A Day in the Life


Me in my starry-eyed youth writing (actually, I was drawing turbots, but for the sake of this post, let’s pretend I was writing). (Photo by Monica Waterston)

I think most people know that I have a master’s degree in English, but only the people who have known me the longest know that I pursued that degree because I had dreams of writing the next great American novel.  I haven’t given up on those dreams, really, though I’ve pursued other things in the meantime.  Nevertheless, even as I’ve been working away at another master’s in library and information science, getting a job, being a librarian, and all of that, I’ve still been working in my spare time on what I would like to be my debut novel (I have ideas/drafts for at least two others, but this is the one I’d want to start with).

I had the idea for this novel and started working on it years ago, and I’ve gone through so many drafts, but I feel like this might actually be the one.  I’m serious enough about it now that I feel like I might be ready to start looking for an agent.  Sometimes I even wonder if it might be possible for me to make me living as a writer.  Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love my job…but part of me still can’t stop thinking about how nice it would be to be able to make my living as a writer.

So I’ve decided to give it a test run.  Try it out to see what it would be like.  Tomorrow, I have the day off work for Cesar Chavez Day, but instead of sleeping in and lazing around watching movies or something, I’ve decided that I’m going to experience a day in the life of a writer.  Starting when I wake up tomorrow morning, I’m going to spend the day as I’d spend it if I were a full-time, professional, working writer.  For tomorrow, instead of thinking of writing as a hobby, I’m going to think of it as a job, and actually get down to the real business of it.

Writing this way – as a serious job, actually working on it for a full 8-hour day – is not something I’ve done since I finished my master’s thesis (a collection of really awful short stories – it was never my genre, but my adviser talked my out of writing a novel and I stupidly listened).  I don’t anticipate it will be all fun and games, but I’d like to give it a shot and see how it feels.  Maybe I’ll hate it and by noon I’ll be back on the couch watching movies. But hopefully, it will feel good, and it will be extra inspiration to finish the novel and seriously pursue publication so that I’ll have the time and resources to go on to write another one.  And another one after that.

So what about you, dear Internet people?  What’s your dream?  I think we all get so stuck in the goings-on of our everyday lives that would lose sight of the dreams that once mattered to us, but making those dreams a reality is probably not as hard as we might think, if we only work up the nerve to try.  So I challenge you to try it out.  Set aside a single day this month to live a day in the life of your dreams.  What would it be like?  And more importantly, what would it take to make it your life, not just one day, but every day?

Oh, the Things You’ll Chomp!

Ophelia loves to learn. Here she is excited to work on jumping through the hoop. (Photo by Monica Waterston)

Last night, Ophelia “graduated” from her Shy Dog class at the Hollywood Zoom Room last night, and I couldn’t be more proud of her and all the progress she’s made.  Going to her class at the Zoom Room, plus the work we’ve done with our personal trainer, the fantastic Rebecca Setler, has made such a huge difference for her.  When I first got Ophelia, I read that it takes about 3 months for a rescue dog to really settle in and get comfortable enough to let their true personality show.  We’re about 5 months in now, and I feel like I’m only just now starting to see the true (and awesome) Ophelia.

Of course there’s an adjustment phase for any dog, but I think for Ophelia, it’s not just that she’s getting to know me and be more comfortable here at my place, but that she’s getting to know herself, in some ways.  I have no idea what her life was like when she lived in Taiwan, except that she was abused pretty badly.  It makes me so sad to think about the picture of her on the day that her old owner broke her femur so badly it required a metal plate that is still in there to this day.  The image is forever burned in my mind, and it just breaks my heart to think of some horrible person treating such a beautiful, intelligent, and special animal like that.  I feel so lucky every morning when she wakes me up (even if it is an ungodly early hour), or when I get home and she makes turkey noises because she’s so happy to see me, or when she gets excited and chomps.  I can’t comprehend how someone could have such an incredible dog and not feel so honored that they have the best, smartest, sweetest dog, much less beat the shit her.

