Secret Pop

Jan 30, 2004

K-118: The Widowmaker

This past week I watched the documentary Shelter Dogs on HBO, and it was terribly upsetting. I expected to tear up a bit, but when they put this one little guy to sleep, I started crying in full. So so sad. In the background, my mother asked me and Beulah why we watch things that upset us so much. Sarah answered in our stead: "They like to torture themselves." I don't think that's true. But maybe it is.

Sarah, my dad, and I watched the Gatti-Branco fight that Sarah had taped. There were some impossibly amusing moments. Like when my father was demonstrating to us what a rabbit punch is like by punching himself in the back of the neck hard and then groaning. And then telling us to try it on our own necks. Which we did. Later, he suggested we show each other what it feels like when another fighter leans on you. I don't know why he was in such a tutorial mood, but it was funny and strange and I vowed that these scenes will appear in my movie. The one I'm always planning to make but not really.

I'm finally out of my storage place once and for all. My dad is a whiz with a rope. I sometimes forget he used to be a sailor. Nautical Sam with his pipe and his helm. I like that picture. I get seasick, but I'd sail to the ends of the earth with my daddy. Anyway, his knot-tying skills came in handy as we made our three ambitious trips to and from the storage unit with his truck. What a dusty, dirty, spider carcass-infested, doom-and-gloom imparting place that little room was. And how I managed to buy so many sewing patterns, I'll never know. But the desire to have much of that once-prized booty is gone from me. I just want to sell it or burn it or mysteriously lose it in a tornado or a game of cards. My muscles ache from the chore of moving all of it. I would prefer to be less burdened. Temporarily, my boxes will be kept in my parents' orchid house. And that's something. That my parents' new home has an orchid house. We're moving on up.

My life is like a warehouse for Pandora's boxes. And I'm always having to open them. You know. For quality purposes.

I pulled a 40-hour day this week, laboring all the while at things that made me feel small and powerless, fragile and shrapnel-pocked, as I watched the hours pass and realized that I would not be able to race ahead towards sleep before the next lap. Pushing yourself to the point of breaking has its merits, if only scientifically. It's such a misery, it almost makes you prideful.

I found a great many things that had been lost to me for a long time. Finding them was a curse. A reminder of other losses. A way of causing the value of them to appreciate. Markers of milestones in a foolish girl's journey. However far I have come, I don't seem to have managed to get anywhere.

My dad and I drank egg nog and he told me stories and it felt good to be his little girl again.

There, now. You're all caught up.

Jan 29, 2004

Of Valor

I faced some monsters. I don't suppose that makes me a hero. But sometimes the hero gets his mantle by just showing up on reckoning day and then being able to walk away from the fracas. In that case, I am a hero several times over. In recent days, I faced longstanding fears and harrowing responsibilities -- grown aged and stiff from the perpetual shirking -- and the voracious, dark maw of what might happen. And I lived to tell the tale. In the cold of winter, surviving is a prize.

Jan 26, 2004

Truth in Advertising

I saw a commercial for Barber Shop 2 a few minutes ago. Last year, Beulah made the observation that Cedric the Entertainer's name promises a bit much. Unless of course you're entertained by hats. Because he wears one. (Note: The hat part was mine.).

Anyway, I don't plan to see the movie.

Coincidence? Hardly.

So Ricky Gervais and The Office made quite a splash at the Golden Globes tonight. I'm so pleased. I don't take any great interest in these award programs. It's more of a secret rooting thing I do. I hadn't even planned to watch them, but you live in this town and the award shows find you. That and a few glasses of wine and you barely notice your life draining away.

Random comments: Lisa Ling is an embarrassment. Nicole Kidman looked insane, as usual. Peter Jackson reminds me of Paddy from The Blue Lagoon. Better keep him away from the sea when he's drinking. Bill Murray is a class act and perhaps my favorite person in Hollywood. Jim Breuer is fat. He was not on the Golden Globes. I've just got Half Baked on the t.v. right now and I'm noticing his dumpy midsection.

Sweet dreams, Hollywood hopefuls. You've got another year to make someone like me care enough to criticize you.

Now, The English Patient has begun, and I can head for sleep with its beautiful score playing in my head, carrying me back to my big oval bathtub in San Diego, where I used to light candles that smelled of cantaloupe and wait for my favorite tracks to play. It was a big lonely house. I cloistered myself in my big bedroom, mostly. And I wrote poems with the room nearly dark and only a small lamp going. And if I slept in too late, the birds would wake me, and I would curse them.

Is it ever of any value to remember the places to which you can never return?

I have nothing at all that is unkind to say about Juliette Binoche.

These are from today and thereabouts.

Jan 25, 2004

The Cringes

In my writing workshop today, my teacher brought in a recording of an interview done with Ricky Gervais (the guy behind The Office) on NPR. Find a link to listen to it here. I love BBC programming and despise the inevitability of the successful properties being coopted into an American setting. That's the part that causes cringing in me.

Jan 22, 2004

Dreams Can Come True

Beulah and I were listening to the music being piped in to Hurry Curry recently, and a Creed song began to play. We hate Scott Stapp. Hate him. Really. So, sarcastically, she said something about being glad that they were at least playing her favorite mix of music. Only moments later, Cher's "Song for the Lonely" began to play, and we looked at each other knowingly and laughed at how perfect the weaving of this tapestry of disappointment was. I said, "What would be a real answer to my prayers is if this turned out to be Creed COVERING Cher's 'Song for the Lonely.'" And we laughed. But only for a moment. After which I realized that if Scott Stapp were to sing a Cher song, it wouldn't sound very different at all. Isn't that something to file under scary-but-true?

