Moving to Silverlake Archive

living it up like a non-profit britney spears

June 30th, 2009

Here’s a quick tour of my new Silverlake home as seen through the eyes of Oliver. Check out Oliver’s sexy gold collar which I hope will keep him from getting misplaced among the raccoons of Silverlake (and by “raccoons,” I don’t mean the hipsters).

The new view from my home office overlooking the hills of Silverlake and a glimpse of the big giant deck. The days go by a little slower and the sunlight from three windows has been so much better for my health. And now when the sun goes down and not enough work gets done, I only bawl like a crazy person, not like a maniac.

The bathtub in the bathroom. There is a separate shower and bathtub! Note that the duffel bag filled with my setpieces is stored in the bathtub. I have about 1/3 the closet space I did before.

The full kitchen and a shot of Oliver’s cornhole. For some reason, there’s more storage in the kitchen than anywhere else in the house, so my old journals and pictures are stashed in the cupboards.

The separate craft area! I previously did crafts on top of my computer table and loose threads and buttons would mix themselves into my paperwork. Finally! A hobby station where I can sew my own costumes and props! Also, check out my new sewing machine which I will have to own for the rest of my life because it cost an Indiana mortgage payment! A limited edition Project Runway Brother sewing machine!

Before I got Oliver out of West LA he was spraying repeatedly in the bed, in my luggage, It was my cat lady swan song.

I thought for half a second of leaving him behind… I was prepared to flip the mattress and wash the sheets again and again in Silverlake. I bought cat pheremones to spray in the house which supposedly calm a cat down (because it makes them think they already sprayed there… yes… lovely). I bought white vinegar to neutralize the smell. I even arranged to have the cat psychic talk to Oliver (through me) to prep him for the move (she was on vacay and couldn’t do an appointment…).

But he’s totally gotten into our new Silverlake digs. He’s chilled out and mellow. And as far as I can SMELL, no accidents. Perhaps in hipsterville, my cat lady days are numbered?

It was kind of a wonderful thing to see Oliver leave West LA for the first time in his whole life. I put him in a mesh laundry hamper and sat in the backseat with him as my cousin drove us down the freeway towards Silverlake. Watching Oliver react to all these new things must have been how that woman in Austria felt when she and her kids were released from their basement dungeon her father put them in (minus the incest and having seven kids by her father and living with no natural sunlight in absolute hell for 25 years). Oliver was scared, but also very curious of the freeway and of his new home, of trees (not just West LA palm trees, which I guess count as trees) and the sounds of birds, of sunlight streaming in. I finally live in a home that I’m not embarassed to have guests over at. Even with the truckloads of boxes still in the living room, I feel I can still show people the place.

I write you now from the Atlantic Center for the Arts where I am on a three week artist residency. This residency lands me as last year’s did– off the coast of Florida, this time on the EAST Coast. The bugs haven’t been as cruel as they were last summer. And rather than drink myself into a stupor as the only artist-in-residence, there are about 27 people here who can join me in “drunkeness-as-artistic-process.” It’s quite amazing. Unfortunately, I have a grant application to finish up the first few days that I am here, but after that, I can tear back into the projects that I’ve neglected in this move. Including “Cat Lady”– the new show that I just got a MAPFUND grant to work on!

The view from my cottage. It’s a jungle out there filled with bugs, birds, and lizards. I exclaimed last night, “Wow! It sounds just like the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland!”

One thing I’ve noticed, the artists here are all very young. I’ve grown accustomed to feeling like the youngest person in the room in other settings, but some of these folks look like they just finished their undergrad. I hear over and over again that studies have found a lot of practicing artists stop making work past 40. Is the demographic here indicative of that truth?

My unmade bed.

I’m wondering why I’ve not applied sooner to be here. This place is amazing. We get 24 hour access to studios and libraries, our own cottages with bathroom, we get fed, and we’re not obligated to produce any final work, just be artists and soak in the process of being around other artists and doing our work.

I think of Oliver and our new home. I see myself here given full permission to create work, and I wonder how it was I went so long in my 20s living in such abject post college conditions.

