Secret Pop

May 31, 2005

Night After Night

I've had a series of unforgettable days. Benders. Party plots. Shows. Late-night excursions. Owlings. You don't get to be me and everything without living like this. Sleep is a concession. Saying no to social time a sin. I have squeezed every last bit of this weekend out of the metaphorical toothpaste tube. And I am content that none of the important chemistry was misspent. My mother bought me a new toothbrush, but it's for lefties. And that isn't a metaphor at all.

May 30, 2005

Street Smarts

I'd like to say that Kevin and I almost got murdered last night. But I don't really have any evidence that that's what would have happened if we hadn't gotten going when we did. Maybe Kevin saved our lives. Maybe he just cheated us out of hearing the end of a truly nonsensical story being told by a big black dude in a pith helmet who pronounces the "t" in "Chevrolet." I'd like to be able to say it was something truly harrowing or that we only narrowly escaped, but really I don't have any actual evidence that that guy (and the other quiet dude who came down the escalator and just stood there watching us) were actually going to do anything bad to us. Kevin heard some reference to cutting off George Washington's head and taking his woman and thought that might have been a veiled threat. I don't remember hearing that sentence. I was too busy trying to figure out how this guy was the fraternal twin of Marilyn Monroe.

He asked us if we were on our honeymoon, our would-be assassin. We were sitting on the steps of the closed Metro station, but I guess that looks more romantic than I think. I'm glad we weren't on our honeymoon, because we spent a good part of the valuable nighttime hours disagreeing about religion and politics and religious politics. And that's no way to begin a life together. The near-murder enabled us to end the evening in solidarity, as it seems we both would like to continue living for a while yet. We celebrated our arrival on common ground by watching Futurama Season 4. And then I drove home, because it was dawn, and I went to bed regretting some of the food and drink choices I had made. I brought twelve six packs of imported beer to Zach's barbecue, but all I drank was whiskey (which I also brought). Anyway, I'm good to have at a party is my point. But not a teetotalling party. I would do nothing but complain at one of those.

May 27, 2005

A Glimpse of Tuesday and Wednesday

Oh, what a couple of days they were. Good ol' Tuesday and Wednesday. Remember when this was the case?

And then this happened.

And let's not forget this occurrence.

The world wasn't red the whole time, obviously.

But there were often bits of red in it.

And this was what they made me wear when I was getting my hair cut.

Those sure were some fine times. I want to remember them for always.


All the love songs in the world. The saddest ones anyway. Lay them all out side by side. All the loveliest. The tear-jerkingest. The heartstring-pullingest. The sigh-inducingest. The ones that make me sit still like a girl in the moonlight. How many of them come in variations of three. A waltz cadence. I melt like ice cream in three-four time. The right meter for mentioning dreams of you that won't come true.

I like six-eight, also.

May 24, 2005


I have a number of friends who -- for one reason or another -- have had cause to travel to Australia and/or New Zealand in recent months. I am envious as the color green can be. I almost visited when Kevin was there on an extended stay. But it never came together.

And then Kevin and I went to Largo tonight to see the Greg Proops Chat Show with Colin Hay and Dave Eggers. And there was apparently a sizeable New Zealander cohort in the audience, and Greg Proops had a chance to drop the word "antipodean," and I felt a bit cheated, because I had already started this post and entitled it as it is entitled before even leaving my house for Largo, but it will never now seem as if I knew that word first. What a competitive jerk I am. Seriously. All those times Greg Proops would make obscure references and pepper his sentences with arcane synonyms, I kept feeling this inane urge to tell everyone that I knew what he was talking about. Sure I know who Lotte Lenya is. And not just because she was in From Russia with Love. Hasn't anyone in the room heard Mack the Knife? You don't have to know anything about Bertolt Brecht to have heard her name before. Sheesh. But I'm a little embarrassed at how much I thrill to that. I hear Fredo protesting that he's smart. I wonder if that's what people hear when they see me. Knowing stuff. I don't necessarily have anything to prove. Do I?

Anyway, Greg Proops appeals to my elitist self. And when he was talking about his Italian suit, I sat there, a few tables away, and wondered if it was probably viscose. His eschewing of the outdoors falls right in line with my earlier Peter O'Toole-inspired sentiments. I am not a rugged girl. I am not outdoorsy. And I suppose I'm not ashamed of that. I like to go on picnics. But I like to have everything there with me. Even the one or two times I ever went camping, I brought a Coleman stove and made steaks and pancakes and everything. I enjoy the comforts of home. And I am only ever willing to give the appearance of making do.

All that and the addition of Colin Hay's occasional tales of life down under made me feel a certain longing for the travel I've yet to do. I've lived all over, sure. Way more than most people. But Australasia is still not represented in a colorful stamp on my steamer trunk. And I wish I could go there and see what's what.

Incidentally, if you are one of my friends in that part of the world, I invite you to consider this entry to be entirely designed to catch your attention and to give evidence that you have mine.

And if you're feeling like sponsoring me on an expedition or something, I'm game. Mary Forrest. Have passport. Will travel. Nearly anywhere. I'm not going walkabout or anything. But I'll take lovely Lomos of Sydney Harbour. Of that you can be sure.

Here's a bit of adorable.

My dad goes on for everything. EVERYTHING. He won't tell you anything unless he's made sure. And even then, he'll preface his announcement with the disclaimer that he hopes what he's saying doesn't turn out to be untrue. I don't know what's more endearing: the information he forwards to me or how responsible he is about disseminating it.

May 23, 2005

Thought Bubble
I wonder if anyone actually joins the Army or the Marines after watching one of beefcake-needs-a-bath commercial spots.

Towards a More Evolved Form of Communication

Well, my cell phone has been on the fritz. I can't take calls on it without having to switch to speakerphone. My earpiece won't work unless I pinch the wires just so. And even when I've got it on speakerphone, sometimes it just goes dead. A replacement is on the way. And I still have a home phone number that some people have. And I will get the earpiece replaced when next I am in San Diego, which may be in a matter of days.

I guess I don't really have any story to tell. I just wanted an excuse to say "on the fritz." How often do you get to say that these days after all?

