Secret Pop

Apr 30, 2003


I have all the tools I need to be doing more than I am. But I still find myself drinking dusty water and eating too late and watching old movies when they come on. There is no need for killing time. It dies handily on its own.

Apr 29, 2003

The Loneliness of Cyborgs

There are frustrations inherent in the creation of a perfect thing. Once made imperfect, it can never be restored. It requires cautious steps and surefootery. And the ability to squint a little and call an imperfect thing perfect in the interest of saving time.

Drawn to the colors. Drawn to the blacks. Drawn to the textures of things that imply otherworldness. To the very idea of something unreal. And not in a unicorn-y sort of way.

Unable to create or recreate or reduce or relax. The seeing thing. The watching eye. It smells like breakfast in here.

You better run for your life if you can, little girl.

The Loneliness of the Late-Nite Donut Shop

How does one reach out to the absence of a thing. In the dark. In puddles whose wetness only barely masks the gritty pavement. The wet, glinting black of dewy streets in the late hours. The tiny things that the tires of cars kick up as they careen past. Everyone is in a rush to get somewhere. Or to appear to believe there is somewhere worth getting to.

The Loneliness of High-Powered Women

It's discernment that wants for admiration, isn't it? Seeing it. Understanding it. Taking it apart in your head. Getting the very essence of the thing. And not gloating upon the getting of it. Some girls cross their legs slowly and deliberately. To let you know they know you're watching. Some girls move as if submerged in water. Every gesture, drawn and precise, ethereal and balletic. Some girls make it look easy.

The Loneliness of Long-Distance Runners

Your body gives you warnings when you've gone too far.

The Loneliness of God

I take no ownership of these things. They cannot belong to me. They cannot come from me. I'm striving and straining. Getting up early like someone who works in a bakery. Writing it all down as a means of excision. Spirit and froth flowing from my fingertips -- from the tip of my pen -- like inky blood that bears out the poisons with it onto the page.

Then I devour the pages, and it all gets back in.

The Loneliness of Madmen

The ones who hate you teach you to want things.

In the cold quiet of pretend outer space, listen for the blood coursing through the many little vessels in and around your ears. It grows louder once you notice it. The ceaseless throbbing. The signature of life and need and ratty imperfection. Something inside you yearns to burst forth. The weight of an empty universe presses down on the outside of you. Keeping it all in. Blood and guts and hopes and dreams. You have become a sack that prevents the spillage of these things.

Why is the shape of it so bloody important?

"If this is empty, this doesn't matter."

Stark summing up is something. I never know whether to buy in or to forsake. Maybe I believe I am more complex than a sentence can tell. I could barely manage it with my own pen. Even with the assistance of semi-colons. Who I am. What I am. What I want. What I mean. What I'm worth. What my echo sounds like. What my silence sounds like. What my absence smells like. Where it goes.

When I believe things are simple, I can find peace in a fortune cookie. When I allow for subtext, I curse the name of whoever invented language. All these words. They only allow me to find myself further from the answer. Further from the door.

The direction the door swings tells you whether you are going in or going out.

Sad Songs and Waltzes

Am I gritting my teeth even now? The promise of the barren aftermath of stormy emotion makes it difficult to relax into whatever awaits. Whether it's sadness or relief or some other sort of funk. Maybe that's why I stretch out even the saddest of sessions. Reluctant to let the silence settle in. Apprehensive in the face of all-too-familiar mornings after when the memory of tears is vacant and lost. Maybe that's why I sometimes seek out the suffering. Yearning to feel. Obstinate in my refusal to let it all pass away into numb history. Even happy memories can trigger that bittersweet sort of nostalgia that feels more like pain than pleasure. Maybe that's why I prefer to remember.

So, baby, kiss me like a drug like a respirator
And let me fall into the dream of the astronaut
Where I get lost in space that goes on forever
And you make all the rest just an afterthought
And I believe it's you who could make it better
But it's not

Apr 28, 2003


I made some things this weekend. Is it fair that you assume one of them may have been a mountain of a molehill? It would be nice if more of the things I made had a tangible, archivable quality to them. There is something ungraspable about making these other esoteric, conceptual things. Mistakes, for instance.

Elusive Neutrality

Sometimes my placid, unsmiling expression takes on the character of a sneer.