Pearl of Great Price

My mother called me this morning to wish me a happy Chinese New Year. I missed the call but called her back in the late morning. She said she has a red bag for me. I was disappointed at how much I was happy to hear that. For those not in the know, "red bag" equals "cash." Chinese tradition. When money is scarce, my eyes grow wide and I am worried about what I will do next. I don't like it when I am greedy.

We talked for a little bit. She sounded full of life and bustle and huff, as usual. I have been so grey and low and flat recently that the contrast almost made me uncomfortable. Maybe I was afraid she would notice or say something about it.

She put my father on the phone. He is sounding (and apparently feeling) much better. I think he probably still needs some fattening up. It's a shame we aren't all having some embarrassingly grand Chinese banquet together. It being the year of the monkey, I asked my dad if they would be having monkey for dinner, and he laughed and said he hoped not. But the funny part about that is that it's not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that they would. That's what's unique about being Chinese. The absurd things people joke about eating are all somewhere on our menus. Maybe hidden in the back and maybe not written in English. But they're there. In stock and ready to be prepared for you in a delicious sauce.

They're in the middle of moving, my parents, and I can only imagine what a task that is. The only household I would want to move less than my own is theirs. My mom has had a good two decades more than I have to accumulate all of her material tonnage. I'm apparently just getting started. And in my current poverty, I have been shedding as much of what I've got as possible and acquiring nearly nothing new. I might just be on the brink of a major change. Whether or not an unrecognizable, ascetic version of Mary will emerge one day, I can't promise. But I'm going to have less boxes marked "Clothes I Never Wear" the next time I submit my change of address forms. That's certain.

So, they're moving, and I guess I happened to call while they were in the middle of sorting through closetloads of mysterious inventory. My father said into the phone at one point, "Oh, now she's putting on a wig. Why? I guess because it's there." In the background, I heard my mom say, "What? My hair is short now. I can wear it." That's my mom for you. Finds a wig and puts it on. What else are you supposed to do with it? That's also how I think of the moving process for myself. The last few moves have not really been joyous and exciting, so I haven't really found myself sifting through boxes and enjoying delightful trips down memory lane, donning silly hats (and wigs) while my loved ones look on affectionately. But I do remember when moving was like that. More of an "oh, look what I found" experience than an "oh, I had hoped to never see this again -- put this in the box marked 'painful nostalgia provokers'" sort of thing. We moved a lot when I was a child. And it was always an adventure. When the packers came and the house smelled of tape and cardboard and sweat and cigarettes. My sister and I would hide in huge boxes and not let on our disappointment that no one was looking for us. And I would look so much forward to the plane trips. The longer the better. I used to brag about how long the flights would be. When we were moving to Guam or the Philippines, you might have overheard me saying to my marginally-interested friends, "It's an EIGHTEEN HOUR plane trip!" And I was thrilled. I would always forget how prone I was to motion sickness, and I would just be dying to get on that plane. My own personal rocket ship. Hopefully going to the moon and points beyond. It's been a while since I've flown anywhere for any good reason. That overnighter to San Francisco last year. A quick trip to Boston two years ago. A flight to Las Vegas the year before that. I miss the old days when it was important to have good luggage. I miss the days when going somewhere was a joy. For some reason, everything seems like a chore to me right now. Everything. Maybe it's just because none of my journeys takes me far enough away. I do hope I will be able to scrape together the dough to visit Australia while I have a friend there. And if only that could include some much-longed-for time in Japan. Oh, I would be the happiest duck in all of duckdom.

I have begun rehearsing with my new band. And it's exciting and good for me. I feel so much more confident about my playing now. I jam and everything. And I can't help smiling when the song rocks.

I took some pictures late last night. Pre-bath. Nothing racy. Afterwards, I read for a long time in a steamy tub and then had no luck falling asleep. For the record.

Jan 20, 2004


There are new images posted to Diario di Lomo and Art Expo.

Also, my upstairs neighbors have anvils for feet. And they seem to have taken up the Riverdance.

The Urge to Resist

I want to remind myself that there was a great deal of laughter in today. That there were things that I had to write down and moments when I could barely keep the car on the road because the mirth was upon us so. I want to remind myself that the ups and the downs are all in the mix. That I fought back tears on occasion, this weekend, but some of the time, the tears were brought on by merriment. And some of the time, the tears were brought on by sneezes. That not all tears are the kind that need to be hidden or hated.

I heard that Andrew won't date Asian girls because they're ugly when they cry. I hate to afford him the courtesy of agreement, but I suppose he's right. Tears have always been a blight on my face. I avoid them obstinately.

I'm told by one in a colder climate that it's not cold enough in my world for the wearing of gloves. But my hands are small and they do get so chilly. Allow me this one indulgence, please. It will keep me from shivering all the time.

