Secret Pop

Nov 30, 2002


I realize how much I fancy driving home just as dawn is breaking. When the moon is still fully up there, and the light of early morning is just faintly beginning to show itself. I feel as if I am in on a great secret.

I may only ever be a reflection of what I once was, but reflections occasionally shimmer also.

Nov 29, 2002


So ends the ordeal. Not counting a three-course dessert or an elaborate spread of pre-meal munchies, I prepared nine different dishes today, one of which was a turkey, properly brined. It's been a long time since I did the whole business myself. Since 1997, I think. I have a few memories from that Thanksgiving. I recall standing alone in a kitchen for a long time cleaning up as everyone else slept or went home. It did not bother me today. I had good company while I toiled. I'm tired from standing all day and from feeling as if nothing would ever be finished.

But the meal was a smash, and everyone went home full to bursting. And I have the makings of a brilliant turkey soup simmering on my stove. I wish I didn't have so much to do tomorrow. I could have used a break.

I think I paid closer attention to the voices I didn't hear today than to the voices I did. And that was probably crap of me. No wonder the good son got so riled up.

I guess I'm looking forward to the leftovers.

Nov 28, 2002

My Love/Hate Relationship with the City of Angels

It took me nearly four hours today to visit two places to buy a pie and some red currant jelly.

Then I went and held the camera for some portion of the live chat of a porn star friend of mine. One of the chat participants posted: "Mary has steady hands." They also invited me to take off my shirt. But who doesn't, these days?

Then I gave a dollar to a not-so-well-to-do lady who approached me at the cashier's window of a drive through.

I have had a headache for hours, and I haven't done nearly enough in preparation for tomorrow. But the fire is going, and I've had a nice bit of bright conversation. And Raiders of the Lost Ark is playing on the television. I'll be all right.

Nov 26, 2002

The Aching State

My family is not getting on. It's wearing me down and saddening me. I am so sick and tired of the taste of surrender. I would rather chew glass.

Like reasoning with a turnip

There is no sense to be made of things. People can't be changed. They can't be made to see. They can't understand with their eyes closed and their souls sold. I liken it to a sin to waste the tiniest grain of effort trying to change what is. My motto should have always been: If it's broke, leave it.

Good night, Moon.

Windy day. Windy night. The ghost of a chill. I bought nice things at the market today. I like the way that feels.

Nov 25, 2002


When I was a girl in grade school, Thanksgiving became a list of words and pictures. Cornucopia. Indian corn. Pilgrims. The Mayflower. Still life arrangements of gourds and squash and unappetizing-looking dry things. Centerpieces with accordioned crepe paper in them. Aprons and bonnets. Buckled shoes. Dead leaves. Turkeys in black hats and little pilgrim outfits. Thanksgiving was the smell of paste behind orange and brown construction paper letters, jauntily affixed to the board in the classroom where the teacher put up timely and topical collages. I can barely remember a Thanksgiving meal from those years. They all run together. In a time when nearly every night was a celebration, those occasional Thursdays never stood out.

I outgrew the spell of construction paper holidays.

I remember a lot of Thanksgiving dinners now. I remember who was in attendance and who wasn't. I remember whether I did the cooking or not. I remember the windows in my Hillcrest apartment all being steamed up when I had the oven going one year. I remember washing dishes long into the night while everyone else in the house slept. Putting leftovers into the refrigerator strategically, somehow making it all fit. I remember shopping. Always buying chicken broth just in case. Always having plenty at home. I remember having to get up so early to get the turkey started. And being so proud of it when it was done. I remember the dilemma of video rental choices. The crackle of fire logs. The comfort of a home filled with friends and laughter. The years when tears were in order. The years after the point when I came to enjoy wine with dinner. The television marathons. The green bean casseroles. My special, drunken candied yams. Ways to use cranberries. Driving home after a long, long day of eating and dozing and festivity. The dual-edged sword of the gift of reflection.

I catch myself no longer looking forward to grand holidays. They've come to be days on which an unfounded smile must be maintained for much longer than usual. Merciless memory machines. Harrowing markers of a stretch of life that feels as if it is laughing at me. They have become that thing one must "get through." Rather than the thing one yearns for. That infuriates me. And causes me to wonder if this is all just part of a network television feature wherein a grouchy girl learns the true meaning of the holidays. What a strange thing that would be. If it turned out that I was just living in the pages of someone else's script. If some unseen pen were making all of this so. Drat that pen and the hand that grips it, if that is the case.