Like a good neighbor.
So, my State Farm agent, Kimyee Ross, is the icing on a rather unpleasant cake today. After my car accident, I had the most difficult time getting people at the claims office to return my phone calls or update me on what was happening. Even Kimyee's office only provided me with telephone numbers to call which I had already been given and had already called. The day after my accident when I called to file my claim, Kimyee answered the phone but said she couldn't take the claim from me because she was with a customer, so she gave me a number to call. And later, when I was being offered a total loss amount on my car that I felt was unreasonable, I called Kimyee and asked for her assistance, and she gave me this whole rap about how she is my agent and that's what I'm paying her to do. That I shouldn't have to be dealing with any of this. And it's because of this level of service she provides that she's able to afford to take cruises. Yes, that's right. Cruises.
Well, since the initial furor of the accident died down, it's just been dealing with paperwork and figuring out logistics. My car was towed away from the body shop without my permission and taken to a place in Van Nuys. When I told Kimyee about that, she said that seemed incorrect and that I shouldn't have to drive all the way out there to get my personal belongings. That she would call me with the location of the salvage yard and also see if she could get my personal items delivered to me. Well, I never heard from her again. The next time I spoke with the claims representative, she was very apologetic about the poor customer service she said I felt I had received. Apparently Kimyee had given her an earful. But Kimyee never stepped in again. I negotiated my total loss myself. I called and got the address of the salvage yard. I went out and picked up my stuff on my own. And I will admit that, whether it was just the post-traumatic stress or the overwhelming nature of it all, I didn't always return phone calls promptly during that time. Mostly because dealing with it all filled me with such dread. But I got it all taken care of in the end. And in the past few weeks, when I needed help with a new auto quote -- because I am borrowing a car from my parents and want to make sure it's covered -- I could not get anyone to call me back. Kimyee had even given me her cell phone number so that I could reach her quickly. And when I left messages on it, I did not hear back from her. Say nothing of the fact that no one ever answered the phone when it rang.
So today I called both Kimyee's cell phone and her office phone and left curt messages expressing my frustration. And Kimyee called me back pretty promptly and proceeded to tell me that I was basically full of shit. She said that I have a reputation for not returning calls and that she has never not returned a call to me. And when I started to point out that she didn't call me back about this auto quote, she said that she didn't have to listen to this. She's no longer a State Farm agent. And I said, Okay, then, who should I be talking to? And she said, "You know what? You can just look it up yourself. I'm not going to give you the number because I don't like your attitude." And then she hung up on me.
It's funny. I don't have any massively emotional relationships to contend with. My mom occasionally makes me cry. But that's about it. For the most part, my relationship life is pretty even-keeled. No great drama to speak of. Maybe that's why my brain is ill-equipped to handle the amount of frustration and injustice and fury that well up in me when something like this happens. And maybe it's because I had just spent 40 minutes on hold with Cingular trying to get my phone replaced, the first 20 of which were spent on hold before getting summarily disconnected and having to call back and wait on hold for 20 minutes again, all while listening to 12 looped measures of incredibly monotonous guitar music. Maybe my nerves were a little raw. But when I went to State Farm's web site and located another agent nearby and called to ask how to proceed, I ended up crying into the phone like a big stupid baby. Embarrassing.
This new agent appears to be the bee's knees is the upside of all this. And he is getting me a quote and making all the calls for me and just generally being a right peach. But I wanted to make sure that -- if in a fit of vanity -- Kimyee Ross was ever to Google her name, she would find that someone took the time to write about what an unprofessional, insufferable jerk she was. Like a good neighbor.

May 22, 2005

Paper Nautilus

I recently added a quotation to my Lines I Like page. It was said by Peter O' Toole, and I wish I could marry it. "I can't stand light. I hate weather. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another." Perfect. It should be the basis for a religion. And honestly I don't even know if this is absolutely true for me. I certainly find pleasure from time to time in the out of doors. I've called many a day lovely before. But mostly, I like inside and air-conditioned. I like rain when I'm not in it. I like sun when it's not on me. I like snow when it's in a photograph. Or when it's made of cotton or wax. For my money, the sun is only really great when I'm in the mood to take pictures. And a smoke-filled room sounds like conversation to me. And I do so love it when people aren't yet calling it a night.

It's hot outside. Beautiful and sunny and hot. I was walking Audrey and thinking about the heat and thinking about how a mirage is really just what happens when it's so hot that light reflected off the sand in the desert looks as if it might be a bit of water. It can happen on asphalt, too. Anything that glints a bit. It happens when I drive to Las Vegas. It happens on the streets of Los Angeles. But for anyone who grew up watching Looney Tunes, a mirage is the illusion of an actual oasis in the middle of the desert. An hallucination brought on by the heat and dehydration and the need for something to be humorous in the cartoon. In a Looney Tunes mirage, there are lush, verdant groves of un-Saharan tropical fruit trees and ladies in sarongs and waiters in fezzes and grand pools of cool water which, when the protagonist goes for a dip, become apparent to us to be just sand, and there our hero sits, splashing around in sand and looking the fool.
I don't think I actually came to understand the real meaning of the word "mirage" until I was a teenager. And habitually, I still sort of imagine the palm-fronded oasis when I hear it said. It's the place you would go if you could at that moment. The place that has everything you most want, even if it clashes with the latitude you are actually in. It's a glimpse of the heaven you would fashion for yourself, because some part of you knows you are about to succumb to the elements, and you might as well go out happy. I can already picture what my mirage would look like. I know what faces I would see there. It would be like that scene in Titanic when Rose finally snuffs it and she returns to the ship to see everyone in their undrowned finery. All the faces you love are there. All the people you've lost. The ones who have fallen away for whatever reason. Everything that is out of reach. And I suppose if I was dying because of the heat, I might also want a great swimming pool. Because I love the way it feels to be in the water. Even though I am delicate enough that I sometimes get seasick on a kickboard. I love fireplaces, too, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was one of those. And probably some kind of steak dinner. And a book of all my photographs. And a bed with thousand thread count sheets on it. And music that everyone likes. My mirage is beginning to sound a good deal like my actual apartment. Only less cluttered.
The heat troubles me. It makes it hard for me to sleep and hard for me to rouse. It makes my head heavy. I dream a lot. Or I lie still and think a lot. I watch the clock. I get restless. Something about the way the world smells when it's warm out reminds me of other summers. Only the ones I've spent here, though. It's a very specific recall. My skin. The hot street. The thirsty grass. Maybe a hint of that Cuban place down the street. I walked in this before. And returning home to the shade was always a relief.

Guilty. Sighted.

