Secret Pop

Oct 31, 2002

Dressed as the color blue

There are a lot of reasons to feel sad or to feel trodden upon or to feel unloved and unjustly so. Believe me -- the best costume of all is the one I wear day in and day out as I feign the absence of disappointment.

I didn't get any trick-or-treaters this evening, but if I had, this is how I might have looked to them:

And, having learned my lesson from last year, I didn't bother buying any candy. So, if I had had any trick-or-treaters, I would probably have given them cough drops.

And then I would have said, "Boo!"

And then they would all have come back the next day and covered my home in eggs and mustard. Ingrates. I wish I had given them something really awful, like sugar free candy or bouillon cubes. Ah, well. There's still time to throw sugar free candy and bouillon cubes at the revelers up on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Look out stilt-walkers -- them wrappers is slippery!

"I got chills. They're multiplying."

I guess it's part of the cosmic balance of things. Disney went all out to dress up the Haunted Mansion with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme -- which, if you haven't seen it, is much scarier and more of a sensory explosion than the original attraction by an extra-long mile...the kind of mile that is actually two or three miles -- but they also lame-ified Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln by adding this 3-D sound experience and the whole Journey to Gettysburg nonsense. It's gross and gimmicky and riddled with anachronistic humor (which is a precarious death nell for every cool bit of nostalgia still lurking at Disneyland), and the animatronic Mr. Lincoln doesn't even sit down anymore. He just stands in front of a picturesque sky and delivers his speech. If his jaw clacks at all, you miss it, because of the (suspiciously unsanitized) headphones you're forced to wear. They even got rid of the sentimental and moralistic folk music slide show with that ballad about two brothers, one of whom wore blue and the other of whom wore grey. I should have known it would suck. When you first enter the auditorium, the park employee instructs you to "pretend" that you're Private Somebody Cunningham, a soldier in the Union Army. Holy lord -- for the fee they charge you to enter the park, you'd think you'd be able to avoid "pretending" and actually rely on the Imagineers to work it all out for you. Next thing you know, they'll be ushering you into a dark auditorium and telling you to close your eyes and wish really hard for something entertaining to happen. And they'll call it something like "Imaginoventionamatronic," and it will be the first place you go when you enter the park to grab your Fast Pass and secure your future pleasure, proving that America knows nothing from fun.

In the new Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, you're supposed to pretend you're meeting the president. Then you're supposed to pretend you just got your leg blown off. Then you're supposed to pretend that you chose to live because the president told you to. It's a good thing my imagination is so keyed up. Otherwise I might have been bored and confused. Instead, as soon as I left the auditorium, I went and married a beautiful, Boston-educated southern belle and set about the business of rebuilding my life in the tumultuous post-Civil War world. I keep a daguerreotype of my leg above the hearth as a reminder of what we, as a nation, lost. And I hope that, when my children are old enough to choose for themselves, sometime around 1881 or 1882, that they will use their democratic liberties to keep our nation free from oppression and war.

That whole bit was a lie, by the way. I don't have any children. And I keep the leg picture in my bedroom so as not to freak out the guests.

I had actually planned to take a small nap during the Lincoln deal, which is something I usually do in there. But I was so jarred by the changes that I couldn't really relax. Especially during the part where they simulate Mr. Lincoln whispering in your left ear in far too familiar a way. I was on my guard for him to actually thrust his tongue in there at one point. Back up, Abe. A soldier needs a little personal space, if you know what I mean.

But I should reiterate that the seasonally-revamped Haunted Mansion is the bee's knees and worth far more than the price I paid to see it, which was nothing. Also, I didn't know until today that they sold turkey legs at Disneyland, which they apparently do. And apparently they are a satisfying snack. I didn't eat one, but I saw the foil bags they came in, and they looked shiny and insulating -- proof that their contents were warm and possibly delicious.

I hope I'm not catching a cold.

Oct 28, 2002

Social Conscience

I don't know the exact numbers, but I thought I could disseminate a message more effectively by posting it here than by sending it to everyone in my address book. So, pretend that this is a forwarded message you got in your email inbox from me. After you get over your disappointment that there is nothing personal or humorous in its content, take action, if you are so inclined.

I received a forwarded email from a friend today that contained the following:

Last Friday, the Oprah show covered a story of a Nigerian woman, Amina
Lawal, who has been sentenced to death by stoning because she had a baby
out of wedlock. She has tried to appeal the decision but has been unsuccessful,
thus far. The head of Nigeria disagrees with these stonings but has so far done
nothing-partly because of the fear of not being re-elected. I should also note that
the father of the baby denied fathering the child and, hence, has escaped any
form of punishment.

Amina Lawal's stoning will occur as soon as she is finished nursing her
child. She will be buried up to her neck in dirt and townsmen will throw
stones at her head until they kill her-which has been known to take hours.
I send out a plea to all the women receiving this e-mail and to all the men
raised by women to join me and many others to help prevent this horrific
and inhumane event from occurring. Visit the Oprah website: and you will see a pre-written letter addressed
to the Nigerian Ambassador. Just fill out your information on the bottom
of the page and send it. It's as simple as that.

I'm pretty sure this isn't a hoax or an email scam. There are no promises that Bill Gates will send you and everyone you know $5000 if you complete the task. In fact, I'm pretty sure the only reward in it is the possibility of a sense of personal do-gooder-style satisfaction. But, if this is a scam, I apologize for wasting your time and I assert that someone on the Oprah show should be stoned. But I don't think this is a scam, so I hope you did what you could. And I encourage you to support Amnesty International.

Oct 27, 2002

Fathers, teach your boys not to pee on other people's property.

