Secret Pop

Dec 31, 2003

Let the sunshine in.

When I lift my glass tonight, I hope that I will remember the words to the song. I hope that I will be more on the side of the beginning than the end. I hope that the word "new" will have weight and meaning. And I hope that your nose is also tickled by the bubbles in the wine.

I never got to tell my joke about Easter eggs that night, but I'm sure it would have gone over well.

Dec 30, 2003

Popularity Contest

So that picture of me with the great yellow head has already provoked a wealth of positive response from the audience of the ether. My friend Simon even sent me a photo collage of a scene from Red Dwarf with me as Holly. I was once superimposed into a spaceship cockpit with the caption, "Don't bother me. I'm on the ship." Apparently, there is the makings of a movement that wants to eject me into outer space. Which is fine by me. At least I'll get some peace and quiet.


Merriam-Webster's word of the day is penultimate. Of course, you and I know that it means the next to the last and not the extra-ultimate as some people seem to think. It is a great surprise to me how often this word is misused. I also thought it fitting -- as I'm sure the folks at the dictionary did -- to make mention of it on this, the penultimate day of 2003.

Speaking of which, I have been giving some thought to who the 2003 Meet Mary Forrest Person of the Year is, and I think, after great deliberation, I must declare that the first annual recipient of this meaningless award is...*drum roll*...VANITY. I'm accustomed to seeing it on the pages of the L.A. Weekly, but now even San Diego's Reader, the local free newspaper, has had its innards impregnated with ads for cosmetic surgeons and laser hair removal specialists and boob jobbers. And never before has the makeover been a more popular or powerful agent of change -- albeit strictly cosmetically. Whether it's Queer Eye or Extreme Makeover or Trading Spaces or your sister who only ever buys you make-up as gifts, it's plain as the arguably-in-need-of-alteration nose on my face that this has been the year of changing from without and never mind what's within. And maybe a little external refurbishment can have its internal effects, but I don't really believe any of those people whose homes got redone on television this year actually found themselves suddenly the havers of exquisite taste. You can give a hobo an Armani jacket, but he'll just be a hobo in an Armani jacket and therefore more prone to being arrested on suspicion of having murdered a sales executive and stolen his clothing; you're not doing that hobo any favors. Ironically, the Reader has gotten a makeover of its own. A nice glossy cover and newsprint inside pages that aren't nearly so filthy as in days of old. I'm assuming it can afford the new duds on account of all the fat being sucked out of the saddlebags of San Diego's beachbound beauties.

Anyhow, if you have ever misused the word penultimate, don't fret. Just get it right the next time and no one will be the wiser. Unless my little sister heard you do it, in which case you will never ever ever hear the end of it. Think of this as a public service.

Dec 29, 2003

"What do you fear, my lady?"

In 2001, my birthday fell on May the 14th, and May the 14th fell on a Monday, which means I had practice at the comedy theater. That night, we did an exercise, facilitated by one of our teammates, Dave George, who works for the famed (An)T(h)ony Robbins. Dave brought pieces of wood for us to break with our hands. On the wood, we were asked to write one of our fears. In pencil, with a modicum of mirth, I wrote "dying alone." And then I waited in my seat until it was my turn to get up on stage and give it a go. I was nervous -- sure I would fail. But I inhaled and pushed forward suddenly, and I busted that piece of wood right in half with my tiny little hand, much to my surprise. I have a Polaroid of the moment somewhere. I was wearing a pink sweater. Pink like ice cream.

I was born with jaundice. Like both my sisters, after I was born, I had to stay in the hospital for several lonely days, wriggling under a lamp until the yellow took its leave. Use your imagination and the following photo to picture this experience.

Sunshine in the Shade

I've been so exhausted today. Nearly no sleep last night, as was my fear. And it's been a long and taxing stretch. The holidays have a way of pummeling me. Even when I'm loving them. I tried to do a great deal this week. I wasn't able to do it all. But I was able to do a great deal more than I would have expected. And that amounts to a heap of tired.

I performed at a bar mitzvah party today. It wasn't my best show, but the audience loved us, and the birthday boy and his family were delighted.

Al Franken guested on A Prairie Home Companion today. Double good.

An old friend I haven't seen in years and years happened to come to one of my shows this weekend. That's something I never sneer at. I also happened to have two great shows that night, so double double good.

I've been trying to post a few pictures, but Dreamweaver is in betrayal mode for some reason, and I'm giving up in frustration. Everything was working dandy fine yesterday. It irks me.

I forgot to take pictures of the green wall and red door I saw. I'm sorry for that. And I'm beginning to feel threadbare and weathered. I hope it isn't the start of something.

I meant for this to be more than bullets. But -- as is sometimes the case when my nagging eye twitch returns -- I'm at the bottom of the poetry well, and it's all dry down here. I'm climbing out and praying for rain.

Dec 28, 2003

Glorious Handel

"He Shall Feed His Flock" from The Messiah being sung in Latin by a tender-voiced soprano with a baroque chamber orchestra makes me cherish the cold times of the calendar. I sang this piece years ago, and feeling the easy vibrato of those vowels in my throat was like drinking magic.

Now, they're on to the Bach Air with a trumpet soloist. The theme in this piece is paid an homage in a violin duet that appears in the score of The English Patient. I used to listen to it when I lived in a big house all by myself. I would burn candles and have a bath and hear the harmonies winding so tightly they nearly choked each other, and I would feel this thing. It's hard to describe. Something almost being pulled from you. And you're holding on to it, not wanting to let go. So it stretches out from you, and there is a bit of pain. A tug. But the pain is so sweet you only want more of it.

If they play the Corelli Christmas Concerto, I might just melt away.

Dec 27, 2003

Fair and Balanced

I love Conan O'Brien for not taking any crap from Bill O'Reilly on his show. May heaven bless him and his kin. He's so smart and quick. He can hold his own with a prodding blowhard without losing his cool or compromising the funny. I would have been gratified if he'd reached across his desk and stabbed Bill O'Reilly in the eye with a pen, but putting him in his place without letting it get grim was an even better choice. I worship at the shrine of his greatness. No matter the hour.

A Life Before Doubt

Acknowledging an emotion can feel like having a house built right on top of you. Recognizing what things mean. Looking inside yourself as if you were one of those phones or watches where you can see all the wires and circuits inside. The intricacies of what actually goes on when you look just fine on the outside. It's a wonder and a mystery.

I enjoy making other people laugh. And there are certain people whose laughter has greater value to me. Whether it's because I never thought I would impress them. Or because I am impressed with them to begin with. There are attentions I crave and receiving them surprises me. It's nice, you know. You like someone and think he's cool and talented and then when he laughs at something you've said or looks delighted by a story you've told, it raises you up a little bit. Improves your posture. And you worry about looking too much forward to that response, as it may be fleeting. And then it keeps coming. And you think, Either I'm really great or that guy just likes me. Is either one of those selling you short? I don't know. I just know that I enjoy being surprised by certain things. Approval I wasn't seeking. Approval I might not have expected to get. Approval I have strived for at length and then finally acquired. That positive response is a currency with me. I don't cherish all applause. Some of it I don't even manage to hear. But the right pair of hands clapping at the right moment makes me relax just a little bit. It's a chance to say, There. That's what you wanted, isn't it? This is what it feels like to be good.

I also delight in cheering for those I like. I love it when a friend gets it right. I revel in the successes of those I care about. Maybe because I feel like we are on the same team, and it only gets better when we all do well. I can fall prey to envy and disillusionment as readily as the next lass, but more often than not, you will find me smiling and saying, I hope you win. There is a competitive spirit in me. But it's like a fuel, that. You can use it to propel yourself forward. Or you can allow it to go all incendiary and it will consume you. And you will expire like some NASCAR spectacle instead of taking photos at the end of the race in all those different hats the winners have to wear.

I wonder how many times I will miss out on the action by saying, No, no. You go first. But then I realize that saying it sometimes makes me happy and that means something.

You were no ordinary drain on her defenses. She was no ordinary girl. Oh, inverted world.
If every moment of our lives were cradled softly in the hands of some strange and gentle child, I'd not roll my eyes so.

Dec 26, 2003

Sin of Envy

Jennifer Connelly is a lucky duck. She is married to Paul Bettany. She is also beautiful and my choice for Diana Prince if they ever make a Wonder Woman movie, which I may have already published, as I have thought this for an age. Strange, because I didn't like her at the start of her career. Maybe it was those pants she wore in Labyrinth or the fact that all of my male friends couldn't stop talking about her boobs. I'm a grown-up now, and I have boobs of my own. But I am lacking Paul Bettany. That much can be written and believed.

When I watched Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, I may have been heard to say that I hope Paul Bettany gets an Oscar for his performance in it. He's good as good can be.

Louis Black said, when complaining about the fell weather, that maybe he should live somewhere nice like San Diego. But he said that when you live somewhere where it's nice all the time and you're depressed, it's your fault. I laughed because it's true.

