Secret Pop

Jan 31, 2002

"When you put a hot pan in the washing-up, it hisses with satisfaction as it hits the water..."

I'm in a bit of a funk today. I don't mean to be. But I am. And I feel as if I have to be secretive about it. So as not to inconvenience those around me. I think that is the greatest evidence yet of the fact that I feel separate -- distant from nearly everyone around me. I feel as if I have been an outsider for as long as I can remember. And I think I have so little faith in the affection of the people I know. I am always quite certain that they will turn on their heels and walk in the other direction as soon as they really know me. I am role-playing. But it has become so much of a habit that it is the norm. I am play-acting at being me. How brooding and contemplative that sounds. I'm certain that I am completely full of it.

I remember going on some sort of a retreat when I was a freshman at Academy of Our Lady. I think we went to a convent. Some place up on a hill. And we watched movies or slide shows or something. I'm vague on the finer points. But I remember when a classmate of mine -- Lisa -- came up behind me and happened to put her hand on my shoulder to get my attention, or just to let me know she was there. I remember feeling this odd sensation. Something very powerful in that touch. Something very much like a connection that I was longing for. And it isn't because of any naughty ideas people may have about girls who go to Catholic school and wear pale blue blouses and grey pinstripe skirts, I assure you. I think it was that lonely part of adolescence when people just don't touch you. Your father stops touching you because you are maturing and becoming a woman, and he respects that and would feel uncomfortable with the hand-holding or lap-sitting that crowded your more youthful days with him. And your mother stops touching you because she wants to give you your space. Or because she's disgusted with you. One of the two. All of a sudden, the world becomes terribly lonely. Even today, the sensation echoes in me. How nice it is to be touched. Not necessarily in any sort of licentious way. Just to be touched by another person. It's a very nice thing.

I'm in Los Angeles. I feel nothing.

I smell good enough to eat!

Have you heard of these new fragrances from Demeter? Lord love a sinner, these are the most delicious things my nose has ever happened upon. With varieties like Gingerale, Punch, Brownie, Sugar Cookie, Gin and Tonic, Tomato, Dirt (crazy, I know), This Is Not a Pipe (clever, but still crazy), Graham Cracker, Cinnamon Toast, and Angel Food (my favorite), I will be equipped to set mouths a-watering as early as two days from now when the UPS man makes my dreams come true. Once I can make my pillow smell of angel food cake, I will surely want to keep my head on it for long periods of time. Perhaps sleep can be mine after all...

"Dummy, it's the North Pole. You're supposed to look cold."

I spent the better part of the evening at the Sunset Room with Kiavi and Trina and Sarah. The pre-show singer was shrill (fellow diners were overheard to ask people seated near them if they had a gun they could borrow) and unpleasant to listen to, and the patio area was a bit too cold. But the food was nice and the bread was yummy and the waiter was very friendly and the drinks were strong. So very strong.

In the club portion of the place, they were holding the Ultimate Babe Contest, which doubled as a bizarre sort of fashion show with very skimpy outfits on the bodies of girls who seemed a bit under par by L.A. standards, as was evidenced by the number of members of the crowd who actually said the word "boo" when this one girl wearing barely anything but a sheer piece of fabric and thong underwear turned and showed her rump to those of us watching. In all fairness to the booers, it was not a very nice rump. So, there was nothing particularly ultimate about the babes on the stage. And the rest of the evening left the dancefloor populated by women who looked like hookers and the old, perfumed men who wanted to pay to dance with them. When, by the way, did dancing just become a way to do it in public? I'm always surprised by the lack of subtlety in the moves I see. A few years ago, it was the Cabbage Patch and the Running Man and the Roger Rabbit. Today, it's the Kneel Down and I'll Give You a Fiver.

Out of fondness and respect for Kiavi, I will refrain from telling what a funny man said to him when we were waiting for our car. But for those of us who were there, it was a provoker of screams of laughter.

Got home just in time to catch Jason Schwartzman on Letterman. Love him to pieces. Upwards, downwards, every which way. I will see Slackers. I swear it. So, he brought some photos he had taken at a little kiddie photo place at the mall. It was clever and funny in an I-wish-I'd-thought-of-that kind of way. I wish I'd thought of that.

