Secret Pop

Jul 31, 2004

I can hear his tongue on his teeth in his mouth when he talks, and I love it.

Holy lord, but this latest Batman movie is poised to rock my world. No one looks better on that gritty, colder-hued film stock than Christian Bale. I can't wait.

Well, that's not true. I can wait, I suppose. In fact, maybe I prefer to. The anticipation of something great or cool or excellent always, ALWAYS eclipses the reality of it. And movies nearly never fail to disappoint me these days. Christmas Eve is better than Christmas. Red is better than yellow. Thursday is better than Friday. The memory of hoping for something will always trump anything that comes after. Unless, of course, it's a surprise ending.

Jul 28, 2004

The goodness of being a girl.
You have hips that you can use to help carry things when they get unwieldy or heavy. Sometimes people will stand up for you on a bus or a train. No one worries that you are about to chop at them with a knife you are hiding in your pants pocket. Vanity is your birthright. Merchants will cut you a deal without your having to ask, just "for your courtesy." Nobody thinks you're a killjoy for not wanting to join in the impromptu game of touch football that just cropped up. You can fan yourself with a piece of paper or a magazine without looking niminy-piminy. You can bat your eyelashes when asking for help and you will make a customer service person's day. Even if it's a girl that's helping you. You can charm your way out of a traffic ticket. You can wear whatever shoes you want with whatever socks you want or with no socks at all or with two pair on each foot. You can be just friends. If you don't hurry when you cross the street, people don't mind so much. You can buy anything you want, and no one will look at you funny. Even dildos. You can ask for multiple tastes at the ice cream counter, and the scoop-wielder will be happy to serve you. Unless you're fat. If you're fat, all of the above is null and void. You can get away with thinking you're fat. But if you actually are clinically fat, the world -- which was once your oyster -- clamps shut, catching the hem of your chocolate milk-stained sweatpants in the process and forcing you to tug awkwardly, tear your clothing, and skulk off in the other direction, telling yourself that oysters were never so much to begin with. Too much guts in the middle. Not nearly so nice as a good clam or shrimp.
When you're a girl, you can paint your dog's toenails without getting funny looks from the neighbors. You can blame everything on your hormones. Even bank robbery. You can wear fashions of bygone eras and be admired, unlike boys, who look dumb when they dress up like Confederate soldiers or President Lincoln. You can have a cat. You can cry at the movies. You can buy flowers for no reason. You can drink cocktails that are neither clear nor amber-colored. You can open a boutique with a frou-frou double entendre name and no one will throw a brick through the window. You can drive a pastel car. You can sell cosmetics for a living. And if you listen to all the grade school hype, you can be a bank president or a fireman or a lady astronaut or a trapezist or a school teacher or a doctor or a doctor's helper or a train engineer or a parole officer or a game show contestant or a grandmother or a political activist or a bear tamer or a tattooed freak or a photographer or a newspaper reporter or a landscape artist or an administrator or a bus driver or a mail carrier or a judge or a jewelry designer or a divorcee or a movie star or even president of the United States of America. One thing I think you can't do is eat a really staggering number of hot dogs in one sitting without making everyone frown. And this is especially true if you're fat.
Also, when you're a girl, you can post pictures of yourself on the Internet. See?

Jul 26, 2004

Dan-dan-dandy San Diego

Comic-Con is over. Phew. San Diego was lovely. The weather was beautiful. I used mass transit for the first time in a city I lived in for years and years. And I never once complained about my feet hurting, even though I wore impractical-but-pretty footwear the whole time. It's a policy with me. Unless I'm actually bleeding, I will accept the consequences of the shoes I wear without drawing attention to my sacrifice. I'm not in it for the pity, after all. As far as shoes are concerned, I'm fairly invincible.

But I am bent and bedraggled and all that comes of no sleep, no food, and no relief in sight. I met a deadline today. It's only the beginning. And I have a funeral to attend this week. And that promise dulls all the colors.

I had wanted to complete my entry for an essay contest, but I missed the deadline alas. This is no way to become a respected writer.

I spent a shameful amount of money on pens at the convention. Maybe I will do some art.

Jul 23, 2004

I'll be your cocktail napkin.

I listen to the hum of the fan, and I imagine myself inside a machine floating in the depths of space. And it is no one else's fault that I am alone. And there is nothing to reach for. There are no failures to count or possibilities to assess. What is is. I would deem that freedom. The freest kind.

