Sunday, May 30, 2010

(Maddie) Mis Aventuras en Los Angeles

Hola! I have decided to reflect my first experiences and observations of my corner of the metro-L.A. area during Memorial Day weekend. I will write about my first day soon.

Friday - Friday, my first full day in L.A. I realized that my body was still in fact on Eastern Standard Time and would remain that way for a while when I woke up at 5AM Pacific Standard Time and went to bed at 10PM PST. Oh well. By the time I am fully adjusted to PST, I will be heading back to EST. Such is life:P I went to the bus stop early [partially because I had woken up at freaking 5AM!], planning on picking up the 8AM-ish bus line to the block that the film production office was located. I wanted to time the system for my work schedule next week and had planned for it to be at least a 30-minute ride. I boarded the bus, inserted 3 quarters into the receptacle, and lo-and-behold I found myself there in 10 minutes! The evironmentally-conscious liquefied nitrogen-fueled bus system and reckless bus drivers hurtled their passengers down the boulevard in short order! Who'd've thunk that public transport could actually be efficient? I guess it works for L.A. A lovely automated voice announced the stops, which are requested by passengers via a yellow pull cord. I'm glad I memorized the line route before I came - I have not missed a stop yet [knock on wood]. I decided to visit the film production office that I am interning with. It is a wonderful office and my soon-to-be coworkers are lovely people. I can't wait to start. OTHER FIRST DAY OBSERVATIONS:
  • There are a lot of homeless people. While I was window-shopping at the Promenade, I ran into 2 particularly noisy ones who were definitely coked up. It's sad, but you just have to learn to ignore them. Some of them are faking it. Others are just crazy. It's too hard to tell the two apart. Sad, but true...
  • The Promenade is a wonderful little shopping center. I shall return! Mwahaha.
  • The beach and Pacific Ocean are awesome. I met this wonderful lady Christina who gave me advice and ideas about living in the L.A. area.
  • There are so many different languages spoken here. And, the cable channels reflect that. There are 15 Spanish saop opera channels, an Armenian news channel, 3 Chinese news/soap opera channels, a Korean channel, etc. So far, I have not had to use my Spanish... By the way, "The Secret Garden" in Spanish...should never have happened...
  • At first, I thought that the incessant chirping that I was hearing originated from a new species of bird that I was not familiar with. Come to find out, the beeping came from crossings that are designed for the hear-impaired. Every single crosswalk has this. At some point, I will try walking across one with my eyes closed to see if it actually works.
  • The L.A. area has a VERY relaxed atmosphere. It's ok to be 5-15 minutes late for the most part. Typical SoCal attire appears to consist of sunglasses, flip flops, and generally casual clothing, even at Church. I will comment further with in a treatise at some point.

Over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I have been alternating between window-shopping, reading History of Histories in Starbucks, watching Spanish soaps, dealing with a semi-sweet/semi-psychotic cat, visiting the beach and exploring the town. The SyFy Channel [I still think it should be "SciFi"] had a double-header of "Megashark vs. Giant Octopus" and "Mega Piranha." I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. "Tremors" still has my vote for the best B-movie EVER! I tried out the local PCA [Presbyterian Church of America]. Upon discovering that they had a female associate pastor and hearing a sermon on the feminine side of God, I decided that I will attempt to make the trek out to the "local" OPC churches an hour away. This PCA church has a sign outside that says "Sandals are welcome because Jesus wore them!"

On Memorial Day, I went to the beach in the morning, a time of day when most Californians are still completing their 10-12 hour daily hibernation period. A few early risers were up and about, running their feet off and jolting their spines into a future back pain and spinal injury. Oh well. Even the elderly participated. The bikers are particularly standoffish, preferring to warn you with a pretentious clearing of the throat before arrogantly yelling at you to get the hell out of their way. I almost choked on their smugness and delusion that they were saving the world, which is produced by a reduction in blood flow to the brain from too-tight spandex. Maybe we will be spared their offspring by the same cause of their delusion;) [*NOTE: I am referring to bikers wearing spandex. Regular, happy, unpretentious, nice people who happen to be riding bikes in regular clothes are fine. There may be an exception to the rule here or there, and must be judged on a case-by-case basis. But, I still hold that spandex is the root of all two-wheeled evil].

SEE YOU SPACE COWBOY. [obligatory anime reference...check!]

(Mary) words, words everywhere but not a drop to read

I had some local history research to do, and I heard that there was a good local history section at the main branch of the public library. Aside from churches, the main library is my favorite building in the city (so far). It's probably the best library I've ever seen.

