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May 23, 2006

my 90-hour excuse

last week was a 90-hour workweek, and this week is shaping up to be about the same. i just can't bring myself to complain about this, however, being that i am a freelancer. if you ask a freelance person, "how are you?" and he or she replies "busy!" that is freelance-speak for "wonderful! i'm employed and therefore will be able to eat more than ramen and peanut-butter sandwiches! and i will not be tossed out onto the street! woo-hoo! yeah!"

in any case, that is my excuse for the lack of recent postings. i'm hoping to make up for it in a few days, though, when this job wraps. no promises, though. i might be too busy taking a long, hot bath.

meanwhile, have a nice Memorial Day weekend! (note to self: weekend? what's a weekend?)

Posted by hadashi at 1:53 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2006

life in L.A., in no particular order

and now, five random thoughts about where i live:

1. yesterday, on the way home from work, i drove behind a beat-up Toyota Corolla that sported a Jaguar license plate frame. i realised this was just like the fiftysomething woman i saw last week at a Certain Coffeeshop in a Certain Rich Area (initials: B.H., zipcode, 90210) who was wearing a tiny neon green miniskirt, gold heels, and a tanktop that showed far, far too much. in this town, people always want a nicer car and a younger appearance, but sometimes they do it the wrong way.

2. only the L.A. chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would call its latest fundraiser "Pet Bling." for $10 you get a lanyard with a pet I.D. of an animal that you're "sponsoring." it's the "The Latest Fashion Accessory for Animal Lovers," claims the ads, now appearing on the side of a Metro bus near you. even the lettering used to spell out "Pet Bling" is that most L.A. of fonts, gangsta-looking Olde English.

3. i had our lovely new couch delivered today at lunchtime. while sitting on it at 2pm, i decided that i might as well take photos of the futon we had been using in the meantime so i could sell it later. at 3pm, i figured i'd just go ahead and put an ad up on craigslist. at 3:45pm, i got my first interested e-mail. at 5pm, i had someone coming over to look at it. at 6pm, the futon was driving away with its happy new owner, i had some cash moneymoney in my pocket, and a clutter-free living room. i think due to the transience of L.A. life, craigslist really works here. we've always had great luck with it, but this was undeniably splendid. thanks, Craig Newmark, you and your site rock. best part: the big kiss i'm going to get tomorrow when T.T. comes home from Germany and finds a real couch & some spending cash, instead of the old futon. big points for the Wife! awwww, yeah!

4. there is a farmer's market with fresh produce somewhere close by every single day of the week. and right now, the strawberries are soooooo good. here's a tip: slice up the strawberries & freeze them. dump 'em in a blender, add some half-and-half, and pulse away! fresh strawberry shake, no sugar added! may i say again, awwww, yeah!

5. maybe it sometimes happens in New York City, but i think L.A. is possibly the one place where celebrity sightings are, well, just normal. two sample conversations from a crew lunch this week; you decide what my crew was more excited about.

Conversation One:
"hey, isn't that Steven Tyler at that table there?"
"yeah, it is. huh. cool."
"yeah. cool."
"huh."
(all continue eating)

Conversation Two:
"oh man, that was a great meal!!!"
"yeah, not just tasty but also paid for by production!!"
"i know!!! and we even got to eat at a nice place today!!!"
"yeah! that never happens!!"
"this rocks!!!!"
(high fives exchanged)

Posted by hadashi at 6:49 PM | Comments (2)

May 7, 2006

immigrants like Nutella too

it's been a long week of work, on several different shows. it's nice to have today, Sunday, as a true day of rest. as a little kid, i had a hard time understanding why the "day of rest" was so stressful -- my family was always very deeply involved in church and church-doings, so our day started very early, and ended very late. sometimes there was a quiet afternoon in there, but not often. it was only after i got older that i realised "rest" sometimes just means "cessation of regular work." it takes more energy to give of yourself to bigger things -- like helping others, doing soul work, sharing home and family with those who have neither -- all regular Sunday activities in my growing-up years. i am thankful for this life lesson learned. more on that in a moment...

T.T. is still in Germany for another week, and the house is quiet without him. usually there is conversation, movement, laughter when we are home at the same time. even if he's hard at work on a project in the office (that's the second bedroom), he can't work in silence, so music will be playing. lately it's been all Johnny Cash, all the time. i gave him an iPod Shuffle for Valentine's Day (since he so generously let me commandeer the sweet video iPod we got as a wedding present) and last week he loaded the thing with all Cash (plus a random recording of "Stand By Your Man" -- why, i cannot say). after hearing "Five Feet High And Rising" for the squillionth time in a 24-hour period, i must admit that hearing only birds chattering in the lemon tree outside is a nice change. i've baked some homemade whole wheat bread and just had a piece, steaming hot, with real butter. now i'm having the only thing better than that: another warm piece, with real Nutella. ahhhh, Nutella, how i love thee... i've brewed a fresh pot of green tea, which i'm drinking out of my favorite Japanese mug which depicts a surprisingly realistic penguin family. i think i've always liked it because one of the small child penguins looks like it's imminently going to commit some mischief. of course, i long ago decided that one was me. go figure.
now normally, HadashiWorld is not a current events soapbox, but all this peacefulness and good eating has led to the following reflection:

one of my jobs this week was working on another installment in the "documotional" series i've been doing with my friend. part documentary, part promotional, we're shooting short programs showcasing L.A.-area charities. the charity then gets as many copies of the show as they want to use for volunteer recruitment, fund-raising, and awareness. so far we've done one on an after-school program for homeless children, one for a crisis pregnancy home, and several more. the projects are enormously satisfying to work on -- it's a tiny crew, so it's like working with family. plus we get to see the day-to-day business of what it takes to rebuild human lives, and be part of that in a small way. this week, we shot for a small, grass-roots organization that provides food and clothing -- the most basic of physical needs -- to needy families in a mostly Latino neighbourhood. in addition, a bilingual pastor donates his time to do house calls to provide the most basic of spiritual needs -- compassion and care.
now, you'll remember that this week also featured the nationwide "Day WIthout Immigrants" marches, and that the topic of immigration, illegal and legal, has been THE Hot-Button Topic O' The Times lately. so it should come as no surprise that the people we encountered at the center were a bit nervous about being on camera at first. most likely the "clients," as the center calls those who use its services, are either undocumented themselves, or are family to those who are. their lives are spartan and difficult, and they must live in a constant state of looking over their shoulder for things that will threaten their, and their children's futures in America. these risks they took knowingly, and these choices they made deliberately. whether they are wrong or not is not mine to decide.
i'm not going to climb on any political soapboxes now, mainly because i am still confused and rather torn over this issue of what to do with immigration law and reform in this country. America is not the only nation with immigrants or immigration problems, but it is the place where the debate is escalating faster than the price of gas. no one disputes that the system is broken, but any fixes are going to anger someone, somewhere. there is no blanket solution to this complex mess, because it is composed of human beings, each with a different story, each with different reasons for being here. undocumented immigrants do indeed cheat the system, but it is an arcane, expensive, beaureacratic, quota-filled, privacy-invasive one that changes the rules constantly, often leaving those who "play by the rules" at the back of the line. as i said, no one will argue that reform is needed. the big question is what that reform will look like -- will it be only greater punishment and more barbed wire of both the literal and the red tape sort? or will it also include ways to address the nation-shaking impact of immigrants, and their needs and rights?
i have been spending a lot of time thinking, reading, talking about this because i have a high personal stake in this debate. i’m the daughter of the classic immigrants, the family who literally gave up everything they had to escape a dangerous and oppressive government, that sailed to America, and never returned. the kids grew up, became naturalised citizens, all married English-speaking Americans of various ethnicities, and had adorable biracial children. one of those adorable biracial children (that's me, ha ha!) married another immigrant who originally left his country for an education. he then realised that said country was inhospitable to who he was and who he was becoming, and he stayed here, where he can be a crazy, iconoclastic freelance creative who gets to keep nuturing the little boy inside.
the main idea that keeps emerging from the most thoughtful bits i hear and read is this: at the end of the day, an immigrant is first and foremost a person. and while debate rages on, we must not forget their intrinsic human dignity and their worth in the eyes of God. that pastor who donates his time to do house calls made the comment that no matter what your political affiliation, no matter what you think about the situtation, the "issues" are still composed of real, live people. you can firmly believe, he says, that an undocumented person was wrong to come to America, and yet show compassion to her family. you can think immigrants should "pay their dues" (whatever that may mean) and still help them however you can.
those lessons i learned as a child on those long Sundays about how to treat others -- that God talks more about caring for the poor, loving your neighbour, and easing the suffering of the needy than anything else -- this is what seems to be the most important thing. it's not easy, and it is a challenge to separate very valid political and moral discussion from the immediate, tangible needs of people, because it can be an uncomfortable call to action.

i think that Johhny Cash, the "Man In Black" would agree.

Posted by hadashi at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

May 3, 2006

travelling circus, indeed

i dropped T.T. off at the airport this morning. it's his turn to take a Europe trip; he's going home to Germany -- he'll spend quality time with the parentals, attend the wedding of an old school chum, and be present for the funeral of a longtime family friend. he managed to survive my 10-day absence to Ireland; now i'm the one who gets the house to myself.

of course being at the airport reminded me of what a zoo it's become now to travel anywhere. mind you, i have been travelling internationally since the age of five, and since then have made somewhat of a living out of travel. so i feel somewhat justified in expressing my sadness that between the superhyper post-9/11 security measures and the how-low-can-you-go airline cost cutting, much of the pleasure of travel has been vaporised. i mean, when you no longer can even get a crappy pillow because of the "bottom line," what's next? at this point, why don't they get rid of all the seats in the plane, install those hamster water feeder things along one side and peanut dispensers on the other, herd us in like small rodents, and fly that way? come to think of it, this might actually be more comfortable because you could lie down on the floor instead of having your legs squashed into unholy contortions. i am a rather petite girl, and if i'm that cramped up? well, i can only say a prayer for anyone over average height and weight.
so honestly, to keep myself from getting outrageously crabby whilst flying these days, i devote myself to people-watching. usually this is entertaining enough that i can sort of ignore all the discomfort. for example, i present to you the following scenes from the circus that was Los Angeles International Airport on the morning i left for Dublin, Ireland:

-i had the poor luck to come in right behind an entire herd of random middle-school-aged kids checking in. there were at least fifteen of them, all crazy-excited, loud, and running as amok as possible whilst still remaining in line. there was one, i repeat, ONE, chaperone, who just kept bleating helplessly: "IDs! everyone get out your IDs!" no one was listening. mercifully, an airline rep managed to corral them into a group check-in area. i could still hear the hapless chaperone's bleats as they were led away.
-the Korean couple behind me who had, very suspiciously, no luggage with them. both were dressed in the highest of high fashion. he had an enormous blingy designer watch, she was expensively clad in a tiny white dress with tiny strappy heels and a tiny -- no wait -- a huge amount of dangly jewelry. they were all over each other, and i mean ALL over. at one point i started wondering if the girl was simply unable to support her own tiny weight on her tiny strappy heels and had to drape herself over him so as not to slide onto the floor like a discarded coat. she was jabbering a mile a minute, and all the guy said was what i suspect is the Korean equivalent of a very bored "uh-huh." he sounded like the Axe Gang boss in the movie Kung Fu Hustle.
-then there was the line to give your suitcases to TSA. it was obviously that TSA was short-staffed or something, because it looked like a Soviet-era bread line in the terminal that morning. once i got through that, there was the line to get to the line to go through gate security. in front of me was Entitled To My Anger Man, who every three seconds would cast furious muttered imprecations at no one in particular. when he got to the front, he was instructed to place his carryon luggage into the metal cage to make sure it was regulation size. he flipped out, shrieking "do you realise i'm already late for my flight?" mind you, we all were in that category; the line for the line was literally out the door and snaking down the street. he was asked again. "it fits!" he insisted snottily. "you'll make me miss my flight. i don't have to do this!" he tried to proceed, but his way was abruptly blocked by an enormous TSA officer who had suddenly appeared. "You Will." he said, emphasizing his words as he loomed over Anger Man. "Do As You Are Told Immediately Or You Will. Most Certainly. Miss. Your. Flight." dude, if you're a scrawny Jewish guy wearing front-pleat Dockers, do NOT have a temper tantrum in front of a TSA officer whose previous career could have been NFL linebacker and can crush you with his pinky finger.
-in front of me in the gate security line was the Hustler Trio: two guys and a girl. all looked like members of a motorcycle gang, and collectively, they were sporting enough body piercing to make Swiss cheese jealous. in addition, they were carefully dressed in Official Badass Costume, which means lots of black with lots of metal accents protruding, such as rivets, spikes, and chains. their carryon "luggage" was a bag with the Hustler Store logo on it, containing what looked like one hooded sweatshirt and a copy of The South Beach Diet. when the metal detector went into beeping overdrive as their metal-studded bodies passed through, they had the gall to look shocked. as all three were diverted into the area where the Very Thorough security checks are performed, i could hear the girl cursing about the "big delay." news flash, honey: if TSA will confiscate things as benign as nail clippers, do you really think your weapon-like spike bracelet is going to make it through? and p.s. -- stop clicking your tongue piercing, for heaven's sake!
-the Mexican family behind me in the gate security line. their carryon "luggage" was the following: one large fuzzy NASCAR blanket, one box marked "genuine 1950s coin-operated pay phone," two large reproductions of Van Gogh's painting "The Starry Night," and one enormous battery-operated clock with a picture of the Last Supper featuring a very white Jesus that could light up in Three Different Colors. i am not making this up.
-i was advised to "proceed quickly" to my gate (translation: run like hell, please). i managed to squeak on board, and took my seat next to a very geeky standard business-dressed man. standard suit, tie, large glasses, bad haircut, pens in front pocket. he even had the standard business briefcase, from which he extracted the standard stack of Important Looking Charts. he spent the first ten minutes of the flight leafing through them, making notes and being serious. then he went back to the briefcase, took out a portable CD player and a collection of CDs. as he leafed through them, i shamelessly peeked: it looked like the entire catalogue of everything the Grateful Dead ever recorded. i have no idea how many albums were released, but he must have had them all. the geeky corporate drone rapidly changed into a tie-dyed hippie in his head as he slipped "Grateful Dead: Arista Years Vol. 2" into the player and put the headphones on. he closed his eyes, threw his head back, and played drum solos on his lap with his fingers. i didn't really mind; maybe he only had to get his corporate drone job after Jerry died, leaving him without a band to follow around. poor lost soul.

i could keep going, but then i'd never get to anything about Ireland. sigh. maybe i never will. sorry, HadashiWorld visitors, sometimes the entertainment of the human circus is more adventurous than the actual adventure-going. besides, i've got an early call time tomorrow and i need to get some sleep...

Posted by hadashi at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)