Secret Pop

May 31, 2004

No more drama. Please.

I never managed to go into much detail about it, but the story behind my greatest birthday lament involved my family's unique talent for spontaneous combustion. My two sisters are at war. My parents announce their desire to not get caught in the undertow, but they have clearly chosen sides. As they always do. And the damage isn't anywhere near being done with me. If it matters to anyone, I have only gotten smacked around by any of this because (1) it happened during my birthday celebration and (2) I am fond of justice. But these facts haven't spared me any suffering. Nor have they influenced my father in his rigid unwillingness to have an actual conversation with me. Or at least one where he doesn't roll his eyes, walk away from me while I am still speaking, or deny that he has said any of the things we both know he has said. For all the hassle, he might as well be my girlfriend.

Today was not my favorite day.

To commemorate the actual carnage, these are pictures Beulah took before all hell broke loose. Yes, that's a kickboard, and, no, I don't need it.

My mother is traveling in Asia at the moment. And when she returns, it will be my parents' anniversary. I was so sad this time last year. I put a picture from their wedding in the new art journal I had just begun. And I sat at the table, sweating much of the time in the cruel Los Angeles heat, hoping for inspiration and sentiment and talent to transport me from the clutching grip of inspiration and sentiment and lack of talent. But at least last year, I wasn't also sad because my father isn't kept awake at night by the knowledge that I am kept awake at night by the knowledge that he doesn't care that I am kept awake at all. If you aren't following any of that, you are in vast company.

May 29, 2004

A Good Farewell

When I watch movies with battle scenes in them, I get this sentimental feeling. I'm sure the makers intend it. The faces of the dying are the faces you have come to know and care about as the story unfolded. The music plucks at your heartstrings. Almost ravenously. It's all manipulation, that guided portrait. But I imagine it is similar, the real thing. If you go to war, and the guy beside you gets it, his dying face will be one you knew. One you cared about. And maybe you, like me, will wonder what it was like for him. What those last moments held. Whether it was horrible. Whether he suffered. You might not know what his final act was like. Not know whether he was valiant or cowardly. Whether he cried for his mother or for his god. Whether he thought most of his girl at home. Whether he only saw fiery red.

When I watch movies about war, I wonder about those who have died in all the wars. I miss them, though I don't know them. I pity them. Envy them. Applaud them. I think of the times in my life when I felt great passion. Unwavering certainty. Commitment. I wonder if I was ever so sure. I wonder if I would make anyone proud with a sword in my hand. I wonder if I would be able to press on through loss. If I would manage to stomach it. If I would favor the mission over the heartbreak. If I would care.

I also think about the uncivility and the grotesqueness. The unwashedness. The dirt under the fingernails. And I wonder if I am so keenly sensorily aware because I don't have anything more important going on. If I smell the restaurant in my hair because I'm bored and unengaged. I don't like to smell less than wonderful. I don't think I would be an asset on the battlefield. Except perhaps as a sort of potpourri.

I showed Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World to my father tonight. And I remembered watching it in the cinema last November and shuddering at certain delicate parts and feeling that swelling, soaring, glorying rapture that always accompanies the Corelli Christmas Concerto for me. My father was a seafaring man, so he knows more than I do what was and wasn't fairly portrayed. But he didn't NOT enjoy it, as far as I could tell. Sometimes that's as close to a coup as I come.

It's been a long day.

May 28, 2004

The day breaks. Your mind aches.

It will be dawn soon, and I don't like that. I'm of a sudden sort of hungry and restless and sleepy and all of that. I can see that awkward bridge between the days looming. There's no escaping crossing it. It comes up on you like a video game effect. Even when you sit still.

But tomorrow will be good. I know it.

I wake up. I make up. I take my time and I don't feel I have to hurry. It's the part before the waking that concerns me.

May 27, 2004

If you want me, I'm your country.

I saw the Cardigans last night. It was a sweet sort of show. Crammed with devotees. They meant well, but their fervent cries of adoration and playlist suggestions wore on my patience. Nina Persson sounded wonderful. And she was lovely. I would never wear my jeans that tight, but I am able to admire those who do.

I looked over at the journal I have been keeping for a few years and I noted that I haven't been writing in it much. All the things I used to keep track of I seem to have let slip. There have been such statistics in my history. Tallies I used to keep that I eventually abandoned. Maybe because of the security or the dependability of things always staying the same. You get used to things. And it ceases to be a surprise that they are as they are. And there is nearly nothing new to say about them. No matter how frequently they recur. Maybe that's it. Me and my cramped, tiny handwriting -- we've taken a sabbatical. We don't always write down the dates and times. We don't always commit it to memory. We don't catch ourselves counting so much anymore.

