Thursday, February 19, 2015

still-sound 211. The attic

I've been clearing my attic lately.  It's not insulated and after last summer I vowed that the attic would be cleared and insulated by next summer. I've had two people come by to quote on the job but neither of them wanted to take on the rather unpleasant task of the clearout.  I was told to contact hauling and removal guys at which point they'd quote on the insulation job.  'Forget it' I thought to myself.  I'll do it myself.  It'll be rather unpleasant but I'll take on the project little by little.

The job is horrible.  I won't lie.  I have to crouch down the entire time I'm up there.  My lower back suggests that I should have just contacted the hauling/removal guys. 

Mostly I'm filling heavy duty contractor garbage bags with building rubble, old roof tiles, garbage and a century's worth of dirt.  I came across some letters including one from The US Navy Recruiting Substation dated 1945.  It was addressed to a man in Mexico who was trying to enlist in the US Navy.  I wonder if this is how he came to live in Los Angeles.   Perhaps after serving in the Navy he became a chauffeur.  I found his chauffeur license up there as well.

Look at these notes written down on a Utility Trailer Sales Co.notepad.  It's from 1955.  I wish people still wrote with this kind of handwriting.

I bet Mr Duarte, the original occupant of my house never imagined that I would be finding his documents like this.  He's most likely not with us any longer.  If he served in the Navy in 1945, he was probably born roughly 100 years ago.  I can't believe no one thought to insulate this house in those 100 years.

After carrying down my last garbage bag for the night and hauling it outside, I went to my mom's house to join her for rice cake soup.  It's Chinese New Year today and one is supposed to eat rice cake soup since the rice cakes resemble coins.  Their consumption is meant to bring about monetary luck.  After eating, my mom asked me to leave so that she could watch her soap operas.  I walked past jasmine blooming by my front door.

Monday, February 16, 2015

still-sound 210. Revisit

On the night of Valentine's Day, Brennan and I went to the Los Angeles Theater downtown to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's.  The theater has been restored to the opulent glory of its historic past.  My friend Shahram owns it and graciously invited us to the screening.  We wore suits.  We were instructed to.  All the women wore cocktail dresses. They too had been instructed.

I've seen Breakfast at Tiffany's countless times as a teenager.  I remember certain scenes very well along with certain snippets of dialogue, like a drunk Holly Golightly reacting to Paul's criticism.  She threatens him: "It should take you exactly four seconds to cross from here to that door...I'll give you two".  

My friend Rachel told me that the line she best remembers from the film is "top banana in the shock department", enunciated in the signature Audrey Hepburn style.  

It's funny rewatching or rereading something you knew as a young person with a few years under your belt.  I used to think that Breakfast at Tiffany's was a cute love story about a kooky girl and a dependable, sensible guy.  Now I realize that it's all about selling your ass.  It's a game of players, strategizing gains from other people's desire.   Every character is a player.  In it to win it.

Until now I didn't appreciate how wonderful Holly Golightly's handwriting was.  I marveled at the little handwritten note she left for Paul Varjak, inviting him to her place for drinks.  The writing looks like the playful script Warhol used in his illustrations of shoes and cats.  

As a teenager I could appreciate that Mickey Rooney's portrayal of the Japanese photographer neighbor was hopelessly racist.  I didn't realize how cool his apartment was or that he performed the tea ceremony in this cool apartment.

I texted Shahram the day after Valentine's to thank him for inviting us to the screening.  He came by the perfume store where I work to say hello and to introduce me to his girlfriend Sarah.  She had an interesting camera with her.  It turned out to be a Polaroid and she took my picture.  When my likeness emerged on the emulsion after a couple of minutes, I thought that I looked cool.  Like my teenage self, only cooler and more sophisticated than my actual, clueless teenage self. With facial hair.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

still-sound 209. Highly perfumed

The air outside my front door has been highly perfumed lately.  Although I don't see any, I certainly smell citrus trees in full blossom.  Maybe my neighbors are hiding them in their backyards.  I noticed the scent last week when I was sanding a sculpture on my front porch.  I've been working on one sculpture for two years.  This is the longest I've ever labored over a single object, and it isn't even large or highly detailed.  I just have such little time to be making things.  But while I was waiting for the plumber to finish fixing my drippy kitchen sink, I took advantage of being stuck at home to sand.  The scent of blossoms only made the task enjoyable and I felt lucky to have been able to spend so much time on the sculpture.

Today I waited three hours for the plumber to come back and have a look at the still-dripping kitchen sink.  Not knowing when he'd actually arrive, I dared myself to get one more thing done before he showed up.  I planted lily of the valley bulbs in a shady area, under camellia trees by the side of my house.  I planted a new cactus in a sunny spot next to the driveway. Rosie inspected my work. 

 I finished sanding the sculpture!  And rubbed oil on to its smooth surface.  The plumber arrived and fixed the sink.