It is colder than Los Angeles has any right tp be. It was colder here today than it was in New York City. What gives?

My apartment is being invaded by ants.

And it's the last day of January. I refuse to accept that. I'm certain if I try hard enough, I can make it January all over again. Just watch me.

Jan 30, 2002

No time for lunch, Charlie Brown.

Golden sunlight. And there is an evenness to the hills. A certain surmountability. I feel as if I could climb over them in three great leaps. But the world I'm in is a busy place.

"Well, I suppose it would be nice to travel again some day, but since I bought my English canal boat 'Granny Buttons' three years ago, I've lost the urge to travel."

I will never have anything more interesting to say than is said to me by cool people in email. It's humbling.

Sleep is for the weak...and the well-rested.

I don't even know what's running through my head tonight. I see ideas fly by like fish in a rapids portion of a river. I can't quite see them to identify them. And I certainly couldn't catch them without the help of a fancy device. Enter the patented Mind Net...

It's been a pretty good day for receiving well-written emails, but the correspondence activity amongst friends who are especially close to me has been particularly paltry. Everyone is so busy or so overwhelmed or so in another time zone or so something or other. I miss the good old days of being able to spill my brain contents on whomever I wished, whenever I wished. But then, I suppose there was never really such a time. Even in my nostalgia, I torment myself by pretending things were always easier than they are today, that they were somehow more manageable or liveable. When one needs companionship -- intellectual or otherwise -- the most, one is most often without it, I find. Either due to a failure of capacity to notice the need for companionship when one has it in abundance. Or due to a balance of things in which it becomes apparent that this time, maybe it's best to get to know oneself instead of flitting from other soul to other soul, hoping not to have to shake hands with the one person with whom one should be most at ease. One one one. What an awkward way of communicating that thought that turned out to be.

How is it that Cal Worthington is still alive, much less unable to pronounce "Isuzu" properly?

Jan 29, 2002

"It was a humorous experience."

Beulah just wrote and told me about having gone to a Taco Bell and finding it to be filled with retarded people. The phrase "it was a humorous experience" stood out to me in particular. What a funny little raconteuse I have groomed her to be. And, yes, I'm just saying that to ruffle her feathers. For some reason, she's convinced she's funny all on her own and that I have had no influence on her whatsoever. We all have our illusions.


The following was pitched to me upon completion of a recent purchase:

"You may also like 250 Continuous-Line Quilting Designs for Hand, Machine & Long-Arm Quilters by Laura Lee Fritz"

What the blazes is thinking?

Crow's nest

I can't help but wonder what people are up to in their worlds and their lives. The windows I can see but can't see into. I wonder who's pulling the strings out of string beans in preparation for dinner. I wonder who's choosing a new color of fabric for their curtains. I wonder if there are families with pipe-smoking, newspaper-rustling fathers sitting in the one big arm chair with one leg slung over the arm of the chair the way that men do but girls are discouraged to. It was always a great luxury to sit like my father when I was a little girl. It made me feel important and big and grown-up. And my dad was so handsome and sturdy and cozy. It was always fun to sit in his chair the way he sat in it.

I make up little stories in my head about the people I see. I do it without even thinking about it. I look over at a person in a car driving next to me and I create a destination for them and a little bit of backstory and maybe even a musical score. What grand adventures they are having. Even the mundane trials and tribs are colorful and worthy of retelling. I dress them in my mind. I fashion out a manner of speech. I decide what sort of shampoo they use. I know the names of their parents. And they are usually Frank and Sylvia.

But who am I kidding. Everyone is always on their way to Starbuck's.

"I'm an atheist, and I'm only here because I'm interested in your pipe organ."

My, but today has been a rich harvest for brilliant little bits of email. I'm thoroughly pleased.

"England's not so bad. I'll learn to be grateful for what I've got."

