go with any of them. just procrastinating really. i should be working on my website instead, as i have the evening free to do so, but the thought of firing up dreamweaver always makes me uneasy cus i know it will frustrate me somehow. it's not really a hard program, not nearly as bad as photoshop, but it'll still get me somehow. just when i think i've semi-mastered the fucker, it suddenly won't let me add a return or resize a box -- something lame will trip me up.

anyhow, writing in this blog is also good preparation for writing the captions that will accompany the summer's photos. it always helps lube my brain, writing here. after an entry, i can sometimes just fart out my assignments with ease. it helps turn off that internal editor. but with each sip of this boozy wine, it looks less likely that i'll be doing anything that requires too much brain tonight. i might just slide instead into movie-watching mode. or perhaps music-listening mode.

i rented the matrix reloaded the other night and just didn't dig it much. i heard it was horrible and i expected to hate it fully, but it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't that good either. just like watching a video game -- way too much CGI. and keanu reeves is just a terrible actor. he has no range. neither does drew barrymore. i can't handle seeing either one of them in a movie -- they always play the same character. i also rented the entire second season of the osbournes on dvd and that was fabulous. they crack me up, that family. they kinda remind me of my family, minus all that money and cursing. actually, if you cross the osbournes with a woody allen movie, you may have something resembling my family: slightly dim dad who needs things constantly repeated and re-explained, a busybody Jewish mother who's quick to give out praise, insults and guilt trips. then there's my sister and i -- we don't really bicker too much nowadays, but we used to. my family is also pretty loud. it's really shocking how much noise three people can make, but get my sister, my mom and i together in a room and it's nonstop yap and kvetch, kvetch and yap.

yeah, there's no way i'm working on that website tonight. i wonder if i should have joined pablo and his b-school peeps in their post-finals bash. (his school is actually on a quarter system, so he just finished exams and will begin another term monday.) but i figured they would need to commiserate and celebrate amongst themselves.

i'm also still trying to nail down my master's thesis topic. but before that, i need to find an advisor. i've gone through two faculty members already, both of whom seem too busy to help me out, so i'm onto a third, whom i will ask next week to give me a hand with this thing. i have three ideas in mind -- focus on either high-schoolers, immigrants or porn stars. hmm... which do you think i'll choose?

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Friday at the Journalism Job Fair

i should have trusted my instincts and not gone at all, as it was a complete wash for me. i talked to maybe three or four recruiters, all of whom i reluctantly (and rather unsuccessfully) tried to sell myself to. i just can't play the i'm-great-and-this-is-why game that job fairs require. but it's really more than that. it's the fact that i just don't want to do daily news, and the fair featured folks from the fresno bee and bakersfield californian and a bunch of other no-name dailies from podunk towns.

i did visit the LA Times booth and that was a complete disaster. the chick actually handed me back my resume. fuck, lady, couldn't ya just humor me? i've never had my resume handed back to me at a job fair. she was nice about it, though, saying i should keep my resume and clips and apply for the times' summer internship for next year, as if i would forget to include them then. i asked whether that would ultimately help get me a job at the times. she said it was unlikely. if i really wanted to work at the times, i would have to go to those podunk towns and write kick-ass stories for those no-name dailies while earning a slew of awards in the process. after several years of this, i could apply at the times and we could talk.

now, i'm not sure that i believe in an afterlife, so the thought of suffering for years as a general assignment reporter writing obituaries and covering city council meetings and fires in some backwoods shithole for the chance to possibly, maybe, perhaps write for the los angeles times one day (which i've already done, by the way) just doesn't sound appealing. call me crazy. the lady gently reminded me that journalists end their careers at the times, not begin them, and that we all have to pay our dues.

yes, granted. i never expected to walk into a cushy job as a features reporter at the times straight out of graduate school, and if it were worth it to me, i might sit in that shithole writing obituaries, but that's just not my bag, and if this job fair did nothing else, it helped me to realize that. i don't want to work for a daily. that's the bottom line. i don't like working in a pressure cooker, having to crank out story after story under daily deadline pressure. i wouldn't want to have to compete with my peers for the big "get." i'd much rather have the time to set aside a piece and come back to it a little later. i don't want to have to start everything i write with the inverted pyramid, answering the who, what, when, where, how and why in the first graph. maybe i'd rather begin with a quote or an anecdote or some imagery. daily news is great to read, but it sucks to write, and i don't have it in me to try. i wish i did. no, on second thought, i guess i really don't.

i sometimes wonder whether i should have taken the opportunity to study magazine journalism at NYU when i had the chance. USC's program is really geared toward newspaper reporting, and it really tries to convince you that you should be too (undoubtedly so you can go out a win a pulitzer to honor the school). but i like magazines -- they're like little illustrated books, self-contained and portable, and the ink doesn't rub off on your fingers. that's way more my bag. radio's not bad either. but a newspaperwoman i shall never be. and that's just fine with me.

now, i don't expect to walk into a cushy job as a features writer for Newsweek either, but for that opportunity, i just might spend years slaving away at smaller publications until i got the chance. and i wouldn't have to move to fresno to do it. i'm already writing for NoHo LA and will have a cover story coming out for them in the coming weeks. it's a small start to what will hopefully become a very long and fruitful love affair with the magazine world. it's still journalism and it's a much better fit for me. ok, now i know that. case closed.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Home Alone

home alone with a glass of wine on a friday night; it's nearly 1 a.m. i would feel pretty pathetic if this situation weren't by choice, but luckily, i had options that i passed up to spend some QT with M, M & I (me, myself & I). well, the evening didn't exactly begin in solitude. i went to see a surprisingly good play tonight with ms. zahra the great. it was called "the shore," and i'm to review it for NoHo>LA. then zahra and i went out for an always satisfying girlie chat at a coffeeshop before retiring to our respective abodes. there was a raging '80s party going on, sponsored by pablo's business school, but after checking in with him via cell phone, i quickly realized that i was far too sober and unenergized to attend. so i mozied on home, found rock-star parking (which means within a block of my building) and fired up the iMac. hang on, lemme refill my glass.

back. so, what did i want to talk about? i don't know, i was thinking about delving into politics, an area i've deliberately avoided so far. and not because i'm apolitical -- i'm as opinionated as they come -- i've just realized that waxing realpolitik does little to further my understanding of the wacky world of politics. instead it gets me into heated debates with good friends, and ultimately never ends up in anyone's mind being changed. it only reinforces beliefs and sometimes sours friendships, at least in the short term. not that all my friends need to share my political beliefs (though it never hurts), they just need to respect them. and i know i need to work on respecting people who hold beliefs that differ radically from my own -- but to a point, cus if you hate homos or think i'm a murderer for the abortion i had when i was 19, then you can go fuck yourself.