I toast to the steamy sundown here in Florida with cheap booze in my hands, sticky with sweat and bug spray. I still have to raise a ton of money to get Cat Lady (the new show) made and have yet to piece together enough touring shows in 2009 to make a living wage… but yes! Here I am in Florida! Treated like royalty? Well more like a summer camp for artists…. but good enough!

Finally, I get to live up my life as a non-profit Britney Spears. Kristina Wong, you have arrived.

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Category: Moving to Silverlake, road wong

Yard Sale Goodbye

June 14th, 2009

Today I watched as years of my hoarding was redistributed among the residents of West Los Angeles. I had a bittersweet moment as I saw my hand-crocheted ninja turtle backpack that I wore throughout college leave on the back of a 7-year old latino kid for $2. I picked up that bag at a Savers in Vegas when I was 18 for $3. (Making depreciation 33%.) It was a signature item of mine at UCLA. But now it rightfully is given new life by an owner of a more appropriate age. I actually teared watching him hop up and down the street wearing it. College was a tough time and strangely enough, that backpack gave me a sense of self. I wondered what his memories would be with it.

I’ve been touring so much, I haven’t noticed how much of a college town I live in until today when all these kids (who for some reason insist on wearing UCLA sweatshirts) came up to us to peruse the sale. There was a girl wearing an Asian Sorority jacket that had “Jimmy’s Little Sis” monogrammed on the back. And I’m thinking, “Oh god, I keep getting older and they stay the same age.”

I’m long overdue for a move.

After days of trying to box things up for the yard sale, I didn’t even put out everything I could have sold. Running up and down the stairs of my apartment and grabbing things of value was exhausting. But I did clear $230. Not bad. It wasn’t about the money, it was about saying the long goodbye to crap and seeing it off to new homes. It was the necessary ritual of separation. If anything, this economic slowdown has afforded me the time to do a massive demolition of my place to clear out my possessions from the bottom on up. I spent a lot of time telling stories about items… “Oh my friends brought that back for me from Laos” or “Oh, my grandmother crocheted that, but I have no room.” Surprisingly, people do buy VHS tapes, magazines, and uncovered records.

This Asian woman named Debbie came by and spent hours with us. Tediously going through things making sure she didn’t leave anything unperused. I let her take my dishes, some of my jewelry– about two boxes of things for $3o. I felt like she was hanging out more just for the company. I was good company and pretty much everytime she picked up something in interest I would say, “Just take it!”

She even came back to tell me she was short one chopstick and I let her grab more stuff. I imagine her life now is my old life of useless cute crap. Poor poor Debbie.

There were moments when I knew things were underpriced, where I felt rich in regret about things I didn’t wear enough or paid too much for. But once they were gone, they were gone and it felt so good.

I swear. No more hoarding.

In my cleaning now. I found a $5 gift certificate to Tower Records and my missing passport. I also found bank statements from 2001 in my dining closet. The passport is expired now. Tower Records is out of business.

All this has me wondering what the F I’ve been doing all these years. How did I let accumulation hit such a low?

I hope my new obsession is hoarding memories of a well lived life.

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Category: Moving to Silverlake

Oh Mighty Chinatown Bus: Taketh me.

May 26th, 2009

There’s a lot going on now.  