I have it in me to laugh and to cause others to do so. I have it in me to appear a vessel of joy. I even have it in me to not accuse myself of a massive fraud each time such things appear to be true. But in the stillness of solitude, there is disquiet waiting for me. I wake with the hooks of dreams still in me but dissolving fast and gone before I can remove them. I wake with neither reluctance nor relief. Just the faint and far-off assurance that it's what one is supposed to do and one had better get to it.

This always filled me with a sense of melancholy that was once nearly glorious and welcome. Now, it is merely a path to the memory of that feeling. Even emotion is subject to generation loss, it seems.

You will sell me nothing on the promise of my certain demise.

I get emails that assure me this is "the last flashlight I will ever buy." I don't think I like this sort of marketing. It makes me feel as if someone out there is convinced I will not outlive a set of "C" batteries. Or that the Tuff-Kote plastic housing of this beacon is somehow sturdier than the brittle framework of my existence. I'll just use candles, thanks.

Nov 24, 2002

The Camptown ladies sing this song.

The Doo Dah Parade was a surprise and a fun excursion, despite my state of Hangover: Code Orange. I was especially intrigued by the Christian sign-holders, one of whose signs listed all the types of sinners that should take heed. Closing out the long list of such things as murderers, adulterers, perverts, and thieves were the items "Garbage Mouths" and "Misc. Heathen." That was actually charming to me. And the lettering was done in Ad Lib, which seemed like a somewhat more festive font than the occasion called for, further proving that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine of fire and brimstone go down.

I liked many of the costumes and costume concepts. But I did not have the camera power to properly document much of it. And I don't know that parade photos are really the sort of thing one looks back at very often. I could just as easily wait for the news photos to become available online. That's what REAL documentarians do, right?

Nov 23, 2002

The Ugly Hour of Waking

I wish I could have written down all the things careering round in my skull last night. I remember driving home and stumbling onto a bit of lyric that I knew I would want to keep. I kept repeating it in my head, wanting to preserve it until I could get to a place of peace and writing. But I lost it. I always seem to in situations such as that. I know that I was listening to a mix CD that I made last year and that it was plucking certain of my heartstrings. But I don't think that was the progeny of the thought. It's gone now. Like so much.

Finally, some November weather. It is both a relief and a reluctant reminder. I ate nearly nothing yesterday. But there are fat days ahead.

"In time we all taste the lime in the light."

This is not at all a respectable hour for a girl to be getting home. But it's a bloody good excuse for not being able to put thoughts into proper order or words for that matter. I'm chilly, all of a sudden. And tired of playing the luckless outsider. In cases of welcome beckoning, with few exceptions, I will answer.

Ooh. It's dawn. And a grey one at that.

The cabin door opened and he saw the Hungarian standing in a shaft of grey light: "Daybreak, gentlemen!"

Nov 22, 2002

Okay, so I'm feeling referential.

Oh, to ever be presented with an award by Steve Martin. I was reading this, and I felt so jealous of Philip Roth. I have admired and adored Steve Martin for, lo, these many years. I used to annoy my high school chums with bits from his stand-up acts. I still listen to them on my record player, and they're still brilliant. I remember laughing aloud to page after page of Cruel Shoes. I remember sneering at Victoria Tennant, when I found out he was "with" her. Of course, this is where my admiration usually falters. I don't just admire him. I actually want to marry him. Like so many other things on my list. Many of which are inanimate objects or abstract ideas. It's true, I have no ring on my finger. But perhaps it's because I'm waiting on broccoli to present me with one.

"People don't go to sleep thin and wake up obese."

There's another lawsuit in the news. McDonald's has been sued by a woman for making coffee too hot. Now, they're being sued by the children of New York for making them fat. Next, they will be sued by the fashion industry for causing people to be predisposed to dislike wearing combinations of brown and yellow that are too reminiscent of their vintage uniforms.

I used to live in Japan, and there were people -- mostly those who actually worked at McDonald's -- who not only ate there daily, but took home the toss-outs to eat at home with their mates. And they were plenty thin. What's their secret. I'll tell you: Volume.

I miss McDonald's in Japan. It was a classy joint. And when you ordered any milkshake flavor other than vanilla or chocolate (such as melon or peach or mint), you would be given a vanilla shake with a little container of flavoring goo to add in. It was good for my self-esteem to aid in the preparation of my food.