It's a marvel that I am not asleep at the moment. A marvel.

But I am in a sort of dream state. My heart is breaking for a dear friend. My fingers are sore from wringing. My heart is heavy. I can feel it in my eyes. I am tired of this slouching posture and the taunting, leering, jeering face of every time-keeping device in the room. My heart is breaking. But it seems that there is a numbness in the wreckage. And that smacks of conditioning. And that means that I have been here before. And that is the saddest story of them all.

I will be valuable when you realize you've forgotten. I will remind you. When you find me, crumpled and left, you will smooth out my edges and find the words you wrote. Will you remember what you meant when you wrote them? Will drinks or tears have bled the ink? Will the numbers and letters have all gone to mush? I'm sorry. I am more absorbent than I'd like to be.

Jul 22, 2004

Handshake Agreement

I once knew a guy. But now I don't know him anymore. He is no one to me. I am nothing to him.

I once thought I knew myself, too. But that was ambitious.

The only thing I know today is that I am in too deep and the work is hard and the rewards are small and the joy is shortlived and there is very little peace for me in the rotation of the earth. There is nearly nothing but that dizzy spinning feeling.

Jul 21, 2004

Drug of Choice

I like to call people things that aren't their names. I like to call people things that make no sense. Especially when addressing them in email. I like to call people Pegleg and Daisy and Cuttlefish and Slapstick. Jonny-O. Fruit Loop. Scallywag. Heartbreaker. Snowcap. Handheld. Jawbreaker. Gold Doubloon. Crowbar. Tiger. Linchpin. Latchkey. Vortex. Popsicle. Loverboy. Lawgiver. Patterson...maybe it's something about the unsatisfying dearth of syllables in what most people call themselves. And what of those who shorten their names? I can't get used to the single-syllable. It might as well be a sneeze. I like it when syllables take on a lyrical quality. I like it when your name is something I can sing at you.

I like to call myself things, too. Not so much in name but in title. If you look through old emails of mine, you might find that I professed a post-closing claim to the throne of Cereal Magnate or Purveyor of Teas and Sweets. Or I might have adopted an ad slogan for myself. Something like "good to the last drop," or "4 out of 5 dentists agree." And even more commonly, if I've bothered to take any time at all, there will just be some phrase at the end. "Mary, cold in the shoes," "Mary, up from the ashes," "Mary, to the infinite power," "Mary, shape of a billfold," "Mary, not much of a leprechaun," "Mary, wish I had an elephant," "Mary, a toothbrush a day if necessary." Sometimes they mean things. Sometimes they don't. Mostly, they just point to the fact that I never seem to think "Mary" is enough.

Some of these words occurred to me last week. I was sad and trying not to be. I am only a little sad today. But plenty overwhelmed and the blue that comes from tired and taxed. I worked until 5:30 A.M. for the second night this week. And I'm not where I need to be workwise. I let movies play while I toiled. Good ones. Crap ones. Late in the night, I put the second season of The Office in the DVD player and let that go. And when all the episodes had done, I called it a night.

And I was thirsty in the wee hours, so I drank a Vitamin Water. They're full of sugar, so I haven't been drinking the ones I have in my fridge. But I didn't want any more Diet Coke. So I drank it, and it was delicious. And I awoke this morning with the worst possible headache in the history of headaches. How's that for a sugar high?

My sleeping was done in a typical fitful cadence. And the dreams I had are just beyond reach. Like nearly everything else.

Jul 18, 2004

"The years have been short but the days were long."

It's been a long day. Ever so long. I played three shows at the comedy theater. I felt good about them and bad about them and satisfied and frustrated. But when I was wringing out a mop outside and an audience member said, "She's the best one up there and they make her mop up?" it made me feel just slightly less beleaguered. I'm sure I wasn't the best one up there in everyone's mind. But I'll settle for pleasing the people who can be pleased. I felt a little roughed up and maybe a little betrayed here and there. But these are things that I will forget. My tendency to take things too personally is trumped by the passing of time. Even now, I can barely remember how we were sweaty and impatient for our breakfast at Nick's, and at the time, it was the only thing that mattered.

Since then it's been a book you read in reverse
So you understand less as the pages turn
Or a movie so crass and awkardly cast
That even I could be the star

The day aches in me. In my eyes. In my gut. I am not myself tonight. And no amount of cool shower or oscillating fan or beachy night air will restore me. I take great comfort in the fact that tomorrow is something of its own, and once you're in it, today ceases to exist. I don't want to suffer in the heat. I don't want to suffer at all, if I can help it.