but i'm digressing. i wanted to talk about ahnold. and not about his womanizing or nazi ties -- that all speaks for itself. i'm just curious why he's ahead in the polls when i don't know a single person who'll admit to planning to vote for him come election day. maybe it's cus, yes, i tend to surround myself with left-leaning folk (though no knee-jerkers, please), but where are these terminator fans coming from? are they too (rightfully) ashamed to come forward? i just don't see it.

i, for one, am still unsure of whom i will vote for. maybe i'll just vote no on the recall, period. or maybe i should throw my support to busterman, the only viable democrat, though i don't see him being too different from davis. i was all over the arianna campaign, but when that whole income tax thing blew up i just lost faith, and she's out now anyway. i do like camejo, but he hasn't got a true shot at it. i just don't know, i'll likely make up my mind at the last moment, and it'll probably go to bust-a-move-man, since i don't want to waste my vote. but i will say that i promise to give the benefit of the doubt to whomever is ultimately elected, ahnald included, though i don't see that happening anymore with all the bad press. god bless the LA Times.

in other news, juice has recently been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, which has upset me greatly. we're still investigating our options and might get a second opinion, but she's been limping in recent weeks. now she's on glucosamine and painkillers, and that seems to have made a slight difference, but i want to ensure that she enjoys a high quality of life, so i'm looking at the surgeries available to her (and the pet insurance available to me). and i still intend to start her on frisbee lessons in the park as planned, though she'll have to take it easy on those hind legs. it pisses me off, and i've resolved to do whatever it takes to help her. it might sound silly to anyone who doesn't understand the singular bond a pet can offer, but juice is like my kid, and i adore her with my whole heart. it's certainly been a distressing time. hearing the hip dysplasia news is like finding out your kid is retarded and will require special ed for his whole life. it sucks and you feel helpless -- yet determined.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Stuff and Things

so, another week of not much is coming to a close. things are much calmer this academic year. around this time last year, the whole chicken-with-its-head-cut-off adage would fit right about here. nowadays, i'm actually sleeping in most days and then enjoying long, lazy mornings sipping coffee and reading the online papers. all that will likely change in the coming weeks as i begin my pseudo internship, which is really the second part to my new TAship i mentioned in the last entry. i'll be working for a USC-sponsored agency that provides training to mid-career journos. unfortunately, it doesn't look like i'll be doing much journalism there, just assisting -- gofer stuff.

school is school. turned in two papers last week, have a midterm next week and must grade a bunch of papers this weekend. everything's pretty fucking boring on this end. well, there was one strange thing that happened last night. maybe it's worth mentioning.

i went to one of pablo's business school mixers last night (side note: these party animals seem to have about five a week, crazy business kids) and the most bizarre accident took place. pablo was standing around talking to some people when one of his classmates heard a joke that must have been pretty damn funny because he doubled over laughing and somehow smashed his head against pablo's wine glass. the glass shattered in pabs' hand and the guy's head started gushing blood. pabs comes outside to find me and he's covered in blood and red wine, which was a startling sight on its own. the ambulance shows up in a matter of minutes (rare in hollywood) and paramedics begin to bandage this guy's head. there were no hard feelings, and the guy didn't seem too pained or upset by the incident. it didn't really ruin our night either -- all us kids still kept getting soused and even made an unsuccessful fast food run at 2 a.m. when the bar closed. we woke up late this morning. pabs missed his class and morning meeting.

also, i'm supposed to be in spain right now and i really wish i were. my most favorite couple in the world, juan and kiana, are getting married right outside of madrid this weekend. pabs and i were going to attend, planned on it, but the demands of school and work made it an impossibility. i feel horrible about it, guilty, sad. but, of course, they were very understanding when we broke the news to them. i'm also pretty bummed that i'm missing the party, because knowing these guys, it's gonna be better than good. in their honor, here's a photo:

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The Only Stupid Question Is the One Not Asked

it's amazing what you can get out of life just by asking for it. just the other week, i walked into the student services office at my school and asked to be hooked up with one of those super lucrative and highly coveted TA positions. well, none were available, already assigned for the semester and so forth. but a week later, one opened up and i got the call. half of the position has me TAing a class (not doing any actual teaching, though, just grading papers). the class is on entertainment PR, an area i know nothing about. the other half is working 10 hours a week at an organization for journalists. and this is one phat deal, too, as in all my tuition paid for this academic year and a monthly stipend. and all i had to do was ask (well, i sorta begged). if only everything were that easy.

i'll also still keep my once-a-month gig at CFQ. although they agreed to give me more hours, i was never actually needed more than once a month, so provided i have the time, i'll still be going in to copy edit their issues right before they're sent to the printer. this takes about a week, and often includes weekends. so nowadays i have plenty of work (school and other) to keep me occupied.

the bad news is that the chicky i wanted to chair my thesis committee can't make the time this year, so i'm on the hunt for another professor to suffer through it with me. i think i'm set on a topic, but i'll share it at a later date, once things with my committee are finalized.

and in other news, i've updated a bit more, but am far from finishing it. i just wish i knew flash and dreamweaver, photoshop, illustrator -- all that crap. it's just taking so fucking long to do anything because i don't know the software all that well. something that takes three simple keystrokes to do will take me 15 minutes of trial-and-error fiddling. the 'dreamweaver for dummies' book i have could help if i weren't too stubborn to use it. but i have all the photos from my trip all sized correctly and ready to go, i just need to organize them in a way that makes sense. i also have my map of europe done. it took me all friggin weekend to do. eventually, each city title will link to a photo slide show. eventually.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Dig My New Blog

endless thanks go to germy, who kindly archived my blog for me and helped move everything over to this new format. finally, an archive! sorry for the dial-upers who had to wait eons until the page loaded, i know it took a while. this main page will hold the 10 last entries and will now include titles.

of course, i've done no other work on my website, but the weekend was more full than i thought. i finally got a much-needed haircut and dye-job saturday and spent much of the afternoon installing shelves in the hall closet. they're pretty precariously done -- a real amateur job, like a strong wind will just topple the whole thing. but at least i have a place to store my bedding, towels and maxi-pads.

this morning i interviewed two candidates running in the recall race for governor of the great state of california. (no, i couldn't get billboard hag angelyne after all. she turned out to be a typical LA flake. bitch.) these guys are proprietors of ButtMonkey Beer, and intend to use their candidacies for shameless promotion of their product. it was ridiculous, just like everything else surrounding this whole recall business, which is why i wanted to interview them.

in other news, my dog's boyfriend max has been staying with us all weekend. see 6/02/03 entry. it's not too bad having two dogs around, the adjustment has been minimal. and they can be so cute together, cuddling at night on their doggy blanket and slurping from the same water dish during the day. yesterday i caught them snoozing on the floor, juice's head resting on max's neck. makes me wanna have another furry baby.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Stuff and Things

  • i saw "daredevil" last night and it was soooo bad -- i almost couldn't finish it. has ben affleck made a good movie since "good will hunting"? i also saw "frida," which i really liked. i was very impressed with ms. salamander hayek and the direction of the film, both of which were top notch. tonight we're seeing "gangs of new york," provided pablo finishes his memo-writing assignment and drags himself and me away from the computer.

