Secret Pop

Sep 30, 2004

Someday, this picture will provoke nostalgia.

Sep 26, 2004

How it came from there to here

It was three years ago today that I showed up for my first day of work at my new Los Angeles job. I had driven up from San Diego the night before and stayed at a hotel with my mom so we could go apartment hunting together. I was wearing a sleeveless black turtleneck and these sort of dark greenish-brownish cigarette pants. The woman in HR took my picture with a Polaroid camera and put the photograph on the bulletin board with all the other employees. I remember being surprised that I didn't look horrible in it. I actually looked very thin. It had been a trying month. And I had lost my appetite. My day started late and ended early, and I drove back home to San Diego that night. Still so many loose ends to tie up. Packing to do. I met my friend Jennifer, and we went to Nunu's and had a drink or two. A guy kept smiling at me at the bar. But I didn't know what to do with that. We left when someone we knew but didn't want to see walked in. And the guy who had been smiling at me followed us out and said good night to us. I have nearly no recollection of him.

How we muddied what seemed clear

How can it have been three years. Already. It's something old people say. How time flies. It's not something you pay attention to when they point it out to you. You don't listen to the lyrics to Sunrise, Sunset and go, "I know, right?" But then all of a sudden you're looking back on something that has grown so very small in the distance. Something that used to fill the horizon. To all four corners. Something you couldn't see past or climb over or work around. All of a sudden you are giant and it is miniature, and you could smash it if you wanted to, but it is too far away to reach. All of a sudden you're out in the middle of nowhere. The last gas station for miles is well behind you. And everything looks the same in every direction. There is no difference between forward and back. Except whether you will have the sun in your eyes. When I let my memory catch me up, there are great stretches of ugly. A word. A phrase. Something that still stings when I hear it. Even in recall. Moments that can stop me dead in my tracks and make me ask myself how I ever got past that or why I ever let myself. Sure, I'm only flesh and blood. I'm no monument. I'm no glorious amalgam of perfect things. But there's flesh and blood and there's flesh and blood. And one of those pairs is weaker than the other. I spent a lot of time thinking I was saving something good. Spent. Wasted. Semantics. You could challenge the words I choose. And you would be right to. I go digging for things, and I worry too much about the dirt under my fingernails and too little about where I'm going to put all the dirt I've displaced. It's not like these questions answer themselves. And yet they do. Even if you don't ask.

Were we just doomed from the start

Were we just doomed. Were we just. I don't believe in fate. I don't believe in what is meant to be. I don't trust that things always work out. I mean, they do, of course. But not according to some plan. They just work out how they work out. But it isn't predetermined. You can totally fuck it up. That's the easy part. It's making sense of it -- or making lemonade out of it -- that weighs you down. I like to watch Iron Chef. I like the fact that the chefs are given some specific ingredient to dress up. I like that they have to make the best of whatever it is. They have to make the best of scallops or lamb or beets. It's not their fault if you don't like those things. They didn't pick it. I like the automatic absolution of that surrender. Maybe I just like being able to blame someone else. Or maybe I like the fantasy of an even playing field. Maybe I just like Japanese things. I'm not so complicated as all that.

We all get what we deserve

I believe that and I don't. Maybe I believe some version of it. "We all manage to deserve what we get." Some backwards business. The placement of a verb. I think therefore I am. I am therefore I think. Chicken. Egg. I like them over easy. I think the idea of deserving things is egotistical and Western and illogical in the grand scheme of things. It makes you penitent for no good reason. It makes you feel persecuted by happenstance. It makes you sorry, or it makes you feel entitled. It makes you think you are bigger than everything around you and that you MATTER and that some force in the universe is dialed in to what you are doing. I only wish there was something fair about the way things work out. Some form of justice. Some form of equanimity. I wish I could see the balance for the scales.

There are days when the light hits true

Yesterday, I took Arthur to LACMA, and we looked at the Robbert Flick exhibit ("Trajectories: The Photographic Work of Robbert Flick"), and I really liked it, and I bought the exhibit catalog. Early on in my time here, there was a contemporary photography exhibit at LACMA that included one of his sequences on Pico Blvd. I loved the piece then, but I wasn't as famliar with Pico as I am today, and when I couldn't find things on it that looked familiar, I thought to myself that I had more driving to do. When I saw the three pieces on Pico Blvd. yesterday, I found all sorts of things I recognized. All sorts of businesses that I drive by and know. That record store I keep meaning to patronize. The dry cleaner with the fancy ampersand in the logo. I know which side of the street they are on. I know which direction the camera is facing without having to read the caption. That's what three years of living here will get you. And that's not nothing.

Afterwards, Arthur taught me to play cribbage on the grass, and I almost won.

I also almost went to the Rustic with Arthur and his friend, but Josh and I got to Zach's party later than I had planned, and by the time we had said our hellos and gotten through a drink or two, it was nigh on last call. So we stayed put for a while. And I stopped trying to map the mystical progression of conversation topics that happens when you're standing somewhere with a drink in your hand. The police found a dead body in the trunk of a car near where Yun lives. Paul is considering becoming a vegan after seeing a documentary called Earthlings. Josh believes George Bush is going to be re-elected, even though none of us wants it to be so. Roz is a public defender. Eric chooses vodka, too. Geoffrey had an unusual UFO-shaped steel drum thing in the trunk of his car. You play it with your hand, and it sounds very pretty. Mario is very direct. By the end of the night, it's no wonder you can't remember people's names. Chances are you never heard them.

If the sun's too hot, well then sit in the shade

Another lost summer. I don't know that this one was particularly cruel. It had its moments. I made plans and sacrifices and commitments and progress. I saw flames rekindled and extinguished. Friends rediscovered and re-lost. Promises made and not made. Promises made and broken. Surprises. Delights. Glimpses of the unexpected. I cut my hair. I started over. I went swimming. This summer left marks on me. It lingers.

Given the chance I still defer.

Sep 23, 2004

Map Quest

I keep dreaming advice. But none of it is right. And I forget that I've dreamed it until sometime in my normal day, I catch myself thinking, "You're not supposed to eat cabbage because it makes you fat because of the sodium and the...wait, this makes no sense." And then I realize that it's something I dreamed and that it should be ignored. All these random bits of things I now know that are actually false. My brain. Full of false facts. I dream that certain things are on sale now. Or that health insurance is affordable. Or that mashed potatoes contain a lot of vitamins. That cops like it when you offer them carrot sticks and that motorcycles are very safe. I even dreamed that "Chinaman" was coming back into vogue as a way of referring to my people. And I was glad of it. But none of it is true. And I'm worried that, before long, I will find myself on my way to a place that doesn't exist to keep an appointment I never made with a rabbit who doesn't observe Purim. My schedule can't accommodate that kind of error.

