The Road to Hades Town: Portlandia by Night

On Monday, Erica and I slept in, probably due to how exhausted we were from waking up at 10a after 4-5 hours of sleep on Sunday. We were a bit disappointed in ourselves to have missed the opportunity to see Portland in the daytime, but weren’t about to let that bring us down. After briefly booking our ride for the Canada portion through Vancouver’s Enterprise, we made our way towards an area of town my friend Gabriella said had a good selection of food. Or at least, towards the bar we had attempted the night before.

Erica and I found parking a couple blocks away, and had initially had a hankering for this Aztec-inspired restaurant, but if there were servers they didn’t come to greet us, and if it was just a bar thing, we weren’t into it. Plus, I had seen a sign for noodles, so we both decided we’d make our way towards Blackwater, the bar we’d initially aimed at, and stop in and check out the menus for the places along the way. We stopped in Blackwater, which looked like a great place to hang out, but we weren’t really feeling the burger & bar food menu, so we hopped across the street to the noodle house and then the Umi Sushi place. The noodle house seemed like a safe bet, with a very clearly laid out vegetarian menu, but the Umi Sushi place had a korean menu and we were both excited by the idea of soon tofu. She ended up ordering the spicy ramen, and I got the vegetarian soon tofu. It was very nice to – after our soured experience with the thai food place – have adequate asian food. The spicy soups hit just the right spot in this brisk northwestern weather. We also got some sushi selections – Erica something with fish that she said was silky and fell apart on her spoon, and I got a cucumber roll and veggie tempura. Their tempura sauce was unlike what I’d eaten before – I believe it was a teriyaki or something – the flavor had an almost cinammon-like quality to it. I dug it. The kimchi they served lacked the sparkly bite of well-made kimchi, but I wasn’t expecting to have kimchi at all so I didn’t mind the loss. If I wanted kimchi, I had a jar I brought with me that I’d made. Overly stuffed, we left the sushi/korean restaurant, and hopped in my car to go to Voodoo Doughnut, because if we needed anything it was to stuff ourselves further.

Voodoo Doughnut, the one we went to, at least, is in downtown Portland right next to the Kit Kat Club – a burlesque club our friend had greatly considered taking us to the night before. Voodoo Doughnut is such a strange design inside – a mottled pink decorated with an array of posters and spinning displays of their doughnut selection. They were also cash only, and luckily Erica had some. She had the regular voodoo doughnut, and I opted for the vegan one. They were both delicious.

We then didn’t quite know where to go so I pulled up a google search for late night fun in Portland. Obviously a lot of bars showed up, but a couple of themed bars caught our eyes. The one we had to check out though, was the TARDIS room – or rather the Fish & Chips Shop that had the room, considering that Erica is a huge Doctor Who fan and, you know, I dabble in my fandom.

Once we arrived, we were a little amused, a little confused. A life-sized, cardboard cutout of Peter Capaldi awaited us at the door, hovering behind a sign that requested “Please Wait to Be Seated.” We waited for a few minutes, admiring the splendorous display of Doctor Who paraphernalia in the next room, and the Star Trek decor in the first, before I started inching towards the back trying to find life. Eventually a man in a maroon shirt spotted me, shouted “Mick!” and a man came to the front, flipped the sign to “Proceed to the Bar” and invited us into the back. He asked us where we were from, and what brought us here, while showing off the TARDIS room and its details. We followed him into the back, where the main part of the bar had been decorated with Star Wars bits, a poster of Stan Lee as Spider-Stan, and flags of the United Kingdom. Erica went for some alcohol, and I asked for a cuppa. They had two types of english black teas, as well as Numi brand flavors.

Mick, the owner, pointed us towards the Bad Wolf room where a league competition of billiards was taking place, and the back room where a Ms. Pacman was stuffed along an ancient Doctor Who pinball machine. We couldn’t resist trying our hand at the pinball machine. Erica stored somewhere in the 6 million, and my try after her made it to 12 million. We took a look at the Bad Wolf room where a duet of women were waiting outside – perhaps squeezed out by the number of league competitors. They chatted with us about the weather, about California, the colleges in Portland. A slender man slid into the conversation as well, and shared that he used to be stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. One of the women shared that her son was stationed there once upon a time as well. Truth be told, Erica and I lost track of time talking to these people (mostly the 50+ crowd besides the man and his partner). At some point, we withdrew into ourselves a bit more and hung towards the back and chatted to the owner, Mick, about what brought him to the US and wherever that conversation led. I felt the pull of the pinball machine and played a good 10 more games, my highest score making it to 64 million. At 78 million, you get a replay. I was fairly addicted to it, having figured out how to pretty quickly spark the time expander and fight the daleks. Eventually, we needed to pick up Gabriella, so we bid adieu to the crowd and picked her up from her friend’s house.

