Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

A blogger, an author, a poet, a writer

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I want to write a novel. I’m not sure if I even have that much to write about, but I have some ideas I’ve been meaning to get down. I figure I’ll just start writing and see where it takes me. Maybe I’ll surprise myself with tens of thousands of words, or maybe I’ll get stuck after a few thousand. Whatever the case, a goal I have for the coming months is to get this going and eventually build up the courage to share it with some friends.

bottle of gold calligraphy ink and glass pen on clipboard with lined paperThis kind of came about due to a confluence of events, including friends sharing their writing and my personal need for expression beyond blogging. There are some things I want to get down on paper, but in a “fiction influenced by experiences” kind of way. I could post bits of it here, but I also want to explore the possibility of a story line that runs far longer than a blog post would allow. If I find I’m not writing that much, I think I might post installments here, but let’s go big first. At the same time, I had two friends who shared the various prose they’ve written and it makes me want to join their ranks. In addition, after reading the Fifty Shades trilogy, I see hope that you don’t have to be a fantastic writer for people to want to read your work. So a growing need, possible mentors/role models, and examples of success make me feel encouraged to produce something.

I’ve thought of myself as a blogger for a few years now, and occasionally I consider myself a writer. When it comes to being an author or poet though, it’s new territory for me and I like exploring that. It’s been a fantastic way to connect with some friends in ways that I haven’t before (and somehow Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps cropping up in conversations with writer friends – who is this guy?!). I can’t wait to have more conversations about our writing journeys as we all work to produce something to share. I also find reading to be a completely different experience now that I notice what I like and don’t like about each author’s style. I feel like a new world is opening up to me and I look forward to stepping in!

George of Aegina

laelene Posted in stories,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

guy and girl sitting at outdoor table having tea in greece

A most gracious host.

Meet George. I found myself taking a ride with him on his moped all around Aegina when I was visiting Greece back in 2007. My friend and I had explored Athens the day before and we decided to split paths for the day since I wanted to check out this little island and he wanted to see some museums. After arriving, I took a cute little carriage ride before finding my way to the beach. It was not the most welcoming for bare feet (all rocks and urchins and barnacles) but I insisted on at least getting my feet wet in the Aegean Sea.

pile of about two dozen little seashells with white and pinkish orange stripesThat’s where I met George. He was at the beach, picking sea shells. He liked to collect these cute little pinkish orange ones of a similar size. When he found he could speak to me in English, he was excited to practice. So we chatted, he sharing how I could use these shells to make a nice necklace or bracelet and I learning more about the region. He gave me all the shells we found so I could make something to wear. I still have them, but never quite got around to putting something together.

shadows of two people riding on moped

Our shadows from atop the moped!

He was such a sweet man that when he asked if I wanted to see more of the island, I decided to take him up on his offer. He had a little moped that he drove around and we went off, on the one large looping road that takes you all around the island. We first went clockwise along the coast, checking out cool sights like tables and chairs right at the ocean’s edge, beautiful homes and resorts, and an amazing coastline the entire way. After awhile, we turned around and headed back towards the main area of town where the port was. I can’t remember if we kept going along the other side of the island first or if we stopped for tea, but I think the tea came last. He showed me the teeny movie theater where he worked, a nice little shopping area with many vendors, and some old historical sites. As it was nearing time to part, he asked me to have some tea with him at a cafe right across from port. I enjoyed a nice pot of Greek tea with some random plants in there. When I left, he gave me a slip of paper with his address so I could write to him.

After the excitement and insanity of 5 weeks of traveling throughout most of Europe after that, the piece of paper got put to the wayside and eventually misplaced. I think I might still have it buried somewhere in all my stuff, but I haven’t found it. I always regretted not writing to him while I still had his address and I wonder if he thinks of me (and wonders why I never wrote). I hope he’s still doing well, putting on movies for his fellow islanders and enjoying moped rides around town. I’ll think fondly of him from time to time and send well wishes his way. He lives in a beautiful, peaceful little part of the world that holds a special place in my heart. Thanks to him, I got to enjoy it in a way I never would have otherwise.


laelene Posted in stories,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve had some pretty random and interesting experiences in my life. There are the moments when I had crazy encounters with strangers, the cool things I got to experience as a result of living in Los Angeles, and wonderful childhood memories. I’d like to share more of these, since a good story can be captivating, entertaining, and powerful. Perhaps I can hone my writing skills enough to write short stories!

long stretch of flat desert road

Driving, driving, driving, til she needed to go.