I'm also up very late again. It's been weeks of a weird sort of insomnia. Not the usual fitful sleep that has become the hallmark of my late-night tab-keeping. Just no sleep at all. Until it's morning and it becomes impractical to remain aslumber. It's a great cheat. And I frown at it. Combined with the return (again) of my nagging eye-twitch, this serves to remind me that harm does not always arrive in the form of a club to the head. You can hurt yourself plenty by just giving in. You can suffer at your own hand, and it can be a very gradual and insidious thing. And then, there you are with ailing health and a short attention span and no appetite and an eyeball that you would like to punch right out, and no one even notices that anything is amiss. Because you are always this way. And the world is bored of the telling.

My tummy also hurts.

Jan 19, 2004

"I never said I was frightened of dying."

Smoke in the fireplace. Traces on the plaster. Dark sooty black on the arched ceilings of the little alcoves in the walls. Candles burning. Smoke everywhere.

It got cold all of a sudden. Even little droplets of rain found their way down. It got cold again is probably more accurate. It got cold again.

I wonder if I can be good at this.

Reflective surfaces get all smudgy. Smooth becomes sticky. Hot becomes cold becomes warm becomes cold again. I bought new red gloves while I was doing my holiday shopping. Sometimes they are nice to have around. It's good to be prepared when things take a chilly turn.

I'm refusing to be stymied by the little setbacks. But refusal is a state of mind. And it has this knack of taking on the color of a temper tantrum. I don't want to be pounding the ground with my fists. I don't want to be kicking and screaming. But I don't want to take it all lying down either. And I don't know what I'm talking about. My thoughts are choppy like sinister waves. I'm fixing to sink ships.

There are a number of things I almost did this week. A number of places I almost went. I'm sorry it didn't all make the desk calendar. I wanted to see Space Is the Place. I wanted to see seksu roba. I wanted to go to a number of parties and meet up with a number of friends. But the singular nature of my existence requires me to pick and choose. And it was hard to enjoy any of it. Too many things weighing on me at the moment. Too many stresses and fears and responsibilities and circumstances careening out of my control. Sometimes you just have to strap in and hope that you don't break anything vital on impact.

Last week's episode of Malcolm in the Middle had this exchange in it:

Malcolm: That's not what this is about. Ronnie's a lesbian.

Mom: Well, maybe she wouldn't be a lesbian if you tucked in your shirt once
in a while.

Malcolm: I'm just trying to help her. She doesn't deserve this. She went to
all the trouble to express something in a way that's actually good and now
she's being silenced by a bunch of stupid arbitrary people for stupid
arbitrary reasons, and I just think that's wrong.

Dad: Son, you don't want to come on that strong. That might be what turned
her gay in the first place.

It made me laugh out loud. And remember why I began liking the show in the first place. There is value in that. Remembering why you began liking something. It plays a hand in keeping you youthful and in touch with the many different versions of yourself that you have been. It's all well and good that we evolve and that our feelings change and our wants alter themselves, but it's a shame to let go of it all entirely. It's like making all of your footprints in disappearing ink.

If you can hear this whispering you are dying.

Jan 16, 2004

"I envy you. The world you're going to."

"I envy YOU. Taking these first steps into a new frontier."

I do still love Star Trek: First Contact. I do still have a magnet with its logo on my refrigerator. I do still remember looking so very much forward to seeing it. I do still remember what I wore the night I went. (It was something velvety. And there were boots involved.) The appearance of the Doctor still amuses me. The deflector dish scene still suspends and terrifies me. The music still moves me. And I still get goosebumps when Picard insists where the line must be drawn.

At the end, when Jean-Luc is saying goodbye, I note the dichotomy of the envies. She wishes she could skip all of the getting there and see the future and all its wonders. He wishes he could stay behind in the past and see how what is got that way. This is a contrast that presents itself in my life in many forms, including the movies. I keep stumbling onto it again and again. And I keep being reminded that to want a thing is dangerous. To wish for something is risky. And we nearly never want what we wanted once it's ours. You can't have it all. You can't have it both ways. And either way you get it, you probably won't like it. Predictable. Inexcusable. Unevolved. But true.

"I shall miss you, Lily."

Jan 15, 2004

Accidents Will Happen

The word of the day arrived in my inbox a while ago. It was "serendipity." How fortunate. (Note: This is me attempting to be humorous.)

I don't know why I felt sad today. The sun was out and warm and brilliant. Crowds at the various shopping and theatregoing venues around town were ample and cheerful. I had a nice patio lunch and took a few photos. The shutter on my Lomo is a little sticky. Whiskey and 7-Up must have sloshed onto it during the Crystal Method affair. I will see to cleaning it with a meticulous Q-tip soon enough.

I was good. I returned some of my holiday shopping excesses and did not give in to the temptation to replace them with new frivolities. I was patient. I laughed when plans went awry. I shrugged off many burdens that might have leveled me on a different Wednesday. But still I felt sad. Still I felt the time slipping by. The meaning escaping me. The everything pressing on ahead of my grasping fingers. And I don't know why. Honestly. Sometimes I think it's the infrequent ghosts. The memories that visit me. The flashes that flicker in my peripheral vision. The times when I am afraid to turn my head. I just felt a sort of exhaustion. Barely willing to make a decision about what to eat because I didn't feel like eating. But I was ever so thirsty.

