Valley of the Shadows

Fight the powers that be! I’m talking about non-conformity!

But I’ll tell you the truth I’d like to be an undercover non-conformist. A little conformity is a comforting thing. Enough to get through the door.

‘Cause I always think I’m a little off. Not quite like all the other non-conformists. As if I am unaware of the three sheets of toilet paper dragging off my shoe.

Somehow, if I start talking about what’s on my mind, people give me a blank stare and say, “Whatever.”

But I’ve got the floor, and you don’t, so I’m going to speak my mind.

I got this new job. And I’ve moved to a new place. Okay, I’ll be honest I bought a house–one that June Cleaver would be proud of, with a lemon tree in the front and roses on the side.

This freaks me out a little. Because I do not want to wear a twin set and eat off the kitchen floor. I want to be that creative artist type that stays up all night drinking and toking with their other creative friends and being REAL.

Isn’t that what the L.A. life is all about? Except I don’t’ drink much and I don’t like drugs. And I get really sleepy around nine thirty, so no one would hang out with me.

I guess that’s the life in West L.A. I live on the East East of L.A., and I am just like everyone else here. We get up early and speed to beat the sunrise, speed to the screeching halt of the bumper in front driving 5, 20, 10, stop and then start again with the miles per hour for the hour or the hour and a half that it takes to finally stop at the parking lot and the padded cell walls of the cubicle.

It’s not so bad. I like mornings. And maybe this is the real L.A. after all. Maybe you crazies from the West are going to crash and burn back to where you came from while we east enders drop the grains of sand into our 401Ks ’til our time runs out, the mortgage is paid or we retire–whichever happens last.

Maybe this is the real L.A. Los Angeles is full of Valleys, did you know? Any dip between these many hills is a valley.

Quite honestly, I love my commute. I drive a short jaunt on the 10, exit left and downshift my manual transmission down to 3rd so I can power up the crest of the 57. Below me, just at sunrise, the North Horizon is a range of green tree and gray rock mountains, which, when hit by the slant light of dawn, get pink or orange or purple mountain majesties.

This is the San Gabriel Valley. Yes, the Holy Angel Gabriel, the mouthpiece of God. And I hear it every morning, the messenger of God proclaiming that I am redeemed.

But that is the second valley of my daily journey. I had to climb to enter the Angel’s valley. I asked around and discovered that I live in Pomona Valley. Pomona is the name chosen for this place when it had few houses and more fruit trees. Pomona is the Goddess of the harvest. I dwell in the Valley of the Goddess. Which is most excellent, because I am the Queen of Pretty Things. It’s a long story, but I’ve been the Queen of Pretty Things for almost seven years now, a position which carries a lot of responsibility. As the Queen, I am pleased to find my dominions in the Valley of the Goddess.

As to be greeted by the Valley of Voice of God, traveling through it every day to the very end. I know it is the very end of the San Gabriel Valley, because my cube window faces a big Rock. The rock is part of a mountain, and where there is a mountain, on the other side is a Valley. This valley is well known: the San Fernando Valley.

Fernando…OOooo Fernando…ABBA? This is the Valley of the Dancing Queen.

I travel there less frequently. I suppose that’s just as well.

“The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare

I saw this performed by the local high school. They set it in the wild west, which allowed Kate to actually shoot at her suitors.

I love Shakespeare. I love that the high school does a play by the bard every year. I wish, of course, that they also learned to slow down and enunciate their words, but what can I expect for 7 dollars?

…But this play turned my stomach. What starts out as a strong woman, someone I could cheer for, turns into a broken women bleating the message.

Petruchio ‘tames’ Katherine buy torturing her with lack of food and sleep deprivation. By the end, she will do whatever her husband Petruchio says–and eloquently defends her ‘choice’ to do so. It’s horrifying.

Yes, it’s a comedy, and it is a successful one. There are a lot of funny moments. But the scene where Kate begs the servant for food did not make me laugh.

It was a different time, I tell myself at my desk as I look at the framed poster of Rosie the Riveter. It was a different time.

Dr. Laura would say that it makes sense, what Kate says at the end:
“Thy husband is …one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.”

Dr. Laura posits that men love their women and will do all kinds of heavy lifting if their ladies are sweet to them and show appreciation.

To a large degree, I concur. I think that women need to recognize and appreciate the good stuff men do for them and not sweat the small stuff.

So what if he is lounging around in his ratty sweats? Don’t nag him to throw them away. Sit down next to him and he’s more than likely going to put his arm around you and give you a kiss.

So, if that is the message to take away from TOTS, it’s not a bad one.

It was a different time, right? Then, women were utterly dependent on their men to make money and provide food and a place to sleep.

I was talking to my co-worker, a man born in Costa Rica, about my impressions of the play.

“It’s still that way in some places,” he said.

We’ve got a long way to go, baby.

Quote for today

Taken from a play “An Immaculate Misconception” By Carl Djerassi

“oh, everything? for a scientist that’s a meaningless word. You can never know everything. but you can learn when to stop looking for more.”