Apr 27, 2003

Amuse Yourself

I've realized something. I'm fine with standing in line and just standing there and saying nothing. You know how when you're in a long line -- say in the ladies' room or the bank or the crowded entrance of your local Costco? How certain people just can't seem to stand there and be quiet? They have to strike up a conversation with anyone -- nay, everyone -- nearby. They are discomforted by the simple fact of silence. They have to take note of how hot it is in here. Or how nice the new paint job is. They have to tell you they like your hair or mention that they have a pair of shoes JUST like the ones you're wearing.

I'm not like that. I can just stand there. For hours if necessary. I have no desire to meet anyone in line. I don't feel awkward when I avert my eyes as a new person steps up. I don't mind fixing my gaze on some innocuous subject in the mirror or on a wall somewhere. I have been known to smile politely -- perhaps even to add a polite affirmation or nod of agreement -- and then turn away. I am not a loner. But I find no solace in the buzzing chatter of queue banter. I do not consider "It's really hot in here" to be a promising preamble to worthy repartee.

I am not wholly opposed to the prospect of meeting someone interesting while waiting in line. But it has a sort of non-elective quality to it. You're not talking to me because I seem interesting. You're just talking to me because I'm here and I can hear you. You might even be thinking, "Hey, we're going to be stuck here for a while. Might as well make the best of it, right?" But that's not what I'm thinking. I'm thinking that this empty space of passive imprisonment is an opportunity for me to have a few thoughts of my own without the easy excuse of the distractions that consume my time when I'm given the freedom to indulge them. That I might catch up on the continuing debate I periodically resume in my head between me and assorted other people with whom I do not concur. That I might come up with a spot of poetry or think about what I want for lunch. I wonder if this makes me a sociopath.

But how can it, after all? Aren't I doing you a favor? I'm not ignoring you because I dislike you or think I'm better than you. I'm sparing you the awkward necessity of filling a silence which might otherwise be perceived to be the soundtrack of a rude moment. I'm on your side. You don't really want to talk to me. If you did, you'd probably already know my name.

"The only thing I ever got from you"

What a task it is to keep hidden the secret of what really goes on inside one's head. The naked eye sees many things in the surgical light of day. But some discoveries are for the lab-drippings-covered pages of the surgeon's notebook. Some revelations manage to say their peace in one attempt, requiring no further restatement or reiteration. Documentation works like expulsion for some substances. Whereas discussion gets its teeth in you. Intravenous tubing and fine-gauge puncturing implements. You won't feel a thing. But it gets in. And you will never be the same.

I have a habit of turning metaphor into sloppy, tangential nonsense. No one knows what I'm talking about. Which proves it's safe to say it.

They were playing Tenacious D the last time I was at Liquid Kitty. I noted it to myself but never made it a topic of conversation.

Why do I even have a television? Honestly.

With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue...

I don't always wear ponytails.

Apr 25, 2003

Quality of Life

Maybe part of the reason life seems less worth living these days is that I have been awakened -- and kept awake for all the daylight hours -- by the sound of hammering and belt-sanding and circular-sawing ten feet from my bedroom window for more than two months now. It's bad enough that my upstairs neighbor practices his bass for hours and hours on end. But now this. I hate to be a pest, but I think I'm miserable about it.

The other thing that is disturbing about this is the fact that I seem to be unable to conjure up any creativity beyond the simple act of complaining. That brings me down.

Apr 23, 2003

Better beware. Be canny and careful.

You're standing in a mine field.
You can avoid being blown to bits by standing stock still.
You can reduce your risk of the same by proceeding with extreme caution.
But you can't get out of the mine field without moving.

What do you do?

Apr 18, 2003

Lullaby for Liquid Pig

I went to Lisa Germano's CD release show tonight. And then home for the watching of movies and whatever was on. I feel the cold and the late in my throat. I like to pretend I am impervious to the elements. But I am noticeably more frail and subject to the periodic failure of constitution. I'm walking with a little bit of a limp. And I'm speaking with a little bit of a rasp. And I noticed that I no longer enjoy eating ice cream at home. Out is where to be when the good sweet dairy goes down.

Apr 17, 2003

This far and no further!

This is not the first time this exclamation has appeared on my web site. Nor in my weblog, if I'm remembering correctly. But this is the first time my ire has been directed at The Onion, a one-time source of amusing diversion for me. But today, after going to the site, only to be first directed to a splash page for a dating service, I have decided it is over.

