Secret Pop

Jan 31, 2003

"Nay," say I.

On the eve of this Chinese New Year, I am bold and unburdened. I'm even defying the natural part of my hair.

Jan 30, 2003

As January sinks into the sea...

I wonder where the day began. It feels as if yesterday never ended. The two just ran together. That's how the days often are. Paints swirling into that nameless grey goop that happens when distinction gives way to the blend. There are things I may remember about today. But I may forget why the memory of them lingers. I often feel as if I live in a roiling soup of déjà vu. Synapses, firing and misfiring, call up flashes of recollection that can easily be confused with premonition. I ask myself what that's from. When it happened. Why it feels as if I've felt it before. Whether all the other brains work like this.

There were words -- several of them -- that made a difference today. I could hear them without wondering if I was taking too great a leap in understanding their meaning. Or what was intended. There were moments that felt like progress. And I realized how new things are. Always. But also for the first time. It is all so new. I am not the same. I embrace what I once would have set fire to. I lean in instead of away. I accept. I do not know if it is a survival technique or a bandage or a form of magnificent denial. Whatever it is, I can sense its difference from what came before. I can scarcely remember the lure of old comforts. Old deceptions read clear and true. Old addresses. Old phone numbers. Stacking up like a great and useless math problem. Who even does long division anymore? There is room to laugh about it all. That's what calculators are for.

When someone else tells a story with magic in it, I find myself listening with great release. I am eager to hear something new. And quiet enough inside to not try and jump ahead to how it all ends. I used to listen to stories like they were a guessing game or a mystery to solve. I am no longer as interested in who done it. I am suddenly more intrigued by how it was done.

Jan 29, 2003

"This far and no further."

I would like to position myself above the reproach of a public who doesn't get me. But I still discover a strange bit of dismay when someone feels compelled to tell me what's wrong with me or to suggest that I could have been more than I am. A recent guestbook entry made me feel that. A sense of recoiling at the implication of narcissisim. The assertion that the world might be better served if I would put a plug in it. It's the sort of thing that might make a girl want to stop taking pictures altogether.

Maybe I shouldn't feel the ire of defense rising within me, but I catch myself wanting to tell everyone that I don't share all these pictures of myself because I dance around with glee at the sight of my own face. I take pictures -- and share them -- usually because there is a feeling on that day or at that moment, and I am hoping to capture it and keep it. I post plenty of pictures that display me some distance from my best. And I take plenty of pictures that don't have me in them at all. If that makes any difference.

In any case. Someone might have told Frida Kahlo to get a new subject. Or to pluck her eyebrows. Who says the opinions of the dissenters count for more than a hill of very small and inconsequential, bacteria-infested beans? I also dissociate the concepts of narcissism and autiobiography. Writing what happens to me or what I think is not a mere exercise in self-absorption. What else does one write? Fiction?

Nonetheless, I am tempted to issue a moratorium on pictures. Especially if they were taken today.

I wanted to say something about how God wrote the Bible and it's ALL about him, but I relish the title of blasphemer about as much as I like that of narcissist. The people who would be offended by this would not be welcoming vessels to my explanation, I suspect.

If you only knew me, all this would be moot.

Jan 26, 2003

Ciao, Tiger Lily.

The other day, I was filling out one of those questionnaires my friends send me from time to time. On one line, it asked what inspires me, and I started going through this list of the usual things. Music. Art. Beauty. Twilight. Sense memory. A perfect sandwich. But I realized it was all crap. The things that inspire me most are love and pain, which are really just two sides of the same hand slapping you.

I have been inspired by others. When I have loved them and wanted their applause more than all the acclaim in the world. I have devised wonders in the hopes of provoking a smile or a kiss or an appreciative embrace. The kind that says, "Oh, you!" There are people who have managed to pull wonders out of me. I hope the same will be said of me one day by someone who counts.

There is a weight in my head. It has been following me for days.

Jan 24, 2003

Early in the morning

I find gratification in productivity. Even when it seems like it's just busy work. I got up extra early today and did some rewrites and took some phone calls and embarked on some planning. With lunch meetings and twilight cocktails and afternoon parties on the verge, and the willingness of the besotted in my mixture, I am looking forward. Making plans is as good as making friends is almost as good as making an ass of oneself. A rose is a rose is a rose.

Jan 23, 2003

Onions for the Eyes

I like the way Henry Higgins put it when he said he was "devilish sleepy." Me, too. But not really. I'm tired. Drained to the very bottom. But not sleepy, really. Just unwilling, maybe.

My tee shirt says, "Unicorns are stupid." It's true.

einz, zwei, drei

I haven't been sick in a long time. This week, a little surprise of a cough has taken hold of me. I tried to beat it down last night with a five-mile run. That was woefully bad strategy. I came home and realized it hurt to breathe. And the cough has been getting worse. And sleep eluded me last night like so many things. I even got into bed before 2 A.M. -- a wonder of earliness for me.

