1.23.2005

The Ol' Creak and Ache

I am happy with the shows from last night. I don't know what I did in the first show that was so noteworthy, but some guy in the audience actually yelled, "I love you, Mary," when we were wrapping up, and an unusual number of people leaving the theater after the show made a point of telling me I was extra-specially good. I can't say it was entirely justified, but I'll take it just the same. I got to play with people I like and run into people I like even more, and that amounts to a minuscule lessening of the volume in the cup of dissatisfaction that I carry with me at all times. Don't worry. As with all liquids, the evaporative process eventually leads to rain. And the next time it's raining disappointment, my cup will be out to catch it. Rest assured.

Also happy I went to The Casbah to find my friends, although it was too hot and sweaty there for me. Also happy I then went to the Ken Club with Yen and her friends, even though too much of our time was taken up by a guy named Sean, who wanted to tell us why the Chinese are so great. Also happy for junk food at Brians' and for drinking whiskey until dawn with John and his animatronic bull. Also happy that the staff at Ono Sushi were kind enough to save my camera for me. I left it there on Thursday night, but I didn't realize it was gone until yesterday. And when I called, they didn't think they had it. But they took my number and called me back and said they had it after all, and that is some good karma right there. For them. For me, it's just further proof that I might no longer be responsible enough to own a camera after all.

Beulah is nearly home. I will go fetch my camera, then drive up to meet her and hopefully fetch some affection from her. And then I will return home to my proper zip code, where I'm hoping a great big pile of money will be waiting for me. For those of you who are paying close attention, this is a foreshadowing of that precipitative disappointment that was promised earlier. Hey, I don't make the rules. It's just how nature works. And how clouds are made. And clouds are pretty, much of the time.

P.S. Realizing I don't apparently have enough synonyms for dissatisfaction and disappointment in my current word aresenal, I went to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online and typed them both into the thesaurus engine. Disappointment apparently has no synonyms or antonyms (which is a lie). And dissatisfaction had the following words among it's synonymous options: dislike, aversion, bad books, disfavor, disinclination, displeasure, disrelish, distaste, and indisposition. I draw your attention particularly to disrelish, which I am curiously drawn to, and bad books, which sounds ridiculous and therefore must be used as often as possible. I was going to say that you learn something new every day, but that's not really true. You don't necesarily learn something new every day. But the opportunity for learning something relatively useless is apparently available on a near daily basis.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:14 PM
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1.22.2005

Sunshine on my shoulders

I went for a run today. I don't know my parents' new neighborhood all that well. My friend Rachel used to live around here with her husband, and I remember driving out to meet her one morning and having brekafast at the little coffee shop that is almost right across from my parents' house now. Afterwards, we went to a few thrift stores and to some sort of antique sale at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. I remember buying a green lamp. It is still in my bedroom.

Running along the streets and sidewalks is great for the get-to-know-you game. I now have a fairly complete inventory of the restaurants and shops nearby. I noticed that the Pannikin is very popular and that all taco shops smell the same. And I saw that Lou's Records has a Camper Van Beethoven CD for $13.49. It was gorgeous sunny out when I was getting dressed for my run, but by the time I laced up, stretched, and tried to figure out how to get out the security gate on my parents' property without the clicker, the marine layer had rolled back in, and I had to start out in the relative grey and cold. But by the time I had gone the first half mile or so, the sun seemed to be peeking out, and I was warm and conscious of the risk of more freckles. Something I have come to be reasonably at peace with.

I ran a few miles along the 101 and on the beach, where there were seagulls swarming over patches of kelp and kids toddling alongside their parents. Moms ineptly throwing footballs to their impatient pre-teen sons. Shapes drawn in the sand. Strange castle-like structures made of kelp and pieces of pallets and sticks and wire. Surfers and more surfers. Large rocks that are easy to turn your ankle on so you must step carefully, no matter the pace. Waves rolling in. Sunlight backlighting figures strolling towards me. Some amount of implied romance. My iPod didn't have enough juice, so I ran to the pace of my breathing. And in a way it was better. I was able to hear all the conversations I was running through. Little snippets of things that I could make my own sense of. Stories told out of context. Sort of like being in a Robert Altman film. I ran about a half mile on the beach. The tide was out, and the sand was vast and wet and hard-packed. And I mildly scolded myself for not having come sooner. For not having made a point of getting up early when I'm here and going down to the beach with a notebook or a sketchpad or a novel or a cup of coffee. I'm not a beach person. But I love the ocean. And being near it is a reminder of so many of the places I've lived and things that I've done and shoes that I've ruined by exploring tidepools. Beaches here on weekend days are interesting, too. They are expansive enough that you can be amongst hundreds of people, but you can have your privacy. And people walking past you don't bother you. They're not there for you. And it's nice that way.

I ran back up the hill and had to wait at the intersection for a while before I could cross. When that happens and I'm running, I just jog in place. I've gotten over wondering if I look foolish. I don't think anything of it. But while I was jogging in place, there were some guys in a truck in the left turn lane across me, and from where I was, it looked as if the driver was moving his hands up and down to the rhythm of my bouncing. I don't know why. I suppose I can come up with a few scenarios. When the light changed and I ran across the street, they turned past me and said, "Bye!" I headed for the park, where children were making use of all the playground equipment (which includes a miniature rock-climbing wall), and parents were looking on with varying levels of interest. There is a sandy path that winds through the place, and I took it for as long as I could. Possibly because of the recent rains, a good stretch of the path was cordoned off, so I just moved to the grass when I had to. A birthday party was going on in one of the large pavilions. The bridge over the tiny man-made creek had a sign indicating that wheelchairs were not allowed. At least I assume that's what it meant. It was the handicap symbol (the guy in the wheelchair) with a circle around it and a line through it. I guess it could also have meant that no handicapped people are allowed to cross that bridge, but that seems too much geared towards my amusement and not at all in the interest of safety or convenience. And then I walked the last bit back to my parents' house. Cool down period, you know. And the cherry on top was the truck that pulled up behind me and idled on the two-lane road so that the driver could make that kiss sound out the window at me. He needed to do that so much, he didn't mind holding up the parade of cars behind him. Nor did he mind leaning across the woman in the passenger seat to get his puckering lips closer to the open window. Maybe it was his sister, and apparently he has some knowledge of outdoor acoustics. Anyway, I'm already not good at receiving compliments. Imagine how much more awkward I am when the compliment is actually sort of rude and inappropriate and when I have no real choice but to continue walking and hoping that it doesn't look like any extra bounce has been added to my step.

I was gone for an hour. Nearly on the nose. My internal clock is really quite impressive.

I took a shower and a bath (my parents have a luxurious abundance of hot water, and I often take advantage of that -- don't tell my mom), and that's that. I have shows to do tonight. Last night's shows went well. I was proud of some things and never terribly disappointed in anything. That's a victory of sorts. At one point, as the world's worst thing to say at a Wendy's protest, I said, "These hamburgers are made of Jesus." But I now wish I had said, "These hamburgers are made of stem cell research." In all things, my brain is always editing. Even improv. Which is cheating.

I don't like to be one of "those" people, but there really is something to be said for the value of vigorous exercise. It's a pain to plan for, and I can't say I really look forward to it or get excited about it or ever experience the mythical endorphin rush. I just know that I feel good when I'm done. Super good. And my face is all glowing and pink and my posture is better and I don't scowl so much when I pass the mirror on my way into the shower. I'm sure there must be some psychological method that could make it seem like less of a chore. But for the time being, the only thing that works is my dissatisfaction with how I look and feel when I'm not doing it. When I'm unhappy or dissatisfied or disquieted in some way, I do something. Not always the same thing. And not always the right thing. But I always do something in the hopes that it might be the thing that makes it all better for a moment. This protocol has led to the creation of a lot of miscellaneous junk over the years. It's like my brain says, If I'm going to be down, I might as well have something to show for it. And that's why I have this monumental fear of ever being content with everything. It's my displeasure with how things are that keeps me working and striving and thinking and reading and running and jumping and learning and hoping and reaching and bathing and grooming meticulously. It's a compromise.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:58 PM
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1.19.2005

Insider

I was driving home this afternoon and heard excerpts from Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearing, and it was one of those moments when I wanted to phone someone and yammer in their ear about how retarded the world is, but I also didn't want to stop listening to the broadcast. So I just ended up jotting down my little notes in my little notebook whenever I was stopped at a red light and occasionally while I was actually moving down the road. No one was injured, but if someone had been, I'd have blamed Condoleezza Rice. And I'd have been the only one in the world, apparently, who holds her accountable for anything she has ever done -- for any sort of wrongdoing. I and Barbara Boxer -- who, by the way, has much more chutzpah (or as my workshop instructor said when she was trying to think of the word chutzpah, "puznaz" or "shuznaz") than Dianne Feinstein, whose asskissing introduction did little to warm my downtrodden, Democrat heart.

Anyway, I was listening to the confirmation hearings, and I almost laughed out loud at how ridiculous that Rice woman sounded when she was essentially scolding Barbara Boxer by saying, Senator, can we please talk about my lies without impugning my integrity or character? That's what's so fucking mindboggling about this administration. It's like a Twilight Zone of reason, wherein someone murders your grandmother and then says, "Let's just agree to disagree." As if that makes any sense at all. Here is Condoleezza Rice, carefully choosing language that NEVER admits error. The language of marketing people. The language of automobile advertising. Some of our decisions were very good; some were maybe not as good. But never does she say the words "wrong" or "bad" or "mistake" or "I'm sorry." And no matter how many times you play her a tape of her saying something you can PROVE she knew was false at the time she said it, she will still look at you with that bitchy, mole-speckled expression and say, "Now, now. Let's not be rude and inappropriate. I would appreciate it if you would refrain from impugning my integrity." But that's STILL not an answer. That's what drives me batty about all of this political posturing. You can show a Bush offical a file or a video clip or a photograph empirically proving that what he or she said or did was wrong or even unlawful, and he or she will shrug and say something folksy like, "You can't always call a ladybug a hare," or, "Log cabins aren't made of molasses," and America will look at each other in bewilderment and say, "Well, I guess that's true." I just want to yell in the loudest voice possible: "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST ADMIT THAT YOU WERE WRONG?????"

What kind of example is this setting for our young people? This administration is one of second chances, of never holding people accountable. George W. Bush gets a DUI and there are essentially no consequences. He goes on to both lie about it and to become president. And to remain president for a second term. There are no consequences for Donald Rumsfeld, whose own rhetoric implies that he should be the one to take responsibity for military mistakes that were made, including the embarrassing proceedings at Abu Ghraib. Bush has been very clear in saying that he doesn't feel anyone should lose their job for whatever mistakes have been made, and I just don't understand that. Why is America okay with that? This is a country which -- almost to our discredit -- believes that an eye should be paid for with an eye. All these conservatives with their death penalty fervor and their frothing at the mouth at the prospect of crushing our various enemies, you'd think they would be the sort that demands that someone pays when a tab is run up. After all, these are the people at whose hand the Salem witch hunts commenced. These are the people who want CEOs to resign or be incarcerated when their pension plans get gobbled up in illicit corporate activities. These are the people who think that three strikes legislation that sends certain people to prison for life for the most minor of offenses is essentially a winning concept, since people who make mistakes are just going to make them again, and why should we as a society keep allowing them to make them on our dime? It's quite literally unfathomable to me that the rash rightmindedness of the Republican constituency hasn't demanded a fall guy. I mean, I know that Oliver North has his own show on Fox News now, but for a while there, he was the punch line of a lot of jokes. And what about the Watergate guys? Some of those guys even did prison time (although, of course, I admit they also largely ended up with their own shows). Reagan and Nixon -- as Republican as they come -- their administrations recognized the value of a scapegoat. Why has this administration stepped out of line on this topic? Why does George W. Bush believe that saying he's never wrong over and over again will make it so? I guess the only answer to that is: Because we let him. And, yes, I said "we." I did not vote for that jerk, but I also did not move to The Netherlands. And I clearly did not give enough money to the Democratic Party, and I did not go out and campaign enough, and I did not believe hard enough in fairies. So, yes, this is on me, too.

It's not that I believe a Republican government can't be a good government. I just can't put any amount of faith in a government that doesn't think I can tell when it's lying. When a child -- even the smallest child -- catches a grown-up in a lie, that child ceases to trust that grown-up. Plain and simple. A liar is a liar. And even if we don't call these guys LIARS, we apparently aren't even allowed to say they've ever chosen poorly. This is a president who has somehow gotten it into his head that admitting regret is political suicide. A hundred thousand people are dead and it's because of me? Do I regret that? Well, no, Sam Donaldson, I can't say I do. I CAN say that I wish their families the peace of God that passes all understanding, but everything is in His hands, so how can I second guess that? That would be blaspheming. And I wish you could hear that like I hear it in my head. Because the way he says blaspheming in my imagination is hilarious.

So, tonight, Julie took me to the opening party of the new Whiskey Bar at the W Hotel, and it just so happened that my beautiful friend Jessica was there working the bar. I wouldn't say the party was so grand, but I have difficulty saying no to an open bar. And if it hadn't been for Julie's growling tummy and her early morning obligations, I'm sure I'd have stayed and drunk the place dry. Instead, we had overpriced victuals at Kate Mantilini apparently in the middle of a party for the sound effects people of the film industry. I looked for him, but there was no sign of Ben Burtt. I don't know that he's up for anything this year, but he's the only sound effects celebrity I would recognize. Except for maybe Michael Winslow. And I think technically he's foley.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:27 AM
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1.18.2005

I always wanted to be a child prodigy.