And you could order corn soup there. Actually, it was called "Corn Potage," but that's just because Japanese people are actually French. Watch Iron Chef. You'll see what I mean.

They were always clean and fresh-smelling and nicely lit. Not like so many urban McDonald's in these parts. I've got to carry a little extra pocket money just to pacify the vagrants who want to buy hash browns or bash my head in. It's my choice. The same is true at the gas station. Especially late at night. I have taken to figuring that sort of gratuity into the mix. I don't want my windshields washed, but here's a dollar. Go buy yourself a dialysis treatment, buddy. You look like hell.

I almost prefer giving to a guy who offers to clean my windshield than to a guy who wants to sell me his CD. I don't feel charitable enough on any day to just buy some CD off a guy in the street. That's no way to handle a pan. After all, I'd be afraid to listen to it. What if I dug it? What would that say about me?

I wish it could be a goodly form of charity. I usually give because I feel a combination of guilt and intimidation. I really would like to help all the less fortunate. Especially when it's a lady with only one shoe on and eyes that look in opposite directions. I want to help her. But I worry that she will be offended if I offer to buy her a meal. And who has that kind of time, anyway?

In all honesty, I do give what I have in my pocket, more often than not. It's something I learned from my dad. And being like him makes me feel good inside.

Nov 21, 2002

Forgotten in the flames

I never even knew that Gus Grissom had died in a launchpad fire until I heard the news about his widow's tiff with NASA over the ownership of his suit. What's wrong with me? Where was I? I remember exactly where I was when I saw the Challenger explosion. I actually get choked up just thinking about it. A few years ago, in a class, there was a video about the investigations and inquiries following Challenger, and Richard Feynman (a personal hero of mine) was shown breaking through what my dad would call "the mumbo jumbo" to explain what really happened with those blasted O rings. I remember having difficulty keeping my emotions in check just watching the video. It's still so vivid in my memory. I guess I used to dream about going up into space. Maybe Challenger did a little damage to that dream. That, and the realization that those jumpsuits they all have to wear are never very flattering to a woman's shape.

I miss Richard Feynman. I wish I could have met him. I met Carl Sagan, but that didn't make up for it. I lent my copy of Surely, You're Joking, Mr. Feynman to my high school physics teacher, who was also my debate coach and a general pal, and he ended up reading it in the bath and getting the lower half of the book all swollen and ripply with water. I don't know if I was more disappointed about the condition of the book or the idea of my teacher in the bathtub with it. Oh, how I long for the cares of my adolescence.

Nov 20, 2002

Every Day Is Like Sunday

I have been struggling. Digging for significance. Praying for poetry. I have been hoping to unearth things in myself that will turn it all around, make it all make sense, make it all come right. But it has only led to bleeding innards and tired fingers.

I walked in the sunshine today. It was hot and muggy. Not at all right for the calendar page I have displayed on my wall. But I wasn't a mess of complaints.

I've been working -- it seems like forever. Sitting in front of blank pages that do not fill themselves quickly enough. Listening to songs that always send me somewhere. Sometimes right into a blind wall. Today, I heard a song that jettisoned me back to 1987 and a fury of a sadness that took shape then. Sadness seems to have been gushing through all the tides of my existence. With the exception of a few short years that seemed foreign and friendly, there was an abundance of clouds in the skies of my history. There are stretches of years at a time when no pictures were taken of me. When no smiles were requested. When no one asked me to say, "cheese." There are long stretches that are only catalogued by my infrequent journal-writing or by copies of letters I wrote and kept. I kept them all. Wanted to. And I was always touched to learn that someone else in the world kept them, too. Even if they were stuffed into a shoebox or lost behind the back panel of a desk drawer. There are little pieces of me lurking in unsuspecting places around the world. And I have the photostats.

I don't know if there is significance in the ratio. There is a sort of peacefulness in being content. A dangerous tranquility. It is largely unfamiliar to me. I'm not hoping for a fat, lazy sort of happiness. Not an armchair happiness. Not a poolside sort of contentment. Just freedom from the tearful times. Less of those, please. More hair-rumpling and pats on the back. More admiration and appreciation. More of the special smile that can only be shared by two. The look that can only be understood by those same two. More of the unspoken.

But perhaps I merely fall prey to my music mix. Whereas I began this moment thinking, "Come, Armageddon. Come, Armageddon. Come." I finish it thinking that I should just blame it on the bossa nova.

Don't let it bring you down. It's only castles burning.

Of course! Kindness has healing properties!