The three of us being less than tired, we decided to hit up a tiki bar that Mick had recommended down the street – the Alibi. The Alibi was a gaudy and beautiful tiki mess. The bartender was a hipster kind of friendly and I got easily distracted by the karaoke. Though I initially seated us too close to the karaoke (we’d have to talk louder than were comfortable with), the others moved us a bit further away from the display so we could chat. I will admit, I did want to karaoke, but when do I not want to? There were a couple of really talented singers, but all in all, it wasn’t a bad time and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. I ordered us a plate of grilled green beans and they were pretty delicious. Eventually, I had a hankering for something sweet, so we parted ways with the delightfully cozy and ridiculous tiki bar.

The next stop was Shari’s, which was pretty close to our home destination. Shari’s is a 24-hour pie place. I suppose it’s a diner? Their main draw is their pies – and their pie shakes – which are a shake with blended up bits of pie in it. We ordered a plate of meatless nachos and I opted for the smores pie shake. The nachos were sufficient, although definitely too much food after all that we’d eaten. The shake was as close as I could get to an oreo cookie shake on the menu, and fit the bill. Once we’d finally engorged ourselves to a final point, we left for Gabriella’s house and settled in for the night.

The Road to Hadestown: A Drenched State

“Everyone raise a glass! Woooooaaaahhh!” cried Lucas Steele, my typical alarm clock. It was 10am, and Erica and I needed to get out of the hostel and on our way. We’d stayed up til around 5a, unable to sleep til then even after our massively adventurous day. We packed our bags, and the check out at the hostel was pretty simple: just strip the bedding from the beds, and chuck them and our towels in a hamper at the bottom of the stairs, and then chucked our keys into a slot.

We made a pit stop at Subway, and then hit the open road. It was a blustery day with constant mist, fog, and rain. The ride was rather splendorous to Erica and I, who are both bored of the dry desert. Rolling hills hid under forests and clouds. I guess they were also mountains. Rolling mountains?

Halfway through our ride, I spotted a sign that says “Science Works!” and much like Fairy Tale Town, Erica didn’t believe me at first. But once again, I followed the signs and we ended up in a small community in Ashland. Buried past every level of schooling, on the East Main Street was a rather nondescript building that bore the logo of “Science Works!”

We passed a climb wall representing the different eras of time, and entered to find a cute, hands-on museum. We paid the $12 each for our adult selves to get into this museum aimed towards children (Liberace got in for free), and made a beeline for the bathroom. Inside the bathroom were two chairs and a table, inexplicably. We first stopped in the bubble room and attempted to trap Liberace in one.

There was a room restricted only to those under 3″ tall and I was sore about it. There was a huge walkway dedicated to optical illusions. Buried behind the room for those smaller than 3″ was the room of Dark Shadows or something like that. In it was a light harp, a shadow camera, and an electricity ball thingy.

The final stop was a game room, or rather, a room that shared science through a series of games that seemed almost carnival like. After ripping ourselves away from the gift shop, and passing through the solar-powered nursery, we continued our trek towards Portland.

There was so much rain. I knew Oregon was wet, but knowing didn’t quite prepare me for the experience of nonstop rain from bottom to top.

We stopped off in Eugene, and ate at a Thai place that advertised their boba. The boba was crunchy, the food saccharine. Erica and I are perhaps spoiled by the heavy asian population in southern California, because neither one of us were particularly impressed by what we ordered. I had to check their rating on Yelp and they have 4 stars. Maybe we just came on a bad night. We got a box for the plethora of leftovers and once again headed out.

The drive through the rest of Oregon wasn’t so bad. It was rainy at times, foggy at others, but it was much easier to see at night than during the day, for me at least. I’m just a night driver.