Today I was chatting with Autumnfall and our conversation reminded me of an experience I had back when I was working on the set of Wristcutters. I was interning for the first time and found myself taking on all kinds of roles, including buying food, managing staff (and wrangling extras), and taking care of the actors. When we were up in the deserts of Lancaster, our hotel was a good 40 minutes from set and I got called to go pick up one of the actresses. I got her from our hotel and we started racing down the long stretch of road. She asked to smoke in my car, and being the accommodating person I am, we cracked the windows open a bit so she could puff away. About halfway there, she wanted me to pull over. There was not much more than cacti and tumbleweed for miles in all directions and she needed to pee. So, there I found myself, pulled over on the side of this two-lane road as the actress squatted next to the open passenger door of my car and relieved herself (all the time still enjoying her cigarette). It was completely out of the blue and the type of startling experience that sticks with you for how random and odd it is. It also makes for a pretty hilarious tale to tell others. Autumnfall is going to take some elements of the story and write up a little fictional story from it. 🙂 I look forward to seeing what she does with this fodder!

This, in addition with Katana’s recent request that I read over some ideas she has for a book, make me want to share more of my life stories and grand adventures. I could share the times I took rides with strangers in foreign countries, the wacky times I spent with rich guys, the amazing things I got to do as a child, the fun experiences from college, and so much more… I just wish I could put together words as well as the writers I know (Autumnfall & Katana). Alas, I’ll do my best and hope to provide some worthwhile reads. Stay tuned!

A stubborn victory

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,

wooden large-tooth comb made with fragrant woodIt’s been months and I’ve been looking for this hairbrush every time I go home. I knew that I had taken it out to use when I was here and though I searched high and low without success, I refused to give up. I like how it has wide teeth and is made of a fragrant wood. It’s also glossed and I think is even anti-static. Perfect for a quick brush-up in the middle of the day. I used to keep it in my purse, but then one weekend when I was hanging out at home, I lost track of it. Ever since then, I’ve been on the hunt.

Tonight I asked my mom about it again and she said she actually found a wooden comb while cleaning up. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember where she had put it, so this sent us on a house-wide search for the elusive thing. As it turns out, she was referring to a smaller comb (the kind they give at hotels), which was sitting on the desk. Since I had already searched almost all of the house, I decided to keep going and flipped just about everything around. Then, I thought that I should check the pile of blankets and pillows on the bed upstairs, which I had used for awhile a couple of months ago.

Lo and behold, after lifting up a couple of blankets, I found it lying there, neatly hidden away! I’m really glad to have it back and will make sure to store it safely in my purse again. Yup, being stubborn does get me results.

My iPhone chronicles

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,

It’s been about a year and a quarter since I first got an iPhone and boy has it been a rocky ride!  I’ve been to the Genius Bar no less than seven times and had my device replaced 5 of those visits, with another where they replaced just the screen for me.  It all started off about two months in, when my 3GS wouldn’t send text messages.  The send bar would get to about the 90% mark, but never complete and send out the message.  This also appeared to affect my phone reception, where I often wouldn’t be able to get a signal.  When I took the phone to the store, I got a new one because they determined that the SIM card was stuck in too tight, which didn’t allow for proper signal reception.

Not long after, my phone slid off my desk onto our concrete floor at work.  The corner was cracked, so I went in to see if they could fix it up for me.  Lucky me, I got a friendly Genius in a good mood, so he took care of it for me.  I even blogged about that visit!  Unfortunately, it seemed that the sleekness of the phone made it prone to dropping, so it kept happening here and there.  One day I noticed that the metal part was splitting away from the plastic, revealing the inner workings of my device.  It was getting a little dusty in there, which was a concern.  I trotted back to the store and was once again given a new one.  This actually was kind of fortunate, since I was going to upgrade to an iPhone 4 and my dad was going to take my phone.  I certainly didn’t want to give him something all beat up, so I kept this one pristine!

I had barely gotten the iPhone 4 for a few weeks when I found that my mic wasn’t working and people couldn’t hear me.  For a phone, that’s a pretty big issue.  After all, the main function of the phone is to make phone calls…  So, I got a replacement and went on my way, but only for a month, when my camera stopped working and only showed me a black screen.  After this replacement, it looked like things would finally be ok.  It had been about a 4-month stretch of problems on a monthly basis, which finally ended in early October.

