Postal Project in found art

To Mr Cheng

To Mr Cheng

I’ve always been a little off.  This idea has been something that has actually done by my family at one point, but for a reason that wasn’t art.

The picture seen here is from Swedish Artist Eric Ericson.  He spent many years sending objects through the mail and these are a few of them.  I have every intention of copying it.  My mother does not know it yet, but she is about to get sent random miscellaneous objects from me.  So if anyone reading finds something quirky that they want me to mail (within reason), I will send it to my mother.  And when I say within reason, I’m talking stuff that she will likely just laugh at as opposed to something I will get a lecture about.  As it is I’m sure she’s going to mail me a list to therapists in the area and tell me to seek help after this.

I called my grandmother this morning and told her about it.  She is doing much better.  She told me she’d received the postcards I’d sent her and asked me about my weekend.  She was more curious about the things I was doing.  She told me many tales about her life.  We talked a little bit about the hospital and then I mentioned this.

My friend the dark prince said he will help me in the experiment if I want to send him things.  The project is for art as well as humor.

My grandmother reminded me of the time my grandfather did this.  He is far from being an artist though.

In a box somewhere is the muffler from my dad’s old Seabring convertible.  My dad was moving back to California from IL and wanted to try and get a trailer hitch on the back.  Grandpa’s brilliant idea was to saw off the muffler- which he did- take a permanent marker to it and some stamps and mail it to my dad’s new address in California.

It did indeed get there and has been a family joke for nearly 10 years now.

Seeing this post made me smile and so did my grandmother.  I told her I was going to send various objects to my mother and not tell her beforehand.  My grandmother didn’t help.  She actually encouraged the project.

“I found one of your shoes here.  Just one.  You should send it to him or your mother.” she said with a giggle.

“Oh really?  Which one?”

“Some black and white one.”

I told her some of the things I planned on sending my mother already.  Just miscellaneous crap that’s around the apartment that I really have no clue why it’s there.  I told my roommate to let me know what he finds while he’s cleaning to send to mom.

“I may be little but I’m odd.” I quoted Eddie Munster.

“I know.” he said and chuckled.

And now my postman is going to know too.  Yay!

Epilogue:  My grandmother thanked me for the cards I’ve sent.  I told her I will send her more.  She told me “Thank you for making me smile today.  Thank you for making me laugh and feel full of life again.”  I think this is the start of a beautiful morning.

Epilogue 2: I’m going to see if I can actually tape some of this but will need a partner in crime and would prefer not to do it at the post office near me as I’m there twice a week as it is already.  If you are interested in being said counterpart please send me an email to inquire about this position or I may just post it on Craigslist.

The list blogs: things I dislike about living in the metro

I live so far from home and wouldn’t trade where I live for a moment (well except perhaps for SF or SD but that’s different).  But then there’s a few things about here that really suck in comparrison to suburbia.

Hobos– They’re everywhere.  But in the metro they’re crazier, scarier, and ruder.  However, they seem to be a bit more honest to some degree.  Panhandlers in suburbia have to hide their booze/drug/ sexual operation desires, whereas here they’re at least upfront they’re not buying food with the money you give them.

Public Transit– it may suck most everywhere else (and this doesn’t include you SF) but in most major metro areas, the busses especially are rarely on time nor are they comfortable.  You get what you pay for is an understatement.

Parking– Oh god.  This could have subcatagories.  In fact, I think it should.

  1. Meters– fill it more than you think you’re going to be there.  If you’re late even one minute the maid will not give a crap.  Either hack the meter or always carry quarters.  Trust me.
  2. Parallel parking– You don’t seem to get enough practice with this in suburbia.  But people in the metro really don’t give a crap about making it easy for you either.  Be there early.
  3. Size issues (parking)- I love when cars just don’t pull up that maybe 2 ft ahead so someone can park in front or behind them.  Thank you resident asshat.
  4. Street sweeping– Multiple vehicles and streetside parking is a nightmare here.  It’s like an orchestra of when I have to move what.  Those tickets aren’t fun either.
  5. Valet ripoffs– They want $15-25 just to move your car 500 ft and park it.  What an awesome waste of money.  And sadly not everywhere with a bike lets you get out of Valet even if they can’t park it.  Which is a waste times 2.