The dreams I had before I awakened this morning were numerous and strange. Too many stoves in the kitchen. Which one to keep. An extra apartment I had forgotten about. Seeing my dad driving in front of me and my sister on the highway on a motorcycle, then watching him veer sharply off the highway and seem to take a fall. We went after him, and he had indeed fallen, but he seemed angry with us for following him, and we were surprised to see my mom there, recording all the events with a video camera. He was wearing a red jacket. There were too many dishwashers, too. But none of the appliances were the same brand. And I couldn't be certain which of the stoves worked best. I'm not one to tell my dreams. I don't find them interesting, nor do I delude myself that others will. But I was in a loop this morning. Even in my dreams I dreamed I was waking in my room and looking at the clock and seeing that it was time to wake up. And then I would actually wake up and realize it wasn't that time at all and that it all been a dream. And then I would ACTUALLY wake up. For all I know, I am still dreaming even now. The morning had no meaning for me. No basis. I never got my land legs back.

Maybe that's why I have felt so caged in today. Maybe I'm just waiting to wake up and find that Wednesday is just beginning. Instead, I have already wandered into Thursday, and before I can get hold of that, it will be February. It's not the speed that unsettles me. It's the ease.

I always liked the name of Wednesday. Especially in French. It's the prettiest day of the week in French.

Jan 14, 2004

Dark on the Inside

It's noteworthy how much you can cram into an evening if you are willing to just step out and do it. I had a belated Ethiopian dinner that was also a belated birthday dinner with Paul, who is responsible for my first-ever Ethiopian meal, so double significance. It's a shame I had other obligations pressing on me. I'm sure Paul and I could have worn the night ragged with our sundry tales. Paul was also kind and thoughtful enough to divine a wish of mine from a blog entry, and he gave me that "all stressed out and no one to choke" t-shirt as a Christmas gift. Another day of me winning.

Then I met up with Josh and played some music at long last. We even recorded. And I was making stuff up on the spot and surprised to learn that I don't actually have to rely on notation if I don't let myself. I was often ashamed of having my music stand on stage when I was playing with my previous band. But we never got to the place where we were practicing often enough that it all became second nature. And in my defense, some of the parts I wrote for myself were not so simple or straightforward. Relying on the pencil markings I made on my homemade manuscript paper wasn't such a shameful thing. Anyway, I was glad to be making music again. I sometimes forget how much more alive it makes me feel. When I haven't been playing for a while, there are things in me that atrophy. And I don't approve of that.

I also went to an issue release party for Josh's magazine that was also the record release party for the Crystal Method's latest. I have seldom seen so many people who wanted so much to bust a move and weren't at a wedding. It was nice in a way. Although it was warmer tonight than one might have expected for a January eve. More anti-perspirant wouldn't have been out of the question for some on the dance floor. Jason Bentley was there. Lots of pretty people were there. And even some people I knew but hadn't expected to see. I wish I had been in more of a dancing mood. But the closest I came to dancing was being jostled on my way from one side of the room to the other. The drinks were expensive but strong. And expensive. My lips are whiskey-numb.

Jan 13, 2004

Bathtime Bubbles

I took a late, long, hot bath tonight. I'm still pink and clammy from it. Is it odd to emerge from a bath at 3 A.M.? I suppose it makes sense for me. My nights overlap most people's days.

I sort of lazily discovered today that -- if you knew where to look and had the right password -- you could see some rather revealing and possibly scandalous photos of me. Fortunately, you would have to know where to look, and you don't. I have no objections to the scandal of photography, even when it involves me, however I like to be in control of who sees what. I'm not worried. Except when it occurs to me that it's possible my eighth grade algebra teacher might have access. How can you ever know these things?

It was a bit of a maelstrom, today was. But I'm all right, I think. I miss certain aspects of how my days used to be. Elements that once owned and structured my time. The great expanses of time I am able to squander if I will are daunting in their vastness. Fortunately, I am not good at wasting time. Unless I'm accompanied in it. When I've got the day to myself, I am industrious and driven. But I have no way of giving myself a break or a pat on the back. I just keep going until there is somewhere else I have to be. I'm going to be interrupted in my industry a great deal in the near future. I have all sorts of a week ahead of me and am glad to be on my way to it. Sometimes, after many many martinis with olives in, it's nice to try the occasional lemon twist. Even an onion might make things interesting. Who can say.

Conan's wife gave birth to a baby girl. So, I guess he's OFFICIALLY off the market. Whatever. Congratulations, O'Brien family. I suppose. I will observe a brief period of mourning and then focus my attentions on someone equally unavailable. You know, if I ever did get to go out with one of my professed dreamboats, it would be the anticlimax of the century (albeit only a few years in). It would just plain murder my fantasy life if I found out that Hugh Grant had a crush on me. I'd still want to know, of course. I would just grieve the death of the dream.

Something I nearly forgot: I finally had a chance to watch my Criterion DVD of Sullivan's Travels, and I just have to say that it's wonderful. And I continue to be flattered that a judge at a speech and drama tournament I went to once compared me to Veronica Lake on account of the way my hair used to fall in front of one side of my face. At that tournament, I got caught with a number of my peers doing something we weren't supposed to. I think it had to do with curfew and boys in girls' quarters and possibly alcohol and even more possibly some form of card game where clothing was the currency. Anyway, the handful of us from my school who were caught were penalized by our faculty chaperone, and I was only able to take home second place instead of first in the humorous interpretation category or whichever one it was I would have won. It was a drag to later learn that our chaperone was the only one who penalized us in this fashion. The kids from the other schools who got caught were not penalized in points. Their chaperones seemed to actually want them to take home some awards. We were in a mountain resort in Japan, bunking in cabins and feeling all grown up. That was back when being away from home was always a magnificent adventure. I miss that feeling.

