Secret Pop

Mar 25, 2014

Drop the Pilot

Hey, how about that! A title that's a Joan Armatrading reference. If that means anything to you, we could probably hang.

So, for the record, I watched the pilots of Believe, Resurrection, and Crisis last night while I was working. Believe had some well-directed action/accident scenes, unsurprisingly. I think that's Cuaron's special gift. But there's a fluffy quality to the acting and much of the action. When a lady assassin breaks someone's neck, it's got to at least look like it's hard work. And that's all I will say on that matter. Crisis has piqued my interest, although I'm a little wary of super organized evil plots with sprawling, henchmen-abundant organizational charts, because I often don't believe (a) all these people would follow an evil mastermind (see my thoughts on Skyfall, which I may not have posted on the Internet, so hopefully, you can refer back to a conversation I had with you personally in which I would have gone on and on about this) or (b) everything that has to work in order for the plan to come together actually will. I mean, I very frequently have to delete and repost tweets because of typos. How likely is it that these henchmen at the makeshift mission control are going to enter all the satellite coordinates correctly on the first try?

Resurrection feels like the one with the most potential to me, despite its absolute reliance on a supernatural plot point, which often deflects my interest. But in this show, they directly take on that issue, so it feels like my skepticism serves the story. From the very beginning -- maybe even from the promos before the pilot aired -- the story was like a grappling hook flung up over the walls of (my) human emotion. I got teary-eyed very early on, and I'm sure if I'd been watching with someone else, it would have led to a drawn-out philosophical chat. I give tons of credit to the excellent cast. It's just a lot of great performers fully delivering. And I don't think it hurts that they are experienced television actors. Omar Epps and Kurtwood Smith, especially. Frances Fisher is wonderful, as always. And I just like Tamlyn Tomita, so there's that.

I don't know if I will keep up with all of them. I try to get on board early, to avoid the confusing chaos of coming into a show (like Lost) a couple of seasons in, after allowing the rest of America to be my beta site. But there's bound to be attrition. With Hannibal and Mad Men and Game of Thrones all seeking my attention next month, it's likely that I won't be able to stick it out for the long network season haul. But at the same time, I crave the occasional network series that really hits it out of the park, because I'm being driven positively batty by these cruelly short cable series seasons. Am I right? Of course I am.


I posted this on Facebook earlier today, but it occurred to me that a post of this many characters is such a rarity from me, I might as well make it official.

Maggie's getting spayed today. I just dropped her off at the vet, where she was so happy to see her doctor, she pulled out of her collar and went running down the hall to pee on her foot.

I have a wealth of very vivid memories of the day I brought my Audrey to the vet back in 2011 and how I said goodbye to her and told her to be a good girl. And how she didn't make it.

I know Maggie's going to be fine, but it's a weird feeling. I let her sit on my lap in the car because I wanted all the cuddle time I could get. I just remember feeling like I should have cuddled Audrey more that morning. Instead, I let her sleep in while I took a conference call, and I have always regretted that wasted opportunity.

Here's a photo of Audrey, enjoying the sunshine on the window seat in my parents' bedroom. She was a sweet, sweet angel, and she brought so much joy into my life at a time when it seemed that was too much to ask for.

Update: Maggie's out of surgery and fine. She'll be able to come home in a few hours. Expecting a lot of over-the-cone side eye in the coming days.

Mar 16, 2014

Our kids will be different kids than the other kids we know.

Maggie is the friendliest dog in the world. She seriously loves everyone, wants to meet and play with everyone, and will possibly get so excited to see you that she will pee a little on your shoes. And that's just how she is with people. Here's a picture of her being like that with a praying mantis.

And she's like that with dogs, too. All dogs. Every dog she sees, she wants to run over and make friends. Here's Maggie on our walk today, trying to scale a wall to get closer to a chihuahua.

The thing about having a dog this friendly is that nearly no dog and nearly no other person in the world is as friendly as she is. And that means I am witness to her experiencing rejection a lot. And, because I'm me, I project a lot of feelings onto that.

I've had this sort of protective mama bear love for my niece and nephew, when I watched their wide-eyed optimism toddle itself out onto a playground where older kids couldn't be bothered to give them a turn or invite them to play. I realize it doesn't actually hurt them as much as it hurts me. A two year-old will get past that. I realize it's character-building and boundary-erecting and civilization-sustaining. Of course I realize that. That's why I don't run over and hit another child in the head with a rock when they won't let my niece climb up the ladder to the slide. Duh.

I don't have any little people of my own to care for, but I do have this amazing little Shiba Inu. And, while it sometimes makes me feel bad if Maggie runs over to make friends with a new dog and that dog tries to bite her face off, I also love other dogs so much that I would never be unkind to one. I speak warmly to them and tell Maggie it's okay and try to keep her at a safe distance. And as we continue on our way, I tell Maggie what a good girl she is and look forward to saying hi to the next doggie we happen upon. Because that's all you can do. You can just go about your business and expect the next thing to be something good. Even if you're me.

The Shiba Inu has a reputation for being unfriendly to other dogs, not good with young children, and generally aloof with people other than its owners. But I have a magical mutant Shiba who is exactly the opposite of all of that. She loves other dogs. She is patient and tolerant and playful with young children. And she loves EVERYONE IN THE WORLD and generally shows them more affection than she shows me. My mail carrier stops her truck to say hello to Maggie, who tries to get in the truck and go home with her. People who are thinking about getting dogs will tell me how they want one just like her. She's like the Shiba Inu Ambassador, waving at the throng from a slow-moving convertible, sash and all.