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
When I was driving north past the car dealerships in Kearny Mesa in the wee hours of tonight, I noticed suddenly that they all have these giant American flags flying. Maybe it's because it was so all-over windy. They were all stretched out taut like sails. One or two of them had split between stripes. The beginnings of tatter. And they were all the exact same size. And -- as is the nature with things in the wind -- they were all blowing in the same direction and with the same ferocity. There was something majestic about it. Something sort of military but grand in the way that military things are grand. I don't know why it struck me at all, but it did. I told myself to remember and write it down later, and I'm pleased that I've managed not to fail. I wish I'd stopped to take a picture, but I can't imagine I would have been able to capture what I was actually seeing. The disheartening truth is that the camera lens does not see as big or as meaning-filled a world as I do.
What a lovely, long Christmas. Heaps of gifts to exchange and the perfect prime rib dinner. I was sorry that so many members of my family were ill and under the weather. I was also a little dismayed with the stormy outside that kept us in. Windy, misty, fiercely sprinklingness and trees flailing around like those creepy air-filled stalk men that flap at you when you pass car dealerships and upholstery showrooms. It's nice to sit in front of a fire when the wind wants to knock you over and the mist wants to mat you down. But after a time, it feels like a curse and a prison. It feels like staying in because there's no outside to go to. I never had snow days in school, but perhaps they were like this.
I was looking for something, and I happened upon a few posts from January of this year that I liked reading. They were far enough away as to be slightly unfamiliar. It felt like reading someone else. And as I sometimes tire of the sound of my own voice, this is a pleasant surprise. I feel the year pinching itself off at the end like a sausage. Finding things to remember in January makes some sense at a time like this.
There is a little tickle in my throat that may be the bequest of someone in my family. Many of my friends are also sick. I boasted today that I hoped to be the one person I know to not have taken ill in this rather hype-filled flu season. And then I washed some echinacea and golden seal down with the last of the merlot and crossed my fingers. I haven't been sick since January. It lasted into February. It began with a cough and a day of running that nearly collapsed my lungs and the fear that I had given myself asthma just from running on Olympic Boulevard at rush hour. And I remember noticing that a certain huskiness appeared in my laughter and never went away, even long after the coughing had subsided. I also once bought Beulah a t-shirt that says "Asthma is sexy," and I wonder if that isn't remarkably true. Of course, I don't actually have asthma, so if that were the rosetta stone of sex appeal, I suppose that would make a great deal of sense in my world of why not me.
On these lengthy pages, I've already once quoted my favorite line from the White Stripes song which is this entry's namesake, but I wonder if that matters. If every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me, then I suppose it bears repeating.
I do that a great deal. Write down a snatch of a song lyric without offering any contextual ornamentation. Sometimes words stick in my head or pop out at me and I want to save them or share them or wield them. They don't even have to mean anything. It may be a reminder of the value of a song. It might be a token of a moment that deserved a soundtrack. I just pluck them from the air and plant them here and watch to see if anything germinates.
Blue eyes, blue eyes, how can you tell so many lies?

Dec 24, 2003


My mom doesn't know Johnny Depp's name. She calls him "Scissorhands." She thinks that Scissorhands was okay -- referring, it seems, to the movie of similar name -- but ever since then he hasn't been that good. She makes me laugh. She also seemed very frustrated at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean, which she barely watched, when Orlando Bloom steals the show, according to her. Why didn't Scissorhands get the girl? What a gyp, apparently.

I can't think of an unkind word to say about Johnny Depp.

While I usually welcome the rain -- hope for it, even -- I was sorry to see so much of it this week. It's less like Christmas when the gloom can be caught in a cup and saved for later. Soon, I will be on the other side of it -- these holidays. And I will be able to put a day to bed for the day's sake, silencing the sleigh bells and smashing the snowmen. December was a cold memory.

Accidental Lateness

I am guaranteed to get no sleep tonight. Which means I will probably sleep through the entire A Christmas Story marathon. Nuts.

Dec 23, 2003

Et le voilà!

Delight in the product of my scanning labors, delight-lovers! The Lomo pages are proliferating like primary mammalian cells being cultured in a fancy incubator. Aseptic techniques in use!


It's funny. I didn't realize how close to Christmas I was until I went and doublechecked my last post and saw the "12.23.2003" staring back at me at the top of the page. I'm far behind in my holiday-themed accomplishments. It vexes me.

Table for Four or The Mocking Laughter of Intimate Friends

Such merriment was had at the Paul F. Tompkins Show tonight. Such fanciful merriment. Even though the food I got was not what I had wanted. Paul F. Tompkins spoke to me again during the show tonight. That sounds weird. He spoke to me. As if I was hearing the voice of god. What I mean is he had cause to address me in the audience again. Apparently because I was in his line of sight and had a candle lighting my face. Certainly it was the luck of the draw, but I blushed nonetheless.

The show ended in a sing-along of Auld Lang Syne, and I felt the impending urgency of calendar-based celebration pressing on me. I am seldom anywhere on New Year's Eve that allows for the singing of Auld Lang Syne. I felt a little like I was in a movie. One of those movies where the characters have some landmark breakthrough moment at a New Year's Eve party. Like When Harry Met Sally or About a Boy. Only Paul F. Tompkins and I were not really sharing a moment at all, and he appears to be wearing an engagement ring. So...

I got home in time to go out again. To go out into a quiet Los Angeles night where the streets were empty and parking spaces were as plentiful as flyers for lame rock shows. There is infinite room to be thankful for moments when your city is suddenly unfamiliar. It offers the hope of rediscovery.

Dec 22, 2003

Cribbing from James Joyce

I turned on the television at that part of Crimes and Misdemeanors where they're at the wedding reception at the end of the film and Cliff (Woody Allen) learns that Halley (Mia Farrow) ended up with Lester (Alan Alda) and says, "This is my worst fear realized," just before she gives him back the love letter he sent her while she was away. And he confesses that he plagiarized most of it from James Joyce. "You probably wondered why all the references to Dublin."

We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions. Moral choices. Some are on a grand scale. Most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are in fact the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, human happiness does not seem to have been included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love, that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying. And even to find joy from simple things. Like their family. Their work. And from the hope that future generations might understand more.

This movie means a great deal to me.


Right now! Really. I'm getting dizzy from it. If I am crushed in an avalanche of CDs and books, please remember me as someone who tipped well and was kind to animals.


It was a 6.5 near San Simeon. And not the raucously annoying antics of my upstair neighbors as I momentarily suspected.

Sasquatch National Forest

Nearly every time I go to the Big Foot Lodge, there is some sort of holiday decor in place. I don't go very often, so this surprises me. Tonight, I went for Give Up Los Angeles, a night of gloomy music intended to cause you to reevaluate your reasons for not following through with your adolescent suicide fantasies. As themes go, this one agreed with me.

Dec 21, 2003

Memory Box

It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

What are we holding on to, Sam?

There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.

I get hung up sometimes on how, when something goes wrong, there's no undoing it. I feel so defeated when what was once perfect becomes marred or even destroyed. Breaking things that do not mend. Losing things that can't be found. Taking paths that do not allow for retreat. It's the not going back that flummoxes me. Because of this very thing. The fear that what lies ahead can never be lovely when so much that lies in your wake is ugly and twisted and awful. And memories leave you with nothing to smile about. I think looking forward is a habit. A thing you learn from being delighted. Looking forward is what you do because you have spent your life knowing that what waits for you around the corner is something good. If you keep rounding corners only to be punched in the face by an old woman with a brick for a hand, perhaps the looking back becomes more appealing to you. And then looking forward just becomes that thing you do because your friends tell you that you must. And you cringe inside, because it sounds like faith. And faith seems brittle and naive. And you hate to have to admit that you may have lost yours. While everyone else parades theirs around so proudly. I envy people with something to believe in. And sometimes I pity them at the same time. It's difficult believing in anything when you spend so much time just waiting to be proven wrong. And succeeding at it.

But there might be some huge joy to be found in letting the pieces find their places. If you accept that joy can come and go. That the fact that it doesn't last forever doesn't diminish the value of having it for a time. Maybe that's the greedy part in me mucking things up. Not wanting anything good unless it can be sustained. Fearing the loss of it more than the absence of it. Because the loss begets regret begets sadness begets grieving. And grieving is something I tire of doing on a daily basis.

I hope I will one day be able to look at something beautiful without always being reminded how ugly most things are. It's the way I keep the scales in place, but these days, I'm longing to tip them.

Art Projects
My friend Simon, who is cooler and more entertaining than nearly anyone else, made these for me yesterday from the picture that appears in my 12.19.2003 post. They make me want to be a cartoon character.

Also, his journal makes me want to spend a lot of money buying vintage photographic equipment and/or give up photography altogether.

One Bad Thing

The worst part about always carrying two cameras is that you're always carrying two cameras. Which means you always have a bulgy handbag tugging at your wrist or shoulder, and you have that moment of panic every time you go to a rock show, wondering if you're going to be sent away because the lead singer doesn't want anyone to know he's a vampire.

The best part about it is that you don't have to kick yourself for not having a camera handy when something looks worth remembering. Last night, we saw a comical mullet-crowned fellow and -- though we talked about it -- didn't take a picture of him. When we got to the street, a big, vintage pick-up with the graphics of a pool care company on its doors, a pick-up bed full of pool-cleaning supplies, and a sweet doggie in the front seat was parked in front of my car, and the mullet fellow was standing a few feet further up the sidewalk, and we joked that it would be funny to get him to pose with the truck, since we had missed the photo opp earlier on. And then, his conversation ended, and he got into his truck, and he was the pool guy and we laughed and laughed, but we were already driving away and no pictures were taken. And in a way I think I would have felt ashamed to ask the guy to let me photograph just for amusement's sake. But I couldn't have found it more amusing unless he had driven off in an Oscar Meyer Wienermobile.

Journal Entry

I am fond of a night out. If there was less whiskey in my tummy, I might think of a more interesting way to say so. But I don't trust my typing. And it's a Lord of the Rings weekend on Starz. I've got footage to fall asleep to.