I don't look back as much as a rule
And all this way before murder was cool
But your memory is here and I'd like it to stay
Warm light on a winter day

This was me the night before.


Two loose kites falling from the sky
Drawn to the ground and an end to flight

Jul 16, 2004

"All around me are familiar faces..."

I went to the premiere of Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut tonight at the Egyptian Theatre. The affair gave the appearance of swank, what with all the be-earpieced security personnel. A good chunk of the cast and crew (including Jake Gyllenhaal and Katharine Ross) were in attendance for a post-film Q&A and after-party. And there was a smattering of press on hand. So that explains the bounce staff. But I got through their flimsy phalanx without a ticket just fine. I'm cunning. Like a fox.

I wish I could have enjoyed myself more. I was uncomfortable and tense. It just got warmer and warmer and warmer in the cinema, until I found myself wanting it to be over and not caring anymore. And the guy running the Q&A asked his questions in the most long-winded and sycophantic way. If I'd had rocks in my pockets, I'd have thrown them.

I've seen Donnie Darko many times since its original release, which happened just a short time after I first moved to Los Angeles. I remember seeing billboards for it when I had just gotten here, and wondering about it. As early as November -- only a month or two after my move -- I remember going to a performance my friend Jo Alexis was giving at the home of her friend Bairbre Dowling and meeting Holmes Osborne there and noting that he was to be in the film. It was all just a rumor at that point.

And, though I've seen it many times and own the DVD and have never really attached much sentiment to it before, for some reason, tonight, it dragged my heart around a little. I thought about those first months here. And the year that followed. I thought about all of the hopes I had and how so many of them were dashed. I thought about the way I would feel each time I came home to this apartment and how that changed over the months that followed. The ups and downs in my sense of welcome. This place has been a refuge and a prison. A rendezvous spot and an escape pod. It has been more trouble than it's worth and more reward than it has cost. And, as inconstant as it has been, it has been the only constant in my time here. The rest has been a roller coaster. A toggle switch. A strobe light. Mercurial. Fickle as a woman or a winning streak.

I enjoyed the movie, I suppose. Drew Barrymore is only more awful in it because there's more footage of her, and she is really terrifically bad. But the rest of the more that was added was helpful in changing a lot of what the story once was. I don't know if it was as effective as Richard Kelly assumes it was. In his Q&A comments, I gathered he thought that a lot more questions were answered by this new cut, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. It did offer more opportunities to see how the characters felt about each other, though, and that had its value. But it's still not a transparent narrative by any stretch. And it takes a lot longer to get to the final question mark. So it's a good thing I didn't have to pee.

The Cinematheque is about to have a sort of '70s and '80s wacky musical fest, so we saw trailers for The Apple and Can't Stop the Music, and they were hilarious, and I would like to see both of them while under the influence of a cocktail of things. But that's just something else to look forward to.

I don't know what to make of me at the moment. I would say that I have been blue lately. But I think it's more accurate to say that I have been black. If I ever have a sunny disposition, I don't like it to be called that. But I have a feeling most people see me smiling most of the time and that I strike them as pleasant and encouraging and cheery. And I wonder if that's still true today. I feel less than apple-cheeked, I'm afraid.

I'm always keeping something secret, though. I suppose that's true. I'm always harboring some bit of unknown. I may wear my heart on my sleeve, but nearly everything else stays in my handbag.

No one knew me, no one knew me.

Jul 15, 2004

Mood Elevators

Finally, the Finality

A lot has happened. A lot has sunk in. I can make sense of things. I can't make sense of things. I get it and I don't. It's a mystery. My head is stuck inside a giant walnut shell. It's echo-y and dark. I took a bite out of a piece of bread and I saw the marks it left. And I thought, "If I took a picture of this and posted it and then later killed someone with my teeth, this would be the forensic evidence that would convict me." I don't want to be a downer. And I don't want to be a faker. And I don't want to be the only one of whatever I am. Let's start a club! We'll meet on Tuesdays and take turns bringing snacks. And we will drink punch out of Dixie cups with trivia questions on them and whoever gets the most questions correct will not have to pay dues.

Let's do something, anyway. Time is running out.

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky.

