Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Like You

So, I realized something horrible: I completely forgot to write Alex's birthday blog.

Out of all the people that I will do this for and have done this, Alex was not the one I should have forgotten. I mean, I'm in love with him and live with him and call him my boyfriend and whatnot, so yeah, belated, but better late than never.

Ok, I'm sure you're all preparing yourself to not want to read on: I don't blame you.

I'm not one for VPDA: Verbal Public Displays of Affection. Since the beginning glimpses of social networking, VPDA has been at large. An annoying booger you just can't rid of. (Did I just compare VPDA to boogers-yes. Yes. I. Did.)

But I want to take this oh-so-special birthday blog not in a corny, you're the "wind beneath my wings," kinda way because Alex knows I love him. If he doesn't than he's sleeping on the couch tonight. With James.

I want this blog to rather be about the latter part of a quote I will always remember Alex saying:

"It's one thing to love someone, of course we can love them. But to like them, and love them. That, that's different..."

This is why I like Alexander Michael Dandino:

I met a hairy, burly man at a boring, ridiculous meeting. Arms crossed, and legs as well, what compelled me to sit next to the most uninviting person in the room was the fact that he was uninviting. In a room full of people acting like summer camp just started again, a wave of giggles and "OHMYGOD!!" and hugs. Who hugs at a meeting?

I didn't want to be there.

And neither did he.

And so I liked him.

Retrieving a pen I knew I wasn't going to use, but chew on the tip I saw his sock: black and hot pink argyle. A sock that belonged to a hairy man finally made me smile like the rest of the goons.

Alex is such hairy man with black and hot pink argyle socks. He doesn't own a single pair of white socks. It's a rule, a personal philosophy: a middle finger to the uncreative norm.

Alex is the sweetest walking middle finger. Don't let his sharp tongue fool you. He's the nicest guy you'll meet. And if he doesn't like you, you'll know. Alex is the worse liar about his emotions. His face, his demeanor, and most especially, his eyes, will give him away to whether he wants to listen to you-or punch you.

I really like that about Alex. I'm jealous of it, every day. I blame my mother for burning kindness into my brain. Even if I don't like you, I'll be polite to you and give you the benefit of the doubt. Alex won't. And for that, he's the most genuine man you'll meet.

I like that Alex reads, for pleasure. I never thought that would be important to me with the people I like. I mean I was close to threatening the end of our friendship to Gina for still not reading any Harry Potter and watching only the movies. Reading is a part of life, like breathing, to me, I like people who read. Even comic books.

Alex is a writer. And I like that. And no, I'm not jealous, competitive, or a bitch about it. I admire, I appreciate, and I'm in awe of his talent. Alex is humble, and really gets on my nerves sometimes because the man can't take a goddamn compliment every now and then. Humbleness is wonderful and modesty a solid character trait, Alex has both, and he's actually talented.

I like that Alex embraces his struggle as a writer. Without understanding that, you're truly lost.

Alex was born of a father who is the biggest smart ass and both sons are a fat chip off the old block. Poor Donna (Alex's mom).

On the day of his birth a nurse cried out "LOOK at that FOOT!" Alex, always, has both feet on the ground.

I like that he's creative and yet not insane. He's funny.

There's enough insane, weird, intensely introverted artists out there. Alex has not added himself to the pile. He'll make jokes and socialize. He has friends, who adore him. (It's sick. Talk about a few gay crushes...)

He's inappropriate and crude, and I love that about him.

I like that Alex chooses to spend his free time with me. That I get to call dibs forever. I like that on his birthday, we ate dinner together, in a new city, away from all our friends, and everything we were once comfortable with, drank, got drunk-fast-because work lunch is at noon and dinner had yet arrived, and proceeded to act like drunken fools throughout the rest of our meal. Yes, we even drunk texted (sorry Gina).

Alex is my partner-in-crime.
He high-fives me.
And then we kiss.

Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Holy Viv

Ok. I've been MIA for a while. Did I finish my story? No. Did I start a book? No. My past few weeks have been more about the people in my life versus the scholarly, creative goals in my life.

