Secret Pop

Jan 29, 2008


Something about that night made me think of you. Of me thinking of you on some other similar night. A similar amount of rain and cold and wind in the seams of a house not built to keep things like wind out. I thought I should go get my notebook and write down a reminder that I had thought that very thing. But I had just gotten back from Hawaii, and my notebook was still packed in a suitcase, and I trusted myself to remember. Typically, when I trust myself to remember a thing I meant to write down, I lose it almost immediately. But not so completely as to not be plagued periodically with that nagging sense that there's something I can't quite remember and I will never be able to get it right. For some reason, this time, that sentence kept reappearing in my mind. Enough times to even survive the spell when I convinced myself it was no longer worth writing. Surviving into the gentler welcome of my recommitment to its truth. "Something about that night made me think of you." Even remembering the sentence reminded me of the cold and the rain and the absence of the nightlight.

I always had a nightlight on back then. The bulbs all seem to burn out now, though. Even when I replace them. None of it works anymore. So the room is dark. Instead of murky with shadows. Light and shadow pointing up the places where the plaster has been patched. Parts of the ceiling I once planned to dress up with fancy fabrics and unusual light fixtures. But I was never able to buy a step ladder that was tall enough to help me reach the ceiling but not so tall that I couldn't fit it in my car. I guess I've since gotten one. But I no longer have that red fabric inspiration. Or the certainty that I will be here for very long. I bought moisturizer on eBay because it's no longer available retail. A specific moisturizer that I used a while ago. A smell I liked right off. A smell that makes memories of mornings and making up. The face. Not the other kind. I used it sparingly. I have so many choices on my dressing table that I seldom use anything up very quickly. And by the time it was all gone, they didn't make it anymore. And I was sad about it and kept the bottle because there were dregs in it, and it still smelled the way it smells. Now I buy it discontinued on the internet, but I can't make new memories with it. I can only remember thinking how nice it smelled when everything else was different. Sometimes I can remember some of what happened around that thought. "Oh, what a lovely scent. Is it really St. Patrick's Day already?" "Mm, I like the way my face smells. Two tickets for Minority Report, please." It's like a mild cohesive force. The thing that makes the meniscus in a graduated cylinder. This memory stuck to this other one. Just when I was pulling away. Just a bit of it.

I kept a bar of soap that smelled perfectly like chamomile tea. It was long since discontinued when I realized how much I liked it. And then I spent years -- literally, years -- buying every kind of chamomile-scented soap hoping to find that scent again. I never have. I did the same thing with my memory of the scent of the shampoo we got when we stayed at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. I loved the way that shampoo smelled. And I loved the time I had when its smell was in my hair.

I still have the mostly-melted bar of soap. I don't know why I keep it. It's part of how I catch threads of things and hope to keep them going for longer than they can. Trying to sustain things. Wishing things would never end. Wishing the sun wouldn't come up or go down. Wishing for long stretches of uninterruptedness wherein there is something worth keeping alive afoot. I take pictures as a means of being able to go back. Writing things down is the same. Buying extra copies of things just in case one runs out. Stocking up for the day when my memory starts to go.

The things that used to be automatically precious don't seem to be anymore. My standards have changed. I don't even feel guilt about not helping prepare Thanksgiving dinner. I sit still and let someone else do things sometimes. I sit very still sometimes. And not just when someone comes to the door.

I'm weary of always saying the same things.

Jan 27, 2008

Hangover F. Tompkins

I don't actually have a hangover. But I probably should. I sure drank a lot last night at the renaissance of The Paul F. Tompkins Show at Largo. It was cold and wet outside, so it was easy to seek comfort in glass after glass of Irish whiskey. I don't need excuses. I don't know why I should pretend to operate within the coolness of the shade they provide.

I was so (selfishly) glad to hear that Paul was bringing the show back. It was Martín's and my standing date the last Monday of every month for years. And then it ended in late 2006. After a period during which I had had to miss many of the shows anyway. So there has been a dearth of this tradition, and I'm terribly pleased to revive it. I've gotten to know so many people who work on and come to the show that it's like a reunion every time. And this one was all the more rewarding, as I've not seen many of these people since October of 2006. The most missed of which was Paul himself.

