Sep 30, 2003

Second Guessing

I am a mass of dissatisfaction today. I am uncomfortable in my skin. I am overwrought.

I just looked at the entry that precedes this, and for a moment, I thought it said "Crimetastic." And when I realized that it didn't, it occurred to me that it would have been a better title if I had thought of it at the time. It makes for a nice all-purpose suffix, the "tastic." Like now. How am I feeling, you might ask. "Why, I'm downtastic, thanks very much." What a cheery way of saying that I'm sinking into a burbling swamp of disappointment.

But then I sense the tide turning, and maybe I don't so very much dislike where it's headed. My dreary autumn morning left me tired and bedraggled, but it was an autumn morning after all. And I've been pining for a few of those. Bring on the justice. Bring on the sweater weather. Bring on the dancing horses. Wherever they may roam.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:55 PM | Back to Monoblog


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Mary Forrest: Crime Statistic

My car got broken into last night. I was at a comedy show, having a grand time, but when I walked back out to my car, the passenger side window was smashed in and my stereo was ripped out. I just dropped my car off at the auto glass place four blocks away and walked home. I haven't been this sort of victim in a while. It wasn't a welcome revisitation of all those feelings of disgust and frustration and the confusion of someone who has never understood how certain people do certain things and never feel crippling guilt over it.

It took me years to finally get around to buying myself a nice CD player for my car. And I only got to enjoy it for a year. I guess today is the day for raising a glass in favor of spending you didn't plan for and shouldn't have to engage in. Cheers.

I can count to five!

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:28 AM | Back to Monoblog


     Sep 29, 2003

Sleep is for suckers.

Neighbor snoring. Such thin walls. When I close my eyes, there is light swimming in my head. Dizzy light. An animated ballet of amorphous blobs squishing into other amorphous blobs. Like pushing all the air in a balloon to one end and having it turn into something else altogether. A rabbit maybe. A jester. A pair of eyes. A big shoe. Relief of the sort of over-hot, sort of humid clutch of the pillow. But even the eventual silence does not soothe. That peace is elusive.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:12 AM | Back to Monoblog


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Hemorrhagic Fever

Maybe the lasting effects of too much alcohol or drinking same in the wrong order. Maybe the aftermath of staying up until dawn and then spending the whole day out in the overcast. Maybe the product of a long, late night drive. Maybe the lingering suspicious shake-up of being approached at my front door by my latently apologetic neighbor. Maybe the end of September and the last vestiges of something like summer. I just feel hot and woosy and uncomfortable. I wonder if I will be bleeding from the eyes before the paint dries.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:25 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 28, 2003

Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with a bit of lead pipe.

Things I read,
things I watch,
things I think --
they are all telling me to change,
to do something,
to stop letting things unfold the way they always do. As if everything -- all the answers -- can be found in a cootie catcher that I keep counting out the exact same way. If there are so many possibilities, why do I keep raising the same flap and finding the same promises and expecting things to turn out differently? My fortune cookie message tonight said something about me living out the rest of my life on hilltop and seaside resorts. It sounded like a nice way of saying that I have nothing else to look forward to. Or that I am about to be remanded to a minimum security prison.

I tell myself not to want what I don't have. But I've never managed to get to wanting what I do.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:00 AM | Back to Monoblog


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Eine Kleine Salmonella

A very satisfying round of shows at the comedy theater tonight. I can't really think of that many moments of my personal brilliance. Rather, it was a very balanced, excellent ensemble night with everyone shining and making everyone else look good. My throat is raw from yelling whether in triumph or antagonism or gruff, middle-aged character voice or grating, horrifyingly racist Chinese woman voice. It's not at all good for the singing career I'm not pursuing.

The guys who went and performed for the troops overseas brought back trinkets for us. I got a little silver anklet from Turkey. I've never had an anklet before. I was very pleased and immediately put it on. I just had this really positive feeling about the whole night. Every person at the theater seemed to be happy to be there. There is even an unusual warmth towards the door staff and sound guys, who often get the short end of the stick, either because they are trapped behind the scenes or because they are unignorably creepy. We're kind of in the zone, at the moment, it seems. I'm digging that.

And after the show, we went out for late night Chinese and got bad service but reasonably good food, except Krissy, who received a plate of chicken fried rice filled with raw chicken. And I'm not exaggerating. Say nothing else of Chinese restaurateurs, but they can be frighteningly grudging about being asked to take a potentially poisonous entree off the bill. Our waitress seemed to want to charge Krissy half price. I guess because she had eaten some amount of the dish before realizing that all of the chicken was what one might call "seared" but essentially completely raw on the inside. Maybe a micrometer's worth of cooked white part. The rest: pink, clear and bleeding. I made some off-color analogy about finding a turd in your soup but being asked to pay -- obviously not for the turd, which you didn't eat -- but certainly for the soup. I was getting ready to lay down the law with our waitress, but when she brought the bill, she had not charged us for the bacteria-filled rice dish. However, poor Krissy looked dismal. She had picked the restuarant and was obviously jonesing for the fried rice. In the end, I think the free fraction of rice and nearly-living bird meat she ingested were but a paltry substitute for what she had intended and hoped for.

We talked about Eddie Izzard's show and I compared voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger to voting for a bear in a three-piece suit. Well, it really wasn't a direct comparison, and it was more about voters in California possibly being willing to accept any number of disastrous replacements -- circus animals not excluded, and it included an exclamation of, "Well, he CAN ride a unicicyle." But that's neither here nor there.

I can't really point to anything great that I did tonight. I can only announce that I'm glad I had tonight at all. I seek out the sweet-scented, bosomy embrace of an appreciative audience. Which means I'm as needy and whorish as every other performer. I guess that's a truth that needs facing up to.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:10 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 26, 2003

It's a thin line.

I used to love Tracey Ullman. I even bought her song They Don't Know on a vinyl .45 when it first came out. And I watched her show -- the first iteration of it. And I watched The Simpsons on her show and was hip to them way early. But somewhere along the line I sort of lost touch with her. Her HBO show wasn't interesting to me. And her frenetic behavior is sort of trying to me now. I'm watching her being interviewed on Second City Presents, and she's entertaining, but she's out of control, too. And she just jumps up and starts dancing or breaks into characters. Sort of like Mike Myers. I get discouraged thinking that apparently one can't be talented and funny without also being obnoxious and needy. And without having an actual self existing inside there somewhere. But that's also just a cop-out. It's me saying, "See? I don't have to be like that. I'm better than that." But I'm not. I'm just not famous. I'm not being watched by very many people. I don't have any reason to cavort like a fool. But back in the old days, when I was a wee lass, I cavorted plenty. Just for the relatives. And I was one of those freaks in high school who had various dialects on tap and dispensed them regularly. "Let's have a pull of the Cockney, Mary," someone would theoretically cry out. And a pull would be had. No real pride there.

