Secret Pop

Jan 23, 2010

Keeping Things Whole

A while back, I watched Waking the Baby Mammoth, in which paleontologists study the remains of the most perfectly preserved woolly mammoth ever found. And as I watched them take her apart, I realized that I hated watching them do it. It might be the same thing that makes it hard for me to cut up a book for a collage if the book is perfect or part of a set. I treasure the completeness and know that once you've started cutting, the wholeness can never be restored. "Whole" is an absolute. Once it is diminished, it is no longer. Once you've taken something away, "whole" requires an adverb.

I've spent a lot of/too much time in my life thinking about the irretrievable messing up of a perfect thing. Things that go on your permanent record. Things you do that make it so you can never say "never have I ever" anymore. (Drink.) It's misplaced concern, I'll grant you. But it is a thing I think. Sometimes it works better for me when something brand new or perfect gets marred in some way very soon after it comes to me. It takes the pressure off. Next time I buy a new car, I should nick the bumper on something right away. That way I can loathe its imperfection but no longer feel a prisoner of my desperate desire to prevent it.

Maybe second chances are folly. We like to pretend we can put things behind us or unfeel things we've felt. Maybe after a severe brain injury. But in the absence of that...I guess I don't know.

I forget very little. And frankly it's only a strength when it's valuable to remember something. But in a way, it's like paying for storage month after month for a thing that you'll only take out once or twice ever again. Just to look at it. Never to use it. Never to put it to work earning back all that rent you paid. I would forget many things, if I could. I would put a lot of things out of my mind and never give them an opportunity to transport me anywhere. Especially not back to a place of insecurity or hurt. I'd like it to be more like in Dickens. Where, having been transported, you can just stand off to the side and watch yourself objectively and maybe not actually BE in the moment all over again. Where's the fun in that. Those ghosts never take you back to any places you want to go. Scrooge doesn't proudly survey his favorite orgasm in any of the versions I've seen. And I feel like I've seen all of them.

The sun's back out. The sky is a solid crayon color of blue. Sometimes it feels like the world joins me in my desire to have something to look forward to.

Jan 13, 2010


I was looking back at the earliest of my blog entries. They go back to September of 2001, right before I got a new job and moved from San Diego to Los Angeles and told myself I was starting over, when really I was just starting.

From my corner office on the 6th floor of the City National Bank building on Wilshire and Fairfax, I had a pretty enviable view of Century City in one direction and the Hollywood Hills in the other. And whenever I thought, "I should write something," I'd usually just have to look through the glass to find something to say. Homeless guy this. The clouds that. A doubledecker bus filled with Austin Powers lookalikes. It wrote itself. I guess having an office with a window that looks out on the rest of the office instead of a bustling, piss-soaked sidewalk is as viable an excuse as any to explain away the dearth of inspiration I have been feeling.

I've had phases. Sometimes I would write about what I was doing and say nothing about how I felt. Then I would write about what I felt and say nothing about what I was doing. Maybe this is the phase where I'm doing nothing and feeling nothing and the obvious result is a reduced urgency to tip tap type it out. In the marketing and public relations world, there are various positions taken on what constitutes an announceable event. You don't want to overreport. You don't want to be one of those companies that issues a press release to say how much you love summer or to remind people that "lunch" is a fun word. But you also don't want to keep too quiet. Lest people forget you. Or assume you're working on something you're ashamed to talk about. It's hard to imagine what that could be in these modern times. Porn is utterly mainstream. Dropping out for a year to live on your disability settlement is like a generational rite of passage. Even prison has become commonplace and banal enough to not keep you from getting to second base with a lady if you meet her at a bar in Silverlake. It might even be a selling point. The shame of just not having anything interesting to say is on a separate scale. A more shameful scale. And a far less rebloggable one.

These days, I have my best ideas on the treadmill or in a movie theater or while driving. And I command myself to remember and write them down. At which time I often find I'm lacking a pen. That can be as literal or as figurative as you like. It's true in both directions.

Jan 7, 2010

It comes in waves.

I saw three white balloons drifting up into the nighttime. Past the moon. In front of the stars. I don't know who let them go, but I felt sorry for their goodbye.

Jan 4, 2010

She said "yes."

I had a dream the other night, but enough nights ago that we can accurately say "the other year." I was in Culver City. I kept having the answers to geeky questions, and I kept not getting credit for it. And there was this pall of injustice and urgency hanging over it all. Everyone was getting something they wanted. I was just watching it happen. And despite my frustration and an overwhelming feeling of being left behind, I kept it all to myself and offered my congratulations. A bystander, making notes in a journal, saving the commentary for later, when -- after rigorous editing -- it might be palatable to judging eyes without revealing the subdermal layer of "it's not fair."

Say what you will about Jung and Freud, but some dreams are so easy to interpret, you might as well have read their transcript in a fortune cookie. And if anyone ends up turning two-line dream synopses into a fortune cookie's insides, I expect a healthy share of the profits.

Jan 3, 2010


The moon came down to meet me. Like the inside of a cooked egg. The part of the yolk, both yellow and grey. You have to be careful not to overcook eggs, you know. But I won't decline a cooked egg, under any circumstances. I'm very forgiving that way.

I looked at the moon the way I always look at the moon, when I see it. Expectantly. Hopefully. Once a great source of inspiration. It's so easy to write lyrical little turns of phrase about things that are persistently, prettily present. That's why thousands of years of writers have written about the moon. Many of them calling it "she." And why they write about stars and the sun and mountains that haven't yet come down. It's easy to treat them like gods. They're always there. But me? I wrinkle my nose at things that promise permanence. Even pens.

But I keep seeing the moon from the same angle, from the same point of the compass, from the same street. With the same dog leash in hand. Passing the same neighbors. The ones who always seem to be frying onions. The ones who have everything but curtains covering their windows. The ones who turned that little shoebox of a house into such an adorable little opposite-of-an-eyesore.

And now I look at the moon and it's all so very the same. A postulate. How I long to see something new. Even when I am looking at something that can't possibly be. It's all so very the same that I find I often don't even look anymore. I feel my poetic leanings crusting over, as if I'm one of those storybook work-a-days who tunes out the world and never realizes they're riding on a subway train made of gold. Oh, there's a fable to be written about me and my kind. Tin joints covered with that reddish, brittle coating that comes from the rain and the salt air and a terrific flood of weeping. Oil can. Oil can.

I lay my fingers across the keyboard, and there's this paralysis. Do I not know what to say? Do I not want to say what I'm thinking? Am I actually thinking anything? Maybe that's the primal arrogance of me. Believing I should have something to say, whether I seem to or not. And that was just the primal self-deprecation of me, in case you didn't notice. I'm very good at making sure no one thinks I really believe I'm worth listening to. Just in case.

I may actually be making a formal sport of saying nothing in five hundred words or less.