In mid-July, the Apple Store in Valencia was opening up.  With the promise of a free t-shirt, I was drawn to go to the grand opening.  While in line, I decided to take a few pictures with my phone, only to find that the app would try to open, crash the phone, and then restart it.  I tried again with the same result, so I tried a hard reset.  I got the same error, so at that point I was glad I was at the Apple Store, since I was going to need some help.  Guess what happened at my appointment?  After trying to do a reset via iTunes (and failing), my Genius got me a new phone.  Fancy that.  I was pretty happy since I’d started to get annoyed with the layer of oil that just didn’t seem to get wiped off my phone anymore.  A few taps would make my fingerprints stick and no amount of wiping seemed to slow that process.  Plus, I had dropped it a week or two earlier, chipping off a small part of the corner, so aesthetically my device was no longer in tip-top shape.

I’ve got just a few more weeks before my warranty runs out, and I am debating whether I should pay to extend it for another year.  I would definitely want to upgrade at that point, so I guess the question is if I can prevent any disastrous drops or breakdowns in the next year (or if I could deal with them until it was time for a new device).  I’d like to say I can, but I’m afraid that I’ll regret not paying for the extension.

The hunt for the perfect purse

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,

Recently, I decided it was time for a new purse.  The one I’ve been using is just too large and flops over from not being full enough.  I had previously been using a smaller handbag sort of thing, which I switched out of when I wanted to be able to carry my iPad in my purse.  I also wanted to be able to separate my iPad into a different compartment so the inside of my purse wasn’t just a bottomless pit of stuff, but held things together better.  I hate digging around looking for something I know is in there, but got lost among the depths of the purse.

20110719-120955.jpg Armed with this criteria, I decided to do some shopping this weekend and came across a dark purple purse and a nice white one at Kohl’s.  I loved the color of purple purse, but it was a bit too long so the shape was kind of weird.  The white one looked really nice, but couldn’t fit my iPad in the center compartment that zipped up.  Other than that is was the perfect size and had all the compartments I was looking for, so I went ahead and bought it to give it a test drive.  I took these pictures to get Panda’s input and he pretty much thought the same thing, which gave me the final boost of confidence that I chose the right one.  And hey, if I changed my mind, I could always return or exchange it.  After all, Kohl’s has a pretty good return policy!


Then at work today, I asked the opinion of one of my coworkers and she brought to my attention a detail on the purse that makes it a little less classy.  I really love the triangular holes and the black stitching, but part of the silver lining looked cheap.  So, I decided to continue with my search and see if I could find something that would meet my needs better.  This time it also came down to two purses, one white and one purple.  I really liked the brightness of the white on the black and white one, but the design was too flashy and not at all like me.  On the other hand, the color of purple one wasn’t my favorite, but I did enjoy the shape and the middle divider was deep enough to hold my iPad and zip up.

20110719-121016.jpg Between the light purple one from today and the white one I had purchased yesterday, I couldn’t decide which one was better, so I just got the purple one to give it a test run as well.  While I really like the shape of it, the external pockets, and the internal compartments, I love the look of a white bag!  We’ll see how this one feels as I use it tomorrow.  I was already noticing how much easier it was to have a purse closer to your body, rather than a huge hunk of a thing hanging down your shoulder.  As for the color, it’s not something a lot of people would choose and I am perfectly fine with that.  I don’t mind standing out in a crowd!


I’ve already switched everything over to the purple purse and I’m still having trouble deciding if I should just keep both, choose one, or keep looking. My coworker did mention going to the Fashion District, so if we can do that this weekend, I’d definitely be open to replacing these with something else that catches my eye.  It’s hard to know when something is good enough!  I can’t help but think of what there might be out there that I have not yet discovered.  If I don’t find something soon, I think that either of these purses would do the job just fine and I’d never know the better, so I won’t worry too much about it.

Oh, and all this has reminded me of why I’m never that interested in shopping!  A “quick” trip to look at some items quickly turns into an hour or two and next thing you know, the day is gone.

A day for returning to UCLA

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,

This past Saturday was UCLA Alumni Day, where alum are invited back to their alma mater to spend a day listening to panels, taking tours, and otherwise enjoying what UCLA has become in the years since graduation.  It’s a nice day to go back to campus and find out what the latest is with the university and I was really glad that Panda was able to come with me this time.  We haven’t been away from campus long enough to need tours to reintroduce us to the ever-changing landscape, so we signed up for the three panels of the day to learn about advances in healthcare, innovation, and motivation.

The first panel was enlightening and really highlighted the delicate balance between human service and machine assistance that is required in the medical field.  While technology allows more and more processes to become semi-automated, the human component becomes increasingly important to maintain.  After all, you don’t remember how nice a machine was to you – you remember how kind that nurse, doctor, or other staff were.  Parts of the talk were a bit lecture-y and it was hard to stay focused due to the intellectual nature of the topic, but overall I did enjoy and appreciate it.