  • speaking of my pabs, he did some weird sleepwalking the other night. i awoke at about 5 am to find him pulling his shirts out of the closet. when i jokingly asked him whether he was leaving me, he mumbled something unintelligible before doing his tony soprano "fuggetaboutit" (complete with hand animation) and hopping back into bed.

  • i had dinner last week with a group of 10 other chicks from my program. we went to this restaurant, where we were the loudest, largest and most obnoxious group there. if i saw us, i would have hated us. but being part of us wasn't too bad. it was nice to catch up on our summers, gripe about professors and exchange beauty secrets.

  • pablo is super duper excited about school, like, really very excited. i haven't seen him this excited since he met me. it's great and i'm happy for him and all that shit, but now he's assuming the role of absentee boyfriend, which leaves me as the neglected girlfriend tugging at his sleeve for a morsel of attention. our roles were reversed last year. funny how you morph into each other in this relationship business.

  • i'm going to try and update this week, including adding a photo gallery of this summer's trip to europe. i hope to get it up and running in about a week.
hello to my two readers, my cousins Gitella and Roman Himmer. well, gitella is my cousin, though she's more like a sister, and roman is her husband, though he's more like a cousin. but yes, hello to the only two people who have responded that they're still reading this shit. and i just want to say that "gitella" is a great name, i've always thought so. i don't believe any one else on the planet has that name. if i remember the story correctly, i think my aunt bella was stuck between the names "gita" and "ella" for her baby girl and just decided to merge them into one super name. hence, we have the superhuman gitella, who really is super in many ways. i may complain about the demands of my putrid little existence, but my supercousin is a devoted mom, wife, student and employee all at the same time, and i've never heard a whiny peep come out of her adorable, freckled face. i often wonder how she remains so kind, gentle and grounded, instead of turning into a prozac-popping neurotic soccer mom like so many others in her position, but then again she is the lone redhead martian in the family and i think that's equipped her with superpowers.

that's about all, really. not much going on with me lately. still trying to nail down my work situation, which currently does not provide me with enough hours or money to pay my rent. i'm trying to hustle now to find an incredibly lucrative, low-effort position. preferably one that i can do from home with eyes half shut and mind elsewhere. no luck yet.

school is school, and if my first week is any indication, this year will be a hell of lot easier than the last. it certainly couldn't be much harder. i was put through the academic ringer last year, so i'm looking forward to taking it easy, being able to sleep in some mornings. for my interview-a-candidate-running-for-governor assignment, i'm trying to get LA billboard queen angelyne, whose campaign motto is something like "we've had brown and gray. now it's time for pink!" enough said.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

so i had my first day of class today. it was like any other first day: syllabi, outlining course goals, telling a little about yourself -- the usual. i wish i were more excited about my classes, but i'm worried they might end up disappointing me, especially my magazine editing class. it seems like it would have lots of potential, but the syllabus is packed with busywork and the professor appears to be a comatose lecturer. there's nothing worse than having to sit through a semester in any school with a teacher who doesn't exude excitement about the subject matter. i remember having the greatest biology professor in college who got me as excited as she was about all the fascinating stuff mitochondria could do. and i also remember being bored beyond interest by the egotistical, wannabe artist who taught the african-american art history class i took in college.

my investigative reporting class seems much more promising. i really like the prof, despite his use of the socratic method of calling on students by name to answer his questions. "so, ms. goldenberg, you're covering the justice department for the LA Times and the official you're interviewing leaves the room for a few minutes to use the restroom. do you rifle through the papers on his desk?"

my first assignment in that class requires that i interview one of the candidates running for california governor. with 134 people on the ballot, i hope to find one who will speak to me. tomorrow night i have my media law class, which should introduce me to the wonderful world of libel. i actually need to drop one of the three classes because of a financial aid glitch that won't allow me to take more units than i can pay for, or rather, than my stafford loans will pay for.

my final class consists of an unscheduled two units that count toward my thesis project. any ideas of what i should do? i really want it to be fun and challenging, something significant that i would be happy to devote a whole academic year to, something that will make me rich and famous. ok, maybe not famous, but rich. and thin too.

speaking of thin, i've been on the atkins diet for the past few weeks and i've dropped some pounds. when i was sitting on the beach in portugal in a baby blue swimsuit, i looked down and realized that there was simply too much of me. and given that i love to eat and hate to exercise, atkins seemed like the right choice. besides, i naturally love meat, fish, cheese, salads and vegetables, so giving up them carbs wasn't too difficult (though i do yearn for the occasional scone).

now if i could just shake the pesky cold that's overrun what's left of my flabby body. i feel like there's a warm icicle lodged up my nostril and it's just melting away by drip, drip, drip. pabs is kindly picking up some nyquil for me at the corner store, as i've had trouble falling asleep the past few nights due to the congestion.

ok, i guess that's about it for now. these entries always end up being much longer than i intended. is anyone still reading this shit? i feel like everyone dropped off after the end of my travels. please email me if you still are.

Monday, August 25, 2003

well, here i am in my new apartment with my DSL all hooked up and ready to reconnect me with the cyberworld and i have nothing to post. it sucks because i know that not too long ago, my life was quite interesting, if i may say so myself. but now, with all the traveling done and the impending school year ready to turn me into a stressed-out busybody under constant deadline pressure (again!), i'm morphing into a whiny, boring brat (which is probably what i've always been).

the official first day of school is today, but i don't have class until tomorrow, so i'm sitting at home today, trying to ward off a cold and figure out where my classes are tomorrow and where i can get some shelves built for the hallway closet. i know, fun friggin stuff. it seems like just a few weeks ago i was meandering the streets of prague, eating goulash and looking up at all the pretty buildings around me. oh wait, it was just a few weeks ago.

ok, ok, enough complaining. i know i truly have little to bitch about. this blog will get better, i promise. it will now record all the trials, tribulations and angst of an L.A.-based graduate student in journalism. sounds promising, eh?

