Secret Pop

Sep 30, 2002

Improper Gifts

Fortunately, I will never be forced to secede from a senate race because of the gifts I have accepted. I can feel free to receive painstakingly made CDs and songs written just for me and the occasional piece of digital art and poems and compliments and free drinks at bars one would never expect to allow such things and gourmet comestibles for sharing with my father. And no one in the Pork Lobby need bat an eyelash. I am still quite supportive of pork. Even if those guys never buy me anything.

I give out plenty of gifts of my own. And they have little to no effect on the laws of the land. Me and my impotent, ineffectual gift ideas.

The Mystery of a Child's Desires

I'm curious what child begged his mother for just one more spin on the mechanical turkey...

Sep 29, 2002

Saturday night is placenta night. Ladies get in free.

Occasionally, I am someone I can admire. From time to time, I come through. The satisfaction in that is worth a thousand nights of wishing I had just not bothered.

It tastes like Halloween.

Sep 27, 2002

"Do I Not Bleed?"

It seems at times that I am a magnet for cruel little sharp objects that tear at me and draw blood. I attract them. So much so that it seems unfair that my indignance should eventually turn warlike. There is much that can be endured. But there is no reason for it. I tire of enduring. For the love of a balanced diet, give me a break.

When they come from anything but laughter or movie magic, tears are wasted.

Sep 23, 2002

Cranberry World

New music. A new soundtrack for my little life. Nightmares. Lots of them. Dizzy with the heat. Startled by the cold. Facing great changes. And decisions. Who is this responsible girl who never had time not to be? To come home. To come down. To come off it all. I could make a religion of all this business.

It's good to clean things out every once in a while. You'd be amazed the things you find.

Sep 21, 2002

"But your lips when we speak are the valleys and peaks of a mountain range on fire."

With a bit of fog in the sky, all the lights above the highway looked as if they were floating -- suspended and disconnected in a way that made me wish my car could fly. Or at least hover. It would have been nice to put some distance between me and the ground. I would have skipped along beside those lights and taken notice of the fact that I preferred the yellows to the greens.

"You must be using potions. How else could you tie my head to the sky?"

Coming over the top of a hill, trees and lampposts and other structures interrupted the light from the headlights of a car in the drive-through. It might as well have been a scene from X-Files as a scene from suburbia, replete with late-night fast food options. I preferred pretending it was what it wasn't.

"Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth."

Am I coming home or leaving it? I never can tell.

"I'm looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find."

I have always been something of an outsider. Welcome but in polite fashion. And I often wondered if it was something in me that fabricated the distance. Or if it was just that I was looking for closeness that could not be cultivated in the fields at my feet. I have looked for closeness and found something like it. Is it possible for one person to be close and the other to be far away? It seems as if it couldn't be managed, and yet it makes perfect sense to me. The tingly touch of a genuine kindness is likely to seem like less in the aftermath. I wonder if anything I am looking for is real. If anything I believe in deserves it. If I am anything I think I am. And I chastise myself for the waste of time of it all. The wondering doesn't put food on the table. If only I could sell my fears.

"I recall the sunshine as you were melting."

I immerse myself in the genius of others. And something vicarious takes place. The words are precious to me. But I can't tell if I am pretending to say them or pretending to hear them. It's pivotal to know the difference.

"I'm through with riddles. I know we're little. Just help me feel warm inside."

I have grown dizzy with turning points. Changing my direction so many times over that I can't tell how many times I've been facing in the same direction. I trek forward with the guidance of stars that never keep their place. And sometimes it's misty out. In the dark, I feel myself swelling. In the absence of the scrutiny of truth, I can surpass myself and never know that illusions are nocturnal creatures.

"And though the comedy softens the fall, we still fall short."

I don't know how to sit still. I don't know how I've managed to do it for so long. It was involuntary. I am a bullet with blurred edges. But I would compromise my trajectory for a warm, cushioned spot where sitting still makes perfect sense. Instead, I am antsy. Itchy with goosebumps. Aware of the cold of autumn and all that comes with the dying of the leaves. The only way to thrive when winter is on the landing is to know where you keep that bit of summer you always carry with you. That's why it's smart not to change handbags too often.