It's talk of Neil Patrick Harris that brings such things to mind. Starship Troopers has been on the pay channels a bit this past week. I have caught parts of it. And I remember going to see it in the theater and being stunned by how violent it was but not feeling any rankling because of that. There's corny stuff in it, sure. Like when the Roughnecks win a big battle and the Lieutenant breaks out the beer and the "entertainment," which consisted of some futuristic nerf football and an electric violin, which Gary Busey's son picks up and starts playing while the rest of the squad dances. Ga-hay. But the music is super great, and the creature effects and macabre meat-rending rule. And it's so romantic and sad when Dizzy dies in Rico's arms and says, "It's okay. Because I got to have you." All the more reason for me to wish Denise Richards had gotten her brains sucked out in the end, too. Not just that Melrose Place guy. Although he totally had it coming.

I loved Doogie Howser, M.D. I wished I was Doogie Howser. I've seen Neil Patrick Harris around town before, but I've never like run up to him and told him how great he was or anything. I don't do that. Never would. And I'm sure it must be all the more annoying to have to carry your celebrity from childhood. I'm sure it must suck to have people say, "You were great in Clara's Heart." Or to ask what it was like working with Whoopi Goldberg. 'Cause you know that's the question on everyone's lips.

You like that? You like that? You like that? You want a little more? Come on! You like that? You like that? You like that? You want a little more?

This movie makes me want to go join the army. Or nuke me some bugs. Or spray ant poison on my window sill. Or just sit here and procrastinate more.

P.S. Jake Busey is a terrible actor.

Golden Hour


I might have gotten there later than I planned, but I did make it to the park at LACMA today. I took Audrey for a pleasant romp. Numerous people we passed admired her t-shirt and her gait. Little children cried out, "Doggie!" And the sun began to go down behind the buildings, and the lamps came on as we passed a pair of girls juggling pins just like in the circus. We also passed two very old ladies walking side by side, one of whom actually squeaked. I don't know if it was her body or some apparatus I could not see. But she was squeaking with each meager step. Then I heard her answer her cell phone with the oldest sounding "hello" ever uttered. I kind of wanted to hug her for it.

I came home and finished up some more thankless design work and the weight of night was heavy on me. I have been feeling that a lot. It has turned my skip to a trudge. The picture I have of myself in my brain is a disappointing one.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:12 AM
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1.17.2005

Random House

I don't like to watch award shows. But I often watch them anyway. I caught the last bit of the Golden Globes tonight. Just in time to see Diane Keaton wearing an outfit that really is only a parody of her look at this point, to see Jamie Foxx tear up at the podium and to hope that he was sincere -- a cynicism planted in my brain by Halle Berry and her ridiculousness, and to see Robin Williams receive his "special" award.

Okay. For the record. I can't stand Robin Williams. I'm not saying he was never funny or that he didn't make a proper name for himself or that he doesn't have a sprawling body of work. I just find him annoying and unsurprising and never ever ever never funny. Now.

I like Popeye. I'll go on record with that. But I like it because of its production design and because it's the first PG movie I ever went to see without my parents and I broke a filling on an ancient apple Now and Later I got at the concession stand while my friend Sharon's mom (who had brought us to the theater) was watching Raging Bull. I also like the music. And Shelley Duvall. And Burgess Meredith. And the idea that someone might be considered marriageable on account of being large.

But that's not enough for a special award. Even the movies of his that I've liked haven't rung true because of the fact that EVERY character eventually breaks down and does a few minutes of "material," and that's not what film acting is about. It happens in Dead Poets' Society, it happens in (fucking) Patch Adams, it even happens in Jack, and he's playing a kid in that. I think the only film I can think of where he doesn't do that (unless I just missed it) is Awakenings, which is still a pretty good flick. But again. No statue there.

His more recent dramatic roles have not had the funny man character in them, but that gives you cause to notice that -- when he's not pretending to be a sassy Black woman from Mississippi or a flaming queer or some other overused caricature -- he's really very, very creepy.

But this isn't about me or what I think of his work. I really just mean to comment on the fact that I think these award shows seem to be hard-pressed to find someone worthy to recognize. And that his acceptance speech was endemically insincere and performed and, frankly, impolite in its self-importance. Even his attempts to be magnanimous came across as braggart. And when they played a clip from Mork and Mindy, I really had to ask myself if that show was ever funny. Except for the parts with Jonathan Winters in them. And even that's a maybe.

Before the award was issued, a friend reminded me of the lawsuit that is Mr. Williams' reason for being so frequently cited on gotherpes.com. And then that's all I thought about while he gave his acceptance speech, which was little more than a pandering stand-up act to an entirely industry audience. Thank god he was followed by Orlando Bloom, who cleanses the palate so beautifully. Pretty pretty. I could look at him and listen to him talk for what would amount to a very long time.

I was IM'ing a friend about all this James Bond that I've been watching. I basically said that watching all this James Bond has changed my mind about the more recent issuances. They ALL sucked. They were ALL corny. So I no longer hold it against Pierce Brosnan that the gadgetry is outlandish, the puns are unbearable, and the martinis are still ordered shaken as if any bartended in the world STIRS them. EVER. And Die Another Day had a lot of much more gritty military type action in it. Real warfare-y looking. Far less murdering people with sharks. Or piranha. I think Halle Berry is a putz, but it wasn't a bad film I now conclude. I just take note of how brash and unreasonable and boob-like Americans tend to look in these films. I guess it must mean that that's the way we like to see ourselves. Because we're the ones these movies are being sold to, aren't we? Are we missing something here?

A short list of things I've learned from the various James Bond marathons I've watched in the past month or so would be as follows:

Thunderball and Never Say Never Again (the only non-Albert Broccoli production) have the same plot and the same character names. They even have the same plot summary on imdb.com. But I've never heard Never Say Never Again referred to as a remake. I just remember going to see it in the theater with my mom and being uncomfortable and embarrassed when Barbara Carrera was water-skiing in a one-piece bathing suit with a thong back. How did I ever manage to cease being such a prude?

James Bond had a wife and she died. George Lazenby married Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and then she gets shot by Blofeld at the very end of the movie. And it's the only time you ever see James Bond really seem to lose it over a chick. In a way, it's one of the best moments in the series. He turns into such a shadow of a person after that. Maybe because of that. Huh? Huh? How do you like that little twist there? Anyway, later, in The Spy Who Loved Me (I think -- or was it Octopussy? They all begin to run together.), Roger Moore prickles when he is reminded of it. When a female agent recites his dossier to him and says he was once married. It AFFECTS him. Again. Rare human moment for James.

And lastly, you nearly never see Dr. No anymore. And yet I really like it. In truth, the book is one of my favorites. And the movie was a smash disappointment for me, because of how much of the riveting action from the book was just not done at all. I guess I assumed it was because of the fact that cinema was still fairly primitive, but it sure would have been nice to see that book made into a proper flick. Maybe someday it will be remade again using all that modern cinematic technology has to offer. Although, by the time that happens, James Bond will probably be played by Seth Green or something. Surely, by then it will be his turn.

Okay, well, it's officially Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so I suppose I should tell my one MLK anecdote, which goes like this:

When I was in high school in Japan, each year we would have a Black History Month speech contest, sponsored by some rotary-type club that was for the Black people. (I don't mean to sound ignorant or insensitive; I just don't remember what it was called.) Anyway, I used to enter this speech contest every year, and every year I won. I was sort of the speech and essay contest phenom in high school. I actually made more money winning speech and essay contests than I made in all of my summer jobs. So each year I would enter the Black History Month speech contest, and I would write a speech about Black history, and I would give the speech, and I would win. And then I would be invited to the dinner of this club with all the other winners, and we would sit at the honored table and have dinner before being invited to give our speeches to the club membership. We would sit there on the dais -- me and two or three Black kids. And I would get the biggest prize every year. Even I thought that was sort of weird and unfair. But that's the way it happened.

Gosh golly, it was gorgeous out today. I'm slightly furious with myself for not spending more time out in it. For not taking one of my straw mats over to LACMA and bivouacking out on the lawn with a book and a bottle of something cool to drink. I should have done that. Maybe I will do that tomorrow. If it's as sunny and warm as it was today, I surely should.

And it's been two nights in a row that I've taken Audrey out for one of our obscene late-night walks (yesterday it was at five a.m.) and noticed that the stars were out in force and that I could see Betelgeus, clear as a punch in the face. There are many nights when I can't see the stars at all on my block. Los Angeles with its street lighting and billboards and that persistent haze that makes even the darkness feel like just-after-dusk. If there's even a wisp of haze in the air, the night is cottony black and starless. Bleak and coldly unfamiliar. But these past few nights, as happens at this time of the year and whenever the rains come, the stars are like brilliant pinpricks in a big velvet sheet with a studio-quality lamp behind them. I've lived in Hollywood for long enough now that even the wonders of nature conjure analogies of cinema fakery.

This is the fourth January for me here in Los Angeles. And I have said many times that January and February in Los Angeles make for one of my favorite times of year. When it's cold and crisp but sunny. And the skies are clear. Not the muddy haze of the summertime. Not the humid swelter of an unwelcome Indian summer. Januaries and Februaries have been typically melancholy for me. For some reason. They have always been gloriously beautiful. But sad. If it's not one thing, it's everything. I am glad for a break in the rain. I want to sit on grass that is unmuddied. I look forward to picnicky afternoons. And ham sandwiches. I'm always ready with something excellent to read. And the straw mats are always in the trunk of my car. With a blanket I don't mind getting dirty. I've had too few daytime outings recently. I notice it in my picture-taking. There's nothing so bad about taking lots of pictures at night. But I need a little sunshine and cirrhus clouds in my eyes to mix it up.

Later this week, I'm heading for San Diego to ref a minor league runthrough and play a few shows at the comedy theater. I'm thinking it's going to be awesome. I've been wanting to ref for ages. And I get to have a whistle and a stopwatch and everything. Bomb ass. So I'll be in town (or out of town, depending on your zip code) for a few days, and I intend to make a scene. I left a bottle of Bushmill's at John Meeks' apartment as a "housewarming gift." But I hold my liquor a lot better than he does. It's a fine line between housewarming gift and safekeeping. Bottoms up.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:24 PM
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1.16.2005

Broadcasters in Need of a Diction Coach

I turned on my television a few moments ago, stumbling onto the NFL post-game show on CBS. A female reporter asked the losing coach, "Something something something, what went awry?" But she pronounced awry as if it rhymed with the word "sorry." Not as if it rhymed with "goodbye" or "the sky" or "a guy." I know it looks like it might be said that way. But gosh that's true of lots of words. Don't people in broadcasting have to try a little harder to at least not use words they don't know? I'm not saying you have to know every word, but she could easily have just said, "What went wrong?" Instead, she chose to say a word she thought would make her sound smarter, and I caught her at it. So there.

Dan Marino was having some argument with a very emphatic Black fellow whose name I don't know. They were disagreeing with each other about -- I think -- the performance of the quarterback of one of the teams, and they were interrupting each other and looking exasperated, the one guy wearing one of those false smiles that does little to hide the venom pulsing in his gums and tongue. And they were both having this argument into the camera, looking straight ahead. Never actually making eye contact with each other. I wonder if former football players have to avoid eye contact to keep their long-honed bloodthirsty instincts from getting the better of them. I wouldn't be surprised if, when they cut to commercial, Dan Marino and that other guy got into an embarrassing shoving match right there in the studio. I don't know that that's the case. But I wouldn't be surprised.

I would, however, be surprised if I woke up one day and found that I was really excited about watching football. I would have no idea what to do in that event.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:55 PM
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Sunshine Go Away from Me

Among the things I didn't do is a list that would break a human heart. Among the things I did do are making an interim new main page for my web site, adding a few new pieces to my Expo page, finishing the image editing for the mail art pieces I have been planning to post (although they haven't yet been posted -- probably going to require a new page altogether), adding some more pictures to the Roundup* page, finishing the CD cover and web site I designed for Toni Childs (the site materials I created are not up yet, so please don't go looking for them), collecting materials for a much-needed portfolio update, updating my blog layout (which I technically did in the wee hours before going to bed last "night"), finishing a book, starting another, and spending a cumulative several hours in a state of abject self-loathing. So, I'd say today was actually achievement-rich, despite my overall sense of dissatisfaction at ever having woken up alive to begin with. Especially now that I am apparently the kind of girl who is still drinking scotch at five o'clock in the morning.

I would like to build a rocket ship in my backyard and fly to a faraway planet. A planet where no one pays rent.


posted by Mary Forrest at 5:29 AM
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1.15.2005

Fooled Again

I absolutely told myself that I would get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight. And when two o'clock rolled around, and I figured I would just wrap up and turn in, instead I got caught up getting pictures off my camera and editing them and posting them and redoing the blog background and watching On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which I had never actually seen before and which is almost tastelessly packed with indiscreet innuendo. And they've got Kojak playing Blofeld. So it's kind of a rip-off all around. I guess there's another Bond marathon going on, but this time on a channel that doesn't plague one's attention with commercial interruptions for getting your high school diploma via correspondence course. At this rate, I might as well just make some breakfast and push on through. Except for the ugly face I will have all day if I do that.

Beulah is either in the sky or touched down on the other coast by now. I miss her already. And envy the time she will get to spend with several people I would like to see more than a Pink Floyd reunion. Shine on, diamond. You're crazy.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:13 AM
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1.14.2005

Why does the fat one always have to be so mean to the skinny one?