Thursday, August 21, 2003

alright, i'm still around, trying to get back into the swing of things and shit. DSL for my new place should be on this monday, and i can barely wait. i'm actually sitting in an internet cafe in hollywood right now. i'd much rather be in my new home writing this, and once i get up and running i'm sure i'll be doing a bunch more updating. i still need to put all my vacation photos up here and do some work on, including updating my resume and adding the clips from voice of america.

the last few days have been spent fixing up my new place, which is starting to look more and more like a home. just a few boxes left. i like the place a lot and the building is nice and old -- from the hollywood of the 1920s. it actually reminds me a lot of san francisco. it's a brick building with fire escapes and lots of charm. the whole area is full of them, and most have regal names, like the commodore, monecito, fonteroy, even one named chateau des fleures. mine is more modestly named palm court, presumably for the palm tree in the courtyard. the building is pretty nice and all my (60!) new neighbors seem alright, and the area... well, that's another story. it certainly isn't as nice as the last neighborhood i lived in, the one in west hollywood at beverly and fairfax. nope, no more of that hollywood-lite living, this new place is in Hollywood with a capital H, right in the belly of the beast. my new closest cross streets are hollywood and highland. but me and pabs chose the area because we're sharing one car to cut costs and it's walking distance to the metro. there's actually a train that comes pretty close to USC, which is convenient since both of us are USC students (pabs is beginning the MBA program this fall). it's a much more flavorful area, euphemistically named (by the homeowners just north of me) "whitley heights." there's more traffic and less parking. but it'll do for now -- at least for the next two years.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

still here, yes now in LA, just having been blogging much lately. one reason is that i have no internet access at my parents' house, not even dial-up, so my online time has been cut drastically. another reason is that my days are no longer all that interesting. i'm back at the mundane stuff, trying to carve out a new routine. it sucks, and i've been depressed about it, and i don't want to just fill up this space with complaints about how lousy i have it, when, admittedly, it's not all that lousy. i'm trying to look on the bright side and all that jazz, but the bright side consists of memories of my trip, which are quickly being replaced by items on my "to do" list.

the good news is that in one short week, it looks like i may have found a job and an apartment. never thought it could be so easy. i went into the office of a place i used to edit for just a few days out of the month and asked, "what are the chances of me being able to work here on a more regular basis?" my new bossman said, "yeah, ok." and voila, i am now the part-time copy editor for this illustrious company, publisher of two magazines, CFQ, known to genre dorks everywhere, and Femme Fatales, also a favorite among genre dorks. i, of course, know next to nothing about sci-fi, but i'm learning real fast.

the apartment thingy was also pretty sudden. after viewing dump after dump, pablo and i stepped into a gorgeous (and HUGE!) place that i instantly fell in love with. hardwood floors, lots of light, plenty of storage, perfectly located, full of character, well-kept, etc. only problem was that it was beyond our budget and there was no parking. but hell, we took it anyway. we move in next week.

so things are looking up, i suppose.

Friday, August 01, 2003

back in hell-lay. aaaaaagh.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

in madrid now, just waiting, waiting, only one more day to go before returning back to the u.s. of a. i fly out of here thursday morning. if i could, i'd hop on the next flight home, but i've called the airline and all the flights are full. i'm sad to end it and all, but very much looking forward to getting home. LA is really the only home i've ever known. i miss my dog and my people. i need to get back into the paycheck game and earn some mulah. i need to look into that mysterious letter from the IRS that my mom told me arrived in the mail.

and as much as moving sucks, i sort of enjoy making a new place my own. putting my crap on the shelves, deciding how to arrange the furniture. we've been talking about finding a place in north hollywood, which is much cheaper than our last, central location in hollywood and nearer to los angeles' usually useless metrolink subway system. i think there's a train running from NoHo to USC. pabs wants to rid himself of his car expense and since he'll soon be a fulltime student (like me) this fall, and since we'll be attending the same university, we figure one car should be plenty between two people. at least we hope it will.

but for the first few weeks we'll be hanging out at my parents' place, getting our marbles together. this should be an interesting experiment: me, pabs, puppy, and my folks. i'm sure it'll be fine, mostly comical as we all try to figure out how to coexist in one space. what's weirdest for me about this situation is that the (town)house my folks are in now is not my childhood home. it's not like i'm moving back into my old room with my old things. they switched homes soon after i finished college, so i've never lived in the new place. i'll essentially be a boarder.

the bright side is that i'll be staying in marina del rey, which means good air and good weather. i can walk to the marina with puppy, roam around the shops, hit up the happy hour at the rosarito, and stumble back. but first things first.

Friday, July 25, 2003

it's been nice to do absolutely nothing. and that's exactly what i've been doing -- and enjoying every moment of it. whereas in god-awful cromer, england (that podunk english seaside town we visited for a week at the start of our travels), i could barely sit still, here in seville i cringe when something requires me to get off my ass. i'm just crazy exhausted from all of the traveling. i've been sleeping upwards of 10 hours a day. plus, it's ridiculously hot here -- something like 40 degrees celsius, which is well over 100 farenheit, i think -- so even the slightest motion produces a great deal of sweat.

it was a bittersweet end to what will probably go down as the best summer of my life. because as much as i never wanted all the exploring to end, i couldn't wait for it to. even though it was just two-and-a-half weeks of nonstop go, go, go, it felt like two months. like we had been on the road forever. i feel wrecked. my feet are sore and swollen from all the walking and running to the trains. i'm in desparate need of a facial/pedicure/manicure/massage. my hair needs a dye job and cut. my body is covered in assorted scrapes and bruises from all the times i banged my suitcase against it. the tightness in my back will requires two weeks of yoga to undo. i'm sunburned, dehydrated, constipated. and i'm all out of money.

but i don't mean to complain. i know i'm lucky to have had this summer. and it has been worth every discomfort i've endured, every dollar i've spent. and it's come with this great zen outlook that i hope to hang on to for awhile.

later today we're going for a two-hour drive to the algarve, the southern state of portugal. it has the most beautiful beaches and most temperate climate. we'll be there until monday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

in seville now at pablo's parents' place. they live in a suburb called sanlucar just 20 minutes outside of the city. pablo's brother, his wife and their kid have spent most of the summer here and are leaving tomorrow, so it has been a bit of a farewell reunion kind of day. we're barbecuing, going over pictures of the trip, exchanging gifts, all that jazz. and this weekend we'll be off to albufeira, a little city in the south of portugal where pablo's folks keep an apartment. and now, it's time for another nap.

