Dramatic Monotony

Saturday, May 29, 2004

I'm home from China... and I mean REALLY home. After getting back on Thursday, I met my dad and we started the long drive to Houston on Friday morning. And I got back here tonight at 10:30.

I'll do the big update about China soon. I have tons of photos, lots of great stories, and I really REALLY enjoyed myself, despite my reservations.

Phase one of dog interaction complete... he's following me around. We'll see how he reacts in the morning. It's looking hopeful.

I'm feeling rather relieved. And now it's time to start my 23 days of self improvement before running off to England and France. My goals include the following...

1. Edit my two hours of footage from China into a cute, coherent memory of the trip.
2. Watch a French movie every day. Or every other day.
3. Get Niles to absolutely love and adore me... and train him at the same time.
4. Read several good books.
5. De-stress from my semester from hell.
6. Buy a pair of Diesel sneakers, a new pair of Nike training shoes, a pair of jeans, and some khaki pants and/or skirt.
7. Create a scrapbook for my homestay with my family in France.
8. Finish my assignments for the France trip and feel prepared for my placement exam in Dijon.
9. Make an "idea book" for APO historian position/Silk social officer/Cinema floor programs.
10. Meet with the HBU APO peeps.
11. Have lunch with MLB.

Okay, I'm going to try to go to sleep. But more information is forthcoming...

Sunday, May 16, 2004

In less than 12 hours, I'll be on a plane to Japan. And then I'll be on a plane to Bejing. And after short flights to Xi'an and Shanghai, I'll be on a flight back to Los Angeles. Ten days. Damn. Craziness. My stomach is going crazy right now.

(By the way, someone just said to me, "Oh, that's total bunk." My grandmother used that phrase all the time. Is he a 19 year old boy? Or 85 year old woman? Sometimes I wonder...)

Anyway. I'm a bit nervous. Yeah.


Sorry about my incoherence. I'm tired, on top of being nervous. I think I'm going to take a shower, finish up some email, then head to Michelle's apartment to crash. Packing's a bitch. I dislike it greatly.

I'm out for a bit. I'll update when I'm back in Houston, I guess.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

On Sean's xanga, there was a little dispute over whose cousin/nephew/new baby boy in the family is the coolest. I want to submit pictorial proof of my cousin's cuteness. I'll have more photographs after this summer.

This was my Nan, my cousin Shelley, and Ethan - it's obviously an older picture, but Nan looks pretty good here, so I wanted to put up an image of her.

My Uncle Robert and his grandchild. Ethan's going to kill the ladies with that smile in the future.

So. Cute. I don't even like children. Look at those eyes!

Being a good Englishman, Ethan loves McVities Chocolate Digestives. That beautiful piece of ceramic-ware used to be *my* favorite mug when I was younger; whenever we had supper, my grandfather would make me a toasted crumpet with jam and hot chocolate in the McVities mug. It's nice to see that it's been passed down the generations. I like this picture enough to have it as my desktop background right now.

APO people tend to not read my blogger because I'm not in the "Xanga" realm. So, this might be a superfluous post... but at least other people can admire the cuteness of my cousin.

Friday, May 14, 2004

I got this email today from "Niles Tzu."

Just thort I wood drop u a line. I went to visit the vet in davids car. He gave me a big shot and now I feel kind of tired but maybe it will stop me itching so much.

Have a nice trip and I look forward to biting, err, meeting u soon.
Love ,


I think the dog needs to take some spelling lessons.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Yesterday sucked. Really hard.

It began with laundry. Actually, 8 loads of it. I haven't done laundry since the beginning of March, and I really outdid myself this time. I had to get a friend to help me carry the piles of clothing down to the PIRC laundry room.

My residents are just about gone. I'm having a hard time dealing with this. It's still difficult to believe that this year is over. I watched a slideshow that one of my rezzies made of our floor, and I just bawled. So much. I miss them. So much.

I hate the cinema department. I still have an incomplete from last semester, despite the fact that I took the final in JANUARY. I've been trying to call the TA, email the TA, and talk to anyone in the cinema department who can help me take care of this. And no one really seems bothered.

I still don't have my $500 for reimbursement from Reel LA. I'm still broke.

I took my car into the dealership for an oil change. They suggested a 20,000 mile service. I agreed, thinking, "Well, I almost have 20,000 miles, this should be a good thing." I got the quote of $199, thought it was a little high, but then thought, "Better be safe. I'm about to drive my car 1500 miles across a desert in the summer." I got a call later on, saying that my brake pads needed to be replaced soon - did I want to go ahead with that job? I said yes. And then the $336.20 bill broke my heart - that was WITH a 10% USC discount.