Jan 12, 2004

"Go, Eagles!"

A guilty admission: I am often reluctant to proclaim it when I am feeling good. Especially these days. Especially when I have become so accustomed to feeling sad and/or downtrodden. But I will risk it and say that I actually feel a far-off yet familiar tingle of pleasant optimism. I'm in a writing workshop that I am excited about. I posted some of my art and received kind encouragement from friendly voices. I had a nice conversation with my dad, who thanked me for the baccala I sent back with Sarah for his holiday eating goodness. I spoke kindly to both my sisters, as well. I painted a little. I noticed it was warm out. I found good parking. I got a wonderful, beautiful, loving letter from a dear, dear friend who made me feel such gratitude that my life has led me across so many brilliant and worthy paths, the intersections of which have occasionally created tangential rays of their own that were always worth following and often excellent in their own right.

I also drank some wine. Maybe that explains the tingling. And it's just like me to diminish the meaning of my feelings by making light. I'm not always comfortable with sincerity. And yet I do so appreciate it when it finds me.

It is probable that I will always carry a hint of the melancholy, even in my happiest interludes. I don't mind it. I often miss it when it wanes. But these past few weeks were more a paralysis of helpless sadness than any sort of melancholy mood. I wasn't just seeing clouds where there were none. I couldn't see a sky at all. And could find no reason for looking up to seek one out.

I am sorry that time passes as quickly as it does. But happy that it passes at all. Glad that I am there to see it as it goes by, waving as if on a parade float. I always feel slightly left behind at a parade. As if I am standing still while all that is glorious keeps moving. Once, I was in a parade. That was an entirely different feeling. Even though it happened on Guam.

And The Hudsucker Proxy is on television. Which means I win! I mean, when that little kid finds the hula hoop -- come on. It's magic! He's like some hoop-swinging savant. I also like that they almost named it the Shazamiter. Anyway, I win!

Jan 11, 2004

For Those Among You Who Ceaselessly Pester Me for Something New

I have added a new page to the site. It's called Expo. It contains a few of the pages from my art journals that I like and whatever else I am able to squeeze onto my scanner. It will evolve as I soon discover that its current design allows for nearly no efficient or visually acceptable means of adding to what is currently offered. But that's how I learn -- from taxing you with my mistakes. Don't thank me. I wouldn't hear of it.

Jan 10, 2004

Some love the smell of the sun in their noses.

I did this today. And some other things.

The picture above is a link. No sense in being sneaky about it.


I don't want to keep being transported back to the feelings that were once wonderful. The memory of them is insidiously painful.

I don't want to be transported back to the feelings that were painful to begin with. Their painful potency is only exacerbated by time and the passing of it.

I don't want to be taken anywhere, at the moment. I think there is only immediate safety in right now. I can feel nothing. I can try anyway. It's the something that concerns me.

Now I've fallen in deep, slow silent sleep, it's killing me, I'm dying. To put a little sunshine in your life.

Jan 9, 2004

A Soul in Need of Chicken Soup

My dad lost ten pounds during his recent illness. I hear he is recovering, but I haven't heard from him directly. Beulah told me that my mom said he looks like a little old man. She said, "His head is so big." All of these things break my heart.

Come back to me! Come back to me! and say my land is best!

Last year -- nearly a year ago -- while I was rereading The Lord of the Rings, I posted the song about the Entwives, because I liked it and was relieved to find that not all of the songs were a chore to wade through. I had the special edition DVD of The Two Towers playing in the background while I was working on my painting, and I heard Treebeard's breathy exhalations and inhalations of those words, and I liked it. Especially the flat way he says "best."

I wanted to stick that lyric into my writing today, but I knew that I had already included it somewhere, so I went back through my previous entries to see what I had said. I really hadn't said much about it. Just that it was romantic and that I liked it.

I also wrote this nearly a year ago:

I spent some time looking for lost things today. No luck. How is it that what is most precious to you ends up among the bits and pieces scattered to the winds whose trace -- once faint -- is now absent even from memory. I almost wish I could forget the things altogether. Forgetting where they are is one thing. But remembering THAT they are only leads to the despair of longing and an endless dance of turning up everything else I never meant to find.

And what's unusual is that I sort of remember writing it, but when I reread it, it was new. And I could appreciate the lyric for the lyric's sake. What I mean is, I could hear a melody in the words. The rhythm of them. And I thought, That's nice. If I correctly remember what I was so frantically looking for, I think I can also triumphantly announce that I eventually found it. Only it was many months later and long after I'd given up caring whether it still existed or not. I suppose that is always the way of things.

Groundhog Day was on the t.v. today. I love and hate that movie. I think it's great, and I adore Bill Murray, but it is also so effective in commuting his despair to me that I am prone to want to drop a toaster in my own bath before I make it to the happy end. It's such a simple story. But it has so many metaphoric truths in it, you have to ask yourself whether it is lifted from the pages of mythology or ancient literature. But I don't know why you have to ask yourself that. That's like saying that no one still living is capable of writing something with meaning. Just because things are old does not make them better. Even wine turns to vinegar if you leave it for long enough.