During the lunch break, Panda and I headed over to the School of Engineering’s open house, where we saw some student exhibits, got some free swag, grabbed some snacks, and got a tour of the plasma lab.  It was my first time really exploring Engineering V and IV, and Panda got to show me some cool spots, like the second floor balcony area that I never knew existed.

After wandering around trying to decide on which place to eat lunch (we were given vouchers to choose our own meals this year), we came back for lecture number two on innovation.  The entire panel consisted of Disney employees, past and present, and each had prepared some sort of visual to share.  Definitely a completely different tone and vibe from the first panel.  While the talk itself was fun and lively, I didn’t understand the connection to UCLA or alumni day.  Whereas the first panel was addressing an issue that UCLA is deeply involved in and at the forefront of, this one struck me as almost a marketing pitch.  I didn’t feel like I learned much, but I guess it was more about being entertained.

Towards the end of the panel, during the question and answer session, the fire alarm went off in Ackerman Union, so we had to clear the space.  Panda and I wandered around enjoying strolling around campus and eventually ended up in Wilson Plaza, where breakfast and the opening ceremony had been.  Due to the fire alarm, the third panel was actually moved out here, so we were there when it began.  The motivation one seemed to pretty much just be about sports, so we decided to catch a tour bus and check out Westwood.  Unfortunately, we got in line too late to get a seat on atop the open-air bus, so we were stuck downstairs.  It was a pretty quick trip around our campus and the town; I really wish the bus had stopped in certain areas so the student volunteers could explain more about the new buildings and other changes to student life.

Soon enough, it was time for the closing speeches and dinner.  While we were eating, a random lady approached me asking if I spoke Chinese.  When she found that I did, she began to ask about the university.  It turns out she was scouting for her daughter, who will be applying in two years.  After a hearty conversation, Panda and I finished up our meals and went over to the registration tent to take a picture with Joe Bruin.  I had decided that I wanted to take the buckets used as centerpieces for the tables, so we walked around looking for an empty table so we could take the bucket without having to ask if someone else wanted it.

And that was it, the end to our very first UCLA Alumni Day together!  I’m sure we’ll find time back at campus more valuable the more time we spend away from it.  Still, not a bad start to what hopefully becomes a tradition for us.  Oh yeah, and apparently the world was supposed to end right around the time we were having dinner!  So much for that.

Mini cultural adventure

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

Wow, I was in such a food coma last night that I totally collapsed on my bed and fell asleep soon after getting back from dinner.  Next thing I knew, I woke up sometime around 5 in the morning with the light still on!

I guess the Ethiopian food we had earlier in the night weighed pretty heavily on me.  Then again, it was a lot!  If you’ve never tried Ethiopian before (at least the Americanized version that is available in the states – who knows what real Ethiopian is out there), you should really give it a shot.  One of my friends who went last night – I’ll call her Duchess – had eaten it once before (like me) and we both enjoyed our experiences.  So there we were, many moons later, taking some others out for their first experience.

The place we went to was decided by a Tippr coupon that I bought a couple days ago, for a place called Little Ethiopia located in Little Ethiopia (hah!).  That’s a small strip out on Fairfax not too far from downtown LA.  It was a nice little place, though they had an entire room on the side that lay empty.  I guess when business was better they’d use both sides.  We ordered a veggie platter, tibs, and Little Ethiopian tibs.  The veggie platter had a variety of vegetables cooked in different sauces.  The tibs was chunks of beef and the Little Ethiopian tibs was those chunks of beef with potatoes and some other veggies mixed in.  Everything came out on a fantastically large tray lined with their special bread.

tray of ethiopian food with veggies and tibs

In the center is the Little Ethiopian tibs, the meat on either side is the tibs, and all those colorful splotches are part of the veggie platter!

basket of ethiopian bread

The bread - spongy and slightly sour and very soft and supple!

Oh that bread!  When Duchess and I were trying to describe it on the drive over, the closest thing we could come up with was a sourdough pancake.  It’s a dense, spongy thing with a hint of sour and there’s something wonderful about it.  You use the bread to grab some of the veggies or meat and then eat it in a little morsel (at least we think that’s the right way to do it).  Oh yeah, the thing about Ethiopian food is that it’s eaten with your hands, much like Indian food is supposed to be.  And so we ate, getting basket after basket of bread until we were stuffed.  The waitress then came and offered us some second helpings for free, since they had a lot of excess in the kitchen.  We couldn’t resist and spent another half hour trying to finish it all.  By the time we left, I was so full I could hardly stand.