There's a momentum to getting errands done, I find. Once I leave the house, I'm on a roll. Have a stern talk with the photo place people who printed all those pictures on glossy instead of matte. Go get a draft at the bank and make sure to let them know how many hours you spent correcting their account-opening errors the day before. Get your smog check done. Buy more bandages. It helps that I live within blocks of the bank and the post office and the drug store and the auto place. I even made a few phone calls that were long overdue.

But even when I get that fire lit under me, there are times when it falls flat. I'm glad I got it done, but I don't really care that I did. I feel life draining away and the desire to make anything of it growing into more of a legend that you pass on to the young'uns. It always worries me when I just don't feel like it. But it feels more and more familiar every time it happens.

I am standing by myself in line for something I don't want to go to. They will be selling popcorn inside, but it will be stale and I will hate it.

At the Risk of Oversleeping

I am one of those few. Maybe they're a lucky few. It depends on how you look at it. I have a hot FedEx guy. Two of them, actually. And I get deliveries from one of my clients so frequently these days that I see at least one of them pretty frequently. Frequently enough that he calls me by name and comments on how early I'm up -- if it appears that I am up in the first place. So, I'm lucky I guess because it's a pleasure to go to the door much of the time. But then there's that other component of panicking that I look frightful when he has a 7 A.M. delivery for me. Honestly, who looks good at that hour? Well, he does, but that's different. He's used to it.

When I told Adam that my FedEx guy is cute -- and I honestly don't recall how that came up in conversation; I don't think I just blurted it out for no reason, but who knows -- he was quick to advise me to "go for it." He seemed convinced that you are actually required to take action under these circumstances, given that so few of us receive deliveries from any but the most unappealing of characters. But that's not how things work in my world. And maybe there's a reason for that.

When I heard the doorbell this morning, I had to throw on a bathrobe (because I was literally just about to step into the shower) and I recall regretting my outfit. That's what proves to me that I live in a ridiculous unreality (a) because I have been reduced to dressing to impress the couriers and (b) because, in truth, I don't think it matters to them what I'm wearing. If I come to the door with a glass of wine in my hand and a come-hither expression on my face, whether or not he takes the bait will probably not be a factor of what color robe I'm wearing. Anyway, it's all too Adrienne Barbeau.

Jul 14, 2004


I finally went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 last night. I've been meaning to go. Wanting to go. Missing out on opportunities to go. For weeks now. But at last, I went, and it was a good thing. It was really entertaining, really informative, really provocative, and really infuriating. What I've heard most often from friends who have seen it is their disbelief at how much of the information the film presented was not being delivered by the major news agencies. Or any news agencies at all, for that matter. And that's definitely something you come away from it thinking. But I don't want to posture or preach. I want people to see the movie, but I won't twist any arms. You will make up your own mind. As you should.

A hispanic couple left early into the film and didn't return. I wondered if it's possible for someone to come to see a Michael Moore movie and be caught unawares by the subject matter. Maybe they mistook it for a screening of the Ray Bradbury story the title parodies. (I'm being sarcastic; they were wearing matching sweatpants.)

In my ongoing trailer commentary, I will say that the trailer for Motorcycle Diaries made me want to go buy deodorant, and the trailer for the remake of The Manchurian Candidate really, REALLY chafes at me. Manchurian Global. The very idea.

I've been on hold and not on hold with Cingular Wireless for the better part of two hours now. I'm now hearing an extraordinarily cheesy instrumental version of Belinda Carlisle's Mad About You. I can't quite put my finger on how it makes me feel. But I think that synthesized steel drums might be a trigger mechanism for the "sleeper" in me.

And in further news of my wound-healing: Peh! I think I just got Neosporin in my mouth.

Jul 11, 2004

Relief and Sighing

Tonight was the final show in the run of Guys and Dolls. I was so drained all day today. It's been such an oddly stressful few days. I have felt exhausted in every waking moment. Except for those in which I was too tired to take stock. I haven't been what I would call miserable. Not by any stretch. I've just been taxed. And I've had persistent headaches. And I have felt tired and listless. And I have noted that it sucks when you're not at least hungry. Because at least when you're hungry, you can eat something, and it's like you solved a problem. There's no solving feeling curiously not right.