A few months ago, I was sitting in my car with my friend John on a little side street in Hillcrest (a community of San Diego). It was getting on to four or five o'clock in the morning, and we had been talking for some time. Long after the bars had closed. And I began to notice people on the sidewalk as it got closer to morning. At one point, a blind man crossed in front of us, tapping his way up Sixth Avenue. I made some glib comment. I assumed he wasn't really all that blind. Why would an actual blind guy be out at this hour? But then, as we watched -- and despite his diligent tapping -- he walked directly into a bush and had to reorient himself in order to continue on up the sidewalk. He looked sort of like an RC car that gets driven into a corner and has to back up a few times before it can fully turn around and get going again. I felt really guilty for having doubted the extent of his blindness. And I felt guiltier still for having just sat there and watched him walk into that bush, where he could have tripped and fallen or hurt himself. He got on all right after that. But I sat very still and hoped he couldn't hear us talking in my car. The last thing that guy needed right then was to know that two people had watched that whole scene. I'm very clumsy. I've actually opened cupboard doors right into my own face before. But fortunately, I'm usually alone when this happens and I don't have to cope with the humiliation of a derisive audience. In certain circumstances, all I have to worry about is what lie I will make up to explain the big bruise on my face. But there was one time when a group of work friends had come up to my apartment in Cardiff, and we were watching Tampopo and eating all sorts of goodies. And I went to make cappuccino, and I totally walked my face right into a cupboard door I had left open above the counter. I didn't lose an eye and there was no bleeding, so I suppose it's not so bad that everyone laughed and laughed. Incidentally, I don't hear from any of those people anymore. And good riddance.

May 21, 2005


There may come a time when I will look back on all of this and feel something.

Threading the Spindle

For some reason, my journal entries have felt somewhat chore-like this past week or so. I let so many things slip through the cracks. Stories I don't bother to tell. I hear myself speaking them to the people I know and run into on a regular basis, and I lose my zest for making them permanent.

For instance, last week, I drove to Claremont to see a dinner theater matinee performance of A Chorus Line with my dad, who had bought tickets for himself and my mother only to later find that my mother was going to be out of town. So I drove fifty miles and joined him and this church group of older folks. They call themselves "55 Plus," but, let's face it, I'm closer to 55 than most of these people. "55 Plus Thirty" might be a better name. Anyway, when my father said it was going to be a church group and also that it was going to be A Chorus Line, I said, "Are you sure? Because you know there are some mature themes in that show." And he sort of shrugged it off. But sure enough, long before the number "Tits and Ass" even came up in the program, the pastor had excused himself out to the courtyard and apparently had no intention of coming back for the rest of the show. The fellow who organized this affair came back at intermission and told everyone that they were going to leave. And I was surprised to see my dad decide to leave with all of them, ditching me there, fifty miles from home and only halfway through a show I didn't really want to see so urgently in the first place. The people I told this story to heard me say things like, "Christians can be so immature," and make my case about the strange elitism they use to condemn all things secular. I talked about the idea of their being fishers of men, but apparently only of men who never talk about the unwanted erections they used to get in high school. My father is a right grown-up, and I don't think he would have left had he not been pressured to by all those cranky old skinbags. He even leaned over at one point and told me that one of the women on stage was really good. Clearly he can handle a little language, which is all there really was. I got into a frustrating debate with my Uncle Virgil about the content of the show. He threw around generalities that implied that the creators of this show put smut in it to make more money. And I had to object that I can't imagine paying a premium to hear the word "bullshit" said in a crowded room. I mean, if they put some horsefucking up there or something, then maybe. But mention of gonorrhea is no great shakes in my book. And he started telling me about how a show like this would never be done in a town called Branson. And it only got more inane from there. My dad even chimed in and supported me at one point when I was trying to say that the language and content are in there because of a desire to faithfully represent the community in which this show is taking place. Much like one might expect a play about the Navy -- and not Anchors Aweigh -- to have some language in it. And possibly horsefucking, as well.

I think I was going to call the blog entry I planned to write One Singular Sensation: Outrage. But I never got around to writing it. Anyway, bad as I felt about the cast coming back for Act Two and seeing this one table right down front empty of its former thirty occupants, I ended up leaving at intermission, too, because I decided I might as well beat the traffic back to Los Angeles, whence I immediately left for San Diego to drop Audrey off before my birthday weekend. Then I went and had some drinks, and I ended up driving back to Los Angeles at about three a.m. All told, I put about 350 miles on the car I am borrowing from my parents in one day. And I think I am still a bit tired from it.

That same day, I made a note that I've never been kicked in the yarbles, but I have fallen hard on the cross bar of a ten speed. I don't remember why I wanted to remember that fact. But I remember that it happened when I was in grade school and that there was actually some bruising.

I also went to see House of Wax last week, believe it or not. And it was really far less good than I could have ever imagined. Less good than House of a Thousand Corpses. Seriously, less good than that. And Paris Hilton gave an infuriatingly bad performance. Not that anyone else in the movie was particularly convincing or likeable. But Paris Hilton can't even convince you that something smells bad. And I'm not joking about that at all.

Tonight, I went to see Revenge of the Sith at The Arclight with Wayne Federman and Derek Hughes and Martín. I actually had a great time. I laughed at parts of the movie that were not meant to be funny. And I would look over at Martín from time to time as if to say, "What the...?" And he would nod in concurrence. He had already seen it twice before tonight. Which I appreciated, because there were a couple of times when I needed someone to tell me what had just happened that I couldn't discern with my logical brain. I don't want to write a lengthy review about it. I was made uncomfortable by the repeated use of the word "younglings." I was ever so disappointed in the Wookiee "battle" scenes, which had been far overhyped in geek discussion circles when the teasers first came out. And -- this will sound really awful of me -- but Peter Mayhew is too fat to play Chewbacca anymore. Unless we are to believe that twenty years later his metabolism finally hits its stride. There were a lot of battle scenes that reminded me perhaps too much of Starship Troopers. Or droids that reminded me of the Mondoshawan. Or of Captain Eo. And I tire of the trend in action films today for the combat to be so fast-paced that you can't see a single move distinctly from anything else that is happening. The lightsaber fighting looked like colorful windmills or maybe some sort of glowstick nunchaku thing at Burning Man. The art and elegance of swordfighting is utterly lost in them. When I was at the bar before the movie started, a greasy-haired youngling with one of those plastic, retractable lightsabers said this to his father, "Dad, I have a question. Do you think those lightsabers are real?" He was referring to something he had seen someone wielding outside the theater. And I found it both sweet and sad to overhear him ask, because it's great that children want so much to believe but he was clearly too advanced in years to be that naive.

But, really, in the gestalt, I enjoyed watching the movie. It was fun. And I didn't have anything at all riding on it being more than that. And my most stalwart advice for enjoying the movie in a zen sort of way is (a) have a cocktail or two before and/or during the screening and (b) don't let your brain start thinking about how good it could have been. I think the biggest letdown in all three of these films has been how obvious it seems to nearly any eye that the problems could so easily have been fixed. And if you don't lose yourself in the frustration of that idea, you can still watch it and be okay and not busy your brain with cutting dialogue from scene to scene or reworking premises when they make no kind of human sense. That's the way to play it, if you ask me. There is forgiveness in forgetting and forgetting in forgiving. And Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor both have a surprising number of growths on their faces.