I breathe shallowly today. Hoping to avoid awakening the cough. I have been remanded to that weakened position of tiptoeing round the fact of things. I suppose another, more confident girl might cough proudly. Might spray the faces of her lunch companions with her aspirated chewings and then laugh, in that half laugh-half cough sort of way. But I -- meekly -- choose to suppress. I would prefer that the world not know I suffer from any sort of ailment. Pink lipstick helps with the illusion.

Jan 21, 2003

94% is the longest percent of them all.

Almost done. Almost. This is worse than a real job.

Taking the leap

I want to cry out, "I'm still here!" Like Papillon at the end of the movie, when he jumps off the cliff into the ocean to float away on his raft of bags and cocoanuts. But I'm not saying it in defiance. I'm saying it in desperation. Distilling gigantic documents into little bite-sized PDFs is no fun at any hour. Particularly this one.

I give up. I'll go eat ice cream to pass the time.

The itchy ache of progress

I've gotten so much work done today. And it really just took sitting still for hours and hours. With music playing and ready access to cool water and a nice warm jacket on, I have just been tackling it all like a champ. My back hurts so very much right now, of course. The sitting. The hunching. The never quite keeping both feet on the floor. I would like to take a never-ending bath, and I would like to simmer like a lobster. I won't be happy unless I'm all over pink when I emerge. A combination of bathing and braising, really. I would kill for that.

I sort of forgot to eat and just kept working. The TV was on in the living room for a good bit, but I had my music up louder than what was playing. It's all just stimulus. Even if I only catch it in my peripheral vision. It's good for me. For the same reasons that people put mobiles above baby's cribs. Maybe I will hang a mobile in my little office. But only if I can find a really stupid one.

For some reason, that reminds me of when we used to tie thread between the head and thorax of red baron beetles we captured in the wild of the Philippines. They would fly, and we would hold them on the string like a kite. It seems cruel now. And gross. What made me want to pick up some yucky beetle and dress it with string? We were filthy then. Eating guavas without washing them. Sucking on lemon grass we picked in fields. Lemon grass that was, in all likelihood, covered in all manner of animal pee. If you know me at all, you may have heard my explanation of why thinking about this would make me suddenly feel like having a good throw up. It's a fine line between tropical fruit paradise and pee-covered produce extravaganza. I wash every piece of produce I buy. Twice.

This is just proof that I have a lot of unruly short hairs.

Jan 20, 2003

"Every breath that is in your lungs..." a tiny little gift to me.

It was just that kind of day.

I got home late last night. I went to bed later. And I woke up early early early. But then I filled the time and the sun came up and I planned and prodded and produced. It's strange, though; the more I do, the more I must.

Artificial Heat and Ghosts in the Wee Hours

I tried to sleep without the heat on again. But I awoke shivering and with an especially cold nose. And I realized I had been dreaming very intensely and that I was in need of something.

If today has already begun, it feels nothing like it. But don't trust a girl who's had three hours of sleep.

Swashbuckling Gridiron

It's unusual for me to know this far in advance the names of the teams contending for the Superbowl trophy (which is a giant pewter elephant filled with fruit cereal, right?), but I heard it would be the Buccaneers versus the Raiders, and I thought, "Finally! An appropriate occasion for me to wear an eyepatch and carry a parrot on my shoulder!" I won't, of course. My depth perception is bad enough, and parrots are hard to come by. But it was a pleasant thought.

"I drove all night."

My sister and I were lamenting the fact that Celine Dion is singing Cyndi Lauper's song in these intolerable car commercials. What made anyone think that Celine Dion singing in a car would make me want to buy it? I feel as if I never want to buy anything again. And she's putting her kid in the commercials, too? I should go check on eBay and see if she's selling off bits of her DNA, as well. My advice? Keep it, lady. There's enough of you in the world.

I had Rothko paintings in the eye of my brain today. For some reason. Glorious, genius, tragic Rothko. There's a painting of his at a nearby museum, and when I look at it, I feel as if it is me on that canvas. Flesh and blood and white stuff. I once knew euphoria at his hand.

Ice cream did not find me. But many other pleasant things did.

His surfaces were velvety as poems of the night.

Jan 19, 2003

Give us a tune.

I had myself a mess of dreams last night. Sleeping fitfully does not contribute very forcefully to wanting to wake up. But I awoke often, so the jarring was deadened. I was sure I would rise with a hangover, but I felt no such thing. Instead, I was up and doing laundry and appreciating the way the sunlight streams through the glass in the French doors and makes the leaves on the bushes seem translucent in an electric sort of way.

I want to go somewhere where there is ice cream.

This photo made me think of those certain German and Russian expressionists whose paintings were all shadowy angles and awkward points of view. I used to sketch angles with a soft pencil and pretend I knew where the shadows were meant to fall.

How Tiresome It Grows

I wasn't sure how I was going to spend the day, but somewhere along the way, the itch to be with friends and family made itself plain, and that swayed me. I've had too many drinks for a girl who hopes to maintain her complexion. And I've had a night that was mostly fun and adventuresome. But I am tired again. And lacking in poetry. And wondering if the secrets are hiding somewhere just below my surface.