I've been a diligent little doll lately. But oh how the time passes.

All my ways of soft distraction meant to bring you back to earth. There are words I listen for again and again. I look for them. No matter how many times I hear them. Like my father coming home at the end of the day. I never stopped looking forward to it.

May 24, 2004

America with George Martin, 1975.

I went to see Cat Power at the Troubadour tonight. There was a guy making a scene at the door. He and the bouncer were having words because he had been kicked out for ordering drinks without an i.d. I didn't pity him. And then I did. I'm a softy that way. Never one to hold a grudge.

It was a long, long weekend of glory and exhaustion. I lose track of time. I covet naps. I scowl at unwashed dishes and close the door on untidied rooms. I would rather not know.

The coming week is coming. I have noticed lately that when I look at my calendar, I am sometimes agog at all that I have smashed into the small day spaces. How did I do all that? How did I convince myself that it was possible? There was a time when I believed I could fit anything into whatever span of time. ANYTHING. And then I crossed that naive threshold and started thinking I could only ever do one thing in any given stretch of time. I don't know where I am on that spectrum, but I realize that I do more than I ever expect and still manage to have done less than I have ever wanted. It's not time travel I want, necessarily. It's more the chance at having certain hours over again. And over and over and over.

I had expectations in these past few weeks. And many did not come to fruition. Many days passed in ways I had not expected. Many moments never arrived. But I have a tendency to get caught in that net. That assessment debacle. And I'm struggling against that at all times. When you aren't always taking stock, two things occur: (a) you don't worry about where you are, and (b) you run out of inventory. This is an important lesson in economics.

May 22, 2004

"Cereal is for lovers."
Despite getting quite literally not a wink of sleep last night and having to effect perkiness for client meetings' sake, I made it home and to the verge of rest, which is where I perch. I worked until 5:30 a.m. or thereabouts, and then tried to capture the 120 or so minutes of sleep still left to me, but I couldn't do it. Damned birds. Damned cold feet. Damned ideas. Damned passage of time. It's a wonder I am here. And if sugar-free Red Bull causes cancer, I would rather not know. I just plain couldn't go on without it.
I was noticed tonight for my deadpan delivery, which is a greater feather in my cap than anyone probably suspects. It's not something I was ever sure I could pull off, and it's taken time to navigate that precarious line as a girl on stage. It's been important to feel finally disconnected from that approval system that is the very heroin I seek. The only way to be a girl in the funny business is to not care and to not look as if you're trying. And occasionally to put unpleasant things in your mouth when no one's expecting it. And I'm kind of a giggly sort that spoils punchlines or that can't let them hang. So to have at last developed the wry reputation is a boon. And it makes it easier for me to get away with saying horrible things that involve diseases or urine or the uterus or the savior. And several people told me I should play more often, and that made me feel really good. I had a better run in the joke-telling games tonight than I can remember ever having had, and I never used an old joke of mine or a joke of anyone else's. Never not once. I didn't have to, for some reason. There just kept being new stuff to say. Don't ask me how that happens. I just like it when the compromising ache of overextension manages to squeeze something out of me, and I don't question it. There's been a great deal of that lately. And as tired and frail as I feel, I am terribly terribly grateful for it. That sounds insincere. Especially now that the whole deadpan thing has taken hold. But I mean it. I'm better off than I've ever been in nearly every way.
My burning eyes are tired. I will look for pretty pictures in my dreams.
You made me smile again. In fact, I may be sore from it.

May 20, 2004

"You are only a dream that I am doing, aren't you?"

A fellow from France wrote me an email containing that sentence. How great is that?

May 19, 2004

Everything's alright.

I had a thought as I was driving to Glendale tonight. Something about the proportion of time I get down. Of my being sad as compared to other people. It's true, I get sad from time to time. And I wonder if other people are less sad, or if they just measure sadness in different ways. Maybe they are all just as sad as I am but never aware and never bothered by it. And isn't that sadder still? Or maybe I'm not really sad at all. Just labeling it incorrectly. Maybe I'm fine even when I feel less than.