An open Dear John letter to The Onion:

Dear Onion,
     I break with thee.
     I have tolerated your pop-up ads, your seemingly incessant rearrangements of recurring features in your homepage layout , your periodic dips in the kneeslappingness of your comedy jokes. But a girl's got to have standards. I will not stand by while you "reinvent" yourself so frequently that I can't find anything on the site. I will not allow you to resize my browser windows or advertise the Hello Kitty Vibrator to me or bombard me with moviegoing suggestions. Don't you realize that I left your site, when I clicked on the Flash ad for Absolut Vanilla, and I NEVER WENT BACK?????
     I don't expect you to change. I don't even expect you to understand. You have been consumed by bunk advertising theory and an obsession with "driving pageviews." You have become a page of advertisements that is irritatingly interrupted by infrequent text-based humor and the occasional original graphic. You're not the fake hard-hitting news source you once were. And I am forced to seek out my funny elsewhere. I don't mind telling you, I've already begun seeing McSweeney's, and things are going very well for us.
     Don't be bitter. You'll find someone else. Lord knows I haven't been keeping your advertisers in the black. Except maybe the people who sell the Hello Kitty Vibrator. But they don't know I was referred by you. Whenever I shop there, I pretend that you and I never met. It's just easier that way.
     No, this is not an April Fool's Day joke. Can't you see it's the middle of April already? Just let me go. I will remember you fondly as a once-favorite venue for workday shirking, brazenly forwarding your best pieces to my boss, who never understood your humor to begin with. I even had a favorite article. U.S. Populace Lurches Methodically Through The Motions For Yet Another Day, followed so closely it was nearly neck-and-neck by Walken In L.A. Oh, you were golden once, dear Onion. And I prefer to remember you that way.


Mary Forrest

The Argument

I keep waking up every couple of hours and trying to convince myself to not be awake. Even when I put on my sternest demeanor, I don't seem to want to listen to me. It's been many mornings in a row that I've seen that first dawn-colored basting of the darker sky with a look of "it figures" on my face. It's hard to appreciate nature when it keeps wreaking havoc with my plans for rest. It only gets brighter, the more I type. Someone should tell those birds to cram it.

Apr 16, 2003

The only people who ask are the ones you can't tell.

Why is today different from other days?

Shh. I saw X-MEN 2 tonight. No one must know.

How is it that Wolverine wears that furrowed brow and it gets me all ajangle, but I notice that I've been wearing a similarly scrunched look, and it does nothing whatever for my sex appeal. Maybe it's just the difference between the angst of the angry and the angst of the angst-ridden.

I am keen to see the movie in a big, overchilled theater with hundreds of other tragic comic book-loving filmgoers. The camaraderie. The soaring spirits. The shame. It's a lot like being with my family. They're my family, and I love them. But they're my FAMILY. They inspired me to procure the domain, which I own. I am also the proud owner of,, and Watch for future developments on one or more of those titles. But don't start pressuring me about it. I can't handle it right now.

These days, I can only keep up the smiling face for so long. Sadness drags at the corners of my smile like hooks with lead shot on the ends. There was something false about the smile to begin with. It was always more of a simper. Not everyone sees through it. And, while it's true that you can't fool all of the people all of the time*, it's also true that most of the ones who can't be fooled have better things to do than to pay attention to you. Or me, as it happens.

I'm tired of looking so tired.

* P.T. Barnum said this, didn't he? Well, he can suck it. What a self-important, postulating windbag.

"In the middle of the night, I call your name."

When "Oh Yoko" came on, we all sang along.

How to Draw a Bunny

I can never quite tear myself from something that moves me. I can never have it all to myself. That old adage about a tree falling in the forest? Well, if a tree falls nearby and I am the only one to hear it, it might as well not have bothered falling in the first place. I, alone, don't count. At least not for me.

Tonight at LACMA, I saw How to Draw a Bunny, the documentary about Ray Johnson, whose work and quirkiness I have long admired but whose legacy I now worship and envy. And I can't help but feel this fantastic sense of regret and frustration that I wasn't able to take everyone I know to see the film with me. Which proves to me that I am nothing like Ray Johnson, who did everything for the sake of an impetus as mysterious and enigmatic as he was. I grind my teeth at how pitifully obvious I am. I clearly need to feel my experiences resounding off the fleshy walls of other people in order to have them to their fullest. Everything is intensified for me by the simple act of sharing. Never moreso than when I am given that semi-secret gift of knowledge and access that emerges when many interesting people sit for a while and talk about one person they all found interesting. It was funny and inspiring and sad and whimsical. It made me want to make something. It made me want to be something. If it had asked me for money, it would have gotten it.