I guess maybe I think that if I had done something or been found by someone back then, I might also be this same sort of caricature. And maybe it wouldn't seem shameful to me. Maybe I judge because I envy. Isn't that what usually provokes judgment? Dissatisfaction with oneself? Jealousy? I do admire a great many people. But I've started weighing in dignity more than I used to. And there's so little dignity in being a show-off. Even when everyone is cheering.

I love performance for performance's sake. And I wish I had more opportunities to do it. Thank heaven I don't have a special talent for juggling with my feet. I'd be doing it at parties every night of the week. And then I'd have to die from shame. Sad sad shame.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:05 PM | Back to Monoblog


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A Broken Frame

The other night, my mother and I watched Beijing Bicycle. It was amusing and interesting, but it was also infuriating. We were both nearly driven mad by the anxiety of watching the protagonist not speak up for himself and not get the justice he sought. My mother was crocheting a baby blanket. She does that a lot. Crochets lovely, darling baby blankets for no one's baby in particular. Then tucks them away in her closet until someone she knows gives birth. Conveniently.

It's hard to watch a movie with my mother. She will get up and leave the room. She will suddenly pick up the phone and make a call. She will fall asleep. She will talk. To you. And to the movie. There was a new challenge presented by this screening. Because she speaks Chinese and the movies was in Chinese with English subtitles, she was able to listen to it and continue crocheting without any loss in comprehension. I guess the stimulus provided by radio would always have been enough for her. Visuals? Pah. But she also kept forgetting that there were subtitles, and -- in her desire to be inclusive with me -- she kept telling me what was being said as she worked through her skein of soft yarn. She had made a point of showing me its exquisite softness before we started the movie.

I don't know why I'm saying any of this. I'm just up at an hour that was once usual for me, and I'm being distracted by a movie on television (Human Nature with Patricia Arquette -- Beulah loves this flick) and delayed by slow-drying puddles on my most recent watercolor effort. It's time to curl up with one of the four or five books I'm currently reading. I didn't sleep well last night. I've been tired all day. My back is a little sore, and my head is cloudy. Maybe I'll be up until dawn. Just like old times.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:23 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 25, 2003

In the pink

Yoplait is running their campaign about sending in the pink lids of their yogurts to help raise money for breast cancer. The current commercial shows all sorts of different women licking those pink foil lids and then later putting them in envelopes and licking the envelopes and then licking stamps, and the slogan is, "Together we can lick breast cancer." And I think I find that literalization to be a gross-out. First of all, I would hate to be the mailroom staffers who have to open those gross envelopes stuffed full of their gross, saliva-covered quarry. It makes me think about the licking more than the cancer, and I think that defeats the purpose. And that makes me think of people's morning tongues mopping up the separated liquid and gungy film on the lid of their yogurt before they brush their teeth and go to work. Yuck.

Further, it has been a number of years since I bought a stamp that required licking. They're all stickers now. It's shameless posturing intended to produce an advertising correlation. Groan.

I will also refer you to Yoplait's online Breast Cancer Commitment page, because -- while I don't like thinking of strangers and all the offhand licking they may do throughout the day -- I also support breast cancer research with all the power in my own tongue. Don't let's get confused about that. Keep the boobies cancer-free. That's my policy. Maybe I should design a t-shirt.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:06 PM | Back to Monoblog


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"Beiss mein Schorf, Blasenloch."*

I keep meaning to learn other languages. Or at least to become more proficient in the languages I have studied. But I always get hung up on the little mechanical things. Like how all nouns get capitalization in German. How does one designate the difference between that doughnut over there and that Doughnut, which is a proper doughnut and the mother of all doughnuts. What a great lot of confusion there must be in Dusseldorf on matters such as these.

I am a hopeless academic. All this information swimming round in my pate. All this useless information. I know a lot about many things but not enough to do much of anything. And I waste so much time doing everything except gaining practical applicative skills. I read books about art. I watch programs about filmmaking. I buy musical instruments. And shoes. But I am neither a dancer nor a virtuoso and my drawing is charmingly retarded at best. I did stop working at one point this afternoon and paint for a while. I made a sad little bird and then a crap piece of wall with a stool in front of it. But it was a practical diversion, at least. Unfortunately, it was probably brought on by my painful stomach more than by classical inspiration. Unless I've misunderstood the concept of "the muse."

I want a haircut.

Oh, and follow-up to the White Stripes maternal commentary of the night before last: I pointed out an issue of Interview magazine to my mom when she was here. The White Stripes were on the cover. I said, "That's who I saw last night." She looked at them and asked, "Are they Asian?" To adhere to standards of correct journalism, I should also mention that she was looking at the cover somewhat sideways and that she also asked whether they were good and wondered about the cast on Meg's arm. But I thought the paragraph was more amusing ending with just her query as to their ethnicity. Feel free to read it that way.

*It means, "Bite my scab, blowhole," although -- and no discredit to the writers of Pete and Pete -- I think the correct translation for "blowhole" is actually der Lunker. But I had to look it up.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:22 PM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 24, 2003

Yum

My mom is visiting with me. I didn't feel like going out. So I made us ramen and added all sorts of goodies. Roast turkey. Enoki mushrooms. Fried egg. And then I spread out the condiments. I can hear my mom in the guest room bragging about them to her brother in Chinese. There were a lot of goodies. That much is true. I'm glad it was a nice dinner. I feel strangely empty. Even as I am full.

To be honest, I don't know if she's talking to my uncle. I just know she's speaking Chinese. Which makes the show-off factor considerably less. I understand a few words in Mandarin. No more than that.

Also, the new HP commercial that says, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor temporary loss of gravity, nor grumpy robots made of old washing machines, nor black holes that swallow the entire known universe will keep the U.S. Postal Service from its appointed rounds," makes me laugh.

posted by Mary Forrest at 9:09 PM | Back to Monoblog


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History

I was paging through some old emails from a former friend I no longer hear from. I don't remember why I started. Maybe just masochism. Maybe the desire to get details for the calendar catalog I sometimes update, containing the sketchy details of what I did on any given day. The emails I wrote to this person were often very detailed and usually contained summaries of what I had been up to or was about to be up to, so these were particularly useful, and that's what kept me reading. I reached his last scathing email to me from last year and it still managed to rile me. I had composed a response but never sent it, deeming it pointless. I composed several responses. (I was very hurt.) But I never communicated with him again, despite the fact that I continued to feel an overarching sadness about the mysterious collapse of what had once been a formidable friendship. And it occurred to me that he probably isn't rereading these messages or wondering how it all fell apart. And that makes me feel the fool.