Dec 20, 2003

Shopping Sickness

Oh, but there are so many things to buy. And as happens on the occasional Christmas, this holiday season my favorite gift recipient is me. From years of not really expecting anyone to get me the things I want most, I am in the habit of just getting the good stuff for myself. In truth, I do receive very nice, thoughtful gifts from the ones who know me best, but that has never stopped me from getting it all. Just in case.

Don't worry. I still buy lovely goodies for everyone else on my list. It's just not uncommon for me to get you something wonderful and cool and then -- realizing how wonderful and cool it is -- get one for me, too. That's no crime, is it?

It actually feels like a weekend to me for once. I'd forgotten that distinction for a while. I wish it had been sunny out today. I would have gloried in it.

I got lots done today but less than I wanted to. And now I have to get into night mode. Celebration awaits.

This is my new Friendster picture, by the way.

I smiled till my face hurt.

Sweet little holiday get-together at Zach's (does he spell it with an h or a k?), followed by Van Stone, Aspects of Physics, and Pinback at the El Rey. And then the longsuffering breakfast of the after-hours at Swingers.

Van Stone's front man is that guy Dave Sheridan, who played the mullet-headed, nunchaku-wielding convenience store loiterer in Ghost World. It's a novelty act, but the charisma alone has limitless appeal. How does that guy find time to stay so tan?

I have to admit, I didn't pay a great deal of attention to Aspects of Physics. Drinks were being spilled on the merch table, and I was distracted. But Pinback made me feel a swell of joy, even if it wasn't their most stirring set. I was stirred plenty. And glad to be.

Maybe today was a turning point. The first time in a long while I have felt beautiful and alive. The first time in ages that I have felt anything at all. I am catching myself looking forward. And shaking my head that it might have taken me so long to learn such a simple lesson. Even my mother knows the sinful trap of always looking back. Regret is a cancer. And it accomplishes nothing. What is past is written on paper. Tear the pages out and throw them in the dustbin. Then set the dustbin on fire and write something new. If it doesn't breathe and pulsate and need nurturing and appreciate the nurturing for nurturing's sake, it isn't worth living for. The only thing that matters is giving and what gives back.

I have party dresses picked out. Some of them I never thought I'd wear. It's something I don't mind being wrong about.

Dec 19, 2003

I love a gal in uniform.

A meter maid did me a kindness today. Isn't that a wonder? I was coming out of the Giant Robot Store, and I realized I had forgotten to put money in the meter. Maybe because I usually go there on Sundays. Maybe because it was already dark out and it felt after six to me. But it was certainly my fault, and I rushed up to her and said, "I'm here! I'm here! Is it too late?" And she pitied and me and said, "Aw, honey, I hate to give you a ticket when you're right here." Apparently, she'd already sent all my information through, but she said she would see what she could do about canceling it. A ticket might still show up in the mail, but if it does, I will gladly pay it, knowing someone meant to be nice to me and bureaucracy be damned.

I had a wonderful, productive day. There's something surprisingly not-horrible about having to set your alarm and get up and be somewhere. I had forgotten that. One of these days, when I get myself a proper job again, I will try and remember that feeling and not long for the freedom to be nowhere at all.

And it was gorgeous out. Cool and clear. The sky a foamy blue. Brilliant, squinty sunlight without a spot of haze. I adore Los Angeles during these months. I mentioned how pretty it was when I was talking with my mom, and she taunted me in this fashion: "Whatever it is there, San Diego is better." Such certain smugness is nearly worthy of admiration. The way my mom gloats, you'd think she built that city. And if you ask her, she'll probably say she did.

I dropped off more film. The march toward Lomo domination continues. I will conquer the world with my red-soaked lens. Wait and see.

She called me "honey." I will remember that.

Three Thousand Words

This means I felt pretty today.

Dec 18, 2003

The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

I never quite got my fingers around the neck of today like I would have wanted. If I had, I would have shaken some sense into it.

But I did get to see The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and I'm grateful for that. A strange thing happens for me with these movies. I am a devotee of the books, so I often have to try and curb my nitpickiness in order to try and enjoy the films in their own right. And, because my disappointment flared in the previous episodes only to later be assuaged in the special edition DVD releases, I tend to reserve absolute judgment altogether, lest I waste a great deal of vitriol on things that are destined to right themselves. It will take a year for me to be able to properly weigh what was wrought, and by then, I'll likely have forgotten a lot of what once hagrode me. The ire is temporary. And it seems to cauterize in its wake.

So, I watched and I wept (I do that a lot at the picture show -- dabbing at my eyes with the coarse corners of popcorn-soaked napkins and trying not to look a great fool) and I tried to remember the things that I know I would have wanted to remember. But as soon as a line would want to stick, it would occur to me that I'd already forgotten the last line that was supposed to be in the sticking place. Maybe I only have room in my head for one note at a time. Fortunately, in a matter of hours, the manic fanbase will have made a transcript of the movie available online, and I can go plumbing those depths at my leisure. See how easy it is to return a mountain to its molehill state?

To see a trilogy in annual succession in this way is also unique in that it spaces out your experiences and gives them these convenient markers. Each of these films came to me in the wintry times of my Los Angelism. The first year, I felt far from home. Alone in a new city. Cold and unsure of parking protocols. The second year, I knew my way to the theater, but there was the looming possibility that I would be leaving this city to go back to the one I previously called home. I couldn't let myself take root. And this year, here I am again. Or rather still. Still in the same zip code. Having just signed a new lease. Knowing I will be here for at least a little while longer. And yet I'm still in that waiting state. Not quite knowing how to pocket the holidays. Opening mail with a blank expression. Noticing when the sky is darker or lighter than usual but not going out into it very much. I live here, but I don't. In a way, I feel as if I don't live anywhere. Maybe because I sometimes feel that I don't live at all. That the light has gone out in me. Or the curtain has come down. Or the long-wearing mascara has called it a night. And then there are times when I thrill to each breath. Am dizzy with distraction and fervor and the way everything sort of flies past you like a fast-moving parade. Sometimes I look around and start to feel the room spinning, and I can't tell if I'm standing still. But all of it is fleeting. The drudgery and the delight. Inspiration. Deprecation. Despair. Demons. A kitchen that needs cleaning up. None of it lasts forever. None of it lasts for very long. You get through the worst things by knowing that they can be gotten through and that there is something on the other side worth seeing. Otherwise, no one would ever make it all the way to the Sistine Chapel. It's a long walk through many galleries -- many with prettily painted ceilings of their own. If you don't tell yourself there's something worth seeing up ahead, you might just sit right down in the middle of the place. And that would pose a nuisance. And you would miss out on lunch.

I suppose people who watched the original Star Wars trilogy may have similar spans marked for them, but the movies were released so much further apart that it would be hard to lay the spans down side by side and make anything of them. I never saw any of those films in the theater in their original releases. I was either too young or too living overseas or too the child of parents who don't take their kids to the cinema much. But when the special editions were released in 1997, I had the luxury of seeing them all on the big screen with only a month's wait separating them. It was good to get the whole scoop all at once. I had always felt a little left out. When dudes in my classes were carrying around Return of the Jedi lunchboxes, I didn't know what the word "Jedi" meant. The first time I saw Star Wars: A New Hope, it was airing on Guam network television on the one channel we got, and we taped it on our Betamax, commercial interruptions and all. And I watched it many times and noticed that my dad didn't seem to mind watching it with me. He used to get good and riled up during the final raid on the Death Star. He's a fan of action, my dad. For the record, I also did not see Grease until I was in my 20s. I think my sister and I assumed we weren't allowed to go to PG movies for a reason. When kids at school were singing about being born to hand jive, I assumed that was something dirty. And when the boys would sing that line from Greased Lightning, I had no idea what chicks creaming meant. I also had no idea that Greased Lightning was the name of a car. And that year my Halloween costume was made out of a paper bag. Just so you know.

Anyway, despite my nearly rabid dedication to the original texts, I really am so glad I got to see these movies. Glad that they were made. Glad I had the chance to have my love for the stories rekindled and reaffirmed. I realized at a young age that nothing shores up your convictions more than having to defend them. So even the things in the movies that jog my patience are good in that they force me to remember what I read and to tell myself what about it was important to me. Sparking debate is no kick in the teeth. I love to talk about this sort of thing. I could go on and on long into the night if I'm in willing company. Having those spots in my brain stimulated ranks in the height of pleasure.

And this third film did not disappoint me outright. Or raise my hackles to maddening levels. I did drop my jaw in a few places. I did occasionally peripherally peek at my companion to see if I was the only one bothered by this or that. I did laugh in places where laughing may not have been the desired response. And I did sigh in frustration once or twice, but in my defense, it was very late in the film and it could easily have sounded to others like yawning rather than the passive aggressive making of a scene. But so much of the movie touched me. So much that was missing from it or added to it prickled me. But I have reread the books recently enough that I can fill in many of the blanks internally and none of the meaning is lost. What a massive tool of metaphor is this tale. How many ways it can be applied to nearly anything that ever happens. I treasure the words. The ancientness of their cadence. I adore the universality. I embrace it and want to wrap it up in a giant squeeze of a hug. I want to draw it close. Because it is full of things that I feel and know and believe. In the end, Frodo asks, How do you go on when you realize there is no going back? And I got that feeling I get. That feeling I get when something is true. I think when things are true, they have a certain poetry to them. Effortlessly. When you find the way to say what is real, the words have a way of becoming a song. And songs have a way of sticking in your head.