Last night, I decided not to stick around for the strike party. I sort of wish I had worked up the willingness to stay. And not so much for the Italian food. Although, when I heard there were giant meatballs, I felt sad and deprived. I love meatballs. And I'm not trying to be cute. I really do love meatballs. And the really large ones are especially luxurious. In addition, I found out today that I missed being presented with the "Golden Note" Award, the orchestra recognition trophy that gets presented to one musician in each show this stage company does. I was so pleased to have received it. I wish I could have been there to hear what was said about me, but in a way I'm fine to have missed it. I might have been dashed if the conductor had said, "We're giving this thing to Mary in recognition of how far she had to drive to do the show." That's not quite the same compliment as, oh, say, "She played the fiddle real purdy." I'm happy about it, though. Either way. Because it's nice when people think enough of you to give you a trophy. No matter what it's for.

Plus, in the old days, I always used to prepare little song parodies and similar such cutenesses that made cast members say, "Yay! Orchestra strikes!" And this time, I didn't really have any wry wit to apply. The bugs weren't too bad. The climate was pretty consistent. We didn't get jacked out of parking. A pony didn't almost come careening into the pit. Not much fell on us. And nothing very important ever got screwed up. Which makes for pretty uninspiring parody fodder. But I may just be tapdancing around the fact that I spent the first two weeks of the production sick with a cold and this last week of it sick with ill-at-ease. And in the downtime, I began and finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and found myself wishing I had made the book last longer. I then started into David Sedaris' latest release. And -- while EVERYONE surely knows by now how much I adore David Sedaris -- I was longing for a sustained narrative. And that's exactly what David Sedaris is the opposite of in the habit of writing. Also, humor suffers when you have to pick the book up and put it down at the whim of the dialogue. I just read when the lulls in score are long enough to allow it. And tonight being closing night, I decided not to bother. I wanted to soak in the show a bit. And my eyes were tired and sore. Anyway, I didn't have any strikes this time. So the absence of having something to contribute to the party made me less eager to hang around. All the same, I'm sorry I missed it. And I wish I had stuck around long enough to say goodbye to cast members I like but rarely get to see.

I went to the cinema today to see Anchorman. And I scribbled notes down while the previews played. This is what they looked like:

[About Cat Woman] Do you smell something? Oh, it's that new Cat Woman movie. Pee-yew.

[About Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle] Is this court-mandated multi-ethnicity? Neil Patrick Harris has hair plugs. This is just another in a string of films on that new theme of the ultra-mundane quest. Hm.

[About Taxi] It's Jimmy Fallon, but it should so be Will Smith. It's really just Jimmy Fallon doing a thin impression of Will Smith. And if it was Will Smith, I would even more fervently not go to see it.

[About Wimbledon] I love Paul Bettany. But I don't love Kirsten Dunst. And the two of them as a couple -- it's just too...blonde. They make me feel like I want to go put on some sunscreen. But then I don't want to bother, because they also make me feel like I already have skin cancer. But it is about time they made a big TENNIS movie.

[About Collateral] Jamie Foxx turned serious actor? Tom Cruise turned old?

I took some notes during Anchorman, too, but I didn't want to not pay attention. I just remember seeing the scene of Ron Burgundy's home with the brown Pontiac (I think) out front, and it made me think of all of those automobile ads I've torn out of Look Magazine. And it made me want to drink amber-colored liquor from a highball glass. With ice. And I also remember thinking that I heart Steve Carell in the way that makes it appropriate for me to use "heart" as a verb.

Anchorman was very funny. I could criticize the story, but I won't. I saw Christina Applegate on The Daily Show yesterday, and I made some snarky comment about how her trying to be funny was comedically cockblocking Jon Stewart, and Krissy said, "You hate women." And I thought, "Do I?" It can't be. It shouldn't be. I would be ashamed if that turned out to be true. But then today, during the movie, I realized that, by and large, I do hate women. And it's not very winning of me. But there are precious few of them who don't stick in my throat like so much alum. The ones I approve of get front-of-line privileges to be sure. But the rest of the lot make me cringe and wish I had been born a boy. And Brick was right. Their periods DO attract bears. If I ever amount to anything, it will always remain that I was pretty good FOR A GIRL. And that makes me want to open a can of something bad for me and eat the whole thing.

I had ten friends in the audience at tonight's show. I suppose that makes up somewhat for the number of nights when no one I knew showed up at all. Some people say they just love to play and that they don't care if anyone sees or hears it. Those people are liars. Playing "for yourself" is a crock invented by unpopular people. Anything you do that's good needs a witness. Preferably two. Otherwise, with no one to corroborate your claim that you knocked it out of the park, you become that guy who toots his own horn and mixes band and baseball metaphors.

