Secret Pop

May 31, 2002

"You can do it!" they said.

No, I can't.

Benny and Bjorn speak my mind

I am not in my skin today. I am somewhere out on the periphery of who I am. I'm moving very slowly. I am heavy and contemplative and pale and sorrowful. Because this is not what I have chosen. And I grow weary of the grab-bag quality of my fate. I know that I will never feel that I have arrived. But today, I barely feel as if I am moving at all. And tomorrow is coming. Like summer and autumn and everything else. But I can't see myself in it. I can see the edges of tomorrow, but it's blank inside. I'm absent altogether. I'm frozen with one foot lifted, perpetually on the verge of a step forward that never seems to come. Like a statue in Pompeii.

Does it always have to suck?

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it

What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well, some of that we did but most we didn't
And why I just don't know

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time

May 30, 2002

Mistaken for Glamorous

I don't know what "Duplex" is, but a woman with a clipboard saw me standing waiting to cross the street and asked if I was there for it. There were film crews and bored-looking police officers swarming (although "to swarm" seems like too energetic a verb) around Tom Bergin's when I drove past. And the parking garage was full of cars, so much so that I had to park on the blasted top level, which was being resurfaced, so I had to use the far staircase. I'm in a funk. Maybe if I tell myself that "Duplex" is something that only a really hot chick would be showing up for, I can convince myself this isn't going to be a rotten day.

"How can you laugh when you know I'm down?"

The jacket I wore
The smile I found
The sand I stood in
Boots and all

Promises I made
Promises I accepted
Men in sailor costumes

It is a terrible thing to trust

I don't always win in air hockey
I seldom win in pool
I eat sushi for fun

I'll go through life with my hair in my eyes
And the world on my shoulders
And denial in my handbag

I'll go through life with high-heeled shoes
That show my toes
And pants with slits in them

I'll go through life in battle gear

I would have liked some ice cream

When the day is over
I still want more
When goodbye becomes good grief
I still want
When tomorrow is a promise and never is the bargain
I want it more than ever

This is not the place for this.

Sometimes boredom takes on the appearance of poetry.
And sometimes poetry takes on the feverish pitch of a plea.

May 29, 2002

"Have I told you about the ice cream vendor I'm going to assassinate?"

What's there to say about the month of May?

Some days, my brain is filled with what feels like poetry. Other days, it seems to be dry as bone, and it causes me to crave inspiration or influence or escape. And I can't see clear of the expectation. A grid with spots on it. Arrows pointing upward. Like waking from a dream you can't quite keep. I did that this morning. Awoke knowing I'd dreamed something very important but lost it instantaneously. "It was something outside," I thought in the shower. But I could only see a window and a door and a porch, maybe. But I don't know what was happening out there or why it meant so much to try and remember. Everything -- everything -- is always just slightly out of my reach. I say that with absolute conviction. The rabbit on the treadmill chasing after the carrot dangling from the fishing pole attached to a harness it's wearing. Unknowingly.


I am not about what I have done or where I have been. I am about what I am becoming. And what I will have left behind.

Couldn't I spend hours just arguing the merits of various necklines? Scoop. Vee. Turtle. Mock. On any given day, I am a staunch loyalist. And on the next day, I will be a traitor.

My hair is more than three feet long. I just measured it. I couldn't find a ruler or a tape measure. So I used the side of a piece of paper and measured eleven-inch increments.

I am trying not to forget that everything about a day like this was once exciting and foreign and exotic and unfamiliar to me. Once, everything that ever happened to me here was worth writing down. It all felt like part of some great, grand excursion. An adventure with a new backdrop and new characters playing new roles. I'm as fond of the familiarity as I was of the unfamiliarity. It's like the trade-up of the thrill of the new for the security of the verified. I no longer feel at risk or lost. But I'm tempted to ask why this town never brings me flowers anymore.

What is artificial is at least dependable.

May 25, 2002

"He's the dancing version of Nunzio."

We had to leave Amagi's before I got to sing my Salt N' Pepa groove, but I wasn't entirely disappointed. I sang and danced and laughed and wished I hadn't let anyone make me dinner. And my throat is a bit raw from screaming out AC/DC and Ramones tunes. It's a good kind of raw.

I've been finding lots of reasons to bare my shoulders. It's nice to not always want to cover up. Summer is coming. God, how it's coming. Summer isn't my favorite month. I think I love the late autumn most of all. "Present Laughter weather," as I've been known to call it. But summer holds some sparkle for me, too. Maybe I will spend more time at the beach this year. Maybe I will drink frozen lemonade on a boardwalk somewhere. Although, I'm always disappointed by frozen lemonade. It's never as refreshing as it promises to be -- as it wants you to BELIEVE it will be. It's too sweet or too sour or too frothed up and deceptively unhydrating. Maybe I'll pass on the brainfreeze-mongers and opt instead for a cool glass of iced tea, with ice cubes tinkling against the glass and droplets of condensation pooling up just above where my fingers are placed. But who am I kidding. No one serves iced tea in glass on the beach. And ice cubes make no sound against the innards of a waxed paper cup.