I look for things every day -- in every moment of my life in every aspect of my experience -- that will guide me. Maybe the reason I love books and films about the seafaring life is that I envy a man who can work a compass and sextant. I envy a fellow who can trust his calculations and know exactly what course to take. To have that measure of certainty seems a great luxury to me. A great great luxury. I always feel as if I am reaching out in front of me as I enter a dark room with lots of debris on the floor, batting at the air with untrusting hands, afraid all the while that I am about to run into something and that it will be painful and humiliating. But sometimes, when I'm watching a movie, I get these little flashes of wisdom. Something makes sense to me for the first time. A puzzle piece falls into place. I relate. It also happens with books (which is why I keep a pencil handy for underlining) and with art and with music and with television. Sometimes, I feel as if a message is being sent to me personally, and I wonder if anyone else in the room is getting the same idea I'm getting. I'm so often disappointed to learn that something that meant a great deal to me had nearly no impact on someone close to me. So often frustrated to know that someone I care about can't see where I'm coming from or doesn't have that desire to step over and try to experience the sensation I'm having. I'm so busy wanting to share it all that I forget some of it is just for me. But that's why I never liked birthday parties where cupcakes were served instead of birthday cake. Individual servings can be so alienating. And they marginalize the competitive spirit inspired by more than one person wanting the corner piece or the frosting rose. If we take these things from children, how will anyone ever want to grow up to be president?

I make things mean more than they need to more often than not. I infuse moments with sentiment and assign absolute values to trivial details. I think it's how I keep the edges of things sharp. I worry about everything going into soft focus. I worry that, if I don't struggle to sustain everything that exists at any one time, I will lose it. Some of it or all of it. And what if I don't keep track? How will anything have meant anything at all if I don't pay close attention and put it all away someplace safe? Living in the moment has its vogue cachet, but I don't like to discount the importance of living in the past and in the future as well. If you can manage to be all of these places at once, surely you will have something to show for it. If I say the phrase "flux capacitor" now, it's only to further endear me to people who like me because I say things like "flux capacitor."

I received a bit of unwanted email from one Defecates L. Accumulation. Is there some proper name randomizing agent being used by the members of the spammers' guild these days? Annoyed and amused. That's me.

Dec 17, 2003

"Lie down on the pillows, happiness hunters!"

It's easy to get disoriented when you have to try and juggle two cities, two lives, two anything. It's easy to drop one or both. It's easy to forget yourself. When you are so often plunging yourself into that stasis of reconnecting. The long drive. The long wait. The mindless passage of time. The solitude and the quiet and the scenery racing by. You might as well be asleep. A great, long dreamless sleep where there is no morning and no chirping of birds to contend with.

What a windy day it was today. Filling the air with a slurry of loose dirt and brown matter. Coming down a hill, the stretch of San Diego before me looked like an old photograph, sepia-toned and indistinct. It made my throat hurt to breathe it. I was glad to be safe inside my car, driving towards clearer skies.

Sometimes, I am still able to be generous. And to be grateful. For the generosity itself and for what it does. Don't give up. That's what my address would be. To all you happiness hunters. You dream stealers. You sleep walkers. Don't squander it. Stay awake for as long as you can. The night is long.

Dec 16, 2003

Tally Running

I just saw a guy I know on a Stagg Chili commercial. He made me laugh once. I congratulate him telepathically. And Carson Daly is really a preposterously bad interviewer. Dumpy, canister-headed, and preposterously bad.

If I were to list all my temporal expenses over the past few days, the list would be great but still that: a list. Obligations were ticked off. Appointments kept. Expectations fulfilled. My neck and collarbone bear the conspicuous marks of my violining. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- makes the hickey joke when they see the marks. But I've never had a hickey that bled and the bruisy plum on my collarbone was just about ready to by the time I wrapped up. I'm never really amused by the hickey-themed accusations anyway. Maybe because they are obvious and tired. Like when a bigly pregnant woman shows up and you feel you have to say, "Hey, whore, who knocked you up?" Or, "Nice gut, fatty." Of course, these are not at all the same thing.

Still nearly no sleep to speak of. I wouldn't have wagered I could get by on as little replenishment as I've had these past five days or so. I usually think I can come up with great mountains of exuberance when I have to. But I didn't know that I would ever be convinced of the must quotient. I had things I said I would do. Things I needed to do. Things I wanted to do. But nothing the not-doing of which would have landed me in jail or the morgue. And yet, I soldiered on. And in most cases, I don't think I was any the worse for it. Even today, when Tommy and I went on our all-day shopping date, I wasn't sure I had it in me. But sure enough -- I did. That's to his credit, though. He's sweet and thoughtful and patient and considerate, and he doesn't judge me when I spend hundreds of dollars on hosiery and fanciness. And he doesn't tell my mom.

I donated a big box of porno to a white elephant gift exchange and made a young man's day for a little while. And someone broke a coffee table trying to lean across it and surrender their 15-pack of mac and cheese to me. But all of that was forgotten in the hot tub. And then the hot tub turned tepid in the shadow of dramatic buzzkill. Little of anything lasts as long as it should. The things that might please you forever exist for mere flashes. And all that would destroy you persists. For as long as you let it. For as long as you feed it and nurse it and tell it how lovely it is.

It gets old, you know. Going past all the same freeway exits. Seeing all the same streets. Latching on to the same flutters of winged memories. Everything that is has been. Even what is new is the same new thing as the last time something became new again. The days that dared to stretch their corners. Secret meetings. Lazy excuses. Driving directions taken down for the first time. My phone no longer rings Deep Space Nine, but that's the only thing that has changed.

Many times over I've asked myself if coming home is ever really a homecoming. And the answer is always the same. An un-answer. There is no home to come home to. There is only a place where one waits until it is time to be somewhere else. With a lock on the door and a light in the hallway and a box where the mail comes. Sometimes you are expected. Sometimes you are not. Sometimes you are welcome. Sometimes you are fearful. Sometimes you are not sure you have ever seen any of this before. Like waking in a world you can't remember where everything is white and shapeless and the light makes you squint and shield your eyes. Is this heaven? you might ask. Am I dead? But no answer comes. These are words that have no meaning. They do not belong.

It's hard to stay beautiful when there's so much madness in the world.

Dec 14, 2003

In the Cold, Cold Night

All those Green Bay fans crowding the Downtown bar scene would think me a spoiled West Coast weakling, but it was far too cold for my tootsies tonight. And it's far too late for the rest of me. I played violin for seven or eight hours and then had a bit of the nightlife shoved my way. And I would ordinarily be fine with that, but my Sunday will hold a great many more hours of performance and socializing, and I can't think of a slot of time when I might be given a chance to catch my breath. Maybe it will be invigorating. Maybe it will knock me over dead. I'm shaking right now. Palsied hands hovering over a bleary keyboard. Nothing but vodka and Red Bull and Advil in my belly. Nothing but the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I turned on the t.v. just now to see NBC reporting that Saddam Hussein has been captured. "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him," was just said by Paul Bremmer, and the news people cheered and applauded, some jumping to their feet with hands clapping above their heads like a clumsy performance of Y.M.C.A.. While I don't think you should be relying on me as a primary news source, if you heard it here first, you heard it here first. I'm glad this phase of the aftermath is concluded. But I also think there is a great distinction between this and the notion of unconditional surrender. This just feels like the Easter egg hunt is over and we can all get on with our mid-terms.

Dec 13, 2003

Evidence of Angels

My father and I exchanged pleasantries on the staircase. I am about to rush out the door in orchestra attire and the hope of disguising a long, tiring night. It shows mostly in my eyes when these things occur. He asked if I had a show to play, and I explained that I was only scheduled to play the evening show, but the first violinist is sick and I have to go in and read her part cold for the matinee, and he said, "You look great." And it was a ray of light to me. I felt ugly as sin, but looking fine in my dad's eyes is compliment enough for me.

Dec 12, 2003

The Great Waste

I didn't mean to catch Swept Away on late night pay television, but I did. And it was the most egregious waste of time I have committed in recent history. Lord, what a horrible movie. It spends thirty too many minutes establishing for you that Madonna's character (Amber) is a bitch. And you've long since accepted the fact. You also marvel at how unattractive she looks. After all the music videos she's looked hot in, you can't get past her steroid-striated face and arms. And there's something too -- I don't know -- blonde about her face. Maybe because of the need to later try and portray her as not wearing make-up while stranded on a deserted island. They don't pull it off.

Giancarlo Giannini's son looks too much like Valeria Golino circa Hot Shots Part Deux, and he's not likable either. It never makes sense that they fall for each other. Or that they spend a month stranded on this island but his facial hair never grows. And their clothes are still clean and untattered. Or that they don't end up together in the end, because they give you no reason at all to believe that she would feel compelled to stay with her knob of a husband.

And there's SO MUCH TALKING. You scan the credits in the end to see if George Lucas wrote it. Oh, and it's never EVER funny. Not once. I think it was billed as a romantic comedy, but maybe that's just because there isn't a standard category called "boring will-to-live-drainer."

So much disappointment in the cinema. If I had paid to see this film, I would have wanted to kill myself and someone sitting next to me. I would have wanted to leave before they even got off the ship. But I probably wouldn't have, because I never walk out of movies. Once, in college, I went with friends from the debate team (true) to see a German film of Charles Bukowski's Love Is a Dog from Hell, and Susanna Soo (we called her Sue Soo) wanted to leave during the first of the three vignettes, which portrayed randy young boys engaging in sexy voyeurism at a vulnerable age, so she left and Mike (was his last name Davis?) left with her, I assume because he was a gentleman. I was confused. And glad that I wasn't also being asked to go. I also saw a couple walk out of Pulp Fiction when it first came out, and I was seeing it at a Landmark in Hillcrest, a theater I imagine seldom provokes the walk-out. It's just not that kind of neighborhood. I went to see a Bollywood thing there called The Music Room, and I wished we'd walked out, but we stayed till the end and then went to the City Deli and talked long into the night about how little actually ever happened.