I almost forgot. This afternoon, I looked out of the upstairs window and saw a boy being encouraged by his father to relieve himself on the tree in the front yard. I hurriedly slid the window open and called out to the youngster, "Please don't do that." He looked up, startled, not quite sure where the voice was coming from, not quite sure whether zipping up of his pants was called for. So I continued, "Please don't pee on our lawn." He looked embarrassed, perhaps traumatized. And he put his pants back in order.

I had seen his father standing out in front of his car, waiting for someone I suppose. And I can understand that the lad needed to go. But I would have happily let him use the bathroom if he had only asked. And there's a strip mall less than a block away with all sorts of commercial establishments in it. Surely, he could have taken the boy to Stater Brothers and had him pee on one of their trees. I just don't know what sort of manners are being passed on anymore. It's like languages that become extinct. Soon, there will be entire generations of young westerners who don't know where it is and isn't acceptable to have a tinkle. Soon, it won't even be a legal requirement to use one's turn signal. Soon, we will be replacing the wave and the handshake with the bird and the punch in the nose. I didn't go to some ritzy finishing school, and I don't remember ever being SPECIFICALLY told not to pee on something that didn't belong to me, but somehow, that became a de facto part of my social vocabulary. I would hate to think that I am one of a dying breed.

I also wondered where the boy finally ended up going. But that's none of my business.

Daylight Savings Time Again Again Again

No matter what that clock says, I was driving until after 4 A.M. And that's no picnic. But I listened to my band's CD over and over and sang along and pricked my ears up for the new parts I will be adding and the hidden melodies no one has managed to find yet. And it felt less long than it actually was. But I am ever so tired and sort of out of myself.

Tonight was full of excitement and surprises and spooky nonsense. I'm fortunate to have gained an hour. I don't know how else I would have crammed all of it in.

It looks like rain. And I'm just looking in the mirror.

Oct 26, 2002

Dirty Hands. Bleeding Arms.

I'm a few cuts and scrapes away from perfection. And I'm dizzy with effort and exertion. But things look better from here.

It's cold, and it rained a little. I like the sound of leather soles on damp sidewalks. I like the sound of forgetting that you can only hear just as you drift off to sleep and you can never remember afterwards. I like the sound of soft sheets being pulled back when I -- sweet-smelling and bed-ready -- call it quits and tumble in. I like the sound of sprinklers coming on in the wee hours. I like the sound of everything working as it should.

If I were a robot, my happy green LED would indicate that I am in fine working order. When the LED flashes red, it would mean it's time to fuel my ice cream tank. But solid green would mean all systems go. And orange would mean it's time to carve a pumpkin.

Oct 25, 2002

"You can carry a lie till it makes you fall down."

I bought some inspiration tonight. It's nice that there are stores that sell it. I wonder what creative types used to do before commerce was so easy. I guess they had to actually have ideas on their own. Wow! What a bunch of boners they were! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Who's writing Microsoft Outlook's spellcheck application? Umberto Eco?

I just received a courteous spellcheck alert about my use of the word "cheeseball" in an email I was about to send. The suggested replacement was "chasuble," which is defined by Merriam-Webster as follows:

'cha-z&-b&l, -zh&-, -s&-
Etymology: Middle French, from Late Latin casubla hooded garment
Date: 14th century
: a sleeveless outer vestment worn by the officiating priest at mass

I am usually dismissive of Microsoft's questionable brand of erudition. I mean, Microsoft's grammar check will balk if your sentence is complex enough to require more than one comma. But this time I was truly surprised at how arcane the entry was.

I was half-tempted to accept the suggested change, just for kicks. But I was using "cheeseball" adjectivally, and "chasuble" is clearly a noun. Even for the sake of humor, I'm not going to be that irresponsible.

P.S. "Kryptonite" isn't in the Microsoft lexicon, either. What possible good can this dictionary do me?

Oct 24, 2002

Bloody Marys of Days Gone By

This was another day that was filled to the box tops. And still I flog myself with certainty that I haven't done anything at all. But I'm glad that today took place. And I'm sure that something got done. That's fine with me.

When it's cool enough outside that you can use the fireplace in the morning, I'm twinkly-eyed and smiling. It reminds me of days off from school for holidays like New Year's Day, watching Die Fledermaus and asking to be taken out for miniature golf. There are no rules. It doesn't have to be dark outside for a fire to make sense. Set your blazes as you fire up your waflle irons, America. I will not judge you.

I never go to bed when I intend to. My brain gets busy and I indulge it. And I am reluctant to set the pen down or close the laptop lid when words are spilling forth. I love to write in the wee hours. I love to set down my teeny tiny handwriting in my journal -- the one with the old school schematic drawing of a horse on the cover and the cardboard-colored binding. I wish I was writing something that had a real purpose. But I'm glad I'm writing just the same. Whether it means that things are okay or that things are abysmal, I'm glad that I'm forming sentences and searching for more interesting ways to say the plain things I think. It is the illusion of accomplishment. And it keeps my penmanship sharp.