Martín and Francisca came over to borrow a space heater. Peter Pan was ending on the television. And the next thing we knew, there was a movie on with some sort of ancient Egyptian prologue. It was obivously about mummies, but it wasn't THE Mummy or its sequel. Clearly. I hit the info button on my remote and found that it was a film I never even knew got made. The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy: For Love or Mummy. And it was made in 1998. And Bronson Pinchot was playing Stan Laurel, and it only gets more abysmal from there.

Now, let me begin by saying that the words "the all new adventures" are a terrible omen for me. Any time someone has decided that I needed to go along with some heroes of mine on an all-new set of adventures, there was usually bullshit afoot and disappointment on its way. But this particular revival made so little sense to me. Laurel and Hardy are not exactly part of the contemporary lexicon anymore. Francisca had never heard of them. And she's not alone. I know who they were, and not just because I'm old, thank you. My father is good and old and he introduced his daughters to a lot of truly old stuff. And I remember enjoying watching them as a little girl when their movies would come on television on Sunday afternoons. But even I know that the kind of humor they represent can only really be appreciated retrospectively.

Well, we stuck around through the ludicrous opening titles, depicting Stan and Ollie as hieroglyphs on the walls of some nicely-lit tomb. And the opening scene alone was enough to tell me all I needed to know. As I said, Stan is played by Bronson Pinchot, who isn't really physically right for the part, and Ollie is played by some fat guy, who is. They are presented to us in the same sort of costumes you would have seen them wearing in their films of the '30s. But the first scene of the film shows them working a copy machine in a library, and angering the librarian by leaving an I.O.U. in the cash box instead of properly paying. I don't even understand the anachronism. Why leave them in those outfits and set the film in present day? It's as if these remakes envision the characters as a cartoon strip rather than a whole performance. The CHARACTERS of Laurel and Hardy could easily be translated into a modern setting. Or the film could easily have been set in the '30s. But the anachronism makes no sense to me. And I really didn't stick around for much longer, as everything I was seeing was so painfully unfunny that I feared I might no longer want to own the Perfect Strangers DVD box set when it becomes available, and I didn't want to spoil that party for myself.

F. Murray Abraham is in it, too, but he didn't come on-screen early enough in the film for me to see him. I would much rather watch anything else. Even reruns of sports.

Sadly, I'm sort of drained today and can't even muster the creative juice to make this post entertainingly cranky.

On a few occasions, when kissing my dog's face, I have accidentally gotten some of her eyeball juice on my lips. And it has made me exclaim, "Ooh! -- I just got some of her eyeball juice in my mouth." I coined the phrase "eyeball juice," and Martín can't bear to hear it. Sometimes I say it just to see him gag a little. Don't get me wrong. I don't like it. I don't WANT that stuff on my face. I don't WANT to ingest it. I'm just saying, it's funny that he probably would have nearly no reaction at all if I would just say, "I just got one of her tears on my tongue." It might even sound sweet.

Martín was also grossed out when I kissed Audrey and said, "Oops. I just got her whisker in my mouth." He made a face and a sound that I have never seen him make before. And it was very amusing. I told him that I don't like whisker, either, and that one time, one of Audrey's whiskers was sitting, loose, on my forearm, and "--and you ate it!" he continued. But of course that's not true. Really. It's not. And I'm done talking about canine scatology.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:14 PM
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The Rain in Spain



Martín and I went to The Improv tonight to catch Paul F. Tompkins and Andy Kindler and David Cross and surprising bits of coolness from Jonah Ray and Eddie Pepitone. Martín was under the weather, and I was sort of similarly, but when we commit to a night of comedy, it's written in stone.

Martín has finished moving in, and in case you didn't hear it from me personally, his new apartment is quite literally a block away from mine. Even on the same street, no less. It's the nearest we've ever lived to one another since the commencement of our friendship, more than eight years ago. I predict that we will be going to countless shows around town from now on. And that he will overprotectively demand to drive my car home while I pretend to be drunker than I actually am. Score. I also predict that we will grow to despise each other some time within the next three to six months. The price of proximity.

I have nothing important to say. Except that listening to movies in Japanese makes me feel closer to myself than listening to movies in any other language. I was watching that movie -- I think it's called Escaped Convict Baby -- with Skeet Ulrich and Gary Oldman in it before it was time to go out tonight, and I realized that the loop of The Sea Is Watching, even when I couldn't really look at the subtitles or remember how to translate the dialogue, was a much better film. If only because it reminded me what good nigiri tastes like and what wonderful liqueurs you can buy at Japanese 7-11s. How I do miss my Violet Fizz. And my Cobra- and News-brand whiskeys. Cheap cheap cheap and with a reasonable likeness of Dick Tracy on the label of at least one of those. Mild Seven cigarettes. Popeye magazine. Everything seems so ridiculous when you actually write it down. How I do reminisce about the year when I was fifteen. I guess I would rather hear people talking in Japanese through an accidental party line than watch a movie with lame American dialogue in it. Baby Boom was on the other night. I didn't watch it at all. But if I did, I would have scoffed at Diane Keaton's belted suits, and then I would have wished she was talking in Nihongo. I miss my sweet Yokosuka. I really do. Pay for me to spend an afternoon in the train station outside the Naval base, and I will be your friend for life. Seriously. I will provide a string quartet for your wedding. I will cook exotic meals for you. I will go to Melrose with you and truthfully tell you what you should and shouldn't buy. This is an investment in your future. Jessie went to Paul's web site recently and found her way to the links list, where she stumbled onto http://www.engrish.com, an Internet destination that has been among my favorites since at least early 1998 or 1999. Just saying that makes me feel like an old woman in a wheelchair. The fact that I was using the Internet back when it was new and many people did not understand it is just further proof that I have no business buying the new Franz Ferdinand CD. I shouldn't be allowed to buy any music that postdates Linda Ronstadt (who is dead now, right?). It's not a question of age. It's a quesiton of prolonged sentience. And I have been technologically aware for far too long. Anyway, that web site also makes me want to go back to that special place where everyone spits on the ground and an apple costs like ten bucks. Ah, me -- the magic of my youth.

There's a C2 (that's the new bullshit Coca-cola lower-carb soda) commercial with Queen's I Want to Break Free acting as soundtrack. This reminds me of Beulah's tutelage that Germany uses Queen songs as advertising soundtrack for everything. Apparently, the song needn't even have any narrative relationship to the commercial. Germans just feel like spending money when Queen songs are involved. I guess I feel the same way. But I won't spend any money on C2. I'd rather buy a fancy vodka.

Beulah leaves tomorrow for her expansive East Coast trip. She's all stressed out because she has to accompany a busload of eighth-graders to various important educational spots, including the presidental inauguration. I'm sure it will be awesome, and she will be awesome. And if you are a mutual friend of ours living in the D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, or other major historical U.S. city area and you know Beulah's cell phone number, by all means, start punching those numbers. She's coming to town, and there isn't a moment to lose! If you don't have her cell phone number, you probably feel like a huge jerk right now. And rightfully so. Hint: It's not (888) 2-GOOD-4U, but it might as well be.

I'm always hoping I'll be brilliant when I start writing. But I'm often disappointed. And tonight, I'm going to play a few PlayStation2 games to cleanse my palate of that sensation. You're already sleeping. So what difference does it make?

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:57 AM
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1.13.2005

Fancy Cigarettes



I got dragged around all day, by work pressures and deadlines and errands and a dog. But, in what may have been the most frustrating in-town traffic I have recently experienced, I eventually made my way up to Hollywood for my long-form workshop. I'm enjoying the pants off it. And that is a mercy. Usually, when I sign up for things -- obligate myself to things -- I habitually dread them. Maybe some form of rebellion. Resistance to authority. Even if "the man" is really just my calendar, I shake my fist at him. I like to have plans. But I hate to HAVE to have them. Know what I mean?

Afterwards, I brought Jessie with me to Star Shoes to go to my friend Rick Royale's record release gig. We had a few free beers, made a few knowing faces, and whispered loudly in each other's ears a lot. I stopped in the w.c. (for girls) before we left, and I had to write down a conversation I was rudely overhearing. It went like this:

Girl: We should hang out with my Austrian intern. He's hot. His name is Dietmar.

Other Girl: His name is Dietmar?

Girl: Yeah. He's from Vienna. *beat* I like your hair.

Other Girl: Yeah, I was looking super Jew for a while, but I had them thin it out at the top. Now, I'm perpetuating the me-and-Elijah-Wood-only hair.


I was recounting this exchange to Jessie and Josh (whom we both know from San Diego and were stunned to find having a smoke on Hollywood Boulevard out front of Star Shoes as if he LIVED here or something -- which apparently he does now), when I noticed that Elijah Wood hair was standing right behind us. I pointed her out to Jessie and Josh, and they were like, "Yeah, that really is Elijah Wood hair. Or like Thriller-era Michael Jackson." And I hoped she hadn't overheard me reenacting her conversation. I would much rather she hear it and have a moment of scary deja vu when it happens in a movie I someday write. Let's hope she doesn't hit up Google with boolean searches of everything she talks about. Otherwise it will kill the surprise.

Last week, I was in the restroom at Canter's, and I overheard two South Asian women talking about when a girl can get pregnant. It was both informative and disconcertingly frank. And I was surprised that one of the girls knew so little about the mechanism of the period. I didn't write that one down, but I'm beginning to think I should start planting recording devices in bathrooms around town. You really hear the darnedest things. But then, Krissy and I were stunned and delighted to hear the lovely Mishna Wolff saying the following the other night at Tom's party: "How much would a fat suit cost if I wanted to buy one?" And that wasn't in a bathroom at all.

I carry a notebook and a pen with me everywhere, and I love the shit people say.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:43 AM
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1.12.2005

Fragile I am not. Affection is a pressure I can bear.


This morning, I got up very early and took Audrey for a walk in some welcome sunshine. When we got back inside, I plopped her back on the bed and went to my computer for a while. Maybe an hour or so. When I got up to return to the living room, I noticed it was unusually bright. Not just for a sunny morning, but for any morning. Upon closer inspection, I realized the front door was wide open. When the weather is wet like this, the wood in the door swells and makes it hard to close properly. Even harder to open with a key. But I thought I had been careful about closing it. Apparently I hadn't been. So I went through a flash of panic. What if Audrey had left me alone for all this time because she trotted out the front door an hour ago? What if she was long gone? I walked into the bedroom to find her perched, sphinx-like, on top of the comforter, just looking at me. And I loved her so much and was so grateful that she wasn't gone again. The other night, I was walking her late and talking on the phone with a pal, and I accidentally lost hold of her leash. And the more I tried to catch up to her, the further ahead of me she got. But finally, when I knelt down and called to her, she pranced back to me, and I picked up the leash, and nothing more was said on the topic. She loves me. At last.

Don't misunderstand. She's still a complete pain in the ass whenever people come over. But when it's just the two of us, she's an angel. And she never tires of my company. Even when I wish she would.

I'm working on a couple of new spec scripts. One with my friend Zach. We got together again tonight to sift through our brainstorm notes and get down to brass tacks, brass tacks being what outlines are chiefly made of. I'm tempted to sign up for a workshop again. The deadlines really forced me along last year, when I was writing my first. But I'm wary of creating too many obligations for myself. I've so much to do right now. So many things I want to follow through with. So many expectations to fulfill. And also bills to pay. Many, many bills. A friend gave me a generous and hefty tuition to a course I will eventually take, but -- even that -- not now.

I've been having a series of involved and thoughtful discussions with a captivatingly and dauntingly brainy friend, and it has been responsible for the composition of a number of paragraphs I'm tempted to cut and paste onto these pages. I'm slightly discouraged by how opportunistic that will seem to my friend, but I know he reads this, and I also know he is fully aware of how limited my actual inspiration is. So, perhaps he will understand. Mostly, we've been talking about human nature and the dread of mortality and occasionally movies. So, if I suddenly tip into wordy assessments of the desire to live forever or the plague of the fear of failure or a story about my mother and Mount Fuji, you'll know you're getting the afterbirth of another discourse. Apologies in advance.

If you stay up late enough, you can watch The Kids in the Hall on Comedy Central like me. And if you stay up even later than that, you can find yourself -- like me -- angrily turning off the television because a Tempur-Pedic infomercial came on. I had intended to go to sleep hours ago. I'm disappointed that I failed to.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:05 AM
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1.10.2005

Swift Water

I overheard a news item on the television today while I was combing my hair. A man in Cerritos was swept away by rushing floodwaters and was rescued by a team of emergency personnel. From the hallway, I heard one of the saviors yell, "Hold on, dude!" And I had to sort of laugh at the Southern California-ness of it all. Homes in Ventura just slide right off the hillside and land in a smash heap. I was driving up Fairfax on Friday night, and the east side of the road was just a lake. Cars ploughed on through, creating that fanning wave of water as they went. I remember a flood at the intersection of Sorrento Valley Road and whatever that other Sorrento something road was near my office in San Diego. Some lady decided to try to drive through it and got stranded. Firemen came and rescued her. I wondered if she got a scolding once she was finally back on high ground. When I was a little girl, my mother took me and my sister Sarah to Taiwan for a summer holiday to visit the siblings of hers that were still living there. We were in a department store one night, and Sarah and I -- bored -- were playing. We were standing at the top of the down escalator and pushing on the black rubber handrail and pretending we were sailors lowering rope down onto the deck of a ship. Somehow, I got caught on something and started to be carried down with the handrail, head first, feet flailing. I guess it was the store manager who ran up and fetched me off the thing, headed as I was towards certain doom at the bottom, and when he set me back on my feet, he took extra care to strike me on the head with some amount of force. I went back to my mother, more embarrassed than anything, until I realized that I had managed to cut my foot pretty seriously in the ordeal. The back part of my heel had sort of been sliced off and was just hanging there by skin. Icky, I know. But it didn't start to hurt until I saw it. And then I let loose with banshee-like wailing. It healed up fine, but the scar is plainly visible, as long as I explain the story to you when you look at it. Anyway, I only recall this episode because I wonder if emergency crews who rescue people from their own stupid lack of judgment ever just haul off and give them what for.