Sep 19, 2002

"Oh, what on earth would make a man decide to do that kind of thing?"

I always liked the idea of going somewhere. It gives you a reason to sharpen your senses. You have to make lists and remember not to forget things. You have to think ahead and plan for the unexpected. You have to consider the impossible. And sometimes, you get to carry your important documents around in a phony leather billfold with disclaimers printed on the inside. That's a nice touch.

"Did it just seem like a good idea at the time?"

You get lots of free things when you travel. That's nice, too. I used to keep all those free, miniaturized, logo-branded things. For a rainy day, you know. And I used to expect that getting there would be all of the fun. No contest. Simultaneously, I always struggled with motion sickness, and travel was often a misery. My mom would have to try and sneak Dramamine into my food because the pills were so bitter, I couldn't swallow them. (Note: They're just as bitter when you hide them in the middle of a hot dog.)

"Won't the folks back home be jealous?"

But that's the peculiar part of it. Travel often caused me suffering, but I had a very short memory for it. And no amount of sickness or misery ever prevented me from wanting to go again. Children are like that. Some grown-ups, too. They can find a reason to laugh when the tears are still wet on their cheeks. Pain passes into history like ice cubes dissolving in milk. Doctors count on it. When they give a child a shot, they assure them it will only hurt for a moment. And it's not as if those children come back and hunt the doctor down in their adulthood so they can whack him on the arm with a piece of wood just to show him how it feels. They forget. He is right when he tells them it'll be over before they know it. That's how we're made.

Time to hit the trail.

Sapporo Delights

The Japanese continue to thrill me with their confections and libations and packaging genius. Tonight, I drank something called Gabunomi Fruits Milk whose label reads "Apple+Orange+Pineapple&Milk" with an accompanying visual equation. It's a cute image, although the pineapple shouldn't be the same size as the apple and the orange. That's what you get when you live in a country where fresh fruit costs so much that you can only see it in books and museums and educational filmstrips. Similarly, I have no idea how to draw diamonds, gold nuggets, or crude oil.

Such is the life I lead now. Thrilled by bizarre ingestibles. Laboring long into the night. Wondering what's on television at this hour. Noticing that it's getting colder by the day. Fearing my eventual descent into the abyss. Soon, I'll be a vampire for sure. A vampire who quenches her bloodlust with fruity milk drinks and has freckles on her nose, but a vampire nonetheless.

When I was driving back from Burbank, I realized I was not in a hurry. It was a nice feeling. No number of iterations of the green light on which I could never turn left could dissuade me from my complacency. Today, I was patience incarnate.

Sep 18, 2002

"It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing."

Wishes are for silly girls and hapless romantics. I will never have anything by merely wishing for it. I know that.

I remember how I used to write song lyrics in my journal in high school. I wanted so much to be writing, but it was just moving of the pen. I couldn't find words of my own. Instead, I found the right words in other people's mouths and usurped them. I remember that one year as a time when I lost the ability to say anything original.

Murder and Mayhem in a Traveling Circus

Murder and mayhem in a traveling circus. Spiny carnival lettering. Even the bearded lady is so beautiful she sparkles. It's all green and glittery, like a lovely lizard lady. It's not such a great distance between a pretty girl and a freak.

Gingerbread Houses

I see the world all icing-colored and candy-coated. It's a pretty, storybook place where dresses never get dirty and endings are always happy.

Facts About Me

I don't like shorthand.
I don't abbreviate.
I try to take the long way home.

It's in the genes.

Yesterday, in the news, there was a story about a Chinese restaurant owner who was arrested after poisoning the water supply of a rival restaurant with arsenic in a fit of jealous rage.

Sep 16, 2002

"That's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise."

A few weeks ago, I was experiencing premature anxiety about how everything would fit into this weekend. But then the landscape changed. Everything flattened out a bit, and voilĂ ! -- there was room for it all. I can still lay fair claim to a somewhat threadbare feeling in the aftermath. But there was so much in each day that I was challenged to keep track. And, for me, that's really saying something.