I do this a lot though. Run my fingertips over the scars and remember what the wounds felt like. I miss people who I'm certain have long-since stopped missing me. I nostalgicize mundane things. And I try and keep the history alive. This can have its downside. Keeping the history alive also keeps me from being able to let go of certain aspects of it. It keeps me steeped in the anguish of previous days. This mechanism in me that constantly reminds. It acts as a strange, isolationist armor.

Last night, at the White Stripes concert, it occurred to me that sometimes I collect experiences rather than actually experiencing them. In much the same way that I collect DVDs and then leave them in cellophane on my bookshelf. I buy them for the sake of having them. And I'm well aware that this is a dumb way to go about. When I was at the concert, I caught myself just standing there, and I wondered if I was actually enjoying myself, or if I was just glad to be able to say I was there. This is a foul indictment, and I'm certain that my being honest about it makes me terribly noble. But that's not the aspect that makes any difference.

I go to a lot of shows. I do a lot of things. And sometimes I wonder if maybe I'm only doing any of it because I feel that I should. As if going to see an exhibit at the museum is the fulfillment of some unwritten core curriculum, as opposed to a voluntary bit of enjoyment and edification. Because when I go to the museum -- because I'm a member and don't have to pay admission -- I often don't stay for very long. I don't linger on very many works. I don't really take the time to absorb anything. I just cruise through. And then I can say that I did. I'm not happy about this.

In the final analysis, I think I did enjoy myself immensely at the White Stripes concert. But I think that what got me there in the first place was a conviction that I SHOULD go rather than a certainty that I wanted to.

Or maybe it's just that I go to so many shows and do so many things that they really have little way of distinguishing themselves. Seldom do cataclysmic events of fantastical proportions take place. A show is a show is a show. I buy t-shirts and CDs to commemorate my participation because the ticket stub and the wristband and the rote memory are not enough to make the memory stick.

Maybe it's that I do nearly everything I tell myself I want to or should. So nothing feels like much of a treat. I live in a city where a lot of bands and comedians come to play, so if I want to see someone, I can. And I do. It takes away the thrill of looking forward I had, for instance, when I saw my first rock concert: INXS when they played Guam. Precious few bands came to Guam. This was a big deal. And I won my tickets on the radio, by calling in and answering some trivia question about the band. Then -- because my mom insisted (and I think this was her clever way of trying to keep us from going at all) that she would have to go with my sister and me because we were too young to go alone, so she wouldn't allow us to go unless we got another ticket -- I called the radio station the very next night and won two more tickets and gave my sister's name so we wouldn't be disqualified. My mom was foiled. So she took Sarah and me to the show. And she used the extra ticket to bring my younger sister Beulah along, too. (Which means that Beulah got to see her first rock concert when she was six. She sat on the back bleachers and slept with her head on my mom's lap, if I recall correctly what I was later told.) Anyway, my point is back then it was a huge deal. I was so excited. I planned what I wanted to wear. I fantasized about somehow managing to meet the band. And when I got there, I stood right up front and sang along to all the songs I knew and was convinced that various band members made eye contact with me at various points throughout the show. Today, I'm usually fine sitting off in a corner near the bar, if there is one. I spend a lot of money for choice, up-front seats in certain cases. But I never think that I'm being noticed and I make no effort at all to get backstage. I'm a grown-up about it. And maybe that's what has depleted the magic content. I have grown up enough to not get overly excited about much of anything anymore. It's been so long since I've said, "I can't wait!" and meant it. I can wait. Much of the time, I'm even delighted to. Honestly. You go ahead. I'm fine. I'll just go when it's my turn. These are not the thoughts of a child. And whereas I have managed to maintain certain aspects of my childlike self, I cringe at the thought that this is a battle I am losing or have lost. When you get old enough to be able to do all the things you've always wanted to, there's no triumph in it. It's the very fact that I can afford it that makes it less of a thrill. And if you compound that with the fact that I probably really can't afford to do half of the things I do, that makes it even less joyous.

Maybe I'll cut back. Pass on a few must-see shows. I've already managed to not see Duran Duran in three of the appearances I seriously considered going to. And I was nuts over those guys at one time. Nuts. And if you've seen how good John Taylor still looks, you might call me a fool for not getting that wristband in my fishbowl (a metaphor which probably makes no sense to anyone, least of all me as I do not keep my concert paraphernalia in any container, much less a fishbowl). I guess I hope I will see them. And I envy my friends who already have. But I also suspect that I would go and sing along and leave feeling sort of nothing about it. I would notice the absence of the breathless, agitated blathering that would have consumed me for days if I had been able to see them when I was a smitten adolescent. I would probably not say, "Oh my god!" once.

I used to feel such venom for my parents who explained to me that I would get over Duran Duran. That I would be sorry for having spent all my money on the magazines and posters and crap. They were emotionless and implacable. Sarah and I had to sneak around and shop for teen magazines on the sly. We even got caught once with magazines stuffed under our sweatshirts when we returned from 7-11. Truth. Anyway, I hate to think that I am the fulfillment of their passionless prediction. I'm all grown up now and I have learned that rock music and schoolgirl crushes and 16 Magazine don't matter. But I think I'm sorry to have learned those things. I'm ready to regress. In my grown up world, the music is still paramount. It just isn't as important whether the person making it is too cute to be believed. That's as grown up as I'm willing to be today. And I think I will try to spend the rest of today looking forward a bit. A lot of what's behind me is muck.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:43 PM | Back to Monoblog


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Yes, ma'am.

The White Stripes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs rocked me tonight. Good seats. Good sound. Reasonably unoffensive seatmates. I liked it very much. Jack White sure knows how to put on a show. There's just the two of them, and Meg is all but stationary, but he fills the stage.

My mom called and asked where I had been. I told her I went to a rock concert, and she said, "Oh, Mary. You're like a teenager." And I don't think she meant it as a compliment. Maybe I am like a teenager. A teenager who can afford to go see the bands I like. Lucky me.

Music is my bag. Few things are more prone to move me.

It might be Dylan's words, but it was Jack who put them in my head. I'm sick of love, and I'm in the thick of it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:48 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 23, 2003

First Light

Dawn greys my windows. I've been up for an hour or so. Watching it. Reading things online. Looking for something but not sure what. Judging myself all the while. When I first walked past the windows in my dining room, I looked outside and noticed that it was still completely dark. A lighted billboard on the horizon gave the false impression of dawn. I had a brief thought about the onset of daylight savings. And Halloween.