The weather makes it difficult to get any sense of what January usually means. The dratted coastal fog wreaked havoc on my progress. I wore a cute sweater that was woefully too warm. I cooked dinner and hoped the scent of it wouldn't linger too long in my hair, like it does.

I had a chat today with a close friend, and I found myself making the assertion that -- while I am ever so open to influence -- I am not what I would consider to be intellectually or spiritually impressionable. And I usually find those that are to be sort of disappointingly weak-minded. I'm all for being changed by a book. But if a book is able to change your life, what is that saying about your life? I like movies. But I've never had one alter my world view. I have been devouring a heap of challenging reading material lately. And even the stuff I despise is fodder for the mill, as far as I'm concerned. I'm thrilled to be adding to my lexicon. I glide over the works of other writers in a sort of dance of Braille, sightless fingers interpreting meaning as rote and racing for the end of a page without any assurance about the actual end of anything. I am as open-minded as they come. Anxious to accept and to be affected. But I think there is a strict distinction between openmindedness and tongue-lolling apathy. However great the prose, no one will surreptitiously convince me to suddenly subscribe to fascism or some form of religion or a vegetarian lifestyle. I'll make those decisions separately, thank you. And I'll reserve a special form of judgment for those who do otherwise.

I asked my friend if this makes me despicably elitist. He said no. But I wouldn't have minded if he had said yes. Elitisim has always been my bag. In a very welcoming, come-on-up-and-join-us sort of way. I believe in exclusionary evaluation with an underlying desire to include. If that makes any sense at all.

I think I was impressing someone tonight. But he clumsily tried to pay me a compliment and ended up insulting me. In a very jejune fashion, of course. It has no lasting impact on me. But it was amusing to watch him flounder as he realized that his flattering intentions had gone awry. That his bar-side instincts had served him poorly. It was a convenient ushering in of an exit, and thank all that is holy for that.

Last night, I was talking with a pair of friends and letting them in on the not-so-secret secret that so many artists usually create most fervently when they are abjectly dissatisfied. It was intended as a comfort. A mark that the lack of creative productivity in their lives might be a sign of contentment. That one might have to work specifically to find a path to creativity that immerses itself in bliss. I recognized that in myself. That the years when I had considered myself most happy were also the years when my writing nearly stopped altogether. There were other things, of course. And even in my happiest times, there were travails to contend with. I can't say the experiment is scientific, in my case. But today, when I can't really put my finger on the size of things -- when I'm not certain whether I'm fine with it all or flailing about in the frenzy of malcontent -- it's difficult not to be pensive about how my path will form itself in the coming days and weeks. So much that I can do. So much that I must do. So much that I want to do. And no longer a story about the absence of time or the inconvenience of ill-timed inspiration. It's all there. It's all mine. I'm grateful and fearful and occasionally just numb. The girl who never sits still does so for a reason. All that sitting is murder on the back.

Jan 18, 2003

Old Tales Told Anew

I've just arrived home. Papillon was just wrapping up, and Muppet Treasure Island is now on the television. I remember buying this movie in all its clamshell glory on a spree right after the new year in 1997. I remember going home to watch my purchases and intermittently dozing in front of the MST treatment of Mitchell. I had just gotten home from an arduous holiday journey, and I was tuckered out. I was wearing a little wool houndstooth check skirt and a black sweater. I remember thinking Kermit sounded so different. I've since gotten more used to that. Loss is like that. Eventually, you come to accept it. Because you must.

It's late. And I'm tired. And it shows. I want a long, hot bath and a can of pop. That's a frequent remedy for me these days.

Billy Connolly makes me laugh. And Jim Hawkins' dreamy falsetto lament makes me want to sing along. "There's gotta be something better than this for me."

The tug of sleep is upon me. It's a welcome urging. In the morning, there's work to be done. And plans to be made. My poetry is missing tonight. Perhaps I'll find it when I've had a bit of rest.

Jan 17, 2003

When you're chewing on life's gristle

I got a lovely glimpse of the airport today. Airports are places of wonder for me. They always have been. There's something very grand about them. And the possibilities they embody. Control towers and jetways and flashy lights and everything. Airports are nearly always brimming with people who are coming and going. I enjoy being a part of that crowd.

I shouldn't be as tired as I am. That much is true. I hope that the remaining hours will find a formula to either fix or justify that.

As bright and beautiful as it was today, there was a blue cast to things. Maybe it's just something about Fridays. And maybe I'm the only one who feels it. I dislike the calendar, in that. I dislike the notion of things lived in a circle. Having a favorite day of the week. Or always getting the same sense of dread towards the end of your Sunday. Or always getting the same sense of relief on a Friday night. I remember being caught in that circle. With television shows I looked forward to and deadlines that always came on the same day. I remember carrying that millstone. I'm still as much a prisoner in it today, I suppose. But I try and choose calendars that distract me from it. There's a Vespa eternal calendar on my wall and a little Sof'Boy pull away calendar on my desk. And then there's my Taschen desk calendar. This year, it's those Gil Elvgren Pin-Ups. As it was in 1997, the first year I began using Taschen desk calendars. See? It all goes in a circle. No matter what you do. Blast.