As I was trying to complete THIS post, I started looking at other journal entries of the past, and I guess I shouldn't have done that today. Not today. When I am vulnerable and soft. When I can catch my reflection and see that a smile would not be possible. Not today. All that I get from doing that today is a reminder that today is the fruition of all the many yesterdays, during which I made so many of the wrong choices and took so many of the wrong turns. Today is where you get when you did everything just like me. And that means it's all my fault. And that makes me angry but with no one to shake my fist at. Which reminds me a of a cute tee shirt I saw yesterday at Happy Six. It read: "all stressed out and no one to choke." I almost bought it. Anyway, I suppose that's what looking at the past gets you.

"Stuffed whale? Wow!"

Put on your Sunday clothes, there's lots of world out there. Break out the brilliantine and dime cigars.
Beneath your bowler brim the world's a simple song. A lovely lilt that makes you tilt your nose.

I played in the orchestra for a production of Hello, Dolly! in the autumn of 1994. I was simultaneously cast in a production of Somerset Maugham's Rain, so on some of the show days, I only played the matinees in the orchestra, then I rushed across town -- sometimes stopping home to make a batch of homemade cookies or fried rice or some other treat to bring to the theater -- to costume and make up and act for a while. Our backstage area was largely outdoors, and we all used to sit around a table and play Skip Bo when we weren't on stage. When your cue came, someone else would sit down and take your hand. And when you exited, you could come and reclaim your place. It was all very civilized. And everyone loved me. And my fried rice.

I don't know how I found the energy, now that I think about it. I guess I do a great deal these days, too, but it never feels like it. And if I make a habit of writing down the obligations, I get overwhelmed just thinking about them. There was a time when I readily planned to be in two places at once. Nowadays, I often don't even plan to be in one.

I was retelling an anecdote from my youth this evening after dinner. When I was four or five years old, my sister and I were dropped off at a boy named Matthew's house to play and/or be looked after by Matthew's mom. We were out chasing each other around in the yard, and I slipped and fell, sort of in a sliding-into-home-base kind of motion, somehow managing to land in a pile of dog poo. It got all over the back of my pants, from the knee to the hip on the right leg. How embarrased I was. My mom came to pick us up in the big Chevrolet station wagon she used to drive in those days. The kind with the big bench seats. When she saw what I'd got into, she had me ride home standing up in the front seat, gripping the dashboard to make sure that I didn't accidentally sit my poo-covered pants down on the blue vinyl. It's easy to laugh about it now. Even though it might seem a travesty of driver's safety. But I guess we rarely wore our seatbelts back then anyway. I just remember that it was very difficult to not sit down. Inertia being a verifiable force of nature and all. And looking back, I wonder why my mom didn't just have me take the pants off. We were all girls in the car, after all. And after all, this was the same year of my life when my sister and I beat the summer Philadelphia heat by running through the sprinklers in just our underpants. I guess I assumed she made me stand up because she was mad at me. Anyway, that was one of the stories I told.

Hello, Dolly! is on the television at the moment. This movie gets a bit of a beating when people talk about it. Barbra Streisand was wrong for the part. Gene Kelly wasn't the finest director. All of that. But it does have Walter Matthau in it. And I do so love Walter Matthau. It also has lovely music and costumes with fancy hats. And it's in pretty Technicolor -- or something like it. I didn't watch in the credits, so I can't be sure. All the same, the music reminded me of that autumn when I was double-cast in two different cities. I was asked to read for Rain by a friend of mine who was cast in the play. They were having a hard time casting a part, and I was invited to come in on a Saturday afternoon. When I went to read, I wore a little white midriff-baring t-shirt and a short, flouncy little white skirt and probably tennis shoes. I used to get teased by one of the cast members who recalled that the ensemble left little to the imagination. But he didn't say it in a scolding way, and I didn't take insult. I do recall being in a white phase, at the time. A lot of white and cream and beige and very pale yellow in my wardrobe. I often painted with a very monochromatic brush, fashion-wise.

Side note: The big parade scene in Hello, Dolly is unbelievably boring.

That year was a renaissance in my performance life. I played in the Hello, Dolly! orchestra that season after having played in the orchestras for Guys and Dolls and Carousel earlier in the summer. And preceding all of that, I played Glinda in The Wizard of Oz. (I do a great Billie Burke, you skeptics.) I rememer being at a full cast rehearsal for that one when everyone was crowding around boombox radios to hear what was going on with a certain white Suburban being slowly chased on the L.A. freeways. My father was on those same freeways at the time. Driving to LAX to catch a flight back to Italy, where my family was living. I remember getting home that night to find a lovely note he had written me in his distinctive, fine handwriting. It was written on legal paper, and it made me well up with precious tears. Oh, and during one of the performances of Guys and Dolls, my hair caught fire in the orchestra pit, causing a horrible smell and great deal of anxiety for me. It's a long story, involving a stand partner and her citronella candle. Fortunately, it happened during the Manhole Dance, and the dry ice and smoke on stage hid my shame from all but the very first row of the audience. It was one of a number of bad things that had befallen me right around that time, and I was quite at the end of my rope when I called my mom in Italy to tell her what had happened. When I told her, she laughed. I did not laugh along with her. For the rest of that summer, when I went to the pit, I would find little ratty clumps of my burned hair lurking in the corners, near all the electrical cables, and I would stew over it.