What I wouldn't give to be in England right now. As much as I am nearly struck dumb each day by the beauty of Southern California from six floors up, I also yearn for what lurks across the pond. At one point in the past year or so, it seemed that Los Angeles was sucking all of my friends away like a giant vacuum. So, now, I'm here. And suddenly England has to jump on the bandwagon. I can only be grateful that the electricity is delivered differently there, so maybe the sucking forces won't be so powerful. Although if PAL's superiority to NTSC is any measure of the British mastery of technical things, I may be in trouble. Someone over there eat something British for me today, will you? I'm feeling left out.

The Bride of Frankenstein yawns.

Directly out my window, there is a giant white cloud that looks like the Bride of Frankenstein in profile, raising a hand to her mouth. And not the gross Kenneth Branagh version, either. The perfect 1935 Elsa Lanchester bride, darkly beautiful and a bit comical. The clouds keep moving though. The profile has changed just enough that Elsa Lanchester is rapidly becoming Marge Simpson.

The city is beautiful today.

Arabian wine

It's perfectly all right for people to expect perfection from me. It makes my expectations of myself and of them seem a bit loose by comparison, but it's fine by me. Equity doesn't grow on trees, you know.

Squirrel food

I can't get over the sky today. The Hollywood Hills look like some idyllic little Alpine berg, and there is a great mass of clouds hovering over, casting a shadow over one spot. I can vaguely imagine rustic families caring for their goats and deciding how much butter and cheese to take to market in the morning. Which is ludicrous, of course. It's the Hollywood Hills, for the love of all that is holy.

But the Hollywood sign is brilliant and white like a row of funny teeth.


Jan 28, 2002

Liquid Kitty

Nice night. Nice drink. Nice place.

Jan 27, 2002

"This is the first time I haven't tried to win your love. Only now is love possible."

I went to see Jim in Mass Appeal today. What a good thing that was. The play itself was great. And I was so proud of Jim's performance. I wished I had been more adamant about getting Dad to come with me. I really think it would have meant something to him.

For some reason, my emotions are far too near the surface for my own good these days. As I embraced Jim after the play, I caught my eyes welling up with tears. And for what? Yes, I was moved. Yes, he was wonderful. Yes, he is a dear, dear friend who has seen me through a great deal. But I wouldn't have been able to pinpoint why I made the hug last a little longer than usual and felt my throat tightening with a mixture of feelings, amongst which were love and gratitude and certain admiration. It's not that I object to feeling things. It's just that I worry for being so out of control. If only for decorum's sake, I'd like to be able to keep from crying at the drop of a hat. It has the potential to invoke feelings of shame and discomfort. And who needs that.

My drive home was a melancholy hearkening back to the old days of the drive when I had first moved, three months ago. Do I say "only" three months ago? Or do I imply that they have been a long and carefully-noted three months? It was raining for most of the drive. And I talked with friends for a bit. Listened to Ira Glass for a bit. Looked at the rain and listened to the sound of my windshield wipers for a bit. I felt lost today.

And then I had a breathtaking moment of déjà vu.

In early 1993, I left work, went home to my apartment in the pretentiously named Cardiff by the Sea, and then began a journey up to Los Angeles to rendezvous with my old college friend Mitchell who was staying at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, attending an event to honor Julia Child. He invited me to come up and meet him for dinner, and I happily agreed. It was a Monday night, and it was raining a nasty sort of business. This was before the days of MapQuest and all the other kindnesses of the Internet, so I took my directions down on a little piece of paper and hit the road. I remember -- as was often the case for me and still is today -- feeling that I had driven too far long before I had come anywhere near my destination. I remember being tempted to turn around and go back when I was only in Long Beach or something like that. Fearing I had missed a junction or an exit. It's chronic with me. But I plowed on through the rain. And I ended up arriving safely and not too late into the night. And Mitchell and I went to dinner at Chinois on Main and had so many delicious things and wonderful conversation. It was entirely worth it, despite the late hour of my return and the trying prospect of another day at work the next morning. Today, I can barely get my friends to come visit me when they've got week-long stretches of time free. No one ever thinks of just popping up for a dinner or a concert. That's precisely the sort of adventure I was always game for. And still am.

