Everyday Words

May 28, 2006

Last week when I went to put my key in the lock of my front door, I heard this humming and bumping noise. Looking up I saw a hummingbird flying and hitting the skylight over and over again; the light confused him as he thought it was a way out.

Worried that he’d die of exhaustion on one of our hottest days, I ran into the flat where I luckily had some bright red tissue paper. I made a mixture of sugar water in a large bowl which I placed out on the stoop above the tissue paper, hoping that this would somehow lure the bird down.

It did.

A few days later, the same thing happened. Again, I got the tissue paper and water to lure the bird down.

Again it worked.

Today when I came home, once again the same hummingbird was caught flying around the skylight, trying to get out. I no longer had the tissue paper and I didn’t know what else to do. How many times should I save the bird from the same problem? How would I explain to that bird to come down and never go back? It can’t understand. How often am I to get involved in the same issue and worry myself over its fate?

I decided that sometimes one shouldn’t get involved and let things happen.

When I came out later I didn’t hear the buzzing and looked down. There was the hummingbird still on the ground. So beautiful and intact as I think it died of exhaustion fighting the same problem for so long.

I picked up the little hummingbird and took him down to the garden. I dug a small grave, buried him and said a little something {I’m not well versed in hummingbird burials}. I felt a little sadness over the whole thing but decided that sometimes one has to stand back and let nature take its course. With birds, with people.

Everyday Words

Glamour

May 6, 2006

The contrast between what is glamorous now and what was glamorous in the days of Cary Grant and Norma Shearer says much about how American society has changed. Glamour used to present an idealized version of adulthood. Now it presents an idealized version of adolescence. In the old days, glamour was all about unattainability, i.e., fantasy projection. These days, it has become unthinkable that a major Hollywood director might echo Cecil B. DeMille, who instructed Edith Head’s department at Paramount to make clothes “that make people gasp when they see them. Don’t design anything anybody could possibly buy in a store.”Today glamour is tied to the idea of shopping to maintain the illusion that you are (a) kind of famous, or (b) on your way to being famous, or (c) essentially the same as famous people, because you share the same taste in home furnishings, core values and dog shampoo. Some of the stars with whose dog shampoo brand we may be intimately acquainted don’t even appear in the movies, or at least not often. They may appear in TV shows that aren’t so much TV shows as a chance to observe celebrities in their natural habitats. Which kind of resembles ours. Mainstream magazines have transformed themselves from facilitators of idol worship to guides to glamour consumption.

From a great article in the Los Angeles Times

Everyday Words

What Do You Expect?

April 4, 2006

“When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.” Abraham Lincoln

We were running out of time to find parking; the concert was going to start in just five minutes and we’d been circling the city street for nearly twenty minutes looking for any garage that would have space or be open when we’d get out. But there was nothing and we were sure we’d miss the show.

So imagine how we squealed when, right across the theatre, a parking space opened up. I parked the car and my girlfriend went to check the metre. A man came out of the building in front and started talking to her and she got back in the car.

“This is a tow-away zone,” she said, “and he told us we can’t park here. I told him we had to get to the concert and he said he’s a security manager for this building and he’ll let us in the parking garage! We just have to drive around the corner and he’ll open the gate!”

We were so happy with our luck. Free parking, across the street, with moments to spare. Random act of kindness stowed upon us. It was good times.

After the concert we walked back to the building and chatted a bit with the security guy as he walked us down to the garage where he’d let us out. He stood by the gate and we got in our car and before we went out, my friend rolled the window down and thanked him so much for helping us out.

“Well, I did this so that you now know that black men aren’t scary and mean and that you won’t be so afraid of us.” He smiled a huge grin, trying to be kind, thinking what he just said was helpful in some way.

We drove out of there in complete silence. Neither of us knew what to say. His skin colour had never occurred to us nor his reasons. Our reaction to his kindness would have been the same if he was white or a woman – we just thought it was human helping human.

But it made me wonder how much racism is real (a lot of it I know is) and how much is just ingrained in us to believe without cause. He assumed that white girls were afraid of black men. That’s what he carried with him. He expected it. He assumed it. But what if he let go of that? What if he assumed that no one cared and dealt with the few who did? How would life change for him and those he interacts with?

There is a show on Bravo where a white and black family swap places by using incredible make up artists who transform them into the opposite colour. The white teenage girl becomes black and goes into a clothing store that I have gone into frequently as well. As a black girl, she applies for a job and the owner is polite but says they have no applications handy and brushes her off gently. When the girl walks out of the store she says that woman is racist and that when she was white, that never happened.

Like the bible, you can twist anything to be anything.

I’ve gone into that same store and if I’m dressed young and shabby, I’m so, so, so ignored. It’s Montana Ave. It’s an expensive boutique. If I go in dressed nice with clean hair, I get a little attention. I also know that they do not hire teenagers to work there and that when the teenage girl went to apply, she wasn’t appropriately dressed to work there nor would she have been old enough. Could it have been race? Sure although in my shabby dressing days there a nicely dressed black woman got the attention while I got dirty looks. Could it have been ageism? Sure. It could have been just general Santa Monica snootiness? My guess? Yes.