The plaster in my apartment shows wet seams in certain places. Water actually dripping down the walls. Not enough to really worry, but enough to notice. And all this rain draws my attention to useless information, like being able to tell that the side of the street that I live on is slightly higher above sea level than the side opposite. And all the umbrellas I own have embarrassing animal prints on them. I didn't notice it until yesterday, but the shoes I wore to Tom's party were covered in mud. Every inch of the four inches of heel was just encrusted with it. It's not like I would have actually worn them into my bed for any reason, but I sort of felt glad that nothing like that had happened. My sheets are white and somewhat extravagant. And mud is just plain no good.

I usually love the rain. It makes me sad that people are dying from it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:51 PM
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1.9.2005

Wet Weather

Last night, I went to my friend Tom's birthday party in the torrential downpour that was Los Feliz. My shoes were so wet by the time I got there that I had to go into the restroom and dry my shoes and feet with paper towels so as not to be squishing all night. But for a rainy night, there was certainly a nice turnout. The Los Angeles comedy scene rallies for aging, apparently. And I'm glad of it. Krissy and I had a grand time, drinking our drinks and being surprised by how late it suddenly was and huddling under our umbrellas and trying to not step in puddles that were so deep they might have swallowed us. We made it home all right, junk food in hand. But I got nearly no sleep on account of wretched sinus pain and a hangover. So I just spent a lot of time laying still in my bed, thinking through the events of the night before and wondering if I made too magnificent a fool of myself. Fortunately, I don't think such things really matter for very long. Even when you're being unforgettable, there's an expiration date on it. Right?

I was so distracted and good-time-having that I nearly lost my camera. I left it on a chair on the smoking patio for who knows how long. And it wasn't till I wanted to take a picture that I noticed it was gone. So I went outside and found it. Still sitting on the chair, surrounded by lots of people and none the worse for wear. I'm fortunate that my absentmindedness hasn't yet perfectly coincided with anyone else's urge to petty larceny. I guess I'm lucky in lots of ways.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:08 PM
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1.7.2005

Up the Lazy, Stupid, Masturbatory, Self-Aggrandizing, Badly-Made River

A friend and I went to see Beyond the Sea last night. We knew we were going to dislike it, but that was maybe the point. We brought flasks of whiskey and drained them and just hated the movie frame for frame, which was great fun. Certainly more fun than ever could have been had by just plain watching it.

I really can't understand why actors like Brenda Blethyn ever get cast to play Americans. She's a wonderful British actor, and I admire her very much. But she cannot pretend to be from New York to save her life. It makes me wonder how it was that people in Europe snuck across borders during World War II by pretending to be of different nationalities. The vast majority of people seem to have no ear for dialect at all. I mean, there's Johnny Depp. And then there's everyone else. As far as I'm concerned.

So, yeah. Kevin Spacey has eclipsed himself with his disgusting self-importance. And it's a shame. Because I used to like both him and Bobby Darin, and now I sort of don't ever want to see or hear from either of them again.

There's more to say on this topic. But I am pressed for time.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:43 PM
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1.6.2005

You see a doll on a music box that's wound by a key.

I usually enjoy watching CNN while I'm on the treadmill at my gym. I crank up the iPod and read the closed captioning and shake my head at the typographical errors. Today, all CNN was talking about was the tsunami. Or I suppose it can rightly be called The Tsunami now. Proper name. No mistaking it. It made me feel bad. Running in place in my expensive gym with my expensive MP3 player and my expensive shoes. And watching that horrific footage of all that brown water sweeping over a bridge, swarmed over with people running like ants. Ants who were suddenly not there anymore. But just as I felt my humanity catch in my throat, I was brought back to my crabby senses. The monitor with CNN on it did not have closed captioning, so I could only read the ticker and the main captions, which were for some reason all alliterative. "Turning the Tide." "Walking the Walk." I was becoming annoyed. Who is writing these? And why do they think a catastrophic international natural disaster is the time to break out the Hallmark card-writing skills? Ooh, and that first one has a bit of a pun in it, too. How cleverly inappropriate. What cheek. I started making up my own in my head. "Harbingers of Hope." "Doctors of Disaster." "Healing the Heartbroken." "Mopping Up the Mess." Well, those writers at CNN get my goat, but they are clearly better at this than I am.

My mom told me that my aunt, who is from Taiwan, once gave this advice: If you see the tide draw out very far -- much further than it normally does -- and you see the fish jumping on the sand, this means something is wrong. Don't go and pick up all the fish. Run. I guess this is some longstanding Taiwanese wisdom about knowing when a tidal wave is approaching. And I guess there is some risk that Chinese people will always choose poorly and opt to get all the free fish.

On another monitor, Jane Pauley's show was featuring a family whose toddler daughter had fallen in the swimming pool when unsupervised. And everyone panicked in the saving effort. The 7-month pregnant mother went into early labor. The grandfather had a heart attack. They must have been monopolizing every EMT vehicle in their county. And I was really upset that this was going to be my running fare. A bunch of images and sentiments to choke me up and make me feel grateful to be alive. But then it turned out that everyone was okay. The fat parents were seated on the stage, and the grandpa came out carrying the two young children, the near-drowned girl being very healthy and normal except for the fact that she doesn't speak yet. Once I knew they were all okay, I felt free to resent them again.

I should also note that the president of Doctors without Borders, a Rowan Somebody-or-Other, was being interviewed on CNN, and I couldn't help but notice how handsome he was. Also, the doctor the CNN cameras were trailing in Indonesia was in admirably good shape and rather handsome. And I wondered if it helps to be cute when you're a doctor. I suppose it does. It seems to help in virtually every other profession. Except maybe begging. I guess I'd be less likely to go under the knife of some Quasimodo-ish fellow. Much as his Harvard diploma might look authentic. And I wonder if that's smart. I think, in general, ugly people have a rougher time of it. Whereas good-looking people get cut a great deal of slack. Slack that may mean your cute doctor might not have really done so well on his medical boards. He just dazzled the proctor with his all-American smile and thick head of hair. Your ugly doctor, on the other hand, well, he probably had to work extra hard. He probably got picked on in class. If there was a John Houseman-esque instructor in his college, he probably got called out all the time and had to be extra prepared, because no one really wanted him to succeed, least of all the former ugly duckling professor who saw too much of himself in the uncomely lad. Anyway, I think some research should be done into this. I'm not planning any major medical procedures, but when I'm due for one, I'd like to know if I should sign up with Doctor Kildare or Doctor Moonface.

I sound glib, but the tragedy in South and Southeast Asia really breaks my heart. I get upset that U.S. news agencies are telling so little of the local story. I talked with Adam last night and agreed that the coverage was slow to make it to air because of how far down the pigment ladder those brown-skinned people are. And that's really shameful. My mother is Chinese and my father is Russian Jewish, and if something happened to me, I'd like for it to have been newsworthy BEFORE the wires picked up that my dad is from Philadelphia and therefore a bona fide American. And if nothing newsworthy ever happens to me, I'd like to be summarily executed and buried at sea. Preferably while I'm still somewhere in the neighborhood of my prime.

Beulah called me early this morning -- early like seven a.m. early -- to ask me questions about debate format. (I was once on my way to becoming CEDA royalty.) I told her what I remembered and then tried to go back to sleep, as I had been up reading until nearly four. But shortly after I walked my dog and got back under the covers, I heard the smack of auto on auto followed by a very long and uninterrupted horn honk. Another accident on La Cienega. There was no chance I would be getting back to sleep. So I snuck out of bed with Audrey uninformed and under the covers, and I got into my gym outfit and headed out. I saw the mess of the accident right up my street. There was an ambulance there. And police officers. And a lot of traffic bottlenecked around the scene. But it wasn't in my path, so I resolved not to be a lookieloo, because people who delay me with their curiosity when passing roadside atrocities make me wish I had Plasticman's arms and the ability to reach into their vehicles and just snap their necks. It was unusually early for me to be out. For some reason, I'm always extra proud of myself when I'm up early. It might be a sign that there's far too little to be proud of in my actual life. But I'm going to see about making today more productive than it might otherwise be. I'm preemptively certain that I will find myself, six or seven hours from now, shaking my head and wishing I hadn't set myself up for failure. But goalsetting is the first step towards not rotting away in your chair.

P.S. I burned nearly a thousand calories on that treadmill. Isn't that just tits?

Yearning. Yearning. While I'm turning around and around.

posted by Mary Forrest at 10:43 AM
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1.4.2005

Consistently Good

Jon Stewart continues to be my hero. The Daily Show tonight was fucking spot on. Everything I thought to myself while watching the coverage of the tsunami this past weekend -- and I was at my parents' house, so we were watching Fox News -- was properly voiced in his top segment. And thank god. I was feeling very oppressed in my lonely assertion that Jeb Bush had no business being sent to observe the situation. But I haven't been entirely alone. My compatriot Krissy made a canny observation about the jawdropping priority malfunction happening in the news. Her blog on Monday read, "I'm sure you heard that there was a giant tidal wave 50 feet high. The headline on Netscape is 'GIANT WAVE KILLS HUNDREDS OF TOURISTS.' But I might like to point out that it killed 23,000 Indian and Asian people, too. That's twenty-three THOUSAND. Way to keep your priorities straight, Netscape."

Of course, at this point, that number has cranked itself up to a stunning 160,000. And still, Fox News paid special attention -- in the form of an entire news segment -- to how "supermodel" Petra Nemcova is faring, with her injuries and the apparent loss of her boyfriend. Greta Van Susteren actually interviewed Petra's agent. Her agent. I'm sure that's an important insight into this harrowing situation. Not what the local people are experiencing. People who in some cases have lost their entire (and, let's face it, huge) families and their homes and their futures and don't have a supermodel's bankroll to start building new ones. But then, South and Southeast Asia are crammed full of people that speak English horribly if at all. So you can see the logic. Petra Nemcova may not speak English well, either. I have no idea. She didn't say anything. But her agent, who I'm sure has gotten a keen portrait of the corridor via telephone, was tres articulate. And that's what matters.

Jon Stewart's opening lines tonight also reminded me of a question that's been forming in my head recently: What's with all the talk in comedy circles about murdering hobos? It's like the new vogue. I'm not against it. It's very amusing. I'm just wondering if suspicious hobo deaths are up statistically these days. Or something.

Anyway, I wish Jon Stewart belonged to me. I'm not talking about marriage or some stupid relationship. I've realized that my wants are far more childish. I just want to own him and sit him on my bookshelf so that he makes that cute little smirky face only for me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:36 PM
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This I Have Observed

Last night, Angie and I went to St. Nick's for a drink and were accosted by two fellows who never ever took the hint that we weren't interested in going back to their hotel suite with them. They stuck by us, breathing their stale beer in our faces for well over an hour, despite my repeated intimations that I would have liked to spend some quality time with my friend, whom I had not seen in some time. One of them wooed us with the appealing story of how he has five children and an eighth grade education and spent ten years in the penitentiary. The other wooed us by being embarrassed by him. In an attempt to avoid being walked out to our cars -- and to what would have been certain death or at the very least a very inconvenient rape -- by them, we walked past a short British fellow who also had a hot tub to invite us to. And all of these guys, and another guy who was supposedly trying to protect us from them, found reasons to touch my bare midriff. One of the first pair of jerks actually just reached down for no reason and caressed my exposed hip when I was talking to the bartender. Like I was some sort of tactile exhibit at the natural history museum. I scolded him, and he apologized by saying, "I like it when a woman is very feminine." Lord, I pitied him.

Tonight, I went with Martín and Francisca to Versailles for dinner, and a guy at an adjacent table handed his business card to our waiter and asked him to give it to me. From the art on the card, I gather that he is a hip hop producer or something. No one you would know. But there was really nothing for me to do but shrug and put the card in my handbag. Is this even done anymore? People sending messages to other people's tables via waiter? He didn't write anything on the card. And when I looked at him, he didn't even do that lame "call me" pantomime gesture. He just sort of looked at me, and it made me uncomfortable.

Both nights, I was wearing stripes of some kind. I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

I was finishing up some work this evening, and 50 First Dates was on the television. I had no desire to see it when it was in the theater, but that's why I pay for movie channels. So I can lackadaisically listen to movies I know I won't like while I'm working. And boy am I glad I didn't pay to see this. All the actors look like they're about to break with every line. And none of the lines they're saying are funny so the breaking is wholly inexcusable. Then there was a Callahan Auto reference. Callahan Auto in Sandusky, Ohio. I suppose that's an homage to Chris Farley. And that's nice, but I don't like having Tommy Boy associated with this crap on wheels. Tommy Boy is a bit of genius. Genius needs to be kept separate from crap. At all costs.

And speaking of bad comedy, every time I see a trailer for Racing Stripes, I ask myself how it is that David Spade hasn't just killed himself by now. He must really be dying to.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:34 PM
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1.3.2005

You can carry me home now.