So, there's this sniper arrest special report all over the networks right now. And there has been a modicum of information offered, but mostly it's just news anchors filling and repeating and filling and pausing to make serious faces into the camera. This reminds me of the day that John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane went down. For days, the networks would cover nearly nothing else, but there wasn't any new information to offer. Just revisitations to childhood newsreel footage and magazine covers (including the People magazine issue that declared him the sexiest man alive) and George press conferences and paparazzi clips of John John and his girl making the most of the sidewalks of New York City. I wasn't unhappy to see all of this nostalgic fodder. But I got frustrated with how little new data was coming up. I felt like I was watching looped file footage. I get nervy and impatient, even when I should probably be mournful and reverent. I'm glad there have been arrests made in the sniper case. I am very angry at the sniper, and I rail against the idea that good friends of mine are having to put off refilling their gas tanks or having to walk in a zig zag pattern because of all of this. I want the sniper to be caught and "processed." But I also marvel at how many many many hours of commentary can be devoted to the singular announcement that arrests have been made. Can you imagine having an emotionally-charged discussion with someone who anchors the news? They'd probably blather on and on, repeating their points ad nauseum, recapping all of the salient points that have already been made, drawing correlations between this and previous discussions, and then let you know it's your turn to respond by saying, "Back to you." You'd never get anywhere. You'd roll your eyes and want to shove a Thanksgiving-sized turkey in their ear. That's the sort of thing frustration breeds.

I'm just taking note of the number of times this chick on NBC has said, "Again," in preface to her repeating everything she said 45 seconds ago. She's not even pretending to say anything new. She's just making sure that, if you joined the broadcast mid-sentence, you'll get the full scoop. She's very considerate. But I don't think she chose sensible earrings. And I'm beginning to doubt her sincerity. She's not really listening to the field correspondent. She's just looking at herself in the monitor. Egotist.

The drinks were good, but I shouldn't have passed on the edible fare. Now, I'm hungry. And forlorn about it. This is a microcosm of my greater dissatisfaction. If a pizza were to magically arrive in my lap right now, it would mean great things for the future -- all things being metaphorical. Incidentally, I am not a pizza purist. I like so many different kinds of pizza. I think it would be an unkind burden to have to feel loyal to a certain type of pizza just because of where you were born or because of how many vowels you have in your surname. So what if my pizza isn't like the kind you get in New York. So what if that's not the way REAL Italians make pizza. So what if it has ramen on it. Or cranberries. Or Chiclets, for that matter. I'm fine with it. And I'm not asking for your vote.

I'm only typing now because my computer is battery warm and the heat transfers cozily down through the comforter and onto my knees. I have run out of things to say, but spot warmth reminds me of living in Japan and surviving the cold, cold winters in the unheated houses with hot water bottles tucked under hefty bedspreads. I once cuddled with a metal hot water bottle that came in a corduroy drawstring sack. At some point in the night, my ardent clutching caused part of the bottle to be exposed, and I awoke with burns on my midriff from the hot metal. The burning itself didn't wake me. It must have happened gradually. As with frogs being boiled. I wanted the heat. And the burns on my belly were not too great a price to pay. Strange how our negotiating skills get diminished when the elements intervene.

I enjoyed taking pictures in the twilight. I liked playing violin on hardwood floors. I liked driving around town with a sweet little dog in my lap. Today was the sort of day that doesn't exist on the calendar. It's part of a holiday no one else is celebrating. It's a private escape. Very few other people had a today like mine. There is both privilege and elitisim in that.

Anyway...stop there.

Oct 23, 2002


Wireless LAN lets me peck away at the keys while reclining in my bed. It is both a luxury and a curse. And it's murder on my posture.

Whether it's saving or a cheeseburger or a pat on the back, I need something. That much is clear. Tonight, I shall go without. But there's still time. Not all of my smiles are false.

I am sore and bruised and tired. It dampens my mood.

Woebegone is half done.

We were looking for that cold, blustery day feel. So we took pictures in front of twisted dead trees and grey skies over green grass and the coming of dusk. It was not difficult to master that look of contemplative melancholy. And it wasn't difficult to give the appearance of being cold. We looked serious and cool. Except for the times we couldn't stop laughing. Which were plenty.

My sister dances like Shiva to prove her point. That's one of the ways she makes me laugh. The list is long.

Undisputed Scientific Observation

Professional athletes, retired or otherwise, are not good actors. Not in movies. Not in corn chip commercials. Not in community theater productions of Agatha Christie plays. They are not good actors. They are good runners or slam dunkers or putters or archers or bowlers or whatever the hell they are. They are not good actors. This is a boundary that should not be crossed. They are also, almost as a rule, not good autobiographers. And many of them can't carry a tune. Why aren't these boundaries being respected?

"Haven't you guys eaten that dog yet?"

Suck down a beer while watching The Story of G.I. Joe. I highly recommend it. Especially if you can do it with my dad. Who will tell you all about the quest to take Monte Cassino and add plenty of color and charm. If you're lucky and you're watching the movie on Turner Classic Movies at the same time I was -- in the past -- you can stick around afterwards for a wartime Looney Tune featuring Daffy Duck, a Cockney paratrooper, parachuting behind Nazi lines to antagonize a boorish Nazi duck officer. The story starts with a swastika flag flying outside a field barracks. Inside, mock German is being sputtered frantically. It ended with Daffy playing human cannonball and landing in a packed stadium where an animated Hitler (!) is addressing a crowd of his minions. Daffy hits him on the head with a mallet -- a recurring theme in the episode. And...fade to credits.

An animated Hitler. Wow. And it wasn't a very good animation. Not nearly as smooth or caricaturistic as the Looney Tunes versions of stars of the day such as Frank Sinatra, Peter Lorre, and Robert Mitchum. I guess they must have wanted him to look half-baked. Poor Hitler. No one is ever going to look at a photo of him and say, "Hey, Hitler looks really good in this shot." Or, "What a cute picture of Hitler. He looks so young and carefree."