While we're on the subject of seasons, I miss cherry blossom season in Japan. I remember taking my 35 mm camera out to a park near the city we lived in and snapping black and white photographs of young, be-backpacked Japanese school children jumping in the air trying to catch the cherry blossom petals as they came floating down from the sky like soft, pink snow. My friend Spencer and I took an afternoon trip to Ueno and went to the museum and sighed in front of Van Goghs and Renoirs and any number of other works. And we bought these colorful, sugary spherules -- these hard candies that were so perfect to have on that day. Later, when I knew I would be seeing Spencer during a visit to a university in Virginia, I brought him a bag of those candies. I had carried them with me from Japan nearly a year hence. I wonder if he ever ate them.

Cherry blossom season is also the time of year when Beulah would come home from the bon odori with a goldfish in a plastic bag and other assorted carnival nonsense. Sometimes, I wish I had been a child in Japan. Sometimes I feel as if I got there too late. Arriving as a teenager prevented me from seeking out wonder and instead left me pleased at the ease with which underaged folk can acquire alcohol. A waste. Truly.

Adam passed the bar! And I was the one to retrieve his results for him. How proud I was! I took a screen shot of the notice and emailed it to him. It was a nice moment to share. I will ply him with sushi and shower him with praise. Ever since he was mistaken for my little brother at the Risley dining hall, I have felt a certain maternal care for him. He's older than I am, but he's cute as a button. Literally. (I always say, "Literally," after I say that Adam is cute as a button. It's become a necessary lyric.) And I'm hopelessly maternal as it is. I'm just always on the lookout for a new charge. I probably didn't seem maternal to Adam on the day he first met me. We were driving a sedan to Syracuse for a debate tournament, and I had a bit of a sore throat, so I was carrying on breathlessly -- as I do -- and taking little two-second breaks to pump Sucrets analgesic throat spray into my mouth. Adam thought I was insane. Literally. I was dressed all in yellow that day. That's something I remember.

Last year, this holiday weekend was pretty eventful. I'm back in juxtaposition mode, consarn it. Anniversaries are only meaningful when you observe them. Otherwise, they're just days on the calendar. Right?

May 24, 2002

"We're both massage therapists."

Thank you, Julie, for a fun night out of post-birthday shenanigans. We ate a lovely dinner at the Foundation Room (including foie gras -- my favorite, but what's with me and liver these days?), finishing just in time to hear Peter Murphy say, "Thank you," and bow in his peculiar Russian-looking get-up. We went to The Standard and were not impressed. We went to Skybar and were ushered in on phony credentials. I got my palm read. We went to the Saddle Ranch Chop House and watched people tame the mechanical bull. One girl in a one-shoulder denim jumpsuit deal kept inadvertently exposing a boob as she flailed on the back of that great metal beast. And all Julie and I could think was, "Who wears denim jumpsuits anymore?" We met lots of boys and took pictures and told little white lies. And I'm thoroughly surprised by how not drunk I am after how much I worked to make that an untruth. The world is a mysterious place. Well, Sunset is, anyway.

Sleep is overrated.

May 23, 2002


Tonight, I took Matt out for his birthday. I got all gussied up and took him to La Gran Tapa, where I ate my favorite chicken liver menu item, and he had the "porklamb." We watched the Kids in the Hall at Copley Symphony Hall from amazing fourth or fifth row seats. The brutish security staff took my camera. I got it back. A combination of fussing, using big words, and batting my eyelashes enabled me to leave without having to erase all the shots I took. Yay! Then we went to the Sunset Bowl, and we shot pool and arm wrestled* and played air hockey. I beat the girls in arm wrestling. Matt beat me. It makes sense.

Then I had to drive back home to Los Angeles, landing in my bed after 3:30 A.M., knowing that I had to be on a 7 A.M. conference call. Fun is murder. Plain and simple.

Happy Birthday, Matt!

*This is a surprising detail.

May 22, 2002

Nothing's Shocking

Mid-week trips to San Diego are both exciting and daunting. I've only had to do it a few times. Tomorrow, will be the next on the list. It doesn't quite feel like a getaway. At least not in the way that a weekend does. It just feels like a long drive with a purpose. I guess I like that. I like that I used to drive several hours to go see a show or take in a sight. And I'm fine with vehicles not yet being rocket-powered. Although I recently saw some guy tooling down Sunset Boulevard in a little rocket car. I laughed and cheered. If I had had time before he passed me, I might have made the "toot toot" gesture you make to truck drivers out on the open highways, but that would have been a stupid thing to do.

Right now, I'm not making plans. I'm just pushing back from the desk, heading for the slumber mill, and noticing how desperately I could use a neckrub. In the days and weeks to come, I may begin making plans again. But to what end, I can't say. Days of frustration take on a different cast from the vantage point of nighttime. They seem small and meek. While the night is vast and merciless. I'm soaking in it.