Some things are still new to me. Some things that have gotten old are still a surprise. I forget sometimes what it's been like. All that has happened. And I chastise myself for not memorializing the losses. Forgetting is tantamount to forgiving. And who ever thought that was a good idea.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:36 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 22, 2003

"Fire Victim Rages at Life's Caprice"

A story in the Sunday Los Angeles Times began in this fashion: "Michelle Spence, burned and debilitated in a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people, finally felt good enough to see the rock band Poison recently."

The article goes on to say that Ms. Spence's 10 year-old daughter was hysterical and fearful that her mother would end up in another harrowing disaster. Her mother's wounds were sustained at a Great White concert (in case that wasn't clear from the lead-in), after all.

I don't want to sound heartless, but the idea that the mark of her recovery came in the form of her desire to go see another has-been hair band strikes me as both ironic and sad. It gives one cause to experience less grief on behalf of the 100 who died, seeing as how this is what they would have had to look forward to. I have been embarrassed by many things. I only hope that the list won't one day include the circumstances of my death.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:21 PM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 21, 2003

Sharp Intake

I keep having these strange anxiety attacks. Very mild. But I keep feeling as if I am not able to breathe. Or maybe that I am not able to breathe enough. Especially when I am trying to sleep. And in a few other situations. I end up having to inhale very deeply and I still feel as if there is something wrong. It's either Sudafed or psychosis. And who cares about the Emmys? Well, I guess I will (grudgingly) if I am ever up for one. But they just make me feel left out at the moment. Like a great song just came on and no one will dance with me. And not just because it's some fruity new wave song, either. My taste in music is fine.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:57 PM | Back to Monoblog


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Boredom Kills

It's sunny out. And still warm enough to make sleeves a bad idea. I don't like having to dab at my moistened brow. That's icky business.

I've been having nasty dreams lately. I wake up angry or sad or with a feeling of betrayal or railing at the injustice of something I can't remember. It makes sleep less of a reward. And it makes distractions like the personification of a sub sandwich wearing a cape on the corner of the strip mall I where I used to lunch so frequently a welcome addition to today's vista.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:54 PM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 20, 2003

Mezzanine

I went to see Eddie Izzard AGAIN last night. I know how this must look. And, yes, I'm nutters for him and glad to have been able to see three of his six sold-out performances here in town. I singlehandedly kept several other desperate devotees from being able to see him at all, and for that I am most proud. My work here is done.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:40 PM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 19, 2003

I am a child of the orchestra.

I went to see Calexico at the El Rey last night. The Frames opened for them. From out on the sidewalk where I was picking up my tickets, I could hear them performing, and the song sounded a bit like "Oh Yoko." When I got inside, I found that they are a five-man band with an electric violin, they have an interesting and great sense of humor -- both musically and otherwise, and that the singer is sort of like Chris Martin with an Irish pub flavor. I liked them, and I bought two of their CDs.

I am also very fond of Calexico, but seeing them live got me even more excited about them. I think that's the magic of live music. Maybe that's why politicians go out on the stump. Seeing it in person, getting pulled into the tide of the crowd, buying merch -- it makes it real. Three CDs and a T-shirt were my takeaway. And a rekindling of my affection for the sound of mariachi-style trumpet duos. There were six guys onstage (there are seven guys in the band, according to the web site, and they each have at least three instruments listed on their bios, except for the guy who was "Keyboards and Sampling & Mixing," which almost looks like three instruments, and it's also interesting that none of their bios lists "vocals," but there's definitely someone singing a lot of the time), and they played many things, including marimba, accordion, trumpets, melodica, steel guitar, upright bass, keyboards, and a number of odd- and normal-sized guitars.

I just find it all fascinating and motivating. In addition to my many violins, I have three melodicas (one a toy), a mandolin, a Tonette, and two big drums that I use as endtables. I don't intend to play those drums, but the rest is fair game. I was shopping for keyboards a while back, and I do think I should have a guitar of my own. My friend Josh wants me to play with his new band Cento. We've been planning my involvement for months. We talked on Monday, and he asked if I want to learn to play bass. Right on, I say. I'm always keen to get my learn on. And I'm anxious to tackle my somewhat inertia-related fear of the bass clef once and for all. The only circumscription comes in the form of my not wanting to actually have to wear a one-man band outfit. The bass drum would spoil the line of my clothes.

Anyway, I like to see live music. And I loved the show last night. And I like to buy T-shirts. And I don't usually like to get up early in the morning, but I'm always glad when I find that I am. A curious juxtaposition of the transitive and intransitive forms of the verb "to be" maybe. I should go back and relearn French.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:39 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 18, 2003

Bravo

For some reason, I have been watching a lot of Bravo. The West Wing and Columbo more than Queer Eye. Today, I watched that episode of The West Wing where everyone gets shot at. It was the season finale a few years ago. I remember hearing it being talked about. That was back when I was never home on the nights of the week when the show aired. I rarely ever watched it, and I don't remember really missing it. I knew it was popular, and I enjoyed the episode or two I had seen. But I wasn't dismayed at how much I didn't see. I remember when the entertainment news talked about how the big shoot-em-up at the end of the season was going to assist in negotiations, because anyone who didn't sign back on without a fuss could just be written out as dead. A somewhat Machiavellian bent to creative narration, I thought. I don't, however, remember who ended up getting killed or what the shakeout was. Fortunately (I think), the next episode will air tonight, and I'll find out without having to wring my hands all summer long. I'm a genius in that respect.

Bravo runs so many of the same commercials, though, that I find myself lampooning them after a while. Even the heartstrings-tuggers. Like the one for Saint Jude's Children's Research Hospital. In the voiceover, a father applauds the team at the hospital, saying that good isn't enough for them. They demand greatness. And I keep picturing the next sequence being a cancer-ravaged child crying on the balance beam, being barked at by some Svengali-like Eastern European gymnastics coach. It could be on a treadmill, too. Any number of scenarios will work. My sense of humor makes some people think I'm mean.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:59 PM | Back to Monoblog


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Time Capsule

September 18, 2003.
Johnny Depp is a seemingly unstoppable box office draw.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy has been deemed a sensation.
Eddie Izzard is on tour.
There's a hurricane happening somewhere.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to win the women's vote on Oprah's show by comparing pumping iron to "coming."
People are still wearing white. Me included.
Asparagus is being served at restaurants but sparingly.
The White Stripes sing the blues.
Hillary Clinton is not running; Wesley Clark is.
In an unrelated story, I have goosebumps.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 12:46 PM | Back to Monoblog


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Sitting Up High

Eddie Izzard was brilliant again tonight. (Yes, I went to see him again.) And he's on Jay Leno right now. I was only watching because Martín reminded me that Sean Cullen was going to be on, so I tuned in and tolerated. But bonus -- Eddie Izzard was also guesting and brilliantly. He was sandwiched by the boringness of Beyoncé Knowles, but he looked dashing in a suit of aubergine, and I had the added elitist satisfaction of knowing I saw him only hours ago (but actually hours after the show was taped). I win! Don't I?

