Secret Pop

Dec 28, 2001

Dream Weaver

I almost forgot -- and surely, at this point, I will have forgotten much -- but I woke up in the 5 A.M. hour and realized that I had been dreaming something that made me laugh out loud. A character in my dream -- played by the actor who played the Euro-villain in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and who has been in car commercials and assorted other things -- was reciting some information and was impressed with himself, saying that he usually has the poorest memory imaginable. He picked up some common object and said, "My memory is so bad, I called this 'hoon.'" I have no idea why that was so amusing to me, and I am certainly leaving out the details that I would have remembered had I been more diligent and tried to jot it down at the time of waking. But I am also well aware that no amount of detailed recounting would make this more interesting to other people. Dreams have a way of being incredibly dull in the retelling. Unless there's naughtiness involved. And usually -- if it's good and coherent and titillating -- it isn't authentic dream material. Sleep-bound erotica that doesn't involve the odd presence of clowns or dancing mailmen or animate baked goods is an artifice. Surely.

Wine and Spirits

I had a few friends over for dinner the night before last. I'm pleased that my home still smells of good food and a crackling fireplace. A few staunch pals came over again last night and had leftovers with me. Although I prepared some things fresh and was glad to be able to actually sit down and enjoy the meal with them. And we watched State and Main, which I am pleased to report was a wonderful film and quintessentially David Mamet. My sister had previously warned me that it wasn't very good, but I have to continue to remind myself that our expectations of film differ. And maybe who you see a film with has a great deal to do with whether or not you enjoy it.

I've been trying for two days now to burn a piece of wood that was sitting outside my back door. It pops and sizzles a lot and sort of melts, but very little actually burning appears to be taking place. By the time I gave up on it last night, it had a sort of crescent shape hollowed out of one side and was glowing orange along the edges, sort of like the phony burning wood you see on the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Without fail, any time I am able to sleep in or endeavor to, there is some sort of hubbub going on behind my apartment or upstairs that keeps me from being able to rest. A neighbor moved out last weekend, so last Friday, I was kept awake by loud conversation and the sound of furniture items actually being dropped off the second floor patio to the concrete below. This morning, the workmen who are refurbishing the apartment -- who have also been preventing my access to my garage nearly every morning and evening with a big white van that is always parked in my driveway and which has created an unsightly track of mud from the driveway down to the street -- were using every loud tool imaginable. I awoke thinking, "Now, why would they be using a leaf blower in that apartment? And what need would they have for a wood chipper?" But I'm over it now. Poorly rested but looking forward to a few days of performance and rest and time with friends, I am.

Dec 21, 2001

"That's fuckin' teamwork..."

I went to the House of Blues last night for the Tenacious D, Spinal Tap, Naked Trucker show to benefit mitochondrial disease. There were plenty of celebrities there and people whose work I admire or envy. I saw Beck eating a plate of butternut squash. And David X. Cohen wandering around, sporting a Planet Express bowling shirt with his name embroidered on a patch on the breast. Matt Groening was there. Ben Stiller. Jason Schwartzman. All sorts of people one would recognize from comedy or film. And I stood right behind the table reserved for Kyle Gass and Jack Black during the Spinal Tap set. I kept bumping Kyle's hindquarters with my handbag. He was cool about it.

It was raining and cold, just like the last time I saw Tenacious D at the House of Blues, which was a little over a year ago, when I knew nothing of L.A. or what the coming year would hold for me. I appreciate the innocence of ignorance. Even from this vantage point.

Dec 20, 2001

Fellowship of the Ring

I went to see The Lord of the Rings tonight at the very excellent Vista Theatre on Sunset. I really enjoyed it, although I kept feeling like Alice in Wonderland, the way the film kept playing with perspectives to create the illusion of tallness and shortness in otherwise normal-sized people. I went with friends who were very committed to the books and were audibly dismayed at various times. There was even an utterance of, "Yeah, right," when the credits ran the title, "Based on the Book by J.R.R. Tolkien." I'm very much open to dissenting opinions and was even looking forward to hearing the rationales behind a dislike of the film, but my companions left before the credits finished. I remained and then walked a couple of blocks back to my car, wondering if that was rude of them.

I was very moved by a lot of the film. And am certainly compelled to revisit the books, which I have not read since I was a very young adolescent. I was moved by the weight of things. I wondered what it would be like to have the mantle of "What Really Matters" cast so clearly and obviously on any one thing. I felt that small taste of bitterness when the speck of romance showed itself. I thought about what it might be like to be called onto a quest that took me away from everything. And what it would feel like to have that quest over and to have to return to the normalcy of a life that once seemed fulfilling but suddenly lacked the thrill of more harrowing circumstances. There is an allegory in here somewhere. In many ways, I was moved.

I was not, however, moved by the Episode II trailer I saw before the film began. I scowled for the length of it and thought to myself how utterly shitty a film it looked like it was going to be. This is all part of the magnificent case for leaving well enough alone.

Dec 19, 2001

Home is where the bookshelves are.

I'm a good girl. Last night, I began poking around amongst my friends, looking for companionship and distraction. I was fully prepared to go out and make a night of it, despite the responsibilities that loom at home. But fortunately for me, no one was to be found or to be enticed. So I spent the whole of the evening moving furniture and unpacking stemware and putting books on shelves and talking on the phone and just generally getting a lot done and feeling good about it. I think I pulled a muscle in my neck moving those nightmarish bookshelves that cause me so much woe during my move. It's my own fault, though. I was ambivalent about where I would place them, so I had my dad set them up in the guest bedroom, but I was never happy with them in there, and I ended up moving them last night back into the dining room, which is where I think I originally imagined they would go. Serves me right. I guess I had contemplated buying a wall unit or a china cabinet or something, but that doesn't seem to be getting any forward motion. And, of course, it occurs to me that I shouldn't burden myself with a whole heap of space-hogging furniture when I can probably expect not to live in this apartment for the rest of my life. Even my little dining table, which had looked so insufficient in the middle of the huge lot of dining room I have, looked modest but acceptable when I finished with everything. And I've cleared it off so that a meal can actually be had at it. That's splendid, I think. I've had too many meals on my lap in front of the computer or at the coffee table. That's not living.

So, bravo for accomplishment, even of things mundane and seemingly unfulfilling. More needs to be said about the value of having a comfortable living space. As I make this place more and more my own, it welcomes me commensurately. And I have been in need of that.

If only a little flock of elves would sneak in while I sleep and make me a bunch of curtains.

Dec 18, 2001

Last night, I dreamed that Jo died. And I was distraught. I was beside myself. Crying and thrashing about. I couldn't believe it. I had just talked to her. I am relieved to be awake and coherent and to know that it was just a dream. I've had similar dreams about other people I love in recent months. I've awakened with tears in my eyes and been filled with despair. It's ghastly.

I was pleased to have talked Martìn into coming up and having sushi with me. We had a great time and far too much to eat. Although there was one point in the meal when it became apparent that the sushi chef did not understand our order or had not taken note of the things we had asked for, so the tide of sushi just came to a halt. And neither Martìn nor I seemed compelled to right the situation by simply speaking up. I finally did. But I realized that this is our chief mutual flaw. This almost ridiculous desire to avoid confrontation. Someday, it will cost me a vital organ. I'm sure of it.

I told Martìn that I felt the confidence of my superiority in the email medium. I made him laugh when I said that I at least am a competent writer and will not send emails that do not acknowledge the difference between "your" and "you're." He thought that was very funny. In fact, we laughed a great deal last night. Almost constantly. It was a rewarding way to spend an evening. To be sure.

It's hard to go to sleep when there are so many reasons to stay up. As much as I love a little rest, I collect it grudgingly. I would prefer to be on the go at all times. Sometimes the stillness is unbearable.

Dec 13, 2001

I was awake to hear the newspaper being delivered. I don't think that's happened since those long magical nights during Present Laughter, when sleep always seemed a tawdry inconvenience compared to the stimulation of friends and would-be lovers. It's not that I haven't been up this late. It's just that I haven't had cause to notice the sound of the paper being dropped on my doorstep. Memories crop up for the unlikeliest of reasons.

But I have to work tomorrow.
Eyes reddened
Tummy empty
Brain full to bursting
I was busily tidying up and unpacking, wearing only my underthings as luck would have it, when Tom called and turned out to be in the neighborhood, so we ended up swapping tales in front of a nice fire and sharing a bottle of wine and just generally having a lovely time. And I'm fine with that.

Dec 12, 2001

I got a strange email from a web site admirer, who described himself as "long in the tooth." Adam said, "Oh, my God. That's even an old person's way of saying, 'I'm old.'" That was hilarious.

I saw Ocean's Eleven tonight with a heap of friends. It's fun to do that. Angela stays for the credits! We truly are spirits kindred. When is someone going to pull off a major heist and do prison time to win my affection?

Dec 11, 2001

Has it really been three months since that awful World Trade Center business? I can't believe the passage of time and life. There have been parts of this year that have just crawled. And there have been other parts that seemed to last longer than usual because they were so wonderful and the moments were worthy of savoring.
Last night, Debbie and I went to the private pre-showing of the Christie's auction. There were a few Chagall originals there, among the Motherwells and the Harings and the Lichtensteins and the Frankenthalers and the Warhols and the Miros. I was covetous. I'm glad I went.