Am I just TRYING to make this post long?

I want someone to offer to buy me a drink and to have it be for at least one of the right reasons. If it's for all of them, even better. But if it happens while I am at Comic-Con, it will be creepy, and I will pretend I never wanted it in the first place.

I never got anything particularly delicious or satisfying to eat today. I hate that. I wish someone would buy me a burrito. And I wish it would have extra sour cream in it. And also magic.

Jul 10, 2004

"Your mind is fancy."

I have been wrung a bit today. I woke up way early and took my car in for scheduled maintenance and a recent air conditioning issue. And I ended up paying $1755. Seventeen hundred and fifty-five dollars. And change. $1755! That's rent for some people. A house payment. That's minor elective surgery. In certain countries, that's enough to feed a boy and his village for several years. And build a university in his name. That's a lot of potatoes.

And it hurt. I'm strapped, and I hate it. But I tried to look at the bright side. The bright side being that I can come up with the dough. There was a time when I would have just had to say, "Sorry. I'll just have to take my chances with the timing belt and the rear brakes." I would have had to go without air conditioning. I would have had to tell them not even to bother with the oil change. I would have had to look into my car's eyes with a mixture of shame and sadness and inform it that I was going to have to sell it to a lab for medical experiments. I would have had to explore public transit. And public transit is a pee factory. So I am grateful that I am no longer in that part of my calendar. And at the same time, I hate how much it hurts to deal with all that is real. It's just not nearly as much fun as I would like to pretend it ever could be.

Also on the bright side is the fact that occasionally, a bartender knows me well enough to make sure my glass is never empty and likes me well enough to say that that last one was on him. It seems like something out of the movies. Maybe that's why it makes such a difference.

When I got the call from the service center, Willie said, "Are you sitting down?" And I thought, " I don't find that funny." I don't think that my having to spend this gargantuan sum merits the employment of a tired cliche. I was, in fact, lying down. In a bed I'm not used to. But the reclined position did nothing to soften the blow of the estimate he gave me. Do people really faint when you deliver bad news? Does that ever happen? Don't you have to be a bit of a drama queen to go weak in the knees when your mechanic calls and tells you the water pump can't be saved? I'm no drama queen. And yet I'd have to be a queen of some sort for the $1755 tab to not have made a difference to me. I'd have said, "Please, my good man. Don't be vulgar. You needn't read the figures to my highness. I have a staff for that." And then I would tell Rita, my secretary (who curiously happened to be male), to liquidate one of the rubies to cover the cost of the repairs. I'm fonder of emeralds anyway.

I was anxious and uncomfortable from the moment I woke up. I had unhappy dreams. I waited for phone calls that did not come. I answered calls that I wish I'd missed. I took surprising comfort from talking to my mom. And I wished that I had been smarter about so many things. But that's nothing new. And nothing ever is.

The guy who gave me a ride from the car shop told me about the hard knocks he's been enduring. His lady of four years left him for some dude named Paul. But she still yanks his chain. I was a patient and compassionate advisor, but the ride home was brief, and I'm no shining example of choosing what is right and smart and healing. But it's always easier to give advice than to choose. Especially when you're dealing with a relative stranger. It's not like he'll ever know what a fool I was. And maybe I was enough of a fool that someone hearing of the tale would find me pathetically endearing. An adorable muffin with a smiling dimple and a cheerful disposition. Sometimes -- and I almost never believe this -- it's easier for girls.

Paying for car repairs is a very grown-up thing. Maybe that's why I want to kill it with a stick. I like going for ice cream and getting toys out of the machine with the grasping claw thing (hopefully a temporary tattoo!). I like individually wrapped snacks. I like passing notes back and forth and buying make-up and staying out until everything is closed. I like hot dogs. I can be a right grown-up when I want to be, but I will only ever be the sort of grown-up who glares at you when you ask me if I know what's REALLY in a hot dog. Don't imagine that you could ever list an ingredient that would alter my course when I'm headed to the hot dog stand. I'm Chinese, for Pete's sake. Pig lips and beef toe sound good to me. That's a good tip for you if you want to avoid having me tell my closest friends what a jerk you are: Don't get in the habit of telling me what's good for me. I already know, and I'm not interested.

My finger hurts. And I can't keep track of what day of the week it's been. Tomorrow is the last night of my show. I will put some extra stink on that vibrato, in case anyone's listening. It's going to rule.