May 17, 2002

"Life begins on the other side of despair."

For flowers and gestures and remembrances and phone calls and kindnesses rendered at the very most opportune times, thank you, Alex. Anakin isn't the only character in the story who can maintain the appearance of a gumdrop even as he suffers.

May 16, 2002

Channeling the Thin White Duke

Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Look at that sky, life's begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby

There's my baby, lost that's all
Once I'm begging you save her little soul
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Come get up my baby

Last night they loved you, opening doors and pulling some strings, angel
Come get up my baby
In walked luck and you looked in time
Never look back, walk tall, act fine
Come get up my baby

I'll stick with you baby for a thousand years
Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years, gold
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Come get up my baby

Some of these days, and it won't be long
Gonna drive back down where you once belonged
In the back of a dream car twenty foot long
Don't cry my sweet, don't break my heart
Doing all right, but you gotta get smart
Wish upon, wish upon, day upon day, I believe oh lord
I believe all the way
Come get up my baby

There's my baby, lost that's all
Once I'm begging you save her little soul
Golden years, gold whop whop whop
Come get up my baby

Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Run for the shadows, run for the shadows
Run for the shadows in these golden years

I'll stick with you baby for a thousand years
Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years

May 14, 2002

Happy Birthday to Me

My father gave me a birthday card. here are some of the things he wrote:

"I wasn't there with you and your mom when you entered this world, but I'll bet you came with a smile on your face and alert to the fact that everyone listened when you had something to say. I'm not sure if it's nostalgia or just a natural tendency to think of your children as being little ones again on their birthdays -- even though they are indeed grown men and women. Whatever the case, both your mom and I thought of the Christmas when you WERE Mrs. Beasley!"

The rest of the card was very sentimental and loving and generously punctuated with exclamation points.

This is my first school picture. Mary in kindergarten in Norfolk, Virginia. I remember this dress. It was made of polyester and was somewhat rough to the touch -- a crepey fabric. And there was a pastel flower embroidered on the breast. It was short and flirty and showed my knobby little knees. And I wore buckled shoes and stockings. My hair looks very red in this picture. And I am mischievously covering up the fact that all four of my front teeth are missing.

May 13, 2002

"I wish that I could push a button and talk in the past and not the present tense."

I had all these great things to say, didn't I? Maybe they were only great at the time. Or maybe they were never very great. They've escaped my eager clutches. Either way.

Impressions of the weekend. I drove. I sang. I ran. It was hot. I practiced. I played. I ordered. I ate. I wrote. I tinkered. I purchased. I plotted. I dabbled. I dallied. I danced. I made hand-clapping sounds. I gave. I received. I posed. I reclined. I was stopped by a person in a Corvette and asked for my number on the street by the person in the passenger seat. I was told I was "so cute" by an audience member. I was told that "disco armageddon was the funniest thing I've ever heard." I was congratulated. I was brownbagged. I warmed up. I cooled down. I wondered. I waited. I woke up with a terrible crick in my neck. And I wished I had found more reasons to sweat than the simple fact of the heat.

May 10, 2002


I'm in the middle of the city and there'e a yippie dog barking incessantly. I think it belongs to the owner of the flower shop. Somehow, it seems out of place. I don't get to bring a pet to work. Unless it's a dog made out of stone carrying a welcome sign in it's stone mouth. I feel slighted.

This Saturday will be the one-year anniversary of my first time on stage with my comedy group. I'm not expecting anything unusual to happen. But it's always mindboggling to note the incessant and unstoppable passage of time. My mind is boggled.

May 3, 2002

Pulchritude Vicissitude Solitude

I have had the luxury of being thanked. I have been handed the humbling gift of gratitude and acknowledgement. It's a wonderful thing. And a terrible thing. And it is the center of what drives me to be a better person. Appreciate me. Acknowledge me. Don't take me for granted. Make it plain to me that all of this is not in vain. Empathy plunges me into great bouts of suffering and anguish. Because I know how you hurt. It is how I hurt. And how I have hurt before. I know that ache. I know that great question. I know what it is to finally accept that the answer will always be "no."

But it doesn't always kill me. And it doesn't always show. And it doesn't always make the world come to an end. Even when it seems like it should. Tomorrow is another day. One of many. Tomorrow has the chance to be everything that today wasn't. Tomorrow is for dreamers and soldiers and people who pick wildflowers. Claim it.

In other news, I like this picture of me.

May 2, 2002

"Remind me to turn in my overdue library books, because a robot called me this morning to let me know."

I am tired. I feel as if I have been turned inside out and worn as a coat by someone racing in the Iditarod. And losing.

This week has both crawled and flown by, as is the case with so many previous weeks. Weekend endcaps sandwich days that blur together with pockets of accomplishment and enjoyment and long stretches of nothing. Hours lost in the frustrating passage of life and time and circumstance.

I can never quite tell if I am an enormous fool.