We arrived to our friend Gabriella’s house at 10:30pm. After moving ourselves in a bit, we tried to go out to a vegan bar for some late night eats, but their tire went flat. It was really chilly, and the tools in the car weren’t the best. Luckily, some Oregon police officers pulled over and checked on us. They had a tire iron and sped up the process threefold. They joked with us about it being shorts weather after I made a comment about us needing to endure the cold weather longer had we managed without them. It still seems so bizarre that it was 90°F on the day we left.

Anyway, we turned back to my friends’ house and ended the night with a Taco Bell run in my car, since everything else was too far or closed.

The Road to Hadestown: the Night in Splendour

I’m not sure what drove us to the original street level of Sacramento, except a growing curiosity for a world over a century behind us, and a hope for sustenance. We found it easily, set deeply into the collection of businesses that make up Old Town Sacramento. It was still too early for business, and so we flipped some pennies into the fountain and took a walk down the row of businesses, hoping for a good place to eat.

If I can tell you anything about Old Town Sacramento, it’s that there are slightly more candy stores than sock stores. I don’t understand how any one of them manages to stay in business when they all sell candy and socks. Are tourists really that hungry for funny feet and sugar?

We weren’t. We were hungry for real food. I got sucked into an oil & vinegar store thinking they had free olive samples, not free samples of olive oil. It was delicious, but not quite enough. We passed by a display of historical facts and followed some children into a Wells Fargo mini-museum. I tried my hand at the morse code machine (hoping, perhaps, that the genetics passed down on my mother’s side would aid me), and failed miserably, only typing out a lot of Ts and Es and Ss, and a couple of Ks. My timing is off, which I was used to in music, but was a new low to hit when it came to communication. As we left the mini-museum, we saw an ATM and it occurred to us the fully costumed woman behind the counter may have been an actual bank teller.

We wandered into another place meant to commemorate history effectually, this time very clearly stated a Visitors center. There was a beautifully painted carriage and some knick-knacks. The lady at the front asked me if she could help and I told her I didn’t know. I wandered into another room and a jovial man asked me if I was taking the gold rush experience. I asked him what it cost and he redirected me to the lady who tried to help earlier. She explained there was the Gold Rush Experience for $10, the Underground tour for $15, or we could do both for $20. They sounded like a great deal to me and I was about to forget my stomach, but Erica wasn’t, so we excused ourselves, and the lady bid us adieu with a recommendation for the District. We wandered a bit until we found it, and checked out their menu. Erica ordered a croissant with some tots. I am not quite a fan of breakfast and I didn’t want to pay $10 for a bowl of fruit, so I nibbled on her tots.

We were starting to hit a wall, so we tried to get in contact with some friends to see if we could stay with them, but they were out of town. Out of curiosity, I looked up if Hostelling International had a location in Sacramento, and they did. Oh boy, did they! I see the words “victorian mansion” and switch over to the image search to see a gorgeous pale blue mansion, with some pretty swank decor inside. We abandon any plans to meet up with friends for a place to stay, and book a night in the mansion with private rooms for about $100 total. We could have gone for the much cheaper option of a group room for about $30 each, but the private room meant we didn’t have to worry about stuff or people as much.

The next few hours were dedicated to keeping us awake, because at this point we had both been awake for about 22 hours. We continued to snake our way through Old Sacramento, and discovered this costume mansion (so many mansions!), Evangeline’s. I got distracted talking to a girl rallying donations for the ACLU outside and Erica explored the first level. After I made my donation, we wandered through the first level, which was like a really classy Spencer’s (as if Spencer’s could ever be classy). The upper levels bore a pretty extensive range of costumes. On the second floor were my favorites: steampunk, victorian, and 1920s. Oh, those flapper costumes were very tempting and very inexpensive. Truth be told, I got lost among all the costumes. There were so many. It was a little heavenly. We kept discovering stairways and new alcoves full of designs. The top floor bore a few more flamboyant and ambiguous costumes, with a huge display of wigs and makeup. And above that stairway was a door to nowhere, and another stairway to nowhere with a Jessica Rabbit mannequin guarding the way.