I've horribly neglected Food For Thought and well it is what it is. However I've been making up for it in a small way with my favorite app on my new iPhone, "Foodspotting." Object of the app is to "spot" food yourself, take a delicious photo, upload and write up a quick review. The key with this is the photo; it allows you to browse through the database, locating eateries by your current location and lets the photos speak mostly for themselves. Oddly enough, I like taking pictures of food. I really do. And before I even downloading Urbanspoon, Foodspotting won. To any iPhone users, I highly recommend it.

Pushing aside my introductory summary of apologies and whatnot, let's talk about driving.

Yeah, driving.

Throughout high school after the age of 16 and receiving my driver's license as many others did, I did not (like many others) immediately start to take over the driving responsibilities from my parents' when it came to my daily routine. I kinda drove myself to school in the sense that I wasn't by myself and my Dad sat in the passenger seat as I drove less than a mile to school. I would park in the loading zone and that was that. A 2 minute drive over the next few years cumulated to a handful of hours I drove in total by graduation.

San Diego State: I pack my bags, bought new extra-long twin bedding, snag a few of my favorite posters, and got dropped off. No car. Though, I will state here that I was completely okay with the decision and was for the next four years. I tell people that in the end I prioritized the need to have my rent paid then to have a car. I couldn't afford full-time wages and hence could not afford rent, and therefore, I respected what I asked of my parents and the fact that their income doesn't revolve around just me.

So you see, I for the past 5 years, have lead a life that was based off of the "no car" card. Work had to be close or safely close via public transportation (aka no sketchy bus routes that had to be taken cause of where the job was), home had to be close to work and school, and friends had to be close (or I would never see them on the every day schedule I wanted).

When I graduated, Alex still had his last year left, and so did most of my friends, I still had no car, (I got the bright idea of applying to grad schools, and only out-of-state grad schools), and putting these all together I choose to have no car still (possible moving costs vs. car) when my parents asked in May 2009.

For a year, I was basically still at school without really being in school. I worked at school, lived by school, hung out at school, but I just didn't do homework, or had a class, or had finals stress. I was the most relaxed, care-free SDSU student in 2010.

Present Day: Studio City; Los Angeles; Car owner.

When grad school said, "No, thank you. This year was an especially hard year to decide from all the talented know the rest," I made a decision that benefited Alex as he would have done for me if even I got into University of Iowa. That's love.

Moving to Los Angeles, I approached my parents with necessity of a car. Like rent in years before, like tuition for four years before, like the expensive textbooks every semester before, I knew I needed a car. The rest, I could finally take care of myself.

Holy Viv is my "Phantom Gray" (no joke) 2007 Toyota Corolla.

Viv, or Vivian in length, was bestowed by Kristiana, and Holy bestowed by yours truly because my Dad is the kind of Catholic dad that gets his daughter's first car blessed with holy water by his priest.

Holy Viv.

She's a miracle. Los Angeles is the playground of the evil, dumb, imbeciles of the road. And that also includes pedestrians. Now listen, I was a pedestrian for quite some time and because of that my loyalty is very strong to that community, therefore when you walk, no I'm sorry, RUN in front of my car, I'll actually care about your life and not continue to speed but I'll slow down and then it's like shit hits the domino-effect fan.

You slow down in L.A and you're lower than a tourist. Car language is very existent here, as much as body language. The blinker or the length of one's horn and the speed of getting cut-off tells:

1. Fuck you.
2. Fuck you and your compassion.
3. Fuck you I'm movingintoyourlane. Psychically figure it out.

I like L.A. I don't love her yet, but I want to like her. But inside my car, Holy Viv and I just don't like L.A. We kinda hate her and talk about her behind her back. We contrive of all the different ways we can humiliate her or plain laugh about the cleverly old-fashion nod to burning her at the stake. Holy Viv panics when I talk about sin in a joking manner but then yet another car cuts her off because we're going the speed limit and she shuts up. Secretly I know she's dying to Saran wrapped all those sons of bitches, especially those black Lexusi...Lexuses...Lexus-es?....

That's the devil.

That-and pedestrians.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Connect the Dots

I'm listening to the new album by Broken Social Scene. Track 5: "All to All."