Word Scramble
I had to go to traffic court today. I got a fix-it ticket for a headlight that was out back in February. With all the added fees and nonsense, I had to pay $135 (not including parking) to get the story put to bed. Los Angeles sure is a ritzy town. Ten dollars here just FEELS like so much more...
The new issue of The Believer contains a copy of Army Man #1. So awesome. My dog trainer was having me stand outside for a few minutes, and I found it in my mail. I started reading it and didn't want to go back inside. Dog training isn't really very funny at all, while Army Man -- by contrast -- is. I started a zine last summer. I should finish it. I have some ideas. And plenty of glue stick.
The other night after The Pixies, some guy hawking tee shirts told me I had pretty legs. Then later, when Krissy and I were further into the parking lot, he crossed our path again and said, "You still have pretty legs." And then he called me "mama." And then he said, "What's your name?" And I said, "Mama." And he asked for my hand, and I reluctantly gave it to him. He kissed it and then wiped the kiss spot off with one of his Pixies tee shirts. And then he thanked me for letting him kiss my hand and not scratching his eyes out. And those are exactly the words he used. I like a compliment as much as the next girl. Maybe more. No. There's no maybe. I like a compliment as much as a Christian girl likes Jesus. That being said, there are few things flattering to me about being called "mama." I realize that he was saying it in that Woodstockian way that just means "girl," but I still prickle a little. Krissy laughed about it and started calling me "mama" right off. Only she said it like she was a little baby and that weirded me out.
I spent my entire time in traffic court playing Bejeweled on my cell phone. It's the only way I could keep from punching someone in the heart during the Q&A session before the judge came out. People are dumb. Bailiffs are power-mad. And English is not spoken by many with any great aplomb. If that one guy had raised his hand and made another inane, time-wasting query, I would have shown him how well my retractable pen fit in his eye. Fortunately, he didn't ask. And I got a huge high score. When I was leaving, a fellow in a wheelchair said something lewd to me. He was smiling and I'm sure he intended it as a compliment. Maybe I should have said something nice about his chair.
After my day in court, I went to The Grove where I saw Steven Weber playing with two kids on the grass. I passed him and was treated like a princess at Nordstrom. I saw at least three other minor celebrities at Anthropologie, Barnes and Noble, and just in and around the trolley tracks. The Grove is peculiar that way. Los Angeles is peculiar that way. I like secretly recognizing people. I don't get starstruck. I just keep track. Before I lived here, I would just be able to point out some ordinary, unfamous schmo and tell you what celebrity he or she looked like. But in this town, my work is cut in half.
Then, at Whole Foods, I saw Nestor Carbonell and his brood walking in. He is very handsome. And I remember him as Batmanuel on The Tick more than as that Luis guy on Suddenly Susan. This is important to me. Steven Weber was also very handsome. I don't want his feelings to be hurt or anything. In case he Googles himself and finds this entry.
It was such a gorgeous day today. I wish I could have wrapped it up in paper and put it in my pocket.
"I heart you" is only one consonant away from being "I hate you."

So few things stand the test of time.

I drove down to San Diego to see The Pixies last night. That drive. It gets so...samey. But it was a lovely day. Cooler than today. Sunny and super. And I arrived in time to not feel anxious about the evening. Krissy and I got to the arena early enough to save seats for the rest of our compatriots. And in time to see The Thrills. Who were less than I would have hoped. And not at all The Distillers, who managed to not open for The Pixies this time. Meriting a cry of, "Shucks!" from me.

I loved The Pixies at Coachella. And I loved them last night. They are like a genius machine. Everything they do. How they do it. So nonchalant in being absolutely unsurpassed. Kim Deal is a darling. And she makes smoking look cooler than anyone else I have ever seen. Joey Santiago makes noises with his guitar that tempt me to go buy a heap of effects pedals and see what guitars sound like when you play them with kitchen utensils. He, too, makes cigarettes look awesome. Especially when you hold them with your guitar strings until you are in want of a drag. I couldn't really see David Lovering because of the amps, but I did notice that he keeps very busy. And Frank Black makes my heart pound. Makes me want to jump up and down. And he has no need of me. And that makes him irresistible. I would totally have sex with all of them.

I felt really good. I sang and danced and loved it to death. And I wished I could one day do something that would send a roomful of people home sweaty. And I don't mean opening a bikram yoga studio.

Sitting here wishing on a cement floor
Just wishing that I had just something you wore

I put it on when I grow lonely
Will you take off your dress and send it to me?

Sep 21, 2004

Everything looks perfect from far away.

Josh and I went to see Garden State today. After having thai for lunch, beer for afters, good samaritan cell phone retrieval, and starting to watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. We had lots to catch up on and serendipitous time to do it in. I think Zach Braff is the bee's knees, and this movie didn't set me off that course. It was a little obvious in places and romantic and well-meaning, and these are not necessarily bad things. Although I do have a tendency to compare things to Fassbinder more than the next girl might. It also made me very sad at times. And very certain that I waste too much of my time and my synaptic discharge pillaging a dry run. I could have been someone entirely different if I had avoided squinting when I should have been wide-eyed. I should have paid better attention. I should have seen things for what they were. I should have given myself a chance. I should have counted my vote. I should have treated myself like I mattered. Instead of expecting that anyone else would do it in my place.

I have traveled great distances and exerted great effort to experience The Shins as many times as possible. It was nice to see them so prominently featured in the film soundtrack. She's right about that one song. It will change your life.

Sep 20, 2004

I do believe in spooks. I do I do I do I do I do.

It's not even October yet, and I'm seeing my share of inadvertent creepiness. The L.A. Philharmonic is advertising Placido Domingo in their season, and his face is set against a black background on these banners that hang from the lampposts. When you're driving at night, you just see this large face floating in the black, and it takes a moment for you to resolve that it is Placido Domingo. And then you see another one. And another one. And maybe Placido Domingo isn't traditionally considered to be creepy, but any stern face floating in the sky is bad news in my book.

And when I was walking Audrey in the late late night, I tugged her to the right to avoid more spiderwebbery. But the only reason I knew a web was there is because there was a single leaf twisting in the air, suspended about a meter above the ground. Nothing visibly holding it there. It's a shame I'm not superstitious. I find superstitions amusing. And there isn't enough merriment in my world.

Sep 19, 2004

The pound is sinking.

I took Audrey for a walk. Beulah and Justin live in my old neighborhood. Near where my last apartment in San Diego was. Near where my parents' house was. Near all the things I always used to drive past. And the weather today is cool. Almost chilly. Back-to-school weather. Fall weather. Leaf-peeping weather. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I would come back to San Diego on the weekends and stay in this neighborhood with my parents. And it was fall. And I would go running in weather like this. And every song on my MP3 mix would make my guts churn. Even the stupid techno crap. Everything had significance. Everything tugged at overused heartstrings. Everything kept my mind racing and my heart pounding and my legs pumping. Who knew nostalgia could be so cardiovascular.

But that was three years ago. And my parents don't live in that house anymore. And I don't come back every weekend. And I don't always go running. And I almost never listen to that MP3 player anymore. Its battery doesn't like to hold its juice. Everything has changed. But when it's cool like this, something about it betrays a constant. The smell of the air. The grey of the sky. A little bit too brisk a breeze. A week ago, the summer was murdering me. And all of a sudden, it's time for a sweater and lip balm. You won't catch me complaining, though. I love both sweaters and lip balm.

Everything changes. I'm about to head back up to L.A. That familiar drive. So often done as Sunday was winding down. Yesterday, when we were on the road, we found ourselves navigating streets I used to drive all the time. Corridors that used to be welcoming. Second nature. I remembered them. If only to be able to identify all that is no longer the same. When I first moved to L.A., and I had to drive past these freeway exits late on Sunday nights as I was returning to my work week, they used to make me feel small and sad and insignificant and powerless. And I remember thinking to myself that someday they would represent something else. Someday, different buttons would be pushed and for different reasons. Someday, my re-wiring would be complete and I could get back to being the person I used to think I wanted to be. Even that has changed.