Holy moly. What a flood of memories from the simple undamming effects of a few minutes of Hello, Dolly! It's a good thing they don't air these old classic musicals more often. I've played in so many of them, I'd probably be crippled by the time-consuming impulse to catalogue a great glut of reminiscences. What luck that there's no Rodgers and Hammerstein channel. I'd never get a thing done.

I finished a few art projects today. Larger formats than I'm used to, in some cases. A collage that started as a vague idea when I was looking through the paper offal I was planning to discard. Also, I returned to my art journal. I haven't painted anything in it for a while. I've been dabbling on other surfaces. It felt familiar. It seemed to appreciate my attention.

My pink satin pajama pants don't keep me very warm.

Anyway, the movie's on. And I will probably let it play while I fall asleep. I'm picky about what I fall asleep to. This film should be flattered.

I'm ready to move out in front. Life without life has no reason or rhyme left.

I post a lot of pictures, and I know there are people who won't believe it when I say this, but the more I look at my face, the more I hate it.

Long paragraph. Short paragraph.

     I believe that almost all of our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing. For this reason the sadness too passes: the new thing in us, the added thing, has entered into our heart, has gone into its inmost chamber and is not even there any more, -- is already in our blood. And we do not learnt what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing has happened, and yet we have changed, as a house changes in to which a guest has entered. We cannot say who has come, perhaps we shall never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens. And this is why it is so important to be lonely and attentive when one is sad: because the apparently uneventful and stark moment at which our future sets foot in us is so much closer to life than that other noisy and fortuitous point of time at which it happens to us as if from outside. The more still, more patient and more open we are when we are sad, so much the deeper and so much the more unswervingly does the new go into us, so much the better do we make it ours, so much the more will it be our destiny, and when on some later day it "happens" (that is, steps forth out of us to others), we shall feel in our inmost selves akin and near to it. And that is necessary. It is necessary -- and toward this our development will move gradually -- that nothing strange should befall us, but only that which has long belonged to us. We have already had to rethink so many of our concepts of motion, we will also gradually learn to realize that that which we call destiny goes forth from within people, not from without into them. Only because so many have not absorbed their destinies and transmuted them within themselves while they were living in them, have they not recognized what has gone forth out of them; it was so strange to them that, in their bewildered fright, they thought it must only just then have entered into them, for they swear never before to have found anything like it in themselves. As people were long mistaken about the motion of that which is to come. The future stands firm...but we move in infinite space.

     How should it not be difficult for us?

                                             Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Jan 8, 2004

"Wu-Tang is the CD that I travel with."

I had a party to get to tonight. My day has consisted of hours and hours of driving forth and driving back, changing clothes, changing my mind, changing clothes again, putting sparkly marshmallow-flavored powder all over my arms and shoulders and not being surprised that one or two partygoers asked to taste it, feeling debilitatingly hungry and then feeling debilitatingly full. No matter which way you slice it, there was just too much garlic.

Driving home, I was groggyish. And though I wished I had been able to have more to drink, I was also glad that I hadn't overdone it or I might have ended up in a smash-up. And music was a comfort. Songs that made me feel groovy, funky -- any of those words that one might not reach for in describing me. I have to credit Beulah with digging The Method Man long before I did. I in my little square world. But I'm onto it now. I like lots of things I didn't used to. And I've lost my taste for certain things I once loved. But I'm never rash about discarding such things. I have lived long enough and paid close enough attention all the while to know that much of it comes around again.

I recently read an interview with Orlando Bloom in Gentleman's Quarterly, and I was really charmed. Not just because he's such a super-duper pretty thing (and haven't you noticed that he could easily be Justin Timberlake?), but because he said all these wise things that made him seem kind and human and tempered. Maybe thinking you're going to die or that you won't ever walk again changes your outlook. I guess that's a worthy excuse. I know I've said this before, but I just don't like it when people are cavalier about saying things changed their lives. It just seems so weak that your life might be able to be altered by a book or a movie or a visit to Paris. Maybe I'm just saying that because I don't get that feeling very often, and my inner elitist believes that if I haven't experienced it, it can't be much. But I'm just prone to be skeptical when friends tell me that my life will be changed by going to this meeting. Or giving up sugar. Or striking the downward dog. My life feels too heavy to be changed on a whim. My life feels made of rocks and bolted down. Lest anyone should want to steal it as they pass through.

In any case, I can't really begrudge someone the life-altering experience of nearly dying. I don't know what it's like, but I do know that things that make us contemplate our mortality have more power than I would like them to.

But we made great time.


Don't go against the grain if you can't handle it.

Jan 7, 2004

The Tempest

I did not have a good day. I went and picked up seven rolls of Lomos, and that was fine. I scanned a sizeable stack in and will post soon enough. But there is something absent in it. I don't know what. I just feel it missing.

I finally got to speak to my father on the phone, but he sounded sort of disoriented and mushy, and I was sorry for having awakened him but glad to hear his voice.

Then the money issues with my mom tipped me over entirely. The stress of holiday overspending. There's no one to blame but me, but, still, just once it would be nice to not have my head lopped off every time I pick up the phone.

