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Hi. I'm Dani Oliver. I'm a writer living in Los Angeles, working full-time at an arts non-profit and ghostwriting on the side. This is where I write personal stuff publicly. Like ya do.



Hi there.

I’ve made myself a promise that, every weekday, I’ll either exercise or write. So far, I’ve managed to accomplish this task (I’ve been working out a lot, writing a little, surprise surprise). Until tonight. 

I feel lethargic, allergy-stricken, hormonal, so the gym and yoga are right out. My brain is dull and irritated, so writing isn’t going to happen. 

Writing in this journal is my copout.

So hello, there! Again!

I’ll give you a few life updates, because why not.

My job, after a tumultuous few months, is going well. 

My social life, god help me, is the same. I’m trying my damnest to make friends, but I always have a hard time doing so when I’m not single. I’m not in flirt-mode when I’m not single, which puts an emphasis on the introverted and eliminates the go-getter borrower-sized human inside of me altogether. 

I went to Vegas, and it was a very tame trip. Almost too tame. I don’t know if that means I’m growing up or that I’m boring. Or maybe I just needed a different traveling circumstance. Couldn’t tell you, really. I saw a Cirque show, though, my first one. It was stunning. Also, I’m amazed that a casino was housing a theatre that large. Hell, a theatre at all. Vegas is sort of a wonderland like that. So disoriented, the whole time.

I applied to go on Birthright in August. I’ve wanted to go to Israel for years, and this year is my last chance at Birthright. Crossing fingers. 

I am writing, though. I’m working on my play. I want it more than I wanted it the last time I started. But it’s teaching myself a skill I don’t have yet; frustrating, overwhelming, trial and error.

My apartment is coming along nicely. The items still needed are as follows: a trunk/coffee table, a big circular rug, a pub table and chairs. The items I’d like to upgrade include the following: a dresser/wardrobe, my desk. The rest is just set-dressing, and that’s the easiest part. I’m comfortable there now. It’s home, and I want to be there for a while.

I wish there was more. And that might actually be the larger thing. I wish there were more, and I’m currently experimenting with different ways there could be more. 

And so forth.

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I. Don’t. Want. To. Sleep. 

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oh, right.

I have the worst memory for experience.

I’ve just recalled that this, always, is how insomnia starts. It starts with days where sleeping is out of the question. Maybe mania, maybe anxiety, maybe fear, perhaps aggression or boredom. Whatever. These are the beginning days. I don’t just start with a “oh shit I can’t sleep.” It happens with a “oh, christ. there’s no way I’m sleeping.” Then it unravels from there.

I’m back to listening to Li-Young Lee while trying to sleep (instead of the typical bad British tv). I used to listen to his readings on repeat until the sun came up, not wanting to sleep. Memorizing the poems, mouthing along with him. I don’t know why I’m listening to him again. 

I’m exhausted and riled up. Unquieted and internally chaotic. 

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Well, okay.

It’s been raining, which is outright violent for the the city and downright refreshing for its people, so no complaints from this human. My kitchen caught an audible drip, {doink. ——- doink.———} but I couldn’t spy its source. I climbed my black countertops like a child would, cookie-scouting, and whirled around at that altitude for a while, until I placed my hands against a spot on the ceiling. It was spongy, and bendy, and feverish — all things a ceiling shouldn’t be. I stood there cautiously — Atlas without confidence of his own brute strength, his own assignment — before nudging a dewy spot with my index finger, giving it a dimpling push. Still though, there was no water on the floor. Just a mass above my head growing more and more insistent. 

I emailed the super, and she sent someone out right way, which was kind, (“Oh man,” she replied quickly. “This rain!”) but then I didn’t know what to do with myself. What does one do when one’s home might cave in? Play cards? Imagine destruction? Overreact? 

The roof-fixers came and went, though, and I returned to my kitchen after the rain stopped to find water on the floor at different coordinates. And I looked up to see that that was where the water had gone — where it had found its release. 


Oh, bother. 

I figured I’d drain the light and then leave it for an electrician to deal with later on, so I turned it off and pointed a flashlight at my target, wiggling back up to my countertops and twisting (leftie loosy) the best I could. Water started spurting out the bottom of the light onto the tile, so I stopped and stared for a while, one-handed head-scratching, one-handed counter-gripping. I bounced down and employed a strategically-placed barren flower pot, tickled by own ingenuity, and hopped back up again, hauling determination with me. 

I twisted again but the fixture barely budged. It did, however, release a thin stream of water that fell, mostly, twinklingly, into the pot below.

But the truth is, it neither twinkled nor fell. It seemed as if, forgive me… it seemed like it was being woven from light — not water, but gossamer — propelled by something other than ordinary gravity. In the dark, in the blue halogen, it was electric, and intentional, and existed despite a pull. It was downwards pushing. 

So I stopped twisting and let it push out of the small glass hole, let it gather and splash in the clay pot until it decided it was done. And as it did, my leak-anxiety faded and, with a millimeter smile, I watched this magic for its minute. And then it was done.

I haven’t been this delighted in a long time. I know it sounds strange, but it’s the moments when I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m surprised by my efforts’ outcomes, that I let go of all other things. I feel relief. No longer pressurized, and lightly drained. 