In the atrium is a mosaic near the ceiling, wrapping around the wall like a border. On it are pictures of learning and history: Moses with the 10 commandments, Archimedes, compasses, Shakespeare telescopes, George Washington Carver, etc. etc. etc. They're all blended together beautifully.

The ceiling is glass and it's two floors above, and it's got some huge plants hanging over.

The children's room is the best part. There's a huge (six or seven foot tall) book with a doorway cut into it, just the size for little kids. Bookshelves are ended with carved theater masks, statue of liberty, a girl running away carrying a clock (which displays the correct time). There's a toddler room with three or four doorways of various sizes, and on the wall are mosaics of David and Goliath, Joan of Arc, Odysseus, the Pied Piper, and other such things.

Oh, and everywhere there's shelves and shelves and shelves of books.

I managed to make it to the local history room -- which was impressive, too -- and spend about an hour researching. Then I wandered one more floor up and went to the little park/plaza thing they had outside -- a couple rose bushes, a couple picnic tables with chairs, grass, all overlooking the skyline (on one side) and the parking lot (on the other). I lay down on the grass and stared up at the sky. Ah. I had my own book to read. I rolled over and opened to where my bookmark fell out.

Just then my phone rang. It was time for us to head out.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

(Maddie) Up In The Air

A few days have passed since my high-flying hijinx on Thursday, so it time to post about air travel!

I woke up at 6:30AM on Thursday. Everything was packed. Nothing left to do but to eat breakfast and get ready. I have waiting for an adventure to begin. It reminds me of the somewhat boring stretch of time between the last class of the semester and the end of the year--nothing but studying [for some of us] and finals. Since your routine schedule of homework and class is disrupted, you don't quite know what to do with yourself. When you wait for a trip to start, there is a space between the end of your preparation and the actual start of the journey. But, soon enough, I was at the airport, wading through baggage check, congested TSA checkpoints, and what seemed ot be miles of domestic gates. I was there two hours in advance and observed that the majority of my fellow passengers in the first leg of my trip were geriatrics bound for warmer climates that are far more hospitable to their aches and pains than the ups and down of Northern climates.

Two hours and one sandwich later, I boarded the plane to Phoenix and found that I had an entire row of seats to myself! SCORE! The four-and-a-half hour flight consisted of dozing off, head resting on arm, in a chair that would not fold back into a comfortable position. Occasionally, I looked down at the world below. It was amazing to see clouds from above rather than below. They looked like the Platonic form of clouds - puffy, white cotton balls. I desperately wanted to stand on one, like Mary Poppins waiting for her next assignment as nanny to a family in need. But, it was strange to fly over places I had only ever seen on TV and never get an up close view. The flight took us over Lake Michigan, Kansas, two snow-covered mountain ranges, deserts, and several canyons. We went over checkerboard farmland, flatter-than-a-pancake plains states, tightly-packed clusters of cities and towns, winding ribbons of rivers, and shadows of clouds on the landscape. As we flew over myriad Midwestern towns, Film Composer Hugo Friedhoffer's Boon City theme from Director William Wyler's "The Best Years of Our Lives" ran through my head, taking me back into dreamland.

I have to admit, I like the takeoff and landing part of flying. But, in the end, I still prefer driving to a location. Every summer, i drove with my parents to New England. I saw so much "up close," particularly the Mohawk River Valley of upstate New York and the Appalachian and Berkshire mountain ranges in the morning. When you look out of a plane window, the landscape below looks like one of those Google satellite images. It is so impersonal, yet still exhilarating to see everything from a bird's eye view.

The first four-hour leg of my journey was ahead of schedule, so I ended up boiling in the "air-conditioned" Phoenix airport for two hours. As I waited with my iced latte, I noticed how many "blonde" girls with skinny jeans, stilettos, gigantic purses that could easily house third world families in them, and iPhones were joining me on my flight. There were at least four of them. Most of those heading to L.A. were texting up a storm on their cell phones, including an eight-year-old who thought and acted like she was twenty-one. Another major humanoid trend appeared in the form of large Asian families with incredibly well-behaved children. After we boarded the plane, I found myself next to a guy named Tony who happened to be a good graphics artist. We talked for the entire hour and a half flight about how selfish modern parents prefer to distract their children with technology rather than being involved in their children's lives. Before I knew it, I was in LAX baggage claim waiting for my ride.

P.S. My baggage was not sacrificed to the airport gods:)

Friday, May 28, 2010

(Amanda) liberties

I took the liberty of changing all the blog titles, just adding our names...

now, back to my regularly scheduled cleaning and packing, see ya'all in a week!