We left the costume mansion and made our way past more candy stores and many empty businesses. We hopped back in the car and stopped at Rite Aid so Erica could get some bug cream, and she came back out and said “so there’s a TARDIS on 2nd and 61st.”

Of course, we made our way over. We were so perplexed for five minutes, because 1) there are two intersections of 2nd and 61st and 2) neither one had a TARDIS. We drove down 61st and found no TARDIS. We drove down one of the 2nd streets and found no TARDIS. Just as we were convinced we’d been lied to, I spot a more promising patch of blue down the other 2nd street and we make a beeline for it. We hop out of the car and pull open the doors and the TARDIS is indeed bigger on the inside – a little library. We look through the books and Erica spots one called “Literary Feasts.” I exchange it for a literary feast I kept in the back of my car – a collection of Shakespearean Comedies.

Satisfied with our expedition, we rack the internet for where to go next before our energy dies out. Erica finds a house designed by an art teacher called the Dragon House, which bears the title of something to see from both Atlas Obscura and Weird California. We drive by it and want to take pictures, but they’re working on the house and we were too tired to be awkwardly interactive with people just living their lives. At this point, energies have died immensely and we take a nap. The area is very safe, and we only need to kill an hour before the hostel will let us check in.

3pm rolls around and we pull into the hostel. The clerk is kind and helps us to parking ($6 for the private lot), and then finishes checking us in and shares the rules. He helps us out and gets us a cheaper private room, #30 – the Lucky Strike. The room is at the top of the servants’ stairs. It’s about the size of the room I have at home, with a single bed and a double bed, a chair, and a nightstand. The beds are wire framed. It’s not entirely Victorian, but it’s not the modern stack the group rooms have. Either way, the downstairs is comfortable and a tad luxurious, with the parlor set up with a Victorian aesthetic. We’re pretty content. So content, that we pass out for 4 hours.

When we wake up, we eat some of the food I’d brought along for the ride, and look up what we could do now that it’s 9pm. I take a little bit longer to eat, and spend my time eavesdropping on a conversation some of the other hostelers are having. A couple of them are truck drivers, or one used to be and one had only been on the road a year. They briefly squabble about the impact unions have had on driving for better or worse before the more seasoned driver explains that it is for the better, and to prevent anyone being taken advantage of and to extend the years the drivers can work. Oh, and they also talk about how this hostel used to be a funeral home, and then the seasoned driver says the following: “I’ve been watching those videos lately where everyone comes together for a picture and they take the picture and get it developed and there’s someone standing at the edge of the photo…. but nobody knows who they are.”

Erica and I have been hoping for ghosts – me rather fruitlessly. I don’t believe in ghosts but I love other people’s excitement and fear of them. I hear the woman of the group discuss how no, wearing as much makeup as she does isn’t going to put toxins in her body. I’m a little confused by the conversation until I hear her talk about how the dress takes so much longer to make, and I piece together a memory of a living statue preparing for her day that we’d seen in Old Sacramento. I even took a short video of her earlier. Amused by the revelation that I was now eavesdropping on the living statue, I packed up my laptop and went back to the room to figure out where were going next.

Erica finds a place called the Dive Bar, which features mermaids in tanks, and so obviously we were going there. She pauses to make a call to her mom to brag about the find, and this is the closest thing we get to anything ghostly the entire time: her mother picks up, exclaims “Sweetie!” and her voice immediately cuts out and is replaced by a waving bass buzz. Erica tries to call her back, but the line is unavailable.

Is it a ghost?

A minute later, she manages to call her mom, and it turns out her phone had died. So close! At least something dead was involved.

After that, we make our way over to K street and find a long line of people outside the very reserved facade. We show our IDs, the bouncer takes our picture to match the ID, and we entered. We pushed our way through a confusing mess of people who were actually attempting to bump and grind while mermaids floated above the bar. In the tank was a mermaid and a merman and they swam through every few minutes after refreshing their lungs. Their thing seemed to be twirling about and flirting with each other, I suppose to get the hormones moving in the patrons. It was pretty, but I’ve been spoiled by a private education of professional mermaids. We had our fill, and made our way out to discover we were hungry.

