Thursday, December 1, 2011

I don't like nature.

I may be an environmentalist, I may be from Topanga, and yes, I do find nature aesthetically pleasing, but I do not particularly enjoy it. As soon as I could, I moved out of Topanga and into the city. I don't miss the forest fires, flash floods, land-slides, boulders blocking roads, packs of coyotes yipping throughout the night, or that one mockingbird that lived in the tree outside my bedroom. It's infernal chirping throughout the night was intolerable.

I moved out of Topanga because I didn't want to deal with nature, however tonight has proven that it is inescapable. On this particularly windy evening I had a palm frond thrown at me. To clarify, it was not thrown at me by a person. No. It was the fucking wind. This can only mean that the wind has gained a certain level of sentience and is out to get me.

Have I mentioned that I don't like nature?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My two cents: what has occupy accomplished?

I want to take this time to address all of the anti-occupy rhetoric that has been going around lately. Since the beginning of the occupy movement, I have been told a lot of different criticisms about what I and my fellow occupiers are doing.

We are lazy.
We have no goals.
We are destructive.
We are dangerous.
We are bums.
We are spoiled.
We should stop complaining and get jobs.
The list goes on

Of all of the critiques I have heard, the one that continually surprises me is the claim that we are wasting our time and that this movement hasn't actually done anything. Now, I have done by best to sit by and politely listen, but I think now is it time for me to respond.

What have we accomplished? Though I could list more, here are the two most important things I believe we have accomplished.

The 99%: You are not alone
I'm sure we all have that little voice in our heads that tells us how small and insignificant we are. It is the voice that tells us that as individuals, it is impossible to make a cry loud enough to be heard. It is the same voice that says that one person can not make a difference. The voice yells every night telling you that you are alone.

The Occupy movement has proven that voice wrong. As Occupiers, we have come to realize that we are not alone in our frustrations and our fears. You and I are not alone in our feeling that something is wrong with the direction our society is moving in, and we as Occupiers have come together to express ourselves and turn these feelings into action--To shed light on growing income gap between the 99% and the wealthiest 1% of Americans as well as the fact that we live in a country where corporations have dominion over our political system. By giving hefty donations to the same politicians who are responsible for regulating them, they are allowed to run rampant. Though they have the rights of people, they do not have the same accountability. I could go on, but I am not here to tell you what we are protesting. My point is, we as individuals are now aware that we are not alone in our grievances. We now know that together we have power, and we do not need money to have a voice, which brings me to my next point:

The change in political discourse
To put it quite simply, it is impossible to ignore this many people. Before the Occupy movement began, the main thing being discussed in Washington was our countries debt. I do not mean to say that this is not an important issue, but it is not the only issue. This movement has put the previously pushed aside issues of of income inequality, the concentration of power within our country, and political and corporate accountability right up front and center for all of the world to see. And as we all know, this discussion has been far but limited to Zucotti park. Occupations have not only popped up all over the country, but also in over 80 countries all over the world.

I would also like to take this time to ask everyone who has been criticizing the movement, how many of you have been down to a camp site more than once or twice? How many of you have been been actively involved in the GA's and committee meetings? If you have, than I would love to hear what you have to say, but if you have not, I must apologize, but your criticisms are based hearsay. That is all the news is these days. If there is anything I have learned (for a fact) from being heavily involved in this, it is that what the mainstream media reports, and what actually happens is drastically different. Do me a favor; go down to the camps and experience it for yourselves. Talk to people involved and formulate your opinions based on more than skewed news articles.

So  that's my two cents. Take it or leave it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Birthday cemetery picnics

Myself: “Is someone else having a picnic?”
Taliesin: “No, that’s an actual funeral.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Some thoughts on my involvement in the Occupy Movement

Monday night (10/03) Occupy Boston was broken up by cops in riot gear. I sat in my bed watching the live feed which streamed what I would personally call an excessive use of force by the police. I’m not sure if I can properly articulate how I felt in that moment, but this attempt is going to have to do. I need to at least try to get this typed out.

