Monday, April 14, 2008

The Artist Formerly Known as Surfjan

...Too depressing for his own good sometimes. But it's okay.

So Friday was Jennifer's birthday, so we went to the beach in Huntington. There was a strip mall and a flea market (that I unfortunately didn't have time to browse--but I will return!) near it. We ate at a delicious Mexican resteraunt called Wahoos--famous for their fish tacos apparently. I got the staple--quesadilla with beans and rice and lemonade.
Afterward, Kevin and I ran back to the car to get the kite, because we noticed how incredibly windy it was. I gave Jennifer the birthday cookies with car and dinosaur sprinkles, and we made our way to the beach, counting dogs and babies, for there certainly were a lot of them.
When we got down to the sand, the three bikini-clad girls lay out their towels and sat down. Kevin and I got the kite up in the air finally, much to the terror/relief of those who were nearby (like I said, it was windy...maybe people shouldn't set up their recliners in the middle of nowhere) and flew it for a while until I tugged a little too hard and it came tumbling down as the recliners tried to make themselves as small and impenitrable as possible.We walked back over to the group and watched Jackie flirt with Matt (our two resident alcoholics), who then decided to leave to look for the soccer ball fabled to be in Matt's car. We wanted to go look for shells, but decided to wait until Matt and Jackie got back so they'd know where we'd gone.
Ten years and one addition of Matt's apparently evil girlfriend later, they came back, soccer ball-less. We took off to the surf, minus the other chick whose name I can never remember (it might be Lauren). Amazingly, on our quest for seashells, the thing we came across the most of was ladybugs! They swarmed over the seaweed and strolled across the sand (and sometimes our feet). Kevin and Jennifer began to torment them. They decided their deeds were enough to get them into hell, but they didn't stop.
We did find lots of seashells. I picked up some driftwood and sea-stones too. I planned to incorporate them into some kind of decoration (more about that later).
We finally got back to the group after a million more lady bugs, seashells, and unexpected (yet inevitable) splashes up our legs from the ocean. We flew the kite one more time, letting Jennifer have a chance and offering it to the others, but I guess they were all too cool for school, since no one took us up on it. We ate cookies, watched Matt leave to escort his girlfriend to car, and decided it was time to leave since the birthday girl was leaving anyway.
Upon arriving back in Long Beach, I took my time in a nice, long, cool shower. I frowned a little at my new sunburn, but it wasn't too bad. After a nap and some pea soup and muffins, it was time to get ready for the spring formal! We wore our prom outfits from last year. Here's a picture of that in case you forgot/ never knew.
(Elias and Michaela are in it, but you get the idea.)
I think it's safe to say that that was a misnomer, because we definitely got the award for best dressed. But I guess that's the chance you take with a church dance in a lame young adult ward/stake. I'm just kidding, we're far from lame.
In any case, I got multiple comments from everyone on the beauty of my dress (:D), and Kevin was commented too. We didn't dance (no one was anyway, there were probably like 20 people even in the cultural hall). Instead, we went into the room adjacent and chatted with a couple people from our ward (brother and sister?) near the drink jiggers until people began to be perturbed at our blocking the way to the liquid refreshment, so we sat down at a table and joined an informal game of Taboo.
I have never played that game before, but it's now on my short list of favorite games. it was basically us taking turns listening to different people in the group try to describe the words on the card with no respect to the timer (until towards the end). It was hilarious and I'm pretty sure I was laughing more than I had in a while. We only planned on staying for an hour but ended up staying all three playing Taboo.
When we got back I immediately popped into bed. Saturday was going to be a big day after all!
It was a big day, but more than that, it was hot. Unnaturally hot, like 98 degrees in the middle of April. (Which it was)
So we eventually got every single chore done and I put my sea items into a nice glass vase to make an interesting and non-allergic centerpiece. Kevin's family, minus his mom and plus Heston, came up and over (to my place) and Kevin and I made them dinner. The reminants are actually still sitting on the counter (tells you how we live. Shameful). After dinner we went to the school to see L'Orfeo, an opera that Kevin has been excited about since the dawn of time. I didn't much care for the music when he played it for me so many times in the car, but I decided I'd give it a chance since he seemed to like it so much.
Let me tell you about L'Orfeo.
I'm not sure if it was the opera in general or just the CSULB rendition, but the only comment I had for it at the end was "That was dumb." My biggest disappointment was that they changed the ending too significantly to ignore. That is, instead of Orpheus (or Orfeo if you're speaking/singing Italian like they were) brooding his way to the hills of northern Greece, drawing with him all the men of the area and enraging their wives to the point of his violent murder (tearing him to bits and pieces as Maenids are wont to do), he simply laid down and cried. That's right. Not died. Then good ol' deus ex machina came down and took him up to Plympus (haha. I mean Olympus of course) with much song and dance.
The only thing I can say for the performance was that some of the dancing in Hades was cool. The spirits, including Eurydice, were confined in gauzy black sacks, giving them a globby appearance, which worked for making you feel like they were trapped down there. But you could see the zippers on the sacks, and every time someone moved their foot just so, an obnoxious SQWUAK would eminate, distracting from Orpheus' frowny singing and causing the occasional giggle.
Speaking of frowns, Orpheus had one on pretty much the whole time. That may have been because of his Cro-magnon appearance, but it made it hard to believe he had ever been happy in the first place. He was also a klutz (clutz?), constantly kicking the dancing shepherers/esses' feet by accident and making them stumble. In fact, he couldn't dance for himself, so they had a guy come in dressed like him that danced with Eurydice while the chorus sang about how wonderful it was that they were finally together, while the audience was wondering when Orpheus got a face lift, shrank four inches, and lost 45 pounds.
Another thing that really bothered me was the five people standing in the corner dressed in 50s cocktail party clothes, that later came in as various gods/ goddesses. I feel like they could've been dressed more appropriately for the time period, even for gods. I mean really, Orpheus didn't get a fancy cigarette holder or brandy glass when he became a god. Share the wealth.
After a painful and squirmy hour and a half, we were finally released and taken to Baskin' Robbins for a treat. A girl in my english class was working there and jokingly accused me of following her. Funny. Thomas and Heston turned it around and started joking that she was following me, which was funnier anyway. I guess you had to hear it. Anyway. Then they were going on about how it had taken five minutes for everyone in the opera to say one line, and how it might've been just effective if they had been singing their grocery lists. Needless to say, we all had a funny laugh.
Sunday was church, where I volunteered to help with face painting at the LDSSA booth at Kaleidoscope (a carnival-type event held at the university every spring), which will be fun. Kevin will be there for the Composer's Guild booth (which he is the Secretary of), so he won't miss me.
After church we started to go to a fireside we were supposed to sing it, but we were late, and Kevin forgot his wallet and wanted to turn around, so we didn't end up going.
When we got back home we read Greek myths and talked about how all the gods/etc were related. It was quite fun, but we had the front door open, and I think we annoyed my neighbors, because they huffingly shut their front door. Too bad for them.
Justina and Robert cam home and we talked about the Long-tailed Grass Lizards we got on Saturday morning.
(These are not ours, I haven't gotten the pictures developed yet)
I named mine Smee and Justina named hers Ruth (like the bible character). Robert fed them a ghostly white spider we saw creeping along the entertainment center and Smee snatched it right up. Ruth made a jab at Smee's mouth and got a leg, but Smee was the one licking his lips for some time afterward. I think they ate all the crickets I got them Saturday, so I'll have to get some more today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Associated Content?