I haven't been to the movies much lately. But I think I'm capable of extrapolating the disappointment for the vast majority of flicks currently on the marquee. I'm not entirely given to cynicism, but there's a certain component of live-and-learn. I can admit to looking forward to seeing Big Fish. I also want to take my dad to see The Last Samurai. And whatever new Denzel Washington film happens to be out. If you don't know this firsthand, my dad has a crush on Denzel Washington. He likes him in everything. Even Virtuosity. I had planned to see Love, Actually, but that's looking more and more like it will come to me on the small screen. And of course I will go see The Return of the King. I'm no fool.

Perhaps that's where I will leave things. I often feel that I could go on writing for hours. Just sort of randomly vomiting it onto the page. It surprises me where that sort of stream-of-consciousness approach takes me. Sometimes I just keep going hoping that something cool will come out. I feel like I'm treading water right now, waiting for just that. But it's late. And there will be time for this on other nights. As many things as I feel I can never be certain of, that's one thing that doesn't change.

Dec 11, 2003

Frowny Face and Fishwrap

Last night, my outfit apparently got us into the White Lotus -- and out of the frustrated line out front that also contained an impatient Jason Mewes, who is shorter than I thought -- but not soon enough for my tastes. And a guy walking past me said, "Ooh, you're Asian and you're hot." I don't know if there's any point in keeping track of these incidents. Beyond having something I can look at to remind myself that sometimes people are nice and sometimes I feel like a pretty girl.

And then other times, Beulah forwards me news stories about German people wanting to be murdered and cannibalized and getting their druthers. And I am intrigued but grossed out and I want to tell my friends about it but I also don't want to talk about it because it makes me feel weird and a little afraid. Don't watch Fight Club in a moment like that. Maybe also avoid the Toy Story franchise.

I've never been as exhausted as I am right now. That's a lie, but I believe it at the moment. You don't want to know. Really. You don't. But sometimes it seems as if life isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Dec 9, 2003

Feathered Edges

My first gouache painting is drying on an easel. My second sits beside it. Also drying. Two acrylic-on-cardboard pieces are stacked against the wall. A collage dries its rippled layers in my art journal. Actual work needs my attention. And grad school applications sit in their stack -- taunting me. Time drips through this strange sieve of my personal reality. Sometimes I have to force it. Sometimes it finds its way through the spaces on its own. And sometimes, I can scarcely believe how long its been. All this time. Long stretches of it. Short bursts. Brush strokes. Even the memories seem to have lost their value. Paper currency gone through the wash in an accidental pants pocket too many times over. Frayed edges and faded colors. Breaking down into a colorless mulch. Soon it will all just float away. All the rubbishy, powdery bits. A sneeze. A bit of wind. An exhalation. And they're gone. Poof.

Dec 7, 2003


I did so much tidying and moving around and reorganizing and cleaning yesterday. The day was a blur of it. I'm making much better use of my garage now and have completely cleaned up areas that have been abandoned to clutter for ages. It was one of those huge tasks that starts to look bigger than you'd imagined when you're halfway through. Taking it all apart just to put it back together again. When it's all strewn over the floor and you can't make your way out of the room without stepping on something that doesn't want to be stepped on, it's disheartening. But then, little by little, it starts coming back together. I filled a few of the trash receptacles out back with my piles. I can't fathom the way my apartment accumulates paper. Throwing it away feels good. And shocking. It was raining this morning when I woke up, so I imagine those trash bins will be leaden with the cement-like mush of months of waterlogged mail. Thank goodness it isn't my job to do anything about that.

To work at a fever pitch is a nice distraction. But cleaning house -- for me -- bears a great risk of nostalgic comtemplation. Fortunately, I was not sorting through things with any great attention paid. It would have wasted so much time. And I had to be finished tidying in time to be showered and dressed when Dorian and Krissy arrived to go with me to the big holiday party at Bryn and Kerri's place, artfully dubbed "The Middlemass Orgy." I was bathed and prettied before they arrived and with time enough to go through seven or eight different changes of clothes before settling on my final get-up. I'm glad I ran out of time. I might have been there, standing in the doorway of my bedroom closet with a dissatisfied look on my face for the whole of the night.

I was more forgetful last night than ever I usually am. I left home with candles still burning and my phone and camera still charging. I left without my little cosmetic bag, and I forgot to stop off to get drinks until we were Downtown, which caused us to go on a bit of a wild goose chase looking for a purveyor of beer and spirits at 9 P.M. on a Saturday night. I wouldn't have thought that would pose any difficulty. But I was wrong.

By the time we got home at nearly five o'clock, I was happily surprised to be reminded how much work I'd gotten done. Everything was still clean and neat. I was proud of my achievement. And stunned a little, actually, with how much I had in fact achieved. I went to sleep thoroughly exhausted and was really not pleased to awaken only two hours later, parched and unable to breathe but trying desperately to. I actually tried to fall asleep, impaired breathing and all, for another two hours but finally gave up and took some Claritin and then lapsed into slumber with the sound of the rain going outside my window and thoughts of how heavy the trash bins would eventually be dancing in my head. In the end, I didn't get as much sleep as I would have wanted, and I'm feeling the brunt of it today. But in a way, there's reward in feeling so spent when it's because you've earned that feeling. A day of hard work. A night of hard play. It's no shame to feel a little logy the next day. It's sort of a badge of merit.

Krissy and Dorian have gone home. I've got the day to myself again. But it's drizzling and cold. And I'm thinking about putting a fire on, but I wonder if I wouldn't just sleep through it, and I do so hate to waste the Duraflame. I don't know why. For some reason, when I start a fire, I feel as if I can only get my money's worth if I sit in front of it and watch the flames dance for a good bit of its burning life. I don't want to abandon it to burn out on its lonely own. Maybe I take this abandonment ethic too far.

You might get a song in your head, and it might spark a reverie. That's been known to happen to me. When it does, that's usually a good time to go and make a painting. When I was cold and I pulled the turtleneck of my sweater up over my nose and mouth, it smelled like my skin, and I liked it. Every day is like Sunday. Every day is silent and grey.

Dec 6, 2003

"Trust your judgment, luck is with you."

So the week ends. More paintings finished. More messes made and tidied. Outings and innings. Ups and downs. Warm reassurances and things to look forward to. All of a sudden this whirlwind of deadlines and possibilities. Tomorrow could be so many things. A new job. A new class. A new form to fill out. I have this strange feeling inside. This anxious feeling. I can't tell if it hurts. Or if it's just my heart. If it's just me not finding calm. Or if it's me being hungry. Or if it's too much iced coffee and too few cocktails. Something is dancing in my chest cavity. Like a little ray of light.

I often feel caged in by what lies ahead. I can't let myself feel this now because of what I have to do tomorrow. I can't give in to this today because of what's expected of me. I exercise all of this discipline. But I don't give myself credit for it. While I am living up to things, I pretend I am a prisoner. I don't get high marks in congratulating myself when my exploits are grand. Or even when I just deserve a pat on the back for being a nice girl.

I have plans for being pretty tomorrow. Even that presses on me. I will feel anxious. And I will run out of time. And it will be like that moment when you imagine someone raising the curtain on you when you're not on your mark. The dream when you show up at school without your pants. I will probably just resign myself to it. That's how it usually goes. And in the dream, as embarrassed as I am, no one else seems to notice. They all act like I'm wearing plenty of pants. Two or three pair in some cases. So what's the big deal?

I feel as if I am floating in a dream of a white sky. But I want to come down. I want certainty and firmament. In place of wide-eyed anticipation and the strange monotony that comes from always expecting to be surprised and always being wrong about it.

It's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world.

Dec 5, 2003

"I'll take you with me everywhere I go."

Willie Nelson sure does put on a fine show for an older fellow. He's just what you'd expect, and he plays everything you want him to. And he just seems happy to be doing it every minute of the time. Although, I did listen to song after song and at one point think to myself, "Lord, how many times has this guy been dumped?" For that is the fare. Sad songs about love that wasn't meant to be. Bittersweet goodbyes. Just plain bitter goodbyes. Apologies for wrongdoing. Second chance bartering. All the poignant romantic business of a country singer who really knows how to play the blues.

Because man can that guy play! I was terribly impressed with the frenzied action of his left hand. And I love how he makes that instrument work. Picking out melody lines that resolve into gentle chords. It's not at all the chang chang chang business that so much guitar-playing gets to be. It's delicate and precise and athletic and grand. Man. He really can play.