I don't pretend that I'm not prone to being competitive or that it would be unthinkable for me to believe my dog is the best one because I need to win at everything, but the reality is I have a very, very special little dog. And I know every parent thinks their child is advanced and exceptional and that it would be statistically impossible for all of them to be right, but I will say this with great certainty: if you get to meet Maggie, it will make your day, and -- without having to bribe her with treats or snacks -- she will make you feel like the most special, most loved, most captivating person in the world. If it was an at all scaleable business model, her friendmaking would make a millionaire of me.

Jan 25, 2014

Pas de Deux

I do a lot of thinking when I run. It's a product of listening to playlists that get played again and again. Maybe I wouldn't take notice of a song, but when I listen to it again and again, run after run, it comes to be the push-button activation of a memory. Every time I run, I'm a girl who is both happy to be running and sad to be thinking of so many previous runs when timely hopes and misspent dreams consumed my attentions and wasted my time.

It's hard not to take note of how the actors change. A song I listened to at one point, where it would have been my voice uttering those lyrics, I can listen to years later and wryly recognize that the sentiments belong to someone else this time. What he did to me, I did to you. What I did to you, you do to the next one. I'm both guiltless and guilty, disappointed and disappointing, true and false.

It's not as smooth a reverie anymore. These days, I run with my dog (Maggie), and that means I'm getting jerked to a sudden halt from time to time when she discovers a leaf on which she must wee or a family of deer at which she must peer. And I run these days in a neighborhood where one must be more vigilant about avoiding being run over. You can't just lose yourself the way I did when most of my run was just on one side or the other of Olympic Boulevard.

If I let the time pass without thinking, I flagellate myself over the lazy waste of brain minutes (a measure of both time and power that only exists in my universe). But if I indulge myself in the traditional deep, thoughtful dive into how everything is now compared to yesterday or the day before that or the thousands of days before that, I have to shake my head a bit at how samey it all is. We waste so much time trying to get back things that slipped through our undergrasping fingers while simultaneously wasting so much time trying to never relive the scenes we've already lived over and over again. On some mountaintop, someone can see the ineffective calculations we're employing and can shake his or her head over our inability to pick up on a world of embarrassingly obvious signals. It's hard not to be resentful of this self-important lookie loo, acting as if it's all so plain and easy. As if making your way through a maze is exactly as easy as guiding someone through one when you can see the whole thing from an aerial view.

I keep thinking at some point I'll actually write a book. It would make my mom happy. But my wisdom is too personal. Too specific. Unless everything really is as generic as all the love songs would have us believe. The idea that everything is universal and experienced by everyone is humbling. When you're in it, the idea that anything you're feeling is common is beyond you. But when you look back on it, you can't help but see how ordinary every feeling you've ever had was. And that is more likely to feel like crap than to be of comfort. Depending on how strongly you feel about your own unique value to the weaving of history's great tapestry.

Jan 19, 2014


I'm pleased to report that I'm not beginning this post by referencing a Radiolab episode or a TED Radio Hour segment. It seems like a lot of my recent inspiration has happened while driving back to my parents' house from Beulah's, and it's usually a weekend, and I'm usually listening to NPR. It's not a big mystery. But I've managed to not go anywhere this weekend, so my inspirations have by necessity had to be a bit more internal. And by internal, I guess I mean I have to find inspiration in the routine of keeping my dog appeased and usually putting together some kind of furniture.

I've been on a sprawling home reset jag in recent months. And little by little, I'm beginning to feel like I can be proud of my home. There's something still to be done in nearly every room. And there are ideas I'd like to undertake when time and finances and energy allow. But I turned the workshop in the garage into a workout room, with a very fancy treadmill and a TV and floor mats and everything. And, for the first time since I moved in, I completely emptied out the little Harry Potter closet (that's what realtors now call these impractical spaces beneath a staircase to make you feel like your awkward closet is fanciful and great) downstairs and completely cleaned it and reorganized everything. The guest bedroom downstairs really looks like a proper guest bedroom. There's even a headboard. And I have a proper art room now, with a bunch of excruciating-to-assemble Martha Stewart craft furniture, and it gets wonderful light and has a lovely view of the fountain and the front yard and the family of deer that often galivants in the creek across the street. So once I unpack all those boxes of art supplies and implements and the crates of paper ephemera that I love to sift through and cut up and incorporate into rather slapdash little art projects, maybe I can recapture something of the feeling I had when I would make art every day in my dining room on Alcott Street.

It's stupid that I would want to recapture any of that, except for its past-ness, since I began my art journaling in what turned out to be a very sad and defeating and painful summer in the middle of a sad and defeating and painful year. But our resplendent human nature enables us to just filter all the shit out and zero in on a feeling, and occasionally I opt for the feeling that isn't a persona-dismembering crapfest. Not everything is a choice. I don't believe, for instance, that being gay is a choice. Or being organized. But I often suspect that being miserable is. Of course, for me being miserable can also be incredibly productive-making, so I'm reluctant to shut it down altogether. Feeling a little lost is how I have almost always gotten from place to place.

You probably know that the term "remodeling," while commonly used to refer to renovations people make in a living or working space, also refers to the natural process that happens when a broken bone heals. Broken bones heal, but the remodeling is visible. It tells the forensic scientist trying to identify your murdered remains that you once broke your arm, and that helps them figure out whether you mattered to anyone. I just didn't want you to think that my thoughts today were without layers.

Anyway, I'm sorry if you wish that had been about something I heard on NPR.