So on my search for a part-time job (again) today, I found a site that "pays" for posts, on sports and politics mostly, but it isn't the pay that excited me. It was the idea that lots of people can read what I write and I get "exposure". Well, so I signed up and it was a lengthy process, but there were no deadlines and they didn't ask for any money or commitments or anything, and I do have to post like three articles before I can be considered for pay, but it should be fun.
I posted this tonight, and I'm actually rather proud of it, thank you very much. :D

Imagine my disappointment when I, someone who grew up surrounded by plants and animals, was banished to a dark, empty apartment for my first semester at Cal State Long Beach. Eventually the darkness subsided as I learned it was actually safe to open the blinds during the day, and a roommate and our combined eclectic collection of decoratory knick-knacks began to fill the blank spaces.

However, there was still an empty place in my soul—there was still no life in the apartment! So, I plotted to grow something potted. On my next venture back home to our fairly quiet country town near San Diego, I took a one-gallon pot and plenty of soil from my dad’s nursery supplies. It was growing up on his tiny commercial palm farm that sparked my ingrown desire to have something living to care for no matter where I was. I also filched some old seed packets that had been gathering dust for ages and, upon realizing that the old dead things might never grow, wandered around in the jungle of our yard looking for flowering plants with seeds to offer.

With my new stash in arms on the day of my return to Long Beach from the weekend, I feverishly threw the rest of my belongings to the side and got to work on my project. The daisy I had gotten my roommate for her birthday was sitting on the kitchen window sill in a brand new pot with too much new soil in it, still yellow and droopy-leafed, all the bright red flowers gone. It was my disappointment with the turnout of this plant that had inspired me to try once again, this time from scratch.

