Secret Pop

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.