Dec 9, 2001

Hands warm
Belly smooth
Cheeks flush

"Why, Spongebob? Why?"

Well, the second day of MuppetFest was a bust, I guess. An inconceivable amount of weirdness ensued with Kevin, and I saw myself lose my temper, which I really hate to do. It's a shame, because I was really glad we were getting to be friends, and I think this has put an unusually large kink in the fabric of things. It's not that it isn't repairable. It's just that it showed me some things about our personalities. And I think they were probably lessons best learned early. So good for me, then. I suppose.

Martìn was a witness to all of it and did his best to not let me end the night feeling as if I had been a beast of a person. I was grateful for that. And took him to Mr. Cecil's for a nice helping of barbecue and venting. This was also intended to congratulate him on his latest coup: the landing of the job at Disney. After I finally wrested my evening back, Martìn offered to take a raincheck on dinner, but I wouldn't let him. I hugged him and cried a little. Another thing I hate to do. I'm glad of Martìn. He is a fine friend.

We had breakfast at Hugo's on Santa Monica and saw Brian Cox breakfasting before us. He was the principal in Rushmore, as an entry on a very long filmography. I guess that was an interesting thing to note.

The highlight of MuppetFest was the panel session with the puppeteers and their puppets talking and taking questions. I took a handful of photographs before a finger-wagging staff person told me I couldn't just hang out in front of the stage indefinitely, despite the prominent display of my V.I.P. badge. I took comfort in the fact that she soon after told Heather Henson, who was sitting right behind me, that she would have to turn off her video camera. I think that might have been a fair indication that she wasn't entirely tuned in.

I should get back to the living room, where a nice fire still burns in the fireplace, and I can enjoy a little time to think before the week overtakes me again.

Dec 8, 2001

"Newsweek raves, 'Boy-did-we-need-this-film!'"

MuppetFest in the morning. Some fun. Some disappointment. But I'm glad I got to go, and I'm glad I went with someone who knew everyone important. That's always good for the soul. We got shushed in the auditorium during the Creature Shop segment. I felt rude.

Went to see Amélie tonight and even managed to run into Jo, one of my favorite people in all the world. And the movie was its own sort of magic. I adored it. It renewed my appreciation for whimsy and kind, thoughtful gestures, and romantic stratagems.


Chickens, desist!

I was half-awake in bed this morning, taking stock of the fact that this might be the first Saturday morning I have spent here since I moved in. And I was persistently annoyed by the sound of a...chicken? A child pretending to be a chicken? Several children being harassed by chickens? A cat that sounds like a chicken? I can't be sure. I only know that the sound was ghastly, that it went on for ages, and that I was tempted to lean out my window and yell for it to stop. Only I worried that it would turn out to actually be a chicken, and I would have felt foolish.

MuppetFest today!

The Party

Angie was showcasing her work with a bunch of other artists at the Downtown loft of a musician/artist friend of hers called Rick. I went with Andy and Dave after a nice bit of dinner at Spain in their neighborhood. It was exactly my concept of what real parties are. But I had never seen evidence of such things in my own experience. Crowded halls and stairwells of smoking, semi-famous personalities. Mingling. Dancing. A wealth of once-overs.

I met lots of cool folks. Had a few drinks. Ogled the artwork. And called it a night. All in all, it was great fun. I almost wish I hadn't had anywhere else to be in the morning. But that's a dreadful thing to say, when the thing that awaits me is MuppetFest!

Sleep is less rewarding when it can be had.

Dec 6, 2001

"Who drew the pig?"

Sarah's here. We're waiting for it to be time to go to this party. She saw a drawing of Speak (from The Tick animated series) on my mantel, and said, "Who drew the pig?" Speak is a dog, of course. She once referred to Spongebob and Patrick as Penis and Cheese, though. She's not what one might call "up to speed" when it comes to the comic book world. *sigh*

"No time for love, Charlie Brown."

It is a great, gorgeous day today in Hollywood, California, USA. I had a nice lunch with my friend Tom at the Farmer's Market and wished I hadn't had to get back to work. Ever. Unseasonal heat and a bit of sunlight put me in the mood for a nap.

I, as usual, can't believe the passage of time. That it's Christmastime already. That it's been nearly three months since that whole September 11th thing. That it's been a year since any number of things. And my life isn't demarcated the same way anymore. Under ordinary circumstances, I would be dreading the hectic rehearsal and performance schedule of "Traditions of Christmas" down at Copley Symphony Hall. It will be strange to not be ushered through the seasons a show at a time anymore. Those were obligations I had come to depend on.

Sarah will be here tonight. I hope we will have a great, memorable time. Fast parties and fast food are on the agenda. When will a girl get a chance to rest?

"Faaaame, makes a man take things over..."

Crossing the street to my office today, I strolled by a black car with the windows cracked. I could hear David Bowie crooning out the lyrics to Fame, with a little help from John Lennon. It was easy to factor the beat into my walk. I love that song. Although, I can recall -- as a young Duranie -- that I once found it intolerably slow, having only heard Duran Duran's silly disco cover version of it. I think that may have been before I discovered the importance of FUNK.

Dec 5, 2001

"That NEVER happens in L.A.!"

I walked to Briazz for lunch today. It's cold and windy, but the sun was out, and I'm wearing black. I had half a sandwich and tried to eat some soup, but the wind was making it splash all over the place, so I gave up and just wrote in my little notebook for a while. I was sitting at a table beside a group of elderly gentlemen, quizzing each other on classic film trivia and tossing out vaudevillian one-liners in Eastern Seaboard accents.

Then, I started heading back to the office, and a black SUV pulled around behind me at a crosswalk and honked, and I heard the driver say, "Excuse me," a couple of times before turning around to see my cousin Patrick at the wheel. We caught up briefly there on the sidewalk. He works close by, lives close by. We exchanged business cards and hugs. And then I headed back to the office. It felt like a New York City moment.

Dec 3, 2001

Boba drinks and meaningful conversation

Went out for Japanese food with Jo tonight. And she introduced me to these Snowbubble drinks -- essentially milky, slushy smoothies with tapioca pearls in them. Yum!

Jo really motivates me. God bless her for that. She makes me feel like doing more. No matter how much I may already be doing at the time.

It's raining again.

Rain in Los Angeles is like syrup on pancakes. And of course it's nothing like that at all. But the rain washes all the haze and smog away, leaving a few days of brilliant blue skies in its wake. I look forward to that.

There are other things this means. Surely. It's raining again. For me. In many ways.

Nov 30, 2001

Gentle Weeping

George Harrison died yesterday. I saw the little news ticker run across the bottom of the screen while I was watching Conan last night. What a weird, sad night it was. I was supposed to go to the Jim Henson Studios to see a private preview of the new Jack and the Beanstalk miniseries, hosted by Brian Henson himself. But I found out late in the day that I was supposed to be in San Diego for a comedy remote, so I had to dash down to The Abbey in Hillcrest to be not-so-funny for the be-prom-clothed kids of Point Loma Nazarene College. It was cold and rainy, but I made good time. I was a bit out of myself all night, for some reason. It just felt very lonely and unwise to be Mary Forrest yesterday. If I could have chosen otherwise, I might have.

And then I found out that George Harrison had died, and I felt suddenly very sad and mortal and fearful of what lies ahead.

Nov 27, 2001

Archetypes of Inspiration

I was watching Star Trek Generations the other night. Because it was on. It always seems to be. And it occurred to me to consider what might be in my Nexus. I think the same thought came upon me when I was watching Harry Potter and that mirror was introduced. What is the thing I desire most? What would be my reality if I had it to choose? I don't know the answer. A few months ago, I might have had a quick answer for that. I might have thought my happiness could be found in one person or in one assurance. But I don't think that is the case any longer. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm certain it's worth thinking about. As much as anything is. What do I want? And how in the world will I ever get it?

Nov 22, 2001

I took Tasha for a run this morning. It was a gloomy, cool day. It occurred to me that when I started running this time last year, I used to do it with a sweatshirt on, and I used to come home with my legs feeling windburned and chapped. I've still been relying on my standard running garb, even into these colder months. Tank tops and bike shorts made of mysterious space-age materials that promise to prevent discomfort in all sorts of curious ways.

Tasha and I were almost to the end of the bike path running along the 56 when we came upon three people with two large dogs on leashes. The dogs came at Tasha, who ran at them as well. One of them bit Tasha's right haunch, lifting her into the air and swinging her like a rag doll. I was so horrified. I was screaming, "No!" and "Oh, my God!" And the people who had been trying to hold the dogs back were caring for the younger boy among them, who had been knocked down in the fracas. Tasha began to run back down the bike path, tearing her leash from my hands and only slowing after I chased and called her again and again. I scooped her up and carried her the mile or so home. Her blood was all over my arms and my clothes. I was crying and apologizing to her. I can't believe it happened. I washed my clothes out and had a good cry in the shower.

It's Thanksgiving Day. The house smells of turkey and warmth and all sorts of goodness. And my eyes are swollen and burning. And I am filled with a sense of sadness and failure at having let this innocent little creature come to harm.

Beulah and Justin just came in and showed me Tasha's stapled wound. She is quiet and still. And I am so sorry.

Nov 9, 2001

From an old book of poetry called City Ballads

So I have come: but The City is great,
Bearing me down like a brute with its weight.
So I have come: but The City is cold,
And I am lonelier now than of old.