I am free of much that was once weighty and worrisome. I don't get stuck in that sentimental bog so much. My balloon has fewer sandbags in the basket. But even that weighs on me. Worries me. With all this weight falling away, will I just drift off into the sky and never find my way back down? Won't I? There has been an urgency in me. It has been pointed out to me before. It has been a fuel for my fire. An impetus to carry cameras or to buy paints or to sharpen my pencil or to type madly in the wee hours. I worry when things upset that balance. That I will stop doing anything because my creative urge is intentionally antibiotic, wiping out any nagging fear or doubt or angst that persists. I worry that I might find myself an organism in stasis if my slate ever gets wiped that clean.

But I don't suppose I have so much to worry about. Obviously, a drop in temperature and a short walk with my dog are enough to send me into a drippy reverie. I can't be that far ahead of the game.

Last night, there were many moments when I found myself stuck. Stuck on a word or a thought or a memory or a promise. It happens most when I'm in unfamiliar places. When I have nothing to hold onto. No view of the horizon. I have been to a number of big rock shows in the past few years. Maybe I'm just tracking through where they all fell on my timeline. Whether I wore a hat. Whether I forgot to bring sunscreen. Whether I stopped to write things down. Last night was nothing like the night before it. How many more times will I be able to say that?

Everything changes. Everything has changed. Everything is exactly the same.

Nobody walks in L.A. Nobody lives in Devore.

Today was a lot of road trip sandwiching a day of Inland Invasion. Morrissey didn't show. Like a jerk. And Ian Brown of the Stone Roses sang just slightly offkey the entire time he was on stage. And he also broke the news about Morrissey, which must have upset the highers up, because when his set was over they started rotating the carousel on the stage as he was still singing, and they shut his mic down when he was trying to say, "Thank you very much." I kind of felt bad for him. But I also felt bad about his performance. So that's a tough call. His band sounded great. I wonder if when they all got backstage they beat the shit out of him.

I missed Muse. Again. This is the third time I've not seen them. What gives? We arrived at the beginning of X's set. And then we went and bought Chinese umbrellas.

I love The Killers. I bought their CD months ago, but seeing them live today renewed my thrill. Because I am shallow, and the lead singer is hot.

Dr. Drew and his clan had seats two rows back and to the right of us. Beulah noted how much he was enjoying his popcorn. Seriously. But he enjoyed Devo along with all of us. And it may have been the fault of substance abuse, but I could not stop laughing at how old those guys all look. Mark Mothersbaugh is awesome and a hero of mine, but he was all grey in the hair and paunchy in the paunch. As were a few of his compatriots. It was like watching your friends' parents parody a rock show.

Tears for Fears are a band again, didn't you know? Curt Smith is all slim and distinguishedly grey now. Roland Orzabal's hair is the same, but a little too black. Beulah said,"Oh. He's gone all basset hound on us, hasn't he?" It's true. He has. When they played Sowing the Seeds of Love, I was reminded of how that new song and the album it came with made Tears for Fears sound to be shamelessly alluding to the Beatles. And today, Curt was wearing a Beatles tee shirt, and playing a Hofner bass. And when they played a song from their new album, Roland sounded so much like John Lennon at one point that Beulah had to say so. And we kept noticing from bridge to bridge that we were hearing pieces of other Beatles hits all over the place. Beulah asked if it was just a Beatles medley. And she was right to ask it. Taking stock of all the clues, she whispered to me, "They're giving away all their secrets." They were very clever, though. Curt said that we may not be used to hearing Tears for Fears cover other people's songs, but they were going to do this one anyway. "It was made famous by Gary Jules." And then they played Mad World, and everyone was glad.

My feelings for Franz Ferdinand are no secret. And they gave another great performance. Over the delightful din, Beulah and I yelled a conversation to each other about the problems inherent in liking guys with that foppish style that Alex Kapranos (also hot) sports so dandily. Maybe I'll only ever fall for gay men, but I can't change what looks good to me.

Billy Fucking Idol. Okay. Let's at least say that the man did not disappoint. I had no idea what to expect. What he would look like these days. What sort of show he would put on. If I would have to be embarrassed for him. I mean, there was, after all, that horrible dreadlock phase that shouldn't be forgotten. But thankfully, he has returned to his classic appearance. He is beautiful to look at and egotistical as all get out. And we couldn't wait for him to get shirtless and were not complaining when he did. Steve Stevens was also a sight for sore eyes. I'm glad he's still wearing the black pants with all the hardware and the mess of hair and the black nail polish. I'm glad he's reliably cool, if bafflingly petite. And I'm glad I got to see the show in such a HUGE venue. I would have felt sort of sorry for him if I were seeing him in some tiny little club that might as well be called The Has Been. But enormous as the place was, Billy Idol romanced the crowd shamelessly. All of his song lyrics seemed suddenly dirtier. All those faces he was making. That cocky grin. (He looks a lot like Paul Bettany, don't you find? It makes sense.) That knee-weakening flrtatiousness. If I hadn't had to pee so bad, I would have come in my pants. And that could easily be another story that won't be told here.

Siouxsie Sioux was artfully gorgeous. Another artist I've never seen live and have always wanted to. Her music brings back so many memories for me. And they span two decades.

Beulah and I made each other laugh so much today. We were strangely in sync. And I don't mean menstrually. We kept having to say, "I was just about to say that." I'm a fan of when that happens.

And on the way home, we were all losing our minds when we got stuck at a railroad crossing being crossed by the longest and slowest train in the history of rail travel. Hitting the freeway at last was such a relief. Justin said something about fireworks that was so funny I'm still laughing about it right now. And it's been hours.

It wasn't as hot as we thought it was going to be. It wasn't as stressful as we worried it might be. It wasn't anything but great. And I'm glad it was how I spent my day. I posted pictures to my moblog. It was the best I could do. Cameras weren't allowed, so the phone was my only documentary tool.

The drive home was long. A lot of singing. Often in harmony. I'm plenty tired. But that's as it should be. Being tired because you've earned it through toil or good times or some other exertion is awesome. Being tired because you can feel all your cells dying and taking stock of it saps your will to live is the opposite of awesome.

And all this renewed, feverish fandom. I'm going to be downloading a lot of songs. And none of them will be by Morrissey.

If I could change your mind, I'd really love to break your heart.

Sep 17, 2004

I've been working on something.

If you're hankering to look at a lot of photos -- hundreds possibly -- mostly of me, I invite you to please yourself. I made something I call roundup, and it is guaranteed to make you sick of my face.

Sep 13, 2004

Stop the Abuse

I'm listening to a really awful synthesized instrumental version of Penny Lane on hold with Cingular. Cingular and I have a weirdly evolving relationship. I almost feel like we're dating. Based on the number of times we're on the phone for forty-five minutes or more. How quickly my mood changes when Cingular answers the phone. How often I lose my temper. Have to fight back the tears. Or fight the urge to hang up without saying goodbye. Cingular is a lousy boyfriend. A boyfriend who won't let me talk on the phone with anyone for more than ten minutes at a time. A boyfriend who is constantly saying, in so many words, "What do you want from me? I've done everything I can." Cingular takes my money and makes me feel like I'm being taken advantage of. And Cingular is always suggesting that maybe the solution to my problem is that I need to upgrade to a newer and more sophisticated model. If Cingular and I ever get married, please do everything you can to make sure we don't have children. This is just not a healthy environment for kids to be raised in.