Whether the nights are short or long, they come and they come and they go. I'm not feeling very sad. I'm feeling like dressing for spring and wearing pretty colors and sitting with crossed legs and not worrying about the time. I drove home with the sun on the make, and I marveled at Los Angeles and all its busy business. All those people with somewhere to be on their way to. I felt like the only one in the lot who was just going home. I'm not feeling terrifically sad at the moment, but I know it comes and goes. And I know it's nothing to fear.

I'm missing you like hurricanes. I'd give them names but their waves keep rolling on and on and on and on.

May 17, 2004

"...and you are the first and the last to ever be the first to love me for who I am."

Jolie Holland is a genius. Every sound she makes is a smile for me. I long for the chance to share all this. Joy that eclipses everything.

"Mother, may I go and maffick."

My birthday party on Friday night was, hands down, the best I have ever had. Hands down. For the 30 or so friends who came out to play with me, you are part of a personal superlative that won't soon be outdone. My second birthday party on Saturday night was also great. Not quite so glittery or spectacular, but still very, very great and involving a heap of dancing. My birthday celebration with my family today came apart in tatters and might be the very worst birthday experience on record for me. So, I defer to averaging techniques that will enable me to cancel at least part of that grossness out.

Once I scan the photos and take some time to piece it back together, I think my Friday night tales will be a thrill in any language. But I hate how I keep having to promise what is to come. I have things I haven't said and shown about far too many items at this point. I can feel it piling up. But if you count pre-birthday drinks on Thursday, I've been sort of drunk for nearly three straight days. And it's time to give my poor blood and the organs that clean it a rest. Is there a gene for a predisposition towards murdering oneself? If so, map me, genome scientists. I'm your girl.

May 14, 2004

Build me, up, Buttercup.

My dad called me at 8:45 this morning and sang You Are My Sunshine to me on the phone. Maybe the Happy Birthday people were too hard-nosed in the royalty negotiations. Actually, it was the sweetest thing. And I preferred his song choice to the traditional. His was the first of many phone calls and instant messages and emails and e-cards. A flood of them. Today, I am well-remembered. Seriously, people have been just first rate. And it makes me very, very happy. xox

May 13, 2004

Ditches and Dalliances

What was brutal was tamed. And then shepherded into the fold. I've got a handle on things for the moment. And I'm glad.

An old friend from my biotech days is in town, and that made for another late night of waxing nostalgic over wine and LCD chronologs. I may get some rest tomorrow. I must.

I had all these things I wanted to get back to here. It will all be so woefully out-of-date by the time I get my pockets emptied and my scrawling realigned. For now, I will offer a picture of me at Coachella, taken by Beulah and her fancy new digicam. I loved this day. Incidentally, I recall walking past two guys talking, and one said to the other, "Ponytails give me such a hard-on." I assume he meant for me to hear that, but I just kept on walking. Partially because I was trying to go photograph Stereolab, and partially because it would have been such a throttle to my self-esteem to have turned and seen that the guy he was talking to was wearing ponytails, too.

May 12, 2004

Everything's Different Now

As if to urge me forward in my party-planning, the word of the day today was imbibition. I consider it a form of cosmic perfection.

Today was another ghastly travail. After about three hours of sleep, I started work before 10 A.M. and have not stopped yet. I'm waiting for files to distill right now. But I have barely left my desk. When the FedEx guy came to my door, I realized I was wearing the same shirt I was wearing when he delivered to me yesterday. How embarrassing.

I'm bleary from troubleshooting and slumped over with the weight of it. But I'm nearly there. Lord, how I hope I'm not proclaiming that too soon.

So I'm tired of sitting here, but I got to see that The Problem with Popplers episode of Futurama a little while ago. I love this part:

"There are many good reasons to eat. Hunger, boredom, wanting to be the world's fattest man. But not revenge." - Jrrr of the planet Omicron Persei 8 (Lauren Tom)

And, owing to my hair and make-up, Sarah said I looked punk on Sunday. How do you like that. I liked it fine.

Oh, and in case you missed it, my pal Simon -- true to his calling of he who most reliably makes me feel grand -- left this comment about me on a recent post: "I declare, she's got a balcony you could do Shakespeare from." Is it just being Australian that grants him such a knack for paying a randy compliment? Anway, it suits me.

So that's that from the freelance desk. Correspondent signing out, eyes slitted with the weeness of the hours. I've been thoroughly trampled by my workload in the past few weeks. And I'm looking forward to a break just in time for my anniversarial celebrations. When drinking time arrives, no one will be readier than me.