So, tonight, as I was approaching Marina del Rey, and it was raining, I felt as if I was in the exact same lane of the freeway at precisely the same moment in time, now nine years past. I remember looking around and noticing how wide the freeway looked and what the landscape and the commerce were like from that spot's vantage point. Tonight, I was transported back to that moment for a spell. And I recognized the differences in now and then when juxtaposed. How foreign it all seemed to me back then. How far it was and how alien. Tonight, it's just part of the scenery on my frequent drive home from a visit with my family and comedy performances and shopping and time with friends. It is no longer daunting nor mystical. It tells me I am close to home. And despite the rain and the floundering sensation I feel, it is a welcome reassurance to know that I will soon be cozying up in the heat of a fire. That I will be able to put my things away and begin my evening, whatever that evening may hold. Sometimes I catch myself dreading coming home. I scold myself for that. I like to be here in my place. I like the way it smells. I like where my things are. And I like the spirity echoes of the friends who have been here with me. They paint the place.

"...bought a scarf to replace the one that blew off my neck in Denmark..."

What was the deal with sleep last night and it not ever coming to me? Stupid sleep.

I wish I had made more of yesterday. Looking back, I feel that familiar frustration at having so little to show for the elapsed time. Just a few new pairs of pants and some lipsticks, really. I had a lot of ideas yesterday, though. I had thoughts amok in my mind in full scale melée mode. Riot gear might have been in order. I would be that much less productive had I taken the time to catalogue all that occurred to me. I've stopped carrying around my little notebook for mostly just that reason. So I try to repeat the things I think are worth remembering over and over to myself as I'm driving home or nearing a place where I might have a chance to jot something down. It ends up paralyzing my brain and delivering -- in the manner of that game of telephone -- an often somewhat bald recollection of the actual idea I first had. But it's a good exercise. I catch myself saying, "Remember that, Mary." And then I'm repeating it in my head in three-second intervals. "I'm remembering. I'm remembering. I'm remembering." And then I get to my destination and fail to realize that I've forgotten. And later, when it occurs to me, I can't quite piece it together the way it once was. It's like dreaming awake. Even the part of dreaming where you're convinced you dreamed something important but it turns out to be a confusing, yawn-inducing load of nonsense. I'll try to have an idea today. I hope it's a good one.

Vernon Forrest won his fight last night. We pretended that he was part of our family, just for the hell of it.

The past few days have been stunning. Really beautiful. Sunny and almost too warm for sleeves. Bright. Breezy. Why do I catch myself yearning for the scent of rain?

Jan 26, 2002

Everything smells of onion

Today wasn't the rewarding time with family I had hoped. But I'm glad we took my dad to D.Z. Akins so he could eat nostalgia-inducing menu choices and plan to squeeze a nap into his afternoon. Time with him is the most precious thing in the world to me.

I spent a lot of time at the mall today with Sarah. I was quite enthusiastic at first, but then I quickly became worn out. The shopping. The standing. The trying things on. The waiting. The opinion-giving. The opinion-getting. The drastic climate changes. All very taxing. It is unlike me to run out of steam so soon. It is unlike me to be displeased with so much of what I try on. I'll need to revisit these things next time I shop and determine whether it was an isolated incident.

I didn't feel at all pretty today.

Swelling of the eyes and other tales

I drove down on Thursday night so that I would be able to attend the funeral today (yesterday, technically). As much as I cried incessantly and suffered the painful headache-y and puffy-eyed aftermath of that, I'm so glad I did. I'm so glad I heard my father speak and was able to feel so much pride in him and how wonderful he is. And I was so moved by the giant outpouring of love and appreciation at the service. It gave me pause.

I also got to see a lot of familiar faces. Some kids I haven't seen since they were in elementary school who are now all grown up and making decisions about their lives. It makes me want to rush to the bathroom mirror -- the only one I have, curses -- and check for grey hairs. And I got to express my love and my support to people I really care about and was glad to see.

And then I had to do a comedy show. Definitely not my best work, but I suppose it's understandable. I even got the challenge of having to come up with lines for World's Worst based on the suggestion "funeral." Method acting, I guess. Just take it in stride. My eyes ache. My head hurts. I'm kind of hungry. And I'm cold. And I wasn't funny enough tonight to merit any sense of satisfaction or pride. I guess I'll get 'em next time.