I bought this book with a stack of others at a used bookstore on Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest one night after dinner at the Tofu House and before ice cream at Moo Time. So many, many things are no longer in walking distance. And, yes, that's a metaphor.

Here is the whole:

[From Arthur Selwyn's Note-book.]

    Here in The City I ponder,
    Through its long pathways I wander.
    These are the spires that were gleaming
    All through my juvenile dreaming.
This is The Something I heaard, far away,
When, at the close of a tired Summer day,
Resting from work on the the lap of a lawn,
Gazing to whither The Sun-god had gone,
Leaving behind him his mantles of gold--
This is The Something by which I was told:
    "Bend your head, dreamer, and listen --
    Come to my splendors that glisten!
    Either to triumph they call you,
    Or to what worst could befall you!"
This is The Something that thrilled my desires,
When the weird Morning had kindled his fires,
And the gray city of clouds in the east
Lighted its streets as for pageant or feast,
    Whisp'ring -- my spirit elating --
    "Come to me, boy, I am waiting
Bring me your muscle and spirit and brain --
Here to my glory-strewn, ruin-strewn plain!"
    Treading the trough of the furrow,
    Digging where life-rootlets burrow,
    Blade of the food-harvest swinging,
    In the barns toiling and singing,
    Breath of a bay-meadow smelling,
    Forest-trees loving and felling --
    Where'er my spirit was turning,
    Lived that mysterious yearning!
When in the old country school-house I conned
Legends of life in the broad world beyond --
When in the trim hamlet-college I cast
Wondering glances at days that were past --
Ever I longed for the walls and the streets,
And the rich conflict that energy meets!


So I have come: but The City is great,
Bearing me down like a brute with its weight.
So I have come: but The City is cold,
And I am lonelier now than of old.


    Yet, 'tis the same restless story:
    Even to fail here were glory!
    Grand, to be part of this ocean
    Of matter and mind and emotion!
    Here flow the streams of endeavor,
    Cityward trending forever, --
    Wheat-stalks that tassel the field,
    Harvests of opulent yield,
    Grass-blades that fence with each other,
    Flower-blossoms -- sister and brother --
    Roots that are sturdy and tender,
    Stalks in your thrift and your splendor,
    Mind that is fertile and daring,
    Face that true beauty is wearing --
    All that is strongest and fleetest,    
All that are dainty and sweetest.
Look to the domes and the glittering spires,
Waiting for you with majestic desires!
List to The City's gaunt, thunderous roar,
Calling and calling for you evermore!
Long in the fields you may labor and wait --
You and your tribe may come early or late;
Beauty and excellence dwell and will dwell
Oft amid garden and moorland and fell;
    Long generations may hold them;
    Centuries oft can enfold them;
But the rich City's they some time shall be,
Sure as the spring is the food of the sea.

I wonder if there are people who will love the sad girl inside, too.

Nov 8, 2001

"Be there tomorrow. Quit smoking today."

I just saw an anti-smoking spot that really gave me chills. The one where the toddler is learning to walk and his grandpa gets down on his knee to encourage him to come to him, and the little boy just walks right throught the grandpa, as the grandpa begins to fade away with a sad expression on his face. Death is an uncomfortable subject for me.

Nov 7, 2001

Dressing on Faith

I need need NEED a mirror. I only have the little medicine cabinet mirror in my bathroom. I have no idea until I get to work how I actually look. And the mirror in our bathroom here makes me look like I have short legs, blast it. I can't believe I've been able to go to work every day trusting that I look all right but having no palpable evidence of that fact. It's almost akin to me turning "rugged."

"I feel nothing. I'm in L.A."

I love tonight! New friends. Spontaneous outings. Drop dead kick ass music. I went to The Joint to meet up with my new friend Jo and her friends to see Melodine. They were third on the line-up. The second act was this incredible guy called Chris Pierce. He just set the place on fire. His singing, his guitar and harmonica playing. He was just huge. And the songs were brilliant. Apparently one song called "Static Trampoline" will air on "Dawson's Creek" tomorrow night. I was so impressed. I felt like this big, stupid groupie. I bought his homemade CD and everything. I'm listening to it right now. It's great. You should buy it. Although there's little that can compare with the experience of seeing this guy live. For an encore, he did a song called "Keep On Keepin' On" with the help of a guy he called Billy Porter. I just can't stress enough how great it was. I was beaming and happy and dancing and just thoroughly alive. Yay!

Then I brought my new friends back to my place and set Jo and her fianc7eacute; up with some Mac help. Now, I'm shirking my responsibilities and doing font conversions that will probably go unappreciated. It is a confirmed fact that I will never learn.

Melodine, by the way, was also quite awesome. And they have a CD to buy, too.

I almost forgot. The title. Yes. So, Melodine was asking the audience whether we could hear okay. The lead singer goes, "Can you feel it?" And this guy pipes up, "I feel nothing! I'm in L.A.!" People around him laughed, but there was a moment of it occurring to them that what he was saying might be an insult.

I added my name to The Joint's mailing list.

Nov 6, 2001


Last night was super cool. Birthday celebrations. Korean barbecue. New friends. Admiration of lovely restroom facilities. Valet parking. The works. Loved every minute of it.

Except the discovery that the reason my DVD/LD player wouldn't open was that my Criterion Rushmore DVD was stuck in it and mangled in a particularly cruel fashion. I tried to take relief from this discovery, assuming that once I put the housing back in place, my player would work again. Instead, I found that it makes an alarming grinding noise and still doesn't actually open. Off to the Pioneer authorized repair shop I go.

I've got to write something. Really.

Nov 4, 2001

Lightning crashes

On my drive home to L.A. tonight, there was just a huge lot of lightning to be seen, admired, feared, distracted by. I was listening to Game 7 of the World Series on the radio. That is unheard of for me. Listening to a sporting event on the radio. Or watching one for that matter. Unless I've been invited to and there's some sort of social event going on. But I listened tonight. And I realized that I have no ability to visualize what's happening in a baseball game with just the assistance of an audio feed.

Today, I went to a Target in North San Diego County with my mom. A girl -- who was with a guy -- came up to me and asked if I was in a movie. I was confused. "Are you an actress?" I told her that I do theater, but..."Comedy!" the guy cried. "You're in the National Comedy Theatre." I affirmed. The girl was relieved by the realization. "It was driving us crazy. We knew we had seen you somewhere. It was the Spanish Inquisition Animatronic thing that night. Remember?" I did.

This is the second time I have been out doing something innocuous in San Diego and been asked if I'm an actress or if I'm in a movie or a TV show. The last time, it was in Kensington, outside of LeStat's coffee house, where I was going to watch a show. A woman stopped me at the crosswalk with her daughter in tow and asked me if I was an actress. I remember being terribly flattered to be recognized. I felt similarly today. I'm no budding starlet, but one can't help but feel a little dizzy when fame looms. Later today, at the Home Depot, an orange-aproned fellow pointed us in the direction of fireplace accessories, and I said to my mom, when we were out of earshot, "Thank you, kind sir. You just provided service to a star." My mom laughed. But then, she's on my side and very easy to amuse.

I performed with the comedy group on Saturday night. Two really great shows. I think the Forward/Reverse Dr. Seuss Romance with the Smelly Clown theme was the highlight. Although I also got a very welcome big laugh when I sang a jingle based on Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" during World's Worst. I think this proves my theory that Rick Astley is a surefire crowdpleaser. That song is a guilty pleasure for nearly everyone. And I bought the CD when it was a new release. Beat that, if you can.

I've gotten a smidge of unpacking done. Not enough to feel proud about, though. I hope the week will be filled with accomplishments and wise choices. This girl knows the cup of a carpenter when she sees it.

Nov 1, 2001

In praise of industry

I finally built my little Ikea bathroom thingy. I even tried to install some window coverings, but found that I lacked the tools I needed. All the same, there's now a little something on which to stack other somethings on the floor of my old-fashioned bathroom. Maybe even burn a pretty candle or display a bit of ikebana. Ah, the ambitions that come with a new home. How shortlived they are likely to be. A sinking feeling overcomes me when I imagine how many more weeks my apartment is likely to smell of cardboard. Make time, Mary. Paradoxically, there will be time for making other things later.

Hurray for kept promises.

I told myself I would go and have my lunch at the La Brea Tarpits and write in my journal, and today I did it. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and the weather was perfect for sitting in the sun, even all dressed in black as I was. Incidentally, S&B pants fit me like a dream. I have many reasons to be glad of shopping at Nordstrom.

There is a smell at the Tarpits. But it isn't so very obtrusive. It was just so lovely. I had a later lunch, so it was about 2 P.M. when I was sitting out there. The sun was shining through the spindly fingers of very tall palm trees that line Wilshire at that stretch. There were field trippers galore -- school kids as well as older students sketching in the sculpture garden. Beulah and I chatted on the phone for a bit. We talked about one day being filmmakers together. And we laughed about things that only we would laugh about. I ate a delicious panini and drank a Red Bull and watched the little birds on the fence and wondered why more strings of words weren't springing to my pencil. Maybe there is something too contrived about planned inspiration.