Monday, July 21, 2003

it's so damn hot outside, there really is nothing better to do than sit in a semi-air-conditioned internet cafe in barcelona. we had great weather all around until about vienna, where the sun began to bake us alive. it's been baking all of europe now for the past week or so. and now to add insult to injury, barcelona attacks us with its humidity. i see no point in showering anymore. within 10 minutes of leaving the hotel and walking around the city, my skin is drenched with the air's moisture and my own sweat. and i'm trying to keep sweating to minimum today, as we've already checked out of our hotel and will board an overnight train (sans shower) to seville tonight. pablo's parents will pick us up from the station in the morning, and i'd rather not greet them for the first time in over a year as a stinky, sticky mess, though it looks like i have little control in the matter. i already feel pretty disgusting.

so anyhow, i was going to finish up with vienna, but can't recall too much about it. we were just there for one night, which i spent in the hotel room battling a stomach ache. we went to a great art museum there and again did plenty of walking through the city, trying our hardest to stay in the shade. now in barcelona, we checked out the beaches and saw the magnificent sagrada familia, which was built by the city's famed architect, antonio gaudi. we saw a bunch of his buildings, in fact, and they were all quite impressive. the dude had real vision.

the bummer is that the thing is years away from completion. gaudi died over 80 years ago and they still haven't finished it. construction on the church's interior hadn't even begun, so we could only appreciate the outside. pablo again convinced me to climb the stairs to the highest point in the tower, and though the stairs could easily be beat, the heat couldn't. it was like being in a sauna. we wanted to hit up the picasso museum today, but it's closed on mondays, so we've been walking (slowly) around the city, often ducking into cafes for a cold drink. barcelona is ok. besides being too damn hot, it has the misfortune of being the last stop on the trip, so the excitement of visiting new cities is hardly there. plus, pablo has been talking about doing a semester abroad while in business school, and that will likely be in barcelona. so there isn't this great pressure to see everything, since we'll be back here in a year and a half for about six months.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

venice is now officially my favorite place on the planet. this is not a whim. the whole of portugal had held the top spot for some six or seven years. but all that changed when i set eyes on venice. i can't adequately explain it. it must be seen firsthand. i felt like i was walking around in some fantasy land, like a set of a movie, where all the fa├žades are cardboard creations that will just fall forward if touched the wrong way. i was elated there, spring in my step and all. a true lightness of being, despite the scorching heat and exorbinant prices. it's the most remarkable city in the world. i had heard as much before, but never truely believed it, especially about there being no cars there. but it was true, it was just canals and boat buses, not a single vehicle made an appearance all weekend. people have garages for their boats. venice is really over 100 little islands and about 400 bridges, many of them leading to peoples' front doors. we walked all over the place, and once passed the emergency room of a hospital, its receiving door opening onto a dock. i saw firefighters whiz by on boats, sirens blaring, lights flashing. it was completely surreal. i only regret that we couldn't enjoy a gondola ride, where i had planned to perform my rendition of madonna's "like a virgin," but the gondalier was charging about 100 euros a ride, so nope. but everything else was incredible. i am still reeling from the experience.

now i'm in barcelona for the last stop of the european tour. i still have to record some thoughts of budapest and vienna, but i don't believe the time i have left in this internet cafe will allow me to do so. but in a nutshell, nothing compared to venice. and i already see that my three favorite places visited during this trip were venice (of course), prague and paris. all three of those cities gave me these little unmistakable chills that let me know i was somewhere very special. all else was great as well, but those were the standouts.

budapest had its moments. it had castles that reminded of disneyland's magic castle, and the parliament building looked like superman's fortress of solitude. the city was similar to prague in many ways, with its fancy bridges and castles on a hill, but it lacked the unassuming beauty of prague. i had always heard that prague was a noir city, but i didn't find that at all. budapest was far more noir, much more dilapidated, certainly poorer -- its people dour. the hungarians were not a friendly lot, which probably tainted the way i received the city. we also didn't have a chance to see much, seeing that the museums were closed on sundays and mondays, the only two days we were there, but i'd love to go back and explore it properly. as it was we took a boat ride on the danube river and got a history lesson from the accompanying audio tour.

vienna seemed like a cross between paris and prague, very western, and just a bit too gaudy for my taste. shit, internet time running out. will try to update later on.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

agggggh, i am about four days and two cities behind. in venice already, one of the last stops on this tour. we already finished with budapest and vienna, and i am starting to forget, so i hope to have some proper time to update soon. it has all been amazing, just gets better and better, and now venice -- there are no words. just fucking incredible.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

unfortunately, we couldn't figure out how to get the pix up here and the worst part about that is that digital camera cartridge has run out of room, so we desparately need to store some of the photos on a disk or ship them off to our own email inboxes. otherwise, it's disposable camera time.

in a few hours we'll be on a train to budapest, hungary, which will be the 7th stop on this european tour. so far we've seen 6 cities in 5 countries in 9 days. about 4 more new cities remain. a final two will be visited during the last week of july; those places are where pablo's parents divide their time. and the trip will be a little shorter than i predicted, i think there are just 8 or 9 days left. i can hardly believe we left london just a week from yesterday. it's both going by slowly and quickly. there's so much to absorb, and we're barely scratching the surface of any of the cities we've visited. i sometimes wonder whether we should have just stuck to a few places -- quality over quantity. it seems like every time i finally get comfortable in a city, it's time to pick and move again. my bags constantly need repacking as i stuff more shit in them. old maps are replaced with new ones. there are new metro systems to understand and new foreign greetings to memorize. i feel like i can never catch up to where i have to be.

our last day in prague consisted of visiting the mozart museum, which didn't really float my boat. the exhibition was poorly organized and seemed more about prague than mozart. we did some shopping for both clothes and gifts and went up to the gorgeous prague castle, which was getting ready to close.

then we headed to the town square and drank our store-bought czech beers out in the open while gazing at the lovely buildings and clouds above. did you know that budweiser is a czech beer? i didn't. it seems some local stole the recipe and brought it to america. the two buds don't taste alike, though. anyhow, i'm still quite enamored with prague and sad to leave it. i can't even find the words to do it justice, but it's been incredible, exceeding all my expectations. i'm hoping budapest will be just as good.