We Chinese rather like the gristle, actually. That's less surprising than it should be.

Keep them laughing as you go...

Jan 16, 2003


I always longed to be superlative. Whatever the endeavor. I always wanted to be the something-est. I think I still do. The sourest spots on my landscape today are those that do not afford me that opportunity. I think it would pain me to ever find my book at the top of a bestseller list or my song at the top of the charts. If only because of the inevitability of falling from that spot. I remember waking up at one point in my very early twenties and lamenting the realization that I would likely never be the youngest person ever to do anything at this point. Up until then, I had been the youngest member of a symphony orchestra, the youngest person at the office, the youngest person in the class. I still had a shot at prodigy status. And in the absence of that, I had always aimed to be the smartest or the most vivacious or the most splendid or the most effervescent. I wanted to give the most wonderful parties and write the most saveable letters and give the most extravagant gifts and tell the most enduring stories. If you were making a list, I wanted to be at the top of it. Whatever the list was for.

To have been unseated from such a slot has never been pleasant for me. And it has had a tendency to taint the very memory of a previous glory.

Maybe that's why I'm always catching myself rewriting my own history. Rearranging my impressions of things. Perhaps it's just a means of distracting me from the memory of catching various brass rings that have since gone a-tarnish or have disintegrated altogether. Why linger on the triumph of a victory that has turned. Never trust those carny folk, by the way. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those brass rings were never made of brass to begin with.

Jan 15, 2003

A matter of assessment

Someone called and asked how my day was going, and I found it easy to say that it was a perfect day. A great day. It was productive and pretty outside and anticipatory and easy all at once. I laughed and laughed at dinner. And worried, like I do, that I might offend the ears of people dining near me. You'll catch me retelling vulgar bits from something or other (today, it was a Robert Schimmel comedy special), hand gestures and all. And then you'll soon after catch me realizing that I'm in a booth within earshot of mothers and grandmothers and children and clerics. And I'll worry that the universal symbol for whacking off is an acceptable thing for a girl to be doing in a restaurant. My charged laughter does little to defray attention-getting.

The movie started too late, so the night was called earlier than planned. But it was a good day, I'm happy to report. And tomorrow has every reason to be at least as pleasing. Now, if I could just manage to not get ensnared by the blasted telephone...

For now, there's wine to finish, work to finish, a day to prepare for. All meritable attention-takers.

Gentle Prodding

The promos for Bill Maher's upcoming HBO special are particularly clever, if you ask me. Clever enough to make me sit for a moment, and then decide to get up and go to my computer and make a note of it. I like it when things are good.

I also like it when I find myself wearing a pair of jeans that fits so favorably as to keep me wanting to catch reflections of my backside throughout the day. Such was the case with today's jeans. If only jeans were an appreciable currency. I'd be so very rich.

I took a great many pictures today. When the light's right and everything comes together, I set the digital camera loose and offer praises to heaven that digital photography is free. The picture I am posting is not one of the many from the daylight hours. I took it in the evening. This setting on the camera makes me look kind of like a yam with yarn for hair. But I'm okay with it.

Jan 14, 2003

Sneaky Wee Hours

I was at one point congratulating myself that I was going to get to bed just after midnight. Now look what's happened. Crap.

Jan 13, 2003

Choices of the Chooser

Who am I to demand that inspiration come to me in the form of beautiful and breathtaking things? My pen has been more frantic under the influence of something more like pestilence. And memories are sometimes more concentrated -- more effective. I can be inspired by the moment that survived the aftermath and the want of forgetting. It shines more. Its edges are more defined. I can be cut by them. With ease.

I heard a song on the radio while I was driving home from work one night. It was late. It was always so late when I was driving home in those days. I had been hired to work there in the dark, it seemed. In my memory, although my time at that place took place from the early part of summer until just before Halloween, it was always that first day of Daylight Savings Time. Every day that I recall feels like that. Unnaturally dark. Each day, I was struggling to get used to it.

I was driving home from work one night, and a song played, and it was pretty to me. When I got home, I asked my boyfriend to download it for me. He did. I listened to it and found the melody to be pretty. In those days, even the most poignant words were only wonders seen through plate glass for me. I was impervious to them. When my heart stirred, it was for reasons that were real and present. Not because of familiar sentiments played through the veil of a pop song. I have no way of tallying whether it stirred more then. Or less.

But that was nearly three years ago. And that moment of that song belongs in a closed book. A time that is finished. A time I can only recreate in memory, and even that falsely. False, because the image is influenced by the years that came after. By the many times I heard that song again. By the many different ways it made me feel. That song has now become the journey of its impact. Each hearing producing a new set of responses. And a trail of memories to compare them to.

Some moments make me say, "Yes! I want to feel that way again!" And I lament their passing, mourning the certainty that my wish will not be fulfilled. Other moments are more like punishment. And they make me think that, as I have grown from childhood to this, I have come to learn many different meanings for the word "discipline."