A friendly blond woman on a bicycle stopped to ask me where I got my Krispy Kremes. I had gotten them at the little eatery where I bought my panini. They sell them by the box there, and I had bought a box to share with my co-workers. I also let her know that they sell Krispy Kremes in the Plaza Cafe at LACMA. She was happy because that's where she and the guy she was with had intended to go next. She thanked me and suggested that I should enjoy my doughnuts. All very friendly. The only disappointing epilogue is that I brought the doughnuts back to the office, and virtually no one wanted to eat them. Health-conscious crazies all. My boss was later saying concerned things about the manifestations of terrorism we are likely to see in the near future. Doom and gloom, implying we won't be able to save our skins. So I interjected cheerily, "With that in mind, why not have a lovely doughnut!" Still no takers. I managed to pawn some off on the web guys and one of the women I work with. But she chose a doughnut whose filling didn't please her. It was just a day for letdowns in that respect.

In other respects, it was a day for jubilation. I just felt pretty good, and I loved being at work and getting a lot done. I'm looking forward to some of my meetings tomorrow. And I'm looking forward to driving down to San Diego to do some comedy shows and to play with Elizabeth again.

I canceled a date tonight. It would have been fun, but I'm just tuckered out. It is a shame to waste my outfit. It's very simple, but I was pleased at how I looked when I caught my reflection in the bathroom mirror at the office. It's always a bit of a crapshoot, since I don't have anything but the medicine cabinet mirror to look at in my apartment. The hunt for space-conscious mirrored furniture continues. Anyway, rainchecks were issued. Perhaps tomorrow.

Cold hands. Relatively warm everything else.

Cold hand. Just the one. The one that works the optical mouse. It's cold and rebellious. Fevered heart. Temperatures soaring into dangerous ranges. Causing mild delirium and a desire to drink something sweet and cool. Fever does that.

Oct 31, 2001

My schedule is a bitch goddess.

Too much time for fun. Or too little. Too much value placed on this "fun" business, to be sure.

I am in the habit of seeking out reassurances. Even when those reassurances only confirm truths I detest. Couldn't I find a greater peace by simply calling off the search altogether? By not seeking as a rule? I would still see things. Surely. I see things every day. And perhaps in not seeking things out, I would give myself greater room and greater opportunity to actual see what confronts me.

I have projects to get going on. What am I waiting for?

Oct 30, 2001

Today is a good day to die. Or to have a bowl of soup. Whichever.

I got rained on when I walked out to get lunch today. In Los Angeles. It caught me by surprise. I had to ask a kindly merchant to give me an extra plastic bag to put my baby blue suede jacket in so it wouldn't get spotty and drenched. This proves that I don't have arthritis. I had no idea it was going to rain. Despite the grey skies and meteorologist predictions.

A short while ago, there was a woman walking around on the roof of the 99¢ Store across the street. I wonder if she was looking for something. Or if she was an inept jumper -- the victim of poor planning and a limited understanding of the physical laws.

A cool, white serpent of a cloud is crawling across the Hollywood sign right now. In seconds, it will be completely covered. I'd take a picture, but I recognize and respect the limitations of the lomo camera I carry in my handbag. It's a shame.

I think I have grown accustomed to looking at things from the outside in. Stealing glimpses from half-obscured windows. Peeking in on things in secret. Enviously eyeing a world of which I am distinctly not a part. The things I see, the bits I pick up -- they offer me no contextual relevance. Seeing anything -- knowing anything in this fashion is akin to its own form of sabotage. It creates the illusion of being an outsider. Even when the door is open and I am being invited to come inside.

Oct 29, 2001

I'm officially psychic.

Pulling up behind an older Ford Festiva, post-factory colored a dull shade of turquoise and manned by an older woman, post-youth colored a dull shade of grey, I had a premonition that I would not be making this left any time soon. It's my chief complaint about negotiating the streets of Los Angeles: there are almost no left turn signals, so left-faring drivers are forced to wait until that precarious time between yellow and red to dart out into the intersection and on to the rest of their lives. But this morning, as I pulled up behind the aforementioned Ford Festiva, I knew that my progress into the future would not be so unfettered. At one point, during the stretch of green light, I tapped my horn to alert the driver to the fact that she could go. She didn't move. When the light turned to yellow, and the advancing cars were far enough away that she could easily have made the turn, she still didn't move. I tapped my horn again. She turned around and mouthed the words, "You're stupid." I was charmed. The next time the light changed to yellow, she advanced out into the intersection enough to block the crossflow of traffic but did not actually make her turn. When oncoming traffic voiced its displeasure, she began backing up towards my car, making eye contact with me, but foregoing the mouthing of insults this time around. I was beginning to feel a familiar sense of helpless amusement. The next time the light turned green, she pulled out into oncoming traffic and merged into the lane of drivers going straight, provoking a handful of horn honks as she went. As I made my turn -- effortlessly -- I saw her up ahead making a four- or five-pointed U-turn to come back down towards the intersection and make her turn after all. And all of this I knew before it came to pass. It's a wonder that law enforcement and government agencies aren't knocking at my door. My powers of clairvoyance are mighty.

Oct 26, 2001

Perils of city living give formerly enthusiastic city girl pause

One of my co-workers came in this morning saying that apparently there was "a lot of gunfire on Fairfax" as he was driving in. He felt something hit his car, and when he parked his car here at the office, he noticed a bullet hole. I'm listening to him speaking with the police dispatch right now. "At least a dozen shots...I didn't see the people doing the shooting...there was a guy who ran out and was limping..." He's lucky. A little shaken up. I was already feeling overly contemplative this morning. This doesn't help.

Oct 25, 2001

"I am no one."

That's not supposed to mean anything in the vein of "you're nobody till somebody loves you" or anything. I have just noticed that this is a town where everyone looks everyone over as if to ask, "Should I know you?" You can't walk into a room without catching a bunch of people doing the inventory of celebrity faces in their heads as they measure your facial structure against the mental wireframe model they've made of everyone who should be remembered. It's a little disconcerting. I thought about getting a T-shirt made that says "I am no one" on it in some sort of bold lettering. But a co-worker assured me that wearing such a shirt would inevitably make me someone right quick. There's no winning.

I support the arts in Los Angeles.

I finally made good on my promise to myself and walked over to LACMA on my lunch break to extend my patronage. I'm in love with that place. And proud to support it. While I was filling out the forms, the teller asked if I'd ever been a member before, and I said I hadn't. The man behind me in line jovially cried, "Well, welcome! Good to have you!" It was all very comforting. I went to the museum store to pick up my complimentary deck of playing cards, but I'm saving my gander at the new Jasper Johns/Jeff Koons exhibit for tomorrow.

I came up to Los Angeles back in May for an interview at Universal Music Group, and I got into town early and went to kill some time at a McDonald's near the offices. When I walked in, a suspicious-looking fellow asked if I would like to support the arts in Los Angeles. I'm pretty sure he was panhandling. I told him I would catch him on my way out. But I ended up leaving through another more inconvenient door just to avoid him and his pitch. He saw me scurrying off to my car and yelled after me, "Hey, where are you going?" But I was home free. Now, I can put an end to all the guilt-ridden, sleepless nights. I DO support the arts in Los Angeles. And with a tax-deductible contribution, no less. Yay, me!

Los Angeles is for vampires

If I'm ever going to cut it in this town, I'm going to have to learn to place less value on sleep. I went to a very cool party at the House of Blues tonight. I had a great time, but I drank too much, and was both delighted and dismayed to be told that it was time to go, when the Foundation Room was closing at midnight. We migrated over to the Saddle Ranch Chop House and had some victuals there. And in both places, I felt attractive and exceptional.

Highlight of the evening? Dancing to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" with Bob, who really knows how to make a lady feel like she's being led. It just proves my earlier theory that I never danced enough. I had the music in me on a number of occasions tonight. I'm glad I had the opportunity to let it out if only for a spell.

I gave out cards a lot this evening. Good-looking Dave from the E! Channel got one. And Sue from Paramount Pictures. I hope I'm on my way to making a slew of new friends. I'm certainly in the mood for it.

Oct 24, 2001

I'm a star by osmosis

I just looked out my office window and saw a caravan of police vehicles and a film crew with a car on a trailer cruising west on Wilshire Blvd. Whatever film or telelvision show that was for, I don't know. But it sort of feels as if I'm in it because I was there when it was being created. That felt like a flash of Hollywood. I'm going to go get some lunch and soak up the glamour before the reality of the ordinariness of Hollywood settles in.

The 99¢ Store proclaims itself "Halloween Headquarters" by way of an orange plastic banner. It's a winning day all around.

Los Angeles as seen by drunk folks downhill

Well, it just goes to show you. People from San Diego can come up to visit me and sweep me off my feet with their ability to have a wild time. I went and had dinner at Asia de Cuba at the Mondrian, snuck into the Skybar during a party for Better than Sex, went to the Saddle Ranch Inn? Chop House? Something? and watched people fall off the mechanical bull. There was some sort of Snoop Dogg event going on at the House of Blues. The entire evening just felt quintessentially L.A.

During a conversation about Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, I felt inexplicably drawn to kiss my sister on the mouth. But I didn't. I just told her about it and drew delight from making her uncomfortable.

There was a girl at the Saddle Ranch place who must have caught my sister disapproving of her outfit. She said she doesn't usually dress like this, but she's getting married next Friday. I said I knew there must be a bachelorette party in house because I had seen a number of penis-shaped name tags on the floor in the ladies' room. Staci. Jan! etc. Apparently, the bride-to-be was Staci herself. She was very nice and confessed to being a school teacher. I wished her the best and encouraged her to live it up. That was my good deed.