Liminal Programming

So, now it's The Hudsucker Proxy that's playing all the livelong day. A few weeks ago (and perhaps still) it was The Muppets Take Manhattan; now, it's The Hudsucker Proxy. Yet another film I will nearly invariably watch if it's on. I love the way it's written. I love the way it looks. I even love Jennifer Jason Leigh, whom I hate. That grey, snow-spattered, deco-inspired world is welcoming to me. And I also like to speak at a fast clip. There used to be a time when certain movies would only come on television at certain times of the year. The Wizard of Oz, for instance, would be aired on network television -- WITH commercial interruptions -- once each year and always at the same time. They would advertise it to pieces, and I would look forward to watching it with my family. We would even go out for some sort of fast food to eat in front of it some of the time. It was an event. But these days, every movie is playing everywhere all the time. It gets my sentimental clock all discombobulated. If I'm watching the same thing all the year long, how ever will I know how it made me feel? I need demarcation. I need calendar spaces. I need to know if it was a Monday. And if it was raining.

It is a Monday. And it isn't raining. But I don't think I will remember that the next time I need to. All these Mondays seem to run together these days. Every day of the week is like every other day of the week. I could sleep for weeks if I wanted to. Or stay awake. I could move to France.

Maybe I will.

Front Row Seating

Although Paul F. Tompkins is now an actual acquaintance of mine, I can assure you that I shill for no one. So I trust that you will believe me when I tell you that The Paul F. Tompkins Show this week was as brilliant as a show could be without simultaneously being mistaken for a lighting device. I will miss it next month when it is in England and not happening. Jon Brion and Dave Foley and Derek Hughes were splendid. And Paul F. Tompkins slumping over dead on a stool was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I mean it ranks up there with that video of the monkey that smells its hand and falls off the branch. I even got hit in the face with shards of breakaway glass. And I don't have health insurance. Talk about getting Martín's money's worth. Speaking of which, Martín and I only narrowly escaped being enveloped in a panic when it turned out he had no idea what he was doing with regard to making reservations and paying attention to what time they were for, but it all worked out painlessly in the end. Which is lucky for Martín, as I wouldn't have thought twice about leveling him. Side note there, I think Martín is the anti-buzz. It seems I can down half a dozen bottles of beer with him and feel no chemical change whatever. Whereas I can drink two bottles of the same beer in a room with someone else, and suddenly I'm telling "romantic" stories and concocting excuses for playing strip card games. It's a curiosity. And a shame, really, because in my recollection, getting sauced with Martín was always a good time. The last few occasions we were drunk together were among the finest of times.

Sep 12, 2004

What you don't know

So, I never really got around to telling the tale, but I suppose now is as good a time as any. A few weeks ago, I adopted a two year-old miniature pinscher. I call her Audrey. She was rescued from a puppy mill, where she had really only ever interacted with other dogs. So, she was terrified of me. And any other human being, particularly if there were no other dogs around. I brought her home and spent a very stressful lot of time with her trying to put her at ease and get her to trust me. It was like having a new baby, but one with all sorts of problems. She wouldn't eat. She wouldn't drink. She wouldn't go to the bathroom when I took her out. She just huddled over in the corner in my bedroom, shaking. She likes to sit in front of my full-length mirror. I think it makes her feel like there is another dog in the room.

She made so much progress that first week. I could see her warming up and settling down. She still ran away from me when I reached for her, but she was also very cuddly once she made it to my lap. And let me tell you, I was never prouder of a turd than when she made her first in the back yard. Getting her to go on the leash was a big triumph. It proved she trusted me enough to be that special sort of vulnerable with me only a few feet away. I was ecstatic. Anyway, before my first week with her was up, I was preparing for my evening, and I saw that she was sitting by the back door, so I applauded her for what I assumed was her way of letting me know she wanted to go out. I threw on a skirt and a tank top and slippers and took her out into the back yard, where she promptly did her business. And I cheered her for it.

When I was taking her into the house, up the four steps to my back door, she jumped off the side of the steps, and -- the leash being short -- I leaned forward to make sure she had enough slack to not hang herself, at which point she yanked a bit and caused me to lose my balance. I fell. Flat on my face. Onto concrete. Somehow managing to badly cut the bottom of my foot, skin my knee, my elbow, my palm, and my knuckle, all of which were bleeding. And just as I took stock of all this, I noticed that I was no longer holding the leash, and Audrey bolted. Right out across a very busy street and far out of my reach. I kicked off my slippers and went running after her, barefoot and bleeding. I called her name. Drivers called out to me and told me where they had seen her go. I ran for blocks. A fellow in an SUV of some sort with a young lad in the front seat with him rolled down his passenger side window and told me he would circle the block in the direction he thought he saw her go. When he returned, he had lost the trail. He said he would keep an eye out and asked for my number to call me in case he found her. I gave it to him. He offered me a ride home, and -- as was the case on the one other desperation-filled time that I accepted a ride from a stranger -- I reasoned that he wasn't going to murder me with that boy in the car, so I climbed in and let him drive me home. And when I got out, I felt bad, noticing that I had gotten some elbow blood on his door. He gave me his card and asked me to call him if I found her so that he would know to stop looking. I thanked him and went into the house and began making calls. The micro-chip place where she was registered. The L.A. animal control place (where no one ever answered the phone). The people I had adopted her from, because her tags and micro-chip were still in their name. And Beulah. And by the time I spoke to Beulah, I was crying my eyes out.

The woman from the min pin rescue tried to calm me down. Told me what I should do. Make some signs. Go out and drive around slowly. Bring a friend. Do you have someone you can call? Someone who can come be with you right now? In case you get hysterical? Someone who can drive around with you so you have two pairs of eyes? Bring a blanket, because Audrey will probably be cold. It all began to blur together. I think the needle in my brain got stuck on the part of the record where she asked if I had a friend I could call and I thought to myself, "No, I don't." Not that I don't have any friends. I just couldn't think of anyone I would call at this moment, when I'm terribly upset, when it's an inconvenient working hour, when they would have to drop everything to come to my aid. It made me feel so sad and alone to think that the answer to that question was no. Even if it wasn't. At that moment, it felt like it was.

In the short time after I got home, I had already told myself I probably wouldn't get her back. She's so small and so unfamiliar with cars and the road. She's scared. She will get run over. Or eaten. Or trapped somewhere. I was in quite a state. Beulah and Adam both reassured me that she would be found. People will see she is on a leash and they will know she got away from someone, and they will try and help.

I couldn't decide if I should call and cancel my plans for the evening. I didn't want to. But I wondered what sort of company I would be or what sort of person I would look like if I didn't say that this was more important. But within about two hours, I got a phone call. Someone had found her. She was at the West L.A. animal shelter. I could go collect her in the morning. The rescue people would have to come, too, since the micro-chip was still in this woman Jeanine's name. I would meet them. They would call me. It would all work out. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then, just before I was leaving my house, I got a phone call from the woman I had adopted Audrey from, Sharon. Sharon let me know that Kim, the coordinator for the rescue society, was going to be calling me. They had some concerns. Apparently Audrey came right up to the guy who found her in the street. And everyone at the shelter said she was being very friendly and allowing people to pet her. Maybe she just didn't like me, Sharon was saying. Maybe they weren't going to give her back to me. This all sounded so ludicrous to me. I went out, but in a strange mood.