Friday, July 11, 2003

prague is beyond amazing, i couldn't even begin to put it into words. it is indeed as magical and enchanting as it's rumored to be. and it's even more incredible at night. walking through the city is like walking through ancient ruins. it somehow escaped world war II intact. even the so-called new city was built in the 18th century, the old in the 12th. the architecture is a mix of renaissance, baroque, rococo, gothic, neoclassicism and some medieval. and yet is all melds beautifully. again, not an ugly street exists here. i'm completely stunned by it all. and it is much cheaper than the rest of europe. it's joining the EU and euro next year so prices are bound to rise, but for now we can get great meals for two for under 15 bucks -- and that's splurging. the people are friendly and most understand english, and i've been able to flex my russian skills with the ones who don't. we've been buying plenty of gifts with the extra money we've saved and taking plenty of pictures, some of which might make their way up here if pabs can figure out how to upload them onto the hotel's computers. otherwise, we're off to eat dinner in the old jewish quarter, which claims to house the oldest synagogue in europe. more sightseeing continues tomorrow until we board the overnight train to budapest.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

in berlin now, waiting for a train to prague. we were supposed to catch one hours ago, but we stupidly went to the wrong train station and then wondered why we couldn't find the train anywhere on the board. when we realized our mistake and began making our way to the right station across town, we arrived to the platform just as our train was pulling away. so now there are four hours to kill until the next train to prague. fucking brilliant.

anyhow, this will give me time for some much-needed updating. let me finish with day 2 in amsterdam. what the hell happened there? oh yeah, we hit up the van gogh museum, which is really worthwhile. the space is well organized, creating a kind of timeline of van gogh's work so you can see how his style changed and matured through the years. they also have some of his final paintings that he made shortly before his suicide in 1890. those were all full of bright orange hayfields and ominous dark clouds.

the last night in amsterdam was spent in some coffeeshop in the red light district, where we befriended the nice kiwi bartender and some danish meatheads who were very amusing. we took some herbal e (turned out to be bunk) and smoked happy hash while watching the girls across the way shake their moneymakers. the bartender said that a 50 euro flat fee gets the guys whatever they want. i guess that's a good deal. i think there should be a gay red light district. that would be interesting. i saw some thai trannies in the windows who were getting plenty of attention from drunk guys who didn't know better (or maybe they did).

the next morning we arrived in cologne and saw the amazing cathedral. that was an incredible sight. the thing is HUGE and so old.

i think they began building it in the 13th century, so it's quite weathered, stained almost black from time. i remember the first time i saw a picture of that thing was during an art history class in college. just from that photo, i promised myself i would see the thing in person one day and i'm glad i made time during this trip. most definitely worth the journey. pablo again convinced me to climb the stairs leading up to the tower. i felt like a pro at first, having conquered the eiffel tower stairs a few days earlier, but this was a different animal. the whole climb of 509 stairs was through a spiral staircase with narrow steps that required walking on tip-toes. i reached the top feeling dizzy, almost sick. then came a major case of vertigo. i had to sit down and recover for a bit, and i felt off-kilter the rest of the day. my calves are still sore.

then came berlin, where i sit now still waiting for that train to prague. berlin is really big, probably as big as paris. with just one day in town, we barely saw a thing: did plenty of walking through the major hotspots, went to one museum, hit up the big TV tower for a good view of the city and went to the very cheesy "checkpoint charlie." that's where the berlin wall opened to let folks pass through. there's nothing of the wall left, just some blocks that have been re-erected for the tourists. it very much seems that the city wants to forget its communist past. there's plenty of rebuilding and development going on, so it's hard to get a feel for the place with all the cranes and scaffolding obstructing the view. truthfully, i haven't been all that impressed, but i think with some more time and a local guide, it might change my view of berlin. but i'm not really a fan of the germans either. there's a hardness to their faces, which makes everyone look older than they are. no one here smiles much; we've encountered plenty of rude people. and everyone here has blue eyes, which makes it a little too twilight zone for me. i'm glad to be going on to prague. i've been looking forward to that city, if only for the fact that things there are rumored to be much cheaper than in the rest of europe. i hope so, because the funds are diminishing faster than i had planned.

otherwise, we've been trying to sample the local beers. it seems like each city produces its own. a few days ago in cologne (k?ln) we were drinking k?lsch. and now in berlin we've been drinking berliner. they were both too bitter for my taste. i still like my smooth and creamy caffreys best.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

damn, just sat down and i think this cafe is closing soon. in cologne now, left sin city this morning, and will catch an overnight train to berlin shortly. all is still peachy. the cologne cathedral was pretty amazing, definitely the coolest church i've ever been to. yikes, closing time, more tomorrow hopefully...

Sunday, July 06, 2003

in amsterdam now, found an internet cafe with an american keyboard thankfully. we got in just a few hours ago after spending the day in brussels, where we walked through the square, ate an amazing lunch that must have been worth 10,000 calories: mussels in garlic butter, half of chicken with potatoes au gratin, a sampling of belgian cheeses and about three neuhaus chocolates for dessert. i felt like quite the piggy once we finished. we hopped on the train soon after to amsterdam and have been walking around the city since we arrived.

but wait, lemme finish on paris. it was still beautiful the second day, though the initial excitement had waned considerably. we didn't have the time or money to do too much there, so we did plenty of walking around while gawking at the pretty sites. the visit to the rodin museum was awesome. a bunch of his sculptures sit in the massive garden surrounding the premises, including "the thinker." inside was "the kiss" and a bunch of busts. we ended the day by buying a bottle of wine and some sandwich materials for a lovely (and cheap) dinner along the seine river. this was followed by a very touristy boat ride along the seine, which saw the eiffel tower lit up like a christmas tree. they must have put some huge blinking christmas lights on the thing and set it to go off every hour for about 10 minutes. it was a fabulous ending to a lovely two days.

now amsterdam begins another two days. tomorrow we're heading to the van gogh (the dutch pronounce it "van goff") museum, where the largest collection of his stuff is housed. this is actually my third time in amsterdam, so i'm not tripping out on all the legal drugs and girlies hanging out of the windows the way pablo is. we already hit up the red light district, which is really a place to be seen first-hand in order to be fully understood. girls really do sit/stand behind glass doors waiting for some man to approach, money in hand, for some nookie. most of the girls look bored and most of the guys are drunk and greasy-looking. down the street from this is the famed marijuana museum, where one can purchase seeds and a growing kit for cheap. then the coffeeshops, usually filled with tourists, where you can choose your weed or hash from a menu that comes complete with a description of the high. it's very bizarre and a bit sketchy. junkies and pickpockets are everywhere.