Roads– the upkeep on the freeway and major roads is substandard.  In some ways this is really not a good city for scooters or bicycles.  Thanks for the encouragement for polluting less to the environment mr Govenator.

Less homestyle cooked food– Let’s face it.  There’s nothing that really compares to some of the homestyle cooked places back home.  Go back to the simplicity and enjoy your meal.. calorie by hundred calorie you have.

Less personable diners– There’s something about a diner back home in the middle of the country and the warmth of the people that makes even a mediocre diner that much better than most anything here in the metro.

No backyards– Growing up in IL I had a house with a backyard.  In the metro area it seems that area is something that only exists in dreams and for rich people.

Overly Expensive without reason entertainment– Sometimes merited.  Oftentimes not.  If it’s on Sunset, it’s likely not.  If its downtown San Diego and nearly $20 for a drink I can get for 5-7, it’s.. not.

Cleaner playgrounds– This is an urban jungle.  Despite the street cleaning the public playgrounds here just aren’t kept well.

Not enough quality doughnut shops–  How hard is it to screw up a doughnut?  Seriously.  This is ridiculous with the amount of sugar encrusted consumerism there is here that finding a good one is a treat.  (Please someone in LA prove me wrong.  The shop also should also include wifi and talkative regulars with fantastic stories)

High cost rent– This one you don’t always get what you pay for.  You could be paying through the roof for a location thats downtown next to Skid Row.  That said I’m extremely fortunate to have found the place I am at for the price I’m at (thank you roommie).

I think that’s enough for now.  I have another list coming up that kind of branches off of this one.  I guess now wouldn’t be a horrible time to go home after all.  But maybe for an actual vacation and not a potential “fun”eral.

We live in a Circus

Dear Los Angeles,

I came to the state of California nearly 10 years ago to pursue a dream in the entertainment industry.  Back then, and even as a child, I never would have gone to the extremes that Los Angeleans are doing right now.

People are quickly disputing that Michael Jackson dying could be a hoax.  Please remind me of the man’s contibutions to society beyond music?  What about this man is worth glorifying to the extent that you are?  How many lives did he touch in ways beyond entertainment?

There will be more entertainers.  I’ve accepted a long time ago that there will likely not be as many great ones as there have been.  The golden age of cinema.  The heyday for music.

Was Michael Jackson iconic?

Sure.

But he was also not a good person.

He was a living spectacle.

And now you are making his death a spectacle.

Do you realize how much you are making it difficult for any other person who is in that hospital?  For anyone having an emergency that’s headed toward that hospital?

I’m ashamed right now.

I’m ashamed that anytime anything major happens in entertainment- basketball, celebrity deaths, etc, that this city becomes an uproar.  I’m ashamed that there are riots over victories.

This is democracy.  For that much I am glad that we have…. but let’s use that energy towards causes that are worthwhile.  Like prop 8, our budget deficit and Iran.

Perhaps I’m a bit touchy about this because of my grandmother (who goes into surgery for an angioplasty tomorrow morning) and am just really not someone to be around.  Perhaps I’m a bit upset about missing friends down south because I’m worried I may have to drive home for a funeral.  Perhaps I’m upset because of the common tarry with the grip.

This doesn’t excuse you LA.

I know that the circus is in town, but this is too much.

Rest in Peace Mr Jackson.  Please Los Angeles, give the man some peace.

With Utmost Sympathies for the families involved,

Jennifer Stavros

Unconditional: My grandmother’s heart starts to fail

“How is your grandmother doing?”

I froze.

I was at a bar last night trying to get my mind off of things and I really didn’t want to hear that.

You can tell who is really there for you when things like this happen.  It’s a mixture of the people reaching out and the ones that know when to let it be.  In this case, though I know you weren’t trying to upset me sir, it just…

My best friend heard little about what was going on but wanted to make sure that I was out and about.  He didn’t want me at home miserable and contemplative.

I’m happy I went.

I reached out to a few people about it.  A very tiny handful of friends whom mostly know only bits and pieces off of twitter.  I really don’t enjoy talking about it.

When I got the news yesterday with her updated condition, I broke down.  I feel horrible saying that I wish I had my camera for it.  In my mind that day will forever be encased.