Martín and I agreed that the moments when foreshadowing of continuity showed up were the greatest pay-offs for us personally. It satisfies something of the geek in you (read: "me") to hear names or scenarios mentioned that you know will be coming into play in the following episodes or to see the two suns of Tattoine and that weird little igloo house. And I am still a great fan of the music. That callback to "The Duel of the Fates" was pretty nice. I remember hearing John Williams conducting the L.A. Philharmonic in a performance of that at the Hollywood Bowl back in 1999. It's hard to believe this second trilogy is already that time-spanning. My, but how easy it is to throw a huge chunk of your life away on stories and stuff.

I haven't been feeling so hot this week. My vim is at a record low. Anxiety begets anxiety. Staying up all night makes it hard to sleep. I went to a few comedy shows early in the week and fulfilled my typical food to drink ratio for a night out, meaning I ate nothing at all and drank a bit more than that. I went to the Joe Jackson/Todd Rundgren concert in San Diego and stayed out until dawn playing cards and drinking and generally disregarding the fact that I had to drive back to L.A. the next morning. Sometimes, I expect to wake up in the morning and see that I've suddenly aged a huge number of years. Like the dude who chooses poorly in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I should take some vitamins. I don't have any desire to see what the bones under my facemeat look like.

May 19, 2005

Refined Sugars as Emotional Conduits

I feel sorry for children who get granola as a snack. Or trail mix. Or some sort of carob. I always have. Back in the days when I was a babysitter. Or when I would see what people brought with them for lunch. Or when I would go over to a friend's house after school and be offered refreshments by their mother. There were the cool kids whose moms gave us brownies and made quesadillas for us in the microwave. And there were the "other" kids, whose mothers enthusiastically offered wheat nuts, yogurt-covered peanuts, and perhaps the opportunity to eat some dry Life Cereal out of the box. Do I really think mothers who give their kids Snickers bars love them more? I guess I do. I guess I don't think that carrot juice is a treat. And if a child has been raised to look forward to that, I sort of feel bad for them. Like they are less prepared to face the rigors of normal human existence.

But then the kids eating granola as snacks are also usually wearing sandals (and I mean the boys, too) and madras shirts and I wouldn't be surprised if something in their outfit was made of hemp. So, yeah, they're easy targets for my elitist pity. How can those little rubes fend for themselves out there? It might just be me. I don't even like restaurants to indicate which of their menu items are "heart-healthy." I feel very rebellious about healthful eating. I shop at Whole Foods a lot, and I buy really great stuff. But if it happens to be fat-free or low in carbs, I need for it to keep that information to itself. You can't think celery is delicious and also be any fun at a party. I'm sure of this.

By the way, Quaker Chewy Granola Bars and Kudos don't count in this discussion.

And while I'm on the subject of elitism, I should report that Wayne Federman and I had a lengthy conversation today during which he tried to make me feel bad about being an elitist. I guess the truth is I'm incredibly self-deprecating and insecure, but I also manage to look down my nose at a bad outfit or an uninformed argument or a classic rock station programmed into your in-dash stereo's preset buttons. I won't deny that I have elitist tendencies. I will also say that I don't think there's anything bad about that. It's kind of hard for me to come up with funny things to say if I truly subscribe to the idea that everyone is basically intelligent and worthy and deserving of the same bounty in life. I'm not judgmental in the awful sense. I'm not intolerant or narrowminded. I just think it's far more challenging to make any real observations about the people around you when you're standing right there next to them on the same level where you can't make a face without them seeing it. Right?

Human nature. Canine corollary.

Audrey was so happy to see me when I arrived at my parents' house on Wednesday. She was jumping up in the air and wiggling around and wiggling while jumping in the air. She reminded me of the heyday of David Lee Roth. I took her out for a walk, and she just kept jumping up and wanting to be held and yipping and yelping and lolling her little tongue. She sure is nuts about me all of a sudden. This is the longest she's been without me since I got her last summer, and she loves me more than ever apparently. Maybe she had to fear losing me to realize I was so awfully great. Maybe she had to live in the absence of me for a week or so, eventually coming to believe that I might never be coming back, before she realized how awesomely well I treat her. Maybe. If so, she's practically a person. And that's something I've suspected all along.

I know it's sort of old hat theory-wise, but it's really true. No one ever seems to like you very much when they can see you every day and have access to your attention and affection. Even when they really, really like you, they can't help but take you for granted when they get everything they want from you and all the time. This really jostles any notions I might have had about how real and meaningful relationships can ever be sustained. I guess at some point you have to matriculate out of one thing into another. But then maybe you just both have to keep mum about the fact that anything has changed. You both have to pretend it's just as fancy and excellent as maybe you thought it was when it first kicked off. And you have to block it out of your mind that things settling into normalcy is, by design, less exciting than the fever pitch of the early giddy stages of crush and blush and fluster. You have to tell yourself it's better because it's more grown-up. More evolved. What separates us from the beasts. And you have to outwardly look down on other people who think being single is so great. Perhaps. But let's not forget that this is all emanating from an observation I made about my dog.

Yeah, yeah. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. You only want what you can't have. Don't know what you've got until it's gone (that's a Cinderella reference, yo). Popular culture makes my case for me. And if all of this is true, I suppose it only makes sense that you can only really be deeply in love with anyone when you're sitting there in a room by yourself tearfully reviewing the pictures you have of that one barbecue you went to together that weekend before it all turned to shit. For all intents and purposes, Valentine's Day should be a night of quiet, solo reflection and contemplations of suicide. And I guess, for a lot of people, that's exactly what it is. Wow, the more I think about this, the more it sounds like science!

May 17, 2005

The Eve of the End

A lot of my friends with various industry connections have already seen Episode III. Cast and crew screenings and the like, filling their lucky calendars while I gather up the scraps of IM and text message they send, assuring me that I will be leveled by Palpatine (which I fully expect to be the case) and that I will be able to love the movie, even though there are parts of it that are shit. I was supposed to go see a midnight screening at the IMAX theater in Valencia tomorrow night, but I am holding off. I bought tickets a while back to one of the Arclight's Friday screenings, and I have learnt the hard way on a number of occasions that I might not actually want to see a movie twice in the same week and will end up either resenting or wasting the tickets I've already got. Also, I am being taken to see Joe Jackson on Wednesday night by my bartender friend Jeff, and that might be a good time. Piggybacked on the necessity of driving down to San Diego to pick up Audrey, who has been living with my parents for five days now and will probably be fat as a tick when I get her back. We've never been apart for this long. And I have to admit that I miss her enormously but that I also cherish the ability to wake up and not immediately have to leave the house to walk her and pick up her leavings with a little plastic bag. Plus, there's a guy that lives across the street from me who always manages to pop out his front door and accost me with overly familiar questions as soon as I leave the house. He's assured me that he's perfect for me and that my parents would be proud to have him as a son-in-law. But I'm pretty sure he's wrong about both of these things. He makes me wish I could be invisible from time to time.