Someone sent me flowers today. In a beautiful jade green vase. It made me smile.

A bit of history. Mine and the world's.

There used to be a flying saucer in a canyon between 5th and 6th Avenues in Hillcrest, hidden away behind some offices. I remember the first time it was shown to me, and then the subsequent times I brought friends over to peek at it while on the way to Hash House A Go Go or some similar spot. The mystery was fun. Something to speculate about. I wondered why it was there. Whether it was being used. If some group of office folk was occasionally summoned to their meetings in its viscera. I wondered.

Today, I read an article that explains why the saucer is gone and who has snatched it up. This further prompted me to look into the history of the Futuro House and Matti Suuronen. There are also some imagination-stirring pictures here. I especially like the idea of having a Futuro House atop a snowy mountain where I could remove my mod outerwear and knit hat and warm up beside a futuristic fireplace. Cinnamon stick for your cider, anyone? Yes, it's made of plastic, but isn't everything these days?

Tut tut. There's no need for sarcasm.

I can't quite place the feeling today. A certain estrangement from myself. An awareness of the passage of time. A concern over it. A desire to be somewhere else. In a comforting embrace. In front of a fire my dad made. In the first class cabin of a transatlantic flight. I am feeling drawn to running away. To dropping it all and bolting. I am curious what the darkness would hold for me if I ever let myself out in it.

But I follow such thoughts with reading Dubliners in bed and eating guilty Cheese Nips too near my high thread count sheets. Somewhere in there, a journey must be made. My reluctance is no excuse for the stillness I allow.

Nov 19, 2002

"Let joy be uncontained."

Today's LACMA matinee featured the Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera, which was great great. It was impossibly beautiful out today, but I couldn't have been lured out of doors while the film was rolling. Besides, I don't need the freckles.

The theater smelled particularly unwashed today, and that same fellow from the Ivanhoe screening showed up as the credits rolled, climbed over the back of a seat and into one in my row, and proceeded to yell, "Go, Groucho!" before he got settled. Guess I may have to get used to him.

I feel curiously sleepy today. Drained and undriven. It's awful to be in a funk when you've so much to do. And it's awful to speak in the second person when you're clearly talking about yourself. Well, it's not so awful. Maybe it's poetic. I'm being liberal here. I want to go down for a nap, but I have this strange suspicion that I might never wake up.

Have I ever mentioned my theory about sleep being a kind of wormhole into other universes and other lives that you live out completely before plunging into a new one? It's probably not even my idea. None of my best ideas ever are.

Nov 18, 2002

Pineapple juice, parking fees, and longstanding crushes

At the sweaty, jostling after-party for the Clash of the Titans event last night, I had a number of nice sound bites and moments to register. Janeane Garofalo shook my hand gingerly. Scott Thompson smiled and said hello. David Cross rubbed elbows with me quite literally and quite accidentally. Bob Odenkirk thanked me for coming. Craig Northey told me how -- at long last -- to buy his CD. And Tom Kenny told my friend to marry me and was, for the record, the nicest one of all. This sort of name-dropping holds little real victory for me, though, as I paid a fat sum of charitable currency to be there and no one thought I was actually anyone special. But I enjoyed myself and laughed the tears right out. There was even an Albert Brooks reference at one point. That, sir, takes the cake.

Also for the record, this is what I wore.

There are many thoughts I should have written down. Many inspirations I should have translated into being before translating myself into sleeping. I always manage to find a path to failure for myself. Even in moments of great pleasure. For purposes of recounting, the weekend held plenty of non-failing passages. And a sort of impromptu gay pub crawl. And fear of the planning stages. And fear of the recounting stages. I can't cheer too loudly. It might lead to cramping. It is, after all, November.

Nov 16, 2002

Three cheers for plans gone awry.

I had to go to two different theaters tonight to see Harry Potter. In between, I had to use the free Internet access at the Apple Store to book tickets at the second theater, which ended up being the Chinese, which was the right place to see the film, so everything came out fine. Julia Nickson was seated two rows ahead of me. I've been told I look like her. I don't think it's true. She's half Chinese, too, but that's where the separated-at-birth theories end. To my left, a young girl was translating nearly all of the movie for the female adult with her (we'll say it was her mother) in Spanish. When I finally asked her not to talk (and to my credit, this was actually well over an hour into the film), I could feel the icy, resentful silence that ensued -- and I loved it. Icy, resentful -- sure. But silent nonetheless.