Last night, I was driving back to Los Angeles at four in the morning, and my iPod stumbled onto a Lisa Germano song I used to love. Christmas is already behind me. And so are all the memories and feelings dredged up by this song. I listened to it more in the spring and summer the year that it was in its heaviest rotation for me, but I knew that I might one day hear it somewhere near the colder holiday and find it to be -- at last -- temporally a propos.

Sometimes I wish my memory wasn't so fine. And recently, perhaps from nights that last far longer than is humanly possible and drinks that seem to have no bottom and maybe just plain getting older and having less room in my brain for a portrait of everything I have ever done, I've noticed that it isn't. I forget all sorts of things now. And I get confused about them. I can't remember if I really wrote that email or if I just thought about it. Or dreamed it. I can't always remember what's true and what's musing. And maybe that's a mercy. But the older stock -- the deeds and details from some time ago -- they persist. They linger. Whole and unfaded. I can step back into that other skin with nearly no effort at all. Moreso with the assistance of a song or a scent or an accident. But it happens less for me these days. Enough that I am almost nostalgic over the function of nostalgia. I almost miss being made to feel sad and lost because everything was so important and impossible and out of my reach. As much as I am nearly faint with shame over how important I ever let anything be. As my life fans out over the span of more years and months and afternoons, it seems that nothing is really very important at all. You can do a perfect dive. You can be perfect for one beautiful moment. Weightless. Graceful. And you can enter the water at just the right angle. No splash at all. And then you're in the water, and the dive is gone and perfect is past tense. But that's not anything to be sorry for. Now you're in the water, and it's lovely there. It's the only way to ever feel as if every part of you is being touched at once. It's my favorite embrace. And it seems now that leaving the water to try for another bit of perfection is a trick. It's all just a way of getting back to where you already were. It's displacing comfort to find something brilliant and trying to bring it back with you. And very few bathing costumes have pockets to keep such things in.

I think we all search for meaning. We race our mortality. Jetting forward on little gusts of accomplishment. Carving our initials in the cosmic stone. It's nothing to look down on. Wanting to mean something to the timeline. Wanting to be important to someone. Wanting to have done something of value. It's what makes us real. Wanting to be alive is what keeps us so. I struggle with it as anyone does who wastes a great deal of time thinking about the notion of a bigger picture. Maybe one day, just before I die, I'll find myself trapped in an elevator with a woman giving birth and I will save the day and be so very important to that woman and her family. And then I'll breathe a sigh of relief and expire right in front of her, scarring her forever with guilt and remorse. The trouble with irony -- however beautiful, however cruel -- is that you have to be around to see it. It's the only thing in all the world that makes me hold out a sliver of hope that there is any sort of afterlife.

Anyway, it was about the song, this. When it began. I still love the song. I am certain that I always will. As certain as I am that I will always love a great many things.

You can carry me home now
You can carry me home
I'm drunk and you're tired
We haven't talked for a while

You can carry a lie
'Till it makes you fall down
You can't help me
Be quiet
I couldn't touch you right now

You couldn't care if I died
But I haven't finished quite yet
Couldn't you give me a moment
Let me catch my breath

Lies, liar, lies, liar, lies, liar

You can carry me home now
You can carry me home
I'm drunk and it's Christmas
We haven't talked for a while
You can carry me home now
Would you just carry me home

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:28 PM
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1.2.2005

What's a little dawn between friends?

I went to see Finding Neverland. And I was really moved and inspired by it. Reminded of love and loss and the desire to be naive as a child but not necessarily innocent. To have done things without having done them. To be wise without being weary. When J.M. Barrie described the word "just" as "a terrible, candle-snuffing word," I scrambled for my little notebook. It meant a great deal to me to be reminded of the promise of belief. I'm sure -- under other circumstances -- I, too, could fly. I'm waiting for an opportunity to test it. And I do believe in fairies. I do. I do.

The crowd in the theater was remarkably lowbrow. Amidst the crinkling of plastic wrappers and shopping bags and the incessant stage whispers of curious children to their inattentive chaperones, I actually heard soda cans being opened. Who goes to the theater with a sack lunch? Honestly. It must have been poor day. That and the sounds of varying stages of oldness made the experience less transcendant than it might have been. But I still felt sweet and sad and appreciative. I still adored both Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet and that darling little boy. And I made distinct plans to purchase the score, because it was ever so lovely.

Afterwards, we went to The Cheesecake Factory for cocktails and dessert for those among us who wanted it. Then John Meeks and I went off on our own to the Red Fox and then Nunu's and eventually to his chilly new dwelling, where we sipped whiskey and talked about a bevy of unimportant things until it was long past the possibility of getting home undetected.

I got off the 5 early and drove along the Cardiff coast on a whim. And I sort of admired the handful of early risers who were standing out in the dew, appreciating the sunrise and the incoming waves. I thought to myself that we are often up at the same time, these people and I, only I am on my way to bed and they are on their way to a day of some kind. These surfers and worshipers and businessmen and mothers of school age children. These busy doers of all that gets done. Bakers. Bankers. Maybe even a few dancers. They're all up and at 'em. And for some reason, I envy them. For some reason, I wish I could be more disciplined about sleeping when others do. I so often find myself sleeping when everyone else gets everything important done. And that begins to feel like hospitalization. I've had no recent surgeries or illnesses, so there's really no call for all this daylight recuperation. I just need to buckle down and be awake earlier. J.M. Barrie also said, "Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older." And it made me wish that I might find a way to never have to go to bed again. If I could just stay awake longer, the rest of my life could be just one very, very long day. And that seems like a glorious idea at the moment.

I did not bother trying to enter the house with any amount of stealth. My father was awake, preparing for church. My mother was watching television in her nightgown. She scolded me for the sake of my health and then left me to find whatever sleep I might while they set off for church town. I don't think she was really angry at me. But I know I'll get no sympathy if this cough of mine persists. I was asking for it, wasn't I?

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:34 AM
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1.1.2005

Ring in the New



I have been writing in this blog for a number of years now. Well over three, if you're counting. And I'm plainly running out of lines to crib from Auld Lang Syne. So when it comes to the contemplation of all the themes that the ending of one year and the beginning of another conjure, I suppose I am left to make it all up from scratch.

Holiday seasons are prone to leaving me in a contemplative state. But this year, the thing I feel most pointedly is a sense of relief that -- come tomorrow -- stores will return to their normal business hours. I do so long for everything to just be normal again. That may sound unusually coarse for me. And I'm not trying to be obtuse. I just notice -- quite honestly -- that I'm not feeling terribly sentimental. And I'm grandly inconvenienced by holiday hours. Soon, it will be a normal working week, and shops won't lock themselves up early and restaurants won't decide to not serve and holiday lights will only persist in the most gauche of settings. Soon, everything will be as it was. And we will be well on our way to warmer weather and a whole new slew of top 40 hits. I don't always want to urge things forward in this way. I'd like for time to pace itself. I'd like for the days to roll on at precisely the rate that days should roll. I don't want it to go by any faster than usual. Nor any slower. I just want it to be a day again. And I want to be able to face it without worrying that something significant did or didn't happen.

I am home now from my New Year's Eve festivities. It was a fun time, and drinking was my strong suit. But the weather was not friendly to my hairdo. I have bookended this post in phone photos of the coiffured Mary before the veil of mist and rain robbed me of my look. It was nice while it lasted.

I do hope that you had a fine evening. I hope that your celebrations were memorable and not held at The Olive Garden. I hope that you enjoyed your party favors and that you looked your best. I hope that you made the most of your night and that you are looking forward to tomorrow. And I hope that 2005 is the start of a great many wonderful things. For you and for me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:24 AM
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12.31.2004

Tempted

I'm wondering whether potato chips would taste good when washed down with bourbon.

I don't generally call people when I've been drinking. Even though that's the time when I would be most likely to say what's really on my mind. The down side of that being that when I've been drinking, what's really on my mind is nearly always hanky panky. Or omelets. I do sometimes send text messages when in this somewhat more vulnerable state. And that's worse, because I can always see exactly what I sent the morning after. And there's often something to be ashamed of in that.

I feel as if I have been on vacation. For too long. I'm almost worried to return home to whatever awaits me there. Even if all it turns out to be is routine.

It's on the verge of being next year. And I don't feel anything at all.

Something killed that cat. Some say it was curiosity. But the more I hear about it, the more I think it was probably feline leukemia.

Did I ever have the face of a child?

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:40 PM
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12.30.2004

Double Down



Vegas is my bitch. I ruled the place. And came home with more "large" bills in my wallet than have ever been in there at any one time. Officially the best visit ever.

Jessica, who now lives in that glittery gulch, was good enough to spend a few days with me, and that was excellent. The Mandalay Bay put me up for free and gave me money for food and beverages, so we just lived it up. Room service. Crazy gratuities. The works. And by the end of my stint there, I had racked up enough player points that they gave me $110 cash just for my troubles. I made most of my winnings on a few slot machines. Roulette was not good to me this time around. But Red Square was. Jessica and I had a dandy of a time drinking fancy Russian vodka and being treated extra nicely by the various bartenders whose names all began with M.

Come to think of it, I don't know what the deal in Vegas is, but Jessica and I got more attention in these past couple of days than I can logically explain. Seriously. Everywhere we went. It was like we were movie stars or something. I found it puzzling. And wonderful. And stupid. All at once. My only regret is that I didn't get a doggy bag for the omelet I didn't finish. It would have been so good right now.

Some lady came up to me in the casino and asked me if I had the time, but she had this very intense look on her face. I told her the time and she asked me where I was from. I told her Los Angeles and she said she was from Hawaii. Then she said she works at the MGM and is a psychic. I groaned inside. She asked if I had ever been to a psychic before, and I was looking at the machine I had just sat down in front of when I began to say, "Yeah, but it's not really for me," and when I turned back to her, she was already walking away from me. Mid-sentence. What a whore, huh? There was also some dude who came up to me and apologized if he had been making me feel uncomfortable, and I had never even seen him before, but apparently, he had been watching me play blackjack, and security came over and made him go away. I guess he was just standing behind me watching me for some time. And he was upset that they told him to move along. I told him it was cool and that he hadn't disturbed me at all. But if he had tried to tell me one additional boring detail of that story, I would totally have had to flag security down and ask them to remove him again. I needed to watch the slot machine and see whether that clown face was going to come up again. Some people have no sense of appropriateness or timing.

It was raining and cold and dark most of the time I was in town. I have never seen skies so strangely black. And then with patches of brilliant blue and sunlight breaking through in places. My room had what would have been a gorgeous view of the pool and beach area. I fondly remembered soaking up the rays at the beach there in August. The wave pool is my favorite thing with water in it. I could have floated out there for days. I was with friends, and we swam with drinks in our hands and sunglasses on. And we tanned ourselves while laying in a shallow part of the lagoon where we were always a few inches deep in cool, clear water. Which was so great, given the intolerable heat. I can't believe it's been more than four months since that visit. And I can't believe how badly I need a haircut.

Well, I didn't win a car. And I was sort of hoping I would. But in all other respects, I had the time of my life. And I am looking forward to my next visit. I have already been invited back to be the guest of the Mandalay Bay sometime in the next two months. I shall gladly oblige them. And I will take them for every penny I have. If you know what I mean.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:04 AM
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12.27.2004

Trepanation of an Holiday



Christmas Eve Eve

I drove down to San Diego late late late after packing a heap of gifts and clothes and travel essentials and my dog into my car. No complications were wrought by my garage door this time. It turns out the last time that happened, it was my neighbor Paul, who lives in the apartment behind me, thinking he was doing me a favor. I am told he is very very sorry. And it's lucky for him that he's so cute. Which he is. I'm just channeling my rage towards my very unattractive upstairs neighbors.

Christmas Eve

I sang "O Holy Night" in my parents' church with a cough drop in my mouth, and it went better than I was afraid it might. Then I had dinner with my family. I drank a single glass of wine with dinner and was laughing and my mom said -- as if I wasn't sitting right there -- "Look at her. She's drunk." And it's not like I was sitting laughing in a room by myself. I was laughing at a story Beulah was telling, and it was funny. But apparently merriment of any kind is a sure sign of intoxication. Frankly, in my house that may be true. Which might explain why I try to drink when I'm there. Later, I went and met friends at The Casbah, where their annual Rolling Stone-a-rama (not its official name) was going off. I had to sneak out after everyone went to sleep, because my mother so strongly objected to my having any semblance of fun. I ran into so many people I know, it was super swell. I felt like a soldier who just got back from The Great War. Only I was wearing my pink and white houndstooth check coat and had all my limbs.

Christmas

We had a big yummy breakfast and then opened presents with the Lakers game on, because Sarah and Justin wanted to watch it. No one actually paid any attention to it. It was just annoyingly on the whole time. Both the doggies got a bunch of crazy cute little outfits. Audrey is wearing a little t-shirt that looks like that Chanel suit that Marge Simpson kept wearing in that one episode from that season from before. It's adorable. I was sipping Knob Creek bourbon in the afternoon, and my mom and my sister began making uninspired jokes about my need to begin attending "meetings." I was beginning to think that the company at those meetings might be preferable to the gallery of judgment I kept finding myself sitting in, but I kept that to myself. Later, I played two fun shows at the comedy theater and then met my friends (the ones who had come to the late show) at Nunu's for a Christmas nightcap. It was too warm, but everyone was so very friendly and cheery, I was really glad to be there. I ran into my friend Anya, who kissed my hand, which I will never ever wash now.