Anyway, so Star Wars, right? Many of my friends will be watching midnight screenings tomorrow, and I envy them in a way. When the special edition re-releases came out, I queued up hours in advance for each of them and watched them on the big screen for the first time ever. And when Episode I finally occurred, I waited in line for twelve hours in a shopping mall with friends, taking turns to go shopping and get refreshments. And by the time midnight came around, we were tired but excited. I was just talking with Martín this weekend about how disrespectful some of the cinema-goers were at the screening of A New Hope, and he agreed and countered with his recollection of how comparatively respectful the audience at The Phantom Menace was. I hypothesized it might have been that they were too exhausted by the weight of their costumery to make much noise.

I don't know what to expect from this week's screenings. Will people be reverent? Wry? Hopeful? Cynical? Will someone yell out a sarcastic exclamation during a moment of relative quiet? Frankly, the product marketing that goes along with this film's release doesn't do much to encourage me about the respect people will have for the franchise. Darth Dew-flavored Slurpees? M&Ms insisting they won't go to "the Dark Side" and then changing their minds and agreeing to be made of dark chocolate before following in Captain Needa's well-asphyxiated footsteps. And what about that creepy face-off between Darth Vader and the Burger King mask? These commercial spots hardly present an attitude of reverence. I lived overseas and wasn't able to watch a lot of television when the original films were being released, so I don't know. Maybe the product tie-ins were just as weenie back then, too. I know they made C-3POs (the breakfast cereal) and stuff. It's not like they were treating it like a religion. Maybe it just seems weirder and more blasphemous now because so much of the character marketing centers around Vader, and maybe before he was the black hat, so kids were more inclined to buy things that were promoted on more lovable faces. I don't know. This is pure conjecture.

I can also offer some strong-ish opinions about the disappointment so many have felt in the continuation of the Star Wars legacy. I don't think it's fair to dismiss it as fanboy overenthusiasm that landed wrong. It's true that people were sorely disappointed in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones because they had banked so many youth-spanning hopes on the revival of this story arc and the promise of it somehow reconnecting them with a hero's journey that had once packed their boyhood minds with dreams of valor and redemption. But I don't think it's fair to say that people were bummed only because the pedestal was too high. Truly, those first two prequels were pretty awful. I maintain that if you just sit and listen to the dialogue in Attack of the Clones, not bothering to look up at the breathtaking digital landscapes, you won't be able to bear it for long. You'll beg for a chance to reread Silas Marner instead. It's bad. Empirically. Badly written. Badly acted in places. Implausible and plodding. The redeeming factors in both of those movies is that Star Wars films still have some of the best music ever, and George Lucas sure knows how to make fake stuff look real. And that's not nothing. But I don't think you can -- even with the addition of time and perspective -- assess these films and say that the world overreacted when they gave them the raspberries. They're just not nearly as fun to watch as the other films, even if you only want jaunty entertainment out of them and not an elevated sense of the importance and meaning of the universe. I think I can speak to this with candor and accuracy. When The Phantom Menace came out, I didn't have that much riding on it. I loved Star Wars, but I really hadn't gotten to see the whole trilogy until long after it came out. I saw A New Hope for the first time on network television in Guam, with commercial interruptions and everything. And back then, television programming in Guam came from The Mainland via postal service on VHS tapes. It was hardly the finest cinematic reproduction. But we taped it on our Betamax and watched it again and again. Even my dad liked it. Or maybe he was just tired of how many times we had already watched The Wizard of Oz and Quarterback Princess. My point is I never had a Star Wars lunchbox. I never had an R2-D2 trashcan or hamper. I did not know Admiral Akbar's name until I was already able to get into bars legally. And even I was disappointed in the first two prequels. Genuinely disappointed in them as movies. Not as Star Wars movies or as a religious experience but as actual movies. So I don't buy this philosophy that it's only bad because of how much people wanted it to be good. It took some of my other die-hard friends as much as a week to come around and admit that The Phantom Menace was kind of crap. Some as much as a year. Some never did come around, but I secretly believe they never saw it.

All the same, I sincerely want Revenge of the Sith to be awesome. I will not die if it isn't. I am not expecting or demanding transcendence. But I totally do look forward to hearing that music again. And hearing the crowd cheer when the words start scrolling off into the vacuum of space. And maybe I'll even get weepy when the theme plays in the end credits. Maybe.

Looking back on it, that screening of the special edition of A New Hope was among the first two or three times I ever even saw Martín. He came from work, wearing a blue dress shirt, suspenders, and his Tigger tie. He had just recently (and fortunately) cut his hair. I was already in line, having eaten dinner at Taco Bell. And I was wearing a skirt too short for sitting on the ground, but I sat just the same. Now, all these years later, he and I still talk about droids and alien species and ships and blasters. We still argue about whether Return of the Jedi is better than The Empire Strikes Back (note: it isn't). We still feel pity when we pass the Uncle Owen autograph-signing booth at Comic-Con. And I guess I can trace all of that back to San Diego and Noel Coward and hot tub parties and road trips and special edition re-releases. It's not the basis of our friendship, but it certainly poses as underpinning in places. What a long time ago that was.

Looking Back. Bad for the Neck.

And I've got to be careful about such things. Friday, I visited my orthopedic surgeon's office again and discovered by way of my MRI results that I have two discs herniated in my neck. Which explains the continuing pain I feel and the weird numbness in parts of my arm. I guess I'm a bit glad that it turns out I'm not just having phantom twinges. I'm often suspicious that I'm inadvertently faking my ailments. I don't like to be sick or to admit that I am. It's easier and less expensive to pretend it's all in my head.

I'm not one of those people who peaked early. The high school chapters were not my glory days. I was a great student, but I did not cry at my graduation. I was glad to be moving on. I was giddy and hopeful, dying to get off on my own and into college and my diamond-studded future. A future which, for the record, never came. At least not in any jewel-encrusted form. I'm not happy about that part so much. But I am glad to say that I don't feel as if it will never be as good as it was way back when. I have never ever felt that way. I have never thought that I had just crested the highest peak in the range and that everything else would be forever pale in comparison. Never ever. I don't know if it's pragmatism. Or if it's because I'm generally so sure that things aren't that great that I'm compelled to look forward to whatever might be coming next. I just know that some people were really happy in high school. And I was not one of them.

I was watching that Z Channel documentary the other night, and, first of all, watch it. It's awesome. I never saw Z Channel, but that film sure makes me wish I could have. Even if it had ever been available where I was living, my parents never paid for premium channels. They didn't even shell out for basic cable until after I'd left for college. But Z Channel. What a little bit of right up my alley that would have been. If you look at the DVDs and laserdiscs on my buckling bookshelves, it might appear that I take a lot of my own personal programming cues from Z Channel. I'm a little light in the European smut department, but the rest of the arty genres are well-represented. As are the films of John Cusack for some reason.