“There’s 3 options.  All of them have risks.  One.  They can give her a full surgery and she could potentially die when they’re trying to put her back together.  Two.  They can give her partial surgery and medication.  She can still potentially die.  Three.  They can send her home with just the medication and she would be at risk of a stroke.  She could potentially die.”

I’m in the middle of a starbucks after I’d just walked along Venice Beach trying to unwind.  But I’ll be damned I didn’t care.

“She is not allowed to die right now do you hear me?”

“Grandma doesn’t think its her time.  We’re all worried though.  We’re going to talk about it.  Ultimately it’s her decision though.  I’ll call you and let you know more when I can.  Are you going to be ok?”

“I’ll be fine.  I think I just need to find a bar now.”

The people at the Starbucks turned on music.  I might have been a bit loud.  I don’t think I was.  Starbucks feels more and more cash and carry than ever.  I’m hesitant to go back now.

I’ve been crying off and on since it happened.  My best friend from back home called me to find out how I was.

“Well I think I may be going home.  Awesome huh?”

“Not really.  I’m sorry.”

We talked a bit more.  My brother called back.  I had to take the call.

“It’s John Paul.  I’ll call you back.”

“Goodluck chicky.  I’m here for you.”

“Thanks.  I appreciate it.  I’ll talk to you soon.”

I switched over.

“What’s the status dude?”

“We talked about it and we think it might be best to send her home with the medication.  None of us want her dying on the operating table.  This is what we think she would want too.”

In my mind, that’s not how I would ever envision her going.  That’s not her.  No one believes that.

“I’m going to write Andre an email and try to see what I can do about getting the kids if I can drive out there. Let me talk to dad.”

He handed the phone to him.

“I need you to be strong now.  I want to come home.  Can we please figure out how to do that?  I want to pick up Maddox and Sakura if I drive out.  It’s important.”

“This isn’t the place for kids.  That’s why I didn’t bring Ethan.  He’s never going to follow through with that…”

“Dad, let me try and take care of that.  Can you get me home?”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

More time passed.  I messaged the grip and told him it was an emergency.

“I’ll see when I can get out.  How bad is she?”

“Not good. Please get out soon.  It’s important.”

My cousin (who is close to my dad and grew up here in California) called.  She is a hypochondriac.  She believes she has a heart condition.  Years ago, I thought so highly of her.  Now, I’m not sure what to think.  But for what she was going to say on that call… I’m a bit insulted about.

“We think we’re going to send her home.”

“What?!   No.  That’s just stupid.  She is going to die then.  Not getting that surgery is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard.”

She continued as my jaw thudded on the ground.

“She has 100% blockage in one area, 90% blocked in another, and 70% in another.  And one of them has a blood clot in it.  Why the hell would that be a good idea?”

I hadn’t heard the specific numbers.  The updates I’d had were the ones I’ve gotten from my younger brother.  My dad was in no position to deal with it.  He didn’t have it in him to tell me.  He didn’t want me to know how badly he was taking it.

“I know dad has to be taking it the hardest dude.  I’m worried.”

“I don’t know Jen… I think its a tie.  Grandpa is really bad too.  They’re both breaking down.  I think Grandpa will likely go soon if she does.”

Right now my family is pushing to be strong.  Those of us who grew up with her.  Those of us who’d spent years upon years with this woman.  What my cousin said really was out of line.  She put herself on a high horse and then spouted off about her own “heart condition” and proclaimed she was more knowledgeable.  But that wasn’t all.

“This is my grandmother and ultimately it’s her choice what she wants to do.  If she was to go home, she would be surrounded by her family and loved ones.  It is better than being in a sterile hospital. I want her better.  But I also want her to have what she needs.”

“That’s my aunt.  My grandmother is her older sister.  I’m just as close to her if not more as you are.  I’m very close to just jumping in the car and driving out there now…”

A few visits with her may have been lovely.  My grandmother is one of those people where everyone quickly adores upon meeting her.  She is genuine, vibrant, old fashioned, conventional, artistic, talkative, and sincere.  She is a rare individual of beauty and art where I doubt anyone could ever compare to.