This is along the lines of the post I wrote about women; when you make assumptions that people are going to respond to you a certain way because you are X you are sure to only see those responses. I could make assumptions people react to me because I wear clothing that isn’t hip or trendy so I don’t fit in or that I have a slight accent when I speak, or that I’m blonde, or that I look really young, or that if I laugh I can’t be serious and on and on and on. But I don’t. I go into every situation completely blank, assuming the best of human nature. Sometimes I get thrown on my ass for this because I’m not prepared if I do get some snarky remark or judged harshly but I’d rather look at the world a little Pollyanna than to always assume someone is out to get me, to hate me, or to fear me.

Because how does that ever create progress or help anyone either connect or understand?

Family & Friends

Apifera Farm

April 3, 2006
pig

If you dream of country life, or like the idea of a simple world coming to life with real stories but have neither the time or ability to make it a personal reality, then might I suggest a really good way to live vicariously: Katherine Dunn.

A woman who tells the most incredible stories with words and in pictures has captured my heart and imagination for years but never more so than when she created Apifera Farm.

It’s on this farm in Oregon that she talks about raising lambs and lavender and tells the sweetest stories about the other animals (I dare you to not be taken by Pedro and Juanita). But what is the most amazing thing to me, in all over this, is how she invites people to be a part of it.

Either by describing so richly her days or by offering a way to donate money to restore her historic barn, or buy purchasing lavender that she grows or paintings that she makes, there is a way to be a part of this world unlike any other.

For a city girl like me, her sites are so very welcomed and the idea of farm sponsorship tickles me. It offers a way to connect with something I one day want by helping make someone else’s dream real in the meantime.

As I’ve written about before, I often find in todays world a great disconnect amongst people. We’re on our computers and in our homes and venture out less and I think, often help our neighbours out even lesser. We shop at the Walmart for the discount and send money off to Biafrans on TV, but we sometimes shun the person next door and say “take care of your own life” or to artists “your products are too high in price. what you do is not worth it to me.”

Perhaps via Katherine there is a way for you to help (her dream or yours), a way to support or live vicariously. If not with Katherine perhaps with someone else – someone down the street or someone next door.

I’ve done a lot of things, most things, on my own because I don’t have the family support, I don’t have a network of friends and I always thought that support and help was weak and embarrassing. But that’s such a twentieth-century, technology driven mindset. It’s why stay at home mums are now going crazy – they’re trying to do it all on their own whereas history has always had a village or huge family to help raise kids. Without supporting each other, reaching individual and global goals are so much harder.

What I love about Katherine’s idea is that she isn’t afraid to ask for support and offers different ways for support to come to her (donations, sponsorship, buying her products, leaving comments on her site). I wish there were more ways to remove the fear of asking for help and the anger that some people feel towards those who do.

Everyday Words

Austin & SXSW

March 13, 2006
sxsw web finalist

Four things I’ve learned whilst in Austin:

1. If you wear big sunglasses, unlike LA, you will be known and recognised for them and should expect to hear at night “Aren’t you the girl who wore the big sunglasses?” a lot.

2. If you have long blonde hair and a foreign accent and attend a tech convention, you will be called M’Lady at some point.

3. You’ll meet a lot of people. But the person you’re most likely to connect with (and makes you question if you were separated at birth), lives only four blocks from you back in L.A..

4. If you lose an award, going out with great people afterwards will make you feel a hell of a lot better.

Favourite Entries

What Is A Girl?

March 12, 2006

When I attended a BlogHer panel today I left really, really frustrated Both the panel and the audience, and perhaps rightly so, seemed to be very “grrrrl.” Everyone seemed to reflect each other both in dress and in speech and it everyone seemed to be just so focused on the pain of women, how women writers need to tag everything they do as “women” and how we need to kick some ass (ours! theirs!) and get angry at not being “equal” or as perceived as smart as men because lord knows we’re better. There was an energy in the room that for me was really uncomfortable. It was as though everyone was just riled up and angry at anything not “grrrl” oriented. In talking to a several people after about it, I wasn’t the only one that picked up on it. But then, none of the people I spoke to were “grrrls” (actually, a lot of them were really hot women who held engineering jobs in Google and Yahoo. Their openness made you want to talk to them. Their brains made you want to listen).

Despite having the word “girl” in many of my site and creating sites based on women and for women, it has never, ever been at the expense of men. I do not feel the need to be “PRO WOMAN” to get ahead. I get along fine with the fella’s, can talk business and smack with the best of them, and am taken seriously too. It’s why with almost every site (even the ones “geared” towards women), my readership is always almost 60% female and 40% male. I tend to do things universal because I just believe we’re all here to connect. And I don’t care if you’re in a dress, pants, blue hair or blonde. It’s what is interesting and useful to me that counts and not defining myself in a small group to try to gain power.

Continue Reading…

Quotes

Introverts

February 28, 2006

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

Like Kottke, I so identified with this quote and loved the article on Introverts.

Quotes

Keep Going

February 22, 2006

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Edison

Everyday Words

February 17, 2006

girl turns 32

A person is not old until regrets take the place of Dreams.

John Barrymore

Today is my 32nd birthday and luckily, I haven’t any regrets.

Everyday Words

Updates

February 4, 2006

A little tootin’ of the horn here, but today it was announced that the site I created, Girls Guide to City Life is a finalist in the “blog” category for the 9th Annual SXSW Interactive Web Awards! This is my second nomination (the last one was in 2003) and I’m so thrilled and excited.

If you’re going to be at SXSW this year, let me know as I’ll be there from the 11-14th.

Also if you have a moment, please check out Girls Guide to City Life and then vote for it for a People’s Choice for the 2006 SXSW Web Awards. It’d make me happier than a pony named pepper.