In any case, now that she’s in a safe and happy home, Ophelia is developing quite the personality.  Here are some of my favorite things about Ophelia:

  1. Ophelia is goofy.  She loves to play, and she even seems to have sort of a sense of humor.  For example, while I was in the process of changing my sheets awhile back, she came in and started to jump up on the bed.  I told her no and she seemed to get this devilish look in her eye.  She kept sneaking around the bed, pretending to jump up from a different side.  She totally knew I didn’t want her to jump up on the bed, and she was totally screwing with me.  It was hilarious.  Of course, being a science librarian, I did a quick lit search to see what I could find in terms of research on animals and humor, but I couldn’t find very much.  Perhaps something a UCLA researcher should look into!
  2. Ophelia is loyal.  While she’s not super into meeting strangers, once you make friends with Ophelia, she will love you and remember you even people that she doesn’t see all that often, like my parents (Turkey Grandpa!) or my Dallas friends.  She’s also very protective of me.  I live in a pretty safe neighborhood, but still, it’s a big city, and you never know – so at first the thought of having to walk her at night, in the dark, for potty breaks, seemed daunting to me.  However, if anyone even remotely looks like they might try something, Ophelia will bark and let them know they’d best keep away.  As a single woman in the city, I feel much safer knowing that my girl would protect me no matter what.
  3. Ophelia is wicked smart.  She’s got intelligent eyes.  I like watching her work stuff out.  This also makes training her a snap.  She loves to learn, and she picks things up so quickly.  Most commands, she’s been able to learn in five minutes or less.  It also helps that she really, really wants to please.  And on the rare occasions when she does something bad (honestly, I can really only think of a couple times she’s done anything bad – once she got into the trash, but that’s about it), she seems so upset with herself at disappointing me that I can hardly bring myself to discipline her much.
  4. Ophelia is athletic.  In spite of the plate in her femur, the dog loves to run, especially if she’s chasing a ball.  I’m sure my neighbors below me absolutely hate me for playing catch in the apartment, but Ophelia has so much fun doing it that I can’t NOT let her play (anyway, they play their music too loud, so I feel we’re even).  She also loves agility.  We’ve had a little agility instruction in our Shy Dog class and are going to continue going to the Zoom Room to learn more and hopefully compete in their tournaments.  Last night, she was getting so into it that she didn’t even really want to stop for treats.  I’d offer her a treat after she did something right, and she’d kind of look at it, like, “okay, yeah, that looks good, but let me run over this ramp first!”  I can’t wait to see how she’ll do when we actually start learning and doing it for real.
  5. Ophelia is a chomper, but of course I knew that from day one.  Everyone who sees this is greatly amused by it, including her trainers.  Last night, our trainer at the Zoom Room was determined to get a video of the chomping for YouTube because she thinks it would go viral and get millions of views.  Unfortunately, Ophelia was a little too amped up about training to really chomp properly, so her YouTube fame will have to wait.

Obviously, I love this dog, and I’m so happy we found each other.  I can’t believe it’s only been about five months since I got her, and I can’t wait to spend lots and lots more time together and find out what other little personality quirks will come out now that she is in a place where she can fully express herself and just be.

Four Things About Ophelia

Ophelia loves playing with her ball.

Yesterday marked four months of awesomeness with Ophelia.  In honor of that, I present four lists of four things about Ophelia.

Four Things Ophelia Likes

  1. Watching the toilet flush – she waits outside the bathroom and then I open the door for her and she rushes in to watch
  2. Hot dogs
  3. Sleeping deep in the closet, behind the laundry hamper
  4. “Burying” her treasures (bones, toys, balls) in my bed

Four Things Ophelia Hates

  1. Pugs
  2. Running and/or screaming children
  3. Fruit
  4. Getting a bath

Four Tricks Ophelia Can Do

  1. Shake
  2. High five
  3. Wave bye-bye
  4. Play dead

Four Favorite Ophelia Moments

  1. She used to hate my friend Ali (cause he’s a guy, and she’s afraid of men), but he took her for an hour-long walk, just the two of them, and now she loves him so much that she sometimes just sits there gazing at him longingly when he comes over.
  2. Ophelia likes to chase squirrels and will even try to climb trees to do so.  I don’t know how she did it, but once she managed to jump/climb about two feet up a tree – but she still didn’t even get close to catching a squirrel.
  3. The first time Ophelia met her cousin Harvey (my brother’s dog), who is a big goofy dog probably about twice her size, they “argued” over turkey and she scared him so much that he wet himself and now whenever he sees her, he turns around and runs the other way.
  4. We were working with the trainer outside at twilight and the trainer and I were talking about something.  We noticed that Ophelia was gazing intently up at the sky, and we both looked up at the same moment and saw that she was staring at the moon.