I can't figure me out sometimes. I live in the past in some respects. But always someone else's past. Always some sort of throwback. Some categorizable genre. A version of something that hits all the marks. The perfect 1962. The quintessential 1938. I like to daydream those times. I like to watch movies that take me there. I like to go to vintage stores. In my own life, I think about a lot of what has happened to me more often than anyone professes I should. But I also spend a lot of my synapse-firing on looking forward. Anticipation is the only thing that keeps me from sitting still on my couch for so long that my flesh grows over it. Wanting to be ready for what comes next. Gearing up. Planning. Pushing. Yearning for everything that is else. And oh how I have always loved stories about the future. Even boring ones about robots and morality and the slippery slope of man's hubris.

I guess I'm just unpleasable. And I don't think anyone will be surprised by that.

May 15, 2005

Birthday: An Epilogue

I had the best time. The best best time. And I don't have to resort to hyperbole to make this claim. If you were there, thank you thank you thank you. If you weren't, I only hope you ever have so lovely a time at any other point in your life. If I could give the entire world a gigantic kiss, you would all so have my tongue in your mouths.

May 14, 2005

Things that bother you never bother me.

It's my birthday. I did some improv at the Black Box last night, before which I had a few drinks with Traci at the Velvet Margarita and then at the I.O. bar. And then I went to Birds. And then I drank too much there. And then I was not feeling so hot. And then I came home. And then I slept in my clothes. I don't have a hangover, but I so should.

For my money, it's good to have gotten the miscalculations about my alcohol capacity out of the way early. Because today is going to be super in every other respect. If I have to make the whole thing up, it will be super.

May 11, 2005

Oh, what a night.
My friend Evan is touring with Dick Dale at the moment, and I told him that if he was to have Dick Dale call my cell phone and play Misirlou into it, I would worship the both of them for the rest of my days. And tonight, while I was in workshop, Dick Dale left a private performance of Misirlou on my voicemail, and I think that is some cool ass shit.
I discovered this when I was leaving workshop and on my way to Birds, at which time I found a parking spot on Cheremoya, and I was walking past a parking enforcement guy, who asked me if the car he was about to ticket was my vehicle. And I said, "No, I just parked over there." And he said, "You're gorgeous. Thank you." And I couldn't quite tell if he was just applauding the legality of my parking, so I just smiled and went on my way, and he said, "You heard what I said, right?" And I said, "Yes. Thanks." And he smiled and said, "Unbelievable." And I don't know what was so very awesome about my look tonight, but I suppose I recognize that I shouldn't shrug these things off entirely. Later, when I was driving home and that song When You're Fat by Bruce McCulloch came up in my iPod rotation, I thought, "Yeah. I guess I don't have it so bad."
Traci and I went to Birds and were having a great little chat over a shared veggie burger when one of those generic red glass candle bowls came tumbling over the ledge, shattering my glass of Jameson, shattering itself, and splattering white wax all over my face, my décolletage, and three articles of clothing of which I was particularly fond. This girl popped up above the ledge in some semblance of concern as I screamed, "What the fuck!" She was very apologetic. She had only just touched it with her hand. Were we okay? We were, but honestly, there is no plausible excuse for knocking one of those candles over. It was situated well out of range of normal arm movement. Unless she was standing up in her booth and flailing around in some amount of ridiculousness. I do not feel at all forgiving. I wish I had made a point of remembering her face, beacuse if I ever see her again, I would like to throw something melted in it.
The hostess comped us our everything and brought us replacements, and that was all very nice. But I still have a ruined outfit and a sense of indignance that in the last few times I've been to Birds I've lost my favorite digital camera, missed out on a party I should totally have gone to, and gotten spattered in a dangerous portion of hot wax. Perhaps the universe is converging on this one locus to let me know it's not where I should be spending much of my free time. And that's a shame, because Laurie and Bob are so unbelievably nice, and the drinks they pour are so unbelievably generous. I guess it's awesome that I pay so little attention to the universe and its cryptic means of messaging me. For my money, if the universe wants to tell me something, it can pick up the phone and call. Dick Dale did, after all.

May 9, 2005

For the love of Seabee Sam.

My dad sent me an ecard this weekend. If Stephen Hawking's voice modulator were to be used by a hyper-intelligent dog to say something sweet to me on behalf of my father, this is what it would sound like. The dog blinks poignantly at the end of the message and everything.

May 8, 2005


My parents' home is near a school. It appears some child lost one of those red four-square balls in the wasteland near their property. It's been out in the sun so long, its faded, misshapen, once-spherical form now looks dimpled and cratered and dull where it once shined, like a stray planetoid, poking up out of the dirt. There are snakes out there in that dusty, brushy open space. I just know it.

Last week, I drove down with Beulah and Justin to pick up the car I will be borrowing from my parents until my insurance business is settled. I was tired. Stressed. Maybe a little sad. The whole weekend had felt that way to me. A lingering sense of endings. Anticlimax. The doldrums. And I had a smidgen of headache. Exacerbated by a number of the hair band choices in Beulah's playlist that day. But somewhere along the way, I changed my mind about my mood, and we sang along to power ballads that require the stretching and straining of vocal limits. Night Ranger. Extreme. Steelheart. Sheriff. G N' R. It was hoarse goodness. Poor Justin. I'm sure he hated every minute of it. We sing like banshees, Beulah and I.

I hate to sound unbearably earnest, but music sure is magical. And it's really just recently that I've recognized that I don't always have to be so vulnerable to it. Certain songs evoke memories and feelings and pangs of things. But many of them have been around long enough in my life's radio that there are layers upon layers of these memories. And it doesn't take much excavation to unearth a memory beneath whichever one you first encounter. Especially if that one makes you want to cry or call someone you shouldn't or buy something you can't afford. I was listening to Aimee Mann and Elvis Costello harmonizing in The Other End (of the Telescope), and at first it made me sad. I thought about putting this song on many of my mixtapes. Hearing it in the car with this guy or that one. Thinking things about the lyrics and wondering if what I was thinking showed. Or hearing it more recently and having the memory of remembering it and feeling sad for all that has and has not happened in the interim. But clicking back a few iterations to the earlier memories -- the not-sucking one -- has its charms. I was running the other day, and I got bored of my usual running playlist and started playing road trip mixes from ages ago. And it was perfect gorgeous outside and the running was super difficult but also wonderful. And I hearkened back to a much, much earlier listening of this song, riding a Greyhound bus from Ithaca, on my way to go visit my high school sweetheart. It was snowing and grey outside for most of the trip. I leaned my head against the window. The glass was cold and damp. I was poor. A college student. And I never did get a warm enough pair of shoes in the time I lived there. And there were flecks of melancholy in that story, too, but it did not hurt to think of them. One day, I expect the layers will mount, and I will be similarly unmoved by the stories that now abrade. They will be buried by everything else. More important things. The hierarchy of recentness. Everything will be forgotten. And as I forget, I cringe a little, knowing that I am also being forgotten. A great Etch-a-Sketch being shaken, if slowly. But you can't erase just one part of it. No matter how careful you are. Eventually the whole thing goes blank, and you start over. And wonder why there isn't more color in the world.