Next door to the Dive Bar was a place called Pizza Rock, which also had a bouncer. We were seated fairly quickly, and given menus. The menus were made of old beaten up vinyls, with the main spread on the album and the extra bits on the vinyl itself. It was pretty neat. Erica was delighted by the Eddie Muenster pizza, and me by the Artichoke Joe. Neither of us got either pizza – she got a prize-winning margherita which they only sell 76 of per day, and I got the Garden Pizza. Her margherita was delicious, and my garden was satisfactory. We finished our meal, fairly satisfied with the day overall, and made our way back to the hostel, stopping briefly to pawn off my leftovers on a homeless man who was very eager to have them.

Oh, there’s also this weird statue in the park next to City Hall that we have no idea what it is for because the lights next to it were out. It’s very creepy, because at 12am it looks like people just frozen in time.

The Road to Hadestown: the Morning Fog

Friday night, Erica and I left southern California for our whimsically slightly-planned road trip. I was a bit delayed getting to her house, but we packed up as quietly as we could (trying not to alarm the doggo) and started on our way to Sacramento (our first stop). As the I-5 alluded to our future, we remembered we had forgotten someone very important. We went back and forth on the issue, of whether it was right to call our friends at two in the morning to pick him up, but ultimately decided they enjoy our whimsy and made the call. We managed to get a hold of one of them to make sure the house was open for us.

We got there: the lights were off, the door was open. We petted the doggo, and took our prize.

[Liberace Photo]

The other thing we forgot – I had a cooler full of fresh fruit and veggies just waiting to decompose without proper storage, so we stopped by the 24 hr Ralphs and grabbed some ice. Liberace helped out.

[Liberace Ice Photo]

And after that, we were off. During the 6 glorious hours of night driving (it is the best), we ran into an exceptional amount of fog. We expected it to clear up after a couple of hours, but the fog went well into noontime. Being that I could barely see the surrounding areas, I didn’t want to stop for a potty break until we had gotten to Sacramento. As soon as we hit city limits, I looked up a Starbucks (I find their bathrooms are consistently more trustworthy than other establishments, and genderless, generally) and Waze detoured us about a mile off the freeway. As we were driving, I spotted a sign that said “Fairy Tale Town” and freaked out. Erica didn’t see it, and as soon as I got out of the bathroom, I went in search of this fabled land. I spotted another sign, and again, Erica didn’t see it. This pattern follows of the signs passing by before she sees them, and she begins to think I am imagining things.

That is, until we pull in to this absolutely gorgeous park. The mist envelopes a landscape of reds, yellows, and oranges so bright and foreign to ones used to a southern Californian park of evergreen and brown. I slow the vehicle as we pass by a set up for pony rides, feeling that we must be close, and certain that Fairy Tale Town can’t just be pony rides. As we continue on, I spot it – enshrined in a protective layer of green gates is this little town of fables. I park the car and jump out, to see a train with a red face, and behind that a giant’s sandaled foot. I run around spastically as I wait for Erica to get out of the car, and as I take it all in, I see this dense conglomeration of trees, flowers, herbs, and cobblestones before my eyes catch the sign “Rock Garden.”

Walking through that Rock Garden is like walking through the ethereal, magical experience Disney attempted to recreate with their Pixy Hollow presentation at Disneyland, except 100 times more authentic and more magical. The land was thick with moss and stone,  blocks of rock etched out the walkway, and trees free of their leaves stretched their branches out in all directions. Within its depths were bright magenta flowers and long grasses, with bluebirds and hummingbirds flitting between the trees and flowers.

We finally make our way out of the Rock Garden, taking in the expansive park, with its calm ponds and beautiful fountains. We pass by an amphitheatre begging to put on a production of Shakespeare in the Park.

Feeling the bite of the morning cold and losing circulation in our feet from the damp foray into the rock garden, we find the entrance to Fairy Tale Town, which was closed until 10am. Feeling the end of this adventure, we stop for a few glamour shots with Liberace, and hop back in the car.

As we exit the park, the houses that passed alongside us echoed a history that is hard to find in southern California, and impossible to find in Orange County. We could not comprehend how gorgeous the falling leaves were – a sight we could only relate to through bishoujo anime or Stephen King adaptations. The leaves were bigger than our heads and so multitudinous that if no one ever raked, Sacramento would surely be buried in their litter. Piles of leaves lay outside every house, and for a southern Californian who only ever interacted with leaf piles at grandma’s house, I had to jump into them, dampness be damned. I regret nothing.