The Lane-splitter’s Guide to Cars

This is me on my scooter, with the helmet that makes me feel like a ninja. I am very sad to report that the shoes I was wearing in this picture were totally ruined a few months later in my first (and hopefully last) scooter accident (not my fault, and it had nothing to do with lane-splitting).

When people find out I ride a scooter, they usually ask me one of two things depending on where they’re from.  If they’re from anywhere outside of California, they ask if I wear a helmet (the answer to that is yes, of course – I’m very attached to my brain and skull).  If they’re from California, they ask if I lane split, or as most people say, “do that crazy thing where you drive between cars in traffic.”  California happens to be the only US state that I’m aware of where this is legal.  The answer to that question is yes as well.  If it’s done safely, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I know it really annoys some people that I essentially get to cut in line by riding past them while they have to sit there in the absolute misery that is LA traffic.  Having driven around LA in a car too, I can agree that I’ve felt a tinge of jealousy as a motorcycle whizzed by me where I’d been sitting on the freeway in the exact same spot for five minutes. But I figure, if you don’t like traffic, then you’re welcome to get a scooter or motorcycle too, and do the same as me!  (And frankly, cars do a lot of stuff that annoys me too, but I don’t freak out over it like some car drivers appear to do when I pass them on my scooter.)

I do, however, try to be polite about getting in front of people at a red light.  Once I get through a line of stopped cars waiting at the intersection, I either get in front of the car at the front of the line or slide in right behind it.  I usually go in front of it, and nine times out of ten, I’ll be through the intersection before the car driver even gets his or her foot on the gas pedal.  Of course that one time out of ten that the car actually wants to go faster than me, I feel bad about it and try to get out of their way as quickly as possible.

One of the ways that I try to avoid annoying drivers in this way is to try to decide if the car at the front is likely to want to go fast or not.  Here are some general rules I follow*:

  • Porsche: you drive a very expensive car, but you are either 80 years old or drive like you are 80 years old.  I will go in front of you.
  • BMW, Mercedes, or Audi: your car is lovely and you know it.  You will run me down, if necessary, to get past me in order to show how superior your fantastic German engine is to my 150cc Chinese scooter (and I freely admit I agree with you).  I will stay behind you.  However, I will later pass you when your outrage at my audacity has worn off and you go back to driving normally.
  • any sort of unusual or incredibly awesome car (Maserati, Lambo, Aston Martin, etc): it’s 50/50 whether you’ll actually know how to drive the thing properly, but I will stay behind you out of respect to the incredible machine you’ve got there, and also to ogle it.
  • Prius: it takes you approximately one year to go from 0 to 60. I will go in front of you.
  • open-top Hollywood van tour: I have often questioned whether it’s actually legal for you to drive 1 mile per hour down Santa Monica Boulevard in the midst of rush hour traffic.  I will go in front of you at all costs, even if I have to break minor traffic laws to do so.
  • student driver: this one’s 50/50 too.  I figure they ought to learn what it’s like to have motorcycles around them, as they’re definitely going to have to get used to that if they want to drive in LA.  On the other hand, I remember my own driving school experiences and how I had absolutely zero ability to judge the distance between my car and anything else on or near the road, like other cars, the curb, etc.  I prefer not to get hit by cars, so I will usually stay behind.
  • anyone with out-of-state plates: you do probably live in LA, but since there’s the possibility you may be a tourist, I will go in front of you.  I like to imagine this gives tourists stories to tell back home where this kind of thing doesn’t happen.  Even when you know it’s something that goes on here, it can still be kind of startling, I know, for a motorcycle to go whizzing past your window.  For a tourist who doesn’t know about this, I’m sure it must scare the crap out of them at first.
  • any car with loud music and bass: you seem like you will probably drive fast and/or have anger management issues.  I will go stay behind you.
  • pretty much anything else: I will go in front of you.

So there you go.  Don’t be offended if I said I’d get in front of you – my scooter weighs much, much less than your car, so even though its engine isn’t as powerful, the ratio of power to weight is in my favor.  It takes either a pretty good car or a very determined driver to beat me off the line.

* Of course this is all meant in fun – I’m definitely not promoting the practice of stereotyping people.