“actors are agents of change…”


As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to act.

I recall staying up late to watch movies on TV with my mom – GYPSY and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS are the two that stand out in my memories (and if that doesn’t explain a hell of a lot about me, I don’t know what does). I was mesmerized by the ability of human beings like myself to create entirely new people. It thrilled me.

Of course, later I found about writers, directors, and all of the other amazing crew people who work hard to create other worlds. But that initial exposure to movies drew me to actors. I knew I wanted to do what they did. I didn’t know how, but damn it, I was going to figure it out.

Continue reading ““actors are agents of change…””

a real, honest-to-goodness hike?

Yes, I’m a bad blog mommy. I’ve long been a bad blog mommy. This should be no surprise to anyone. Hell, many of the links on the right are almost a decade old. I really should update them. Anywho. Moving on.

So after many years of not hiking (unless one wants to count urban hiking, i.e. walking around the city – which I do), last year I went on a hike with my friend Sarriah (who is my usual weekend urban hiking buddy). I couldn’t quite finish the Eaton Canyon hike to the falls due to slippery rocks, but we got pretty close before we had to turn back.Unfortunately, I have no photos to commemorate the day, unlike the hike I took with my friend Boychik on this past Saturday, this time on the Bear Canyon Loop Trail, not far from Lake Elsinore. Again, we couldn’t finish, but this time was due to time constraints – we started a little too late, it was a challenging hike, even for Boychik, and we didn’t want to risk being out there when night fell. We got in about 2.5 miles, so that was fine. (Just as well, as I’d already run 3.72 miles earlier that day due to my Zombies, Run! 5K training app.)

This time, however, I got some photos!

This is the wide part of the trail.
This is the wide part of the trail.

This part of the trail is a bit more narrow. And there are rocks.
This part of the trail is a bit more narrow. And there are rocks.

Lookit my dirty shoes perched on a rock! I need new shoes.
Lookit my dirty shoes perched on a rock! I need new shoes.

Moar Rocks!
Moar Rocks!



Setting sun shining on the mountains.
Setting sun shining on the mountains.

Slowly setting sun.
Slowly setting sun.

Sun almost gone! Looks like a sand painting.
Sun almost gone! Looks like a sand painting.

The next day Sarriah and I embarked on our almost-weekly urban hike. Our goal each week is to find a coffee shop we’ve never tried before, hopefully in an unfamiliar part of the city. We then agree to meet somewhere about 1-2 miles away from the coffee place and walk there, then walk back. Sometimes we take the MetroRail, sometimes we each drive to our meeting place, and sometimes we’re just lazy/tired from a long week and decide to stick close to either of our homes. Most of the time we try to be adventurous. We swap weeks as to who finds the place and decides where to meet, which helps to vary the places we find, since I tend to find stuff in the San Gabriel Valley or near Metro Gold Line stops (what with me living in Pasadena), whereas she will often find places near her close-to-downtown-LA neighborhood or in Hollywood, Koreatown, etc.

This week she chose the Beachwood Cafe, a place we’d walked by before, but had never been to. We met at her place, drove to the northern part of Los Feliz, then walked up Beachwood Drive. It made for a nice – and somewhat steep, but not as steep as the hike the previous day – walk, lasting over five miles total.

This is the view from Beachwood Drive. And no, you can't get to the sign from this road. It takes some serious hiking to get to the sign.
This is the view from Beachwood Drive. And no, you can’t get to the sign from this road. It takes some serious hiking to get to the sign.

Welcome to Hollywoodland!
Welcome to Hollywoodland!

This is the original Hollywoodland Real Estate office. It is currently owned by Hollywoodland Realty.
This is the original Hollywoodland Real Estate office. It is currently owned by Hollywoodland Realty.

Beachwood Cafe Menu. Aren't you excited?
Beachwood Cafe Menu. Aren’t you excited?

Pretty good meal, but I had to ask for a second piece of toast. What?
Pretty good meal, but I had to ask for a second piece of toast. What?