Also, I couldn't find the aforementioned dealership. They moved location. I was told it was half a block before Washington on Fig. So, I drive around... and around... and around... and I can't find this place. I end up calling information to ask for an address. I made the woman at the dealership describe the location in detail, including landmark representations. Finally, I found this sketchy little alley with a tiny sign that said, "Porsche, Audi, VW Service this way." And THEN, the customer service representative never comes to my car. I thought this was standard protocol - all of the dealerships that my family have used do this: 2 different VW dealerships, the BMW dealership, the Dodge dealership, the Volvo dealership... even the old location of this LA dealership had people walk to the car as you drove up. After sitting around for five minutes and watching employees wander back and forth, I had to park, turn off the car, walk inside, find the desk, and wait for the service advisor to stop talking on the phone before I was helped. I wonder if they act the same way towards Porsche owners too.

I couldn't finish running a lot of errands today due to lack of car. I was supposed to drop off dry-cleaning, send a couple of packages, and make a trip or two to storage. None of it happened.

Two people were supposed to call me... and they didn't. So, now my schedule is all screwed up for the next four days.

I'm desperately behind on packing.

My email is all screwy. I'm missing messages, I can't send messages all the time. It sucks.

I still need to fold the aforementioned laundry. I also managed to wash one of the keys to the VW. Obviously, the keyless entry part does not work anymore. If I want to fix it, there goes another $120 down the drain. I'll just cope with one keyless entry key and a manual key.

I got into a huge fight with my mom on the phone. And then my dad yells at me, saying, "You only call us when you want money. As long as your bills are getting paid, you don't care about us." I nearly started crying in the middle of the PIRC lobby. I love my parents SO much and it hurts that they think I'm an ungrateful brat.

My car mat for the trunk STILL smells like Thai food. This is after being attacked with carpet cleaner, Fabreze, shampoo, a pressure washer and baking soda. And now my bathroom smells like rotten Thai food because I've left it in there so my CAR doesn't smell so much.

I ate El Cholo with APO people (Matt Sullivan, Liz, and MunChul). That was actually the highlight of my day. But then, my ulcer began rebelling afterwards. Spicy Mexican food and a margarita was NOT the right thing to eat.

Then I started cramping like a motherfucker. It was so bad, I could only writhe in pain on the couch downstairs. (I didn't have any sheets on my bed - they were in the wash.) I took three extra-strength Midol, and then I thought about procuring an illegal dosage of Percaset. But then I decided not to break the law and took more Midol.

As I was on the couch downstairs in my pain-filled world, this somewhat sketchy dude takes this opportunity to sit down and flirt with me. Normally, I'd be flattered - true, he has a reputation for sleeping with half the girls in PIRC, but he's a smart kid. We have a lot of mutual interests. I like hearing stories about his fraternity. But really, it wasn't a good time for him to invite me up to his room to watch "Brotherhood of the Wolf."

I went upstairs to begin sorting my laundry, and I IMed a friend to see what time he wanted to have breakfast tomorrow. He said he was too tired to meet me, and he thinks he's getting sick. So, basically, I'm not going to see him before I go off for summer. Normally this wouldn't be such a big deal, but we were just getting over a big fight that we had a few weeks ago. I didn't want to leave the last time I'd see him before the summer to be a time when I wasn't talking to him. Logistically, it just didn't work out but that doesn't salve my disappointment.

I just want it to all be over. As soon as China's done, I'll be able to breathe a little easier.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Addendum #2

So, I had to call DPS on the puking resident due to erratic breathing and possible alcohol poisoning. He's okay, though. AHHHHHHHHH.... NO WORK IS BEING DONE BECAUSE I'M TIRED.

Addendum to last post:

I was paged at 4 in the morning to look after a puking resident. Yet another piece of evidence of PIRC's descent into DEBAUCHERY.

And I found a bra and a traffic cone in the hallways. Sick.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

One of the great things about working in PIRC is the relative lack of disciplinary problems. People just... don't seem to do anything here, except participate in the odd program or two. That's a good thing. But, thanks to the imminent demise of the school year, the normally placid residents of PIRC are turning into little monsters.

In the past week, I've seen the following:

1. Someone decided to tape up the elevator on the fourth floor with packing tape, completely covering the doorway with that nasty USPS monstrosity. Tape residue is STILL on the elevator doors.

2. Someone littered the elevator lobby of the 4th floor with torn-up fliers. You couldn't see the carpet for the amount of paper on the floor.

3. A couple of residents just climbed up the ladder to the roof in the South stairwell, setting off the alarm in the process.