But my cousin does not know my grandmother.  Not like I do.  Not like my family that grew up with her.  Not my sister and brother that still live a few miles away from her.

She didn’t spend holidays there eating tons mediocre food.  (Sorry my grandmother wasn’t the best cook.)

She didn’t spend holidays watching how she would decorate the inside of the house and argue with my grandfather to help with the outside.

She didn’t watch all of the things that she grew up with remain there as she grew older:

  • some little chairs from when me, my sister and brother were toddlers
  • a tiny piano
  • of dolls, nicknacks, a bulb vintage hanging black & white television, and happy meal toys

She didn’t spend summers painting on the screened in porch.

She didn’t…

She didn’t…

“I’m going to a place that has girls dressed up in nurses costumes for a show.  Come out with me and get your mind off things.” my best friend told me.

“I’ll think about it.”

“Jen, you don’t sound good.  Are you going to be ok?” Molly asked me again.

The other line beeped.  Mo was here.

“I’ll be at a bar.  I’ll be fine I guess.” I told her.

We didn’t feel like buying booze there so we grabbed a flask of vodka and a chaser. Down the hatch it went.  Not to get drunk- but just to feel something different than what I was.  I drank very little.

The new bar wasn’t really great.  I stood there blankly and watched the show.  My best friend and I talked about other things… things that will likely get blogged about later and elaborated on.  Things I’m reflecting on.

The crowd dispersed around midnight.  We headed to our bar.  We walked into…

“How is your grandmother doing?”

I’m hitting refresh on my inbox hoping for that response from my ex.  As soon as he gives me a green light I’m most likely going home quicker than Dorothy with a pair of ruby slippers.  I wish it was all a dream.  Please just tell me this is all a really bad dream.

Walking on sunshine and eggshells

I got a call from my brother yesterday.  My grandmother needs a second operation.  They had to put a stint in her heart and now have to do another bypass surgery.

“She’s going to be ok.  I just found out.  Dad called me and told me to get over here.”

I really feel like I should be going home.  I’m worried despite being told not to.

“Do you want to talk to her?  When you do, don’t mention the surgery.  She’s scared and we want to keep her in good spirits.”

I stammered with my words.  What do I say to her?  I’ll tell her about my weekend.  It should have been easy.  It was disastrous.

“Um so I hear the weather there is hotter than it is here now.”

“It’s humid here.  In the 90s.  What about over there?”

Weather?  She’s in a hospital.  She can’t go outside to enjoy or dislike it.  Great going Jena.  That was smooth.  Must… try and make this better.

“Oh it’s nice.  I’m riding the bike everywhere.  I hate cars..”

I need to change the subject here.  What to say?  What to say?

“So I’m sending postcards to Germany and Japan today Gram.”

“Oh wow that’s neat.  Did you get any new ones recently?”

“I got one from Taipei this weekend.  Some recent ones from China and a few other places.”

Ok that conversation is dead.  Erm…

“I saw a movie this weekend that you’d probably have liked.”

“Oh really which one?”

“The Graduate.  Do you remember that one?”

“Yes.  Old movie with Dustin Hoffman.  Where did you see it?”

Fuck.  I did it to myself.  There’s no way I’m going to tell her where I saw it.  Not with her in there.

“In a park.  It’s where I saw Funny Face last weekend.  This coming weekend they’re showing East of Eden.”

“Oh that James Dean film.”

My brother pulled the phone.  I heard beeping in the background.

I worried in that half second that the last conversation I may have had with my grandmother was about watching movies in a cemetary.

“Oh my god.  Is she ok?  What’s that beeping?”

“It’s one of the machines.  Don’t worry.  I think it’s the cell phone causing it.  We’re going to ask them about it now.”

“Are you away from earshot from her?”

“Sec. “

Thirty seconds later:

“Yes I’m away from her now.”

“Please tell me I didn’t just kill her with talks of a heartthrob of her time…  Aww fuck.  I can’t talk at all here.  I’m walking on eggshells.”

My kid brother chuckled.

“No.  You didn’t.  It’s seriously going to be ok.  She’s active and in bed.  It will be fine.  I promise.”

I’m off to the store to get her a postcard and have some time on the road now.  What a day.  I just hope she’s ok.