We took advantage of the spooky morning mist and hit up a row of cemeteries in an effort to find the Old City Cemetery, which houses the oldest graves in Sacramento.

Our first attempt took us into the Masonic Lawn Cemetery, and we found some neat graves there. Way in the back is an Asian couple born before 1800 who died 90 years later, but got pretty darn close to a full century. We found a couple of people who died too soon to be dated, whose life was only marked as “baby.” Many of the graves near the back died around the 1920s at the latest, but towards the center of the Masonic Lawn there were some whose deaths were before the turn of the century. Erica was drawn to the little graves, which turned out to be infantrymen. Directly next to the infantrymen was a plot laid out for what had to be a general, with a massive relief of a military leader on a horse. It seemed so strange to me that people should die for the same cause and be remembered so differently.

We stumbled our way over towards the left, and ended up in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, which we didn’t realize until we moved our car over and discovered we had to enter an entirely different gate to get there. We drove through and found a lot of mausoleums. Lots of families with some real money, I guess. A good portion of the graves in this cemetery were newer, with the oldest we could find dying in the 1920s.

At this point, we wanted to go explore the part of the Masonic Lawn cemetery that we had missed out on – much further to the right. It seemed to be a series of gardens. We had initially avoided it as there were a lot of workmen cleaning the place up and landscaping, but our curiosity got the better of us. There were no roads that we could see to get that far over, so we parked on a right-most street and began walking over.

Immediately, we saw how much older this side of the cemetery was. Gravestones lay in pieces, markings were rubbed away by the test of time, and statues were losing shape. Erica hopped from statue to statue, admiring the work. More mausoleums lay this way, grander and more elegantly designed. Many of them had gates that were easier to look into. As we got further into the cemetery, we realized the gardens we saw were built over graves. We breathed in deep the smells of lavender, sage, mint, and freshly mown grass. We found a memorial to the pioneers, and some elaborate monuments built in their honour.

What was truly interesting about the graves in this cemetery, as opposed to ones I’ve been to on the East Coast or closer to home, is how important it was to those who died to remember where they were from. We are so used to seeing old gravestones commemorating someone as “mother,” “husband,” “son,” “wife,” “daughter,” for their love, or for their spirit. But the people who died in these cemeteries by and large were travelers and pioneers, transplants from all over the world who came to Sacramento to try their luck in a harsh world. People came from all over the United States, all over Europe, from India, from China, from the Middle East, from Greece, from Russia. They were all represented in the cemetery.

Erica and I split paths at some point, with her taking more care to look at statues and me taking more care to read the gravestones off the beaten path. We made our way back to the car, driven by a growing hunger, and stopped by at one last grave before departing the departed.

Adventure Awaits

On Friday, I leave for Canada.

That is to say, I leave for Canada by way of Portland and San Francisco and whatever that small area is they filmed Twin Peaks in. I have a lot of anxiety around the trip – mostly around the snow. The last time I drove in a snowy climate, it’s when I lived in New York. One time I drove 7 hours straight through a blizzard with no mishaps, and only weeks after that I ended up driving 3 hours in a blizzard. I love bad weather. But when that happened, I was driving stick.

I love spontaneity. I love just going with things. I think it’s incredibly necessary to creative momentum to get outside of one’s normal life. To expand what one’s normal life means. Trips like this are difficult, they require a precise amount of planning with a lot of buffer for spontaneity.

We have a guideline, I just sit here three days before we depart, working out the details of what could go wrong so that I can be a little more free when it comes time to drive.

Endings Are Scary

I am not the kind of person who is good at ending things. I have a hard drive full of unfinished stories, and the last major relationship I was in, I knew it should have ended at least six months before it became more than a necessity to end.

For the last two years I have worked for a company that has done a lot of good for the people we care for, but that doesn’t do as much good for the people who toil daily to take care of its clients. At least one year ago, I first said “I should quit.” I had a lot of issues maintaining my ability to be creative and work full time taking care of recovering addicts – and at that time, I was working the graveyard shift.