And, Alex, if you're reading this, don't be a nincompoop. How many times did I alert you -- either by phone call or email -- that so much of what I wrote here was intended specifically to be read by you. Honestly. You, nameless as you may have been on these pages, have been tightly knit into everything I have thought and felt over these past few months. Don't think otherwise. And you are mentioned on the home page and in the guestbook. Seriously. How demanding does a chap have a right to be? (And, of course, you must know that I bear you no ill will. I'm glad to hear from you, no matter the ribbing. And I am envious of double-decker buses and Don King sightings and beer in the wee hours and den-of-sin decor. Believe it.)

I am reluctant to call it a night. I have felt a lot of things today. I have traversed a huge spectrum of emotions. I have had thoughts that were healing and thoughts that cut me to the core. I have had swelling bursts of encouragement and dagger-like assaults of personal indictment. It isn't just the humility that comes with recognition of my mortality. It is the silent but thorough surveying of all that I am, all that I have been, all that I have become, and all that I hope I will allow myself to be.

When I look for words to describe myself or my state at any given moment, I have recently been at a loss more often than not. Recogizing that I have opened my thoughts to scrutiny. Knowing that the easy comfort of privacy does not exist here. I think it tempers my thinking and guards my words. And half of the time, I think that is the best possible scenario.

I realized today that, despite all the difficulty and disappointment that have often crowded my days, I am a girl who laughs a lot. I am a girl who smiles and enjoys things. I am a girl who makes the people near her smile, too. And it is hardest for me when I know that I am not able to convey smiles or laughter. When I know that I can't provoke those things in others. It is uncomfortable for me to be the one who needs a warm embrace or a word of encouragement. And yet I know that I am always the one who could use those things.

I am looking forward to spending a nice day with my family. I am hoping to be content with that. And I think the outlook is good. I have been less and less inclined to want something other than what I have at the moment. To prefer what someone else ordered to what I got. To wish I had chosen a different movie. Insert metaphor here. I have been more and more inclined to look for the winning aspects of what sits in my lap. And to sleep the night through.

I am not by any means invincible. I'm not even particularly powerul, in my estimation. But I am inclined to be better. Every day, I am. And I am inclined to find joy and satisfaction in things wherever I can -- even if that means just buying more cool pants.

Jan 24, 2002

Bathed in blushing red

Tonight, through happy circumstances and good follow-up behavior on my part, I managed to see Josh finally, for the first time since our old sad days at together. And it was excellent. Thoroughly. Dinner at Bossanova. And a mellow scene at his magazine's club night in Santa Monica. Finally a venue with lighting moody enough to warrant breaking out the Lomo. I'm optimistic about the shots I took. They will be dim and red, if nothing else.

It's good to catch up with old friends. It's good to tell stories and divulge secret fears and wants. It's good to drink Boddington's and to eat fried plantains. And when you're with a good friend with an interesting and engaging presence, you never seem to be caught up, do you? There's always more to tell. A detail that may have been overlooked. An anecdote worth rekindling. I appreciate Josh, and I am proud and grateful to have friends who are talented and inspired and motivated to greatness. It makes me want to wake up earlier in the morning.

Jan 23, 2002

"I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round."

Actually, I'm just sitting here eating things that are bad for me and listening to the Chemical Brothers. But that's neither here nor there.

I'm so excited about Scotland, PA. Or maybe it's just that I'm excited about Christopher Walken. Either way. It's nice to have something -- even something so not-personally-connected as a film -- to look forward to and be filled with anticipation over. I have worshiped Christopher Walken since I saw him doing that little bit of hoofing during Bernadette Peters' dream sequence in Pennies from Heaven. And he has only given me more reasons to praise him in his subsequent years of performance. He's on my list, if you know what I mean, and I suspect that you do.

Brothers gonna work it out. Word.

"You mustn't squeeze a melon till you get the melon home..."