The very beginning is the best start up to any song. It's quiet and rheumatic; it's haunting. It's so very Broken.

Music is a dear companion of mine. My writing would be a useless artistic pursuit without it. Weeks ago, my cousin Omar and I had a frank discussion about "my method" and about creative writing in general. He asked what I did while writing and I immediately responded with "music."

"I listen to music. It carries me through the emotional plot line I want that given story to have."

I, as a writer, seek out these waves hoping to crash them onto my readers. I know that sounds like the most ridiculous metaphor but hey, I do write. And if you ever have had a serious conversation with me you would notice that the way I can convey some serious matters is through metaphors and similes. Why? I don't know. It just comes out that way. I have only recently discovered and acknowledge this a couple of weeks ago and writing it out for the first time here.

I speak metaphors.

I speak similes.

And in this literary line of thought, I find wisdom.

More times for others than myself, but alas, that is what this blog is for. Yes, I write about food every Friday (or at least I try) and yes most times I'm not just (hoping) to talk to myself, but in the end, this blog is more rewarding to me than any other person (that I know of). So I if I rock your world, let me know. I'll feel less self-involved.

However, I often tell people that being a writer is a rather selfish mode of creativity. No matter what people say, writing partners are trouble. It's hard enough getting into your own muse. Trying to deal with another one is fuckin' absurd.

My own current muse I have nicknamed "Hurt Atwood" because my short story is an inspired child between Margaret Atwood and "The Hurt Locker." But Hurt Atwood seems to be asleep somewhere in my sub-conscious and the biggest problem lies in the fact that I'm letting it.

It's that simple.

I'm allowing for Hurt Atwood to be lazy and tiresome. I need to be in charge of our schedule and say "WAKE UP," when it needs to be woken up, and I need to say "OK I'M DONE," when I'm done.

I'm hoping between me and my desk we can get Hurt Atwood in major, serious, working shape.

Every time I have relayed my initial brainstorm for the story to anyone the reaction is the same: "what?! that sounds sooo good."

And here I am: sitting on "soo good" because I'm at a stalemate with the story and I think too much about where it needs to go instead of letting it be and get there itself.

I'm going to get back to my music. I'm literally going to make a playlist. Normally I would shuffle through my collection but I find that it's disruptive to switch out of my Word window to my iTunes only to change the song till I'm satisfy with the melody.

Yes, the music is that influential.

So tomorrow (because I literally can't keep my eyes open pass 10:30 pm anymore) I will create "new playlist" and call it "Hurt Atwood" and I will make as long of a playlist as my own collection will allow and will musically weave this story's emotional plot line. I will make such dots and hope to connect.

Because when I finish my last sentence, or what have you, I care more about where you are, than where I am. I hope that my writing will always reflect that philosophy: you before I.

Because it's your journey with my words that makes my art important to me. And worthwhile.

So thanks to the few who read this. I'll remember you till the end.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pajama Productivity

I haven't gone to the public library yet. So the show and tell blog will be for later this week. However what I did do today on my only day off was sit in my pajamas for the better part and watched movies/Veronica Mars.

My consensus:

-The Young Victoria was not as bad as I had expected. A bit monotone in plot but wonderfully acted on Emily Blunt's and Rupert Friend's part. I was very much impressed with Friend's subtle ability to be the love interest. The whole romantic plot line of the film was actually overall not cheesy, or rolling-of-the-eyes quality. So cheers to that.

-The Notebook. I know. But after not-so-cheesy-teary-eyed in The Young Victoria I decided I wanted that. The film still gets me to cry like a baby. (No surprise). And damn that Ryan Goshling and Rachel McAdams for being meant for each other and but are now broken up. The movie: truly bittersweet.

-Veronica Mars, Season 3, episodes 19 & 20 are the final two in the third installment of a cleverly written detective meets high school melodrama. You got mystery, intrigue, love triangles, and sass. I must say, it's watching a sassy female lead that makes me think I could have a place in this world after all.

-Speech writing. I wrote my maid of honor speech after watching The Notebook. Honestly more than any other hopeless romantic intention, I watched the film because my mom gave my sister, Karla, the movie as a gift at her bridal shower. I knew I needed to get on writing this ever-so important speech and watching the film did its job: it inspired. Immediately following the end and as the credits rolled with it's wonderfully sad piano ballad, I wrote.