Your mouth is everywhere. I'm lying in it.

Jul 9, 2004

Blood is yuck.

I hurt myself today. Pretty badly. I shaved off a piece of my finger. And when I say "shaved," I mean as in "with a razor." The kind meant for smoothening the gams of lovely ladies. Curiously, they are as deft at removing a piece of knuckle as they are at decimating leg hair. I was in a hurry and rifling through my overnight bag for my toothbrush, and I forced my hand downward too quickly and found the triple-blade of my Venus shaver. Of course, I began cursing immediately. And then I began to panic. I was in a hurry because my orchestra call time was 6:30, and now all of a sudden I'm wrapping wads of toilet paper around a throbbing wound that won't stop welling up red. Krissy made a wad of paper towel into a sort of absorbent doughnut around my finger and taped it in place with scotch tape. And then I drove to the theater, where I could be seen squatting down beside the first aid kit, fumbling with the bandages and antiseptic wipes and making those sharp sucking in "s" sounds you make when something really stings. Because it did.

It was my bow hand, so it wasn't as painful as it could have been to play tonight. But it sure did get cold out, and that didn't make things any better. My bandage is soaked through and my finger is sore to the touch. Who am I kidding. It's sore to the thought. And all I keep doing is running the scenario through my head and thinking of all the ways I could have avoided the injury in the first place. It's a thing I do. When I told my friend Joe about it, he said that habit was very Run, Lola, Run of me. I liked that.

I stole a few bandages from the first aid kit. Krissy doesn't keep them. That's why the paper towel doughnut. In my house, all the bandages have pictures on them. Hello Kitty. Star Wars. Disney Princesses. I'm glad that the bandage manufacturers of the world recognized this opportunity to make wounds more fun. I know, at least for my part, that stopping the bleeding with Jar Jar Binks is better than stopping it with plain. The only case where I don't think a character version is better is with pancakes. If you get suckered into ordering the Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes, just realize that the places where his ears and face have to be defined are the places where you got robbed of pancake. In terms of value, round is the only way to go. With pancakes anyway.

I used to prefer plain wound dressing. Particularly that time I woke up in the fourth grade with a neck so stiff that I couldn't raise my ear from my shoulder. My mom took me to the infirmary, and the doctor put one of those spongy beige neck braces on me. The kind that fits with velcro. And -- as a favor to me -- he didn't send me back to school before using a black magic marker to draw a bow tie on the cloth, right where an actual bow tie would have been, had I been wearing one. Well let me just tell you, that was one of the worst days in my fourth grade life. Not only did I not get any sympathy for my troubles when I got back to school, at lunch, this one bullyish older boy named Bill Roberts (a very pale-headed blond fellow who liked to wear an orange windbreaker and talk a lot of shit) ridiculed me relentlessly. He wasn't so clever as to link my look to Vaudeville or anything, but his audience wasn't so very discerning. I was just lucky it was super taco day in the lunch room, or my shame might have held their attention for more than twelve or thirteen seconds. When I got home, my mother and I figured out that the brace was reversible, and I was spared the shame of having to wear the clumsy trompe l'oeil a second time, but the damage was done. We never did find out what was wrong with my neck. But it went away, so we forgot about it.

No one made fun of my finger tonight. But I didn't draw a picture on the bandage, so who knows.

Anyway, ouch. And good night.

Jul 8, 2004

I was riding a giraffe across Africa.

That was a dream I had. The giraffe bit. It's one of many, many dreams I've had in recent nights of staccato sleeping. I find myself fading in and out of strange near-realities. Sometimes confused and dizzying. Sometimes sweaty and fitful. Sometimes just slow and syrupy. Molasses-like. The dream you come up out of where your tongue feels so heavy you can't bear to speak and yet there's so much to say.

I have heard countless dream theories. Every character in your dream is you. This represents that. You're afraid of dying. But this is an area in which I am faithless. I don't know what things mean. And I think you're inclined to believe the interpretation that best suits your idea of yourself. Like when you go to a psychic and she asks you if there's someone in your life whose name begins with "K," and you go, "Yes!" and that somehow constitutes divination. And then she wants you to pay her a hundred dollars and to not eat any meat for the next week. Whatever. At the same time, I know it has to be part of something. Even if it's something primordial or something unimportant. I think whole lives are lived in dreams. Like that "Inner Light" episode of STTNG. I love that idea. Maybe that's how I can wrassle me some second chances. I sure needs 'em.