There is a discipline to inspiration. There are rules to how I listen, how I see, how I soak in it all. There is a path to productivity that I can follow. That I can will myself to. Or I can just sit and feel it and let it pass without documentation. It seems that the inspiration might appear more precious if I allowed some of it to fall away. Instead, whenever I can, I reach for the little notebook in my handbag or the sunbleached receipts that intermittently rest on the floor of my car. Anything I can write on. Instead, I carry a camera with me nearly everywhere. And I train myself to be ready for inspiration to strike. Like lightning.

I collect the bits and pieces. And sometimes I do something with them. And sometimes I don't. And sometimes the inspiration changes. Or the circumstances do. So that I find myself starting one thing and finishing another. Or never finishing at all. Because the landscape has shifted before I was able to freeze it. All this change. It makes it hard to ever get anything done.

That time in my history -- when the nights always seemed to be the same dark color and the days were nearly always spent indoors -- that time swirls in on itself. A handful of distinct moments emerge, and they are all I can see. All that can be used to measure myself in that age. Was I happy? Was I being true to myself? Was I a fool? I was not seeking in those days. I was not absent in my present. I was not fixed on what was to come. Plans came easily, because they were formed around certainty and an easy goal of making someone else happy. I remember those days. But I'm often sure I am remembering them wrong.

I search only for something I can't see.


People who sit in their cars and honk to avoid going to the door and knocking should be murdered. But if this ever happens, then nearly everyone on my street will be murdered, and suddenly I will be living in a bad neighborhood. Is there no justice?


The word "millennium" got ruined many times over. First, by that movie with Cheryl Ladd and Kris Kristofferson in it. Then, by the computer industry. And again by the computer industry. And then by the advertising industry. It holds no oomph anymore. It lacks grandeur. It provokes the response, "Millennium? Huh." And a shrug. And an immediate forgetting of that exchange. I have a pen on my desk that says "millennium" on it. I think it's a model name. I hate it now.

I drank too much wine last night. Enough to make me fearful about going to sleep. Fearful of how the waking process might go. But the morning went by without event, projectile or otherwise. And I forgot the whole business. Except to remember to take special care to only drink the good stuff. Or at least the stuff that pretends to be good. I'm usually fairly successful at that. Maybe because I believe that things that cost more are actually better. I know that people will argue about this with me, but I find, almost without exception, that if you don't know which to buy, the more expensive analog will be the better one. I bought some generic Sudafed at Walgreen's. It's called Wal-Phed. And it costs barely half as much as the real thing. For a short while, I congratulated myself on my thrift. But I popped one in my mouth this morning and learned that the money you save is what would ordinarily go into the candy coating. These little red demons are as bitter as -- well, as something very bitter. The name brand pills can be swallowed without even bothering with a swig of water. But these require multiple flushings of the tongue before that foul taste can be forgotten.

I did say ALMOST without exception, of course. And I don't think one should invite gouging of any sort. I will happily pay less. I am often tricked into placing value above everything else in my personal pyramid of importance, and I will freely admit to being proud of buying on sale. But I will happily pay less for THE SAME thing. I am, however, reluctant to pay less for something that claims I won't be able to tell the difference. Oh, I'll be able to tell. Just try me, Simply Soda. Give it a whirl, drugstore brand snack cracker. I'm right here, unlabeled toothpaste. I'm not all talk.

"No frills" isn't a slogan of savvy triumph. It's an acknowledgement of an unspoken agreement. It means, "This product sucks, but you're cheap. So everybody gets what they want." I want airlines to spend the extra money to serve me a meal that doesn't come in a small foil sack and consist mainly of nuts. Let them charge me for it. It's not like I don't already spend ten extra dollars at the airport McDonald's to try and make up for the lack of nourishment afforded by my flight. I prefer to choose which corners I cut. Is that wrong?

Actually, my favorite wines are really quite affordable. Usually under $10 a bottle. If only because I have a few bottles of very pricey stuff, and I never want to open them. So, instead of wasting an elegant varietal on an evening with a jerk I'd rather forget, I usually end up letting it sit until it becomes expensive vinegar. This is the same mechanism that explains why there is so much in my refrigerator that shouldn't still be. But soft! Is this a breakthrough? No. I don't suppose. False alarms are many when you're bored and looking for fun on the Internet. I think, when I began this, I was going to write something about displacement and life lived on hold.

Someone nearby is playing a flute. Badly.

Jan 11, 2003


See the opening titles of Catch Me If You Can. That is my mandate.

I work all the time. I have no idea what day of the week it is, most days. I felt a small surge of relief and joy tonight when I realized it was only Friday. Even though it makes no difference that it is Friday. It just makes the parking situation less negotiable.

It was easier to be confident and easy when I didn't know the difference. There's that curious phenomemon of trying too hard -- the effort that drives it all away from you. Deciding that you want something is the surest path to never getting it. Like eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Knowing what it is. Knowing what it's worth. Having the blinders removed. Bringing it all into focus. See the truth, and you will surely despise it. It's the reason all the classy joints keep the price tags hidden. To see a thing for what it truly is is to see it naked and ashamed and valueless. In many ways, living in the fog of an innocent illusion was more like the idea of life one has. The idea that things make sense and some of it will come out right in the end. If life was a Stephen Spielberg movie, you could be certain of the happy ending. You could count on the redemption story.