I’m in Philly working on a new ensemble show called “Edge of the World” at the Asian Arts Initiative that will premiere at the end of this week.   We wrote it in the last three days and it looks pretty awesome considering.  I can’t give away too much, but I will say that I may be peeing onstage into an adult diaper as my way of exploring the Asian American Experience.  
As soon as I publish this blog, I will take the Chinatown bus to NYC to do a short storytelling set in NJ. Pray for my safe return.
I left for Philly only half packed for my move to Silverlake.   This moving process from one side of LA to another has been really emotional.  This stress is mostly logistical.  Not having a car to quickly transport things over to the new place means that trash just kind of piles up into the middle of the apartment and doesn’t really quite yet move out.  And being home all day means I have to sit among trash and it’s driving me nuts fast.
For the forced housecleaning alone, I may have been long overdue for this move.   I’m so glad that I am not spending the rest of my life in that apartment in West LA (a suggestion my mother made to me once!).  I’m having to face years of memories and memorabilia from times that I am not sure or not if I want to remember.  Throwing stuff out is a process of editing memories and refining my identity. I’m feeling freer.  And I am excited about designing my new life. Which is totally what I need in this economy and as I strive to do more exciting things with my life.
It’s even odder when friends come by and pick parts of my life they want to take on for theirs. I’m actually surprised how many friends want to come by and take a piece of old Kristina.
I gave away my bed to a guy on Craigslist named Hardy. He was very likely a young Republican. And after I agreed to give him my bed, a good handful of my friends asked to take my bed from me because they really needed it for shows they were doing or just to sleep in (not to preserve any of my nostalgia, mind you).  As I saw my bed strapped to the top of Hardy’s Toyota 4Runner, I realized, yes indeed, this is an end of an era.  (Insert your wisecrack here).
Under the bed was some serious archaeology.  I haven’t moved that bed since 2001.  There were things I hadn’t seen for years, relics of friendships gone by, obsessive phases of my life.   
I’m no longer in my post college life, but post post college life.  
And so how does such a history minded person like me decide what’s worth archiving and what to bring into the new life? Because a hack historian like me is obsessed with accuracy.  
A friend of mine just told me how before her cross country move she destroyed her old wedding photos (she’s divorced) and threw her wedding rings into the river.  
Performance Artist that I am, I can’t quite throw out old pictures of boyfriends without an audience watching and the grant check already deposited.

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Category: Moving to Silverlake, road wong


May 20th, 2009

I’m moving.

No, not to New York. Still too chicken to do that officially. Though maybe that’s next. Not San Francisco either. Though I am there quite a bit.

I’m officially shifting my base of operations to SILVERLAKE! Land of skinny boys with girly haircuts and too tight jeans.

Why am I moving away from the beach? Why would I leave my 2 bedroom apartment which is locked in at such low low rent? Many reasons. One main one is that its getting very depressing to live in the same apartment that I’ve been in since I finished college. And believe it or not, saving money, even in this economy, is not worth being this depressed.

I’m moving to a house with a big deck and a cactus garden in front. A full kitchen, a washer/dryer, and a dishwasher. It’s on a tree lined street walking distance from Spaceland. And as soon as I tweeted the news, I come to learn that that’s where all my friends have been hiding.

I’ve been doing what I haven’t wanted to do since I moved in here… Move stuff out. Moving is such an experience filled with regret. Looking at books (from college even!) that I have yet to read. Postcards that I never sent. Notes from classes on how to audition for a career that kind of turned a different way.

And finally going through the tubs filled with old paper work.

I’ve found among other gems….

* Old lecture notes peppered with poems to a French boy (huh?! I have no memory of having a crush on a French boy.)
* Yards and Yards of fabric that I purchased to sew up a giant vagina for my very first show.
* A job application for Hooters that I started to fill out and never turned in. (I listed my roommate as a reference.)
* A folder marked “Job Opportunities.” Inside were corporate brochures for Merrill Lynch, E! Entertainment, etc I must have collected from a job fair at UCLA. And for some reason, there was a flyer for “Amateur Night” at Showgirls also tucked in there. I wonder if I slipped that into my files as a joke to myself to discover many years later because even I couldn’t believe I was that funny to put that in the same file. Ironically, I’ve not worked for any of those companies, nor ever tried out the strip club thing.
* A letter I wrote to Leilani when I was an undergrad for the internship she was offering at “TeAda Productions.” (Yes, the company that 10 years later produced a run of “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in Los Angeles)

I junked a lot of stuff so far and am planning a big yard sale June 13 where I will pretty much push everything that is non-essential out to the curb and let the hoarders take it on.

I’m ready to let it all go. I’m making room for a great new bright life.

Incidentally, if you are in the market for a queen bed with a canopy frame, 21 inch TV with digital converter, YARN, slide carousel, women’s clothes, etc, please let me know. I’ve got what you want.

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Category: Moving to Silverlake