There is so much in each day. In many ways, it's just like old times. I can't mark the exact moment, but I have a memory of slowing down to enable speeding up. It's like handling a sharp turn. I prefer to keep the wheels from squealing. I prefer to harness momentum and keep inertia in check. I was a physics major once upon a time.

There is so much in these days. There's no time for second-guessing or hesitation or fear. No. Fear is a luxury. I'm trying to reign in my spending.

I've got a lot on my plate. And I've got a plate as big as China. You do the math.

P.S. I love it when new pants fit!

P.P.S. I don't love it when new t-shirts smell as if they have been stored in an airtight room with an open bottle of Elmer's Glue.

Sep 11, 2002

Remembrance is mine.

I don't know what today will mean or what it will hold. I know it causes some hearkening back. I know the memories flood in even more acutely than when I'm just having my normal flood of acute memories. I know that -- more than anything -- I am examining the significance of the year that has gone by. Not just the day that was.

I remember what I wore. I remember where I went. I remember what I ate. I remember each hour passing.

But that's no different than nearly any other day. I have a memory rivaled only by trained professionals and crazy people. I have the sort of memory that makes one wish it was easier to forget.

Sep 10, 2002

When we are strange.

Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of myself, and I am struck: Is this what I really look like? Is that really me? Sometimes it's a face I can't quite remember. The edges are different. The bones protrude a bit more. The expression is a bit more arch. The jaw is set more sternly. Or more softly. Sometimes I'm not sure I know what I used to look like. Or what I look like today. Sometimes everything seems altogether unfamiliar.

Hello, Retrospection.

So ends my first summer in Los Angeles. One arm slightly tanner than the other. My hair lighter than it's ever been. A heap of pictures and mementos and credit card receipts and the sort of garbage I am reluctant to throw away. Memories were made.

From here on out, I predict a cooling trend. Soon, I'll be using my fireplace again. I welcome that. And I'll be throwing an extra blanket on the bed and wearing my cozy, leopard-print slippers around the house. Soon I'll be keeping candles burning and wishing I had soup. And then it will be summer again.

Days go passing into years. Years go passing day by day.

Sep 8, 2002

Full Lips. Wide Hips. Tall Ships.

There was a picture in my head. A great port with a drift of haze looming over dark blue waters, tipped in chalky foam. Billowing sails on staggered masts. A web of rope and iron. They sailed for the docks in fleet formation. The men on deck shouted to one another, but no voices could be heard. A girl standing on the harbor, feet wide apart, hands thrust in pockets, shoulders turned just so, into the chilling wind, with hair blowing and eyes slitted -- was it me? It was.

There are places I go in cold medicine-induced slumber that I may never see.

Watching the Wheels

I drove a lot today. It was beautiful out. Balmy and beautiful and inviting. I sometimes forget how cool it gets when you're right on the ocean. I was driving southward, and I thought for a moment that I might have gone further than I intended and that I might suddenly find myself a great distance out of my way. But I also realized that I didn't mind. There was no urgency. I might actually have just been driving for the sake of it. Which is something I seldom do anymore. Years ago, I used to volunteer to take the movies back or run to the store for eggs or do any number of unrewarding errands just so I could have an excuse to be driving. My stupid little white car made me feel mighty back then. Like I was going somewhere.

I saw a lot of people who looked happy today. I couldn't see any reason for them to be. But they were, just the same. And it occurred to me that my ideas about what should make a person happy might be completely implausible. They could be false, lifted from the pages of an adolescent novel, yellowed by years of disuse. I might have confused them with something entirely different. Maybe that's why I often return to the metaphor of the bony fingers of happiness closing around my throat.

You can't always get what you want. You aren't always smart enough to want what you've got. You seldom know you're on to something until it's passed you by. You're never as good as you wanted to be.

Sep 6, 2002

The Longest Day

I am taxed to the point of breaking. It has been a long, industrious day with many good things in it and many things else. I wish I was made of butter and jam. That way I could lick my arm and have a pleasant taste in my mouth.

Sep 5, 2002

It's raining again.

There's just the hint of a sprinkle outside. It's warm and damp. The ground smells sweet. It still gives off faint traces of the heat of the day. That hot, dirty smell of moisture on asphalt and sidewalk and soil. It's only when I feel the tiny droplets on my upturned face that I realize how much I have longed for it.