But our adventure wasn’t over!  We decided to go for dessert and ended up choosing Persian ice cream.  The first time I went, I got the orange blossom.  This time I was too full to get a serving myself, but I shared a white rose with Apprentice.  Yes, their ice cream flavors are very flower-oriented.  I feel like I’m eating a garden and it is the strangest sensation.  It turned out to be a nice complement to the food we had earlier and both were awesome cultural experiences for the newbies.  When I finally got home, it’s no wonder I lay on the bed to recover and ended up sleeping for the night.  Next time I want to deep sleep, I’ll make sure to get Ethiopian again.  🙂


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,
cutting board received as gift for hosting a dinner for 12 in 2011

Putting my board to good use!

Yesterday I hosted my very first Dinner for 12 Strangers!  I attended three while I was an undergrad (one each year except for the one that I was studying abroad) and I’ve wanted to host one since I graduated.  I finally got my own place this year and signed up as soon as I knew I’d have somewhere to host it.

As expected, scheduling conflicts led to quite a few cancellations from the students and faculty member slated to attend my dinner.  Between myself, my two co-hosts, and the 5 students who did manage to come out, we had a nice cozy party of 8.  My co-hosts and I prepared waaay too much food, but it’s all good since the students went home happy and well-fed.  I even had a bunch of disposable containers that they used to take some of the leftovers home.  🙂

We spent most of the night playing an icebreaker game with M&Ms where each color represented some area of your life you’d share, such as family, career, aspirations, and hobbies.  You grabbed a small handful and for each color you had, you’d say something about that topic.  We decided to go one color at a time and then afterwards we’d reflect on what people said that stuck to us the most.  This got a lot of conversation going and kept us rolling into the night!  Next thing we knew, it was already 9 and the students started to head out.

I only wish I’d taken a group picture of everyone!  Otherwise the night was just great and I’m glad we were able to put this together.  I look forward to doing it again next year, if I have a place nearby.  🙂

LoveSac PillowSac

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

examples of various pillowsac usesThis weekend I finally got the LoveSac PillowSac!  I mentioned back in May 2009 that I’ve wanted this thing for ages (about 8 and a half years by now) and now it’s here.  Originally I had wanted a SuperSac, the 6-foot diameter LoveSac, but after my friend lent me his indefinitely, I started to focus more on the PillowSac, which is cool because it is quite versatile.  I like that you can get the Rocker and set it up to be a rocking couch, or lay it out flat to be the size of a full mattress.  In addition, there are the fun shapes like fortune cookie and pea pod.  🙂

I’ve been following the Deals section of the LoveSac site, where they had an entire Fushia Berry Chenille set for $499 (more recently discounted to $399 for Valentine’s Day specials).  I liked this set because it came with the PillowSac and cover, a Rocker, and two throw pillows.  Purple’s my favorite color and I thought this unique pattern would be fun.  However, it’s absolutely tacky and impossible to match with anything, so I held off, not sure about that pattern.  Then, about three weeks ago, the Red Herringsuede one showed up for Valentine’s Day, also at $399, but without the throw pillows.  Now I couldn’t decide between the two.  The purple set had a better deal, but the red set is far easier to put in a room.

Click to see the deals:

fushia berry pillowsac set on sale

red herringsuede pillowsac set on sale

So, that’s how I ended up at the LoveSac store with Panda this weekend.  I figured I could take a look at the materials and decide once and for all which one made more sense.  Thank goodness I did too!  I had thought that the Herringsuede is a type of faux suede, but instead it’s actually a herringbone pattern renamed.  After seeing that, I would have rather had another more exciting texture.  Luckily enough, the store had a black Velvish PillowSac cover that it was selling for a discount because this cover was discontinued and it was their last one.  Even more fortunate was that they had an open PillowSac selling for a discount because it was not completely brand new and in the packaging.  The reason for that was it was used in a L’Oreal commercial that Beyoncé shot recently.  Pretty cool, huh?

So when I heard the price of the PillowSac and cover, I was pretty sold, but I wanted the entire set I’d seen online, Rocker and throw pillows too.  I asked the saleslady about that and she was able to offer slight discounts for both.  She had a couple of throw pillows to choose from and I thought the Red Herringsuede would actually be a great contrast on the black.  Having pillows that don’t match the PillowSac itself made things much more lively and exciting, otherwise those pillows sort of blend right in.  In the end, I’d be paying about $27 more at the store for a much more customized set with a cool back story.  And so that is how I ultimately got my new PillowSac set!

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