I couldn't get settled. Couldn't start the projects I wanted to. Couldn't bring myself to reach out to anyone. I just sat at my desk and scanned and wondered why I felt like crying.

Krissy arrived late in the evening, and we watched The Satanic Rites of Dracula, but it was really just too laughably unscary to be finished. Even though it pairs Grand Moff Tarkin and Christopher Lee on screen. I love those old Hammer Collection flicks and have a handful on laserdisc. But it's hard to share them with others. It's embarrassing.

Then we watched the Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" episode of X-Files, and that was that. I then spent the next four or five hours finishing my scanning and feeling lousy about everything. I just can't get the hang of feeling so dreadfully unhappy.

Jan 6, 2004

I prefer movies where it's dark most of the time. In the movie world on screen. Where it's dark in most of the scenes. Where things have a blue shade to them. Or a brown one. Where sunlight is a surprise and a rare one. I prefer the comfort of a cinema that is not happier than I. Who needs that brand of gloating.

Bring on the Harpsichord and Euphonium

I just saw "Guest Appearance...David Tomlinson" flash across the screen. What a treat that would be. To have David Tomlinson make a guest appearance somewhere that you happened to be. Maybe he would sing Let's Go Fly a Kite! He's one of the first fellows who made moustaches make sense to me.

The guest appearance was being announced at the commencement of the classic Tom Jones, in which it is nearly impossible to believe what a strapping young bloke was one Albert Finney. And how scandalous and rompy this film must have seemed at the time. There is something particularly naughty about British versions of ribaldry. Like with Benny Hill. When American people make those mugging takes, it just seems backwoodsy and poverty-stricken. I was just reading a recent issue of Vanity Fair, and there was a lengthy article about Wallace Simpson and the abdication of Edward, the would-be king turned duke. What a tawdry and secretive life they led. She with her affairs, at times with gay men. He, rumored to be gay all along. And yet he gave up England to marry her and was exiled for the rest of his life from the country which would one day have knelt before him. Sickly and twisted, but romantic nonetheless. Even in exile, they were enviable. Leisurely globetrotters. Fashion cognoscenti. The smutty royals. And ever so thin. I am curious about the lives of others. Especially those who live on a plane I've not yet seen. I've always had a rich fantasy life. It's the actual day-to-day that's been on the disappointing side.

I bought large-ish canvases and boards today. And I completed several paintings. I sometimes wish I was forethinking enough to take pictures along the way. Inevitably I get to a place where I think I've ruined it and wish I could just see the canvas as it was when I was only a few strokes in. And then after a while, I grow accepting and can scarcely recall what the original strokes looked like or why I might have preferred them. In time, it seems, even ugly things grow weary of offending. You just get used to them is all.

I got some good news today. That's always better than a punch in the face.

glow worm

Jan 5, 2004

Fading Out, Fading In

Heat Rises

I have really been catching myself in fits of anxious impatience lately. Drivers frustrate me more readily. Friends disappoint me more easily. Words carry sharper edges. For some reason, I am extra sensitive. And I don't know why. And I don't know how to protect myself. My candy coating seems to have melted away, and I fear I'm much more prone to losing my shape altogether.

I just want to relax. Think nice thoughts. Get a good night's sleep. Not care so much. I just want to be able to start something without knowing how it ends and that it will be disastrous. I'm still so busy with worrying about how I will be remembered when I'm dead. What I will be known for. And whether I will be pleased with it. I told my sister that I don't mind being cursed to a life of unhappiness and discontentment. As long as it leads somewhere. As long as I get something done along the way. I don't need to spend my days blowing bubbles and walking barefoot through sunny fields of lavender and whatever else is nice to walk near. As long as I've got something to show for it. There are many curses in this world. Creativity is only one of them.

Tongue-tied and twisted just an earthbound misfit, I.

I never saw so much sky. Blue. Beaming down gold-tinged sunlight. It was cold but not brutal. I did not feel lovely enough to merit a slideshow, but I did not give up entirely on the possibility of prettiness.

There were a great many ugly things to contend with today. By dusk, I was sapped and found myself wondering if I might not benefit from a good cry. I didn't cry after all. I just listened to my old Pink Floyd records and worried about what comes next. Bela Lugosi got his dignity back in the end. That's something.

Jan 4, 2004

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking

I have no desire to be here today. Am a prisoner in today. My father is very sick, and I am not providing him with comfort. Just sitting still is a failure. Wasting time on wishes. Luxuriating in pauses where you forget to forgive. This is no time for holding grudges.

There is an ache in me today. A sleeping that does not want to wake. A numbness that does not want to feel. When I take time to measure, I deem it all a great waste.

For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave.

Jan 3, 2004

"Truth is, I've always been thirsty."

I am a sucker for stories about magic and romance and redemption. I am not ashamed to hope for immortality. I cherish the spinning of outlandish yarns and the oral history of nostalgic fathers. I love the idea of perfect, incontrovertible love. I want so much to believe in the fairy tale that I am exhausted by it. Because it's difficult to believe in things that have come to seem silly. It puts you on your guard. You have to defend your naivete. And maybe sing that song from Man of La Mancha.

Seeing Big Fish today helped me keep the faith. I enjoyed it to the very edges of my iceberg. To the depths of my ocean. To the shores of my continent. I enjoyed it all the way to my fingertips. To my eyelashes. To my shoulderblades. I loved it. Even the crying parts.