(Mary) outside the office

Toledo (AP) --

My roommate and I have gotten into cooking and decided to write a food blog which will turn into a cookbook which will make us millions.

Today we got out of work early, went to Goodwill (parked on the roof!), then to a flea market, then to a yard sale. I got a big floppy blue hat for a dollar (thank you roommate for talking me into it!) and a really sweet mug that I think will be filled with ivy shortly.

I finished part I of book II of Lord of the Rings last night.

Yesterday we walked to UT campus to the library. I went to the front desk and asked where all the books were.

Today we stopped at one of the city libraries and I was happy. A few computers, aisles and aisles of books, a children's section, some African art in a display case, books on George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens, and Harriet Tubman in prominent view, murals of children reading -- this is what a library is supposed to look like. I felt totally at home. We found out that if we bring in anything with our address on it -- a piece of mail, for example -- we can get library cards. I started reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (a book I've been intending to read since middle school) and next time I go back to the library, I can probably bring the book home with me. Hooray!

I think Amanda's right: we should put something at the top of our blog posts to identify ourselves when we write.

Things Toledo has lots of: farmers markets. secondhand/antique/thrift stores. beautiful Catholic churches. beautiful Lutheran (at least two), Presbyterian (at least one), Orthodox (Greek, at least one), and even Baptist (at least one) churches.

Maybe it's just because of where I grew up, but I think of Baptist churches as being run-down old houses and former dollar stores, but there's at least one here that's looks like a church (except it sort of looks like a really nice elementary school with colored window-glass in the shape of Crosses). It's clean, nice brick work, etc.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

(Maddie) Packing My Life Away... fellow blog compatriots have gotten ahead of me [Amanda-1, Mary-4, me-ZIP!], so it's about time I actually posted something, darn it!

The only internship experience I have to post about thus far is the agonizing process of packing for my flight to packing it is. Now, let me preface this with the fact that I have not flown on a plane since the time I was in second grade--a family trip to Disney World in Florida--and am slightly nervous about the prospect of doing so. I flew during a time when security was minimal and my cares were minute. My comrade-interns at least have the luxury of packing their cars bound for Ohio and Massachusetts with various things other than clothes and other basic "essentials." Hell, they can bring stuffed animals, kitchen utensils, 3 oz. + bottles of liquids, sharp tools, a plethora of objects that would normally be confiscated by the TSA, and BOOKS. I only have one book [+ Bible], bringing about my first major complaint. I wish I could bring more than one book [+ Bible] with me...but, I cannot sacrifice my pair of business casual high heels and shirts to do so.

My friends will not be crammed like sardines into a pressurized tin can flying several thousand feet in the air. Thus, my packing [and next 10 weeks of wardrobe] are reduced to nothing more than 1 checked bag, 1 carry-on, and 1 personal item [aka "purse"]. Packing for the airline is almost as annoying as the initial stages of the paper-writing process. You're not quite sure where to start...But, you take stock of everything that is in front of you, and you have to decide what is most "essential" and go with it. [RANDOM TANGENT (please treat as the equivalent of a footnote written for a 3AM paper, which I have never done before, but have vivid accounts from several friends): The word "essential" is a rather over-used in modern conversation. Too many people count their iPhones as a necessary part of their physical being (whereas a century ago, it was the basics of life--food, water, shelter, etc). I guess that, in a certain sense, I am guilty of doing so, too...just not with an Apple product...ick! But, I digress. END TANGENT] You not only have to choose what is essential, but what you are also willing to give up if the airline workers choose to sacrifice your bag to the airport gods. For me, this is rather difficult, considering that the majority of my actual wardrobe fits in my checked bag. I have bag insurance, but...that does not stop me from worrying [because I am me]. Plus, my wardrobe is a slowly evolving entity, not a rapid adaptation to the latest horrid "fashion" trend [Can't you tell I intensely dislike most current fashion?].

I like lists and started making them for the past 2 weeks in order to decide what needed to come with me. When my friends read this, they will say: "Yep...that is exactly what she would do." And, I did. My material life is currently packed away in the living room as I await my early morning flight tomorrow - pieces of clothing that have wonderful memories attached to them. Two bags will stay with me on the plane and the other [full of clothes] will [hopefully] make it to California. Wish me safe travels. My next post will be from California:)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

(Mary) nineteen things that made me want to vomit today

1. "touch base."

2. "underutilize."

3. a meeting called a "summit."

4. "revitalizing."

5. "dialogue."

6. think tanks, and the word "think tank" taken seriously

7. "diversification."