The ones who hear the subtext more clearly than the words are more precious, more insightful, more wise, more worthy.

I watched a wonderful Japanese film called Good Morning recently. A 1959 Technicolor piece. Reading the subtitles, it is remarkable that the Japanese communicate almost exclusively on what is implied. Nearly every statement ends with, "But..." or "And so you see..." And that includes the ellipses. Sentences trail off into the incomplete of the unsaid. It's how it's done. The world is a question. There is none of the surefooted buffoonery of other-world arrogance. Even if he believes that he knows more than you do, he will never let you know it. But we are the nation that wears those scouting sashes -- the ones covered in badges that declare our mastery of something or our completion of something else. We are the nation of the award. And of the awards ceremony. We are not subtle. We are not secret. We do not admire humility or crave anonymity. Not most of us.

I don't know what I admire or what I crave. I think I do what is expected of me. Even when I try to subvert that. I am as predictable as time. Even when I think I am full of surprises, they are only the surprises everyone knew were coming. I am true to the premonitions. My buttons are easy to push. And they are labeled in easy-to-read alphanumeric symbols.

I am attracted to the blues and the reds.

It's been cold. But not cold enough. And then hot. Too hot. And then windy. And then murky. And then utterly nothing. I haven't even had a chance to find a favorite sweater. Previous winters have had their favorite sweaters picked out long before now. But sometimes it seems as if everything within my reach has fallen out of favor with me. All gone sooty with -- why isn't "crapulence" a word? I said yesterday in an email: "Isn't there a Greek letter called 'crapsilon?' That's the letter I am thinking right now." I'm all for adding more words to the dictionary with "crap" in them. Crap is in abundance this season.

I'm rambling and not wanting to. I'm tempted to stomp my feet. But I have hardwood floors and intolerant neighbors. And I have been taught to put their needs before my own. Cash this promptly. It's void after 60 days.

Get back to where you once belonged.

Jan 8, 2003

I, observational.

I have started days -- many of them -- with a commitment to going through the motions. I have marked time with memories and taken note of the changes.

I realized yesterday, while watching a movie that I'd only just gotten around to watching, that I have come a long way. I took further note of it in the wee hours, before I gave in to sleep. Yesterday, it was okay to relax and have a day. With work submitted and obligations not yet on the calendar, I was free. And it was new to me. These past few days, brewing coffee and making lunch and running errands and doing dishes and the very most ordinary sort of activities have provided me with...ballast. It's a curious sensation to be holding dissatisfaction at arm's length. Even for a day.

I recall the duality of the start of the day. Being glad to be up and out. Being dismayed to be required to sit still. Being drawn to the window and what lay within its frame. Being anxious to be somewhere else. My days begin differently, now. And they never end.


I just banged my head on the corner of the freezer door. I'll bet I'm well on my way to brain damage. I have hit my head on more things than most people my age. I've hit my head on more things than some people who hit their heads on things for a living. Curiously enough, my father often makes an entrance with a bandage on his head. It's so common a thing that you're less likely to ask what he hit his head on and more likely to ask if the gash goes to the bone. Genetically, I think my father managed to serve me with the most questionable of the bequests. Couldn't I have gotten his blue eyes instead?

Oh, sure, it's a cute sort of clumsiness, but, if you were having emergency heart transplant surgery, you wouldn't want me carrying the sloshing bowl of fluid and organ from the cooler to the operating table. I'd trip and spill it for sure. And then fall on it and mash it accidentally with the heel of my hand, trying to break my own fall. And I would scramble to piece it back together and pick the hair and bits of carpet out of it, but to no avail. And you would try to raise your fist and curse my name before succumbing to death, but in your weakened state, your fury would be mistaken for sentiment. And I would be comforted.

This has been a true story.

Jan 7, 2003

Easy Breezy

It was still awfully windy tonight. But warm. I could feel the wind blowing, but I didn't need my jacket at all. I wish I hadn't bothered bringing it.

I went to see Dennis Quaid and his band The Sharks at Cinespace tonight. I think that's what it's called. Cinespace. Cinescape. Cinesnack. Cinecide. Something like that. It was a fun show. Dennis Quaid is remarkably not unlike his protrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis when he gets behind the microphone. He was out there full throttle from the moment he stepped on stage. I noted that he would definitely need a lozenge after the show. Possibly two.

And who would have guessed that so much of the Hollywood crowd that turned out to cheer him on would be dance-happy lesbians? I didn't mind them. Only they were in such dense numbers up near the stage that I could barely see Dennis through them. I actually recognized one blonde woman I remember seeing at the Sunset Room last spring. I have only seen her that one time, but she apparently made an impression on me. Because I recognized her rather mechanical dance style and her long blonde hair immediately. At the Sunset Room, she was heavy into this other blonde woman, who was dancing with a man, who soon realized he was an appendage. I'm surprised I remembered it at all. Doesn't my brain need that space?