And the next morning, when they called my house, I wasn't home to answer it, but they never tried my cell phone, which was the phone they had been using to contact me all along. So when I got their message, I learned that Audrey had already been picked up and taken back to Sunland, to the home I had adopted her from, and some things needed to be decided. I was upset and frustrated and angry and confused. And I placed several calls in the hopes of resolving things quickly. But they didn't end up caling me back for seven hours. Seven excruciating hours, during which -- much like the afternoon before -- I had nearly convinced myself that I wasn't going to get her back. But in the end, I drove back out to Sunland and collected her. And she was frightened and skittish. Moreso than before. And it took another week of trying to work back up to where we had been. And I certainly had to sort through my own anxieties about taking her on walks and feeling that sense of panic that I was going to somehow lose her again. We spent a lot of time with Beulah and Justin, because Audrey really comes alive when she's with Tasha. Even though Tasha looks annoyed most of the time. And it's been a few weeks, and she is fine now. Sitting on my lap, as a matter of fact. When I type at my computer, she likes to sit here, with her chin resting on my left forearm, so that her head bobs around as I type. Martín says it makes her look like an animatronic dog. I believe him. Sometimes, things scare her, and I fear that she will revert back to that earlier state. But she still curls up against my lap when I sit down. And she licks my hands when I put lotion on them. And she's been eating her dinner -- even the dry food -- and doing her "business," and I see her tail wagging, and I know she's happy. Even though she still runs away when I reach for her. She comes to me when I'm sitting here at my desk. And I'm sitting here a lot.

I'm just summing the tale up, because I said something about the fact that I was bleeding (and in truth when I typed it, I got blood all over my trackball and my wrist rest), and people who read this speculated in a number of wrong directions. Believe me, if I was going to write about my period, I would totally just come out and say it. Check the archives. I'm not lying.

So the guy who gave me a ride home ended up calling me the next day to see if I had "found my dog." I didn't catch the phone call, but it's just as well. The same thing happened when I got a ride home from an off-duty police officer in San Diego many years ago. It amuses me that someone would look at a girl running down the street, barefoot and bleeding and not dressed in her Sunday finest, hair not yet styled, lipstick not yet on, and go: hot. But that's apparently what happened. I love that there are good samaritans out there. But I worry for them socially.

I was never here.

I never existed. You and I never knew each other. Our paths never crossed. I never made eyes at you. You never held my hand. I never got nervous when the movie was ending. You never made it up to me. I never paid for your ticket. You never bought me a drink. I never liked a photo of us. Nor did you. You never saw me with braids in my hair. I never slipped you a secret note. I never beat you at a game of anything. You never saw me shine.

It never happened. None of it. I was never anything.

Sep 11, 2004

I realize the power of a soundtrack.

There is a memorial program airing on HBO. A program memorializing 9/11. A program that concatenates the footage collected by hundreds of plain old people with their handheld video recorders and their curiosity and their speculation. A program that wants to remind you how that day felt.

A couple of days ago, I was walking my dog, and an older gentleman with a newspaper in his hand approached me and asked if I lived in the neighborhood. I affirmed. He had read an obituary in the paper. An actress had passed away. She used to live on this street. My street. And this older fellow had lived only a block further down. He and his family had lived there in 1938. And his rent had been $27 a month. He told me a lot about the street and the people who had lived there and how much cheaper college tuition had been. And then he said, "I remember one day when the woman who lived in that house over there leaned out her window and told me and my father,'The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!' And we said,"Really?! Where's that?'"

I remember September 11 three years ago. I remember waking up to a phone call from my closest friend, instructing me to turn on the television. I remember watching it with him still on the line and not understanding what was happening. A very short time after that, I was on the phone with someone whose love I still wanted. He was confused and jarred. He sounded upset. He got emotional on the phone. Tearful. He asked if I wanted him to come up to my apartment. But within a short span, he was distracted by friends who hadn't television sets of their own and co-workers who would egg him on in his comedic antics in line at the blood bank and the lady at the blood bank on whom he had his eye. I would not see him at all that day. And it would not make any difference to him.

I was scheduled to perform in a comedy show on the evening of September 11. For a church, I think. It may have been the first remote I had been cast in. The show was canceled. But we didn't know until the eleventh hour. Everything was so up in the air. No one knew what was really happening. No one knew whether we should just keep on trucking or duck and cover. At some point in the afternoon, I went to a tire service center with Beulah. And later in the day, I went to my parents' house and watched the network news coverage with my dad and felt despondent and disconnected and entirely alone.

The night before, I had gotten home from having practiced with someone from the band I was later to join and having had a few drinks with and a metaphorical slap in the face from the guy whose love I could no longer claim, and I had walked into my apartment awash in a mixture of rage and bemusement and abject despondence, only to listen to my answering machine messages and learn that the company with whom I had interviewed the week before was going to be sending me a job offer by fax the next day. I would be moving to Los Angeles. Screw everyone who had made my final year in San Diego such an abominably hurtful season. What a triumph.

But when I turned on the television and saw that unimaginable series of events unfold, I did wonder if anything was ever going to be the same again. I did wonder if there would be no job offer after all. If there would be no Tuesday. If there would be no America as we knew it. If businesses would fold and borders would close. If we would suddenly be living on war rations. I had no idea what to plan for or what to expect. I had tickets to see Weezer that Friday. And sure enough, that show was postponed.

Tonight, as I was getting dressed to celebrate Angie's birthday out on the town, I had the television on, and HBO was airing this memorial program about that day. There is footage I saw a hundred times. Footage I vowed I did not need to see again. Would not try to see again. Much like the footage of the Challenger explosion that I saw on the television that day before I left for school. It was so vivid in my mind that I had no need of repeat viewings. And the feelings it evoked were too painful to want to be dredged up by even the most masochistic parts of me. But this program brought it all back. And there was a moving score to push whatever emotional buttons might have been missed by the sight of the sheer destruction and the grief of those who saw it happening.

Right in the middle of it, I had to leave. I had to pick up my quarry and head out to celebration town. I held up my end of the bargain. I kept up the conversation. I bought plenty of drinks. I used a friendly rebuff when the one very drunk guy copped a serious feel of my backside. I gave my number to the Australian guy who expressed an interest in having tea. I kept up the volley with the bartender who takes the teasing route. And I bandied late night fast food providers in the car on the way home. It wasn't really until I got home that I let myself drift back to that previous mournful state. Turn the page on the calendar. It's September 11 now. Officially. And all I ever get stuck on is the amount of love that was felt by those who lost loved ones in the carnage. Maybe you never feel such things as poignantly as you do on that tragic stage. But I keep getting hung up on how simple and clear things become when the world seems to be ending. I remember asking myself who I would have called if I had been on one of those planes and had a cell phone handy. And I knew the answer to the question. And I was ashamed of what it was.

Tragedy is an important part of the completeness of being human. I don't wish it on anyone. And yet, I know that it should be treasured when it falls. It is the lens that puts everything in perspective. It is the reminder that life is short. And unfair. It is the eye of the needle through which the thread of everything else must be squeezed. Pain. Loss. How could anything be considered beautiful in the absence of them?