I remember watching an old episode of The Family Feud many years ago, and the survey was about who you would expect to see in hell. The devil was top of the list. But Hitler was like number two. And I remember watching that episode as a small child and recognizing the name but not knowing why he would be someone I should expect to see in hell. It's odd to look back and realize that I was ever a naive little girl with no mountain of cares. I used to do exercises with my mom while she watched Richard Simmons. Or we would watch Mike Douglas. And then we would fold laundry or something like that. Sometimes, I forget those shows were ever even on the air. I used to watch David Letterman when he was on daytime. It only comes back to me in flashes. Then I realize that my brain was once much blanker. I'm just as curious as I used to be. But I tend to be surprised with less frequency. The first time someone played 52 Pick-Up with me, I laughed with delight. That wouldn't be true today.

Oct 22, 2002

Bring in the boom chicks

The clock is ticking. And I was born in the wrong decade. The wrong century maybe. But there's no fixing that.

I made lasagna and insalata di caprese tonight. I never cook as much as when I'm in someone else's kitchen. I would. I just don't. As with so many other things, I'm not as keen to do something wonderful in the absence of an audience. Even if it's just one. Applause is applause.

Upon seeing my new splash page, my mom, wrestling with the word "seductive," said, "It's very's slutty."

When I get carded, some people look at my driver's license picture, with a twenty-two or twenty-three year-old Mary in a black dress with a white neckline, and they ask if I used to be a nun. Never mind that the photo exposes a nice enough set of collarbones and a dash of the ol' maquillage. Me with a smile and a hairband and a black and white dress equals nun. Maybe I'm just overcompensating.

I'm due for some wonderment, I think.

Oct 21, 2002

I knew I liked Sean Penn for a reason.

I wish I could have actually seen the ad Sean Penn placed in the Washington Post this past Friday. But I am satisfied to roll around in the hubbub it's created like so much currency or foliage -- luxuriating in it, scooping it up in great handfuls and letting it slip sensually through my fingers -- all in slow motion, of course, and preferably shot from above. I'm glad that successful Hollywood folk are proving that having enough money to do such things doesn't doom one to petty Republican selfishness. I'm glad Sean Penn is looking out for me and you and the innocent citizens of Iraq and the men and women of our armed forces as well as the warmongering profiteers out there. It's nice to see liberalism displaying such equanimity. And it's nice to see actors being more than just that. And eloquently so.

My sister asked me today how long I thought it would be before Madonna and Guy Ritchie split up. I hadn't given it any thought. Still haven't, actually. But I do think it's more likely that, if they do break up, it will be because Guy Ritchie is unable to comprehend how she ever let an enlightened dude like that get away.

Oct 20, 2002

Inhale Exhale Inhale Exhale

If I were the praying kind, I might seek out the intervention of the fellow upstairs this evening. I've had my fill of tumult for today. I spent the day oscillating between laughter and smiling. But then the rains came.

And I hope that HBO's Journeys with George is as horrifyingly amusing -- or amusingly horrifying -- as I expect it to be.


Oct 18, 2002

Watch those pounds come off! Like magic!

I think it's high time I revealed my top secret food poisoning diet to the world *clutches gut and frowns humorously*.

I feel like three bucks.

Surprised by Garlic and Smelling of Smoke

It's getting chilly out there. So that us girls in our cropped black pants are wearing boots instead of strappy sandals and looking like Captain Kirk instead of Doris Day. I'll sleep with the heat on tonight. And a wool blanket that's as old as I am. Yes, that's right -- it's ONE HUNDRED years old. Good guess.

Today was a bit on the dreary side. I worked and counseled and played my violin and changed my outfit a few times. And wondered what it's like to captain a dogsled. It looks like fun, but I don't think dogsledding is for me. My lips are prone to chapping.

AMC had some sort of George C. Scott-a-thon going on yesterday. I caught a bit of The Flim Flam Man. I recall my father telling me that he saw it and that it was one of the funniest movies he'd ever seen. See, that's my dad for you. Not The Mask. Not Kentucky Fried Movie. Not Doctor Doolittle 2. But The Flim Flam Man, starring George C. Scott, is one of the funniest movies he's seen. And I'd guess that Modern Times is on that list, too. Oh, sure. You might argue that it's not good taste. You might say it's just because he's an old dude who doesn't "get" the comedy of our time. But no one laughs harder at Seinfeld than my dad. Even though he sometimes calls it "Shine-feld." I say my dad's got fine taste. When I played Amélie for him, he laughed plenty. I think my mom laughed more, but that's because it was in French. Movies in English seem to put her to sleep. When I took her to see Titanic, she fell asleep before the film came out of sepiatone in the opening credits. Then, when I asked her how she liked it, she scowled and said, "It was so boring." She also hates Star Trek because the alien races are all grotesque and ugly to her. But both of my parents love Benny Hill. Although my mom thinks he's German. There's no logic to any of it, clearly.

I've got a lot to do tomorrow. I don't like the sound of that.

Oct 16, 2002

What would YOU do for a Klondike Bar?

No, really. I want to know.

Lightbulbs were going out all around my apartment today. As if conspiring to get back at me for all the times I've smirked at the blind people trying to sell me discount replacement bulbs. In the irritating dimness of a half-lit room, I shake my fist.

Los Angeles has made me really love driving at night. When the roads are clear and the freeways are speedy and I can drive and ruminate and not keep my eyes locked on the brakelights of the car in front of me (I know you're not supposed to do that), I feel nearly at peace. I still wonder about all the buildings and what goes on inside of them, but I have less time to be consumed by it. They fly by faster when I'm breaking all manner of velocity laws.

I was once new here.

Oct 15, 2002

I've put the knives away.