I was tired from the moment I picked up my keys to leave, but I still filled the night right up. Fred's 62. Cinespace. Yamashiro's. Nova Express. I'd have gone to a movie, too, only it's late and my nocturnal behavior is screwy enough as it is. And it's a good thing. My upstairs neighbor is playing a guitar right now. I may have to puncture my ear drums if I'm ever to have any rest.

I'll turn in without regret and look forward to a day of getting ahead of it all. Already a week into this 2003. The race is on!

Jan 6, 2003

Why do birds suddenly appear?

My UPS guy just told me he has a crush on me. That was weird.

MGM Parade

The wind is howling. It sounds exactly like that part of The Wizard of Oz score when all the female voices simulate the sound of the tornado in the ouverture and as Dorothy gets a load of Munchkinland. It's a corny sort of onomatopoiea: the wind goes, "Woooooo." Stupid.

Also, I got Kermit the Frog-tographer from Macy's just before Christmas, and I love him. He's very well-made and nifty. I've left him in the big plastic bag he came in, because I don't want him to get soiled. But it looks sort of morbid. With his mouth wide open the way Muppets do. As if he got put in that bag and then suffocated there. The death mask of a frog. I should take him out. And drop him in quicksand. No, really. I should take him out. And suspend him in a fishtank.

Cruel humor comes easily at this hour, it seems.

Turner Classic Movies is playing what they're calling the MGM Parade (see above), and they're on this short about how to carve a turkey. I find it impossibly amusing. This poor guy is botching the job of carving a turkey. "Grrr. Is he inside a big dilemma!" the narrator cries and makes some remark about how the guy's wife's family isn't being so very supportive. Then begins the carving lesson. And when the white meat begins to give way, the narrator utters such gems as, "Mm, mm. Life doesn't seem so bad after all," and "Yow-wee. Are my gastric juices effervescing!" and "I'm sorry, dear patrons, but THIS is my piece." Does it get any better than this? I submit that it does not.

"All shall love me, and despair."

I've been immersed in The Fellowship of the Ring nearly all day. I watched a patch of it on a pay channel. Then, I put the special extended DVD in and sat down in front of it, fully planning to avoid my work and have a sandwich and make a few hours fall away. But I got distracted, and then it was onto the second disc, and I hadn't even really watched it. So I put the second disc in, but I soon ended it. The shorter version was playing on television again, so I let it play. And I worked. And the wind blew. So tempestuous a wind that my kitchen windows kept rattling open. And the fire's flames are drawn up the chimney magnificently. Drawn up up up by the thirsty wind. When the film was over, some crap film came on, and I couldn't bear it, so I put the special edition in. Again. From the beginning. And I worked. And it played. And eventually, I satisfied myself that I could sit in front of the fire and watch without guilt or shame. So I did. I'm still watching it. One side of me is nearly scorched from the flames. The other side is slightly less warm. And still the wind blows. Whistling through the window glass. Hurling things about in the street. Rattling anything it can. I appreciate the safety of inside.

Big continuity error in Boromir's night of a million arrows scene, by the way. Watch out for me, Hollywood. I always notice. The most common one: Plates of food that rotate their contents every time the camera cuts away. Smartypants? I am the smartest pants in town.

Jan 5, 2003

Dragging of the Feet

I'm so tired all the time. I haven't felt well-rested in months. Sleep has just become something else to do. I went out to pick up my photographs today. It was beautiful out. I stopped by Walgreen's to buy some uninteresting supplies. A woman at the door held a small crochet purse out at me and mumbled something. I kept walking. When I left, she was in the parking lot, making the same unintelligible pitch. I made a stop at the newsstand and bought music magazines and things that looked worth reading. When I returned to my car, she was right there again. I kept ignoring her. I thought, She looks like she's doing all right. She's got a sweater and a handbag and an armload of purchases from the 99 Cents Only store. I think she's asking for five dollars, which is a bit grand for panhandling. And if she's trying to sell that coin purse for that amount, she's cracked.

Each time I ignored her, she said something that sounded like, "God bless you." But I had a feeling she was being sarcastic.

It's warm out, but my apartment is chilly. I put a fire on and allowed TNN to fill my living room with the dulcet tones of the Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon they're running. It's the episode where Ryker gets the power of the Q. What's funny is that Ryker grants Wesley Crusher his greatest desire, which is to be ten years older -- a man. And then -- poof! He's this big, strong Sears model-type guy. But it's been ten years since this episode, and Wil Wheaton still looks like the same dork he was back then. Ha ha. And then the hot Klingon chick appears for Worf. Blah blah blah. They all realize they would rather not have what they most want. How noble and wise and advanced they are. Gah! This is such a Twilight Zone-inspired crock.

I was never much of a fan of Ryker-centric episodes. And it's a Deep Space Nine marathon I'm pining for. But my first season DVD set is pre-ordered, so I can feign patience for now. Plus, I have work to do and no excuses. Save for distraction.

For instance, I always frowned on the use of "Plus," as a sentence opener. I think it was most displeasing to me in the days when I wrote catalog copy. I don't know why. It's no less functional than any synonym of it. But for some reason, it seemed lazy to me. I'm a snob like that. I'm glad I am also able to outgrow things.