Butterflies in the window of Beachwood Cafe.
Butterflies in the window of Beachwood Cafe.

This is ye olde timey time switch. I have no idea what that is, but I liked the look of it.
This is ye olde timey time switch. I have no idea what that is, but I liked the look of it.


And when returning back to Sarriah's car, we ducked into a used everything shop. CDs, DVDs, books, LPs. There may have been cassettes and 8 track tapes somewhere, but it wasn't obvious.
And when returning back to Sarriah’s car, we ducked into a used everything shop. CDs, DVDs, books, LPs. There may have been cassettes and 8 track tapes somewhere, but it wasn’t obvious.

Sunday was finished with hanging out with CuteFilmNerd and Boychik, showing CFN how to use Outlook to its fullest potential in preparation of a new job assignment, introducing him to The Slaw Dogs and getting dessert at Real Food Daily. A very busy – yet physically productive – weekend, all told.

*grumble grumble*

Still alive, still kicking, back at my WordPress.com blog because I got distracted at the end of January (someone must’ve been shining a nickle in my eyes – that or a nice fluff of pocket lint) and didn’t renew my hosting. So anything that I wrote in January is gone (it’s a good thing I wasn’t updating all that often), but I was smart enough to backup everything at the end of December, so not much is lost. I had my old host point the DNS for my domain to my WordPress.com blog, so this is where I’ll be for awhile. At least until I get off my ass and sign up with Dreamhost again. I’ve been with them before and liked them quite a bit, plus my friend Michelle is with them and will get credit if I say she referred me, so it’s win-win!

Except for losing my January entries.

Anywho, part of the reason that I let my blog lapse was my stupid depression. While things had been going pretty well, especially with HotScienceGuy (seriously, I am constantly amazed by how fantastic he is), I noticed that I was getting very easily wound up over stupid things while having difficulty giving much of a damn about anything of importance. I realized that my Prozac wasn’t working as well as it had previously, which made me nervous because the thought of having to stop using a medication that I knew didn’t give me any side effects and move on to another one which was unknown to me was not a pleasant thought. When I ran out of Prozac in March, I decided to stay off it about a month, then refill the prescription and start taking it again, just to see if I could kickstart things again. I’ve been taking it again for a little over ten days now, so I’ll see how I feel in another couple of weeks. If it doesn’t seem to be doing me any good, I’ll talk to my doctor to see what she recommends.

While getting back on Prozac, I read a blog entry by Keith Wilson, the husband of my lovely friend Kim. Keith has been battling bipolar disorder for most of his life, but didn’t realize it until last year, when he went through a major breakdown. He’s been chronicling his struggle and journey and, while I haven’t followed him every step of the way, I have been reading and catching up when I can.

Back to the blog post – he wrote a sentence which leapt out at me and slapped me in the face:

In a nutshell, I really don’t give a shit about anything. When I do, it’s forced.

A big part of my depression is my brain racing around in circles about all the things I should be doing that I’m not, which digs me further into my depression. But not being arsed to care about things that are important to me and mine – while hating myself for not being arsed to care – is another huge component. When I can rouse myself enough to let people know that I really do care on some level, it’s very difficult and takes way more effort than it should, which brings out the self-loathing and, yes, burrows me deeper into that gawd-awful hole.

The thing is, I know my depression isn’t anywhere near as bad what other people have to suffer. As in many parts of my life, I’ve been relatively lucky in the Mental Illness Lottery – if anyone with any kind of mental illness can be considered “lucky.” But, as Keith wrote in an entry on Wednesday (which happened to be my 46th birthday):

If I’ve learned one thing since this journey started it’s that there are millions of people out there suffering the same thing. Whether it’s Anxiety issues, Panic, Depression, or any of the multitude of other conditions collectively labelled under mental illness, I’m just one in a million. My friends all know someone who suffers, some in silence, some are very vocal. I tend to be one of the vocal ones. Yet I feel alone.