And I liked it.

Even after a quick edit, and adding only one more sentence, it was there: what I wanted to say and in the only way I could say it in. It was very me to very Karla and Andy. Or I hope it is. The biggest challenge lies in my ability to read it and still articulate coherently while crying.

I did this all while wearing my pajamas. And I have to say, I wanted it that way. For working almost every day of the week, I take pleasure in not having to go somewhere on my day off. The whole not having to dress or wear make-up is the best part. I highly recommend to all the ladies out there to have such days, especially make-up free days.

If anything, I making up for the fact that I work tomorrow and it's Paper or Plastik Cafe's (my new job) grand opening party. So I have to dress up, twice. But I'm happy to, so far the cafe has been a great success with various blogs and yelp reviews that are singing our praises. My personal favorite yelp quote is "even though they have fancy pants coffee, the staff is all very down-to-earth and friendly."

So there you have it: my Thursday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Food For Thought: Carpe Diem

I'm a sucker for breakfast, especially ones that other people cook for me. One day I'll finally get Alex to make me breakfast and I'll wake up to pancakes and bacon sitting gorgeously in front of me, in bed.

But until then, I find Sunday that is conveniently my first day off in the past two weeks is no better time to go out and get me some breakfast. So I did.

I walked, which was refreshing considering all the driving I'm now doing. 2 minutes later me and Alex find ourselves standing in front of "Vivian's Cafe: Best Breakfast in the Valley!"

There's a crowd waiting to be seated which is already a good sign. And while I'm about to open the door to make my way to the hostess a nice gentleman opens the door for me. I say thank you and smile that the L.A crowd has those sweet spots. After checking in for a table of 2, Alex turns to me and says:

"Do you know who that guy was?"
"What guy?"
"The guy who opened the door for you!"
"The guy who plays Chuck on 'Chuck.' The spy show on NBC."
"Oh really! He's nice."

It's good to know that one of the few people I have met since moving here with good manners was an actor. I find it a respectable thing to meet fame with humbleness. The day I meet Tom Hanks I'm letting him know that.

So breakfast, I could smell from the outdoor waiting area all the bacons and pancakes being passed around. We were seated and I the food fates-that-be smiled warmly on me.

"Vivian's Cafe: the home of the banana pancake."

I love bananas. I'm Guatemalan. Why wouldn't I?

I love pancakes. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (Pancake dinners are my favorite).

Now Jim Gaffigan brings a hilarious point that the pancake is just fried cake we decided to make even more gluttonous by drenching it in sugary, liquidity sauce. But how does that not sound good?

I'm sorry folks but I'm over this yogurt and a nice small peach crap for breakfast, especially on a Sunday. It's sinful. God did not give us taste buds only to torture them and neglect them with the same ol' dietary meals. I get that on the Mon.-Fri. grind the quickie, more healthy breakfasts are the go-to and that's what I do, but for the weekend and the day before you get back into the grind work-wise and food-wise, you should indulge. One of the highly underrated keys to happiness is a pleased palette.

Today I was very please. My pancakes arrived polka-dotted with warm, gooey banana slices. Sitting all pretty on top. Each piece I cut and forked was strategically placed around each of the bananas. And each bite reminded me why banana was king.

Although, for the first time, I must criticize Vivian's for just one minor detail in the banana pancake set up, which is that I wish the slices were not only on top but also mixed in with the batter as well. Double the banana and double the joy. And I only say this because the banana I did have was an amazing texture. It's the softness. The pure supple state of the banana that makes the pancakes at Vivian's worth trying. Have a small side of bacon for crunch and that balanced taste of salt with sweet and you're ready to take on Sunday with zest.

My advice to all who read: don't skip one of the most important meals of the day. Don't half-ass it. Don't pass up the opportunity to hang out with friends or family and greet the morning with pancakes and laughs. Take your time. And I mean really take your time.

One of the most important meals of the day wants you to appreciate and get why it's so important.

Because on the weekends, the importance lies in the very act of defiance to the fast life.

Go bananas.