When Midnight broke

I told him he had until Midnight to see me.  And the clock chimed but he still hadn’t.

He said he tried.

I want to believe he was there.

But then there’s that whole serendipity thing.

Could we possibly have been at the same place that night and missed eachother?  The answer is yes.  There were droves of people at the screening Saturday night.  But does it excuse the other nights before where he failed to show up?

I’ve been milling around about the details for some time now.  Most people tell me to give up.

“There are too many excuses.  He isn’t showing any action.”

I wish I’d had my camcorder when we were together.  The moments captured on film would have been epic in quality.  I’ve learned that most of those most cinematic moments are when the camera isn’t running.

He once wrote me that “they say the fire that burns twice as bright burns half as long, but what a sight to see for that time.”

I wonder if that’s the case here.  If things are so far broken that they’re incapable of being repaired.

He reminded me last night that he used to call me his mermaid.  It was something silly and cheesy that was brought about when he helped me install a particular curtain above my bed.  He has referenced being in love with a mermaid in a few of his blogs.  I glossed over it and had forgotten about it.

And then it happened.

I was applying for a job over at Yelp when I stumbled upon…

My relationship with him had been open.  I was very publicly private that I had been seeing people while he was too busy with other things than for me.  I found out that he’d dated someone else while we were together and neglected to tell me.

I rationalized it to myself.

“It was fair.  I was doing the same thing.  I can’t really complain about it.”

But a part of me didn’t care for it.  He’d had such little time and yet he chose to spend it with her.

“When you slept with [redacted] I really thought it was over.  The [redacted] stuff took a lot out of me.  I was not happy.” he told me.

So why didn’t we break up then if that’s what he’d wanted?  Why press on through it?

Months passed and we still saw eachother.  I eventually gave him the monogamy that he wanted.  I was ready.  At this point however, the relationship had already stretched and gone a course into the deep end.  He had less and less time for me.  The valiant start out of the gate had slowed down.  We hadn’t made love in…

I didn’t find out about this intentionally.  I was curious when I saw he’d had some new reviews because he’d been on a road trip.  I found a comment on the compliments that upset me though- saying that he and a girl were missed at an event.  A girl with an uncommon name- also known as a mermaid.

I was livid without reason to be so.

When confronted with the information his first reaction was that she was “just a friend.” And then he finally came clean.

The clock ticked down last night.  We talked in spirts.  He never came by.

My roommate came home about 20 till midnight.  I was curious how his weekend had gone and if there was a postcard.  We talked a bit about it.  I came back and looked at the clock.  It was 12:08 and it was quiet.

He pinged me.

He persists.

We argued more and more.  Weather the mermaid he’d blogged about was actually me he was referring to or the girl.

“Would you make time for me?  Would you give me romance?”

No answers.  Ot was getting late and I needed to force myself to sleep.  I was hurt.  I layed down and went to bed.  I “prayed” that the answer of the fate of our relationship would be revealed to me.  I tossed and turned in my sleep.  I woke up at 4.

“So is that it then?”

“What’s what then?”

“I asked you questions.  You blew me off.  So it sounded like I got my answer.”

I repeated:

“Would you make time for me?  Would you give me romance?”

I went back to bed.  As I got comfortable I heard a ping.  I was stubborn and didn’t move.  I woke up a few times again but never got out of bed until he was long passed signed out.  He’d replied to me.

With the last bit of heart I had left, I wrote him an email:

When we first got together you romanced me.  You did things that were so wonderful… surprises, flowers, showed me the city.
I’d thought that was always the intention to continue.  But you stopped.

I have remnants around my room of the romance that was once there… of that man who would do everything he could to be with me.  Of the guy who took me on adventures and places and shared so many fun times with me.

I went further into detail about a few other personal things and outlined exactly what I felt needed to be accomplished if we were ever going to get that “fresh start” again.

When Midnight broke, so did a piece of me.  I know that regardless the outcome though it will be alright.

“Do you love me?  Cinderella asked the Prince.

“Would you even believe me if I said yes?” he replied.

Perhaps time will tell.

One question

“How are you doing?” he asked me this morning.

It was daddy.  He beat me to calling.