In the mirror on my desk, I can see my face, dewy with humidity, flush with late summer heat. Hair tucked behind my ears, I look like I did when I was a child. Shiny, pink cheeks often sore from laughing. Freckles across the nose. That outdoor smell in my hair. The recent memory of climbing trees. The taste of rain on my tongue.

Last night, I saw stars in the night sky above West Hollywood. Stars in L.A., you ask? You bet.

Sep 4, 2002

Things that go " " in the night

Awakened by silence. That's a raw deal. Silence and the knowledge that it's okay for me to be up because I'm in charge of it all. I have to be careful. I'm still trying to carry off the illusion of ordrinariness. I'm just like you. I'm just like you. I'm just like you...

Report Card

It has officially been a year since I started writing here. If you count the initial test message. It took me a couple of days to actually come up with something to say. But since that time, I have come to these pages and found a friend, in a way. The sort that would listen no matter how many times I seemed to be saying the same thing. A constant, transient friend who would be with me wherever the red lights were flashing. I have appreciated it. Being one who treasures archival, I am glad to have been able to keep track of the passage of things.

When I was a young girl in ponytails, my teachers would write home to my parents and tell them I was too eager and too talkative -- that I needed to give the other kids a chance to answer. It was a strange thing to teach. To tell someone to hide herself. To keep silent and mediocre in favor of socialization. I don't know that it was such a smart bargain. It didn't net me such a grand or vast catch of pals. There were still those whom I managed to intimidate or alienate. The ones who would roll their eyes at each other when I would use a big word. I always preferred the ones who cottoned to me in spite of myself. Those who were secure enough -- or perhaps insecure enough -- to be able to befriend in the absence of competition.

You grow into yourself. You get comfortable in your own skin. And then you quickly grow out of it. The trick is to be paying attention during that brief, brief stretch when it all feels right and you haven't a fear in the world. Sometimes, it comes more than once. But it's a good idea to try and catch it on the first go round.

Happy birthday, blog. I'm glad we made it.

Sep 3, 2002

These are days that hurt

Scratchy fingernails and headaches and sunburns and creaky bones. All of it seems amplified when it's warm out and there are people outside doing work in their yards. I wish I had been made better.

Wishes granted and lines rehearsed

Hello. I survived. The week begins. A new school year for some people. A new season. A new page on the calendar. Everything new. Or everything the same. Whatever I choose. However I see it. I didn't know it was going to be like this. I didn't know anything at all. I didn't know what sort of homecoming I would have. Or that there would be a home to come home to. It all changed when I wasn't looking, and I was thrown.

Now, instead of looking in any direction, I'm standing stock still with eyes screwed tightly shut. And I'm finding that I was wrong about as many things as I was right about. And that neither case was better than the other. I felt myself falling backwards into the arms of someone who wasn't there. I landed badly.

You never seem to forget song lyrics. Even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones.

Sep 1, 2002

I've missed the starry skies at night.

There's something reassuring about being able to see that there is a whole universe still out there, unobscured by city lights and urban haze. It's nice to know there are still quiet places. Many of these places are dismayingly close to a strip mall that has a T.G.I.Friday's in it, but it's on the other side of a hill, so you can pretend it isn't true.

I don't think I like discovering things about myself. So much of the time, it's something I wish wouldn't be true. Something that makes me self-conscious or ashamed. So much of the time, it's something I can't change. Or wouldn't know how to. I don't think I like being able to sum myself up in a few stark phrases. I take things too personally. I get hung up on what's fair and unfair. My hair is much lighter than I ever thought. I would hate to think that's all anyone would ever need know about me. I would hate to think it's all I am or all that has ever been true about me.

I look up at cloud-streaked night skies, filled with stars and cool and possibility, and I know that I can't have seen it all. I know there are dimensions beyond it, pieces I'm missing. I know there's more to learn. More to know. I just hope that that includes me. I hope that my story hasn't been written yet. That it's just in the planning phases. And that it won't close on opening night.

I received praise for my rapping skills tonight. In my book, that's a hoot.