And then

I was invited to go to Disneyland, but my cold had ratcheted itself up a bit, and I didn't think I could enjoy it much, nor could I keep from contaminating my friends' respiratory systems. So I stayed in town. I played the most embarrassingly poor games of billiards ever at Gaslamp Billiards and drank way too much for someone who hadn't eaten a thing all day. That came back to haunt me later in the night. I stayed in bed later than I had planned this morning. And I roused with a smile when I heard the Ms. Pac-Man intro blasting on the television downstairs. Beulah bought my dad one of those joysticks you plug into the t.v. for Christmas, and he's been playing the shit out of it ever since. When we lived in Guam, my dad used to come home from work and destress by sitting down in front of our Atari and playing Ms. Pac-Man. When he played it on Christmas morning, he said, "This reminds me of my melanoma." Which is both hilarious and horrible, but so typically Samuel Forrest. I'm sure this toy was his favorite gift this year. Followed closely by the Mr. T in Your Pocket that Beulah also gave him. Who knew that Urban Outfitters was so the store to shop for my dad. There are photos on my Roundup page of him modeling the Jesus wig and moustache-beard combo that Beulah also gave him. He is a good sport.

And now I'm off to Vegas. Later than I had planned, but there is no time in Vegas. So it doesn't make a difference.

So, that's what's inside. I am dismayed by the news of all the disastrous carnage in South and Southeast Asia. But I don't want that to be what I write about.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:22 PM
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12.25.2004

In case you aren't in my address book:

Subject: Have a happy Christmas, if you care to do so.

Hello, friends and those who have carelessly allowed me to collect their email addresses throughout the years. Here is my warm holiday message, intended to remind you that I exist and that I maintain some amount of affection for you. It is arriving on Christmas, because that is the holiday I celebrate. If you celebrate a different holiday, I'm sorry that I have missed it. But I feel confident that there is no one in my address book who doesn't appreciate that Christmas is the most important holiday of the year, and that includes you Jews.

Even if you don't believe in the little baby Jesus or if you resent Santa's continued obesity, surely you must concur that people give more of a crap about Christmas, by and large, than they do about nearly any other holiday. Twenty-four hour taco stands don't close for Hanukkah. I don't even know when Ramadan is. And I'm pretty sure nothing is closed for Kwanzaa. I would celebrate Diwali every day if I could, but that's because the costumes are very colorful, and I enjoy Indian food. Just not the desserts. Anyway, I'm not saying I am better than you for celebrating Christmas. I'm just saying that it explains the date this email is arriving in your inbox.

That being said, I really just wanted to wish you a gloriously happy holiday and suggest that you make 2005 the best year ever on some level, even if you have to buy a gym membership to do it. Succeed at something. Read a book. Finish that needlepoint sampler you've tucked under the cushion on your rocking chair. Drive by a soup kitchen and admire the people who volunteer their time there. And don't hesitate to keep in touch with me, even if it's just to tell me that you found this message offensive and uninformed.

See ya round the manger!

Mary Forrest, recognizes three paragraphs of your time was too much to ask

posted by Mary Forrest at 9:45 AM
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12.23.2004

My thighs look like they have a secret.

You don't know what that means.

posted by Mary Forrest at 9:37 PM
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Mice, men, and the pronunciation of the word "awry."

I'm disappointed. I'm discouraged. I'm disenchanted. I'm any number of words beginning with the prefix "dis." I thought for a day or two I might actually be looking forward to the holidays, and maybe I will be by tomorrow. But today, I really despise this part of the calendar and all the tradition of which it smacks. Maybe if I take the time to tell the stories I have skipped, I will forget the desire to have better stories to tell.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:44 AM
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12.22.2004

It's a wooden pickle.

I really didn't want to like Bad Santa. Really. I loathe Billy Bob Thornton. And I thought for sure it would be lame. And I secretly resented it because I think it must have been inspired by that unbelievably depressing Ziggy Christmas special that came out in the '80s, and why should anyone profit from ripping off Ziggy? And, in all honesty, I have only sort of been halfheartedly listening to it while working, and it's not actually over yet, so I can't give a responsible review. But I have laughed out loud a number of times, despite my flagrant wish that I wouldn't. There is some dialogue in this movie that makes me want to laugh in some symbolically extravagant way. If someone was here right now, I'd punch them in the face. For effect.

I'm sure there will be some third act redemption bullshit, and I probably shouldn't stick around for that. That's what's wrongest with American cinema. And predictably so. But before I get totally cheesed off by the inevitable happy ending, I'm taking this moment to say that this movie made me laugh when I wasn't expecting to.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:38 AM
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12.19.2004

In a Vacuum



Last week, a jogger passed me on the sidewalk and called back over his shoulder, "Paris?" I said, "Yes." And he smiled and waved and said, "Hi." And I felt good. That's my perfume. Paris. By Yves Saint Laurent. I've been wearing it since I was fifteen years-old. Once, in high school, I strayed from my usual scent and tried Opium, also by Yves Saint Laurent. And my chemistry teacher sniffed the air and said, "Who smells like bug spray?" I kept silent, but I knew not to make that mistake again. I think Opium is a very pretty scent, too, and I like it on other people. But I think I was traumatized by that comment. He also said I should never cut my hair short again because it made my head look like a bowling ball. I think I have transcended that part at least. Because when I look at pictures of me with my long hair now, I screw up my face and think, "Gross. How in the world could I have worn it like that for so long?" I mean, I guess it wasn't super ugly. But I get bored just thinking about it. I'm happy to have shorter hair. And I'm happy to not always have to exist in the superlative.

There are many people in the world who know me by my scent now. Friends from high school used to say they knew I'd been in the hallway before they passed through because that Paris scent lingered. People who may still have a shirt or a pillowcase or a barrette that never managed to rid itself of my fancy residue. People who haven't even known me for so very long but know what to expect in their noses when I show up. I never really tried to make it my signature. But there you have it. The signature I put on my checks and tax forms is a weird scrawl of nearly unintelligible peaks and squiggles, and I don't know how that came about either.

Fish, for instance

I'm in the habit of commenting on the movie trailers more than on the movies. Today, I will try to do both.

When I went to see The Life Aquatic last week, I saw a teaser for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I felt all giddy. I actually inhaled sharply and clapped my hands over my gaping mouth. And I was surprised that I was the only one. In that theater filled with hipsters who were cool enough to be seeing a Wes Anderson film before nearly everyone else, you'd think the words "Don't Panic" would have more of an audible effect. I miss my old Infocom game. I miss my youth. I miss the certainty of immortality that infuses the cellular structure of a fifteen year-old whose bra size is not yet fixed. Maybe we start dying as soon as we figure out what size jeans we will wear. For the rest of our lives.

Then there was a trailer for a new movie with Lawrence Fishburne and Ethan Hawke, playing some version of the roles played by Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in the previous movie by the same filmmaker. From the bits pulled from the movie, my guess is it's just Con-Air in a building. And Gabriel Byrne is too short to be scary. Ethan even gets to wear the same costume as he did in Training Day. Which is good, because he always looked to me like a guy who preferred to wear his clothes until they rotted off his body. Like the Mongols did.

"Oh, good. There's a movie with Will Smith AND Kevin James in it. And there will be a chance for Kevin James to try to dance in some form of hiphoppery, and Will Smith will correct him." That's what I thought to myself when I saw the trailer for Hitch. And then I thought, "Oh, please." And I wished I could have thought something more vitriolic, but that's the best I could muster. I'm sure many lessons in love will be learned in that movie. And I'm sure white people will feel very good about how accessible Will Smith is to them. And that everyone will forget that slavery ever happened. Because we're all friends now.

"Oh, good. John Travolta is back. And as Chili Palmer, no less. What a relief." That's what I thought to myself when the trailer for Be Cool began. But I was being sarcastic. I don't like John Travolta anymore. However, Vince Vaughn looks like he might be amusing in it. He hasn't quite Ben Stillered yet. I can still tolerate the one note he plays. But then there's Cedric the Entertainer. And then Uma Thurman. And then The Rock. And then James Woods. And then Danny DeVito. It's like a roller coaster of disappointment interrupted by the occasional Oscar nominee. Anyway, I probably won't see it until it happens to be on and I'm too lazy to reach for the remote.

SEA WATER ANALYSIS

Without spoiling any of the movie for you, I can give you a cryptic synopsis of what I thought of The Life Aquatic.

There is a certain cynicism with regard to love in Wes Anderson movies. It is hollow and sad, but it appeals to me for some reason. And this film was more of everything the other films were. The relationships were tenser. The emotions were falser. The colors garisher. And there were so many beautiful, bizarre little moments. Little secrets happening in the background. Labels I wanted to write down. I was even touched to see them using one of those retractable multi-color ballpoint pens I remember from my youth. I didn't really love the animated sea creatures all that much, although they did have a certain Harryhausen appeal to them. And I didn't really like Cate Blanchett's elocution choices. But you can forgive Owen Wilson's shoddy southern drawl without much ado, because he's thoroughly likable in so many other respects.

Visions of Italy are lovely. I used to drink Campari sodas all the time. This movie made me want to order them again. I won't. But I remember what it was like to down that sweet, bitter fizziness. And I remember how pretty it looked in a glass.

There were a lot of wonderful lines that I wanted to write down and remember. I scribbled some of them in my notebook. Some of what I scribbled is illegible to me now. "How could you lay that slick faggot?" is not. I was able to make that out perfectly. "Please don't make fun of me. I just want to flirt with you," was also quite easy to read.

There is an admirable amount of branding in the film. And that typical self-awareness that the characters always have in Wes Anderson pictures. That calm straightforwardness. That imperviousness to shame or awkwardness. The poker face. Maybe you assume it masks some fragile vulnerability, but you really don't see it. Even the vulnerability is only ever verbalized. Maybe this is part of what I like about Wes Anderson's style. I never really mastered the "show don't tell" approach. I've always been better at saying it. And in his movies, everything that is experienced is announced. No matter the level of sincerity. The dialogue captions everything that is implied. I can't decide whether that elevates subtext or shamelessly outs it. But I know that it feels different than watching anything with the Wayans Brothers in it. And I'm grateful for that.

Maybe I'm going to write you a letter right now.

I was just thinking about that song with the line about blue skies smiling at me. There's a line in it. Nothing but blue skies from now on. That line bothers me. I guess the idea of the song is that I've met this special someone and now everything will be wonderful and perfect forever. And I'm not opposed to that idea, but I think if the sky was never anything but blue, I would murder someone. I really enjoy a good bit of rain every now and then. And an ominous cloud or two. And you really can't overestimate the beauty of the diffuse light that happens on an overcast day. Take black and white pictures in that haze, and you'll wish the sun would never again show its smug face. Well, I'm using the word "never" where I shouldn't. The whole point is that nothing is so great if it's always the same. Who wants to live in a wax museum? Well, me, but only for like a month. Then I would get bored and want to live in an apple cider factory.

So, I've been in San Diego all week. I've been performing in Christmas pageants and comedy shows. I've been doing my Christmas shopping and catching a cold. I've been settling for TBS and Spike TV. And I've been going out for drinks and good times as often as my less enthusiastic friends will humor me. And I've been feeling a little bright and a little bleary. I've been feeling a little soft and sentimental. I don't know what it is to feel Minnesota, but maybe I've been feeling that, too. I'm going home later tonight. That will either alleviate or exacerbate my sense of displacement. There isn't enough time to do all the things I have to do. Certainly not enough time to do all the things I want to. And there's no surety in any of my plan-making. I'm up in the air. And, much as I like that weightless feeling, I fear the inevitable thud that will happen when the ground comes looking for me.

At the beginning of the year, when I was sad and adrift and had no work and no money, I started sending mail art to people whose addresses I happened to have. I have a great deal of stationery and clippings and half-done projects and the benign desire to put them out into the continuum. I have letters I still mean to write. And plenty that I've written but never sent. All in my customarilyy tiny print. There is a sort of romance attached to the notion that someday, long after my tragic death, some interested party will carefully pore over them and weep for all the unsaid words. I might worry a bit that they would mistake my "h"s for "n"s, but not so much that I would be motivated to type out a companion manual. Where's the romance in that.

I would send more letters. I just wish they didn't have to mean so much. And at the same time, I am saddened that they wouldn't mean more. Don't you get tired of how I turn things over like that? It's not like a conundrum is a kind of cookie or something.

The year is coming to a close. Another year. Another series of ups and downs. More things are different than ever before. And that's a better thing than I would have expected it to be.

Looking at happiness, keeping my flavor fresh. Nobody knows, I guess, how far I'll go.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:04 PM
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Flash of Faith

You just wouldn't believe what the stars look like. If you've spent enough time in Los Angeles, a few late nights in coastal San Diego will just completely redo your thinking on the subject. Night after night, I've seen this great night-colored canvas, spotted with brilliant little pinpricks of faraway light. The Belt of Orion has never been so easy to spot. Nor has it ever been so perfectly positioned as to always be on my mind. I took a Gifted and Talented class in astronomy when I was eight years-old. We went to a planetarium, where the seats reclined and a projector showed us a view of the night sky in an accelerated annum. When the lights came back on, I realized that I was having a nosebleed. All over my favorite little knotted halter top. I am nowhere near as sanguine today. I look up and see constellations I recognize, and then I lower my eyes and get back to the business at hand. And nary a drop of blood is shed. Maybe that's growing up.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:31 AM
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12.17.2004

Degrees of Obnoxious Separation

My sister Sarah was apparently on the telly last night. She flew to New York with her friends Linda and Therisa to root for Kelly in his Donald Trump-a-thon. Therisa is betrothed to Kelly, who apparently won on The Apprentice last night. I'm sure Sarah will have a handy heap of stories to tell about her adventures. It's strange -- I don't really know that many people who ever win anything. I had a friend at the office years ago whose high school pal won some huge Lotto jackpot. That's about as close as I've come. So Kelly, who I met in late 2002 at the Viceroy Hotel, where Sarah and company were celebrating Bobby's birthday, and I was tagging along, is now the latest reality t.v. victor. I'm happy for him. And I'm curious what any of that is like. I'm curious whether I am going to start seeing him on commercials for high-tech shavers or mutual funds. I'm curious whether his life will be forever changed and whether he is making a point of noting all the differences. Demarcation is so rare. If I had the chance to watch it happening in my own life, I know I would remember it to pieces.