It was a spur of the moment evening that ought to have required a great deal of planning. But it was a somewhat acceptable reward for not being able to see Terry Gilliam present Lost in La Mancha at LACMA. Member that I am, tickets could not be gotten. But I've recovered from that disappointment.

I had a few bits of inspiration today. But they were only halfhearted. I'll try again next time.

Nov 15, 2002

I've got a sugar brioche, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I wish I hadn't been so tired today. I would have felt many more things. Like that strange sensation of coming home to a city you were never sure was your home. That rare relief of dropping your things on the dining room floor and sinking into a chair and being so very grateful to be back where you started. I wanted more sensation. I wanted the fireplace to burn hotter. I wanted to feel my skin stinging in its heat. I wanted more evidence that I'm still here. That my heart sill beats. That I am a living creature. I expect that gnawing urge will remain until tomorrow when I will pursue its indulgence anew.

I don't believe in magic in the traditional sense. Neither witches with cauldrons nor fancily-dressed gents with disappearing rabbits and endless ropes of colored scarves tied together. But I do believe in another sort of magic. A magic born of firing synapses and sharp intakes of breath. The magic of that moment when you say, "Yes! That's it exactly." The magic of a perfect song. The magic of likeness of mind. The magic of understanding. That unseverable connection of commiseration and unique but shared reasoning. I am lucky. I get to take a dip in that sort of magic more often than most. But I am greedy. I would like to swim in it constantly. I don't think that's to be had. Yet.

I don't want much of tomorrow. But that's just me talking today.

Nov 14, 2002

"Although I may go, I'll be coming home soon."


Ernie and I have a lot in common. We both have cute pajamas. We both just celebrated Halloween. We both love the rain. We both choose horizontal stripes, no matter what the experts say. Ernie has lived in the same apartment for a long, long time, though. And I envy him that. I'd like to know what it's like to stay put for a while.

It's not easy being green. But some days are easier than others.

Kermit got his star on the Walk of Fame today. I drove through San Francisco this morning and listened to a story on NPR about The Muppet Show and its history and the wonderful, magical powers of Jim Henson. There is something so pure and good-natured about the Muppets. A lovely thread leading back to an innocence I can faintly remember. I love being touched in those hard-to-reach places.

Getting there is half the fun; come share it with me...

Nov 13, 2002

Of my favorite things, most have vowels in.

I love words. To the point where it may actually alienate me from three-dimensional relationships. I prefer a tenderly thought-out sentiment to a prize. I prefer a card to flowers. I prefer a letter to a box of chocolates.

Answering an email just now, I described myself as "dewy," having just emerged from a shower and encased within my celery-colored chenille robe. My hair is dripping water onto the seat of my chair. My skin is pink and flush with heat and steam and waking. I want to drink an ocean of water and go running, although I've learned it's unwise to do those two activities in that order.

Moreso than learning new words, I love rediscovering lost or forgotten ones. Finding dusty old codgers in the attic spaces of my memory. Recalling their previous use. Feeling that pang of shame when I realize I know how to spell far more words than I know how to use. But when I stumble upon a faithful mingling of letters at the moment when it is most appropriate to send it to the front, it's a gift. Like finding a sweet note in your pocket someone lovingly left for you a long time ago. As if you never actually knew it was there and yet it was all along. This sort of feeling tempts me to bury my precious belongings in the backyard in hopes that I will forget about them and one day accidentally unearth them while out back pitching a tent or burying a corpse. But I never seem to live in one place long enough for this to happen. And I seldom have a private backyard. Maybe I can just start stuffing pages of the dictionary into the crevices in my furniture. Of course, that might lead to calumny when I notice all the pages of my dictionary gone missing and accuse my little sister of the deed. And of even more obvious course, none of this could ever happen because it would require me to forget something. Which is something I almost never do.

I'm looking forward to today. I love an aeroplane. I will read and imbibe free beverages and shake my head when I discover the crossword in the in-flight magazine has already been done and in crayon. These and all the things I don't have the wherewithal to expect are the makings of an interesting Wednesday.

I don't need to be loved or understood by everyone. I don't need much of anything but Sudafed® and Visine® and a carryalong toothbrush™. And that's a hideous lie. I only dream of ever traveling so light.

It's a shame. She slept through the whole thing.