4. Drunkenness all around - 3 people have been written up for underage alcohol possession, and I've turned a blind eye to a lot more drunken behavior.

5. Somebody stole a bunch of signs from Nitin's door and tore down a banner.

6. A few of my residents pelted my door with fruit. That was actually funny, especially since they didn't hit me... and they cleaned it up.

7. Tomatoes on the second floor. Weird.

8. Plus, there have been SOOOO many violations of the 24 Quiet Hours, it's not even funny. I've told more people to shut up than I thought possible.

Now, compared to places like New/North, this is minor. But in Parkside terms, they're being regular deviants! Maybe the residents just want me to get a taste of my life next year. That's sweet of them.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

My dad sent me photos of Niles. He's insanely cute. I'm going to post them because it makes me happy despite the fact that I've never met this dog. But I need something to distract me from my writing craziness.

Niles as he naps on the floor

Niles with Mom as she reads

Niles likes to stand on top of Mom

I don't think he can figure out what Dad's doing

Eh. He's tired again.

The sad thing is, I have more pictures of Niles than I do of Trixie. I only have one picture of my sweetheart. So, to pay respect to her place in my heart as my first dog (and first love), this is the poopster. She looks a little snotty - but that's because she was. Yet she always loved me. That kind of unconditional love is pretty rare.

Friday, May 07, 2004

I had a panic attack last night.

I couldn't breathe. My heart was racing. I was dry heaving. My hands were shaking. I couldn't stop tears from coming out. I was just struck with this sense of complete failure and fear. I felt physically incapacitated, unable to face that blank screen with the blinking cursor. Piles of books and notes sit in front of me. I have outlines and ideas about every paper that I still have to turn in, but I just can't sit down and force those ideas into sentences. I'm struck with the biggest case of writer's block that I've ever faced.

I've never had problems with anxiety before... or at least not to this extent. But for some reason, I can't face Word. I'm having so many difficulties concentrating. In the long run, this is a silly thing to make myself sick over. I've had plenty of time. Why couldn't I do what I needed to do?

I feel like an abject failure as a student. I'm going into my senior year, and I need to be more prepared than this. I have brilliance inside of me. I just can't force it outside of that little part of me. It's not laziness... but I don't know what it is.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Oh, god.

Oh, god.



Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I've been ditched for Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and Eric Bana - and on the last week of shared L.A. AI, too.

If they weren't so pretty, I'd be really upset. Now I'm just moderately disappointed. How can I compete with such beautiful manflesh?

I'm a bit irked because I turned down tickets to see Troy in order to keep my AI date. Plus I have issues with the UV Theater... aka, I'm afraid of catching nits from the seat backs. I like seeing my epic films in spectacular stadium seating luxury with premium sound systems. I have no problems with waiting three weeks to see a movie, if I get to see it on my own terms. Oh, I miss that AMC 30 that's two blocks away from my house in Houston. EVERY theater is stadium seating, the student discounts are plentiful, and those Icees... they just taste better.

Now that I have enough nerve to see movies by myself... I think I might visit that AMC a bit more during my three week sojurn in Houston.

So, in my quest to self-medicate my depression, I went to see another movie tonight. This time, I took two of my favorite flaming residents, Jason and Jimmy, to the theater with me. They were bored and begged to do something with me. Then they poo-pooed my movie choice of 13 Going on 30, so I chose a more suitable film for the audience - Young Adam.

If you've never heard of this movie, you're not alone. It was released in 2003 in Great Britain, but due to controversy over full-frontal nudity and explicit sex scenes, Sony resisted an American release. Finally, they decided not to censor the film, released it with an NC-17 rating, and audiences everywhere (well, in large metropolitan areas) get to see Ewan McGregor's (beautiful) penis. It's a Scottish movie based on a book by Alexander Trocchi. Parallel plotlines tell the story of Joe Taylor, an aspiring writer who only has complicated relationships with women. The movie was image-driven; I'd like to own this film just to study the cinematography. It's grainy, slightly blurry in places, but extremely beautiful. The clear, luminescent flashbacks with Cathie contrast with the dark starkness of Joe's living condition on the barge. Music plays another notable role in this film. The soundtrack consisted of haunting music by David Byrne, who proves that he's more than just a member of Talking Heads. Dialogue was almost non-existant. With the exception of an eloquent speech by McGregor's character in the beginning, people tend to stay silent. The acting was strong enough to carry the film without too much exposition or explanation.