Have you ever had that feeling when you can't laugh hard enough? There is that scene in Scarface when the guy is about to get chopped up with a chainsaw, and his mouth is taped up, and you can see that behind the duct-taped silence, he's screaming as loud as he can. I don't know where that instinct comes from, but I do think that horrible things are altogether more horrible if you are robbed of your ability to let everyone nearby know it. That happens to me in dreams sometime. Also the thing where you can't run fast enough and you actually try and make yourself go faster by pulling on the edges of buildings. Like swimming. Anyway, my point is, sometimes I feel that way when something is so very funny, that I can't seem to get the relief(?) that laughing typically provides by merely laughing. This happens a lot at The Paul F. Tompkins Show.

Oh, my god. I almost accidentally watched Norbit. Crisis averted. Relief. Empire Strikes Back is halfway over but still. How are the whites of Yoda's eyes so white? No amount of Visine affords me that luxury for very long. It's dusk in Cloud City. What was I saying? Oh, right.

Sometimes Paul is so funny that I'm appalled at my inadequate ability to express amusement. Having expelled all the air in my lungs and heartily slapped my knees, having made eye contact with friends and established visually that we both think that was a good one -- it almost seems cruel for someone to be so funny that I'm left to evaluate my own impotence. But maybe this is more my problem than his.

Sometimes I think I like traditions. And sometimes I think I don't. Sometimes having a standing appointment with a good time feels like an oppressive obligation. And sometimes, saying such things makes a person sound like a sociopath. I remember having a standing appointment with The Paul F. Tompkins Show. And I'm glad it's back on the calendar. No matter how many Largo entrées I have to pretend I've eaten.

Jan 10, 2008

Hello. I'm going to bed now.

This may seem luxurious, but it's actually not. I've been working for twenty-four hours straight. And, yes, it's part of my Navy Seals training.

For the World Is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky.

Another night when I'm up for the duration. Last night, I was working until 7:30 in the morning. It was in the wee hours of that stretch that I watched the Star Trek episode whose title I have poached.

I'm up all night tonight again. And I'm even further behind than I was last night. The price of leaving town and never being willing to say, "That deadline is impossible, sir. How dare you."

A year came and went. I had far less to say about it than in previous years. I did much more of my talking out loud. Or in my head. And less with my fingers. But it's not like I don't think things when I'm not typing them. For instance, I wonder if we can credit the writers' strike with the end of Stephen Colbert's bid for the presidency. And how will it eventually effect the elections to not have had live and/or timely satire on television every night reminding us not to let politicians get away with things they shouldn't get away with and hopefully shaming us into not doing anything stupid. I don't care much for awards shows, but I suppose we'll be missing out on at least a few celebrity social admonitions. I also wonder about how much chlorine there is in my tap water, because it sure smells of it. And I wonder what the value of a DVD collection is when all I do is watch whatever is on. And at these shoulder-stooping hours, there's very little on that's worth the electricity. Or that I haven't already seen.

I kept hearing a few people say they couldn't believe that it was 2008. And I have to categorically disagree. Because 2007 felt like a very long year. Not necessarily full. But long. And I hope it isn't a trend that my age will perpetuate. Because I would like 2008 to be somewhat less of a grind. But I'm very willing to admit that I'm no little ray of sunshine. And I seldom look back on a year and think, "Hey, wow! Now, that was something, wasn't it?" Mostly, I just look forward to the new stamps.

I never got a chance to send out holiday cards this season. And I bought some really nice ones, too. I guess you shouldn't be surprised if you end up getting a nice holiday card sometime in March. I'm not strict about things like that.

I like the winter months in Los Angeles. My first year in Los Angeles began in the fall. And it was in the early months after the calendar had turned when I finally realized I lived here and that it was okay to put nails in the walls. In the winter months, you can walk down a city street for lunch or coffee and not feel the grit accumulating on your ever-moistening brow. In the winter months, there's probably still plenty of grit, but you can't really feel it as much.

The rains have come, and the skies are clear. And you can see forever if you want to. Or you can close your eyes and see everything else.

Jan 9, 2008

From the annals of bad product naming

I just heard a commercial for an acid reflux medication called AcipHex. I realize it contains part of the word "acid" and all of the initials "pH," but basically, in the human ear, it sounds like "ass effects." And the commercial ends with a web address and the exhortation to find out if "ass effects is right for you." Notwithstanding the inappropriate singular predicate one must excuse in order to join me in my juvenile tittering, I was amused.

And, yes, I used "annals" in the title and "tittering" in the previous sentence. But that's just coincidence. I don't make puns. I just make fun of homophones. And, yes, I know I just said "homophones"...