This is me waking up. From never really sleeping, actually. I have to catch a plane in a few hours, and I had that peculiar fear that I wouldn't wake up in time, so I woke up two hours early, with only two and a half hours of sleep to my credit, and spent the rest of the time lying there, taking stock of the pain in my neck and shoulder (right side, this time -- curious), wondering if I would fall asleep, wondering if I would oversleep, wondering if I just dreamed that I got that email, realizing I did, listening for ghosts. I even set three alarms. Just in case. I'm noticing that I actually feel more alert at this moment than I usually do when I wake during the sunshine hours. But, in an hour which usually precedes my bedtime, I have been roused from precarious slumber, and I feel as if I got up before I ever went to bed. It's that I'm-my-own-grandpa syndrome. With my good fortune, that means I will likely fall asleep at some very important moment during the day, thereby missing certain fame and fortune from having caught a certifiable glimpse of Sasquatch or passing up my opportunity to be loved and admired by all for a short time when I am recognized as the million zillionth customer at McDonald's. Starbuck's and Red Bull can only take one so far.

So much suddenly in my reach. So much persistently out of my reach. So much confusion and mishmosh, I want to make a pie of it.

Ghosts are very quiet. I have never managed to hear one yet. I wonder if anyone is listening for me.

Nov 12, 2002

A Tale of Two Taylors

I went to see a matinee of Ivanhoe at LACMA today. I'm really glad I did. The movie was great fun. Arch in some places. Clever in others. And of course both Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Taylor were lovely to gaze upon. But I was more impressed by the rest of the experience. Namely, that when you go to see a mid-day matinee at a museum, you can expect to see a fair share of blue-hairs there. And they were definitely out in force. I had to giggle at all the aged muttering going on during the opening credits. When some young punk applauded as Miklos Rozsa's name came up as composer, the ladies behind me were terribly confused and had no idea why he was clapping. They also ALL READ ALOUD IN UNISON when Elizabeth Taylor's name came up. But by twenty minutes or so into the film, most of them were asleep, so there wasn't too much more chatter to contend with. I am still suspicious, however, that I missed a concession stand somewhere out front where they must have been selling snacks of bubble wrap and expectorant.

Also, there was a guy somewhere behind me who behaved as if it was a sports flick. He kept proclaiming his approval to the screen, no matter how clear it was that he was the only one making any discernible noise. People didn't chime in or clap. They just tolerated in tooth-gnashing silence. Or maybe that was just me. I never thought I would hear that manner of cheer during a jousting scene. But I guess everyone goes to the lists these days, right? Why do I need to be such a stuffed shirt about it. I heard cries of, "Yeah!" and "You tell him!" and "Get him, Robin Hood!" And then -- and if you haven't seen it, this is a spoiler warning -- when King Richard returns and confronts John, I heard the phrase, "Get yo ass into exile!" And I knew we had reached the film's happy -- and historical -- end.

I was raised by a team of sit-com writers.

I called my mother this morning to let her know some encouraging news about a possible job opportunity. She was giddy with congratulations. But somehow, only a few sentences into her congratulatory speech, she managed to remind me that my biological clock is ticking and that I can have a part-time job one day when I find a nice husband to take care of me. And then she made some remark about where her grandchildren were.

I don't even think she was really thinking those things. I really believe she is just fulfilling her maternal duties as she believes they were explained to her. By television.

My mother might as well have been created by a staff of writers at an up-and-coming network, specializing in homegrown comedies about archetypal families. She is a caricature of motherhood. Oh, she's a loving and kind person, and she makes me laugh, and we enjoy going out to dinner together. But her mothering functions are almost robotic in nature. As if they are products of algorithms written years ago. In Fortran. Not quite sophisticated enough to deal with the complexities of a modern offspring. But plenty equipped to toast a bagel or suggest a Tylenol for the pain.

I suppose a mothering robot would be sufficient. A machine to say no when you want to go somewhere fun. To fixate on how clean your room is. To be suspicious of certain of your friends. To ask you how you plan to pay for that. To remind you that you were once heavier and shouldn't be so keen on the dessert menu. To ask you what you plan to do in the event that you have to buy a new car. To ask you about the terms of your lease. To tell your fathering robot things you asked her to keep between the two of you. To buy you feminine products. Sure, a robot could do the job.