I'm a little bit tipsy and a little bit concerned about the amount of work I didn't do tonight. But I think I will sleep like a sweet Chinese cherub, sans the harp-strumming.

This all convinces me of one thing: L.A. is for sharing with other people. L.A. is for showing to visiting friends. It's never better here than when it's wowing someone not from here. Does that make sense? I'm not sure if it does.

I wish we hadn't had such a decadent meal, and I wish I hadn't had quite so much sangria. But I feel sexy tonight. And just this side of carefree. It's nice. Bob said some incredibly generous and encouraging things to me tonight at dinner. When I am most in the throes of self-doubt, when I am most perilously concerned about what will become of me from one day to the next, there always manages to be a voice of goodwill and tender friendship to alert me to the fact that there are things in me worthy of love and admiration. It's nice to be reminded of that.

Oct 23, 2001

"We're parking at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and Jon Lovitz is heeeeere..."

I've lived in this town for almost a month, and I have seen neither hide nor hair of a celebrity or reasonable facsimile. Not even any marginally famous hangers-on. My sister comes to town for a day, and she's off to say hello to Jon Lovitz. What gives?

Oct 22, 2001

Never thwart the kindness of strangers

On Saturday, I went to the Tavern with my sister and her fiancé and some of his friends to watch one of the playoff games. When I walked into the place, a burly, older fellow at the door beckoned me in and then proceeded to insist on paying for my first beer. That was nice. And I didn't have to sit on his lap or anything. So everyone was happy.

Today, I went back to this sushi place in Larchmont for the second time, and one of the sushi chefs apparently remembered me from my first visit. That was sort of flattering. He isn't even the chef who waited on me that time. But later, Angela and I watched him break a plate on top of a plate of ahi carpaccio, leaving chips of ceramic all over the fish. He then flicked away the ceramic pieces and moved the fish to another plate. That was weird to watch all out in the open and everything. No one complained of lacerations to the esophagus, but we didn't stay long after that, so who can tell?

I'm certain it's shallow of me to take notice every time someone shows me a kindness because I'm wearing low-riding pants or because my hair looks nice, but I can't help it. It's times like those that it feels really great to be a girl. If I'm being oppressed, so be it. I like feeling pretty.

Oct 18, 2001

The postal worker wore gloves

I live within a few blocks of a post office. That's great. That will alleviate an insignificant amount of inconvenience in my life. I went there today to mail a package, and one of the three postal workers at the windows was wearing big blue rubber gloves. I guess that startled me in a way. In a meeting at work this afternoon, one of my co-workers joked about the coffee creamer being anthrax. And my mom loves to tell this joke about how she has recently appointed my father official letter opener in our home. She was telling Martìn that joke and apparently kept mispronouncing anthrax "Amtrak." Martìn thought that was cute. I hate that the world seems to be in disarray. I don't really factor it into my thinking regularly, but when you see a guy at the post office wearing big blue rubber gloves, it gives you pause.

I have to drive back down to San Diego tonight. I'm not really looking forward to it, but I have no reason to dread it. The worst is behind me. From this vantage point, everything ahead looks almost disconcertingly pleasant. Seemingly endless expanses of sunny fields of non-allergenic flowers and whatnot. I don't barrel forward into this future of mine. I think if I am to use the appropriate terminology, it would be correct to say that I traipse.

Everything is new today.

Thus ends my first week in my new apartment. I have to go back home to San Diego to tie up loose ends, finally and for good. A sigh of relief will likely be breathed in there somewhere.

I didn't have any restaurant adventures last night, although some had been planned. Just dealing with the cable modem installation and eating leftover Chinese. There's still plenty to do and nowehere near enough daylight hours to do it, but I'm not discouraged. I have no reason to be. In my friendly enthusiasm, I waved through the window of my back door at a neighbor the night before last. I'll bet I looked like a dork, but I'm glad I did it. He waved back. Perhaps out of pity. I'll soon be known as the nice retarded girl who lives downstairs.

So, my errands have taken me through Culver City and all along Venice Blvd, and I actually feel stressed out about how many restaurants and shops I feel I have to frequent in fairly short order. It's cool being in a new place, but the responsibilities are ominous. I can't let a month go by without going to that funky looking record shop on Pico or that awesome green Thai restaurant on Venice. How could I live with myself.

I think I'm realizing that I don't have much to say. With everything going on, I'm ashamed that I haven't done more or documented more. But I suppose there's time. I've only lived in this apartment for four days, after all.

Oct 17, 2001

The view from the cat-bird seat

There's some crazy guy in front of the 99¢ Store. I can see him from my office window. He's swinging an invisible golf club at everyone who walks by. From up here, his arms look unusually short. I don't know much about golf, but for a guy with abnormally short arms, he's got a pretty terrific swing. Fore!

Oct 13, 2001

Truth is where you find it.

The moving maelstrom has forced me to stumble on all sorts of little tidbits of memories, forgotten wisdom, cherished moments, disdainful ones, too. I found a legal pad with the following scribbled at the bottom in my handwriting:

Anything that has overtaken me is the result of my own folly. I refuse to deceive myself, and I don't like self-pity.

I don't know what I was writing about, but I know what I meant.

Oct 8, 2001

There's no place like a home you've never lived in.

I got the apartment! I'm so relieved and excited and dying to spend every penny I have buying new furniture. I'll have to reign in that impulse, though. If only to fool my mother into believing she raised a practical and sensible girl. She didn't. But she needn't ever know.

I have lots of reasons to celebrate today. I think I will do just that.

Oct 7, 2001

The Symphonic Sounds of Packing Tape and Paper Cuts

So, this is what it's like to move a mountain with a teaspoon. I have been packing all weekend, and I feel as if I haven't even made a dent. But that's a hideous lie. I have been packing all weekend, but I have been taking very liberal breaks to go off and distract myself from the task at hand. It's my own damn fault.

I want to be bathing and sleeping and luxuriating betwixt my cool, soft sheets.

Things I would never publish for fear my mom or dad might read them

I found some sex appeal in the shower yesterday. I looked down at my body, smooth and covered in beads of water, and I saw something I wanted a picture of. So I grabbed my camera and brought into the shower with me and took a few shots of the way my belly turns into the curve of my hip, and I'm interested to see how they will turn out. Issues of lenses fogging up forced me to stand under ice cold water and leave the door open to a blast of conditioned air, but maybe that will make the pictures more dear to me. I suffered a little to get them.

Of course, maybe I'll be thoroughly dismayed at how I look and vow never to be in another photo again. What fun it is to acknowledge the unpredictability of the world around me.

Well, that wasn't so naughty. I suppose it would be all right if my mom or dad stumbled onto this page and read that their daughter was snapping questionable photos of herself while showering. I'm a little more concerned now about the employees at the 1-hour photo place. I hope they've been taught to be respectful of other people's "art."

Golly, it's gotten cold.

A new pair of jeans

I can't believe how thirsty I am. I am similarly disbelieving of how incongruous my level of alertness and my level of energy are. I'm wide awake and tuckered out. I wish my biorhythms would just get it together.

I feel as if a lot happened today, and yet there isn't much in the way of events to report. Maybe I'm just feeling things a bit differently all of a sudden. I'm looking at everything through a different lens, and I'm seeing so many details that once escaped my observation. I think I may have forgotten that things have edges. The focus has been so soft of late.

I might have resorted to quoting something from my little Zen book, but my dad packed it. That leaves little room for my usual apathy.

But I certainly can't close without offering some words ripped off from someone else's intellectual accomplishment:

"To find your missing creativity, release a little of your attachment to the worst injury ever done to you. Grieve the deadness that you are letting go, and that you have so long regarded as a trophy wound. Then celebrate the opening of a door through which your childlike nature can come back to you, laughing, asking the simplest questions, clearing your vision." -- Miller, 1994

And Plautus said, "Factum est illud, fieri infectum non potest." Done is done, it cannot be made undone. Now, I don't speak Latin, but that's some simple, durable wisdom. Rock solid. If I had a beard, I'd be stroking it thoughtfully. Fortunately, I do not have a beard -- nor have I the propensity to grow one. Me Chinese. Me relatively unplagued by unsightly body hair.

Oh. I saw Zoolander tonight. I'm not inclined to review it or anything, but I've been seeing a lot of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson on the talk circuit, and I just continue to be impressed by them and people like them. I want to create something as brilliant as Rushmore. I want to write a screenplay with Drake Sather. I want to appear humble and charmingly at-ease on Letterman. I want to have the confidence to carry an idea through to fruition. Tomorrow, I will apply that desire in some fashion. Given my current state, it may only be in something as inconsequential as planning a meal. Baby steps.

Oct 4, 2001

Unmentioned but not unworthy of mention

This has been one of the busiest and most interesting weeks in my life, and yet I haven't set aside a spare moment to document a bit of it. It's a shame. Even with a memory like mine -- a memory that sometimes prompts folks to wonder if I'm some sort of genetically-engineered freak created in a laboratory deep in the bowels of the Ozark Mountains -- I will inevitably forget the little bits and pieces of this time. And that's a shame.

I just started a new job. And I am moving to Los Angeles. I'm in a sort of residence limbo at the moment, but I will be moved eventually and will begin a life in a new city. It's the first time I've ever picked up and moved off on my own. With the exception of college, and that doesn't really count. I will have no preordained social system on which to fall back. I'm really on my own this time. It's scary.