I am not at all the same person today that I was three years ago. And certainly not exclusively because of what happened three years ago. These years have smoothed and scored and shaped me. Living them has been its own gauntlet. But anniversaries make such things more prominent in the recollection. They mark them. They freeze them forever in a vague diorama. For me, everything still exists in three dimensions. For me, the world is still a Viewmaster reel in my head. I can remember what I was wearing. I can remember what I smelled like. I can remember the weight of my long hair as I tossed it over my shoulder. I can remember the look on my face as I said my goodbye and drove home. I remember the wrongs that could so easily have been right. And I have to laugh at myself for having been such a foolish girl. Such a romantic idiot. Such a naive buffoon. I have said many times -- but perhaps never really taken to heart -- that bit about giving up on the possibility of a better past and how it relates to forgiveness. Whatever silly things I have wanted or wished, there is wisdom in accepting that there is no editing to be done. You can tell it any way you want to, but the important people know what really happened. And they will make up their minds. Behind your back if necessary.

I can feel the veil of tipsy on me. I can anticipate waking up in a few hours and striking everything I've written from the public record. But maybe I'll sleep the night through. And maybe I'll wake up and think that everything I've said has value in some universe or other. Maybe I'll let sleeping dogs lie. After all, when you wake them, they get all barky and are usually in want of a wee.

I should be getting to bed. In a very short time, it will be getting too warm to sleep and I will be sorry for having squandered my chance at it.

Sep 10, 2004

It's not the heat. It's the economy, stupid.

Woe to us with working sweat glands. I am anti-perspirant. And I mean that in an ideological sense. And yesterday morning, before I jetted out of L.A. (in a Honda, not a Lear), it was sprinkling maddeningly warm bits of rain on the scorching sidewalk. There's nothing grosser than moist heat. I need clothing made of that desiccant substance they put in boxes of candy but warn you not to eat.

I was listening to NPR while driving back home this afternoon, and I kept wanting to call someone and make sure they knew about the partisan nonsense that was being said. I didn't, though. I just listened patiently and hoped that I would retain my arguments for future publication. It's hard when you're driving. I have so many ideas on the road, but I only have so many palely-colored pieces of trash in the car to scrawl them on.

Rumsfeld's been talking about why we haven't been seeing or hearing from Osama bin Laden in recent months. His theory? It's because we (America) have been keeping him very busy. Rumsfeld wanted America to think that Osama bin Laden hasn't been sending out videotaped tauntings because we're on the right track. That we're warring on the correct paths now, and that's got Osama bin Laden stuck in meetings all day. He's probably working longer hours than ever. I'll bet he hasn't even had a chance to catch the latest few episodes of The Surreal Life.

There was also an adviser to the Bush administration being interviewed on The World, and I wanted to fork her in the face. With a fork. She spoke very calmly and eloquently, but what she was saying was a bollocks sandwich. She was saying that we should not ignore the fact that George W. Bush's original campaign message in 2000 contained an assertion of our need to shift U.S. foreign policy to deal with rogue leaders, or something equally inane. She said that we should remember that and not act as if Bush decided to invade Iraq without having offered us a proper excuse for it. It was not an argument that I would say lacked, shall we say, perforations. She kept insinuating that the case on the weapons of mass destruction is not yet closed. I guess one of these days our troops may dig up a really big hammer and show it to us so that Bush can prove that Saddam Hussein was planning to hit us each over the head with it. The interviewer mentioned Cheney's recent penchant for asking voters to choose Bush in November because of how much less safe they will be if Kerry gets elected. I think she may even have asked if this wasn't outright audacity given the fact that the September 11th attacks occurred on the Bush-Cheney watch. That question was also weaseled out of in a good and weasely fashion.

A different interviewee spoke about her discomfort at how the Republican Convention so selectively used the 9/11 topic. She pointed out that, as much as the Bush camp would like to pat themselves on the back for the work accomplished by the 9/11 Commission, no one seemed to remember that the families of the victims experienced a shamefully tribulation-filled struggle in their attempts to even get an investigation underway. And when the interviewer asked if she feels safer today, she said, "No, I don't." And I think that's a very important question to be asking yourself. Because, even if we are quicker to shoot with George W. Bush behind the trigger, the net result has not been a downturn in terrorist atrocities nor has it been a rise in the worldwide comfort level of civilians from any but the very most Arabian of countries. It's a double-edged sword, this Republican propaganda. They want everyone to be scared by how bad the terrorism is right now so that fearful, shivering citizens will want to have their goose pimples smoothed by a guy who can start a nuclear holocaust without actually being able to pronounce "nuclear holocaust." But they also want to take credit for how much better things are in the world today than they were three years ago tomorrow -- or for that matter, four years ago on election day. They want us to believe that we are winning the war on terror, while Bush announces that this is a war that can't be won. And then changes his mind about it. I just wish that they would pick a premise and stick with it. Are we in grave danger? Or are we safer than ever? To hear Rumsfeld and Cheney tell it, we're both. It's fun to create these kinds of contrasts. Maybe it should be an exercise in an English class. A way to teach students the meaning of antonyms. "I'm happier than I've ever been . So happy that I want to kill myself." "Chocolate is my favorite food. It makes me want to puke." That sort of thing.

It's been a while since I said anything politically charged. I wish I'd spent more time writing this. I would have wanted it to be a humdinger. C'est la guerre.

So, it took a while for Mark the Cobra Snake to get the photos up, but my friend Jessy and I were captured at the Curiosa Festival after party a few Fridays ago. I have some photos from that night, too. Unfortunately, temporal displacement makes me too lazy to go fish them out and post them right now. Can't you just be happy with what you have?

Sep 8, 2004

Late Night Strolls and Candlelight Vigils

I'm beginning to wonder if the spiders in my neighborhood are actually trying to catch me. Each time I take my dog for a walk, I pass through a jungle of spider silk, slung between the various trees and bushes that line the sidewalk on my street. I am constantly having to sputter threads of it out of my mouth or extract it from my eyelashes or maddeningly try to wipe it from my clothing. Are they actually hoping that I will become ensnared so that they may cocoon me for eating later? I suppose you have to admire their ambition. I'm not as fast as an insect, but I'm pretty sure it takes a little more to immobilize me. Anyway, I hate it. It's nastiness, and it gets all over me. And any of you out there who know of my weird fear of accidentally getting pee in my mouth can probably imagine what runs through my mind when spiderwebs get stuck to my lips. I mean, that stuff totally comes out of the spider's ass. Gross.

On Monday, when I was getting ready to go to the pool party, I saw some TV vans across the street, and, if you must know, I'm WAY too cool to take an interest in other people's tragedies. (And by "cool," I mean nothing of the sort.) Nothing maddens me more than getting stuck in traffic because someone ate it on the turnpike and all the other drivers are hoping to catch a glimpse of his brain matter. So, I tend to regulate myself about such things. I noticed the vans, but I didn't crane my neck or ask what was going on or even really try and focus my eyes very much. But tonight, a neighbor greeted me and told me that "the kids" were gathering over on that corner because sometime in the wee hours of Monday morning, a surface street drag race ended in a car smacking into a building, splitting in two, killing all aboard, and jettisoning part of the car into a pedestrian leaving the 7-11, killing him dead, as well. Death so nearby. Blood on the concrete. Pointless and sordid. Depressing and sobering. And maybe vindicating for crotchety old folks who think that those upstarts got what was coming to them. Maybe they did. Who am I to judge. I'm no saint, and I drive like a lunatic much of the time, but I'm alive, so I guess that puts me in a slightly more advantageous position than the poor sods who ate it on the street at three a.m.