That’s the issue with many of us suffering from depression or any kind of mental illness. Even when I know I’m not alone, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. I feel like I suffer it in the dark and maybe that’s where I should fight it as well.

But I don’t have to.

Not only do I have friends who are going through the same thing and aren’t afraid to talk about it, I have friends who are there to support me and help me, if I would just allow them to do so. They may not suffer from mental illness themselves, but they know others who do, whether it be friends or family members. They may not know what I’m going through exactly, but they are compassionate human beings who understand that my struggle with life is just different from theirs and doesn’t make me a lesser person.

And I have HotScienceGuy.

There is this fear that, the more he sees what a mess I can sometimes be, the more he’ll realize that I’m just too much to deal with and will disappear. But that hasn’t happened. If anything, he’s shown me time and time again how much he loves me and that my issues aren’t going to scare him away.

While my past boyfriends have been good people, I have to say, I really lucked out this time.

I’m trying to think of a pithy way to wrap up this post, but nothing comes to mind (proof positive that I really need to work out my writing muscle). So just a huge shout-out to my awesome friends and to my fantastic boyfriend. In so many ways I’m a very fortunate person. Thank you to all of you.

fair winds and following seas, dear friend…

This morning I received a shocking phone call: a good friend and fellow UCFer had died unexpectedly over the weekend at far too young an age. She was one of the non-blog-having members of our merry band and one who generally kept to herself in all online things that weren’t UCF related, so I’ll respect her wish for privacy and not reveal her name here. But she was a lovely person, full of humor and love and light, and she leaves behind a beloved mother, a loving brother and sister-in-law and many bereft friends. She will be sorely missed.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Dear Friend.

luck be a lady…

…and she is very much being a lady to me.

First of all there’s the whole HotScienceGuy thing. We’ve been dating for less than a month, but it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t been longer. And this past weekend, where we spent nearly forty-eight hours together, has only strengthened our connection. (And yes, we did spend some of that time away from my apartment and in public, though we got there early and left before the lovely ladies of Seabirds showed up – though I did get to try Frankenstand’s new menu item, which is soooo very good.)

Second, once again I have won Janiece’s Free Shit Friday, this time the prize being her amazing Awesome Apple Butter of Awesomeness. Yippee! This is the fourth time I’ve won Janiece’s homemade goodies (previous prizes have been strawberry jam, raspberry jam and blackberry jam), but, while I have loved every jar I’ve been sent, none of her delectable jams can compare with her apple butter. This is, perhaps, the perfect note upon which to end my reign as Yummy Goodies Winning Queen. I think I shall have to have to fold up my Free Shit Friday entry sheet and put it away in the attic so that others may have a chance.

Third, last night I received an email from Quarrygirl. Turns out that my entry in her Mendocino Farms Pre-Opening Party Contest/Sweepstakes/Whichever had been randomly chosen, so HotScienceGuy and I will be attending tonight, on World Vegan Day (HSG is vegetarian). WooHoo!

Oh, Lady Luck, thank you for being so kind to me. It is very much appreciated.

but there is this gap…

Last month I linked to a word graphic which quoted Ira Glass. It talked about The Gap that all beginning writers are confronted with – being people of good taste in reading, they aspire to be as good as the writers they admire, but, being new, are frustrated by the lackluster writing that all beginning writers put out. And so they quit.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not just beginning writers who run into the brick wall that is The Gap. Rusty writers bust their nose on that damned wall too. Rusty writers such as myself.

For way too long I barely wrote. I lost my creative self and didn’t know how to find it again. Now that it’s coming back to me now (along with visions of lightning, billowing curtains and a motorcycle crash), I look at things I’ve begun and get frustrated by how…not that good they are. I can’t even find the throughlines of novels I’ve started in the past. Where was I going with this story? Why is this character the way she is? Is this even interesting? And so I close my word processor and go back to surfing the internet or I stretch out on my loveseat to watch TV, Edison curled up on the armrest above my head.