but beyond the highs and hookers, amsterdam is really a beautiful city lined with canals and culture. dutch design is the best in the world: all clean lines, minimalism and understatement. i like that stuff. we're gonna hit up more of the city stuff and likely stay away from the seedy sites. my greatest pot-smoking days are behind me and i'm glad that i had the chance to come here during their heydey to take in the bomb chronic. that visit totaled about ten days of continuous wake and bake -- and then bake some more. there was never a sober moment. i can barely remember that trip. now, it just makes me sleepy or paranoid. (though i might pick up a joint for old times' sake :-)

after amsterdam comes cologne, germany, to see the cathedral. and then onward to berlin and eastern europe. stay tuned.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

damn, i wish all keyboards were universal, but you cannot imagine how different this parisian one is. this will have to be short then, though i have so much i want to put here! well, i am in wonderful paris right now. this is actually my second time in paris, the last time i came was (gasp!) ten years ago with my french class in high school. (where does the time go?) but this may as well be the first time because i am just as awestruck by the magnificence of this city now as i was then. it is, without question, the most beautiful city in europe -- possibly the world. the old buildings here are really breathtaking: all gorgeous edifices and rounded rooftops, cute smokestacks -- everything. there is not an ugly street in this city. the food is great, the metro is immense, and the french are not that bad once you make an effort to speak their language. i wish i could call upon my high-school french skills now more than ever but, sadly, they have long atrophied from underuse. i have a handy phrasebook, but most people here speak english. they just like it when you try to speak french, it seems, they find it respectful, and then they switch to english for everyones benefit.

we got in midday yesterday, checked in to our hotel and then proceeded to walk to the eiffel tower, where pablo proceeding in conning me to take the stairs (rather than the lift) to the second floor in the tower. it seemed like we climbed thousands of stairs and only wound up about 30 percent into the height of the tower. we took the lift up the rest of the way and got a stunning view of paris, complete with great photos. i think it is about 80 stories high at the top. we then walked all around the city, though we hardly made a dent in it, it is so huge. today is more walking and a visit to the rodin museum. tomorrow morning holds a day trip to brussels for chocolate and mussels for lunch, then amsterdam in the evening. more later...

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

i'm in cromer now in what must be the oldest library in the world with the slowest computers on earth. things move pretty slowly here in general, especially with all the old folks around. this town has about 7,000 people, and at least 85% of them must be over the age of 65. the only thriving industry here appears to be the local mortuary.

it is quaint, though, i must admit. you can walk the length of the town in about 40 minutes. every cab ride costs the same regardless of where you're going (£2.20). stone cottages with pretty gardens line the streets. there's a really gorgeous old church in the center of town, and everyone has that small-town hospitality that has them saying 'hi' to you in the streets for no apparent reason. i think i jumped the first few times someone addressed me, but i'm beginning to say 'good day' now to passing strangers just because. it's very twilight zone.

but yes, i'm bored out of my gourd. i've already gone through half the hotel's video library. i'm really trying to just take in the peace and quiet and it has gotten easier in the past day, but i'm itching to go already. this surprises me considering how inherently lazy i usually am. i used to enjoy doing nothing for days on end, but life and its assorted, sordid responsibilities have turned me into a busybody, and now i fear there's no turning back.

oh well, only a few more days will be spent here and then the real european tour will begin. maybe that's what keeping me restless -- the thought of what lies ahead, which will certainly be better than this podunk town full of old, white faces. pabs and i would leave sooner, but the eurail passes we have only become active on july 4, so we're stuck. ugh.

Friday, June 27, 2003

i have a few more pictures i've been meaning to post and have just discovered while cleaning out stuff here at work. behold the leftover shots of brussels:

the flags of the european union

it tastes even better than it looks.

mussels from brussels

and a leftover pix from my belfast trip:

belfast castle

that's all the photos i have available for posting. i will definitely create a proper photo album off my website when i return to LA and get situated. i've got close to 300 shots already stored on the digital, so it'll be an intense slideshow. i'm also worried i won't be able to post any photos while i'm traveling, unless the internet cafes i happen upon in europe come equiped with firewire cables, which i highly doubt. i will give it a shot, though. but for now, this appears to be the end of the photo portion of our program. the photo caption contests will also have to be suspended. boo-hoo.
well, today is my last day at VOA London. it's a bittersweet occasion. i've learned oodles here that i can apply elsewhere, and i've produced some much-needed clips that i can show to potential bosses and say: "see, i am a journalist. i've done reporting and stuff." i've really liked the people at the office, especially my boss, Al, who's been a wonderful and patient teacher.

BUT, i must say i'm fairly stoked to be entering the next phase of my summer in europe. and i hope all of you will stay with me as we mix up the programming here at The Milla Times and begin our broadcast of "12 cities, 10 countries, 21 days." here is the list of cities we will be visiting on our journey: paris, brussels, amsterdam, cologne, berlin, prague, budapest, vienna, venice, barcelona, seville, albufeira (last one's in portugal). now, if you have friends i can rent in these cities or have sound advice on where to go, and where definitely NOT to go in these cities (especially on the cheap), please email me. i hope i can still do plenty of updating here, but i'm guessing that my posts will likely be less frequent and more hurried while i'm on the road.

all this wonderfulness will begin july 4, american independence day (and i think france's bastille day, which should make stop 1 in paris fun). i will be spending next week in cromer, england, a tiny coastal town in the northeast, where i have a hot date with the 5th harry potter book. this is on my parents' time share exchange. it'll be a much-needed week of R&R for me, considering the hectic year i've had, and i hope to squeeze in a day trip to edinburgh too.

so yesterday was my birthday. i turned 21, thank you very much, and thanks to all who sent kind e-greetings. my adoring boyfriend -- who i shall refer to from here on out as pablo, pabs, sugarbear or jackass, depending on my mood and his behavior -- came into town on the 25th, so he was able to join in on last night's festivities, which saw myself and my friends here getting drunk. good fun was had by all. we began the night at 7pm with the class' last meeting (yes, even though i've been working, i've been earning units and attending a weekly class). so i got to say goodbye to my great professor (bye judith!) and all the other people on my program, and then headed to a moroccan bar in the soho area, where we drank mint tea and took a few tokes off a hookah. then to another pub for a few more glasses of wine and loud conversation and then home. many thanks to my four kind roomies who surprised me with gifts that included: thong underwear, chocolate-flavored rolling papers and an ashtray, a book i really wanted, and a wooden frog from prague. speaking of my kind roomies, here's a picture of them i've been meaning to post. unfortunately, tania's not in this one. she likely became annoyed with us and splintered away from the group when this picture was taken, as she often does. but here are the rest of the bitches.

from left to right: ya-lei, me, melissa, als

Thursday, June 26, 2003

today's photo essay should have probably been published yesterday since timeliness is a central tenet of this whole news business, but i didn't have my photos ready for posting (thanks for putting them up, juancho!), so you'll have to accept my apologies for the delay.