The night used to be my inspiration. It used to be the quiet time, when I was responsible to no one and able to do anything. I worked graveyard for a year and a half, which ruined that feeling. I was responsible, I had to make sure people were alive, and I had to make sure they weren’t getting drunk or high. My body began to deteriorate along with my creative spirit, and in March, they worked with me to adjust to a life with daylight. I’ve been working in the daytime for 7 months, and it has helped in some ways and hindered. It is almost impossible for me to get things done because my schedule is too severe for my brain. But these were inconveniences I could have bore if the cost was worth the benefit. It just wasn’t.

I love my coworkers, and I think every woman who steps through our door trying to get sober is so worthy of life and love and hope. But I can’t work for a company that doesn’t care about its employees. I tried for over two years, and I’m done.

So as of November 3rd, I’ll be down my principle form of making money. And it’s funny – I think about this as if I am not going to have a source of income, but in truth, I have at lest two other ways I make money: children’s parties and bail bonds. I am incredibly fortunate that my mom has agreed to help me stay on my feet for a month.

My question now is – do I have what it takes to figure my own way out, or do I have to commit to another job that will suck away my creativity?

I wish I was one of those people who had the drive to work full time and create full time. I don’t know how to do that. I’m maybe too spoiled, or maybe I just don’t need creativity bad enough, but I need time to create.

I am terrified of my vices. I am terrified that I am going to give in to the depression that lurks at the edge of everything I do. I am terrified that a month will pass and even with time I will have created nothing. I will have finished nothing.

I am working very hard to make sure that isn’t my story. I was able to finish this one, I will finish another.

Bubbles Brewing

Last night I had my first true rehearsal for the Magic School Bus parody due to my schedule conflicts and the fact that my character is only in parts of the show. It also happened to be the first rehearsal where we had the full cast, which was super exciting to meet the 3 people who hadn’t been cast when we had our read-through. We worked through a couple of the songs and I got to work on my solo. I love this cast – they’re all really funny and good to work with.

Meanwhile, I’m prepping sound for the live show of Tales of Passing Fantasy and editing together the lines I’ve received for the next episode. It’s a lot of work and I’m juggling working party gigs in addition to my actual job now as well, not to mention sending angry letters to congress because who doesn’t do that now?

I’m really excited to have these shows to work on, because without them, without something good to create, I’d probably be going crazy with the world in the state it is in.

The Handmaid’s Tale


Literally everyone I know is talking about it.

Rightfully so. It’s amazing. The first time I watched the first 3 episodes, I cried. A lot. It all felt so personal and so real and so horrifying. And I’m mad at them for casting the cutest little girl as Hannah. ALSO. SAMIRA WILEY. SAMIRA WILEY! AHHHH!!!!!!


Recently, I rewatched the episodes they’ve released – I have a friend staying with me who does not have the privilege to watch it at home. And as I watched it, I could not get over how concise everything is. How every bit of the show is so perfectly articulated.

The opening shot alone deserves all kinds of awards – that follow-shot of the car. Another one that really sticks out to me – as someone who almost became a cinematographer – is that scene in the hospital when (spoilers!) the woman steals June’s baby. I mean – it really appeals to so many of my brain-sections. The direction in it is fantastic, the acting, the cinematography. That kind of shot – most filmmakers nowadays cheap out and do a handheld follow shot. But that shot is pristine, like much of the show. It carefully follows June as she wakes up, runs into Luke, hears the alarms, sees the dead nurse, finds the woman with her baby – IT IS ALL ONE SHOT. IT BLOWS MY MIND. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST CAREFULLY CRAFTED SINGLE-SHOT TAKES I HAVE EVER SEEN. So I’d like to give them another fake award for that shot. Because wow. My friend said after – it’s almost like a video game. And she’s right – it feels first person, like you’re there experiencing it – without the cheapened shaky-cam. Every person in this show is a true god-damned artist.

I guess, before I see the next episode – the other part of the first three that really stood out to me is the cookie. I did a lot of thinking about it – because at first it seems as if June does maybe want that cookie – especially after the comment about real coffee when she enters, but there’s also the awkward tension of neither June nor Serena Joy wanting any part of the interaction. And it’s really interesting to think about what was going through June’s head as she made her way to the bathroom, the sweet, light flavor of the macaron sitting in her mouth after what are probably months or years of this derisive subjugation. How the blandly saccharine taste is a perfect reminder to her of Gilead. Macarons are gorgeous to look at, very cutely crafted – just as much of Gilead is made to affect idyllic aesthetics. And too, interesting – she spits it out, gently makes sure all that was in her mouth makes it down the drain, and leaves the rest of the cookie sitting on the sink, slightly crushed and partially eaten.