I'm so very tired today. I can only hope that sleep will come like something quick. I didn't sleep yesterday. I was in that tunnel vision state that causes you to forget that you ever need human things like rest and nourishment and sweet hydration.

Television grates on my nerves.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:23 AM | Back to Monoblog


     Sep 17, 2003

Neck of the Turtle

Finally! It's cool enough to warrant the resurrection of my sweater look. What a relief. I was cold enough last night at the show and the restaurant afterwards that I felt confident in extracting a turtleneck from my dresser drawer and donning it, and the sun hasn't even gone down yet. I'm the daring sort, I am.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:35 PM | Back to Monoblog


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On the Downs

Sometimes I cry. Not big sobbing bursts of tears. Just wetness quietly leaking past my lashes when my head is tilted to the side a little bit. A burning sensation in the eyes. A sighing in the lungs. Sometimes I think that being so tired and calm is a greater sign of sadness. There's very little left of me for great emotional outbursts. It comes from not sleeping much and not enjoying being awake in the interim. Simultaneously, I'm indicting myself for allowing things to get to me. What a big baby I am sometimes. It's not the end of the world. I'm not made of stone. Somewhere in the middle, the twain shall meet.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:44 PM | Back to Monoblog


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Over Getting Over

I'm watching The West Wing on Bravo. I do from time to time. And lately, with my renewed vigor for democracy and fairness and crusading against bad policy, I catch myself envying characters who get to serve in the White House. I imagine it's something magical to be part of a presidential administration. But I also imagine that it must be hard to get used to the idea that it will one day be all over. To give yourself over to that cause for four years and know that it's going to end -- some people get really emotional when high school ends, too, you know. I wasn't one of them. But I saw it with my own eyes.

I was talking to my friend Lia about this recently. I told her how discouraged I was when I took note of the fact that I used to be unstoppable. Tireless. I used to work and try and perform and rehearse, and there never seemed to be enough time for rest or paying bills or seeing movies. I was always GOING. And it never really drained me. Or exhausted my resources. Or made me wish I could just have a quiet evening at home. I was sometimes sitting in an orchestra pit until midnight six nights a week. And I never thought about ditching for a night or just napping or getting pizza. It was similar when I was in school. No amount of extracurricular commitment or exam stress or friend fun could have kept me from wanting to keep at it. I used to go to school when I was so sick I could barely sit up, but I didn't want to be kept from a debate tournament or a yearbook deadline or whatever it was.

But I'm not unstoppable anymore. That bottomless reservoir of motivation and life force has been tapped dry. Now, as much as I get angry about government and politicians, I think to myself, "I could never do that." I don't have the energy. I imagine you have to just go twenty-four hours a day when you're part of a campaign. You have to get up early and stay out until it's early again. You have to smile and think and be present in the moment. You can't slack off just because you're feeling a little down. You can't stay home and feel reclusive and uninspired. There's no time for it. I don't think I have enough energy anymore to make a difference.

Of course, I also sneer at the record of our current president, who gets high marks for giving himself time off and taking vacations like they were going out of style (which they are, incidentally, for everyone else). But he seems like an anomaly to me. I think most people working for a presidential administration work really hard. Hard enough to put me to shame.

For the record, I would have voted for Bill Clinton again and again and again. But that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, I feel a bit sad thinking about the finiteness of things. Maybe I spend too much time anticipating the ending and too little time experiencing the part before. Maybe that's what's wrong with me. I get sad when I think about how it will feel when I have to look back on a part of my life and see that that part is over and that I can never have it back. I am putty in the hands of nostalgia. And I lament the amount of regret I feel. Because a girl shouldn't always have to feel so sorry. A girl shouldn't always have to look back and think that it was all such a waste of time. I am guilty of too often betting on the wrong horse. And maybe this is because I pick my horses with very little science. "Cool name," I think. Or, "I've heard of the horse who sired him." I bank on things for no better reason than because I don't know enough about them to know better. And it's my näiveté that keeps causing me such pain and consternation. You'd think by now I'd have been covered by a great suit of jade. It's a wonder.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 12:00 PM | Back to Monoblog


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Dark Pavement

It's night and raining on the television. It makes me want to travel in time. Or live in a movie. It's night and raining.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:40 AM | Back to Monoblog


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Venom tastes like venom. No surprise there.

I don't know what the per capita allotments for disappointment and despair are. Maybe I'm right at the average mark. Maybe even slightly below. I'm not so arrogant as to believe that I'm the only person who is made to feel bad about things. Or that I am the only one who suffers. Or that I get a great deal more crap in my life than anyone else. But there are times when I would wager I've had my fair share and that it's about time people who call themselves friends stop trying to upend me when I am most vulnerable. I wonder if there is some phrase you can say that forces a wolf in sheep's clothing to decloak against his will. "Masks off!" I would cry. And my falsest pals would suddenly be forced to reveal themselves as unkind or disloyal or vicious, whichever they happened to be.

But that's not it, really. It's not that I keep being tricked. I think the details under the mask are being made plain to me rather frequently. But it's no less unhappy to find out that someone doesn't care about you when you thought they did. It's no less of a jolt to know that hurting your feelings caused some person no loss of sleep or batting of eyes. It's such a surprise to me every time I realize how easy it is for some people to be hurtful. A great mystery, the solving of which brings no satisfaction.

I'm not trying to be cryptic. I'm just trying to keep my dirty laundry in its tidy little sack. You can make reference to the sack that holds the dirty laundry without actually being so crass as to air it, can't you? That's the principle by which I operate tonight.

I went to see Eddie Izzard's Sexie. It was super terrific. However, failing a seat in the first three rows, I feel so frustrated at live shows that I can't help but already be hastening in my mind toward the day I get to buy the DVD of the show and watch it in the quiet, unobstructed view provided by my living room. Of course, given how long it took Dress to Kill to come out on DVD, I may have to rely on Ol' Faithful -- my memory, that is. Anyway, it was good fun, and I can't be persuaded that it wasn't.