Maybe it's just that I want the people I know and like to have some intersection with my reference base. I want them to know what I know. Or at least know what I mean. And the more I have to convey it to them in anecdotal form, the more I fear that they think of me as "chatty."

Before the screening, the person in charge of the thing informed us that the film had originally only been planned to show in L.A. once at the Getty (which has already occurred) and once at LACMA (which has now also already occurred). But apparently, its favorable reception has caused it to be picked up for distribution, which leads me to believe that others can see it, too, and soon. These others I speak of should.

Apr 15, 2003

Never judge a book by its endpapers.

I've been pitched into a season of waiting. And missing out on little chances for things. Maybe it's all just the course of nature. A way of reminding you who your friends are and who they aren't. What you can and can't expect them to be. And how nice -- how awfully, awfully nice it is to be to able say what you mean without always, always worrying about what lurks between the lines.

When I watched Creepshow many years ago while babysitting, it was the last vignette with the thing in the box in the basement that scared the Christmas out of me. And when I went away to some weird nature day camp in the fourth grade, I was unable to play the guessing box game, because you had to stick your hand blindly into a big box and guess what was inside it. A dried out old tortoise shell. Shark teeth. Molted snakeskin. A monster. I couldn't bring myself to do it. There is nothing more frightening to me than the possibility that what I fear the most is exactly what I am about to discover.

I prefer to know the truth of things and face them head on. But even that isn't really true.

Here's pepper in your eye.

It's a good thing I have so many things pressing on me. Or I might not do anything at all. Particularly when I am cast into this shade of funk. When everything you hold up to the mirror flashes back its bleak reflection. And physical frailties allow that dangerous excuse for self-pity.

When I was a teenage girl, there was one night when everyone in my family was away. I had the house to myself for the first time...ever, I think. And I felt this great temptation to scream at the top of my lungs for as long as I could sustain the sound. But instead, I sat in the silence, measuring my failure.

I live alone now. And I can scream anytime I want to. But I never do.

Hot Drinks

I wonder if it would be any fun to bathe in hot chocolate. I never seem to be able to make a big enough cup of it.

Apr 14, 2003

A coin-sized glimpse of sky

I feel as if I am trapped in a well. Far down in the belly of it, where it is cold and wet in only the wrong places. The certainty that no one is walking nearby keeps me from crying out. But I have no way of knowing. My silence approximates resignation. I am complicit in my own despair. And there is something ill-favored about this particular connotation of "surrender."

Apr 13, 2003

Super Foxy

We celebrated my younger sister's birthday last night at Lips, the drag queen extravaganza on 5th. Everyone seemed to have a great time. I was relieved. I picked up the cake I ordered from Extraordinary Desserts (the Bête Noire) and hurried over to the restaurant. I recognized all the stress tags showing themselves. I take a lot of responsibility for other people's enjoyment. My genetic predisposition towards being everyone's homeroom mother. I wish I could rid myself of that. But I also managed to catch my reflection a few times throughout the night and realized that I was enjoying myself, too. I met up with friends after the festivities and looked for reasons to laugh. There were plenty.

Apr 11, 2003

Song for You Far Away

There is something about saying that you miss someone. To miss something. That something is MISSING. To feel the void that is left. The absence that replaces the presence. The nothing that was once more than that. The nothing that stands for what you have lost. When things go missing from me, it requires adjustment. I stand differently. I must correct to keep my balance. Because I require these things. And without them, I am less than whole. I am bereft. Robbed. And the taking away is like a slap to the face of a confused child. A punishment. Inexplicable.

No one fills the space where you once were. The outline of you is still there. Keeping the amorphous goo of time and healing from seeping in and filling the crevices and turning the absence into substance. Your seat is saved.

You are precious to me.

Transliteration of a Sigh

I have little more to offer today than the simple assessment of how low I feel. The week has been a sort of downward spiral aimed at a sucking chest wound. I kept waiting for inspiration and impetus, but neither of them left their beds. And I don't know them well enough to barge in uninvited.

Blast the permanence of ideas.

Apr 8, 2003

I can only draw round things.