I have been in San Diego for a couple of days. Friday night, my family and I went to Tip Top Meats and ate meaty German food and the many cabbage dishes that come with it. Afterwards, I met friends at Cane's to see Tainted Love, an '80s cover band that helps you gauge how many of the lyrics you know to songs you were sure you used to hate.

We drank and danced and got sweatier than I usually care to. Then we went to Nunu's, and I got an earful from those who knew me about my new hairdo. I've noticed that a lot more people talk to me -- and for disconcertingly longer stretches of time -- than when my hair was not quite so fair. It is requiring me to be more brusque than I normally would ever be. It makes me want to dye my hair brown with grey streaks and wear nothing but sackcloth.

After Nunu's closed up shop, I took Krissy and Mike to that Mexican place near their house, and then we went back to their house and watched Blade Trinity with the housemates. For clarity's sake, I watched it. Everyone else slept, two of them actually sleeping on me in some fashion. I drove home at dawn.

On Saturday (yesterday), I went for a swim. A perfect swim in a perfect pool that made me reluctantly thankful for the sunshine and all the damage it is doing to my skinsuit. Beulah and I met up for some Mother's Day shopping. I had to leave before I wanted to. I had shows to do at the comedy theater. I did them. I had to sit on my hands a lot. But I did play the part of an infertile woman again and got to end a sentence with "unless your uterus looks like a raisin." And a little girl in the front row asked me after the show if I'm really barren, and it was such a precious little moment. The girl who sat next to her then told me that her brother isn't very nice because he sometimes kicks her "in the private." And that was precious, too, but for altogether different reasons.

After the show -- and another encounter with a persistent stranger named Bertrand who thought my hair and shoes were reason enough that we should be the very best of friends -- I ended up at the Lenz house again. I made a pretty good Chewbacca sound for the first time ever. This time I got home by five or so. But still.

Today, we celebrated Mother's Day by having a gigantic barbecue of assorted meats. I spent more time in the pool. I am a temporary frecklepuss. I practiced juggling with balls that are too light and too large for my small, imprecise hands. Beulah and I played games in the water. Audrey swam with me and rode me around the pool like a raft. And then all of a sudden it was now. And there was nothing much more to say about that. Except that I am coming home soon. And I am glad of it.

May 5, 2005

reverse psychology

There is a commercial making the rounds right now with Melissa Paull playing a girl who says she's not a smoker because she only smokes occasionally and doesn't actually buy her own cigarettes. It's all done in voiceover with the action being her smoking outside a bar, smoking outside the office, brushing her teeth in the office bathroom, et cetera. And the zinger at the end is something to the effect of, "Admit it. You're a smoker." Or "Face it. You're a smoker." And I realized that when I watch this, it does not have the impact on me that I'm assuming it's intended to. I'm assuming it's intended to stigmatize even casual smoking behavior and make people who bum the occasional fag feel self-conscious of the fact that they are among the loathsome ranks of the ACTUAL smokers of the world. But when I watch it, I instead think, "Hm. I guess you're right. I guess I AM a smoker. Maybe I should invest in a good lighter and start having cigarettes delivered to my home by mail. All this occasionally not having the right implements on hand when I feel like lighting up is for the birds." The next time it's on, I'll check the notices to see if it's actually an advert for the tobacco lobby. Because if it is, I'd have to say, they're pretty smart over there. And I would expect this to be an early entry in a wave of fake PSAs from manufacturers who must resort to subversive tactics to convert a sale. "Face it. You live near a nuclear power plant." "Wise up. You have a membership at an adult video rental." "Let's be honest here. You are living on convenience food and breath mints and trying to make ends meet by selling the prorated remaining portion of your gym membership on craigslist."

May 4, 2005

to all the toys I ruined with my affection

My father used to call my sister Sarah and me the Bigmouth Singers. It was a joint reference to this toy we had -- which was a piano that had keys connected to these fliptop-headed characters whose mouths would flip open when you struck the corresponding note -- and to us being noisy pains in the neck. I wrote all over that toy with a ballpoint pen.

I was given a Mrs. Beasley doll for Christmas when I was just a toddler. Mrs. Beasley from the hit television show A Family Affair. Here is a photo of me wearing the little plastic specs that came with the doll on Christmas morning in Naples, Italy. It has appeared in my blog before, but that was years ago.

Even then, my head looked huge. I loved that doll and used to carry it around with me all the time. Then I wrote on its face with a ballpoint pen.

I had a lot of Fisher-Price paraphernalia. The schoolbus with the little peg people. The farm with the silo and the barn door that mooed when you swung it open. The schoolhouse that doubled as a desk and chalkboard with magnetic letters in a little cubby. I wrote on every single one of those items with a ballpoint pen.

I had a baby doll that cried with real tears and even wet and soiled its diaper with water and "food" you fed it through a little hole in its puckered lips. I gave it the measles one day. With a ballpoint pen.

I miss Weebles. I miss the pirate ship and the desert island and the treehouse. I used to play the shit out of those toys. And then I made the mistake of bringing them in the pool with me, and the little paper inserts that are the Weeble dudes' faces and outfits started to pucker and crinkle and fade. I don't think I defaced them with pens at all, but it was probably just an oversight.

Sarah had that bust of Barbie you were supposed to use for making up and hair-styling. I wrote on its face with a pen. And I think I also cut most of its hair off. And Sarah also got that My Size Barbie that walks when you pump the arm. I totally wrote all over that thing's creepy smiling face. Even the teeth.

My mom bought me a plush Mickey Mouse at Disneyland the first time we ever went there, and I stained its face pretending to feed it a chocolate chip cookie. No pen marks, but that chocolate stain never went away.

I have felt sorry for every toy of mine (and Sarah's) I lovingly destroyed. Sorry for the disrespect and sorry for the loss of mint condition merchandise to appraise on auction sites. But I note in the retelling of these shameful tales that I always told my mother I wanted to be a writer, and she always corrected me with the word "lawyer." There might be a metaphor in there. I never became a lawyer. And much of what I do with my pens these days could still be considered defacement. And, these days, I take awfully good care of my toys.