8. "developing partnerships."

9. "a new economic future" (as opposed to the old future?)

10. "enlightened cooperation"

11. "thrusts" (unless it's something you do with a spear to an enemy)

12. "sector" (unless it's being used in sci-fi movies)

13. "vision" (unless you're at the eye doctor)

14. "catalyst" in reference to the guy who writes grants

15. "liquidation"

16. "remarks" if they're actually speeches

17. "liveable communities"

18. "retrofitting"

19. an ad for a St. Patrick's Day Bash -- bash featuring a midget stripper and ad featuring her photo with eye-catching, carefully-placed cartoon shamrocks

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

(Mary) descent into the underworld: hotter'n hell!

My roommate moved in last night. We've now got a couch, another dresser, a dining room table and chairs, a full set of pots, and a few other goodies. When everything was put away, she suggested that we christen the place somehow.

We're both women, so we thought we wouldn't strip naked and beat each other up. Instead, we made cupcakes.

This evening, we got back to the apartment between five and six. We opened the door and it was really warm in the apartment. Weird. I opened a window, blew my nose, changed my clothes, and started thinking about dinner. We had a pot, so it was going to be spaghetti. Finally. I went over to the kitchen and it was even warmer there. Did we-

The oven was still on.

Total damage: one chocolate bar melted

Monday, May 17, 2010

(Mary) first day on the job

Yesterday morning I wanted to spite the system, so I boiled water in my frying pan, set my teacup in the sink, and poured the water all over the sink. Enough of it landed in the cup, so I made a cup of tea.


My shelves are full of pasta and I have no pots. But, darnit, I had tea.

Spite. Spite. Spite.

Does anyone know if we had a list of epic conventions? Proem, descent into the underworld, what else? Well, here, I will tell you about the gods.

I had to step over a bird in order to get to my car. It was small, black, dead, and lying supine, mouth-open about two feet from my rear tire. I climbed into the car, started it, counted the gears and started off.

I turned the wrong way, so I turned around and went back.

Huh. Maybe I passed my turn. Let's!

Nope, definitely was not supposed to turn here.

I went around the block again and found a gas station. I pulled in. Asked.

Everybody knew how to get there, except for the people who didn't know how to get there, and they were just as talkative. Finally, the consensus was to get on the expressway (the expressway?) and get off after two exits. And turn right. Yeah, yeah, turn right.

I did, and I turned right, and I was still lost. Maybe if I go down two more blocks...

There, rising out of the pouring rain and stuck aberrantly between lit-up drugstores and gas stations, was a huge, dark-brick building. I recognized it immediately: this is a Catholic Church, and an old beautiful one. I don't care that I'm lost and it's raining and I'm still in my business clothing. I'm gonna go see this church.

I drove around it for a bit, sat in the parking lot for a bit, felt a lot better for a bit.

Then went awkwardly across the street to ask directions at the drugstore.

Two turns later I was in my own parking lot.

Home. (-ish)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

(Amanda) the proem

(yay, Mary!)

Anywho, just in case anyone else reads this blog (hello!) perhaps a bit of explanation regarding our name and purpose would be useful.

Sing, O Muse, of the summer and the interns and the toil...

We, Maddie, Mary, and Amanda, were in freshman English together, lo those many semesters ago, and in this class we read (all of) the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid and the Divine Comedy. These works define and contain the conventions, those plot devices and turns of phrase, which make up an "epic." Whenever, in the course of reading these works, an epic convention was spotted, it became our custom to sound the "epic convention alarm," a sort of whooping noise, often accompanied by raised hands or running about in circles (what can I say, we were freshmen).

This summer finds each of us interning: Mary with a newspaper in Ohio, Maddie with a production company in LA, myself with a museum in Massachusetts. We hope that we won't face the more harrowing of the epic conventions (eg: the descent into the underworld) but who knows, we are interns after all.

(Mary) and so it begins

Well, here I am.

I went to the grocery store this evening and spent about $45. I've got some hamburger, a couple hamburger helper boxes (I'm still in college, even if it is summer), some pancake mix, cooking oil, eggs, bread, lunch meat, lettuce, carrots, cereal, milk, orange juice, and a pitcher.

I got back to the apartment and realized I do not have a pot. I do not have a kettle. I do not have a spatula. So I still don't have anything real to eat.

I brought a frying pan from home, and I almost bought a pot at the grocery store. They were roughly $99. I will boil water in my frying pan before I spend $99 on a pot.

Thrift and resale stores, here I come... well, on Monday. And then I will have pots.

Oh, pots. Our windowsills need some green.