And I'm not saying that's all I get from my mom. Surely not. She's one of a kind and great to me. And she's mastered the art of preparing meat with brine. But I am often -- and consistently -- amused when this sort of thing occurs. It will come as no great shock to me when, one day, upon having given birth to my first child, I will hear my mother inquiring as to how I intend to pay for college. "That's a cinch, Mom," I'll say. "I'll just encourage little Mary Junior here to join the military. Just like you told me to do." Never mind that I couldn't climb a rope or last a complete second on the flex-arm hang. Never mind that I am extremely choosy about the kind of pants and shoes I wear. Never mind that I have no idea how to pull off the wearing of a hat. My mom thought I should conquer the financial mountain of higher education by suiting up with the Navy. I'm still laughing about that.

Anyway, the core of it is that my mom was happy for me. I know that. It's just less and less of a mystery to me why I'm never quite satisfied with anything. In my family, if you're not worrying about something trivial, you're not living.

Nov 11, 2002

The Great Pre-Dawn Paradox

Working so late fills me with a full measure of both satisfaction and revulsion. Especially knowing that I will retire soon to my bed, where I will read until the sun comes up and then fall prey to the sort of dreams that underscore the reasons for my sleeping so little and so seldom.

I felt sad today. Sad and suspicious. Sure of the distance. Threatened by it. Angry over it. Envious of what evades me and seems to come so easily to everyone else. Curious whether all it takes is settling for what you happen upon.

I never even give myself a chance to be wonderful.

"All she ever thinks about is riding with the wind"

The fire never lasts long enough. The night comes too soon. The light fades. You miss things. You know that you've missed them, but they're gone, just the same. How will I ever find time or tears enough to mourn all that I have missed -- all that has passed and cannot be revived. How will I ever bury what I haven't yet seen. What I may never see.

I am an old woman and a child at once. I am a smile and a gasp. I am cold at the fingertips and hot at the eyelashes. I'm not the girl I think I am.

I have excellent vision, but my posture could be better.

Well, she's walking through the clouds
With a circus mind
That's running wild
Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams
And fairy tales

All she ever thinks about is
Riding with the wind

When I'm sad she comes to me
With a thousand smiles
She gives to me free

It's alright, it's alright, she says
Take anything you want from me

Nov 9, 2002

"Meary can not live alone. She feels lonely everytime."

My friend Adam pointed me in the direction of this fascinating new weirdness. And whaddya know -- it's from Japan!

I miss living in Japan. I miss discovering this sort of strange genius everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I miss finding clever and ridiculous marketing tactics employed to promote urinal cakes. Nothing is too small or too embarrassing or too misunderstood. I just bought a package of sweet rice squares called "Rice Pop" today. The slogan on the package reads, "Natural style of deliciousness." I readily admit that I bought the package for the slogan and not for the contents. I'm not at all hungry.

I would like to go back to Japan now that I know what I've been missing. I know I will appreciate it all more and differently. My actual experience in Japan involved a lot of drinking and poetry-writing and strip poker and Night Ranger and debate practice and yearbook deadlines and frustration over not being able to find shoes in my size. I would be much more attuned to the miracle that is the culture over there if I had to pay for my own plane ticket. And if I had to leave in oh, say, a week. And if I didn't have to go to high school while I was there.

Americans like to put stickers on things, too. But I wonder if they are as adept at promoting a sense of mythical community and false belonging as the Japanese. I wonder indeed.

Here's the best part:

"Meary can not live alone. She feels lonely everytime. ...She is the mirror which projects your feeling...Meary has a which she makes a friend all over the world. If someone points at your Meary and ask you what it is, please tell him that it is a name of 'Meary,' and divide a little of your Meary into the man."

A to the men, my brothers.

Nov 8, 2002

"The city where Sound of Music was filmed is Salzburg -- not Auschwitz."

It's remarkable that I am able to pull off the pretty, sporty look today given the lengths of drunkenness to which I stretched myself in the hours preceding. I should look like death in a sweater with lipstick. I look slightly better. I was actually surprised to see the blog entry that comes before this one. I have only the faintest recollection of having typed it. I did quite a bit of typing last night, it seems. When I got out of bed this morning -- fully clothed, plastic wristband in place, miserable -- I came to my computer to find evidence that I had had the idea to say a great number of things I don't really remember. Fortunately for me, I was an ardent composer but a dilettante in the subject of sending. My dizzy keystrokes never left the screen. I have to remind myself that I am far more likely to say things I will later regret when I am grand on the sauce. That's good advice for anyone.

That would be nice, actually. If I would come to my weblog on some days and find an entry written for me. Like the Elves and the Shoemaker. Little magical sprites hacking into my journal to write things that I might have said while I am left to slumber in my bedthings, smelling of flowers and the faintest hint of cinnamon. I would be grateful for that.