May 2, 2005


breathe hole
air flute
suck tunnel
blow vein
ether tube
gag spout

There are no strings on me.

Fret? Frown? Me? Go on.

I lost one of my digital cameras this past week. It was at Birds. And I was really surprised that no one turned it in. I guess I place a lot of faith in the goodness of people. I've also made a number of ill-informed stock purchases in my life. Maybe someone will do the math on that. Losing the camera upset me. As did losing the photos on it. But I ordered a new one, and I suppose it will be here any day now, and I will have nothing to worry about. I also finally got another working Lomo, and I'm hoping to be thrilled by all the pictures I take with it to make up for the tragic number of months of not having one. Tonight, I snapped a few exposures at The Cat and Fiddle. I'm well out of practice and terribly wobbly-handed these days. But I have boxes and boxes of film to spare and a desire to re-enter the swing of things.

I also finally ate food at Al Gelato this weekend, but I have to say I probably will stick with the gelato and coffee from now on. Or maybe if I ever eat there again, I'll just have a sandwich or something. Ordering the pasta was just plain embarrassing. The food there has a Three Worlds of Gulliver quality to it. My favorite thing was the bread. But even that was huge. And the tomato sauce was too sweet. Borderline Chef Boyardee sweet. Me no like. I didn't eat the garlic bread, but when it came to the table, I winced. I wouldn't eat that much garlic if it contained the antidote to a poison I'd just ingested. I tiptoe around garlic as it is, but certain restaurants have this novelty approach to garlic presentation. Buca di Beppo, for instance. Somehow, they pretend that putting a huge amount of garlic on a food item is awesome instead of excessive and ghetto. Maybe it's from watching Emeril or something. Anyway, it's not a smart practice. I can think of so many things it's possible to have too much of. I won't bore you with the list. But trust me, it's expansive. Summing up, the cappucino is lovely, and I prefer the gelato to any I've had anywhere. But the meatballs -- while larger than my dog's head -- were a little mealy. And now that I've had them, I no longer need to anymore. Just like with so many other things.

Tammy and Jeff and I went to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at The El Capitan Theatre on Friday night. Vera and Blaine were walking down the street as I approached the theater. They had just seen the movie and did not appear to be too down in the dumps about it. My friend Steve was getting out of work at the Jimmy Kimmel show while I was in the queue of ticketholders. And Gordo ran into me when I had just collected my tickets, which was a happy circumstance as I somehow managed to be sold six tickets instead of three and needed to unload my extries on him and his clique. Which I did. It's weird how that happens sometimes. And maybe I say it a lot. But as big as this city pretends to be, I am always surprised at how impossible it seems for me to go nearly anywhere without seeing someone I know. I don't dislike it in the least. But then, I'm never out committing felonies or anything.

After the movie, we went over to Powerhouse and had a few drinks and talked about what was right and wrong with the movie and what is great about dive bars and what television characters should live on our desert islands and why drunk girls get so friendly. I felt the ebb of my vivacity. I've been so tired recently. So drab and lifeless. So cognizant of the fact that lipstick alone won't light up my face. The other night, with eyes sore from previous tears and a head aching from effort, I nearly accepted penicillin from Jessie, who thought she was offering me an analgesic. That would have been an excellent way to distract me from sad thoughts by replacing them with the onset of hives, inflammatory immunologic response, and possible respiratory failure.

When I was leaving Powerhouse, a guy tried to start up a conversation with me. Ill-timed and inconsiderate as it was, I tried to be polite. He introduced himself while I was fumbling for cigarettes. He asked if we could have dinner sometime. I stammered something unsmooth. He asked for my number, and eventually I gave it to him, but it wasn't written on anything, and I don't expect him to remember it. I don't know why I think I'm doing anyone a favor by not just saying "no, thank you," but I often end up being nice to people for no reason other than to avoid being not nice. I would be thrilled if I was occasionally quick and catty and less available to this sort of advance. Episodes like that one are the reason I am afraid to answer my telephone much of the time.

I sent out the evite for my birthday party this weekend. It was fun to fantasize a little bit about how grand my party will be. Whether it ends up being grand or not. But I got stuck a little on trying to pick an evite theme. I realized that I'm uptight about things like this. That I have difficulty subscribing to things that are supposed to be fun and cool. I don't want to pick an image that looks like I think I'm really swell. I don't want to pick anything I think might seem dumb. I end up being tempted to pick something outrageously dumb in the hopes that the irony will seem clever. In the end, I picked a greenish theme with an illustration of two people at a bar. It's not at all representative of the bar I will be at or of me or any of my friends as far as I can tell, but I like green. And I was tired of paging through the theme options. And, no, I was not going to customize my own theme, either. It's very important that I don't appear to be putting a lot of effort into being me and living my fanciful-looking life. I didn't customize my MySpace page either. Nor do I employ desktop themes on my computers. These things are true about me.

Martín bought a Lotto ticket because he saw a dwarf couple at Boston Market and thought it must be a lucky omen. It didn't pan out.

But as for me, I still remember how it was before. And I am holding back the tears no more.


Beulah discovered recently that she was a big fan of the Pope. The most recent one. I guess it all kicked in when he died. She Tivo'ed the funeral services and wrote about it in her blog and launched into some spiritual soul-searching. It's interesting to me. Because I took no interest in it at all. But she spent many of her formative years in Italy and was surrounded by Christian -- and specifically Catholic -- iconography and by a lot more ritual and majesty than I was exposed to, growing up as I did in places like Guam and Japan. Guam is a very Catholic town, too, but I think it's too hot there for people to really get into the groove. And the religious rituals I saw in Japan, while impactful, did little to curry my interest in the papacy.

Anyway, Beulah's into it.

And if you know anything about Beulah, you know that she's also a fan of a lot of morbid, gory, horrible things. She told me tonight that she ordered a book about the "bad" popes, which came as no surprise to me. And it occurred to me that her dream publication would be a book about pope autopsies. And the more pictures the better.

I know a lot of girls who like gore. I wonder what that comes from. I'm very cringey and squeamish. I don't like to watch surgery on television. I get scared easily. I don't really like to watch scary movies, especially if I'm all by myself. And big suspenseful surprises make me throw my popcorn up in the air like a big jerk. But both of my sisters loved all the serial killer stories and the horror flicks and knowing what killed this or that celebrity and what it probably looked like. I don't even like the creature episodes of X-Files. I can find easy reasons to wallow in a sense of inadequacy, it seems.

Appraisal in Progress

This just in:

I am worth more.

Winderella Story

My mother once introduced me to a friend of hers named Winderella, an Asian lady with a welcoming smile and a firm handshake. Winderella and her husband, who is an INS agent, met when he was arresting her. Apparently, many of their friends have this same story to tell.