And it's a good thing, too, because when I fetched the tickets from the big envelope they came in, I gawked at the price I paid for them. I guess it hadn't mattered much to me when I first bought them. They were intended to bring joy to someone else, and that is usually something on which I do not place price limits. But I guess it's getting that way. When you go to see legends of the stage, you pay a pretty penny for it. And respectable people come out in droves with their sportjackets on and their good handbags. And they don't clap along unless Willie himself instructs them to. And these days, the legends of the stage are taking to the show circuit in droves, and simultaneously, the mantle of "legend" is being handed out a bit indiscriminately, if you ask me. I'm trying to be pickier about my ticket purchases. A girl could easily bankrupt herself trying to catch a glimpse of everyone you nearly never see on the road anymore. But, all in all, I'm glad I didn't slam the door on tonight, pricey or no. And I'm not the only one who thought it would be worth it. The parking lot attendant told me that all sorts of people had come out for the show. He made specific mention of Tony Shalhoub and Morgan Fairchild. I was surprised in both cases. But I guess you never know these days what a guy's going to have on his iPod. And what's available is so many-colored and those iPods have so much hard drive space that it's hard to let what's actually on his iPod mean anything at all about him. Unless it's all just audio books about leadership. That would say a great deal actually.

It was a fine show. Quaint, in a way. I kept being amused by the audience response. When a song they knew came on, there was a lot of oohing and aahing and clapping. And when a giant American flag unrolled as the backdrop, there was a swell of approval. And I snickered at it. Not because I hate America, but because I find this sort of patriotism-on-tap to be amusing and maybe a little sad. Sad because it's false. Because a sense of nationalism should not be Pavlovian. It should be considered and deliberate. I want to be moved by what my country stands for. Not just because I have been programmed to respond to an icon. And maybe people are genuinely moved by the sight of the flag. I guess that's possible. But I would expect them to respond with solemnity and reverence rather than the same caliber of "woo" they offered when Georgia On My Mind came up in the set list. The people across the street from my parents put up their christmas lights in the shape of an American flag on their garage door. And I tut-tutted in my head as I drove by, knowing that Santa wouldn't look favorably on this obvious mixing of Independence Day with his one big chance of the year to be more important to children than anyone else. Even George Washington. But I'll let him sort that out.

There was a point in the show when all the various band members were doing their little showcase bits and it felt sort of like watching the Country Bear Jamboree. I hope the world realizes I mean no disrespect by that comparison.

Dec 4, 2003

"Sad as a gypsy serenading the moon..."

When a day is lovely, it passes without rousing me. When there is no great care to wail over, the quiet goes unmarked. When things are calm, it is easy to take them for granted. When the steps you take are easy, it's easy to forget you're taking them. And always, I am moving forward. Whether with the wind or against it. Always, I am pressing on. Even when I am not counting. I once likened myself to Sisyphus. But these days, I feel the boulder at my back. Chasing me. And the slope of the hill is near cresting. And I am about to feel the race upon me. When I go from a Lady Sisyphus to a Lady Indiana Jones. Stopping only to take pictures.

I prefer it when things are easy. But then I don't. I want the peace of knowing. The certainty of repetition. The trust that comes from a lack of surprise. The trust that comes from always. But then I don't. I want the freedom to feel this. Whatever it is. I want to climb back into the incubator. Slide deep into the agar at the bottom of the dish and get set for life to do what life does. The ugly tangents of creation. The offal of regeneration. Make me. Unmake me. Fix me. Solve me. Heal me.

When I finish a puzzle, I don't set it with glue. I break it apart and put it back in the box and shake it for a while. And then I put it away and wait until it becomes unfamiliar enough to be a challenge all over again.

These days are unfamiliar. A December I haven't yet had. With plans being reset and perceptions remade. I saw away at the strings of this December, finding melodies that are new, rhythms untraversed. Fingers sore from playing. Violin metaphors. The sun has been shining on a mild sort of Los Angeles. But I can imagine a wintrier winter. Snowfall and the snoring of sleeping bears. The sort of birds that only appear in holiday greeting cards, sitting on snow-covered tree branches. It can be as cold as I like. As warm as I like. I can find a remedy for chapped lips and a scratchy throat. In the icy cold of an imaginary winter, your heartbeat slows and sleep comes easily. And it is advisable not to be still for too long. Lest you freeze altogether and at last.

I bought holiday cards today. I will be impressed all to crazy if I manage to send any of them out.

Dec 1, 2003

Tokidoki desu.


It was really late and I had been hanging on to what I wanted to write for hours while I was with Sarah after the show, so it's not surprising to me that I don't really know what to make of my last post.

Come to find out I AM susceptible to life-altering experiences. That beats all.

The anticipation nearly killed it, but it survived in the end. Seeing Duran Duran, that is. My first favorite band. My first celebrity crush. My first little girl fantasies of romance and trans-continental love affairs. It's all them. I took my sister to see Duran Duran tonight, having joined the fan club specifically to be able to get tickets in the presale and make sure we got up close and personal with the only five men in history who ever mattered that much to us both at the same time. I began my quest to buy the tickets so many months ago that I began to think it wouldn't be that great once I got there. I thought about seeing them in Orange County when they performed for the first time in the U.S. together. But it was the day before Comic-Con, and even with the presale code, I would have been stuck in crap terrace seating. And I wasn't on the inside enough to know about the secret Roxy show they did. Because of course if I had known about it, I would have razed the city rather than miss it. Instead, I missed it and was completely unaware of it until much too late.

I finally saw Duran Duran live. I had Hungry Like the Wolf on tape as a kid. I think we recorded it from Friday Night Videos. On Beta. And I used to slo-mo that scene where John Taylor frantically runs through the streets of Sri Lanka, bare-chested and mesmerizing. I could not have wanted a man more. I had a poster of him over my bed, and I kissed it more times than I like to admit. (It turns out, my younger sister Beulah also kissed it frequently, which means we were kissing each other before I was even in high school. Gross.) A magazine need only have mentioned the band name to get me to buy it. Even if it was a single line of text on newsprint. I had to have it. I had seen pictures of John with his parents in teen magazines and had talked at length with my sister about how cute his father was, and we would consider what we had learned in genetics as we predicted that he would probably never lose his hair, the angel. I was smitten.

I am occasionally asked what my type is, and I am usually diplomatic and unshallow and reluctant to specify anything that would make me sound superficial. But the truth is this: it's John. A tall, slim English man who is talented and stylish, wanted by everyone and impossibly out of reach. And when he smiles, the lines at his eyes -- the sweet, sweet manly lines -- remind me of Hugh Grant (which solves that additional mystery and explains Hugh's high rank on my list, as well). Tonight, now something on the order of twenty years after the first time I saw him and knew he was the one for me, John Taylor still looks amazing. Cool as fuck and very chic. With great hair and that gorgeous face and a keen fashion sense. I never listened more attentively to a bass line. I never sang louder to White Lines. I never wanted so much for a show to last forever. That's palpable attraction for you. Someone smart and interesting and sophisticated and accomplished standing just a few feet away. If it weren't for all these jerks in front of you, you might just make your way up to him and say hello.

I should add that they all looked great. Simon gets a little dramatic on stage, but he's a looker, make no mistake. And Nick was quietly cute as ever he was. Roger used to be Sarah's favorite. These days, she's all over the John action, despite my prior claim to the territory. I shouldn't be surprised. A few years ago, she started wearing my perfume, too. Andy had a quintessential rock star quality. Maybe cribbing from Keith Richards a bit. But the cigarette hanging from his lip was one of those anomalous cigarettes that actually does make one look cooler -- unlike the garden variety cigarettes that make most people look like they are headed for Cancer Town. So, yeah, they all looked atomic hot. And I appreciate their sex appeal considerably more today than I might have as an adolescent. A glimpse of John's chest hair might have confused me back then. But tonight...

Yes, I have a list. I don't deny it. I don't actively pursue anyone on it, but the list is maintained and enforced and updated on a near-daily basis. This might make some men fearful or bitter. I don't care.

So, I saw this band play at long last. This band whose memorabilia my sister Sarah and I bought to the dismay of my mother who assured us we would outgrow this fancy and be very very sorry for having tossed our money on so much crap. In a way, she was right. I did outgrow the infatuation. And I did stop collecting the memorabilia. But I never stopped liking the band. And I never stopped feeling my heart race whenever John Taylor was the topic. When I worked at, one of my co-workers got a phone call from John Taylor on her answering machine at home, and she saved it for months. Not only did I not blame her, I was slightly tempted to break into her house and steal the answering machine for myself.

I saw this band play, and it was truly something. Really. I think I felt a euphoria that I have never ever felt before. A sort of splendid reminder of being a teenager and believing that anything was possible. Believing that John Taylor would see me on the street one day and be so stunned by my perfection that he would move mountains to get to me. And we would be so happy in our perfect future. Believing that I would one day be someone noteworthy. That I would make it. That I would be magnificent. I heard this music that used to make me tremble, and it was like this giant refreshing dunk in a great pool. I was a child again. But this time a child who can afford to spend thirty bucks on a tour program. And of course I spent it. I couldn't leave the show without my merch. Without some memento of it all. When they finally came out on stage, so close I could barely believe it, I actually thought I might cry, and I am really uncomfortable admitting that. I felt this altogether unfamiliar optimism, and I loved it. And some songs that hadn't meant much to me before tonight suddenly did. And I danced the whole time. And sang the whole time. And laughed and cheered. And took photos and couldn't believe it.

Tonight stopped me in my tracks. Took me back a ways. Reminded me that I was once open to the possibility of everything being wonderful. That I, in fact, insisted on it. That I believed once that I was beautiful and worthy and unique and impossible to pass over. I had forgotten that me. She was so far away. It was nice to be reminded. And to stay up late with Sarah, milking the new sensation.