On Saturday I went on one of my weekly long walks with Sarriah and during the mandatory coffee break we talked about many things, as we often do. Amongst our topics was writing. She’s always managed to keep writing, no matter what, and while I’ve always known that her perseverance is largely due to her being much more disciplined with writing than I am, I still wondered how she managed to keep at it and how I could find my inspiration again.

“Carol, do you want to write?”


“Then write. Don’t wait for inspiration. Just do it.”

Simple words. And yes, much more was said, about my overwhelming need to write something unique and how I’m letting that stop me from writing at all, along with so many other words. But the final point of it all is that, if I’m going to write at all, I just have to start again. And keep going once I start.

And thus is the genesis of a new section to my blog: writing prompts…

It is where I choose to place the results of my writing exercises. Some may be very good. Some may be very bad. And some may be very average. There will be fiction and personal memories and who knows what all.

I hope they provide entertainment to y’all.

Photo Scavenger Hunt: Yellow Submarine Edition

The inestimable Michelle posts a photo scavenger hunt every Thursday. And I, like a very bad girl, have participated only once, back in the days before I restarted my blog. I thought, since I seem to take photos damn near every day now, I might as well try the scavenger hunt again. And I got most of the photos on Thursday night, but two more were eluding me. I finally got them yesterday, so here is my entry!

(Edited 9/5/11 @ 12:27am: Two of the “something else yellow” photos I originally included somehow got cut out.)

Yellow flower

Yellow vehicle

Something else yellow (I had no idea how many “somethings else yellow” I would find. The first few were gotten at JPL.)

From whence Silversun Pickups got their name.
From whence Silversun Pickups got their name.

The ladies room at the Grauman Chinese Theater.
The ladies room at the Grauman Chinese Theater.

Summer water

MacArthur Park
MacArthur Park



Me after an hour plus workout.
Me after an hour plus workout.

hey, nice rocket…

The awesome Kate Baker!This weekend has been quite the busy weekend (photos to be posted soon), so I didn’t spend much time on the innerwebs. But I did pop on long enough to find out that the astoundingly awesome Kate Baker – my friend and fellow UCFer – won a Hugo Award for her stellar work as director for the Clarkesworld magazine podcast (video of the Hugo Awards can be seen here). W00t!

Congratulations, Kate! I’m so happy and so proud, I could burst my seams!

feelin’ the peer pressure…

So, there’s this here list being passed around these here interwebs: NPR’s Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books. I voted in the original survey, surprised that I had read as many books as I had – as much as I love science fiction, I’ve read precious little of it. And once I cast my votes, I thought that my duty was done.

But then the final list came out and all my UCF friends started posting their selections on their blogs, with Michelle doing the instigation, as she does. So now I’m feeling the pressure, the invisible Afterchool Special, “C’mon, do it! All the cool kids are posting their selections on their blogs! If you don’t do it, you won’t be cool and we’ll all sneer at you and laugh at you and tell the other cool kids that you still wet your bed.”

Well, I can’t have that. I mean, I haven’t wet my bed in years and I don’t even have to wear Depends any more. I can’t have all that hard work dashed!

So here is NPR’s top 100 list, with my notations marked thusly:
bold for books I’ve read
italicized for my personal top ten
(Unlike Michelle and a few others, I won’t be marking books I’ve started and abandoned, mainly because I have a thing against abandoning books – I will finish even some of the crappiest books, such as Wild Animus or The Architects of Hyperspace. Even if I haven’t gotten around to finishing a book just yet, I will eventually pick it up again, else it will nag on my conscience until it’s done.)

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
(Note: Douglas Adams. I love the entire series. If I could have his British snarky, off-the-wall baby, I would. ‘Nuff said.)

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin

6. 1984, by George Orwell
(Note: this was the first book to genuinely blow my mind. I graduated from high school in 1984 and was curious about all the hubbub surrounding the book, so I picked up in my senior year. Once I finished it, I sat staring at a wall for a good fifteen minutes, going over what I had just read. I try to reread it every few years.)

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
(Note: I’m not a fantasy fan, but I was already a huge fan of the movie. I love the book almost as much.)