My grandmother is in the hospital.  He had to fly home.  He’d told me yesterday morning.  He said I could go visit Ethan even if he wasn’t home.  She’d been there a couple of days and was about to be released when they said she needed to be transferred to another hospital for a heart operation.

“Why didn’t you tell me she was in the hospital?”

“I didn’t have time.”

“Daddy that may be your mother but that’s my grandmother.  You need to tell me if she’s sick do you hear me?”

Yesterday I kept myself busy.  I had to.  I was very worried.  My grandmother is the epicenter of my family.

The things I did to occupy my time?  Ironically were all things where I wanted to call her while doing:

  • my monthly self defense class.
  • a costume shop.
  • thrifting.
  • adventuring and finding places to sit with a notebook and dream.
  • watching an old movie in a graveyard (again).

My solstice was refreshing.  Two bottles of lambic, the company of friends and the best gift I ever got myself- that bike accompanied me and some watercolors as I headed out to Cinespia.

“Give me an eta on if you want to do something because I’m thinking about going to see the Graduate tonight with friends.” I told the grip.

“I don’t have one.  Just go with your friends then.”

“You always wait until the last minute to do anything.  You want me to commit to monogamy but you can’t even commit to a time to meet me.  I’m going.  Just meet me there.”

“That works.”

I met my friend out there and a couple of his friends.  They were disgusting adorable together and extremely nice.  My friend and I were like two left shoes leftover after a massive sale had wrecked the store.  It was disastrous.  Every little thing went wrong.

Traffic sucked.

I spilled beer on the blanket.

It took my friend 2.5 hours to get in.

Oh and I never saw the grip.

No text.

No phone call.

Nothing.

I messaged on the way home.  I called.  The hours rolled by and I heard nothing.

Around 3am I finally got a message.

“I was there. Phone was dead though.  So… yeah.  Tried to find you… no luck.”

I talked to my friend from the movie earlier.  We’d had a good time and have plans again later.  I hadn’t seen him in awhile.  It’s times like these where it’s just good to surround yourself with friends.

One day at a time.

One step.

One hope.

One heart.

I’ll get through it all.  I’ll weather this storm.

“How are you doing today?” he asked me this morning.

It was daddy, calling me from the hospital to update me on gram.

It was almost as if he knew.    “How am I?”  I didn’t know how to answer that.

“I’m fine dad.  How’s gram?”

“She’s going to be fine.  I need to tell you something though. It might not be a good idea for you to go visit Ethan today.  Your stepmother and I got into an argument before I left and I don’t want any problems for you.”

We talked some more.  About gram.  About gramps.  About different things going on here.

“I applied for a very important job this week dad.  Please send me some good vibes that I get it.”

“I will.  I want the best for you.”

“Daddy I’m trying so hard to make this all work… to get to that career.  I want to thank you for not just being Dad but being grandpa dad.  It means the world to me.  I’m sorry that you have to deal with problems with Bren.”

She doesn’t have a family.  She gets upset most everytime dad does something to help me.  I remember a weekend when my dad was changing the oil in the beast.

“Why is your father underneath a car right now getting his hands dirty?” she said as she interrupted my son and I playing some video games.

“Dad told me he’d change my oil. Why?”

“Your father is a corporate man.  He wears a suit.  He does not change oil in cars…”

“Well dad said he’d do it for me and I appreciate it.”

“He doesn’t do it for me.  Why don’t you pay someone to do it for you like I do?”

“I’m trying to spend some time with my son.  I rarely ask my dad for help with much.  I don’t live here.  I pay my own bills.  He’s helping me with one thing that will take 20 minutes.  Please drop the drama.  You’ll have to take it up with him.”

Dad got into an argument with her then too.

“She has to understand that there’s nothing that will come between me and my children.  She will not make drama for my daughter and her son.  She will not give me problems about my mother or she will be gone.  I don’t need a wife.  I will not tolerate that.”

Father’s Day.  June twenty first, two thousand nine.

“How are you doing today?” he asked me this morning.

It was the simplest thing but in one sentence it summed up so much more.  On a day that is supposed to be his he gave up everything for his family.  Because that’s what a real man does.  Because real men put the people they love above everything.  Because even when you’re a shithead, they bust their asses to make sure you know that they love you.

Thanks dad for always being there and for setting the bar so ridiculously high.