I'm in love with the stretch of Los Angeles that I see on a daily basis. I rue the obligation of getting to the office, wanting instead to be able to pull my car over and take pictures of charming old buildings and kitschy mid-century advertising. I drove past something I have so far been unable to identify (the number of huge hangar-like warehouse structures and RVs makes me think it's a studio of some sort), and there were two Japanese girls taking pictures of each other in front of a fountain, and the sun was shining, and the sky was clear, and I so wanted to hop out of my car and be doing the very same thing. It's nice to be moved to want such things. I have become so accustomed to passing my drive time on the phone. For the first time in a long time, I actually want to drive through town quietly, just taking stock of things.

Today, I was jaywalking from the parking structure to my office building, and a few cars were kind enough to not mow me down. A very cheerful guy with a shock of dreads atop his head congratulated me on having stopped traffic today. "You look great!" he said. It made my guilt-ridden 10 A.M. stroll into the office far less stressful. And then I was relieved to find that I was still the first one in in my department. Little mercies.

Last night, I ate at the Apple Pan ("Quality Forever"). I was disappointed to find that it was really just a burger joint that has apple pie for dessert, as opposed to a purveyor of ridiculously-sized apple dishes. Giant apple pancakes. Apple pan dowdy. Apple brown betty. That sort of thing. But I'm glad I know that now, and I'm glad I found it out by actually parking it on one of the highly sought-after stools at the counter and ordering from the brief menu. If you're wanting recommendations, I had a hickory burger and fries, and they served my Coke in a little white plastic cone cup perched in a red plastic base. The fries were yummy.

There's a bakery in Beverlywood that I drive past in the morning that proclaims it's "Famous for Quality." I always find this sort of marketing amusing. There's also a store with a giant lightbulb in front and a Chinese and kabob restaurant that smelled impossibly delicious when I stood outside taking pictures of the sign. Granted, I fully intended to make fun of the vision of this restaurant, but I'm now on a quest to eat there and find out what on earth could possibly smell so good. And there's the enormous toothpaste tube, squirting out the word "Katz" (of "Katz Dentistry") in thick white cursive letters. It sometimes makes me wish there was even more traffic to slow down my drive. People who actually live in L.A. and have to drive any distance at all to work hate me for saying things like that. I imagine one day soon the wonder might not be so pronounced, but I'm savoring every bit of it right now and am not anxious for it to dissipate. I don't want to have lived in this city for three years and find that I've never been to the places people travel great distances to visit. I'm going to exploit my new zip code in grand fashion. Even if that means buying my groceries at a non-union market. I'm dubious about the possibility of any notable experiences taking place in a Ralph's.

Today, if all goes as planned, I think I will go spend my lunch break at the La Brea Tarpits, breathing in sickly fumes and writing in my journal. It would be fine if one or both components of my activity imparted a transcendant high.

Sep 24, 2001

Another page stolen from my little Zen book

You hurt me years ago;
My wounds bled for years.
Now you are back,
But I am not the same.

In the past, warriors fought by striking the same points that acupuncturists use. One famous swordsman nearly died in a duel in which his opponent attacked him in such a way. After that, the swordsman became a wanderer and tried to renounce the martial life. Years later, his enemy found him and challenged him to duel again. They fought. In the first flurry of blows, the aggressor stepped back in surprise. The swordsman smiled and said, "I trained for twenty years to move my vulnerable spots." With that, he was finally able to triumph.

Spirituality is a process of inner healing. The wounds of the past can be the greatest obstacles for self-cultivation unless we find them all and heal them. This task can take years, but we must accomplish it.

In many cases, our wounds were inflicted by other people -- enemies. This is subtle. Our enemies can be others on the street, or people much more intimate with us: parents, teachers, siblings, lovers, friends.

If we move away from such people and succeed in our practice, they will have no chance to come back in our lives. How can they? We change whatever made us vulnerable in the first place.

from 365 Tao Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao

"No. No. No. This ruins a child."

Conversations with my mother lately have been both encouraging and maddening. I am moved to see her exhibit an interest in understanding why her daughters sometimes suffer unnecessarily. I admire her recent desire to find the root of the anguish, even when she may discover that the root is her. It causes me to show compassion when once there might have been scorn. While the communication is still arduous and the resolution is not yet upon us, I am encouraged to see us trying. Too many times in my family we stop before the trying begins. We surrender to the hopelessness of unhappy results. And there's no need to do it. When I see my mother soften, when I see her struggling with the innate desire to help and the inevitable urge to control, my empathy is great and my words become more tender. I have learned not to eschew the suffering for its own sake. I have learned to cherish pain and disappointment for the way that they seem to till the soil within me, leaving me fertile with new hopes and aspirations. It is difficult to see past the blank page of disappointment to the florid words that will one day fill it. More and more, I am compelled to pick up my pen.

Sep 23, 2001

Two girls and a Thomas Guide. That spells "adventure."

I spent the entire day combing West Hollywood for a place for me to call home. I had my mom along for the ride and for free lunch, for which she is always good. She manned the maps, and that was a mistake. But it was a mistake cheerily had, with laughter and much amusement. It was only towards the end that we both began to feel our nerves fraying and decided to make for the freeway with all due haste. But I'm skipping around a bit.

Everywhere we went, people assumed we were going to be roommates and were stunned to learn that my mom is indeed my mother. "You're so young!" "It can't be." "You look like sisters." "This girl doesn't even look like you." These are but a few of the objections that were cried at us. It's good, because my mom loves that stuff. I always believed my mom would be impervious to age or the fear of it. She's always been so lovely and energetic and almost unsettlingly youthful. But I guess even a pretty dynamo like her can take some pleasure in having everyone believe she can't be old enough to remember Nixon. Either that, or they all think I look 45, and that's a disheartening thought, so I think I shall forego having it.

I'm stuck in that dilemma between choosing the apartment that will be most comfortable with the most modern amenities and pretty carpets and nice bathroom fixtures and choosing the apartment that is a little weird but chock full of character. The only real issue weighing against the character-rich pad is that, for all its character, it manages to not have air conditioning, and that is a mighty strike against it. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I prefer to sweat on my own calendar -- not whenever the sun shines on my bedroom or the Santa Ana conditions take hold. I wonder if my priorities are misplaced.

I will really miss San Diego. In places, it is staggeringly beautiful, and the memory of that will be handily juxtaposed against my experience in the smoggy city. All the same, I may have outgrown San Diego just now. I'm due for a new port of call, and L.A. is far enough away to make it new and close enough to make it manageable -- particularly when I inevitably get a hankering for my mom's pan fried noodles or a pet of my little sister's dog. I know I will miss the casual convenience of my close proximity to everyone in my immediate family. I fear that I will miss it with great aching. I know how easy it is to take things for granted until it becomes painfully evident that you have taken them for granted to death. I'm resolute in my determination to not sqaunder anything anymore. Not time. Not money. Not affection. Not avarice. Not hollandaise sauce. Even the most benign thing is precious.

Sep 21, 2001

"Life acquires meaning when we face the conflict between our desires and reality."

I scribbled on an envelope I was using to take down phone messages:

If you can be happy with where you are, then you will no longer need to feel scornful of how you got here.

I think so much of what I have struggled with in this past year is tangled up in the issue of acceptance and my seeming inability to ever have any of it. I don't mean being accepted by others, although there would certainly be a component of that, too. I mean acceptance by me of what befalls me. I live by turns in a state of "what if" and "if only."

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: if
Function: conjunction
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English gif; akin to Old High German ibu if
Date: before 12th century
1 a : in the event that b : allowing that c : on the assumption that d : on condition that
2 : WHETHER (asked if the mail had come) (I doubt if I'll pass the course)
3 -- used as a function word to introduce an exclamation expressing a wish (if it would only rain)
4 : even though (an interesting if untenable argument) - if anything : on the contrary even : perhaps even (if anything, you ought to apologize)

As much strife as it causes me in my day to day existence, I am quite fond of the word "if." It's pretty.

I can't flagellate myself for thinking of the world in terms of possibilities. It's just that it's wildly unproductive to think about possibilities that have already passed into events. I tell everyone this quote I got online once a few months back. It goes, "Forgiving is giving up on the possibility of a better past." And it speaks mountains of truth to me. But that doesn't stop me from looking back on my life and wishing it could be like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel that I could go back and live over and over, trying out each of the different permutations without fear of their permanence.

While I'm in the throes of a quote-dropping frenzy, here's something I wrote down. I think I heard Ellen Burstyn recite it in an interview on NPR. But I could be wrong. "Whatever has a beginning has an ending: make your peace with that and all will be well." —The Buddha

Maybe typing other people's words tonight is my way of saying I have very little to say.

Sep 20, 2001

Holy God, it's late.

No peace for pretty girls

Don't get me wrong. It's great to have people want to talk to you and tell you you are attractive -- lovely, even. I have nothing but gratitude for people like that, no matter the situation. It always makes my day. And it's not as if it happens every day. It's just nice when it does. One night, outside of Brian's on Washington, a guy proposed to me as I was getting out of my car. I wondered how he was able to make a commitment so quickly. How he was able to learn so much about my soul and my dreams just watching me step out of my car as I fumbled with the earpiece to my cell phone and the seatbelt. He also let me know, when he sensed that I might not be ready to take such a big step right then and there, not knowing his name and all, that he would be willing to just call me. He said he was leaving the country in two weeks to go to Japan and could he call me. I know I didn't muster much in the way of finesse, but I did eventually manage to get inside the coffee shop and meet my friends who, when told of the proposal, asked what kind of car he drove. "He was on foot, " I said. That was the apex of the story, I think.