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
(Note: As soon as I finished 1984, I immediately checked Animal Farm out of the library and devoured it in one day. An amazing book.)

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
(Note: My first Vonnegut book. Instantly I became a devout fan.)

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
(Note: This barely missed my top ten list. Love the book. Plus it’s just a seminal piece of work.)

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
(Note: I read the first book, but didn’t continue the series. Just not my cup of tea.)

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
(Note: I also love this book, but it just missed being on my top ten list.)

25. The Stand, by Stephen King

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
(Note: Wonderful, icky, creepy and disturbing as hell. There’s no way I could not love this book, even if I didn’t exactly enjoy it.)

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
(Note: Another book that barely missed out on my top ten list. So sad and disturbing, but so very wonderful.)

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
(Note: Heartbreaking and wonderful.)

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
(Note: This sat in my bookshelf for many years before I finally read it. So happy I finally did.)

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
(Note: My first hard science fiction book. Wow. Die-hard Niven/Pournelle fan ever since.)

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore

74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson

96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
(Note: This one hits close to home, as the building in which I work was destroyed in the book. Still a wonderful book.)

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

20/100. Not great, but still better than I thought. I have read other SF books, but they didn’t make the list. Needs more Philip K. Dick, for instance. And the little Heinlein that I have read (Job and
The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag
) didn’t make it. However, I now have a list of books to read…right after I read the many books that I currently own and haven’t read.

My SF book list pushers:

strolling down the river…

After work yesterday, I had planned to do about thirty minutes on the JPL basement treadmill, then realized that it might be best if I headed out earlier than later to participate in the Benefit for Benji that the proprietor of my favorite vegan hot dog cart- Frankenstand, really the only vegan hot dog cart that I know of – was having to help pay for his puppy’s spine surgery. Off I went to partake in a nice little meal:

Of a yummy vegan sausage with all the toppings:

The Witch with sauerkraut, baco bits, coleslaw, grain mustard, ketchup and veganaise
The Witch with sauerkraut, baco bits, coleslaw, grain mustard, ketchup and veganaise

And a nice chocolate raspberry cupcake by Amanda’s Bakery and Cafe:

Realizing that I had done precious little walking over the previous three days and that I wasn’t in the mood to go home just yet, I called up Sarriah, who wasn’t far away, and we met up in Los Feliz for a walk.

She had said she had a destination in mind, but wouldn’t reveal the details (though, to be fair, I didn’t press too hard beyond throwing out things I happened to see: “Is it the accordion school? We’re going to that rug hanging in the tree, aren’t we?”). The destination proved to be a portion of the Los Angeles River that runs through Atwater Village. And the first sight of the river to greet me was this:

It didn’t take long for me to become obsessed with photographing the sights of the concrete-lined river as night fell:

Apparently snowy egrets are known to hang out in the L.A. River. I saw one very early on, but before I could take a picture, it flew away, only a blur in my lens.
Apparently snowy egrets are known to hang out in the L.A. River. I saw one very early on, but before I could take a picture, it flew away, only a blur in my lens.

As we approached a bridge, Sarriah wondered aloud about our new location. I looked around…and recognized the entrance to the State Route 2 Highway that I use in my daily commute to work.

But I had never before noticed this lovely entrance to the L.A. River trail:

Nor the gate left open for river hikers:

Nor this intriguing bench just off a teeny tiny branch of the trail, near the bridge guardrail:

At this point, though, it was getting a little late and we were getting tired, so we opted to meander back to our cars through the residential neighborhoods of Atwater rather than tackle the other side of the river. And our meanderings led us past this cute driveway:

Los Angeles, where even your driveway is a STAH!
Los Angeles, where even your driveway is a STAH!

And this fascinating lamp post (in the yard of the driveway star):

Please don't eat us!
Please don't eat us!

Well, that was too much excitement for one night, so after arriving at our cars, we chatted for a little longer, then went on our separate ways.

I think I’m still tired…