My customer service woes are at an end for today. Only an hour or so ago, I thought I was going to either cry or have a heart attack or begin bleeding from the eyes. But the guy from the gas company finally showed up, so now I can heat a frying pan and bathe my tresses, and all is right with the world. It just goes to show you: there's no sense getting all worked up. Unless it makes people laugh when you tell them about it later.

And even though I was wearing my big XO Space Warrior sweatshirt and fuzzy slippers and had not showered or made-up pretty, he said -- in the course of mentioning that a little Asian makes for a nice mix, "Believe me. You're beautiful." Angel or masher? You be the judge.

"Laugh it up, fuzzball."

Here's something that has been making the rounds in my comedy group:

Also, I am having the most maddening customer-service-should-be-buried-alive sort of morning. And now my upstairs neighbor is putting golf balls around on the hardwood floor above me. I wish there could be exacting of vengeance without arrival of law enforcement units. I'm the angriest half-Chinese girl in the world today.

Off to the Masque

I'm so pleased that window displays are all decked out in Halloween finery. I want to play dress-up.

Oct 13, 2002

"Singing in the bathub, bluh bluh bluh bluh bluh."

My dreams are starting to anger me. I'm afraid I'm going to turn into one of those street-corner weirdos, having a heated argument with my brain. If that happens, please don't give me money -- as much as you want to help. I'll just spend it on action figures. And then I'll have arguments with them.

Late Night Dog-Walking

Now, I have a sore, bruising fingernail that got squished when I was collapsing a mic stand. It seems the fates are conspiring to end my violin-playing. Or some other manually dextrous occupation yet to befall me.

It was a grey, grey day.

It is as if my life is what happens between naps.

I do a pocket-sized version of sleeping. Inspired by Travel Scrabble. And I am never fully awake. And I have so many dreams that it has become a source of great tedium to try and recount them or catalogue them in any way. Even if there may be shining jewels of insight and importance lurking in my thoughts about lunch and hovercrafts and burial mounds and things to carry books in. This is dismaying. As I am the sort of person who likes to keep track. I imagine the statistics will be important to me one day far in the future. I keep track of things no other person -- no sane person -- would bother to record. I keep everything. Everything. If you sent me an email once to tell me to turn on the TV because something interesting was on channel 6, I still have it. I'm not kidding.

So when computer problems or foolish decisions cause me to lose some piece of my recorded history, I fret and frown and imagine how valuable those data would one day be. Maybe I fear that I need the statistics to validate all this time. To prove that I was here. And that things happened to me. And because of me. And in spite of me. I always long to know more. About myself. About the people I care about. About the things they care about. About everything. And I'm never sure if it's rote hunger for it or if it's a useless compulsion -- a silly game of catch-up in a race that no one else is running.

In the beginning, I saved it all because I wanted to relive the memories that brought me delight. I wanted to be able to bask in mutual brilliance time and time again. Revisiting the discourse the way a child rereads a favorite story. It's comfortingly the same but tellingly different each time. It is history and present all at once. When the world around me is silent and unmoving, I revert to the memories of the velocity days. And in reliving, I make certain that no moment of mine will ever ever ever be silent or still. I have never known what to do with down time.

But even when the history began to show an unexpected ugliness, I didn't turn the recorder off. I have never been one to spare myself the anguish of reliving misery. It's how I keep balance.

Tonight, I was driving down a stretch of highway I seldom traverse. And it was dark and night and I could see a glittering white snake of bright lights seemingly coming from right out of the sky. Headlights coming down a hill. Just as they did years and years ago on a night when I was driving home on that highway -- racing to catch up with someone who was far behind me. Sometimes, there are things you find in memory that are worth finding. And finding them again and again only gives you more and more opportunities to discover the important truths that you missed. I get lots of chances to figure things out. Which is good, because obviously I need them.

Oct 11, 2002

"If you let me, I'll be so real for you."

I have cuts on my fingers from knives that were too sharp. And little stinging places on my heart from memories that were a bit prickly. I have slept all of ten hours in the past three nights. Maybe I'm just too fatigued to be working with knives or sitting for the cinema.

I had a busy day. I appreciate the numbness provided by industry.

There is more weeping in the world than you can ever know.


I made linguine carbonara tonight. You SO wish you were here.

Finders, Keepers.

I sometimes liken myself to that character Christopher Walken played in The Dead Zone, except that I get jarred by the clutches of sudden flashes of nostalgia -- which are not nearly as useful for gambling purposes. I was looking for something, and I found an old cassette tape of pre-show and intermission music from an improv and sketch comedy show I was in back around this time of year in 1998. It's the real reason I own a First Contact-era Star Trek engineering tunic. Honest.

They weren't the most glorious days, but they weren't the most awful. I was on my way to many things. And happy to applaud the exploits of the ones I loved. That was the year my family's house burned down. The year I spent the 4th of July in Lake Tahoe. The year I determined to finish my degree. The year I got audited by the IRS. The year I sprained my ankle stepping off a curb. The year I saw all three Indiana Jones movies in one day on the big screen (with a freshly sprained ankle). The year I moved into the apartment I never really liked. The year I got the smallest raise in the history of my career. I lost a friendship that year. And gained one. I struggled with a lot, but came out on top. That improv and sketch comedy show wasn't the best thing I ever did, but it wasn't the worst. And I worked hard at it. And did a lot of laser-printing for it. And painting. And folding. And got to wear a First Contact-era Star Trek engineering tunic. On stage.

That's what flashed into my consciousness when I found that cassette tape. If I had actually played it, I'm sure there would be more nostalgic carnage to wade through. After all, who doesn't have a huge nostalgic connection to The Popcorn Song?

When I remember 1998, the whole year is like October. I wonder why that is.