I don't have to write such long entries. I know that. Watch as I realize it...right....now.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:11 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 16, 2003

A Change of Taste

I recently realized that I like westerns. This came as a surprise to me, because I was often known to say that I adore Technicolor and that I would watch ANYTHING in Technicolor -- even a western. This was my smarmy way of saying, "I don't like westerns." And for much of my life, this has been true. There are a few exceptions, but by and large, the dusty backdrop of the open plains and the gritty veneer of the unwashed characters made me wonder why saloons didn't build entire doors instead of just those hinged shutters which were miserable at keeping things from getting dirty. Made me wonder why even the well-to-do folk traveled in wobbly stagecoaches with large, flimsy wheels and very poor shock absorption. Made me glad to be alive now and not then. Now in my clean times. With showers at the ready and air conditioning for the taking. And what of paving? Let's not forget the advances paving has allowed in footwear design and cleanliness and remaining allergen-free.

So I was turned off by the western genre. If there were pretty girls in the pictures, that was fine. And if it was a musical, I could probably get by. But dirty cowboys riding dirty horses over dirty roads peppered with ramshackle jaileries and whorehouses did little to inspire my imagination.

Today, however, while watching a promo on AMC for a spate of western flicks they are about to play -- and also at the comedy show when Patton Oswalt lauded the merits of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- I realized that I actually like quite a few westerns now. That I like the actors and the cliché heroism. That I liked Unforgiven so much, I nearly peed in my pants just to avoid having to step out before the end.

I like westerns after all. What a wonder. I thought about it and lumped it in with my evolution in the areas of spicy food, Spanish-style architecture, and cabbage -- all things which once brought a scowl to my face.

How does that happen? Is it just age? Or is it that adulthood robs us of the will to hold onto our youthful predilections? Do we just get lazy and decide it's not worth it to continue to hate leafy green vegetables? Do we become more inclined to join in, unwilling to allow our picky preferences to alienate us from our co-workers and friends? We who once winced at the taste of beer and coffee, we who once yawned when the news came on, we who once preferred the books with pictures in them -- somewhere along the way, we stopped bothering to keep the list of "things I hate." And everything just melted in. And now, we like cheeses and orthopedic footwear and a commitment to regular exercise.

Or do we?

Is it all a lie? Maybe we just acquiesce. Maybe we just get lazy about being a staunch adversary and decide to let people heap things on our plates, even if we swear they will make us sick. That's how I learned that I like cottage cheese, for instance. But there was a time, when I was about eight, when I went to someone's house for dinner and the wife/mother figure put some sort of an orange Jell-O salad on my plate, and it had cottage cheese curds in it, and I nearly thought I would vomit trying to eat it. My throat closed up, and I had to turn the stuff away, politely ejecting it into my napkin and making a sour face to my sister, who sat knowingly beside me and shared my dismay. I'm still like that with any of the blue cheeses. But who knows. Maybe by the time I'm a retiree, I'll love the stuff. And if I do, I wonder if I will feel like I sold out. I never felt like a sell-out for liking brussels sprouts or spinach or lima beans, all of which I liked even as a child. This should come as no surprise. I was also fine with escargots, pork tongue, and brains scrambled with egg. Yum yum, I say. Although, I used to have a dickens of a time trying to tell myself I could get used to the taste of plain milk. I suppose I should give that another go now, too, since I've since learned to adore nearly every other dairy product around.

I don't have any great point, really. I was just noticing that I was thinking about watching westerns, and it didn't make me grimace. And I wondered if it meant I'd grown up, or if it meant that I had somehow lost myself. That like hair and skin, tastebuds and emotional preferences might completely molt every seven years or so, leaving behind nothing of the person preceding. I wonder if there is any remnant of the child I was in this current self. The only things that manage to stick around are poor self-esteem and sun damage. And that's nature's way of reassuring me that soft lighting is an investment worth looking into.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:52 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 13, 2003

The end and not the beginning

I looked around and thought to myself that it was strange to be waking up at this hour, but a glance at the clock and few quick calculations told me that I wasn't waking up at all. I just hadn't really managed to fall asleep properly. And that's a frustrating thing to figure out by way of math.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:36 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 12, 2003

I don't care if I never get back.

My father invited me to go see the Padres play the Giants tonight at Qualcomm Stadium. I hadn't been to a baseball game in ages and ages, and my entire family was going, so I really had no choice. I drove down from L.A. this morning and enjoyed some quality time with my parents and my sister's dog. Then we headed to the ballpark, where we were far earlier than we needed to be, which created the disappointing hitch of seeing our hot dogs eaten long before the first pitch was thrown out. And that leaves a lot of time to kill.

Surprisingly, by the fourth inning, I actually caught myself paying attention to the game. I know a great deal about baseball, because I once dated a guy who lived it like a religion. But I haven't followed baseball for many, many years. And even when I did, it was sort of under protest. But tonight, perhaps because I was seated so far away from my father that I couldn't really talk to him or interact with him comfortably, and perhaps because there was nothing else to look at, I started watching the plays.

Giants fans were out in force, and they were really very rude, most of them. I was dismayed. I kept thinking it was really unsportinglike for them to be yelling out "Padres suck!" on our home turf. I'm fine with "Let's go, Giants! Let's go!" Cheer all you like. But why must you bait the home crowd? I'm not rowdy like that. And I get a little nervous when I think someone might lose their cool near me. But maybe I'm just a big baby. Anyway, I was annoyed by them, and -- while I no longer have any great amount of emotion invested in the outcome of the Padres' season -- I was gratified to see the Padres pull it out in the bottom of the tenth. Extra innings and an exciting last-minute hurrah -- it's great when that happens. I'm so used to rooting for the losing team. And I don't know why my record has always been tilted in that direction. I live in L.A. now, and I suppose I can cheer about the Lakers most of the time, but I've never gone to see them play, and I'm not entirely sure I feel like they're MY team yet. Say nothing of the Dodgers.

There was also a great deal of promotional stock at the stadium, because next season, the Padres will be playing at the brand new Petco Park in already-crowded Downtown San Diego. I'm sorry that it's going to be called Petco Park. That really doesn't sound very tough, does it? I don't think I like corporate sponsorship-named stadiums anyway. Why can't they give it a person's name and then just insert the corporation as a possessive. Petco's Ted Williams Park. Sort of like Ruth's Chris Steak House. And if they also cooked their steaks in butter at kiln temperatures and served them on a dangerously warm platter, I'd root root root for the home team every night of the week, rest assured.

Perhaps because of the need to move, they were selling a lot of Padres logo merchandise at 75% off, and Beulah and I cruised past the booth and were reminded of the old days when she was a big baseball nut and I used to take her to the games whenever I could get tickets, and I would buy her souvenirs and just generally spoil her as I did in every other respect. We went to see the Cincinnati Reds play one night, because she was a great fan of Eric Davis. And I bought her a little miniature Padres baseball bat, that she kept for a long time. Tonight, she said, "You know how that bat ended up, don't you?" And it turns out that, when my father used to ride his mountain bike around the southern Italian countryside, he would bring that bat with him and use it to defend himself against the wild dogs that would accost him and his Snickers bar. I have photos of my father standing proudly beside his bike, wearing a cycling helmet and biking shorts and a large grin. I found it endearing back then. And picturing him waving his little miniature baseball bat at his canine assailants makes me smile.