Anyway, tonight, after comedy rehearsal -- what may be my last for some time to come or forever, depending on how things go -- I decided I wasn't quite ready to go home and face the mountain of freelance writing work that awaits me, so I took a detour over to the Living Room, bought a vanilla Italian soda, and sat on a rather firm and uncozy-like sofa to write in my little notebook and unburden my soul. A guy sat down next to me shortly after I parked it, and he was reading quietly to himself. Eventually, he asked me if I was writing in a diary. Conversation ensued, revealing that he loves Peter Sellers movies and is a musician and writes for the music scene and any number of other little interesting things that make him seem someone worth befriending. So, befriend, I did. We talked for about an hour, and then I had to break away to get home and stop shirking my responsibilities. But I made a new friend and am pleased about that. It's always amazing to me how easy it is. I wonder what it will be like in L.A. If everyone will be cold and fake. Or if there will be genuine, interesting people who will ask me questions and be interested in hearing my answers. If there will be nice waiters who remember me from the last time I came in. If there will be baristas at the coffee houses who know how I take my lattes. It's about time I had a neighborhood. And neighbors to match. I feel as if I have been keeping to myself for so long. Mostly because of circumstance and where I have lived, but also because I immersed myself in coupledom and left little energy or time for other versions of human interaction. I am not on the hunt for coupledom right now. I can single out the parts of it that I miss now. And I can also categorically name the parts that were toxic. In my relationships to date, I have displayed characteristics that can be loosely linked to those of a vampire, I think. I can only see my reflection in someone else's eyes. I can only find sustenance outside myself. Of course, there hasn't been any measurable amount of blood-sucking, so the analogy sort of falls apart. But I do wear a lot of black, and I enjoy sleeping in.

I'm glad I made a new friend tonight. I'm glad I'm still capable of friendly human interaction. I'm not glad that I got so little of the writing I had planned done. But it's a small price to pay and perhaps proof that I shouldn't go to public venues if I really want to get work done.

Sep 19, 2001


My dad is out of surgery and will be home soon. It's hard not to worry about people you love when they are undergoing this sort of thing. You want to be supportive. You want to be pragmatic. You want to remind yourself that the surgery is meant to make them more comfortable, to resolve a malady. I hope I have been supportive without being cloying. I sure love my dad. He is someone who has almost never done anything to hurt me.

"If the boulders are moved, even a river will change its flow."

Here's something I catch myself thinking. I wish I were an animal. A pleasant one, for certain. But it could be any animal. Maybe even a domesticated pet. I wish that my cares were looked after by someone else. I wish my wants were perpetuated by instinct and nature. I wish I didn't have to shoulder the burden of human concern. I know that's almost feeble-minded in its logic. And I know I have no right to shrug off the responsibility of logical thought. I just sometimes find myself wishing that I didn't have so much to fret over in a day. It's getting to the point where the only thing approaching a Zen experience I can refer to on a near daily basis is the peace I feel when my mascara goes on well and my eyelashes look as if they belong on a pretty Asian baby doll. And I'm thinking this cheapens the fundaments of the Zen tradition by a degree or two. But then, I have a bone to pick with the Zen philosophy at least on the level that it once taught me that if one chooses to pray to a rock with enough devotion, even that rock will come alive. In my experience, this policy has been something akin to an abject failure. If I am misinterpreting the tenet -- as I likely am -- then I release the Zen teachings of the expectation of enlightening me or perhaps simply lightening my load a bit. I think it may come down to the fact that I am always looking for an answer to a question for which there may be no one answer. And I am almost always looking for answers to questions that pertain to me in a very self-centered and unenlightened fashion. If I can take anything from the teachings of Zen -- and I'm not saying there's any point in doing so -- perhaps it begins with loosening that focus. I am not the world. The world is not me. "Pure light is in all colors. Therefore, it has no hue. Only when singleness is scattered does color appear." This may be intended to encourage us to return to the place of unity. But for me, I think, it says that, alone, I am colorless. And there has never been a time when I have been more convinced that a little color in my life could do me some good.

"After completion come new beginnings. To gain strength, renew the root."

Sep 18, 2001

And she's off...

I signed and returned the offer letter today. I am officially moving. And whether or not I am leaving for the right reasons, and whether or not it will be anything like what I expect -- whether it breathes new life into me or snuffs out my flame altogether -- it is the next leg of my journey, and it's about time.

I'm in love with David Letterman.

I watched Dave's return to the air tonight and was so moved by his sincere words and his obvious emotion. He is truly one of a kind. I know I'm not in some exclusive club, appreciating his talent and his professionalism and his limitless class, but I felt very close to Dave tonight. I felt like I was right there with him. And he never made a misstep. It was brilliant to watch and a relief, in a way, to see someone who entertains be able to be so completely real.

In other news, I feel as if I have been throwing myself headlong into a wall for some time now. And as fruitless as it continues to be, I haven't been able to convince myself to let the dance slow and the head-smashing abate. I want wisdom. I want peace. In my life and in the world around me. I am tired of allowing myself to feel like less than I am.

Sep 17, 2001

Treason? Truculence?

I went to a memorial service in Balboa Park yesterday afternoon. I felt patriotic and solemn, and I felt myself tearing up in the car as I was driving down, just thinking about hearing the national anthem being played. I was disappointed though -- both in the events and in myself -- because the guest singers kept screwing up the lyrics to songs like "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and "God Bless America." I'm hopelessly nitpicky, I think.

Sep 15, 2001

Prelude to a Roadtrip

Jenny and I went out for dinner at Trattoria La Strada (cute waiter -- super cute) and ended up at the Bitter End, where we met a crew of fellas who spent the rest of the night buying us drinks and trying to outwit us in that way that guys on the make do. There was a software guy, a sheriff, an astronaut (aspiring), an advertising guy, and some bank person. They would all be very hurt if I were to compare them to the Village People, but how can I not?

All in all? Great fun. And I ended up being invited to accompany six near strangers to Las Vegas for someone's birthday. It appears that it will be the weekend that I need to be moving to Los Angeles, so who knows whether anything will come of it. But it's nice to have the opportunity to RSVP for such a thing. It turns out there's a monstrous amount of fun to be had. All one need do is poke one's head out the door for a stretch.

Oh, and this moving to Los Angeles business? I can't really put my finger on how I feel about it. There is a massive amount of nervous energy churning around inside me. It's sort of a cocktail of fear and excitement, dread and thrill. I received the call in response to my counter whilst shopping at Shake Rag. I was admiring a nifty vintage make-up travel case when my cell phone rang, and I had to emerge from the basement and turn up topside in order to get sufficient signal to say that I was very happy to get the call and was certain that the terms would be acceptable. And all of a sudden, my future changed. Just like that. It's funny how sudden such things can be. In an instant, I crossed that sliver of a bridge from the fearsome freedom of freelance work to the massive expectation of a corporate engagement. I wonder what I will make of all of this. One can hope that it will be something wonderful. A tasty cake of some sort.

Did I mention the waiter was cute cute cute? And I had a delicious (albeit very green) risotto that I would have been able to eat much more of had I not been ever so conscious of how perfectly my jeans were fitting.

Tonight, I also bought Jenny her first (and second) dirty martini. She seemed to like it very much. I may have started something...

Sep 14, 2001

Invitation to a Backrub

I play the violin. I hunch over in front of a computer all day. And I carry a little bit of extra weight up front, if you know what I mean. I'm a girl who has a nagging ache between her shoulder blades most every hour of the day. And I have found that when I stretch and twist and crack my back or rub my neck, there is often a kind gent nearby who will offer to rub me down politely. First off, I will only accept a backrub from someone I know, so don't worry about the inherent danger I might be subjecting myself to when aboard some form of mass transit. But the thing is, I know what it looks like. I know it looks like I'm offering a guy a chance to "get close." But I assure you, I'm really just hoping to find a pair of magic hands to relieve my suffering and restore my posture to normal. I hope that doesn't make me a whore.

Incidentally, the sad fact is that most guys just don't dig deep enough when they give a backrub. So, I end up letting some dude use his fingers like calipers on my musculature and still walk away unsatisfied. If you dig in there with enough vigor, you will actually feel my muscles crunch. And then you will have found in me a friend for life. As long as your definition of friend only requires me to sit on the floor in front of you getting backrubs while you watch HBO.

Sep 12, 2001

Last night, my father and I were watching the news coverage of the horrible things that happened in New York and Washington, and my father was trying to comfort me and encourage me when he quoted from the Bible, saying that you can't defeat evil with evil; you can only defeat evil with good. I was crying and I told my dad that sometimes it seems like you can't defeat evil at all. I think he was disappointed in me.