P.S. When my eyes are extra tired, I look like a Kennedy-era Asian starlet. I wonder if that's a bad thing.

"Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown? Jolly old town!"

I always marvel at how little actually happens in retrospect. When I've just come home from what seems like the capper to a full day, I take stock and scowl over the fact that I got so little done. Today, I actually placed tick marks next to quite a few list items. Including get a haircut, edit a holiday catalog, tidy up, have a few slingchis, and cruise around in an almost embarrassingly decadent SUV. I can even claim the icing of having made a minor fool of myself at the salon when I came out of the changing room wearing someone else's blouse instead of the provided smock. And all on three hours of sleep. An accomplishment extravaganza for some, to be sure. And yet, there's something still churning in me. A desire to do more. A near refusal to give in to sleep until I am spent from mastery and bleary-eyed from genius.

But who am I kidding.

Life could not better be. No sirrah sirrah sirree.

Oct 10, 2002

Penguins cry ice cube tears.

Too hot. Too cold. I'm mired in the extremes. So tired I know I won't sleep. Hungry but unmotivated by it. The weeks speed by and plod on endlessly. I can't seem to set my watch properly. I don't wear a watch, but that was a metaphor.

And there's never a shortage of ill-mannered neighbors who have no sense of what time it is.

Oct 9, 2002


Today, I will deliver sound editorial advice, fine corporate entertainment, and courteous motorist behavior. I'm getting an early start. For a moment, I thought I heard a schoolbus laboring up the hill, and I was charmed. But it turned out to be a big flatbed trailer towing a backhoe. I think the kids are already in class. Which goes to show how late my version of early has become. Allergic, I'm off to complete the task of getting dressed.

Lady Lazarus

My friends make lovely promises and reassurances to me. The sort of thing a hopeful girl can cling to. I have been a stalwart encourager for most of my years. It's a gift to be on the receiving end of it every now and then.

Everything will return to glorious technicolor, breath-taking cinemascope, and stereophonic sound.

Oct 8, 2002

Cartoon Rewards

It's already been a 17 hour day for me. A big, fat, full, productive day. I get in this habit of wanting to break records, though. I'm quite tired, but I catch myself wondering if I should just try and stay up and do more. It's not like it will kill me.

Bugs Bunny at the bull fights reminds me that I love Bugs Bunny all over the place. And I love how the Looney Tunes make use of great works of classical music in their scores. Ravel's Bolero and Rossini's Il Barbieri di Seviglia create pictures in my head that I'm sure the composers never intended. Carl Stalling is my hero.

I am comforted by the consistency of Bugs Bunny always winning. You never see Bugs changing jobs or considering going on anti-depressants or worrying about paying his rent. That dude never breaks a sweat. I like that. Oh, sure, occasionally you catch him in drag, but it's only for the sake of putting one over on Elmer or Daffy or Yosemite Sam. He's not REALLY confused in that way.

I just had this thought: "Who cares what I think?"

Oct 7, 2002


It's entirely possible that I have been watching too much of programs like Six Feet Under -- programs that give the imagination license to believe that the negotiations that execute themselves in one's mind might actually take on some theatrically obvious form. Metaphor turns into masquerade. The tangible is no longer significant. My mind is anxious to be given license to pretend that such things can be.

I was haunted by a ghost, today. A specter. A person I could see standing there just as clearly as I could see that no one was standing there. And I carried on conversations with my vision. Just like your average crazy person or abuser of hallucinogens.

It got me nowhere. Or only as far as those one-sided discussions I have when I'm driving or standing in front of a mirror ever get me. Which is to say that it got me to a place where I had to ask myself if normal people do this. I do give the appearance of talking to myself a lot -- if anyone's watching. But I'm usually actually talking to someone. It's just someone who isn't there to hear what I have to say. And sometimes I get enough catharsis from just saying what I would without ever having to have my words heard. It's the utterance that works for me. While it also protects me from confrontation and the unavoidable disappointment of interruption that is the cornerstone of actual discourse.

If only I could ever get my thoughts to run as clear as they seem when I'm about to say what I'm about to say. Instead, I plan and purge and hope for profound ideas to show themselves, only to find that I'm addressing everyone from the center of a giant muffling cottonball. And whether they can understand me clearly or not, the truth is there are people I talk to who don't really want to hear what I'm saying in the first place.

I grow weary of postcard people and lunch menu friendships and storybook princes and comic book lovers. Particularly when the nametags get shuffled around and I can't tell who's who.

Oct 6, 2002

Drawing Out

Six Feet Under works on my emotions in much the same way that those Bioré pore strips are supposed to work on blackheads.

Advance the Shears!

Everyone is getting haircuts. It's making me want to be a copycat. I haven't had a proper haircut for so long. And I'm tired of sitting on my hairstyle. That seems like overkill. And I mean that quite literally. My hair is long enough to be sat upon.

I remember when I cut my hair from extra long to extra short one summer before starting at a new school (one where I had to wear a snappy little Catholic schoolgirl uniform, no less), and I had collected this heap of fashion mag clippings. Mostly of Isabella Rossellini. And this blonde model named Deirdre something who used to do the ads for Free Hold mousse before they made it smell bad. I wanted my hair short short short. And I got it. And everything in-between.

I think I'm done with being attached to record-setting and superlative-gathering. Welcome to the age of self-reinvention...

Oct 5, 2002

Road Rage Reprise

Today, driving south on the 405, I was forced to plod through another bout of ultra-slow traffic. At some point, I realized that the slowing was being caused by a mass of people heading to the Verizon Amphitheater to see Jimmy Buffett. Jimmy Buffett. Jimmy Buffett? Who's going to see Jimmy Buffett? I mean really.