tuesday saw the arrival of the man with the master plan, vladik putin, big cheese of mother russia, who came to britain for tea and crumpets with the queenie meanie. he's actually staying at buckingham palace and is here to only do touristy stuff, like visit edinburgh castle and shit. when he arrived at heathrow airport, he was met by prince chucky and stuffed into a horse-drawn carriage alongside the queen for a royal procession down the "mall," a main street cutting through st. james' park and leading into buckingham palace. my fellow VOA intern and USC classmate, melissa m., was covering the story for VOA, so i tagged along with my trusty digital camera and snapped some shots of the festivities. here's what i got.

the mall

the royal procession begins with beefeaters on horseback doing some salute.

bunch of beefeaters standing around and comparing hats.

closer shot of the beefies.

the procession was too quick for my camera so i didn't get a clear shot of putin or the queenie, just some second-tier royal i can't identify.

the public turnout to see this event was quite weak, i must say. but it was especially cool for me to see because it served to bridge the two very different worlds i am a product of: the anglo-rooted american and the soviet-era refugee. pop culture progressivism mixed with old-world sensibility. i'm a communistic capitalist -- free markets for all that result in a single class with a very high standard of living. it must be possible! i'll begin work on my manifesto immediately.

we were happy to be there. can ya tell?

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

i've been wanting to do this little pros and cons list of london living for a while. every time i visit europe, it makes me want to move here permanently, if not for the next 30 or so years until retirement. i thought i'd instantly fall for london and only return home to pack up my stuff, dog and boyfriend and make my way back here. (well, there's also that little issue of finishing my second and final year of graduate school.) but i haven't been as wowed and wooed as i had expected to be by this city. it's good and all, just not great. here's what sucks about it:

(is the word "con" short for anything, or is it just a standalone thing? email me if you know.)
  • anyhow, the thing that bugs me most about this fucking place is the pollution. it's really unbearable, and it may single-handedly disqualify london entirely from my "cities to live in" list. people on bikes wear surgical masks, the buildings need a serious scrubbing from all the black exhaust stuck on them, and the one subway car responsible for cleaning out the tube has been broken for six months. i pull soot out of my nose daily. i'm always sneezing, dirt and dust particles often fly into my eyes, i cough when i take a deep breath, i've even had a few minor nosebleeds.

  • the nightlife blows. bars close at 11 pm. i mean, really, what the hell is that all about? there are clubs that are open past 11, but by law they're required to charge a cover. plus, the big thing here is grabbing a few drinks after work. pubs overflow with patrons come 5, 6 pm, many of them spilling into the streets with their brews in hand. but if you're like me and prefer returning home to change, have a bite and freshen up before beginning your evening out, you're shit out of luck. come 9 pm, the pubs are near empty, a few stragglers left in the corners with their brews in hand, looking to get laid.

  • did i ever mention how much the food sucks? granted, it has gotten better and will likely continue to improve in the future, but on the whole, finding a good meal is still dependent on luck. ok, the indian food can be pretty spectacular, but there's only so much chicken tikka masala you can eat before the aromatic yet overbearing scents of turmeric, cumin and cardamom sink into each pore of your body and every fiber of your clothing until you can hardly stand to be around yourself. i almost bit into my arm once thinking it was a piece of tandoori chicken. and the coffee is pretty bad too. they mostly use instant granules. grrr.

  • in six weeks, i've found the brits to live the stereotype of a stuffy, reserved society that keeps to itself. (though this isn't so different from LA's denizens who are generally shallow, self-absorbed people who keep to themselves.) i haven't met a single british person who i will keep in touch with once i leave. but in britain's defense, i haven't put on my most approachable, people-person face and searched for new buddies either.

  • although this summer has been fairly temperate, i know the weather here can be quite disagreeable, with rain pissing down for weeks on end in the winter and a heavy london fog creeping in from the murky, green waters of the thames river. again, coming from LA, there's really no comparison.

  • besides the posh and trendy west side, most of london is a dump. it's filled with nasty, unkempt neighborhoods, its streets packed with all sorts of trash.

  • there's that whole antiquated monarchy thing going on, which is really a joke, even for most londoners, but it's still strange to think that people here are essentially at the mercy of the crown.

  • the whole city shuts down each sunday: pubs, restaurants, stores, markets -- everything really does stop, which would make it hard to take care of errands on weekends. only things left open are the indian restaurants.

  • it's prohibitively expensive. costs here are higher and salaries are lower. i'm not sure how people make it. london was ranked the 7th most expensive city in the world, ahead of new york and paris.

(was "pro" also shortened from some other word? just wondering.)
  • culture vultures adore this place for its seemingly endless supply of theatre, live music, museums, annual events, open markets, historical monuments, etc. that energy is palpable and neccessary for urban snobs like me who get bored and restless in the countryside and the suburbs.

  • public transport rocks! sure, it's got its fair share of delays, and being packed like sardines in a subway car during rush hour can increase the stench of BO to dizzying heights, often inducing nausea, but it beats monthly insurance payments, weekly gas purchases and having to look for parking.

  • a diversity of cultures doubles the stock of any city in my book. nothing is more boring than homogenous towns like portland and tokyo, where foreign faces raise eyebrows and generate whispers. it's nice to walk around and see nice brown faces and hear strange, exotic accents from all corners of the globe.

  • it's pretty safe to walk the streets at night, even in somewhat shady areas. guns are outlawed, so violent crime is infrequent, but there is a greater risk of being mugged. and all the walking has done wonders for my fat ass, which has shrunk considerably in the past six weeks.

  • besides the fact that london is a mostly fabulous european city on its own (well, kinda, even though many here consider themselves british and not european), it also provides the perfect springboard for impromptu weekend jaunts to prague, budapest and other fabulous places all over europe. the location is key.

  • aesthetically, it's not too hard on the eyes. there are plenty of old, well-preserved, gorgeous buildings that just seem to pop up out of nowhere. a nice reminder that you're someplace historically important where a ton of shit once went down. i don't know why, but i like that feeling.

  • shopping for clothes here really cannot be beat. good styles, prices, selection.

  • they serve my mostest favoritest beer in the world: caffreys. even though they don't serve it at every pub like i had hoped, i can still find it if i really want to. plus, they sell caffreys in four-packs at all the supermarkets.

so that's 9 cons, 8 pros. hmm...maybe not the right city for me? i don't know. perhaps i need more time here, though six weeks in a city, especially working in the city, should give you a good idea of its vices and virtues. for now, i'll keep it on my short list. (not that i'm in a position to seriously consider a move and have so many options to choose from, but it's fun to dream.)

stay tuned tomorrow for another photo essay. and if you're my good friend, you should know that tomorrow, june 26, is my friggin birthday and you should know that i love my birthday and make a big deal out of it. and if you're not a good friend and have somehow stumbled upon this blog, send me a greeting anyway so we may one day become good friends. send kind regards to