When I played in the orchestra for Guys and Dolls back in 1994, my very long hair caught fire right at the beginning of the Manhole Dance. My stand partner had placed a small citronella candle between our seats to keep the mosquitoes at bay, and I leaned down to get something out of my violin case and ended up having to pat out the flames as my hair filled the pit with a very unfortunate smell that lasted the rest of the night. I went home and spent three or fours hours trimming away the singed ends in the bathroom. When I called my parents in Italy to tell them the further poor luck that had befallen me (suffice it to say that this was not the first in a string of maddening occurrences in my young life at the time), the laughter came almost immediately. Never the question of whether I was okay. Just the laughter. I remember that being the case when we lived in Japan and I slipped on our hardwood floor and came thudding down the stairs. The rest of the family heard the clamor from the dining room. Once I stopped falling, there was only a moment's pause before I heard the laughter. It's so reliable, it has almost become its own form of warm reassurance.

Me:     Hello, Mom. Guess what? My apartment burned down.
                                            I tripped and knocked all my teeth out.
                                            My car was swept away in a flood.
                                            *insert freak mishap here*

Mom:    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

This is a little exchange I can have in my head any time of the day. Just for fun.

Wealth is where you find it.

My mom called me from the airport in San Francisco, where she is waiting to board her flight. We talked about life and death and relationships, and at one point, she exclaimed, "Oh! I can't believe I found another penny. Right here on the rug." Apparently she found a penny last night in the hotel, too. You can't help but love that, can you?

She also said quite matter-of-factly -- when I asked her to try and not feel compelled to give me advice about everything I tell her -- that she has to tell me what to do, otherwise I will do the wrong thing. I guess that explains a lot.

"Advanced Viewers Only"

There's a BBC America commercial that shows a Monty Python sketch with John Cleese and Michael Palin playing Frenchmen, and the caption reads, "If your girlfriend laughs at this, marry her." I suppose I could go two ways on that. I could go the way of, "Oh, how simple life would be, if only..." or I could go the way of, "If your boyfriend proposes to you at the behest of a commercial for BBC America..." I think both routes sound more bitter than I would have intended.

But while we're on the subject of commercials, when I retell this little exchange between me and Beulah, I sometimes laugh so hard I have tears streaming down my cheeks. We were watching a commercial for, I think, PediaCare, and it shows a mother expressing deep concern and trying to comfort her son, who is sick. Beulah said, "She's not even his mom." In the next scene, the boy is shown miserable in bed, being given his dose of PediaCare, and I said, "He's not really sick." The final act of the commercial shows the boy laughing -- all better -- and playing with a toy camera on a tripod, and Beulah cried out, "He's not a photographer!" It was priceless.

Waterworks on demand

It seems that tears are almost always waiting right behind my eyes, ready to spring forth whenever I allow myself to linger too long on a thought that provokes sentiment or sadness. I hate the way I look when I cry. My eyes get so puffy I can barely recognize myself. So, sometimes, I feel that little prickle in my nose and the slight rise in temperature behind my eyes, and I know that tears are coming and I chase them away through sheer force of will. It doesn't change the fact that I know they're still lurking, though. Waiting.

But I also know the value of crying. I know the release it creates. I know the comfort of conjugating the verb "to sob." If I didn't have to suffer the cosmetic and physiological aftermath of a good cry, I imagine I would have one quite often.

Jan 22, 2002

Me Chinese. Me play joke.

Last Saturday night at the comedy theater, the late show turned into this sort of racial free-for-all. I even got to do an obnoxious Asian character on stage without fear that the audience would eat me alive. It was very rowdy and really not so very much outside the realm of propriety. And both shows were great. Really. I was very proud of them.

Artificial flavors

In keeping with my habit of reporting on the view out my window, the sunset tonight is impossibly beautiful. And it's orange and purple and bluish. Makes me think of that one orange and grape variety pack of Dynamints. That was my favorite.

"When I was a child, I had a fever. My hands felt just like two balloons..."

The sun looks as if it is shining through a giant wispy mat of cotton. And maybe the cotton is a little dirty. But it still creates this diffuse glow. A sort of blue-grey halo sitting atop houses and trees and little patches of grass and garden. The sky looks as if it has been painted. Although not by me. If I had painted it, it would look like it had been spilled. I don't know why documentation of the view out my office window would provide any entertainment when looking back, but sometimes I am moved.