It is not such an easy thing to learn when to stop. The uneasy balance of progressing without knowing everything is something we all must learn.

It’s maybe like learning to ride a bike–except the inverse. If a person never forgets how to ride a bike, then one always forgets how to keep their balance on incomplete knowledge.

or perhaps it would be better to say, incomplete ignorance. Since the greater percentage is on the side of ignoance


You know, I’ve been doing a lot of interesting things that take up time.

I’ve been trying to solidify some thoughts to right down a good blog entry, but I’ve been on the move.

Let me see what I can think of to say here.

I have been trying to pick up Spanish. I live in a place where it is truly possible to totally immerse myself in a language that is foriegn to me.

Since I moved to LA, I have felt bad that I don’t know spanish. In Europe, citizen pick up the language of their neighboring states. It seems to be a sign of willful ignorance to not learn how to communicate with the people who live next to you.

But, Americans do not really make the effort to learn Spanish. The line often taken is:
“This is our country. They should learn our language if they want to live here.”

Interesting. This is not the same attitude of the Europeans. I suppose we Americans either do not assume that we will be visiting Mexico (or Quebec, for that matter) to encounter native speakers of a non-english language, or we assume that any of such non-English speakers are here in America permanently and are therefore obligated to make the effort to learn the American language.

We just don’t really make the effort to learn Spanish.

But that is the Gringo attitude, basically. There are a number of American citizen who could have been raised in a spanish speaking household, but they have differing degrees of fluency.

Now, I have met a lot of Spanish speaking people as I’ve lived here. What I have not found are people who are willing to speak Spanish to ME.

It’s a thing very close to the heart. Knowing spanish, and speaking it with a person at work, someone outside the home culture, are two very different things.

I have found a guy here at work who will talk with me. He was born in Mexico, and has become an American citizen. He has family here and in Mexico. It seems to me that he is very generous with his language. Other people are more hesitant, as if they have something to prove or something to hide regarding the language proficiency.

This is fascinating. It makes me all the more anxious to gain literacy en espanol.


I’m sick again. I’m trying hard not to be, but since I have to go to hospitals and hospitals have a lot of germs, they stick to me.

This one isn’t so bad, it’s mostly the sniffles. I hope it goes away.

I may have to learn a lot more about germ-repellent activities.

okay, so it’s been a week

I’m trying to organize myself. It is sort of daunting, as anyone who has tried to get organized knows.

The thing is, it is easy to START getting organized. It’s harder to finish getting organized.

as a matter of fact, it is darn near impossible to finish. You can only continue.

_Like a Virgin_ : Old School Madonna

Two things made me go back to where it began. The big M has a new album coming out, and the slathery reviews for it all say something like ‘She’s gone back to her dance roots!’

The unimagination of the paid reviewers leads me to think that they didn’t look past the title (Confessions on a Dance Floor) for press grist.

What exactly are Madonna’s roots anyway?

The second thing in this series of events was hearing “Material Girl” on a hip(tm) oldies station. “Wow,” I thought. “That song is even cooler than I remember. I should get that album, there is more there there.”

And Santa brought me “Like a Virgin” for Christmas. And a few others, but I’ll write about that another time.

Let’s just say, if Confessions on a Dance Floor is going back to M’s roots, it’s not going all the way back. This is the stuff. This is the Madonna I will always love.

“Material Girl”, “Like a Virgin”; I am ready to go find some lace fingerless gloves and about a thousand bracelets right now. I want the big lacy bow in my hair. And who said bustiers are only for the bedroom? It’s time to bust out; show the bra straps on any occasion. And use the wide-tip applicator for my black eyeliner.

I am inspired.

Okay, even besides the fabulous fashions of Madonna, the music is so fun! Perhaps because I was so young the first time, but I didn’t realize how New Age her Marvelousness was. She was so popular, I didn’t quite get that she was more than a little cutting edge. The synths and the bouncy bass, and the not-a-machine drums are pretty darn great. Bouncy happy dancey music, but not the uber-processed dance music that we have become accustomed to by the time we hit the 21st century.

That’s not to say this is ‘unplugged’ or anything like that. In fact, what I am liking about this album is its mix of real and processed sound. I mean, the synthesizers are so retro that they almost sound acoustic to my jaded ears.

And I can hear her youth in the tracks. I can hear how much Madonna is ready to take over the world, how much she wants it. This album has a push to it, a ‘nothing is going to stop me’ sound. It’s just a shade different from later albums, where the drive is to stay on top, rather than to get there.

I can’t say I love everything the Material Girl has ever done, but I am a huge fan of her style and power. And this album rocks my world.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

It seems like almost everyone I know has had a mellow new year’s celebration. It was raining a flood over in my neighborhood, so maybe that had something to do with it.

Chris and I had a nice, very relaxed time together.

It occurs to me that staying up until midnight to catch the absolute first minute of the new year is kind of silly.

Why not just go to bed, and wake up to a new year, with a full night’s sleep?

Something to think about.