Unlike my experience earlier this week, I wasn't feeling so benevolent about the well-being of the people involved. I distinctly heard myself think, "Jimmy Buffett had better be dead at the front of all of this."

Once the speed picked up again, I passed a man driving an old, brown sedan with no driver's side door on it at all. The driver was jolly, wearing fireman-like yellow coveralls and a red cable-knit sweater. He was smiling the way you would on a parade float. As if he knew that many eyes were on him. And I imagine he was right.

Wonders will never cease. Officially.

Someone wrote a song for me. I'm tickled pink.

The lyrics even have my name in them. Surname and all. I'm laughing inside and out.

"Take it from me; I love you."

I feel as if today was a series of days. Starting with the expectation of early morning things that were rattling in my brain before I even drifted off to sleep last night, with some vintage George Carlin playing on the Home Box Office. And then each two-hour increment seemed like a day of its own. Like the prime time television version of an actual day. I am never as prone to lose track of time as when I have complete freedom to piss it away. That's when the hours start to blur together. And suddenly it's the next day. Or the weekend. And suddenly it's hard to remember how long it's been since the last time you asked yourself how long it's been.

It's a good thing the earth isn't flat. Otherwise I might find myself driving right off the end of it while waiting for the idiots at Cingular to come through with my driving directions. It would take less time for me to whittle a sextant and homemade satellite locator out of the petrified french fries under the seats in my car and divine my course with those crude instruments than it takes for the man-chimp on the other end of the phone to type in my destination and figure out how to get me there. And by the time he tells me where to make my next turn, I've long since passed that turn and the cycle begins again. At times, I hear so much rustling paper and whimpering frustration through the hands-free earpiece that I picture the guy unfolding a paper map of California and hoping that Wilshire Boulevard is big enough to show up on the state scale. And then in the next go round, I can almost hear him shaving the head of a nearby co-worker, hoping to find the answers to my navigation queries tattooed on his scalp. By the third attempt, I think he was actually praying. But the god of turn-by-turn driving directions must have been busy being roasted at the Friars Club. And you can't really blame him. I'd turn my back on the lost, too, if I had a chance to hear Alan King make vulgar remarks about my mother. And what about Jeffrey Ross? That guy rocks the roast. I hope I can book him to do a few minutes at my funeral. No one in attendance will appreciate it, but that's the beauty of it, really.

Oct 4, 2002

"I long for the days they used to say, 'Ma'am,' and , 'Yes, sir.'"

I have been feeling this incredible burst of musical creativity. Creativity. It's weird to think of that. I always used to see my violin as an implement for interpreting. But never creating. All of a sudden, I am making things entirely new and feeling a kind of confidence and enthusiasm and curiosity that is sort of heavenish. I am playing with more confidence and a sense of belonging. And I like it. I also have marvelous acoustics in my apartment. That makes it all the more difficult to resist the urge to play all the time. Even if it's just a way of getting back at my upstairs neighbors for putting golfballs around on the wood floors in the wee hours.

Sometimes I worry that I am just going through the motions. I didn't indulge myself too shamelessly today. I made sacrifices. I fulfilled the wants of others. I juggled. Like I do. But I have also not yet found that balance between getting everything you want and giving everything you can. It's always a bit confusing for me because what I want most of the time is to be giving more. And that spoils the whole equation.

I still wish I was a ballroom dancer. I'm sure I'll always wish that.

Oct 3, 2002

The highway is a place of mystery.

I was stuck in gut-wrenching, toe-curling, groan-invoking traffic today. It took me forty minutes to go less than a mile. While I was mostly sitting still in my lane, there was a big trailer truck to the right of me, and I was taking note of how low the trailer was. Those trucks are nowhere near high enough off the ground to permit things like that scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, where the Griswolds' station wagon ends up lodged beneath one on the way to the Christmas tree farm, to ever happen in real life. When I got to the site of the delaying incident, I saw a dark red passenger car wedged under the trailer of a very similar truck, all scrunched and facing diagonally and mostly in the wrong direction. It looked as if it had been kicked in there by the foot of god. The scene was a mess, but I distinctly found myself hoping that no one had died. Under normal circumstances, when subjected to such a monstrous delay, I have been known to think that someone had better be dead up at the front of all of this. This had better not be the result of a boxful of kittens getting loose in the slow lanes and paralyzing drivers with their cuteness. There had better be bloodshed when I get up there. But today, I didn't feel that way at all. I hoped no one died on the 405 today. It was a pretty day. The sun was warm on my jeans. I had the company of good music and no great rush to be anywhere immediately. I invited other motorists to merge in in front of me. I was grateful when other motorists allowed the same with me. It was a good-natured hullaballoo, and I was fine with it.

And once I was through it, the road was clear nearly all the way home. I went flying along the mostly empty lanes, sort of wishing I was in a convertible with a long scarf tied in my hair and big 1960s sunglasses on my face. But then I remembered the story of Isadora Duncan and how much I hate how grimy my skin feels when I've been driving in a convertible and I was content to blast the air conditioning and the music and speed for home.

He's still my president.

I was mesmerized by Bill Clinton on C-SPAN this morning, addressing the British Labour Party Conference in Blackpool. He is a sight for sore eyes. Eyes sore from looking at George W. Bush behind a podium that sports the Presidental Seal, to be candid. Bill Clinton is such an easy and engaging speaker. Just a big chunk of charisma and clever, articulate wisdom. He is casual and charming. Astute and affable. Both serious and humorous. He is tough on the current administration. And quick to point out their attempts to dismantle the accomplishments of his administration. He is ironic without being snide. Self-congratulatory without being snarky. I don't care what anyone says: Bill Clinton is leadership material. And he speaks my mind. And he speaks it without stumbling or bumbling or having other people say it for him. He is, off the cuff, a more dynamic figure than his successor could be with the help of CGI mastering. I liked my life better when he was president.