At that moment an incredibly unpleasant thought struck me; from here in Los Angeles, there was absolutely nothing I could do. Sit and watch. That was it, and the more I did, the more I became overwhelmed as the feelings of uselessness and helplessness sank in. I watched cops throwing protestors to the ground and quite literally hog tying them. I read through as many newly updated articles that night as I could and came across a video of some of the protestors pleading with the cops to call off the breaking down of the camp.
“Listen to your hearts. You don’t have to do this. We are here for you. You have a choice. You know in your hearts this is wrong.”
The plea didn’t work.

Now before I go any further, I would like to clarify my views on the police in that situation, and within the Occupy movement as a whole. At first I had a strictly, the cops are one of us, we need to understand their side, point of view. I would go out of my way to try and talk to them and be as friendly as I could. Whenever I heard hear anyone saying something like “fuck the pigs”, it frustrates me to no end. However, I have come to understand something important. Though some of the officers may be on our side, the man or woman in that uniform is not who they are at home. They become the role that their uniform dictates. That role is to enforce the law, and as such, they must respond to our obstructions of it. Despite their personal views, they still serve to defend the same system we are fighting against. I can’t treat it as one or the other, even if the polar side I was on was positive.

I now smile if they look my way, maybe say hello, and go no further than that.

Right… now where was I. Ahh yes, being completely fucking useless! 

When I finally went to bed for the night, I couldn’t sleep. Anger, fear, sadness, and frustration don’t take any effort. Productivity begins when you use those feelings to motivate yourself to fight. But for that night, I couldn’t figure out how to turn those feelings into productivity. I just sat their and cried. Make fun of me all you want, call me a pansy, tell me I need to build a thicker skin (which actually is quite true), but I wouldn’t call it an overreaction. Sometimes it is hard to ignore that voice in your head that does whatever it can to break you down, and that night it was yelling.
“You are only one person. Nothing you do is actually going to make a difference. You don’t have time for this. Look at how tired you are. No one will notice if you don’t show up. You don’t matter. You can’t do anything.” 
This isn’t me saying that I want to drop it all and walk away, but there are nights when all of the shit that comes along with throwing yourself full force into the Occupy movement; the politics, the infighting, the violence, sometimes it becomes so overwhelming and all I want to do is stick my head in the sand. Of course I know that if I walked away now, I would feel worse.

The other week a friend of mine said to me, “Each person holds potential power. Our overwhelming beliefs are what create our reality.” Those my personal insecurities make it hard for me to believe that I hold any sort of power, they don’t invalidate what he said. This is going to sound stale and trite, but as a group, we stand strong. I guess I need to remind myself of that.

I need to stick to my guns while also finding a balance between pushing myself too much and giving myself too much slack. If I continue to drive myself as hard as I have been, I’m going to run out of energy and nothing is going to get done. However, if I don’t push myself at all, I still wont get anything done. I guess it’s okay to get overwhelmed and upset once and a while, as long as I don’t let it drag me down.

I’ve got to say, my involvement in Occupy Los Angeles is teaching me a lot about myself. If anything, it’s worth it just for that.

I’m not sure where I was going with any of this…

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No one can spell my name right

My tentcle alphabet was posted on Octopoda Tumblr some odd months ago:

Tentacle Alphabet, by Lauren Lauryn Soorani.

It looks like my alphabet is making its way around Tumblr. Soooo that’s kind of cool. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

