Secret Pop

Jun 26, 2002

"Don't be afraid, you have just got your eyes closed."

Is it true? Can peace and serenity be found while drinking Dr. Pepper from a paper cup? No. I was wrong. But for a moment there...

I am listening to music that is making me tingle from head to toe. I don't want to move a muscle. I feel as if inspiration is on the tip of my tongue and and and -- I can't quite grasp it, but it's there. Everything is churning inside of me, building.

And then the song ends.

"You just haven't earned it yet, baby."

I wasn't raised to see things for what they are. The glasses are always rose-colored. Sweet accordion music is always playing off in the distance, and the smell of fresh-baked bread abounds. But to accept that romantic notions are only for the foolish would deny me the heart swells that come with a glimpse of a particularly beautiful moon or the sighing that follows a whispered sentiment, as long as it's a sweet one. To forsake all belief in the possibility of something perfect and wonderful would feel like signing up for an eternity in an iron lung. No. Not me. Not while there is a lyric left in me. Not while there is a new shade of lipstick to be bought. Not while there are smiles and surprises and supper clubs.

But then I once wanted to go to clown college, so what do I know.

Jun 25, 2002

"I'll wear the red dress tonight..."

My office -- like a microcosm of my existence -- is by turns too hot and too cold. When I catch a glimpse of my reflection, I am by turns pleased and disappointed. I'm backing up, in preparation for a great leap forward. Or slinking away in shame.

I'm in a warm eddy, but the cold is on my shoulder. This is not a metaphor.

Poems stolen from other pages

Ask anyone who knew me in high school: I wrote the best notes. They were long and fleshy and full -- folded pages, covered corner to corner in tiny penned print that my tiny hands had taken great care to transfer. If you got one of those notes, you felt lucky about it.

A boy who was not yet my boyfriend, but one day would be, received notes from me with the margins littered with scattered lyrics and pieces of poetry and sometimes great, long poems inspired by other great, long poems -- often not written by me.

It seems that I remember
I dreamed a thousand dreams
We'd face the days together
No matter what they'd bring
A strength inside like I'd never known
Opened the door to life and let it go

This sun may shine forever
Upon the back of love
A kingdom raised from ashes
And held within your arms
And should the rain break through the trees
We'll find a shelter there and never leave

I'll run to you, nothing stands between us now
Nothing I can lose
This light inside can never die
Another world just made for two
I'll swim the seas inside with you
And like the waves, without a sound
I'll never let you down

Upon a wave of summer
A hilltop paved with gold
We shut our eyes and made
The promises we hold
A will to guide and see us through
I'd do it all again because of you

I'd tear my very soul to make you mine

"Who is this David Sylvian guy, anyway?" he asked.

I remember when I used to take such pleasure in discovering beautiful words that conveyed sentiments too big for my heart and too dangerous for my tongue. My cowardice found relief in the shared experience of songwriteres and poets who seemed to know what it was like to go to sleep at night, wondering if you would ever find the courage to let a word sing with welcome or to let a smile turn into a kiss. Sometimes I find myself missing the uninformed innocence of adolescent longing. I wondered for a long time if I would ever be loved. And back then, that made me a moony-eyed teenager with an overdeveloped sense of Hollywood endings and dimestore novel romance. To wonder such things today is far less charming.

Out upon the open fields
The rain is pouring down
We're pulling up the sheets again
Against the passing tides of love
Every doubt that holds you here
Will find their own way out

I will build a shelter if you call
Just take my hand and walk
Over mountains high and wide
Bridging rivers deep inside
With a will to guide you on
Your heart will need no one
Those days are gone

Baby, I can tell you there's no easy way out
Lost inside of dreams that guide you on
Baby, I can tell you there's no easy way out
Soon the guiding moonlight will be gone

Out upon the ocean waves subside

People sometimes take such things the wrong way, but I'm inclined to say that if you do not own and love Gone to Earth , you're a big fat idiot.

Jun 24, 2002

I'm gay, but you're beautiful.

In the midst of a heated but pleasant discussion about Christianity with a gay, non-denominational protestant college professor from Oklahoma, there was a pause when he leaned across the bistro table and said, "You're a beautiful woman." I thanked him. He followed that with, "I'm totally gay, but you're really beautiful." I considered it a fine compliment. Although I wondered if it was part of a plot to disarm me in my discussion points so that he could stealthily convert me to his faith. Later, he spilled a white chocolate martini on me.

"I'd be safe and warm, if I was in L.A."