The faces that show up in my dreams follow no logic. Sometimes it's the boy I never see anymore. Or the one I have just seen. Or the one I should never see again. Sometimes it's my mother. Sometimes it's only someone pretending to be my mother. Sometimes it's the movie star or the bass player or the genius. Sometimes it's the character in the movie I never saw or the one in the book I never read. Sometimes it's a trace of an idea that can never be realized. Dreams are written in sand. And it's windy out.

I regret that I didn't take more pictures when I was younger. Even if I hated the way I looked. I'm sorry I didn't capture more of that time. I took up photography in high school and college and that led to a lot of images. But these days, I take pictures of my friends and the places we go and the things we eat and drink when we're there, and it isn't important, but it's beautiful. And one day when my memory requires jogging, it will all be there for me. The diaries I have kept over the years do the same thing for me. Only with pictures, you can keep the feelings secret. You can show a houseguest the album with all the photos from that amusement park day and he need never know that you were sad that day. You can show the raised glass photos and he needn't ever suspect that everything went wrong when the drinks went down. And maybe there's the added beautiful possibility that you might change the way you remember those things. And, without the guilty, damning words to lock you in to the sentiments, you might look at the photos one day and see an event that had nothing painful in it at all. That has been happening for me more and more.

So I look at the photo albums and I notice the gaps of the years when no pictures were taken. And I feel sad, because it makes it look as if there was no one I loved that year. No one who loved me. No puppies that made me gurgle and coo. No parents to get misty over. No crushing crushes. No fun times. No bad times. No times at all. It's just a void. Stasis. An ice age. I wish I had thought to save more of it. I have more bits and pieces than would be needed to fashion even the most prolific exhibit of my life and times. And yet, it's nearly blank. The canvas is so vast that all that is on it barely colors the corner. And when you stand far enough back that you can see all the edges, you are convinced that the canvas has nothing on it at all. This is what makes me want to travel in outer space. I think traveling in space is like painting with a larger brush. Maybe some of it will actually show up.

But there is no galaxy for me at the moment. There is only a bit of Los Angeles and the concern that there are too many blank pages in my various diaries. When all this is gone, will it be like I was never here? In the years where there were no pictures, I begin to wonder if I was ever there. So it stands to reason.

I am treasuring memories. Running my fingertips lovingly over photographs on matte paper. I am shying away from the recollections I know will hurt me. I am turning the light out on slideshows that shouldn't be watched. I want to sleep, but I know I won't. I tried to yesterday. Ever so determinedly. But it didn't work. I reached out in dream stupor. I saw the clock more times than anyone ever does. I felt the breeze and the buzzing in the night air and I pulled the sheets up to my chin and slid around under them. And waited. And eventually, sleep came. But it was like the party guest that has somewhere else to be. That guest is rude. And you will know not to invite him to your next affair. The nerve.

My landlord is willing to let me have a dog. So, I'm officially looking. It's the best thing ever.

Jul 5, 2004

"She's dressed in black again."

I have always been susceptible to being highjacked into inadvertent trips down memory lane. But for the past several months, I've been surprisingly free of the nostalgic interlude. At the same time, the absence of that component of myself has left me nearly paralyzed. At least in the writing sense. The past few days have seen a slight return to those old sadder habits. There's no scientific explanation for it. And I don't know whether to welcome it all or curse it. I see myself in glimpses. Fun-loving. Dependable. Friendly. Surprising. But there's a little bit of morose and brooding in the mix. Ironically, I've trained myself to see them with relief. Going anywhere without my introspective episodes is like removing the training wheels from a bicycle. But in that simile, it would seem that a big girl like me would want to do just that.

I've still a touch of the coughing, but I'm mostly right as rain. Tired. Dreadfully tired. But only from how much I've gotten to do. And I cheer for that.

And I realize it can be of nearly no value to anyone to read several paragraphs about me being tired or nostalgic or hungry even. But I haven't had a moment to spare. If I had been able to see a movie, I would surely tell you what I thought of it. If you're keeping your bank book, you'll note that I still owe you an opinion on the Paul F. Tompkins Show. I shall make good. With interest. I would hate for anyone to think I had ceased to be a rabid fan. But hold fast. There are lots of things yet to come. I can't even count the number of photographs I have scanned in the past week. Prepare to have your eyeballs shown things.

Oh, but I am tired. The sleep I have tonight is destined to be of the very finest variety. No matter what.