It must be windy. My window is bending and pulsating like a moving train. And the trees are dancing. Yes, it's windy.

"...Now I've got that feeling once again. I can't explain. You would not understand. This is not how I am."

"If you try, you'll find me, where the sky meets the sea..."

I think that Perez Prado and Rosemary Clooney's version of Bali Ha'i is the best. Hands down.

I once sang a solo of this song when I was living on the island of Guam and attending a very small parochial school. The music teacher took a special -- and wholly undeserved -- liking to me one day when I was actually trying to be obnoxious and disruptive (I was in the seventh grade). I was singing at the top of my lungs in a plodding, heavy tone, and laughing with my class chums about it as I went. My teacher, who had the lovely and unusual name of Remy Ngiraingas, pulled me aside after class and said what a nice voice I had and from that point on began giving me soprano solos and alto solos to perform when our chorus had recitals. And I loved every minute of it. I sang Bali Ha'i and Three Little Maids from School and any number of other unlikely tunes. And I was a star on a very small scale. It was nice. Undeserved, but nice.

That's the song I was listening to when I started this entry, by the way. In case it seems that my thoughts are entirely random.

The heart wants what the heart wants.

I began a lot of things today. And after having had so few hours of sleep last night that they could have been counted on the hand of a three-fingered man, that seems like something of which to be proud. I haven't set anything monumental in motion, but I have ideas about it. And I took pictures of myself in the conference room at my office because the sunlight at 5 P.M. was so golden I felt like my heart would explode. So I set my digital camera on the ledge and took pictures of me, one of which has become the new entrance to my web site. How proud I am. I have been taking a lot of pictures lately. A lot of them are of me. And a lot of them cannot ever be seen by others because of universal laws that govern such behavior. But that's no reason to keep from crowing about them.

I had a bout with my fear of mortality this past weekend when a close friend of my family died suddenly. In the face of it, I felt as if my heartbeat slowed and quieted and my mind just began to crawl through the humbling reality of it. Like pulling a wagon through streets coated in molasses. It wasn't so easy to move past the thinking.

I have spent too much time.

I have spent too little time.

I have spent time carelessly.

But I don't want to waste what is precious. And I don't want to squander what cannot be replaced. And I don't want to take things for granted or tell myself that I can finish this thought after dinner or I can feel this tomorrow. I don't want to be caught out. I don't want to wake up on some new morning and find that I overslept and missed everything that mattered.

So, when the sunlight is brilliant and golden, and the sky is clear, and the inclination beckons, I take pictures.

Jan 18, 2002

Better you than me

I started listening to BBC World online today, and some discussion of the pitfalls in the Swiss economy caused the interview subject to refer to a sense of schadenfreude that Germans and other Europeans may now be feeling towards Switzerland. And I took a special delight in hearing it. I am quite fond of that word, as loathesome as its meaning may be in the Western ethical construct. One does not hear it being used enough. Except perhaps by me.

Jan 17, 2002

"You would have been fly..."

I had a talk with my mom the other night when she was up visiting. Apparently, she and Sarah had talked about how different my life would have been if I had been more beautiful in school. Or if I had had the confidence that comes with beauty. I wondered if there was much creedence to that. I wondered if I wouldn't have been as nice to so many people if I had thought I was out of their league. It's true that I got trampled a lot throughout my life. Still do, in some cases. That I have been misused and taken advantage of and poorly cared for. I do wonder if there would have been a way to keep that from having been my story. I wonder a lot about the dynamics of change and the possibility of truly reinventing oneself. I wonder why I carry a torch for the old me. But I suppose someone has to.

Suicide in B Flat

Last night, Angela and I went to see her friend Alana in a performance of a Sam Shepard play called Suicide in B Flat. Other than the hectic cross town drive to get to Silverlake, I had a great time all around. Angela was even kind (and eager) enough to follow me back to my neck of the woods and have a Flaming Virgin with me at the Twin Dragon. I don't know how much alcohol is in that drink, but it has to be something lethal. And I'm suspicious that it wasn't rum at all but gasoline. I'm feeling it even now. It's no fun when you have to pay for it later.