I poured the soil into the pot and patted it down firmly a few inches from the top like my father had taught me to do when planting seeds for his enterprise. I then sprinkled the seed packets one-by-one onto the surface and covered them with more dirt. Another firm pat and a little water from one of the glasses half full of water my roommate constantly leaves lying around, and the project was (for now) complete. I set the pot on top of the entertainment center and opened the blinds to let the last evening sunlight in. Hands on hips, I hoped more than anything the little seeds would sprout before my eyes and blossom, causing my happiness to bloom with it.

In reality, there was no sign of anything for two weeks. Finally, three little sprouts appeared. I yelled to my roommate to Come, look at this! but she was asleep as I recalled, so I sighed and got into the shower. I went to look at the pot again and lo and behold there were two more sprouts peeking their little noses above the dirt. Later my boyfriend came over and I proudly displayed my handiwork, explaining to him how the last to sprouts had grown while I was in the shower. He didn’t believe me, he said I just hadn’t seen them before, but I knew those little plants were special.

A few more sprouts occurred over the next few days, and soon there were no less than nine plants, a couple of inches tall. However, I began to notice a thin white mold covering the surface of the soil where the rim of the pot cast a shadow when the sun was up. Disgruntled, I texted my dad to ask what this was all about. He never answered because he isn’t the technological type. In any case, I felt my little plants were doomed because I remembered the thin white mold that had covered the leaves of my roommate’s daisy shortly before it began to die. However, they merely continued to grow, and when I went back home for spring break I knew they’d still be there when I got back.

I believe my dad coined the phrase “you’ve grown like weeds!” I don’t really, but I remember him saying that as soon as we popped out of the suburban returned from a road trip to my mom’s parents’ states away. I thought this was rather silly because all the weeds I knew seemed to always be very tall just before they were poisoned by my dad’s roundup wand. What it should have been was “you’ve grown like corn!” because every time I went somewhere for a while after planting seeds in our little vegetable garden, the corn was always inches ahead of the rest of the vegetables. Well, whatever they grew like, these plants had gone crazy by the time I got back from my break. They were nearly all a foot tall and had begun to weave in the air.

I excitedly deposited the little packet of plant food my mom had given me into the pot, along with a little packet of seeds I’d also picked up. I didn’t bother to bury them 1/16th of an inch like the package described because I didn’t want to further the journey for the other little seeds I hoped were growing like corn (or weeds) under the soil.

I also noticed upon my return that not only had the mold spread a little across the surface due to the lack of open blinds, but fruit flies had also taken up residence. I blew on the little pests, hoping they would find some other place to haunt, like the dying daisy, but they just swirled around my head before heading back to the moldy soil.

I rolled my eyes in frustration and got to work on my next project supposed to bring life into the apartment—a tank for frogs. The idea originated with my roommate, who said that there were so many dang flies, it would probably be the best investment we’d ever make. I pointed out the pet store by the local grocer’s carried frogs, so instead of buy them mail order like we’d seen in an ad I’d gotten, we opted for the more reliable choice. However, upon visiting the shop, I found that although the frogs themselves were fairly cheap, all the equipment was far from it. I decided that the old lighted fish tank I’d used since I started high school to house all the gouramis I’d tried to raise would make a good home, while the moss my dad used to pad the roots of palms he mailed would make good bedding. I took the lid off of a overly large peach-scented candle to use as the miniature pond, knowing full well that my dad would hate the scent of peach wafting through the kitchen with the lid gone (as that was why he stowed it in the back of the pantry in the first place), but didn’t worry too much about it since I’d be over an hour away by then.

I finally got everything in place, with an aquarium log decoration in for the scenery. When I had told my mom about the idea to get frogs for the apartment she thought it was a terrible idea, but didn’t try to stop me. She told me of the frog infestation they’d had in her childhood pool one summer, and how the croaking kept them all up at night, wishing all the frogs would really croak. “Why don’t you get a turtle?” she said. I then proceeded to tell her about salmonella poisoning, and how my roommate hated turtles because of a bad experience with an overly excited one that splashed around in its tank all night. “Oh,” she said.

So when we went to Los Angeles for one of my amateur photography expeditions, she decided she’d get a little ceramic frog for my roommate in China Town.

Now that little ceramic frog is the only thing in that tank.

I still hope that one day soon there will be some sort of living thing in there—besides the fruit flies I mean.

There 'tis. Tell me what you thought.