It rained and rained all the day long. I loved it from indoors.

Raindrops on roses.I'm drunk. I have no business typing. I should do nothing but shepherd myself off to bed. I think I shall.

Nov 7, 2002

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.

I answered my door a few moments ago and was greeted by two young fellows from Philadelphia and Atlanta, respectively, with a sales pitch that lasted for ages. I tried to get them to cut to the chase. I asked what they were selling. They said they weren't selling anything but good looks and personality. By the time we got to the part about me agreeing to order a new magazine subscription, both of them had proposed marriage and offered to show me around their respective home towns. One swore to having seen me on the pages of Cosmopolitan, which he was also delighted to report I could order for a period of 24 months for a nominal fee. They also suggested Seventeen. Which is just madness. I was kind and assured them that I would have selected a title if I didn't already subscribe to all of the magazines I can handle at the moment. And even though I'm sure they hated me for not giving them any scratch, the littler one bid me adieu by saying that he still wishes he could have my hand in marriage.

Well, it's nice to know I've got options.

Nov 6, 2002

I will spill no wine before its time.

I'm coasting on promises that everything will be all right. With the government in the hands of the Republicans, I'm certain that doom is on the horizon. A big ugly doom with extra holsters for its guns and a bandolier of alternating rounds and severed baby heads. How can a girl smile on a day like this?

Nov 5, 2002

Tenebrous Tasks of the Trod-Upon

I got my vote on.
I met my deadlines.
I responded as was necessary.
I deleted as was appropriate.
I bared my shoulders and slipped on my sunglasses.
I walked downhill.
I opened my heart and closed it again.
I snapped a few pictures.
I punched a hole and let a little soul leak out.
I felt the weight of it all.
I noticed that sometimes my lips make me look like a bird.
I frowned some.
I waited for things that did not show themselves.
I stopped waiting.
I envied.
I questioned.
I got in a funk.
I put one foot in front of the other and hoped it would take me somewhere.
I gave voice to secret thoughts that were never so secret.
I gave in to it.
I gave up.

I am never more myself than when I am not.

Nov 4, 2002

When will my dream come true and not have an alternate ending?

I continue to push the limits of tired. Two long days of band practice will do that to a gal. I'm not sorry we rehearsed. But I'm awfully displeased that our gig didn't come to pass. What a cheap wrap-up that was.

I didn't have as much time today to be caught off-guard or to get mired in the wrong sort of thinking. In a way, that made the brief flashes of madness all the more pronounced. But then, perhaps fatigue masquerades as gloom and I'm too distracted to discern them. I've had my share of both and they are not so dissimilar.

I just heard James Mason say, "One pet per sailor. Parrots preferred." That was a gift, to be sure.

I have a few ideas, you know. It's not over yet.

There is far too little of the harpsichord in modern music. I know I'm right about this.

Nov 3, 2002

"Pretty face. Iron lung."

*an exclamation involving the word "Murgatroid"!*

I'm drained to empty. What a long day. What a long week. What a disconcerting number of things. I haven't really had it in me to answer all the questions or confront all the obstacles. It's just keeping on for keeping on's sake. I'm grateful for intelligent, stimulating discourse. And base humor. And a stage to play on. And for cute tee shirts and second chances and commiseration and overkill. And strangely, I am grateful for obligation -- a persistent nemesis that keeps me from disappearing altogether. I once surmised that there would come a day that I would wake up and everything would be right -- exactly as it should be. Perfect. But there will never be a day like that. And if such a day were to come, what would be the point of waking up anyway. The waking would be indistinguishable from the dreaming, and everything would just blur into that haze that keeps you from barreling forward with any sort of certainty. Everything would look like that moment just before an 87-car pile-up happens on a foggy stretch of coastal highway. Faint red lights that look far more distant than they are. A road beneath you that you can only believe in but not see. That low-contrast world holds no appeal for me. I need contrast. I need brilliant whites and murky blacks and a little less grey, if you please. It's the grey -- the haze -- that causes me to squint. And I prefer to refrain from it.

No one ever thinks I'm as old as I am. And I have no idea how old that is.

Good listener marches on.

Nov 2, 2002

Recommended Daily Requirement

I've been getting email offers from entities such as Mango Casino and Kiwi Bingo. Did I miss it and were exotic fruits awarded the same sovereign status as Native American tribes at some point?