I liked it. I feel that Young Adam is in the vein of Girl with a Pearl Earring - both films rely on mood to convey a story. Neither has a "concrete" ending. Exchanges of glances drive the plotline. It's an introspective film that refuses to give easy answers. While the "mystery" could not be considered challenging, the film shied away from turning itself into a thriller. Instead, Young Adam focuses on its careful examination of the complex protagonist. While the pacing was off at times, I think the director ultimately suceeded in his quest to document an intricate man's reaction to an unpleasant situation.

Is my blogger turning into a bastion of movie reviews? Well, I suppose I'm trying to fulfill my new role as Cinema Floor RA. This is all just prep for next year. However, because I'm still Jen, I'll post a nice picture of Ewan McGregor from Young Adam. He's dreamy. And I love him, despite the fact that he's only half an inch taller than me, married, and a famous film actor that I'll never meet in person.


Monday, May 03, 2004

And now it's time for a pictorial representation of my weekend.

APO Initiation:

Actually, I left my memory card in my computer. So, I have no pictures of this event. They're forthcoming, hopefully.

Derby Party:

Jess and Jen - hostesses extraordinaire. Actually, I was more of a caterer, than a hostess.

PIRC 4th Floor South represents! Back row: Matt, Tania, Arash, and Alex; Front row: Me, Molly.

What the hell is wrong with Molly in this picture? I don't know. She's a spazz.

Me, Molly, and Yael - with Mike Gangl in the background. He's just an attention whore.

TVTV girls munching on goodies before the race.

The Derby approaches...

APO peeps engrossed in the tv. From left to right, Sean, Pisey, MunChul, Elizabeth, Lee, and Kari in front.

Eugene O'Neill one act plays:

The RHPers reunite! Megan, me, Josh, and Nicole after a FABULOUS program by the two theater junkies.

Roscoes on Sunday:

The PIRC gang again! Back row: Alex, Matt, Philip; Front row: Arash, Tania, Andrea, me, Molly

And because I thought I lost this picture...

OPA bid:

Taken at the Chevron car wash on Olympic and Fig a couple of weeks ago - it was momentous occasion in my life. That's all I can say.

My camera's been rather busy lately.

"My name is Jen. I'm addicted to taking pictures."

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I did something today that I've never done before. I went to the movies. By myself.

I've had a really crappy week. I'm not going to get into the half of it. It's been tough; with work, friend issues, family issues, and personal health issues, I've been on the edge. I've been moody, snappish, and immature. I needed a break from everything and everyone. And if I spent one more second in my room, I was going to kill myself. So, I got into my car and drove to the Beverly Center and escaped into a film for two hours.

I saw Mean Girls. And it was just about perfect. I love teen dramedies - there's nothing better than an examination of high school cliques. I'm fascinated by high school, despite the fact that I never finished it. (Or maybe that's the reason for my obsession?) Lindsay Lohan is refreshing as an actress. I like her onscreen persona because she doesn't force anything. Instead, she exudes her character's personality. Lacey Chabert was fabulous as well- the character reminds me of a few girls that I knew from high school. And I really appreciate a movie that touches upon stereotypes without becoming bogged down in conventions. Tina Fey based the script on a non-fiction book called Queen Bees and Wannabes, a book that's been garnering quite a buzz in a couple of my classes. Therefore, the movie seemed based in reality, instead of the fantastic scene of the movie high school. And it worked. The whole film just worked.

More importantly, I felt like an adventurer. I never do things by myself in Los Angeles. I always drag a friend along. But after this experience, I remember the joy of turning up the stereo, listening to stations OTHER than top 40 hits, and just screaming along with the song. I could sit wherever I wanted in the movie theater. I didn't have to bother looking for two connecting seats. As a result, I claimed the perfect location - 3/4 of the way back from the screen, middle of the row. Inherently, movies make me happy. Regardless if a movie is good or bad, I love sitting in the darkened theater with an audience that shares this voyeuristic experience with me. I like walking alone through a mall after closing hours; during the summer of Express, I felt the most alive when I left work at 3 in the morning. I took a new route back to 'SC - San Vicente seemed a lot more appealing than I-10. As I drove through the residential neighborhoods, I was transported back to Richmond Avenue near my house. The middle-class houses and immense trees reminded me of Houston. Even the air contained a sense of "deja vu" - the unusual warmth of the night made my sweatshirt unnecessary, an oddity for an evening in Los Angeles. There was no conversation to maintain; no awkward silences; no strange tension.

Don't misunderstand me. I love my friends here. I'm going to be extremely upset when the year finally draws to a close. But I have a tendency to become wrapped up in my own little issues. And I needed some distance. And today, I got a little bit of myself back, thanks to a "silly" teen comedy. There's something to be said for escape.