I guess I don't care very much about sports. And I generally steer clear of the cult of the sports fan. And I don't enjoy smelling of the outdoors. But I had a nice time tonight. And I liked spending time with my family. What are the chances?

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:34 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 10, 2003

Foster Child

Cosette went home to her daddy on Friday. I miss her. Ever so. She stayed with me for nearly two weeks, during which we spent entire days together and went for countless walks and napped and snuggled. I scratched her belly for untold hours. And I delighted in her every movement.

I do miss her. And I curse my fragile, sentimental self for being so vulnerable to tender feelings and overabundant outpourings of emotion. Just looking at these pictures of her, with her proper little frontpaws, and her rear paws in that strange perpendicular posture. Or her shamelessly comfortable body all curled up on my supposedly off-limits 800 thread count pillowcase and raw silk duvet. I miss the clicking of her nails on my floors. But I despise feeling sad about it. Even in that bittersweet way that nostalgia works.

Sometimes I would just prefer to be Vulcan.





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posted by Mary Forrest at 12:01 AM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 9, 2003

Giddyup

Here's the thing. Sometimes, I think I should just be this person who writes humorous observations and self-deprecating confessions that make other people feel somehow better about themselves if only because they don't have a personal story that involves eating something out of the garbage.

And then other times I come across as this morose girl with downcast eyes and a grim outlook. And maybe that makes people feel better about themselves, too, but it's not nearly as funny.

And sometimes I admit to myself that I might write entirely different truths if I knew no one else was reading them. I have several other private weblogs that I update on a pretty frequent basis. A few months ago, my web site statistics led me to fear that someone else was reading them, and I got a little nervous. Not just because I'm less careful about typographical errors but because there's some seriously personal and private stuff in them, and I realized I was not ready to share any of that indiscriminately. Sometimes I write things that are so honest that I don't even like going back and reading them as it stings a bit.

And I worry that if you were reading me for the first time, you would say, "Oh, chuck this. This is just some self-absorbed depressed person with nothing to say." So I'm sure to throw in a brief anecdote about how I got lost in the parking garage at the gym and saw the same Asian guy three times in and around the elevator and was sure he knew I was lost and an idiot. Or one about how this girl was getting a neck and shoulder massage while I was at the nail salon, and I've never seen anyone get one at this salon, and from the way the employees were looking at each other and talking to each other (in Vietnamese), I wondered if the girl asked for a rubdown, and her attendant shrugged and said sure, as demeaning as it is to be asked to provide a service that isn't offered on the menu. I looked over the list. Silk wraps. Fills. Acrylics. Airbrushing. There was nothing on there about massage. It made me feel weird and embarrassed. The way I would feel if I went to a restaurant with a friend and they insisted on ordering something not on the menu and not even from the cuisine the restaurant offers. Of course, the rubdown girl didn't come with me. But neither of us speaks Vietnamese. And in that respect, we're both from the same town, if you know what I mean.

I wonder why I can't shut up tonight.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 11:27 PM | Back to Monoblog


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Blue Skies, Bleeding Gums

It was a beautiful day today, here in Los Angeles. Mild, breezy, only vaguely hazy in the skyward view. I was relieved to see it. And at the same time, I was strangely sad. Strangely ill-at-ease. I always look forward to the fall. I always look forward to the cooler weather. To sweaters and Duraflame logs and knee-high boots. And over the years, the nostalgia the autumn brings has become unique to that season. Even as the nostalgia itself evolves. I have been hopeful in this weather. I have been triumphant. I have been devastated. I have been alienated and destitute. I have been starkly alone. I have been comforted by companionship. I have been new. I have been old. I have been ageless. And maybe recalling all of this -- today, for some reason -- caused me to sink a bit. I felt sluggish somehow. Held up. I felt this strange lack of motivation. This unwillingness to GO. I went anyway. I got my gym membership. I got my nails done. I got tired. I got discouraged. I didn't get my money's worth at the nail salon. I made a sandwich with bread that got overly hard under the broiler, and I tasted blood with each bite. Just a little bit of blood, sure, but blood nonetheless. And the only up side was that the blood was mine and not the sandwich's.

I'm more aware of the roof of my mouth than most people. It's a linguistic thing. When you study other languages and need ways to articulate a sort of mechanized protocol for performing a sound, the phrases "alveolar ridge" and "soft palate" get tossed around a bit. So, when I hurt those parts, I experience an abnormal fear that I may never be able to order sushi properly again. I'm sure there's no serious harm done. And yet, I can't keep my tongue away from the tenderness right now. Ever notice that? How sometimes you're drawn back to the pain? You keep pressing on a cut to see if it's still sore. You stretch aching muscles to see what you can get away with. You do this, dont you? I've never researched this. So I realize it's possible I'm the only petty masochist who does this sort of thing. That's an interesting possibility. On a day that made me blue to begin with, it's a little disconcerting that I have to find reasons to further question whether to check the box next to "nutty as a fruitcake." Sometimes, I'm surprised by my own weirdness.

This isn't my favorite time of year. Anyone who knows me (or reads me) knows that I am most fond of that time in late October/early November when the fireplaces go into use and the trees begin undressing themselves and the sky takes on a stark greyness that makes every hour of daylight feel like that bit before dusk. This isn't my favorite time of year, but it reminded me that my favorite time of year is just around the corner. And it reminded me that there have been a number of years when -- at that fireplace-using time -- I have had difficulty remembering why I liked it so well. I have trudged through those autumn days without a glimmer of delight. I have cursed them. Maybe I'm feeling some sort of fear about how those days will be for me this time around.

This is the trouble with comparative memory. The trouble with sizing your experiences up against the ones that parallel them in your linear history. It's not useful. Or practical. It's just frustrating. And it only serves to remind you that everything changes. And change means more or less or better or worse. Change means different. If today is happier than it was last year, you feel a sort of sad nostalgia over the way it was. If today is less happy, well, that's no mystery. I don't know of a way to benefit from these reveries unless one finds oneself laughing about it all. If I can look back and find myself ridiculous, then any of the happiness or sadness is irrelevant. Those are merely the ravings of a crazy person. But when I am sane and sober and real, I know that I am feeling something that cannot be dismissed, and I therefore know that there is danger in it. Danger of any of it really coming true.