I hate reality television. I really do. But I'm glad someone I know is getting something good out of it. It's like squeezing a tumor and having diamonds come out. No one likes a tumor, but one that gives forth jewelry isn't quite so bad as one that just has pus inside. Right?

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:08 PM
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I dare you to make less sense.



I don't think I get a prize for not getting any sleep for days on end. But I can wave it around like some glorious flag, can't I? I have gotten so little sleep in the past three or four days, I could be a Navy SEAL. Except for the skillfully murdering people part. I wouldn't rule in that contest. I really shouldn't be trusted with any sort of fancy weapons. I will invariably accidentally slice off a few of my fingers before my mark gets what's coming to him. I'm one clumsy fucker.

So, yeah. Lots going on. Lots to do. Shows shows shows. Work work work. Favors favors favors. Everything in triplicate, apparently. I've been busy and disatracted and overwhelmed. I dread the ringing of my phone. I can barely bring myself to look at my calendar. I cover my face with my hands and peek at it with one eye through carelessly loosened fingers. This doesn't work, by the way. I employ the same technique at scary movies, and I've found that -- if you actually see the carnage with one slightly squinted eye -- you've still seen it. It's not like you get a reprieve for seeing it blurrily or without the proper depth of field.

So, I'm done with my orchestra obligations. At least there's that. My parents came to the show tonight, and they really seemed to enjoy themselves. My dad (for whom the proclamation "well, it didn't kill me" can be considered a rave) said it was the best one yet. He said it was "excellent." That's a popular word with him these days. But not so popular that he uses it with anything that might be called liberty.

Krissy and I met up at Nunu's after her show and my show had both ended. We talked about party-planning and team stuff. And it all got me thinking about a lot of things that made my foggy drive home more cramped than usual. I didn't want to go home. I drove to that park where I took swingset pictures this past summer and I had every intention of creating some sort of interesting photoplay, but my camera's battery was low, and an end was put to my inspiration. I resent it when creative urges get squelched for circumstanial reasons. I also resent it when I have nowhere to put my excess energy.

I have no business having excess energy, of course. I have had no rest and no relaxation. I haven't yet had time to do any serious Christmas shopping. I even had to take my car back in when it began overheating again in a frightful eruption of embarrassing steam. It's always something. But I've got the energy just the same. I know I should go to bed, but I feel like reading. Or jotting a painting into my litle art notebook. I feel like sitting in a hot bath and making up songs. I feel like cooking something with eggs. I feel like going somewhere.

But I have shows to do tomorrow and the day after. And I don't have any reservations made. And lord knows that's a misery -- impromptu travel during the holiday season. Only a fool would attempt it and not expect to be made miserable. That being said, I think I'm going to go to Las Vegas right after Christmas. I have free hotel nights to spend and an itchy slot machine finger. And the last time I was there was super great.

I'm watching television in the wee hours, and there's a commercial for this Andy Griffith CD. It's songs "and stories" performed by Andy himself. And the commercial plays clips of Andy, for instance, singing "Silent Night," and he sings exactly the way you would expect an old man with no real skill for singing to sound. You know. Like when you're at some church party, and everyone goads that one old guy in the choir to get up and sing his special song, and he relents, and you listen and realize that he sings the vowels wrong because of his dentures. And you wonder if the clapping that everyone does after he finishes is what faith is all about. Anyway, don't buy this CD. But if you happen to get it for Christmas -- even as a joke -- by all means rip it and send a few tracks to me. I like to make fun of people whose careers are all but over. Say, when is Robert Wuhl making a Christmas CD?

I have some ambitions to contend with. I will write more about that in time. You'll see. I'm good for it. If I'm anything, it's good for it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:09 AM
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12.14.2004

Emergency Release Kit

I went to see The Life Aquatic tonight with Chris, knowing that it would make it so I had to drive down to San Diego in the god-forsaken weeest of hours. And knowing that I had only had a paltry four or so hours of sleep the night before. What I didn't know was that I would leave my garage door open while I packed and then go out to load up and find that my garage door had mysteriously been closed. With my remote control inside the car. Inside the garage. The closed garage. I found the manual for the door, but the instructions for using the emergency release kit are hanging from a red pull, dangling from the garage door motor. Inside the garage. The closed garage. I struggled and sputtered and even went looking for instructions online. But there was nothing. Literally -- and perhaps under other circumstances hilariously -- nothing. Eventually, I figured out how the mechanism works. And I was able to get going. But not until well after three a.m. That, combined with the detour on the 405 and the dagblasted fog, made my arrival time now: only moments before five a.m. I have to be in El Cajon at 8:45 to play in two back-to-back performances of this Christmas show I do. Which means I could sleep for an hour and a half or so. Or I could sit here and try and ride it out. Or I could pray that a meteor falls out of the sky and lands on top of me. But I've never really been convinced about the power of prayer.

Oh, and in the melee, I managed to leave behind an important bag containing all of the various shoes I had intended to wear for the next few days. So I only have a pair of tennis shoes with me. And a lot of concert black clothing. Looks like somebody's going to be doing some really unnecessary, giant-waste-of-time-and-money-given-how-many-pairs-of-shoes-she-already-has shoe shopping. And that somebody is me. And in my dizzied state, I'm actually finding myself strategizing how I might just manage to drive back up to Los Angeles in the afternoon and come right back down for the perfomances I have to do tomorrow. That means I've gone balmy. And that I seriously believe that a girl cannot get by without an amazing pair of knee boots.

I would write a great many things about The Life Aquatic and my experiences at the cinema, but I think it would all be discolored by the gravity of my predicament. And gravity is not a complimentary color on anyone.

Well, at least I didn't forget my violin.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:58 AM
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12.13.2004

Night Watch

I am in the habit of taking Audrey for a walk before going to bed. Just so she won't wake me up any earlier than is absolutely necessary. Which means I was walking my dog at five a.m., wondering if anyone on my street was up yet. And then, when I ran into a slew of pesky postscript errors, I ended up continuing to be up, which is the state I am in right now. I've got the local news on. Cartoon Network came up out of Adult Swim and plunged right into edifying children's fare, and boo for that. The plot of the episode of whatever the show was that I passively heard was chock full of information about how farm subsidies work and about the environmental impacts of some of the governmental meddling that takes place in the agricultural industry. It's a superhero type show. The team of empowered youngsters were battling a "Villain" who had sinister agricultural plans. It was hard not to be amused by that. I remember seeing a vintage issue of a Popeye comic at a booth at Comic-Con a couple of years back, and the entire book was about the environment. Popeye was really just a spokesperson for some very green message. And it was all very boring and educational. And I still almost bought it. You know. Just because.

Local news really annoys me, though. Like today, there is frequent coverage of the progress in the investigation of a murder that happened on Friday. Some poor kid in Whittier got shot working in a Subway sandwich shop. He gave the robbers the money, and they shot him anyway. And now he's dead. And every time this somber story was covered, it was followed -- without a beat -- by the cheery-but-bumbling correspondence of the lady reporter covering the announcements of the Golden Globe nominations. I realize it's just one guy and life goes on and all of that, and I further realize that newscasters truly are soulless automatons who can't feel anything that isn't typed in brackets on the teleprompter, but it just seems all too plain that human life is cheap cheap cheap when compared with the money that gets made by the picture show. Seven marines from San Diego died in Iraq today, too. But I'm sure their families would much rather know whether Leonardo di Caprio has a shot at Best Actor. I know I would.

I'm so tired. This past few days has been a vortex of performances and county-to-county commuting and having to ante up in order to make plans. I have the marks of violin playing on my fingertips and my neck. And I have a few more comedy shows under my figurative belt (I really don't wear them that much). And Jessie and I went and signed up for an improv workshop today. And I'm really glad about that. In addition, as we were leaving the theater, we saw a homeless man kneeling Mecca-style, with his forehead down on a star on the Walk of Fame. He was praying to it. And I was especially curious to know which star he might be praying to. As we passed, I nearly burst a blood vessel in my eye with the ridiculous thrill I got from learning he was praying to Lassie. I think that rules all over the place. And I'm not kidding. I don't think that scenario could have been more quintessentially ironic if he had been praying to an anthropomorphized can of fruit.

There's no real reason for my saying so, but I'm really surprised Elizabeth Taylor isn't dead yet.

I took Josh to "A John Waters Christmas" at Royce Hall last week. It was pretty great. At least it was when it stopped being the opening performances of Vaginal Davis (who wasn't as clever as drag queens are expected to be), Phranc (who wasn't bad but only did one number), and Marga Gomez (who wasn't funny for nearly her entire set). John Waters himself is peerless in his ability to inspire me to aspire to the horrible and base. I took a few notes down during the show with the intention of writing it all up. But my weekend and I got into a tiff. Off the top of my head, I can recount that he charged the audience in the following fashion: If you know someone who doesn't want books as gifts, don't fuck them. And if your significant other doesn't have books and doesn't want them and won't get them for you, don't fuck them, either. He followed that with the list of books he would like to receive for Xmas, and the list alone was enormously entertaining. Josh recognized Mink Stole sitting right in front of us. We didn't do anything about it. I wouldn't have recognized her on my own. I'm not as well-versed in the seminal works of John Waters as nearly anyone else in the world. But I sure do think he's clever. And I'm jealous of everyone who gets invited to his annual Xmas party. He told us where he receives his fan mail, and I was tempted to send him dirty pictures, but I've since forgotten the name of the bookstore, and I'm almost sure there's nothing I could photograph that would really pique his interest.

My eyes are burning, and I have an appointment in a few hours, so I'm going to shut my PowerBook and tuck my dog in and see what happens when I hit the sheets. When I resurface, I will likely apologize for the lack of inspiration in everything I have just written. I'm tempted to do it now and get it out of the way. But I'm afraid I won't have anything to say later on if I don't reserve that. Which is truly disheartening.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:55 AM
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12.7.2004

A disappointing answer to life's riddle



I've been reading a lot of psychology, and I hear exclamation points popping in my head. "I agree!" "I disagree!" "I must remember this!" "No way!" How narcissistic I am. That my excitement in a book or a film or a song surges when it seems to be addressing something unique to my existence. I underline the words in books that mean the most to me, and then I laugh and think, "How foolish am I, that I only thrill to the art when it seems as if it was made expressly for my peculiar circumstances." In that statement lies the profound irony that the things I consume -- the public things, meant for many eyes, sung for many ears -- these things only exist because of their...broadness? Because of their relatability to the "peculiar" circumstances of nearly all who confront them. If I was the only person who could gain some message from a book or a film or a painting, certainly that thing would never have been made. Unless it truly had been made expressly for me, and those items in the world are rare. And among my favorites.

Whoops. Look at me typing words and meaning them.

Here's something I noticed. Pain does not seem to exist. At least not for very long. It's there. And then it immediately becomes the memory of the pain. Or even the written account of the memory of the pain. That's how women explain the desire to give birth after experiencing the excruciation of a first birth. They say you forget the pain. And then apparently you actually want it again. Survival mechanism? Or naive glitch that will be rubbed out in future evolutionary phases of us? I wonder.

I bring it up because I noticed that I write about what I feel almost as soon as I feel it, never really giving myself a chance to feel it properly. When I hit my knee on a table edge and hop up and down and contemplate the bruise that will come, I am almost immediately transported to the way I'm going to phrase it when I write it down. And by the time I get the journal out or the page up, I'm too busy trying to remember the way the phrasing sounded best to me to even notice that blood is still rushing to the wound. And, yes, there's room for a metaphor here. I'm just saying that I remember the suffering longer than I ever feel it. And maybe in my memory I do more than dignify the actual hurt. Maybe I embellish it and dress it up and put whipped cream on top. Maybe I make more of it than need be made.

In any case, there are a lot of sensory experiences that I can remember acutely. But when it comes to pain, I find that I can only remember the response I had. The measures I took. The fever pitch of my complaining. The pain itself is a wraith. Easier to let go than you would ever think. Even when there's blood.

This next non sequitur is like a musical montage about getting the gym ready for the prom in a movie about the Louisiana Purchase.

There are a number of pictures of you that I love. I don't know how to look at them. I don't know how to like what I see and not feel foolish doing so. There is the challenge of balancing out the desire to prevail over my weaker self and the desire to sink freely into the indulgence of my weakness. There are things that were given to me that I don't throw away. Instead I put them in a box that I never open. And then I put something heavy on top of it.