With the exception of my continuing desire for fried chicken, things are looking all right. Although I had some very upsetting dreams. Very upsetting. The kind where you wake and have tears in your eyes. I could pull quotes from plenty of songs about summer. But I'm not feeling it, for some reason. It's warm, and I'm listless. The old childhood wanderlust rears its head again. Each year, at this time, it's almost as if I'm molting. I need to get out of my skin and start over. This time with more laughter and a good deal more of the extraordinary.

Jun 21, 2002

First Day of Summer, Ahoy!

I don't really care that it's officially summer. I no longer live on the academic calendar. Summer doesn't mean lazy days of watching morning news programs and 3-2-1 Contact. Summer doesn't mean fixing myself a lunch of Spaghetti-O's and wondering if I can get someone's mom to drive me to the pool. Summer doesn't mean much of anything to me now. It means my office will be hotter. And I will get a few more freckles. And I will have to start running earlier in the day if I don't want to develop some form of Hollywood asthma. If anything, the advent of summer just makes me bitter and envious that other people are planning trips and buying vacation packages and packing things in a cooler and hitting the road. I want to be going somewhere. I want to be having an adventure. I'm due.

Ironically, the first day of summer in Los Angeles was -- at least for me -- a gloomy, hazy, chilly day with little in the way of motivation and much in the way of annoyance. But, I have a party to go to. Maybe that will shore things up. (Between you and me, I doubt it will, but I like to give the impression of hopeful optimism to people who don't know me that well.)

I bought some nice things at Banana Republic today. And I wore pants that look nice on my fanny. And I had a hot dog at a hot dog cart for lunch. That sounds nice, doesn't it? Leave out the part where the hot dog was rolled by the wind and lost all it's sauerkraut and other colorful dressings. And the part where the seemingly endless twists and turns of the two parking garages that had to be navigated made me full-tilt nauseous. With those exceptions, it was as nice as it sounds. I should go shopping at lunch more often. It makes me happy.

So, it's the first day of summer. Mark it. When it's the first day of autumn, you can look back with me and we can marvel together at how little we've managed to do in the interim. Or we could rail against that fate and spend the coming few months building elaborate cities out of popsicle sticks, submitting sweepstakes entries, and avoiding the law. Then, come autumn, we can write our memoirs and sell them for a MINT! That way, next summer, we'll be able to afford to take a nice trip somewhere and have done with all this bellyaching.

Jun 20, 2002

Even-Numbered Star Treks. Odd-Numbered Beethovens.

It's a happy moment when one returns home in time to find the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch playing on the television. I used to have a great great great big poster of John Cleese in all his lanky, crooked-legged glory hanging above my bed. It was an enormous poster that I bought from a tabletop vendor at the local college when I was killing time before a class. Some nonsense class, to be sure. I recall allowing my father to talk me into throwing it away when I was moving. Remind me never to take advice from my father.

Those between-class minutes spawned a great many good purchase decisions. Crime and Punishment. A few of the old Matt Groening ...Is Hell books. Love Is Hell. Work Is Hell. Life Is Hell. I was an odd one back then. I treated a college bookstore in much the same manner I would today treat a Borders. I would go browsing and buy textbooks for classes I was never going to take. Just because they looked interesting. I was also a bit of a sucker when it came to buying the new books instead of the used. I'm a girl who sometimes believes it's better to pay more. (Note: It isn't.)

I also bought stacks of greeting cards I never got around to sending. They populate a number of shoeboxes I occasionally run across or accidentally dump out. I bought them with the best of intentions. But -- much like the wieners-to-buns ratio dilemma -- I never thought to buy a congruent number of stamps.

Interestingly enough, I shop at the post office in much the same fashion I once shopped at college bookstores. I feel tempted to browse for extra things I should buy in case I ever need them. This is how I ended up with a special collector's edition matted display of Alfred Hitchcock commemorative stamps. Don't impulse-shop at the post office. You're much better off limiting your unplanned purchases to chewing gum and the king size versions of popular candy bars. Of course, those same grocery store displays have nearly prompted me to buy boxes of cigars. Because they were there. And they had inviting names. And I didn't have any at home. And you never know when you might need one. Sure, there's no longer cause to fear that Burgess Meredith is going to unexpectedly show up for dinner and require a fresh stogie, but I'm sure there are other people who smoke those things.

I hope I never find myself checking out of a store with an impulse display featuring macaque monkeys and catalytic converters. I've got no place to keep such things.

Can do. But won't.