This little piggy went to market

I’m working on a new alphabet for my advanced typography class. The last alphabet I made was done out of octopus tentacle and as a sort of continuation of that theme, this one is made from the midline section of a fetal pig. 
Here is a preview of the alphabet. So far I’ve only got nine letters somewhat finished. I say somewhat because I have yet to go through and (re)color correct them all to properly match each other. That said, keep in mind that even the letters below still need more work. Right… so here you go:
I’m amazed at what an annoyingly long time this set of photos is taking to edit. It is averaging around one hour per letter. For reasons I’m not quite sure of, the octopus alphabet was a lot easier (editing wise). Now, that isn’t to say it wasn’t as much of a pain in the ass to photograph. While the pig lacked the revolting smell of fish out of the fridge for way too long, the smell of preservatives was equally as nauseating. A friend informed me that morticians will put things around their nostrils to cancel out the smell (i.e. perfumed lotions), so if I do a project like this again I’ll be sure to do that.
Visually I don’t find it repulsive. In fact, I think some of the letters are cute. It’s the smell that gets to me. Despite having a poor sense of smell, it’s terribly overpowering, and what’s worse is that even after I’ve repeatedly washed up everything, it still lingers.
We have had two critiques in class and during both of them, there was a small handful of students who refused to look at it. I’m not offended, I gave them all a warning and told them I understood if they didn’t want to. What I find amusing is that while I do not eat meat, none of the kids who couldn’t handle looking were vegetarian. Perhaps it is harder to look at when it is something you eat? Of course what do I know, maybe just as many vegetarians would have a problem with it. I should probably take this time to clarify; I’m not trying to make any sort of statement. I have no intentions of presenting this as something to gross people out. What are my intentions? Fuck if I know. Take it at face value. It’s letters made out of a pig. Anyways, after much debate, I decided to create a certain level of aesthetic sterility (well… at least I tried to) in my attempt to make it a little less grotesque. 
I’m so tired of editing out pig juices.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cement and palm trees

I have come to realize what one of my biggest problems with Los Angeles is. It’s the lack of seasons. Specifically, it’s the lack of deciduous trees. How am I supposed to fully get into the autumn/Halloween mood when all of the trees around me are still bright green? I know what you may be thinking;
“But Lauryn, it isn’t even October yet! Isn’t it a little early to start getting into Halloween mode?”
My dears, it’s never too early.
I’m a bit torn. As most of you probably know, Los Angeles is a desert chaparral region, which on the plus side, is a biome with very mild weather. This is great for me since I have terrible circulation, which results in extreme sensitivity to both heat and cold. I would be miserable living in an area where I had to deal with the heat and cold that comes with real seasons.
Of course, while this lack of seasons keeps me from wanting to kill everyone around me, I also find it to be one of the biggest aesthetic weaknesses of Los Angeles. Perpetual summertime is visually dull. Yes, Topanga is beautiful, but after a while the consistency of the green shrubs gets incredibly boring. Not taking the weather into account, temperate deciduous forests are amazing. You can fully appreciate the beauty of how plant life changes with the seasons when they lack the permanence that Los Angeles plant life has.
Despite how much I hate weather, I miss having real seasons. Yes, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but as a kid, I spent the majority of my summers and winters visiting my older brother up in Lake Tahoe. The colors aren’t as amazing as they are on the east coast, and summer isn’t particularly interesting, but the winter is gorgeous.
It is an eight hour drive (depending on traffic) and for most of the time, the only thing you see when you look out the window is a long stretch of desert, and the occasional cluster of cows. The length of this journey made the payoff even greater. Once we would reach the base of the mountain, it felt like we were driving into another world--one that was transforming around us, changing as we drove up higher and higher. The trees started getting taller and all around us the ground started turning from a dusty brown, to a fluffy white. This of course was only if we left at an early enough time in the day that it was still daylight at the time of our arrival. Of course because my family is generally incapable of doing anything in a timely manner, though we would always plan on leaving in the morning, it would almost always end up being mid-afternoon, giving us a 12-3am arrival. When that happened as was usually the case, it was much too dark to take in any of my surroundings. So, once we arrived I'd head right inside, say hello to Big Charlie (the taxidermy dear head that hung over the fire place. I named him after our cat), unpack some of my things and go to bed.
This gave a very different, but equally as fantastic payoff. I remember waking up and looking out the giant windows to see all of the towering trees covered in a thick blanket of snow. Instead of taking everything in slowly as we drove up the mountain, it would all hit me -BAM- right at once.