If only my stream of consciousness would accidentally dump me on the threshold of my current project. Instead, I feel myself being drawn toward that massive stack of still-cellophaned DVDs in my living room. Oh, they want watching, don't they? And maybe I should make some soup. And I really ought to clean my floors. And it's never too soon to get started on your taxes. And I can't remember if I like the way I looked in that one pair of pants. Why don't I go retry them?

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I went to see The Two Towers a second time a few days ago. I wanted to take my dad. When Gollum came on screen, my dad leaned over to me and said, "I assume that's a computer animation." I was going to say, "No, it's Steve Buscemi," but he wouldn't have known who I meant. Edwards Cinemas carry Reese's Pieces. It's like a better world in there in some ways.

I went to drop off film and buy my firewood and fake firelogs and other crap. I was wearing tennis shoes and black velour pants and a red wool Boy Scouts jacket of some kind. I was ready for action, that's for certain. But Ralph's was short on it. I did see a few actor types in the aisles. That's something I haven't yet gauged my reaction to. I see famous people. I know what they've been in. I'm not starstruck, necessarily. I just think it's weird to see someone you sort of know while you are certain they don't know you. Like having lived some portion of your life in a room with one-way glass.

This is the third year in a row I didn't send out holiday cards. I feel a failure. Next year, I'm knitting sweaters for everyone!

Jan 4, 2003

Get down.

It's getting on that dusky hour when I would have had ideas and images dancing in my head if I were near a west-facing window. In the immediate, my urgency is wrought of the need for fireplace fodder and something to look forward to. I thought about meals I haven't made in so, so long. I wondered if it would be worth all the effort to cook something spectacular for just me. No. In the end, I suppose it isn't. I never feel very much like eating what I've made. To serve. That is my wish.

Thoughts spark in the electromagnetic soup. They pop into your brain of a sudden. They assault you. Or tickle you. They invade. Is it such a wonder that it might occur in tandem? That two thoughts -- in many ways the same -- might burst from the ether simultaneously but in two different places? This is just a wordy way of asking, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Are you ever? Does it ever make sense to believe in likemindedness? Can it be sustained? Should it?

I'm very questiony today. Recently. I'm taking inventory.

Sometimes, I think I like myself better when I'm smiling.

The Time-Trampled Face

I was sorting through an assortment of digital pictures on my computer just now (and, yes, the number of files on my computer ending in .jpg would leave you agog) and I ended up looking at a series of pictures taken a year ago today. I wondered if I've really begun to look so very different. Or if I've just been tired lately. Perspective is curious. I remember looking at the pictures when they were taken and thinking how different I looked even then. Something about the eyes. I was ghastly sick that week. But none of that factors in.

Maybe I'm just missing out on opportunities to see what my eyes look like when the sunlight is streaming into them. Pouring in through my corneas and finding its way to my brain chamber.

Isn't it funny how sudden sunlight makes you sneeze?

Deep Pacific

I didn't mean to stay away from home as long as I did. There was always something left to do. Or some favor that cropped up. I found myself relaxing guiltily. And yearning to be back. For belonging. Or something else. I was glad to nestle into the embrace of the holiday week. But gladder still to break free of it.

I sang these words tonight (I made them up): "I feel as if I am made of the substance that god is made of!"

I don't think it was an accurate statement. But it was good for a laugh.

Jan 3, 2003

"In the pale light of the morning, nothing's worth remembering."

I get all worked up over things. A song lyric plays in the car, and I want to pull the car over so that I can scribble it down and have a thought about it. I instruct myself to remember things just so I can keep from having to pull over all the time, and then when I get to my destination, the things I was supposed to remember have vaporized. I know they were there, but I have no ability to resurrect them. Often, there aren't even shadows or trails to follow. I just have to shrug and keep going.

With movies, it's all the more maddening, because I have to wait until they're over to write it all down, if I'm at the cinema. If I'm at home, I can run for paper and pen. Or call upon TiVo.

But then, hours later, days later, years later -- I find the scribbled words and I wonder why I wrote them down. Or I remember their one-time significance and scoff at it. Maybe I'm always thinking I've outgrown an idea. As sentimental as I am, I catch myself recalling the way I used to feel about something and stifling the same sort of instinct that causes an elementary school bully to ridicule you for having a mother who loves you enough to make cupcakes for your class or put your photograph on a tee shirt.

What a fool I was. What an addlepated fool. What a mutton-headed dolt was I.

Jan 2, 2003

"Eternal life thanks to science!"

Adam referred me to the Raelians. He knows how I'm always searching for answers. I am particularly curious about a religion/philosophy that displays such pervasive and skillful use of feather GIFs.

Jan 1, 2003

Bottoms Up

Happy new year, gents and jerks. I failed to fulfill all of my obligations tonight, and for that, I feel like an heel. But I laughed a lot. And I've got that little sore throat that says I stayed out too late and didn't wear enough jacket. Last year, that turned into a month of death-defying illness. This year, I hope it will turn into a few days of soup and tea and a fresh start.

Cheers for kisses, however far from midnight they may fall.