During Rio, while I was singing and dancing and spilling joy like a giant martini, John smiled at me. I don't care if it's true or not. I don't care if he might actually have been laughing at me. Or looking at a girl in front of me that I couldn't see. I believe he was smiling at me, and I will never ever forget it. I'm thinking of putting his poster back up. At least then my mom will feel like I got my money's worth. Of course, if this optimistic fervor lasts, I suppose I will have to keep the poster in the cupboard, lest John Taylor actually sweep me off my feet one day and come over to my place and be creeped to freaking pieces over it. If this optimism keeps up, I might not publish this post at all.

I know this all sounds like giddy, goony, girlish nonsense. And maybe it is. But there is also the underlying truth that I had my spirits raised straight to the heavens by MUSIC. That's all it took. I've danced more in the last few days than I had in the last year. And it felt good. If you can feel like the hot ticket sometime before the year is out, do it. It's made entirely of good.

Nov 30, 2003

The Keeping State
A lot of what I tell myself can't possibly help. This sort of pessimistic certainty that whatever is good right now will surely end at any moment. Probably tomorrow. Or maybe within the hour. I am vigilantly fearful of what lies ahead. No matter how much I am able to put behind me. It's like skimming the ocean's surface in a little skiff. And you can cover great distances, but no matter how far you go, there is exactly that much still out there to cross. Perhaps a problem of the circular nature of things. I don't really think about getting through things. I think more of staying ahead of them. For now. Knowing -- KNOWING that I will be plunged back into it eventually. That it is only a matter of time. That I can relearn many things, but my sentimental self is an indelible word written on a page that cannot be removed. I will always always go back. It's the only thing I know.
And even as going back is a part of going forward, it's hard not to fear the cycle. I have seen enough things again and again to know that I've been round this way before. And that sounds like going in circles. Somehow, I've come to see that circle as an adversary. A bitchy reminder that nothing can be gotten away from or gotten past. It may not all be within so small a radius that you can wrap your arms around it and draw it close, but it's out there. And it's coming around again.
Normally, I suppose I would feel pride in the fact that certain things have continued in my life. That I have a prolonged tenure in anything at all. That I've stuck with it. Become a veteran. Gotten to the point where it was all second nature. I used to keep track of the duration and announce it to myself with pride. But sometimes that turns around on you. Sometimes, you end up saying, "How could it have been that long? Why am I still here? What have I been doing for all this time?" Some of the time, you can feel great that you're the longest-standing member of whatever club it happens to be, but then before you know it, you're the oldest senator in congress and people are just clapping you on the back for managing to stay alive that long. Sometimes you're happy that you've got seniority. But, for me, some of the time, there is a sort of implied dissatisfaction in it. More and more I realize that I cannot flourish in the absence of challenges. Not tribulations necessarily, but the sparking action of ideas and problems on my flinty brain. The easier it is, the less interesting it becomes, the less interesting I become, the less vital it all seems, the closer to the end I feel, the closer to the end I am. If it gets to be routine, if it gets to be a breeze, I feel like I'm wasting my time. I need to be working at something meaningful just to stay alive, for Pete's sake. I used to think that I would be happy being independently wealthy with no demands being placed on me, but this is simple fiction. I need the struggle. Which is why the ease of massive riches that I haven't worked for could never be a reward for me. Unless the whole of my wealth was kept in small coins and I was required to carry it around with me, loose, in whatever pockets and handfuls and shopping bags I had handy. That might be challenging. And therefore worth it.
The process of effacement is no simple thing. For the moment, that is challenge enough. But it is the assurance that I can scrub and scrub and still not get rid of the traces of all that hurts or aches or torments -- that is what makes the trying hard. It's hard to keep at it when you know you can't win. You've got to find a way to tell yourself that another outcome is possible. Even though they say that's what insane people do.
My shows at the comedy theater were great fun. I have had a nice streak of satisfying stage time in recent months. And I've also had the opportunity to feel close to my friends there. And to be grateful to realize that I have been missed by them. When distances intervene -- either made of time or space -- it's easy to believe that you are no longer cared for or thought of. Assurances to the contrary, however tiny, are like butterfly kisses in Technicolor.
Anyhow, I was glad to play and it had the feeling of a homecoming. And I am fond of that.
The Red Bull high faded long ago. I have been fighting the slouchy fatigue since partway through the second show. But I try to remember how good it feels to know that you have persevered. It might suck while you're at it. But the view from the future looking back is glorious. It's conquest and might and fortitude. And it's better than being vanquished by someone as pansy-like as "the Sandman." Please. He's no match for the adrenaline reservoir cultivated by a guilt-ridden childhood and the resulting fear of dying alone. I can take him like I took him all through high school and college: handily and with limited midday napping.
I just want to be able to rest at last. I'm fully prepared to get right back up and throw myself headlong into the fray. But a rest would be so welcome. A blank slate. A little downtime. The freedom to have a good idea. The ability to sleep without dreams that get remembered. The ability to wake up ready for something new. I could so use a bit of that. Tonight, we received the word insouciant in a game, and -- though I could spell it perfectly -- I couldn't quite remember what it meant. There is a nearly sweet irony to that.

Nov 29, 2003

Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops

I don't know if I will remember today intact. Something about it felt disjointed and surreal. Just a series of moments strung together. Plans looming. Catching up afoot. The occasional misty moment. The hot, dry Santa Ana winds blew soot and ash all over yesterday. In the morning, before turkeys were carved, my father was out hosing down our cars and the stone walk up to the house. He said the skies looked the way they had a couple of weeks ago when so much of the county was on fire (and not in a disco way). It was still grimy and grey this morning when I headed out into the unseasonal warmth of the morning.

Although, I don't know that it's unseasonal actually. There seem to be Santa Anas at this time of year more often than not. I remember a November long ago when I was sitting on a bench at Mesa College, waiting for my Japanese class to start. I was wearing all black and reading Stephen King's The Stand. And it was way hot. And I remember thinking, "Christ! It's November. What gives?" Back then, the term "Santa Ana conditions" didn't really mean anything to me. Not so today. I've been in Southern California long enough to have learned. In a way, I wonder if that's good. I had a very transient childhood, with my family hopping from continent to continent every couple of years or so. And as I grew older, I found that periodic wanderlust to be inescapable. These days, if I don't actually up and move to a new city, the best I can do is maybe rearrange my bedroom furniture. But it's hardly the same. I am often convinced that a change would do me good.

It was too warm for my tastes last Thanksgiving, as well. I remember wanting to make a fire in the fireplace but finding it stifling even with the windows cracked, what with the cooking and the drinking we were doing. It's peculiar. I can remember last Thanksgiving so vividly I can nearly not believe that it was a year ago. It's in my head and in my mouth and in my memory like it happened only moments ago. I remember preparing that last dish and scrambling to create extra table space with a few TV trays. I remember what I was wearing (as I always do) and what it felt like to hover over that stove all day. I remember washing dishes while Martín, sitting on a stepping stool in the doorway of the kitchen, kept me company and helped me choose what containers to put lefotvers in. I was surprised to be less exhausted than I would have expected. The preceding days -- and the day itself -- had been so taxing and arduous. But I put all the food away and settled on the couch to watch Eddie Izzard with Kevin, who had not yet seen the DVD. That makes two Thanksgivings I've not managed to have a midday nap. Crimes!

Too too warm. I want to throw on a scarf and mittens and take wintry photos, but it would be a ruse with sweaty underpinnings. I may have to wait for February.

It might as well have been last year today. Standing at the Cingular store, waiting for assistance, it might just as easily have been that day in December right before Christmas last year when my phone display stopped working and I had to get a replacement. It was the same sort of temperature. The same sort of light. The same swarthy guy who couldn't grow a very convincing beard helping me. But as much as it was like other days I've had, it was also unlike any I can recall. I had a couple of important talks with my dad. And I took stock of how quiet and empty the house is now that Beulah and Justin and Tasha have made a new home elsewhere. Sometimes you get used to having certain things happen. It's hard to unlearn the habits.

I had a lovely salad lunch with Jenny at La Vache. Then I met Karen and her friends Reyna and Jan, and we made a grand effort to make something of the San Diego scene but were met with adversity much of the time. Jan wanted house music. We never really found it for him. The bounce staff at On Broadway was ruder than can be excused. And the demographics of the Downtown clubs left a bit to be desired. But Jan and I gabbed about physics and grad school and films and politics and the way things are in his native Germany and whether Jews are liberal or conservative by and large. And Karen complimented my dance moves, which was outright flattery considering what a hot hot hot dancer she is. And my outfit received raves on block after block. I will certainly take it out for a stroll on another night. If only for research purposes. I even batted my lashes for the door staff at the Bitter End and saved us a steep cover, something I nearly never do. Feminine wiles must be used carefully and with reverence for the cosmically inestimable powers they embody. Sometimes a gal just doesn't know what she can do. And that smacks of danger.

Jan and Reyna are going skydiving in the morning. I remember a time when that was an adventure on a list of those I intended to have.

When I hear songs these days, I make an effort to think of what they meant to me when I first heard them. Where I was. What my life held. I noticed that I have a tendency to commute my sentimental attachment to things across time and space and assign great significance to things that never existed together in the same moment. And there's no need for that. There is enough opportunity for sweet remembrance in the moments themselves. I'm sure of this.

Down in the basement, listening to the rain
Thinking things over, I think it over again
I think it over again

She slips into the night, and she is gone
Gone to settle the score, gone into the town
Rain shining in her eyes

I'm riding it down
Listening to the rain
She'll be here soon
I lie back and drift away

A thought to pass the time
To occupy my mind, while I'm waiting for her

I'm feeling so alive, feeling so real
On a stormy night, the rain is coming down
Rain like never before
I've got some records on, some bottles of wine
On a stormy night, the rain is lashing down
And I'm waiting for her

Reyna was astute enough to tape Justin Timberlake's NBC special tonight. I was not. I caught a few minutes of it while we were waiting for our cab. I don't know what it is about that boy, but I think it's worth looking into.