My brother(s) and I would pile on layers of clothing and sneak into the golf course next door to take advantage of all the perfect sledding hills. Usually we would get yelled at for trespassing but that didn’t stop us. After we got tired, we would head back and pull off the icicles that hung off of the ledge of the roof to gnaw on. Or we would throw them at each other. After we came back inside and peeled off all of our snow soaked clothing (my brother liked to pour it down my coat), we would sit on top of the floor heat vent and drink hot coco. It’s amazing how much better coco tastes when you’re in the process of un-numbing all of your extremities. Of course I am idealizing my childhood, but who cares?
Now this isn’t to say I still don’t hate the cold. I do. I really do. Snow is only nice when you only experience it for a few weeks out of the year.
But today’s rant is about the fall, not the winter. The point of that digression is to give  you an idea why of why I’m so fucking bored with all of this green.
I never had much experience with a full-fledged fall, but I like to think it is as (aesthetically) fantastic as I imagine it is. My elementary school had a long row of deciduous trees that at least allowed for some experience of what it was like to see trees bursting with color. I remember spending recess sitting in piles of leaves making color wheels.
Green to yellow.
Yellow to orange.
Orange to red.
Red to brown.
(I guess I was destined from a young age to become a graphic designer)
As awesome as it would be, I’m not in elementary school anymore and I don’t have rows of the deciduous trees I am yearning for or the piles of leaves to sit down in and play with. It has been years since I have gotten to make a snowman or been yelled at by someone for pelting them with snow. All I have is a lot of cement and palm trees.
I want October to be filled with trees that match the pumpkins on everyone’s porches. I want a gust of wind to pick up and rattle a pile of leaves. I want to know by looking around me that it is time to start breaking out the decorations. I want the winter to turn each tree into a skeleton and then wrap them up in snow. I want the spring to come and give us a burst of green speckled with flowers here and there, and perhaps a little rain. I’m not fond of the summer time, but I guess I wouldn’t mind it for a few weeks.
I want all of this; I just don’t want the weather that goes along with it. I don’t want to deal with being snowed in, having to shovel snow from the driveway so the car doesn’t get trapped, waiting for the engine to unfreeze, numb toes and fingers, my nose turning red, none of that shit. I don’t want to deal with the unsavory transition between winter and spring where the snow isn’t quite gone but the only snow left isn’t as much snow as it is slush mixed with dirt. I don’t know what a real fall is like so I don’t have any complains there. The summer time we have plenty of here, which though not terrible compared to other areas, is still muggy and miserable in my book. I say we tone that down a bit.
I want to live in some magic land where I can watch the seasons change, but the weather generally stays around 70 degrees. I want all this and while we’re at it, let’s throw in a million dollars too.
Apparently I have way too much to say about trees.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sock gnomes

I am starting to think that every residence I have ever inhabited has been infested with sock gnomes. No, not just sock gnomes. Sock, underwear, ear plug, and colorful foamy balls that come in packs of four from PetCo gnomes. I can only assume that these gnomes require these four items for their survival.

We have all come to accept the fact that things like toilet paper and food run out, and that unless we want to wipe our asses with xerox paper and continually open the fridge hoping that maybe this time there will be something in there, these things need to be replaced. There is however a difference between things that run out, and things that wear out.

Socks get thinner and thinner until eventually our heels and toes break start peaking through. The elastic in that cute lace thong you spent too much money for at Victoria’s Secret starts wearing out or god forbid snaps one drunk night. Your ear plugs get oogie from, well… they live in your ears. Does it really need explanation? No. As for the foamy balls, after time tiny razor kitty teeth will turn each one into a sad, malformed version of their former-selves. But these things are NOT supposed to run out. Those awesome Halloween socks can still be worn even if there might be a hole or two.

So someone, please explain to me, how these four items have found themselves in the category of items that run out. Where are my odd socks and underwear going?! Are the ear plugs melting into my brain in my sleep?!?? Is my cat eating her toys? I have searched the apartment. I don’t understand.

I think the safest assumption is gnomes.