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Tonight I got pulled over for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. Aside from the fact that it was absolute bullshit, the cop treated me like a piece of trash when he pulled me over. I rarely use this word, but he harassed me. He implied I was stupid, implied I was a liar, and was aggressive in a way that — had he been anyone other than a cop — I would have walked away and removed myself from the situation immediately. 

But I couldn’t.

I felt unsafe. And it took every part of me not to break down while he was yelling at me.

I might sound ignorant as fuck, because I’m a young white woman who rarely encounters the police — and when I do, they’ve been kind and professional — but what happened to me tonight broke me a bit, and scared the shit out of me. I’ve never felt like that in that context. The only feeling I have to compare it to is when strange men have approached me while I’ve walked alone; that feeling of bile in your stomach when you realize “this person is unsafe, and aggressive. And there’s nothing I can do about it but get out of here, fast.”

But I couldn’t get out of there, so I stopped making eye contact and I became incredibly submissive, and I spoke in a low tone — like a little girl — and he stopped.

It sickened me. It frightened me. And it made me realize how fucking ignorant I am in so many ways.

I’m a bit of a mess. Pathetic, I know. But I’m crying and stopping and crying and stopping. And I’ve been trying to think about other things.

I found this video on Reddit, and it just made me weep. Sometimes men scare me in ways that I don’t like to admit. I’m embarrassed to say that. Hell, I’m embarrassed by this whole post, really. But sometimes I’m scared of their aggressiveness, their assuredness, their power. But I watched this video and saw kindness, and a disconnect between the stereotype of an old, white, southern, male face and the compassion and goodness that came out of it. 

This is all fucking dumb, and I’m going to regret typing it all out. So pretend you didn’t read it, and watch this video. I’d like to think that this person makes up for the trash of a human I encountered tonight.

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Daily Source of Discontent, #1

Individuals who have that distinctive sort of laugh that is indistinguishable from a cry, or from someone weeping.

Everyone, stop laughing like that. It frightens me. 

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oh, shh.

My apartment is so loud that moments of 1am silence arrive startlingly, abrasively. Like if you were focusing too hard on something and realized that, ten seconds ago, a glass shattered. 

Oh, friends. I’m in a manic, manic slump. 

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awake / alert / esophagus

I’m in an odd pattern this past week; I’m experiencing extreme fatigue coupled with middling insomnia. It’s frustrating. I’ve also had heartburn, which hasn’t made the situation any better.

Overly-active mind, stress, tension caused by overstimulation. 

There’s just too many cogs, and my viewfinder keeps expanding. It’s some sort of machine that I have no control over. It’ll never be done. It just keeps going and malfunctioning and going.

If I could just finish something, particularly at work, I think I’d feel better. I started cleaning out some of our old archives just so I could clean out a damn box, but it just created more piles and more things I must sift through. I just want something to be finished, complete, and right. 

Otherwise disheartened might turn to unstable.

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My 2013 in Reading


I remembered to track 118 of the books I read in 2013 and I had thoughts about all of them. I love reading.

My top ten books:

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon
Unmastered: A Book on Desire by Katherine Angel
The Isle of Youth by…

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what a monster

I was driving up Western on my way to work this morning, and speeding towards me, in the opposite lane, was a remote control monster truck. I have no idea who was driving it; I looked around quickly but saw no one in the street or on the sidewalk.

It wasn’t more than a foot tall, and it was going very fast.

Second best LA spotting. Second only to the giant cockroach carrying a half-smoked cigarette down the street in South Central.

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oh it’s the newest numeral

2014. No resolutions. I already know what I have to do, and it’s too goddamn much anyway. 

Though among the threads of quiet self-promises is this peculiarity: to spend more time by myself, and less time alone. I yearn to do both, terribly. I think that leaves me stuck somewhere in the muted middle, the current state of things, the already. Or maybe what I really need is to learn how to divide the two between internal and external states, and accomplish them simultaneously.

One is stark raving-mad, the other just might work. 

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don’t look like you’re stealing.

Some guy was just detained by six cops in front of my building, and I just watched it all play out for thirty minutes. They ended up uncuffing and just letting him go. So boring.

But I watched the whole thing because I don’t have television. 

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Lo and behold.

I read Lolita this past week, which was a long time coming.

It was nothing that I thought it would be. Humbert was a pathetic but charismatic, and Lolita was petulant and irritating. Pop culture references to the book imply a sort of uneasy romance between a girl-child-woman and a dark and perverted man. I don’t know how I feel about that difference, apart from the fact that it was surprising.

Perhaps its place in pop culture has more to do with the movie (which I watched immediately following). In the book, Lolita is an absolute child, pre-pubescent, skinny, boyish. And relatively empty-headed. In the movie… well, that was the most sexualized and maniacal 13-year-old I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it’s because the movie would have been severely uncomfortable to make and watch with an actress that actually resembled a child, or what. But that difference was frustrating. Seemed like it countered the whole point of the book.

I don’t know. I quite enjoyed the book. Particularly the first half. It got a bit unfocused as Humbert unravelled, but maybe that was the point. 

… Jesus, the depth of my analysis is unfathomable!

No wonder I don’t write criticism. 

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