This is somewhat true of me. At various times of my life and for various reasons, I have cribbed from comic strip lords in poster, comic, and note form. But I have only ever really attempted to draw round characters. The Peanuts. Ziggy. That sort of lot. I'm not having you on when I say that I am only able to draw round things. It's nearly accurate, if a slight exaggeration. I might be able to manage the occasional triangle, as well.

It's all very discouraging to me. Studio art I never studied. A blank primed canvas was never touched by me. But I do so yearn to have that gift. To paint or to draw or to scribble with adeptness. I have bought many of the implements. And I immerse myself in the brilliance of the masters whenever I can. No one in my income bracket supports more museums than I do. And no one buys more weighty monographs filled with thick, glossy color plates. All part of my ingenious strategy to somehow become talented without ever actually trying. Books will be written about me. I'm sure of it.

I used to draw. Quite often actually. In a little journal with small loose leaves of lined paper and six metal rings. I'm almost afraid to go back and look to see whether I was ever any good. The truth might actually gouge my eyes out. And I need them right now.

I ran today. And it was bloody hot out there. I ran until my lungs ached. It made me proud to suffer. I think there is something wrong with me.

Sweet Relief

It was just some books. One was a Star Trek novel.

The rain rain rain came down down down.

I went to the post office today to pick up a package. I walked there. It was sunny and lovely out. I waited in a long line and felt grateful for the fact that I was not on my lunch break and anxious and looking at my watch constantly. I was perfectly content to wait. That's something I love: having the time to be patient.

There was a couple in line behind me who were renewing their passports. I heard them talking about their date of departure, and I let my imagine fill in the blanks about where they would be going. I was envious of them. The woman had fair skin and dark curly hair and a pretty smile. She was polite to the man at the window. He was not very nice to her. I disliked him on her behalf. But that's not how you make friends. On line at the post office. Commiserating over the way customer service has declined over the years. I didn't even make eye contact with them. I bought my toy car stamps and left with my package. It was a big box. I had to carry it for a few blocks. This is precisely why I usually opt to drive to the post office. Carrying a big box home for a few blocks is somewhat lacking in dignity. People wonder why you have to walk. Are you in trouble with the law? Is your car broken down? Are you still drunk at this hour of the day? I got home to find I have another package to pick up. I will probably walk there again, only to discover that someone mailed me a build-your-own-house kit, building materials included. I hope the post office has a community handtruck they loan out on the honor system for situations such as these. I don't want to have to resort to pushing my package home in a Sav-On shopping cart.

It isn't raining. But I would be happy if it was.

Apr 6, 2003

Don't let it bring you down; it's only Daylight Savings.

My body's clock is a rebel. And I will never understand this need to poke at the fabric of nature twice a year. There are people in Arizona who never have to reset their clocks. Imagine how much longer a life the buttons on their microwaves have.

Time change. Time for a change. A change this time. There are numerous ways to win at Scrabble.

Apr 4, 2003

Cradle and All

Nights of fitful, restless sleep get me down. Waking every hour to take stock of the time and do a quick bit of math to determine how much sleep I've managed to get. It dampens my desire to get on with things.

Apr 1, 2003

Impotent Rage

Anger is like a disembodied spirit. If it can't find an entity on which to rest, it just roams the earth, haunting innocent bystanders from time to time, provoking laughter from schoolchildren, effecting nothing.

I bought tickets to a Mark Knopfler concert and received an email from Ticketmaster that the concert had been canceled and that a refund had been processed, minus any Ticketmaster charges. So I just paid twenty-four dollars and ten cents for the convenience of buying my now-useless tickets from them. That smarts.

I was also jacked by another online retailer earlier this morning. It sure does bite it when you realize how useless your well-verbalized consumer ire is. I'm still waiting for a number of companies to go out of business as a result of my heartfelt displeasure in the way they handled me. And it's discouraging to know that at least one of them is in the top five of the Fortune 500.

Fiona Apple sings at the precise frequency to make a human heart burst.

Tonight, I experienced a great deal that I didn't expect. I moved through phases I hadn't planned for. I got a lot off my chest.

And I was entertained beyond the expression of mere words by Paul F. Tompkins. I cannot extoll him with enough enthusiasm and ferocity. He is a super duper genius. And he made me blush when I coughed too much.

Sometimes serendipity comes in the form of a butter pat when your bread is dry.