I don't have one of those blogs that lets you choose an emoticon for the way you feel today. I don't label my mood each time I write. I don't document things that way. Maybe it's for the best. Maybe I would only become discouraged to find that I'm not so complex as to be unable to find a facial expression to convey my state of mind. What did Kierkegaard's face look like anyway?

I'm not writing for any reason today. Perhaps the absence of a message will keep me from being silent for days on end. I have often written a great deal when I had nary a thing to say. Sometimes it's just nice to have some proof that you're here. I keep a journal (in pencil on white paper in a hardbound book with a drawing of a horse on the cover), but I'm not terribly disciplined about it. And when I thumb through the old pages and see that I didn't write for weeks at a time, I feel disappointed in myself. I surmise that I must have been unusually happy then. Or unusually sad. Or confused. Or preoccupied. Or perhaps just overwhelmed and tired. But I think to myself that it's no excuse. How will I ever know what those days were like? Those silent, blank days. They might as well have been left unlived.

So, I'm writing today. Maybe I will write again tomorrow. Maybe by then I will have something I want to say. There's no way to be sure.

It's cool tonight. I have goosebumps on my arms. The fall is lurking out there, waiting to descend on me with its cooling ashes and woolen sweaters and holiday demands and turning back of the clock. I wonder how I will fare. And I wonder what I will make it from the vantage point of the autumn after.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:47 PM | Back to Monoblog


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     Sep 8, 2003

Fact Finding

I read Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right this weekend. I hope everyone will. But I know plenty won't. I don't claim that it isn't partisan, but it's also funny and insightful and really, really informative. And I'm beginning to become disillusioned at how lazy we are, as a society, about how we get our ideas and opinions and information. I am guilty of it, too. I have allowed clips on the news to sum up a story for me. I have trusted broadcasters and believed what I read. But it seems that the onus of honest reporting is no longer part of what is expected of journalists and publishers. I remember recently watching Fox News Channel at my parents' house when we were just letting it fly at Iraq, and the ticker that ran across the bottom of the screen would often present some statement in quotation marks that was a paraphrased reduction of what had only just been broadcast on the video feed. I would see a senator make a statement, then a few minutes later I would see a quote from that statement running across the bottom of the screen, but it would be edited and inexact. And I wondered if Fox News Channel has people working there who were never required to learn the sacred value of the quotation mark. Do they really not know that you can't -- especially as a news agency -- QUOTE people with paraphrasings of their statements? I'm certain that no one who attended my junior high school English class with Mr. Clauson (and I'm panicking with the certainty that I've forgotten how he spelled his name) ended up a bigwig at Fox, but it's really a shame. I learned all of that stuff there. I also learned that I enjoy diagramming sentences, that people with dentures sometimes swivel them around in their mouths out of habit and a quest for periodontal comfort, and that you shouldn't wear a strapless bra to school when you don't have the "wherewithal" to hold it up. When I noticed my fancy new bra had scooted down and was now encircling my waist, I was embarrassed and humiliated. Especially because it was this mean, freckled kid named Michael or Mark or something similarly beginning with an "M" who pointed it out to me. I don't remember his last name, but I think it was an alliteration. As I recall, he had sort of a Dorothy Hamill haircut and was aspiring to grow up to be a mercenary. I don't know if he's toting his gun in the jungles of a Southeast Asian nation at this very moment, but I do know he wouldn't use quotation marks with such recklessness. Mr. Clauson was very stern on this issue.

This standard was further reinforced in high school by Mr. Fritz, who was famous for talking to your bosom (if you were a girl) and for sponsoring girls' athletic teams. I don't remember what class I took with him. I think it was some sort of time-passing nonsense class. Like S.A.T. preparation or something like that. I went to a Department of Defense high school. We were sometimes required to waste time sitting in a classroom for an entire period literally doing nothing. I remember knowing Senator Phil Gramm's name at a very early age on account of the Gramm-Rudman Bill whose budget slashings kept us from being able to use buses for extracurricular activities and forced the Far East Speech and Drama Tournament to be held via videotape. That's right. We performed our speeches and scenes in front of video cameras and then mailed our entries on VHS to Korea, where they were judged. It was the lamest version of an away game I have ever experienced. I don't think the athletic teams were required to compete via videotape, but I can't be sure. Perhaps they awarded wrestling medals on the basis of a long distance volley of rock scissors paper. But I would imagine those boys were still required to wear their singlets and make themselves puke before weigh-in. Some things are still sacred.

Where was I? Oh, yeah.

I wholeheartedly and heavyhandedly encourage you to read Al Franken's new book. It made me laugh repeatedly. But it also made me very angry. I have been unashamedly declaring my liberal leanings for many years now. I vote Democrat, and I like it. So, I realize that anyone who disagrees with me politically will probably snort and harumph and say a lot of lame things like "yeah right" and "surprise surprise." That's partisanship. People who aren't liberal will assume that liberals are getting their pants in a knot at the hands of a propagandist. It's a shame, too, because there is a mountain of factual data in the book that you might not have heard or read, regardless of your party affiliation. And chances are, if you're getting your news from Fox News Channel or the Today Show, you will never be exposed to it. And chances are, if you're getting your news from Fox News Channel, you don't want to be.

Oh, there. I went and got all partisan on you. I didn't intend to. I just wanted to tell you what I was reading this weekend. Okay, so, take it as you will, America. I hope that we get a chance to pretty up before history takes our picture. Posterity can be so very cruel.

Epilogue

I think his name was Michael Marking. I'm going to Google him now. I wonder how many rebel factions he's destroyed or how many unmandated governments he's helped to overthrow. It's been a number of years. I should think he'd have quite a résumé by now.

Epilogue Two

When I was in high school, I studied sophomore English and three years of French with Kara Killingsworth. When I was watching Al Franken's appearance on C-SPAN (which you can view in Real Audio here) this past summer, one of the other panelists, introducing her new book Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America, was Molly Ivins. Her speaking voice and diction and dialect and sense of humor brought back echoes of Ms. Killingsworth, of whom I was immensely fond and who was one of only a very few teachers in my student years to vigilantly push me to be more than I was. I long ago Googled her, but to no avail, much to my chagrin. Being an English teacher herself, I feel confident in asserting that she knows that obscure rule about the use of quotation marks, too. Incidentally, that C-SPAN link allows you to view the entire Book TV panel from the Book Publishers Expo, where Al Franken and Bill O'Reilly had words. It's interesting to watch, because Bill O'Reilly is a case study in jerkdom and an irrational commitment to being wrong. My father watches his program, which is a sticking point for me. But then, my father also never liked boats and didn't like to wear hats, but he joined the Navy as a teenager and served until retirement. Go figure.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:39 PM | Back to Monoblog


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