I look at him now -- his hair gone completely white and a little extra puffiness showing up beneath his eyes -- and I feel as if we have been through a great deal together. It's comforting.

Tony Blair, on the other hand, is beginning to look like Nosferatu. I cast no aspersions on his policy-making, but he's going positively elven as the years track on. All the same, I'm on the side of the ones who are right. Just like we all say we are.

Dark and Dastardly

I love the rain. Even when I've just washed my car. Even when I have to go out in it. Even when I have to go out in it and am wearing suede. Even when it's hot rain. Even when it's icy rain. I love it when the air is filled with it. It's akin to being a fish. Being in the water and still able to breathe. It causes you to squint and tuck in and fold your arms and hurry. I especially like the hurrying part. It causes you to notice the windowpanes. It makes the wind sound melodic. It makes soup taste better. It gives you an excuse to curl up under a blanket. It smells like cherries when it's cold. Like the inside of a closet when it's hot. It tastes like nothing. It spoils mascara and ruins hairdos. It causes tires to kick up a fizzy-sounding wake.

And it washes it all away.

And then it's gone. Like a good Samaritan.

I am cold and tingly. I can hear crickets. I imagine they are longing for the rain, too.

Girls with guitars. Well, stringed instruments, anyway.

I was in the middle of a phone interview when my tire blew out on the freeway today. Harrowing. Remembering some advice from a friend who is a fireman and paramedic, I decided to improve my chances of survival, sacrifice my rim, and ride the shredded rubber off the freeway, where I changed my tire mostly by myself and got my hands very dirty. When I got back into the car, I saw my reflection in the rearview mirror. I had a big smudge of black on my nose. It was sort of endearing. The obvious touch -- like putting cake flour on your face to make it look like you've been cooking. The costume version of enduring trauma. The cartoon post-brawl blemish that is interpreted as crosshatching on the cheek. (Since when does a landed punch result in a pound sign?) If I wasn't so averse to having roadfilth on my face, I might have left it there for fun. A two-hour drive turned into a five-hour event. But it didn't seem to affect my playing. I waited until I'd left the diminutive stage to reward myself with a Boddington's. Shakespeare's has a giant yellow barrel with the Boddington's logo painted on it. I want that barrel. In my apartment. Now.

Lots of friends came to see me play tonight, but most of them missed the actual set. Still, it was nice to receive squeezy hugs through warm sweaters and laugh and drink gift cocktails. As much as I question everything, I'm beginning to see the distinction between aimlessness and aiming for many, many targets.

It's a good thing I wore black today.

Oct 2, 2002

Hide and Seek. Lost and Found.

I had to go back the next day, because I left my credit card at the bar. The two best mojitos ever made me forget. Simple syrup is the secret, and it always has been.

Some people don't realize that La Marseillaise has words. Those people should be fired out of a cannon.

Can you find me?

Return of the Back

Back pain, that is. I'm beginning to wonder if I have an Indian growing in my spine. Well, it's actually a little to the left of the spine. But it could still be an Indian. Are you even allowed to say that anymore? Would it be any less inflammatory to say I think I have a Native American growing in my spine? Political correctness is a topic I can't quite grasp. Well, won't, really. But you have to admit that those two words are almost exactly alike.

Ooh, coming in from outside I just got a nice big noseful of that scent I have waited for. People are using their fireplaces. And it's chilly out. And it rained today. It's perfect and delicious. The sort of weather that seduces you -- gets you to shimmy into a sweater and put on cashmere socks. When it's cool out and the wind is blowing, my nose tingles and my cheeks turn pink and I get those windy tears in my eyes. It's like standing at that viewing station beside the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm ready to surrender my dime.

October is the perfect month, if you ask me. It's badass. That's why you never see anyone dressed up as September or November for Halloween. Or even March for that matter. You wouldn't want to pick a fight with October. October will eat you for lunch and forget you while it watches the dixieland funeral parade scene from Live and Let Die. Don't ask me where I'm going with this. I have no idea. I'm actually a May girl, myself. So October can kiss it for all I care. And yet, I love this time of year. It reminds me of all the previous Octobers. So many of them were filled with smiles and promise and comfortable familiarity. It's excellent to make something new when everything around you is dying.

Speaking of dying, I was up nearly extra late last night and decided to watch Life as a House. Movies about dying make me wonder what it will be like when I die. If I will know in advance so I can go around telling everyone and seeing how they react. If I will be missed or mourned. If old friends will drop by and try and patch up ancient rifts. If the medical community will race to find a way to preserve me. Or if everyone will just start clambering for my cool belongings. Or if everyone will make fun of everything I own. Or if people will read my diaries or look at my pictures or wonder what might have happened if I had managed to keep the flame alive for just a wee bit longer. Or if people will just say I never managed to be quite thin enough.

In addition, movies with Kristin Scott-Thomas in them make me wonder if I am ugly and unrefined. Except Mission Impossible. That's not her best work.

And since I'm on a small roll, I will add that sleep comes more easily for me when I'm racing for it. I don't know if I know what that means. But I know that I sleep less when I have the freedom to sleep more. And I don't know what to do with myself as a result. But sometimes there is product for my ravings, and that makes up for some of the clumsiness. I wonder what the earthworms are up to.

Oct 1, 2002


I don't feel good. It's not unfamiliar.