Few things are fair. Change is sudden and swift. Your favorite show gets canceled just when you were getting into it. They shut off the fire hydrant in the street just when you got around to putting your shorts on. The slow song ends just when you were going to ask that girl to dance. And it's followed by Say You, Say Me, and no one can dance to that crap, right? With that weird fast part in the middle? It will sink your game before the tip-off, friends, and you can quote me on that. So maybe you should do more. Now. While you're still breathing. While the cancer you've always feared hasn't actually shown up. While the rates are still low. While your car can still make the trip. While people will still be able to respect you for trying. While you can still go shopping in a skirt. Maybe doing something now would be the best thing ever. And maybe it would free you of that hang-up you have. Your father's approval. Your friend's expectations. Your lease agreement.

This is all very inspiring, but I feel quite certain that the bloke who died across the street was probably doing about as much as he was ever going to. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback the situation from where I sit, but I saw his friends. He wasn't going to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease any time soon. Maybe the reason for his death was that I should find out about it and write this blog entry. See? There is a god.

Sep 7, 2004

It is expected that I be gracious and fulsome in my praise.

Never a fan of the hot hot heat. Never that me. I like it cool. I like baring my arms, but I like not having to. I like turtleneck sweaters and sleeves that are too long. I like fireplaces and chats by them. I like roasting chestnuts and pretending not to be disappointed by how they actually taste.

I have never chosen summer as a favorite season. I have never preferred it to any other time. I like the late autumn. I like the winter. I like the cold February. In Los Angeles, February is priceless. Sunny and clear but crisp and expectant. None of the haze of disappointing June. Clarity and the occasional bit of rain.

And spring is fine. All that hope and possibility. All the references to rabbits and the incessant humping they do. Easter candies. Egg-shaped and with gooey insides. I saw chocolate-covered Peeps at the store. They looked horrible. I think it was for Halloween. Imagine the makers of Peeps thinking they could branch that brand out to the trick-or-treaters. What arrogance.

I have an outfit in my head that I wish I was wearing. Something Sophia Loren wore. Or Ann-Margret. Or Audrey Hepburn. I will wear it someday. All I need is the perfect pair of pants.

Angie is in town again. She sent me photos from the party yesterday, where she claims I was fending off the boys in some amusing fashion. I tell a good yarn is all. Maybe boys like that. I'm no expert. This is one of the pictures I like best. It's Drew protecting his delicate parts.

"Fulsome in my praise..." I liked that phrase when I heard it. Even though I found precious little else to like in the movie it comes from. There is merit in that -- finding the specks of pleasantness in even the most hateful things. Highlighting the good. Fondly remembering the parts that don't gnaw at you. I lived in Guam for four years, and I didn't like it every day I was there. In fact, I liked it very little for most of that time. I prayed for the National Spelling Bee to provide me with all-expenses paid passage back to the mainland. And it did. But only after three long years of having only one television station and schools without air conditioning and very little access to American conveniences beyond McDonald's and Shakey's. It was a drab backdrop to my adolescence. But when I remember it, I smile. I remember glass-bottomed boats to Cocos Island and Sunday brunch buffets on Hotel Row. I remember Catholic girls' school uniforms and cinnamon buns at snack break. I remember boomboxes playing Hard to Say I'm Sorry and Abracadabra on the bus in the rain. I remember the baseball stadium and the Pescador and playing in the orchestra and playing the part of a princess in the Thanksgiving parade. Climbing up a ladder onto our white-painted rooftop to lay out in my bikini and listen to Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Siouxsie Sioux. I remember mango trees and badminton and school-age crushes and shopping trips. I remember the good parts. And when I remember them, I always forget how sweaty it all was.

I jotted down the words, "Time takes away all feeling," but maybe that's not what I meant. Maybe time only takes away the feelings that can't redeem themselves.

David Sylvian sang something I liked. "And the mind's divisive. But the heart knows better." And we all know what that means. Except the brain dead. And they're the lucky ones.

It is too hot for my liking. I slept like MURDER last night. Like bloody murder.

Vietnam Veterinarians

Again, I cannot seem to applaud Sacha Baron Cohen loudly enough. Can you hear my hands? They're bleeding.

Sep 6, 2004

Rage of the Sinuses

I am an allergic mess today. And every time I sneeze, it startles my little Audrey. Every time I blow my nose, she glares at me, before reverting to her curled up position on my lap. I am allergic to dogs, but I attribute this to the weather. After all Audrey and I have been through in the past two and half weeks, I am unwilling to consider the possibility that we are clinically destined to be apart. I'd rather drive a PT Cruiser.

I'm off to a pool party in the mid-day swelter. I hope no one there minds the sniffles. More than likely, they will assume I'm hopped up on cocaine. Let 'em. I've nothing to prove.

If this is what is meant by "bikini weather," I'll take "parka weather," "galoshes weather," or "full body cast weather" any day of the week.

Beulah calls Ashley Olsen "the fat one." That makes me laugh.

Onomatopoietic Groaning Sound

However did it get so hot? I had only just been singing the praises of this Los Angeles summer season for not having demoralized and debilitated me as last year's did. I had just been remarking that it sure has been nice out and that I haven't really even needed the swamp cooler my parents bought me for my birthday. I had just been shooting my mouth off all over town like a bona fide know-nothing, unaware of the power of jinxes, lauding the ecosystem for being so welcoming and temperate. I know people are dying and losing everything in the world in Florida, but when I see Dan Rather getting flapped around by that sideways rain, I can't help but think to myself, "It's probably cooler there than it is here."

My little canine angel is snug in bed. I used my grill for the first time since buying it sometime early last year. There was enough food for everyone on my block. But I am stingy and had no desire to invite them. Too high a riff raff quotient. I like to control the guest list. And I like to keep the good beer for myself. I drove up from San Diego this afternoon, aware as I did, that I was in the confirmed square category, as it seemed that everyone else was headed in the opposite direction. Woe to all on the southbound 5. It was like an RV parade. I was grateful that the traffic was not terribly challenging for me, especially since -- even with my air conditioning on at full blast (and this is air conditioning I recently spent hundreds upon hundreds of dollars suping up) -- I was very, very warm. This is the sort of weather that melts your lipstick in your handbag, even when you're careful to keep your handbag in the shade. This is the sort of weather that forces you to just accept that you will feel sweaty and unappealing and that a shower will be your only salvation. This is the sort of weather that makes you say, "Ick. Don't touch me."

I've got nothing to fear but fear itself. Which gives me the willies.

Sep 4, 2004


With nearly no exception, when I put a bit of lime into a bottle of Corona and then cap it with my thumb and turn it over like the cool kids do, it fizzes and sputters and gets everywhere. I am having to come to terms with the possibility that my thumbs are too small for this feat. Mary Too Small Thumbs. Would be my Native American name. Thank the heavens that they are at very least opposable.