Last night, I fell asleep with the South Park movie playing, and I dreamed I was in an eating contest in an office I was working in. The things we were to eat were largely the contents of our desk drawers. In my case, it was a lot of M&M's and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup minis. And some books.

Nov 28, 2003

Give Thanks

My mother has the best self-image of anyone I know. No one pays her more compliments than she does, and they are well-deserved. When I was finishing getting dressed and she was flitting from station to station of her Thanksgiving dinner preparations like a bee attending to a field of flora, she was assessing each thing that was in progress and exclaiming, "Perfect!...Perfect!...Perfect!" She presented an extraordinarily beautiful meal, and no one knew it better than she did. I admire her for that. And also chuckle with affectionate amusement.

At the table, we did that sort of forced tradition of going round and having each person cite the the things for which they are giving thanks, and that was a tender thing. I found myself censoring my words, not wanting to flood myself with emotion. I realized that we are predisposed to listing the perfunctory things: family, health, the weather, a job, a car that runs, the successes we've had. When it was my dad's turn he reminded us that we should also be thankful for the failures, for the things that made the year difficult. He cited the biblical admonition that we should give thanks in all things. And in my head, I noted that, when it was my turn, I had had to stop myself from saying, "I am thankful for the chance for a better tomorrow." Maybe I didn't say it because it sounded like an ad from the American Plastics Council. But really, I didn't say it because I didn't want to fog up and get misty-eyed, knowing in my quiet interior that this year has held a great deal of disappointment and suffering and that I am fully prepared to be grateful for it because I know that the tempering pays off. It would have sounded cheap. And I would have been uncomfortable with the sincerity, so I probably would have followed it up with some crap joke to deflect the urgency of my loved ones' attention. That's what happens when things get a little too real.

I was tired for most of the day. And the vagueness of scheduled interludes made it impossible for me to take the typical post-turkey nap. And I had a few invitations to "stop by" at various spots. And I saw that they were all accepted and fulfilled.

When I stopped by the after-dinner wind-down of my friends from the comedy theater, I felt delighted when people laughed at nearly everything I said. It was an effortless sort of reminder that maybe I'm good at this after all. A very young, very cute Navy dude got a little too much Crown Royal under his skin and spent a portion of the evening trying to woo me with endearingly clumsy banter and a bizarre display of one-armed push-ups. He expressed disappointment when I was leaving, and I deferred to my need for sleep. He whispered in my ear in a slow, slurred fashion, "You can sleep...when you're dead." I said, "That's true. And a little bit creepy when whispered like that." I had just met him, and he did spend a few sentences talking about the types of rifle he shoots, after all.

Lia called as I was leaving and invited me to stop by a surprisingly well-attended Nunu's for a late drink with friends I've mostly met. I was momentarily indecisive, but I resolved to have only one and was true to my word. I told the people at our table about my mother's self-confident exclamations earlier in the day, and a few of those in attendance said that I come across as very confident and self-assured, too, and it was said in an entirely complimentary way. I agreed that this is true of me in certain situations. And I realized that I have it in me to be in better command of my faculties than I sometimes am. That I am indeed a competent and confident girl in many situations, but that I sometimes allow things to get the best of me. That in certain settings, I melt into a sort of quivering, amorphous soup of insecurity and uncertainty, desiring nothing more than the assurance that I needn't be so afraid. The contrast is stark, and not very many people have a chance to witness it.

So now, before I get any closer to next year's table, I think I can acknowledge that I am grateful for revelations. Even those that I didn't seek. Even those that I would prefer not to face. I am thankful to have the chance to learn something and change things and fix my missteps. I am thankful that sometimes it actually is like a Choose Your Own Adventure, which -- with the artful use of Post-It Notes -- can nearly always be steered full throttle into the happy ending slip. I am thankful that I can choose at all.

Nov 27, 2003

China White

When I got out of the shower, I was having a laugh with my mom. She looked down and noticed that my toenails are painted white. She made a face like a kewpie doll and cocked her head to one side and said, "Special toe." Then she went back to her cooking.

Quelle the After Party

In my experience, the eve of Thanksgiving is either a stress-filled, last-minute prep time for me in the kitchen or a sad testament to the absence of real nightlife in the city that I happen to be in, but Jivewire at the Casbah was going off, even though I didn't get there until well after midnight. I ran into some friends and some strangers. A girl asked me for some gum and whispered to me on the sly that she was planning to make out with a boy tonight. I wished her well and assured her that my spearmint Orbit gum is the very best possible thing for that exact scenario. And she favored me with her friendship by saying, "You should make out with that guy behind you."

Coincidentally, I ended up at an after party at the home of the guy who was behind me. But not before watching a lot of dancefloor oddities. A couple doing tandem (shabby) robot. A guy doing a sort of swim-slash-bunny hop thing. Friends of mine getting busy to the beat. My drinks were steep and strong. Whiskey with a whisper of seven. Those bartenders did me no favors. I was just planning to catch up with a friend before the holiday got underway. Little did I know.

The after party took some time to get its sea legs. But I sampled a number of conversations and learned that I really have difficulty receiving compliments. Gary, a guy I've met before on a number of occasions at a number of different bars and parties, said very little to me other than, "You're gorgeous," over and over again and always with a hint of flattering disbelief. Each time I caught my reflection, I disagreed with him, but I can't help but be grateful for the repeated attempts to break down the walls of my stolid self-deprecation.

I met a girl I had only ever seen on Friendster and told her that I had thought she was really pretty and wanted to write on that sole basis but was fearful of coming across like a weirdo. She soothed my fears and agreed in advance of my asking to become part of my network. Victory served neat.

Kiley is moving back to New Orleans. I had never met her before, but I admired her red jacket.

I drove down from L.A. tonight and didn't reach San Diego until after 10 P.M. Before stopping by Beulah and Justin's new apartment for an hour or so, I was at my parents' long enough to hear my mom tell me how she essentially stole a turkey from Henry's. Apparently, she went to get her turkey and learned too late that, without a reservation in advance, she would only be able to purchase a frozen turkey. They were all out of fresh turkeys except for those that had been presold. Well, she knew that a frozen turkey would not thaw in time, so it was paramount that she acquire a fresh turkey, as was her original intention. Therefore, when the butcher was busy with something else and foolishly turned his back on her, she stealthfully lifted a twenty-three pounder from the top of the display and tucked it into her cart and made for the registers. I gasped and asked if she considered that she was ruining the Thanksgiving of the Benson family or the Rodriguez family or whatever large clan had required that large a bird. And she shrugged and shook her head and said, "Nah. They had more." She was convinced that the butcher had only denied her for spite, I guess. Twenty-three pounds was a bit more than she had wanted and would require her to be up at 4 A.M. to put the bird in the oven. That's why I had to shamefully affirm that I just got home when she spoke to me through my bedroom door a moment ago. I had no intention of being out so late. But that seems to be a frequent condition.

So many things were different today. Too many to enumerate. Less remorse. More hope. The ability to sing along to the songs. The urge to groove to the beat. I didn't feel gorgeous exactly, but I felt pretty. And I felt a bit guilty when a guy touched my arm to get my attention and asked me to dance and I said, "I'm taking a picture." I was taking a picture, in point of fact, but I guess that sounded like "no" to him. Oh, well. The turkey will still taste like turkey to him. I'm certain of that.

Nov 24, 2003

"I've got a feeling."

I was adrift at the PFT, tonight. A little too much wine. A little too much Monday. Very little appetite. Painful twisting posture, straining to see the stage antics. When they all got together to sing the Beatles -- even Robyn Hitchcock, Brian Unger, and Jack Black -- I was happy to hear it but not entirely there. Although special thanks go out to the cute guy in front of Damiano's who checked me out from head to toe and back again. Somehow, it does wonders for the self-esteem to be sized up like so much meat.

Everybody had a hard year
Everybody had a good time
Everybody had a wet dream
Everybody saw the sun shine
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah

Check...check...check...and check. Feel like asking about number three? I knew you would. My eyes hurt. From all the things that eyes do. I don't know if I have ever been so tired. Is it so great an effort to be whatever it is that I am? I haven't trained for this. And yet, I have.

Everybody had a good year
Everybody let their hair down
Everybody pulled their socks up
Everybody put their foot down
Oh yeah

I really want to let loose and tear it all apart. Without fear of the sweat. I want to do all that is impractical and out of character. I want to open up. I want to vomit up all the fear and guilt and self-restraint. I want to purge my ears of the voices that only cause me to feel like less than I am. I want to take it all with me. I want to quit faking it all the damned time.

All these years I've been wandering around
wondering how come nobody told me
All that I was looking for was somebody
who looked like you

My mother called this evening to check in on me and to tell me that -- apparently as a result of having watched something on the Ellen DeGeneres Show -- she thought I should get into comedy after all. Stand-up. She was giving me her blessing to tell stories about how funny she is. In fact, something she said on the phone made me laugh, and she advised me to write it down. And she reminded me that many people think I'm funny, bless her heart. I said she would rue this day. That if I ever took my life to the stage, everyone in my family would be injured and mortified. But apparently success acts as a lure, like the glistening of gemstones in a pirate's cove. Or the Holy Grail in that crevice as the earth is cracking up and you can She's willing to risk it. For the 401(k).