I read in some interview that they weren’t going to keep in June’s smile after spitting out the cookie. It is so necessary. She seems so passively against everything for much of the show until then. But that cookie was defiance not for anyone but her. For her to say no to the macaron – to deny herself the small pleasure of eating a dumb cookie, to deny herself the small relief of the forced nicety… It was a moment of strength, absolutely.

I love that everything in Gilead is so beautiful. I love it because people have this deep fascination with equating beauty to goodness. I grew up in and live in southern California, right next to the beach. That’s the world I grew up in – beautiful, but fucked. I’m starting to read the book, and I’ve noticed they’ve beatified things even more – the Commander and his wife are more beautiful in the show. She, unless I missed it, bears no cane. I’m normally against this, but I think it makes sense in this world, for her two captors to be beautiful as the rest of it.

One thing that worries me – and maybe it will less as the show continues and I get further into the book – is the relationship between June and the Commander and June and the driver. I think, at least so far in the show, June seems cognizant of the power imbalance between her and the driver. Ugh, and his white-knighting is gross. I think it’s supposed to be gross. And I’m hoping it’s supposed to be gross. The Commander, too, is almost sympathetic because he can’t bed June without connecting to her. But he isn’t. He’s still in power. And it’s still rape. I’m really interested to see how she uses this against him…


Tales of Passing Fantasy

So I’ve been all out of sorts the last few weeks trying to juggle work, ren faire, the play I’m in, the movie we’re shooting, and starting a new podcast.

But most of all, I’m proud to present, finally, Episode 1 of Tales of Passing Fantasy. So far, all the reviews we’ve gotten back from our listeners have been overwhelmingly positive. Also, time to humble-brag, I guess – but I did almost all the editing for the show in about 3-4 days, with maybe 2-3 hrs on the first few days and 8 on the last. So I’m pretty proud of that. Like a lot. I love the look of pure awe on my co-creators faces when they think about that. It’s something special.

I used to edit together skits for an acting competition I ran with my friend Dylan Collins in 2009, and it really trained me how to work quickly. We had to get work out on a weekly basis – or at least, that’s how Dylan wanted it – with much contention between the both of us. He’s passed now, from cancer, but I’m really thankful for him for stuff like this – the audio drama world has been such a huge part of my life due to him and another friend, Rene Christine Jones, who I still rely on for friendship and conspiring. Working with both of them on different projects changed my life. Like, legitimately – I wouldn’t have the friends I have today or the confidence I have today without the two of them. They’re probably the two most influential people of my adult life. My entire trajectory changed because of them.

So thanks, guys. I dedicate this first episode to you.

You can also find us on iTunes, Stitcher, and YouTube.

A Week of Inspiration

It’s been a pretty swell couple of days. Last night we had Day 1 of recording for Tales of Passing Fantasy, covering the voices for the Long Play and bits and pieces of the rest of it. That morning, I’d edited together a dialogue-free piece called “Reverse Entropy” that will be in the episode and I was pretty jazzed about it – Talon and the rest listened to it too and were pretty pleased. After recording was done, I zoomed off to LA to celebrate Rachelle’s birthday with karaoke at Sardo’s. We went a couple of weeks ago and the KJ really loved us. This time, no less. “I love you guys, I love you guys” he said over and over. There was another group, these two girls – one came over to us “Okay, what is it, show choir, theatre, what are you?” Apparently she used to be in show choir and she could smell the music nerd on all of us. Obviously we’re friends now.

I came home and edited together a draft of a promo for Tales. We really want something we can show people and get people hyped about the show with other than our word that it’s gonna be great. I mean, the episode is gonna be out in 12 days but momentum is always important. After too long of a hiatus from the audio world, this is exactly what I needed to get back into it. And I am stoked beyond reason.

You can tell, because it’s almost 6am and I haven’t gone to sleep yet. All week I’ve had insomnia from too much inspiration.