Secret Pop

Jan 22, 2004

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.

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