Sep 11, 2001

Giant Question Mark in the Air

Martìn called me this morning early and told me to turn on the television. I saw the World Trade Center in flames, one tower was already gone. The Pentagon was also in flames. And I have spent the subsequent hours watching the news coverage, calling and being called by my friends and family, and just generally trying to figure out what is happening and how I am reacting to it. I am pummeled by the idea of the loss of life and the unexpected way in which things like this manage to put an end to people's hopes and dreams. I am ashamed of how small the sphere of my daily concerns typically is. And as in so many other instances in my recent life, I am humbled by the complete lack of control I feel.

Sep 10, 2001

The Offer Letter Cometh

I came home late tonight to find my answering machine heavy-laden with five messages, the first of which was one that stopped my heart. This job I've been pursuing in L.A. is apparently mine for the taking. An offer letter will arrive sometime on the morrow. And I don't know whether I will accept it or decline it. I don't know whether it will make me fabulously wealthy or nobly povertous. But what I had set my sights on was getting the offer, and it appears that I have done that and mightily.

I wish I could utter something very profound, as I am feeling a huge mix of things at the moment, but my day's nourishment consisted of two bloody marys and the two olives that came in them. So my typing suffers along with my wit. But I know that tonight, if I sleep fitfully, it will be because I am balanced on the precipice of a new adventure, and I am giddy at the prospect of it. I have had my share of new things this past year. But here, at last, is something I want. Good for me.

Why, oh, why am I not in bed yet?

You Can't Judge a Book by Its CD Collection

Someone wrote to me a few days ago alerting me to the fact that I "should buy some better CD's...even your REM selection is crappy." This helpful suggestion prompted me to feel suddenly self-conscious about what my online CD list says about me.

Well, for one thing, it says that I am somewhat on the lousier side of lousy when it comes to updating the damn thing, as I have purchased somewhere on the order of 100-200 CDs whose titles have never shown themselves on the list, only because I get swamped and because I designed the HTML document naively, and it is now huge and unwieldy and a monstrous pain to edit. I have recently acquired a much-needed copy of BBEdit and will get to the task of packetizing my content and hopefully updating it in the process.

But, all in all, I was surprised to get the email. I will readily admit there are a lot of groaners in my collection, but I don't think the collection assessed in the gestalt view is wholly embarrassing. And I have more R.E.M. on vinyl. So there.

Before I leave the frame, I think I want the world to know that I am more -- if only slightly -- than what my web site portrays. There are still secrets lurking and layers unrevealed. And there are yet many more CDs to buy. It would be nice to be loved and admired and appreciated and applauded. But in the absence of that, it would be jim dandy to just be left alone.

Shut-In Escapes. Fatigue Ensues.

Okay, so I'm glad I got to leave my apartment, and I'm pleased as punch that I got to wear a new pair of jeans out into the night air. But I really hate finishing up my work after 2 A.M. As trade-offs go, I think this is a poor one. Of course, I could have managed my time better this weekend, but where's the fun in that? I'm just glad I'm done with what I needed to do and that a nice bed with clean sheets on beckons to me. But the chaos begins anew in only a few hours. And I am already feeling a bit harried by all the obligations the coming week holds for me. When I actually worked in an office, it seemed that my desk calendar would go uninscribed for days at a time. Not so, the life of the freelance writer/aspiring musician/technically professional comedienne/perpetual job-seeker/vigilant friend/loyal daughter/dedicated sister/enthusiastic cousin/reluctant Internet personality. My only fear is that vitamins alone will not be sufficient to keep my hair from greying, my eyes from clouding, my lips from chapping, and my head from popping clean off. I need a new set of rules.

Sep 9, 2001

The Fiery Displeasure of a Shut-In

So, some plans fell through today, but there were at least four other possible plans to take on -- at least two of which might have been a great deal of fun. But I managed to avoid fun entirely. Yes, I'm overtired from days on end of too little sleep, too little food, and too much high-school level discourse about who one would do if there were no consequences to be had. Yes, I had work to do -- work that pays real money and cannot be shirked. Yes, I was pleasantly surprised to have been able to take a brief nap. But I still feel that ick that comes from looking through the blinds to find a grey and colorless world outside and looking into the next few hours of my evening to wonder if they will be charged with apathy or intrigue or both. So, off I go into said evening. A phone call beckons me to leave, and leave I shall. But first I shall go put on some pants.

Sep 7, 2001

I just took my measurements for the first time in oh, say, four or five years. I'm a very acceptable 36-25-36. Don't know how it happened. Reading the measuring tape was almost as cool as when I found out I was taller than I thought. So there's the ironic hand of fate at work. I'm now too old to be a model, but no longer too fat or too short. Half-hearted hurray.

The girl can't help it -- she's connected.

I met a girl named Angela when I went up to L.A. for my first interview with a company I'm keen to work for. She's a photographer for and is cool in that indescribable, unattainable, calmly self-assured way. And I am reluctant to gush too profusely, lest we become great friends and she reads this one day and finds it all too creepy. I finally got around to emailing her today, and it turns out she's coming down here for Street Scene and we're going to try and get together for coffee and whatnot. Serendipity, be praised. I love a new friend. Especially the sort that holds a press pass!

I want my MTV in a very passive and non-committal sense.

I did not watch the MTV Video Music Awards tonight (or last night, as the case may be). I attended the first rehearsal of the season for the classical orchestra I have been playing with since 1994. We sampled a bit of a Haydn Symphony and a Bizet Symphony, and it appears that the Corelli Christmas Concerto is on the agenda, as well. My eyes were throbbing for some reason, so my sight-reading skills were a bit diminished. But, all in all, it was enjoyable to play and to receive phone calls from friends at the break and to even get a lovely call from my dad, letting me know there's some insurance paperwork for me at my parents' house. How sweet my father sounds on the phone. And how especially wonderful that he has a cell phone of his own and uses it to call me regularly -- most likely because he never bothers to memorize my number. Hearing his message just made me want to go out and buy some of that Japanese thick-sliced bread he likes so well. In the end, there was much music and much conversation and the occasional use of slang. I don't think the VMAs were missed at all. At least not by me. Did anything interesting happen? I suppose Beulah will tell me if anything did. I surmise it was probably, end to end, an Aaliyah tribute night. I don't hope to die any time soon, but when I do, I hope it's a massive tragic event and that people around the world are compelled to pound their breasts and tear their clothing in defiance of the loss of me. But then I always wished I was taller, too.

Sep 6, 2001

Sometimes people say things that aren't true.

"Dear Penthouse Forum,
     Who would have believed it could happen to me..."

Martìn and I were leaving Costco the other day. He was carrying a box of desserts for me and managed to graze the side of my breast with his elbow. I said, "Martìn, you touched my boob." And after the perfect amount of time had elapsed, he said, "Dear Penthouse Forum..." I thought that was brilliantly funny and worth retelling, which I did liberally that evening at a party I went to. I think the impact of the joke was somewhat overshadowed, though, by the near frenzied reception the container of cream puffs I brought received. I'm surprised no one was trampled or killed. I've been spreading the word about those cream puffs for years now. Hoping -- always hoping -- that I, too, would be loved like those sweet, creamy, bite-sized confections...

Contrary to the propaganda espoused in the Velveteen Rabbit, I think that it's suffering that makes one real.
My "custom" template stinks.

Sep 5, 2001

Ursula Andress Pants

I wore a new pair of jeans tonight. They ride very low on the hips and have wide belt loops, through which I threaded a men's belt I recently purchased. They have the effect of that sort of late '60s pants and skirt look which might have been worn by Raquel Welch at some point. I think the image that comes to mind for me is Ursula Andress on the beach in "Dr. No." If I'm not mistaken she was wearing a white bikini with just such a belt and hip placement. The real crime of it all is the fact that so few people ever got to see me in my keen new pants. Working from home has cursed me to a life of scrambling to have evening obligations for which to shower and make pretty. Fortunately for me, I have these sorts of obligations nearly every night. Even so, I may only leave my apartment for two or three hours and only manage to parade my stuff before a gang of folks who endeavors not to give a damn what I wear before heading back to my nest, wherein reside so many more fabulous outfits that may never provoke Tex Avery-esque sound effects or cause minor traffic incidents. Tis a pity. Truly.

"185 ceiling fans walk into a bar..."

Today, at NCT rehearsal, I had my usual mix of minor triumphs and failures. I felt low on energy. But I think it's becoming chronic, because I seem to begin actively dreading the rehearsals as early as Tuesday evening. It doesn't make the most sense. I used to really look forward to them. Tonight, I took some comfort in making Jonah laugh out loud at 185 punch lines I came up with for ceiling fans and seamstresses. But that was the highlight.

Chinese Girl Eats World

I have been gratifying a curious penchant for unusual Asian foods from my youth of late. Chocolate rice porridge. Various and sundry Filipino baked goods. All sorts of Chinese oddities my mother has managed to make delicious and normal-sounding. And of course there's my newfound love of sardines...Whilst in search of such things, I found an Asian market that carries Magnolia brand ice cream, which I used to eat and love when I was a child and my family lived in the Philippines. There are hysterical flavors, including Corn and Cheese Ice Cream, which -- not surprisingly, and yet astonishingly -- contains creamed corn and cheddar cheese. It sounds so hideous I feel irresistibly compelled to try it.

I am excited to get my new Mac set up. At the same time, I'm frustrated to have to do all the legwork that goes with the transfer of all my important data. My little sister's dog is sniffing around the floor of my cluttered office. She makes me want to clean it up.

Sep 3, 2001

Testing, testing, 4-5-6.