Wham Bam

Yen and I painted the town again. We went to see Transfer at The Casbah. Campaign for Quiet was the headliner, but for some reason, they went on first, and apparently we missed them. That makes no sense to me. But I didn't make a stink about it. I just felt sort of sad, because when Yen and I were later talking to Nate, it was apparent that he was very cute and therefore his band deserved to be watched. Or listened to, I suppose. A somewhat overly "familiar" fellow named Ray invited us to some after party, but we didn't go. He kept trying to plant kisses that were entirely unwanted and far too moist.

Okay, here's a little back story. When Yen and I went to the Ken Club last week, we happened to see Transfer, because this guy Steve, who we met that night, told us we should check them out, and we stuck around to hear them and found them to be awesome. So, we bought the CD, met the band, got invited to come back and check out the Casbah show, and Justin, the drummer, suggested I get in touch with him about playing some violin for them. And maybe I will, but this is not a moment filled with promises.

Fast forward to Friday, we ran into Justin and Matt from Transfer in the back game room. Someone said, "Mary," and I turned around and saw the two of them but wasn't really sure I knew them, and then it all came back to me, and I was a little embarrassed by how long it had taken me. So we said our how do you dos, and then Yen and I played Ms. Pac-Man for a while. Steve found us, as well, and seemed impressed that we showed up as we said we would. And I guess there's some room for that sort of feeling, as I was really very close to coming up with an excuse to not go out at all. My client meeting earlier in the day had gone much, much longer than I expected, and I was tired and drawn. But I know all too well how I end up feeling at midnight or so when I've decided I'm not up for a good time. I invariably realize I was plenty up for a good time. I just needed some time and a drink with ice in it to get into the groove.

We left The Casbah just barely in time for last call at Nunu's, where we were treated like princesses. Even by the hard-to-discourage Australian fellow who talked endlessly about golf, despite my initial admission that I know nothing about golf, and smelled as if he had just come from an onion buffet. Outside the bar after closing, I found myself having to be clever with a guy who had letters tattooed on his knuckles. I have noted that, by and large, boys are likely to have one of three styles when it comes to courtship and flirtation. (1) They try to impress you by showing you that they are awesome and that you are wrong about everything. (2) They antagonize and tease you about everything you say. (3) They listen with interest to what you have to say and offer discerning responses of their own. Number three is rarer than numbers one and two. It mostly happens with grown-ups who have a good amount of self-esteem and who are comfortable showing a woman respect and courtesy. Which means that most of the practitioners of this method lived in a time when men carried hankies and slapped each other with gloves. I have recently learned that this approach may be referred to as a "conversation." Anyway, he and his pals also invited us to carry on our evening at another location, and I allowed him to write his information in my little book before Yen and I went somewhere to eat. I didn't mean to be disingenuous in allowing them to infer that we would accept their invitation. I just felt like the polite thing to do was to eat a sandwich, so that's what I did. And it was wonderful.

I used my car's cigarette lighter to melt through the sealed edge of one of those Costco packages, because I decided I wanted some lotion for my legs, and once I set my mind to something...well, anyway, look out. So my car smelled a little funny for a while. But then not so much anymore. And I suddenly recall that, as I circled the block looking for parking before my sketch show, I saw a little person walk across the street. And when I say "little person," I mean midget. Which is precisely why I think the phrase "little person" is ineffective. It sounds too much like you might be talking about an eight year-old boy who likes to wear three-piece suits and a bowler hat. But the dude I saw was a midget. And he was wearing a smart little outfit and walking with some bounce in his step. Maybe he was headed to the flower stand to buy some plumage for his date. I'm sure she liked his plaid shirt. It looked crisp and neatly pressed. A midget dude in khakis crossed my path. Does that have any superstitious meaning?

I have a feeling this weekend will stretch on and on and on. It's been like stasis, being here in San Diego. It's been like a vacation or a prison sentence. Either way, you're not responsible for how little you got done.

Sep 3, 2004

I see that face coming back to me like an old familiar song.
There are lessons to be learned from The Muppets Take Manhattan. Please enjoy this litany of them.
Stories about two kids who go off to the city to get married are not totally played out at this point.
Interspecies dating has been sanctioned since the '60s, but by 1984, full on frog-pig marriage was totally the social norm. I realize they weren't a GAY frog and a GAY pig, but I'm sure my point is still effectively driven home here.
Everyone prefers the rubber Wall Street Journal to the rubber Washington Post. Everyone.
If a pig can get a job at a department store and a frog can get a job at an ad agency, what's your little brother's excuse?
Construction workers will make love to anyone. Anyone.
I would take a meeting with a frog with an afro.
Wouldn't it be rad if dogs could talk?
Pigs CAN suck their thumbs.
Joan Rivers was never funny.
"Boffo, Lenny! Socko, Lenny!" is one of my all-time favorite exclamations.
Lonny Price went from The Muppets Take Manhattan to Dirty Dancing to Hot to Trot. Talk about the dictionary definition of trifecta!
Even frogs get nervous when marriage is the topic.
Puppets can make you cry. And you don't have to be a big weenie like me, either.
I used to say I wanted to sing that wedding song at my own wedding one day. I am slightly less committed to that right now. And I no longer know how to fly. Goodbye, childhood, my old friend. La la la la la la la la. It's time for saying goodbye.
Those Muppets have been through so much together. They have weathered jewel heists and murder plots and the Big Apple and the briny seas and Charles Durning and the '80s, and they're still thick as thieves. I wish they weren't doing Denny's commercials, but in all other respects, I adore them.
Friendship is the finest ship in the world.
What better way could anything end, hand in hand with a friend. There's no arguing that.

"Delicious wine?" "Exactly."

It was a well-filled and affirmation-espousing house at the comedy theater tonight. A mass of paying customers there to see The Unaffiliated put on (or perhaps pull off) our show "Nothing to See Here" for the first and penultimate time. It's been an arduous ascent, and I already don't like where this metaphor is going, but you know what they say: it's all downhill from here.

On this show's account, I have had to drive back and forth to San Diego a lot more than I would like, and those who know me and my calendar would contest that statement, believing as they do that I ADORE driving to San Diego, since I seem to be doing it all the goddamned time. But in all reasonable truth, I always tell myself I won't be there all that much this month, and then it turns out that someone in my family has a birthday or a surgery or a movie they want to watch with me, or I'm scheduled to perform, or I have to get my car serviced, or I need to deposit a check, or I find that I'm really missing the Mexican food, and whaddya know -- bingo bango bongo -- I'm in San Diego every weekend with no one to blame but CalTrans.

I'm trying to curb it -- trying to actually allow myself to be a citizen of my zip code. But there is an ebb and a flow to even that. I spent nearly all of the first three months of this year in Los Angeles with nearly nary a visit to the southerly county. But that's easily forgotten when you look at the mileage I've racked up since May. So, I can't promise that I won't keep subverting my own journey towards the absence of a sense of displacement. But I can put forth my stolid wish to do more in my current city of residence. After all, I hear you can actually do comedy shows in Los Angeles, too. And some say that the Mexican food isn't half bad either.

So, I've been in San Diego for a few days now, and I may be here for a few more. I don't know yet. The only thing I'm sure of is that all our post-show celebrating has made me very thirsty, and there is bottled water only feet away from where I sit. And that means it's time to break. I'm a firm believer in hydration. Even though I prefer not to call it that.