Jun 16, 2002

Red Light District

Jun 15, 2002

"Change the world one mitzvah at a time."

I took a different route running today. Halfway through the swoony miasma of old lady perfume that surrounds the faithful synagogue-leavers, I turned south and ended up seeing much that I drive past but never have a chance to examine. Including a paper sign informing me that Woop Doody closed early today and that apologies were expressed for any inconvenience. I wasn't inconvenienced in the slightest. There's a big fat bear in a bellhop suit outside a flower shop and a field of delicious long grass that I would love to lay down and take pictures in. And billboards look entirely different from the sidewalk.

The BBQ place says it's been "Smoking since 1938." The bakeries all smell sweet and sinful. Even the one that claims -- by way of it's neon signage -- to be "Famous for Quality," though it is clearly not famous for its working neon signage, as that sign has not been properly lit in all the months I've lived here.

Fish must be on the menu at the Cuban place. The whole block is being clued in. Not just me.

I kept feeling myself starting to cry while I was running. Making me a certifiable crazy person. Why would one cry when one's MP3 player dishes out "Sexual Healing" and the world is sunny and sweet-smelling. I cry far too often. I'm thinking about looking into Botox.

Yesterday, at the office, a woman called my desk to ask about where to deliver floral arrangements for a funeral service for a woman whose name I did not catch. And I thought, "Is that how it's going to happen? Is the grim reaper going to ring me up, while I'm waiting for Acrobat to distill a postscript file, and say, 'Where shall we have the flowers sent, Mary?'" I wonder whether I'd bother going out for lunch after that.

I wish there was some way to catalog my inspiration while I'm running. I fear I've already forgotten a dozen other things I was going to write. And sitting here now, I'm just sweating all over my keyboard and feeling as if I'm going to be late for something. There was lettering that made me want to come back and take pictures for fonts I will plan to make but never get around to. There were garage sales that I was tempted to peruse, except for the fact that I carry no money and have no means of carrying a four-panel shoji screen home the mile and a half it would have been. And a beauty salon that proudly announced, "Walk-Ins Welcome," was inviting to me. I want a haircut. But the absence of money on my person once again poses a problem.

Next time, perhaps I will just take a walk and go to the park and bring a wallet.

My lungs hurt while I was running. Maybe Los Angeles is trying to tell me something.

Jun 14, 2002


There was no shortage of things today. From waking to now -- moments before the great sleep ritual begins -- I've been swirling around in a torrent. I had reason to walk in the sunlight today. I had reason to sigh and shake my head. I had reason to write a great deal. I visited places I love and places I'd not yet been. I bought things I wanted, never mind whether I needed them. I made friends with a bartender, although I suspect he'll forget me -- despite the largesse of my tip. I helped friends and muddled through. I scanned pictures in the wee hours. I approved of myself at various points along the way. I leaned into the wind. I strode with confidence. I told stories that I love to tell and laughed before I got to the end of them. And I think I may have impressed a few people. Which is always a bonus.

When I tuck in tonight, I will be thinking about the stars I can't see because of the bright fact of the Los Angeles night sky. I will be remembering stars on hilltops when it was night and it smelled sweet and no one was looking and playful romance was on the menu. I will be remembering that sleep comes in many places and that dreams carry more in them than the passage of time. I will think about Battleship Brand clams in a can and nights when I did not know to worry. Nothing has changed. Nothing ever seems to. I am where I was. I am where I am. I am on the verge of something. And getting to it hurts. As if I must pass through my own flesh to get there. What treasure could there possibly be hiding so deep inside of me.

I try never to hurt anyone. Am I the only one?

Jun 13, 2002

Do your worst

I am wondering, wondering. I can't sit still for wondering.

Why am I always in so much pain? If I were a pack animal, they'd have shot me by now and put me out of my misery.

There's a clog in my poetry all of a sudden. I don't quite know how to dislodge it. But I feel it all backing up. Bottlenecking. Intensifying. Furious words waiting to get out. Fiery phrases that don't care that the Lakers won again. Verse that pulsates, irrespective of time or state or twinges. It's all waiting. And I have no means to free it. I am powerless today.

Jun 10, 2002

Arguments, Angst, and Plenty of Fish Maws.
Antidote for Ennui or Sinister Harbingers of a Week of Sleepyheadedness?

This weekend was one that seemed to spiral out of control. The beginning seems so far, far away from the end of it. I lived a few lifetimes in the interim. There were fallings out and fallings in. Dashed plans and resurrected disappointments. I'd like to think I make each day count. Today, I spent too much time in the car and too much time frowning. But there was also a great deal of laughing and clapping and good-naturedness.