May 11, 2004

Bag Balm

See? I had to work the night through yet again. And I'm disappointingly far from finished. If you ever catch yourself envying me my lazy afternoons, reading books on my belly in the sunshine-dappled park, just remember this night and its accursed ilk. I wanted to take NyQuil three hours ago. Now, there's just no point. Soldier on? I shall. No one loves a non-soldiering-on-type person.

May 10, 2004

"Gabardine" always sounded more luxurious than it was.

I thought I had outwitted that cold last week. But it doubled back and got the best of me. I haven't been sick in quite some time. It's humbling. And I can't even take advantage of that sickness-mediated excuse to stay in bed all day and recuperate while dozing in and out of I Dream of Jeannie reruns. I have deadlines that would set a deadline fairy's hair on fire.

Perhaps because I'm under the weather, perhaps because of the familiarity of driving home on Sunday nights, perhaps because of the great lot of things I still keep wanting to get done -- it makes me feel soft and fragile and contemplative. My body wants me to take medicine and let the gravity of delirium pull me down to the ocean floor. My urgency doesn't like that idea.

I was listening to music in the car, and I thought of secret messages I wanted to send. But I outgrew them nearly as soon as the ideas hatched. That's the thing about being stuck in traffic. It's like an incubator. And sometimes you can pass in and out of phases without ever leaving your seat. And you can't help but wonder what things might happen if you let the whim be the plan instead of letting the pragmatism digest the folly. Even moreso in the lusty month of May. I played violin for Camelot one summer. There were lyrics in those songs that had their way with me. Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks. Everyone makes divine mistakes.

You can learn a lot of things from the flowers. But apparently that's for next month.

May 9, 2004

Ghost of Birthdays Yet to Come

It was nigh on a week till my actual birthday, but I was favored with a surprise party tonight. The first ever for me. The party was not a surprise. But that it was for me caught me entirely unawares. I was pretty in pink and tipping into the eighties chic, and I was given gifts that bore a spanking theme. I tried yet another something new with my hair tonight, and Tom said at one point to Krissy, "Every time I see her, her hair looks completely different." And I took that as a fine compliment. I always wanted to be one of those girls who was constantly reinventing herself. I have an appointment at the hair salon in a bit. Who knows what madness will ensue.

May 7, 2004

The Exaggeration of Ecstasy

I did not die in the desert. And, though my body returned with some amount of promptness, the rest of me did not. This week has flown out from me like a whisper or a raft of soapy bubbles blown through a hoop. I am alive -- not that you were worried. And I am in the throes. And I am on the verge. And I am ready.

I am also taking notes, so you needn't fear that the details will be left for the scavengers to find. I have lots of things to write and less time than I'd like to write them. I also have more pictures than I could possibly ever want to look at. And all of that will come in time. My voice is husky from an artfully avoided almost-cold. Krissy suggested I record all of my voicemail messages again on account of its sexiness. But I don't have so very many outgoing messages to record in the first place, and I never know what to say.

My birthday is coming, and nary an idea of what to do about that lurks anywhere in my sunburnt brain.

You can find me and my freckles in the swimming pool. We like it there.

May 1, 2004

The night is full of sweet scents.

It has been a week of unrest. Some good. Some typical. I need rest, but I won't find it. And I'm okay with that. The more I've worked, the freer I have felt. But I have also felt caged by it. And cagey because of it. I spent far more afternoons lounging on the museum grounds when I didn't have so much to do. I miss it.

Watching The Corporation really had an effect on me. Got all my little liberal atoms buzzing more than usual. Got me thinking. So many things deserve the name evil. It's strange how the meaning of that word has been changed by its prominence in the Bush administration's rhetoric. It's been made impotent in certain ways. It's no good any more. It's sort of a shame when a word or phrase becomes catch. Just as "liberal" and "conservative" no longer imply what they used to. Our quilt of a language is being diminished and disempowered every day. By television and politics and pop stars and preachers. Words fall flat now because we infer them in their most popular selves. And we don't seek out subtext or etymology. We don't endeavor to understand as much as we used to. I have always been one who strives to keep saying the same thing in a different way. Lucky that. If I had a smaller vocabulary, people might just stop listening altogether. Of course, I'm only taking it for granted that they mayn't already have.

It smells like night time. My pillow is full of sweetness. Perfume from my hair reminds me that I've slept here. Four walls. Two doors. Two windows. A room. A haven. A prison. A playpen. You can call a thing many names. A rose by any other name and all of that. A rose may smell as sweet if you call it a schoolbus, but it would be a lot harder to find in the card catalogue. It's a good thing no one uses those anymore.