Jan 16, 2002

To sleep, perchance to sleep.

So tired. So drained. So lacking the visceral urge to do anything.

The Olympic torch passed by my office last night. I watched from the window and grew impatient because the preceding motorcade created unwarranted anticipation. There were motorcycle police driving slowly down Wilshire Boulevard a good thirty minutes before anyone in a jogging suit happened by.

I did not go down to the curb and wave. I did not cheer. And I was careful not to touch my face to the window lest it leave a mark.

Jan 14, 2002

In Buenos Aires, they tango in the streets.

Proper lighting in my office. A view of the Wilshire Boulevard commute at dusk. And ABBA playing on my MP3 mix. What more could a girl ask for?

Exhaustion feels a great deal like depression. Or lime disease.

I have no business complaining about being tired and unmotivated today since I was out until well after 4 A.M. and didn't actually tuck in and go to sleep until nearly 5:30. Somehow, that doesn't stop me from complaining. Or from making further plans tonight. I've never believed that one can catch up on lost sleep. So, I'll just seek out the sweet solace of a Red Bull and keep plugging away. Otherwise, it will have been another week where I accomplished nothing.

I was quite dismayed to acknowledge that I spent the first two weeks of 2002 sick and nearly bed-ridden. What an unfortunate and unsatisfying way to kick off what will surely be the best year of my life. It has no business being anything but.

Jan 10, 2002

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cough and they serve up icy stares through slitted eyes.

I took Martìn to LACMA tonight to see the Pixar retrospective hosted by John Lasseter. I'm still plagued by my dang cough, and I feel generally pretty beat. But I sure did look slender. That's what a week of just plain not eating will get you. I guarantee it. The evening was interesting, if a bit hammy. And they played the "When Somebody Loved Me" musical montage sequence from "Toy Story 2," which I was hoping not to have to watch again. I can't seem to shake the sadness that scene brings on.

I'm home now, and it's a little chilly, and I think Canter's makes their matzoh ball soup too salty.

Jan 9, 2002

Another L.A. First

I've got a doctor's appointment tomorrow. I wonder if there's some way to spin that into an adventure...

"Plates of meat to dream about."

Last night, Sarah and Bob came up to go to the Gene Simmons book signing. Bob's picture is prominently featured on the front endpaper, and they thought it would be worth the ordeal. We went to dinner at Mr. Cecil's, one of my favorite joints up here. Maybe because I discovered it completely on my own and have been pleased every time I've gone there. I told the owner that I bring everyone here, and that I have bought the T-shirt and the bottled barbecue sauce. And he gave us a free slice of chocolate mousse cake. Fair all around.

"It stinks!"

A stranger happened upon my web site and took the time to write me a kind email, announcing that he liked my poetry, and that that was a rare thing. I was flattered, and I responded. And I'm glad. I'm so much in need of substantive appraisal these days. It is as if I cannot see myself at all. Except in reflection. Who am I, anyway.

He sent me some of his own poetry. It was good. And far more skillful than my own. I am appreciative of praise and criticism. Especially when it comes from someone who would know.

I have been sick this past week. Perhaps I can measure my circle of friends by the number who knew of my sickness and cared enough to offer sympathy and soup. The circumference is not as large as I might once have claimed. But not so small that I don't still fit inside.

Jan 5, 2002

Ha ha!

If you ever meet Tom, make sure to ask him to tell you the Chevette story. It may be the funniest story I have ever heard.

Jan 3, 2002

Pasta, cold and flavorless as my dreams

Sleep will not come. And then only in brief, unsatisfying spurts. I do wake at nice measured moments. This time it was at 4:45 A.M. I got the email monkey off my back and then ate leftover pasta that I couldn't taste. In a few hours, I will be expected at work. What of that?

Give me coma, or give me death!

I can't tell if the candle in my bedroom smells of peaches or something else.

NyQuil is a lie. I am heavily medicated but unable to sleep. Cry injustice!