And I ate fish maws. I would type "ha ha," but the laughter I am issuing is more the closed mouth variety. More of a "hm hm." A Chinese restaurant is as good a place as any to test the limits of your gross-out threshold. Mine, as it happens, is very high.

And I just drove 130 miles. What in the world was I thinking?

Jun 9, 2002

"We are clever, too."

Movies are a treat. Nice guys who give you free soda refills at the concession are, too. And Christopher Lee playing the bad guy tops it all. What's a nice girl like me doing out on Hollywood Boulevard so late at night?

That's what. Bravo, Mario Bava! I'm a sucker for Technicolor.

Jun 8, 2002

Fame amongst the porcelain

See? I was on Bathtub Girl's live show. Here's proof.

Mary on Bathtub Girl Live

And she wrote about the evening in her blog, where I am pictured from the back as just a fall of reddish hair and referred to as "an attractive asian girlfriend of Jo's whose name escapes me." I can deal with being marginally forgettable. But I wish I was being immortalized with more than just the backs of my knees showing.

"Four long years, one leaner than the rest."

Secrets keep me from safety. Lies deliver me into the eager hands of foolishness and danger. I make bad decisions. Sometimes I am given a hand in that.

Heart-shaped hedges, Japanese gardens. Heart-shaped hedges, Japanese gardens.

The marble in the stairs is worn down one side.

Somehow, I ended up at the apartment of Bathtub Girl tonight, and I appeared on her live webcam show in a see-through shirt and plugged my web site and took pictures on the rooftop and had a cool, cool time. Afterwards, I made it to the Downtown loft party I had originally intended to get to. I'm too tired to post pics at this very second, but I do have pics to post. Wait and see.

P.S. It's all who you know.

Jun 6, 2002

"What are we coming to? No room for me. No fun for you."

Sound + Vision. The first part. Star Shoes. I could have been seeing Eric Idle last week, but I was shooting pool and had no idea. I could have been doing a lot of things.

I am devilish sleepy. Or maybe not so much sleepy as bereft of the ability to press on. I want to be nestled somewhere. Anywhere. I want to be slumbering with an angelic smile on my lips and the sound of sweet, sleepy breathing in the air. But I can't do any of that from here, can I?

Jun 5, 2002

Sheep on the Horizon

Blue. Black. What aspires to the extraordinary. White space. Meetings. God beams. Interplay. Smiles. Whispers. Secret photographs. Sudden shyness. Sudden brashness. Blue. Black. Arms outstretched. Arms folded. Hands in pockets. Sunglasses that slide down on the nose. Hot dog cart wishes. Lilacs. Wizard of Oz. Crosswalks. Calm concern. Kind commentary. Plans. Plays. Uncomfortable silence. Unexpected everything. Cool drinks. Mirrors. Blue. Black. These are things that happened today.

I sometimes catch myself sitting doubled over. As if to shield my heart from everything else in the room.

Jun 4, 2002

More Mileage

I looked up and it was exactly midnight. 00:00. Like catching the zeroes turning over on your odometer as you head out on the open highway. It's not significant. But I was there to see it.

Innocent bystander signing off.

Jun 2, 2002


Someone's got death on the brain.

The world seems particularly lonely to me today. Connections seem fleeting. The little bonds seem oh so tenuous. I've been living it all on the interior for a while. Maybe that's where it comes from. The inability -- the reluctance to let the questions surface.

After Saturday's shows, an air conditioning problem in the theater drove us all out on to the rooftop, beers in hand. I put my tennies back on and climbed up the ladder through the hatch. The roof felt soft underfoot. And the line outside Bar Dynamite was distractingly long. I appreciated the lights and my distance from them. I felt myself wanting to be carried off onto the freeway. Northward. We did notes. We drank. We laughed. We told titillating stories. Well, I did, anyway. And the night felt young, even though we were well into the wee hours before I ventured back home.

But even when I'm in the reassuring clutches of a kind embrace, I am keeping secrets. And there is a sort of tired urgency tugging away at me. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Did that bit in the movie strike you the same way? Did that song send a fizzy feeling into your belly like it did mine? Does the smell of the next day mean anything? I ask no one. I am answered accordingly.

I laughed a great deal this weekend. And toyed with tears. I made more of my time than I might have. Less of it than I could have. I never quite went to sleep.

Sepulchral masks in the museum. Six Feet Under. The daily news. No wonder I'm thinking of dying.