I feel as if I get it. Finally. Maybe. You would object, if I scoffed at your simple wants. If I assigned them simple values. You would shake your fist and insist that I don't know what I'm talking about. And maybe you would be right. Maybe you had the answer all along. Maybe I was the foolish one believing in anything. Goodness. Symbiosis. String theory. Maybe it perpetuates because you express the things I am ashamed to admit lurk within me. The same ego -- the same narcissism -- impels me. The same fears limit me. The same desire to keep what little I have close in and safe from the grasping hands of greedy frailty and hungry decay -- it lives in me. I see it. I know it. I can almost laugh about it when I see it now. I can almost breathe a sigh of relief and shake my head and wonder how I ever let any of that get me down.

There that's over with.



Maybe it's because I was once a copywriter, but when I see Wine.com's email entitled, "Perfect gifts for everyone on your list," I'm inclined to shake my head. What about my friends in a 12-step program? What about the Mormons I know? Or the severely judgmental fun-haters? What about the surprising number of people in my circle of friends who just plain don't like the magic that comes from boozing it up? What makes Wine.com think they can just phone this one in? Marketing is an important part of our culture. If you get careless, suddenly marketing becomes just plain lying. And suddenly my professional resume looks specious.

The Lion in Winter was apparently Anthony Hopkins' first film. How do you like that? So many stars these days got their start in Slim Fast commercials or Leprechaun 4 or some embarrassing movie about the dangers of huffing. And there's SIR Anthony Hopkins, getting his start in an Academy Award-winning classic (that bandies innuendo about sodomy with far more regularity than I recall, having watched it as a young girl). I guess it would be hard to try and embarrass him with that. Fortunately, he also made Magic.

It warms my heart when I see my dog sniffing the wildflowers on our walk. I try to put it out of my head that what she's really smelling is the remnant pee of a dog who was tall enough to drizzle it all over those flowers before we passed by. Sometimes you have to look for ways to be inspired. And sometimes you have to keep one eye closed and the other sort of squinted when you do it.


posted by Mary Forrest at 2:42 AM
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12.5.2004

À la Matinée

I finally went to see the Spongebob movie today. I liked it. Laughed out loud a number of times. But what bears the greatest comment is the preview portion of my moviegoing experience.

On the subject of this new Fat Albert movie, I think Bill Cosby should have to pay reparations to me just for having to watch that trailer. Somebody buy that man a colorful sweater. And smother him with it before he further demeans his career.

I decided today that I'm going to start referring to commercials as "short films." For instance, "Son of the Mask looks less entertaining than that short film about the Energizer Bunny." Who is greenlighting movies like this? And why isn't Nathan Lane in it?

This is the second time I've seen a trailer for Racing Stripes. And, while my eyebrows were raised for a number of reasons, the only real response I had after seeing this most recent one was, "Jeff Foxworthy?"

Nicole Kidman's nose didn't even wiggle right in the trailer for Bewitched. It's like the motor controls for her face are limited to slight movement of her mouth from side to side. Can't they CG that shit?

The new Winnie the Pooh movie uses Cooper Black for the word "Heffalump." But you don't care about that. While I love me some Winnie the Pooh, when I heard the announcer say, "An all new motion picture about the differences that bring us together," I tasted throw-up in the back of my mouth. God, if you're going to try and teach me something important, PLEASE keep it under the radar. If there's one thing I have no patience for, it's entertainment that tries to promote tolerance.

And now that you've had a chance to watch these "Wanta Fanta?" spots, which of those Fantanas would you fuck? And does it have anything to do with what flavor she represents? Maybe it's because I was watching it on a movie screen, but the quality of the print made it look as if these commercials were made about fifteen years ago. I can let it slide, however, because the interrogatory exclamation, "Is there no place safe from their bubbly bedlam?" secures enormous currency with me. Well done, Fanta marketers. You've sold me. Even if, in every other respect, it looks as if your product is only sold in South America. And that it hasn't been on the shelves there since 1981.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:11 AM
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Fitting End

Tonight was a bummer. I'm glad it's ending in rain. If my camera wasn't a fragile piece of electronic equipment, I would go out and take pictures of myself getting soaked through and possibly contracting pneumonia. The pictures I took instead will not give evidence to the precipitation. Nor will they be seen by nearly any of you.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:23 AM
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12.2.2004

Target Marketing



Oh, by the way, if you bought me those Spongebob watches at Burger King, it's possible that we could be more than friends.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:17 PM
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The Trashiness of the Dreamscape



I met Tom at Good Luck Bar last night. I was talking on the phone with Jessica as I arrived, and I realized that the last time I had been there was with her, when she came to visit in late July or early August. We have lots of catching up to do. And whenever we speak, it's in those compressed moments when we are each on our way to somewhere else, and there is never enough time to say everything that wants to be said. I miss her. And I wish she would move to Los Angeles.

I awoke this morning with the realization that I had had some pretty fucked up dreams, but I had to laugh at how obvious some of the imagery was. That girl was there, but she always had her back to me. That guy was there, but he kept denying that he lived in the building. He kept telling the door man that it was my apartment, when it clearly wasn't. They were performing their show on the front stoop of the apartment building when I drove up, carrying the television I was going to lend them. And then he got into my car and started trying to make out with me and I felt the need to drink some water. Obvious obvious. Well, to me anyway.

I dream a lot these days. I assume it's because I'm only ever half-asleep, so I wake up in that cloudy, slightly unaware, slightly aware state, and I can feel the tendrils of the dreams still touching me. Like wading through a bed of kelp. It gets confusing. I try and reach over to my journal and jot down little notes about what I was thinking, if only to provide some basis for realizing what is and isn't true. I dreamed a few weeks ago that David Bowie was dead. And it was only the lack of media coverage of it that convinced me that it hadn't actually happened. The strange thing lately is that, even when I'm dreaming something I don't like, I sort of don't want to wake up. I want to see where it goes and what ends up happening. It's like a sort of voyeuristic escapade. Or movies in my head. Except that I'm in them. And there is something involuntary and removed about that. Like I can watch this girl go through some weird day and not have to feel responsible for anything that happens to her or anything she does. And maybe I like the idea of seeing me in the movies. Maybe just a teeny bit.

When I awoke this morning, my dog was sleeping with her head on the pillow next to me and the rest of her little body under the covers. Just like a little person. She's also never really fully asleep. When I look over at her, she's generally just blinking VERY SLOWLY. And if she sees me looking at her, she looks right back at me. I do wonder what she's thinking. But not enough to indulge my mom, who bought some wacko novelty bark collar that supposedly interprets what your dog is saying when they bark and plays some human language statement for your amusement. She's really wanting to try it out. But I keep trying to explain to her that it's just a joke. And that it will say things like, "Feed me." Or, "I like walks." Or, "Cats suck." It's not going to say, "Lili Forrest, the reason I keep barking at you is that your voice is shrill, and it scares me when you speak." And it's not going to say, "Thanks, Mom, for that cool green sweater. It's a little tight in the shoulders, but I really like the way it makes my hips look." I can almost guarantee that it won't say these things. And of course if I'm wrong, I'll eat my coffee table.

I'm adrift today. A bit. Sometimes I'm not entirely sure I ever wake up. But I swear, if I'm actually in a coma somewhere or soaking in the jelly-like innards of a matrix pod, I should be slapped for having chosen such an uneventful fake life to live. But then, I guess we can't all be Adolf Hitler.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:31 PM
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12.1.2004

An Illustration of the Human Nose

Maybe I'm allergic to tidy. Because the closer I get to putting everything in its proper place, the more sneezy and itchy and miserable my entire face is. (Note: Please do not post a comment explaining to me how dust gets kicked up when you're cleaning house and that that is probably the reason for my allergies -- I know that. I'm pretending not to know it, but it's just a character.) But there is light at the end of the tunnel. I told Audrey only moments ago, "We can sleep in our bed again, baby!" Because by the time I'm ready to turn in tonight, I will indeed be able to sleep in my proper bed, no longer displaced by the unbelievable mountainous terrain of clothing heaps that was once on it. And the closet in my guest room is so neat and tidy that I want to throw a party in it. Only one of you can come, though.



Last night, Jessy and I went to Jones, which is much as I remembered it. Drinks not strong. Clientele not unpretentious. We were getting ready to leave when I recognized my friend Judd, and we talked with him for a bit. Mostly about MySpace and Friendster and the online social phenomenon. When we were leaving, two Mediterranean fellows objected and said they had ordered me a pizza and that I looked like I needed it. I laughed (before leaving). The very idea that some swarthy dude wants to fatten me up.

I'm on my way out, and my dog (who won that photo of the week contest on Neighborhoodies.com, by the way -- and thank you very much) hates it. We've been spending lots of quality time together, and I think it only makes her more cranky when I sneak out for a few hours. But she had a bath today, and I will cuddle her to pieces when I return. She's like Wonder bread to me. I'm always tempted to mash her into the tiniest possible ball. And then just eat her up. But that's for later.

I'm high on Claritin D. The last time I took it was when Adam was coming to visit last fall. I thought I was having an anxiety attack. I couldn't figure out why I was feeling so wiggy. And then I was talking about it on the phone with the guy I was seeing at the time and I realized it was the Claritin. The D part of the Claritin. So I never took it again. But today, my allergies were pegging at intolerable, so I decided to give it a whirl again. And I'm not having an anxiety attack, but I do sort of feel like I'm not quite here. Medicine is weird.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:42 PM
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11.29.2004

Dickensian Disappointment

I don't know why, but I watched a bit of NBC's A Christmas Carol tonight. The one with Kelsey Grammer and Jason Alexander and a bunch of Alan Menken songs in it. I was instant messaging with my friend Kevin (who asked to be mentioned), and I said, "God, musical theater is so gay. I love being in musicals. But it's so super duper gay. I just switched over to the NBC production of A Christmas Carol with Kelsey Grammer and Jason Alexander singing their gay faces off." And apparently that made him laugh out loud. Which is very satisfying to me.

Anyway, the show itself was irritatingly bad. At least to me. Barfworthy. Unwatchable in places. Just stringing together everyone in show business who has ever made jazz hands and dressing them up in 19th-century clothes and having them don crap British dialects and sing awful, awful songs. Which brings me to an interesting realization I just had: Alan Menken writes awful, awful songs. Maybe they don't seem awful when they are being sung by drawings, but when you see real people singing them, you realize that they are garbage. And maybe it's also that the songs in this production sound like iffy repurposings of the songs from Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid only with less calypso and less Angela Lansbury.

Plus, I despise Jennifer Love Hewitt. And I despise her most of all when she's singing. So you can imagine how well I liked her in this abominable show. And, yes, that deserves its own paragraph.

I don't think the people in the show were totally untalented or even such bad singers, but the show itself just doesn't deserve to have been made, and I'm disappointed in how often I leave my t.v. feeling that way. Also, I have seen (and own on laserdisc) nearly every version of A Christmas Carol that has ever been made, including several musical theater versions that I have even performed in (one that I will be playing violin for in a matter of weeks). And the story is dear to me. And I hate to see it crapped on. I went to see Scrooged at the cineplex. I was scared by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in the version with George C. Scott in it. Don't you see what an authority I am? So trust me when I tell you that you are fortunate to have not watched this program, because I am fairly certain that you didn't. Unless you were tied up in a chair with the t.v. on and no ability to change the channel with your mind.

On another note, the "Bannon Custody Case" episode of Harvey Birdman was on tonight. It's categorically hilarious. I watched it at Comic-Con a few years ago at the Cartoon Network panel (before there was an Adult Swim panel, I think, or perhaps at the first Adult Swim panel that was called an Adult Swim panel), and the audience got to vote on which of these new shows they would most like to see. It's where I first saw Aqua Teen Hunger Force, too. And Sealab. And as I recall, no one really liked Aqua Teen. And the creators looked visibly annoyed by that. But look at where they are today. See? It all works out.

Lastly, this ad for Jessica Simpson's Christmas album makes me want to puke. Right into Jessica Simpson's giant singing mouth. That ought to shut her up. People who tell me she is pretty have not yet realized that she is a female version of Richard Marx. And people who tell me she's talented are looking to have their faces punched.

Good night.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:41 AM
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Notepad Cleansing

Still in the spirit of catching up, I've reviewed some of the things I wrote down with the intention of expounding. In some cases, I've even forgotten what they mean. Or whether I already wrote about them. And I wonder if anyone would be interested to read the things I never said about Coachella. Or Comic-Con. Or any number of other things. I get easily overwhelmed these days. I can only write about something that happened if only one thing happened. I can only write about what I think if I'm only thinking one thing. In all other cases, I start shuffling things around and wanting to revisit and edit and rearrange. And then I never write anything at all. And time passes. And it becomes all the more apparent that the world is not being changed, so why bother? But of course I continue to bother. With self-important hopes that writing is good and that telling is worthwhile and that anyone is reading with more than one eye open and that anyone is listening with any amount of eagerness. Not to disparage people who are forced to wear an eye patch. Reading with one eye is nothing to be ashamed of. But it's really bad for you if you intend to use both eyes simultaneously at some point in the future. Also bad for you? Visine. I know it's weird. It seems like it would be good for you because it's sold in drugstores in the aisle where helpful products are lined up with their labels all facing out, but it's actually really bad. You can get callouses on your eyeballs. Isn't that nuts? I use Visine constantly. I also slouch and eat a lot of red meat and fail to empty the lint trap in the dryer on every usage. So you can see I'm no role model. Don't follow me off a cliff, kids. I may not actually know where I'm going.

I've been trying to sort through the enormous inventory of clothing I have amassed. I have nowhere near enough storage room for all of it. And I'm finally displacing my nostalgic attachment to many, many items I will never, never wear. I can still pick up some skirt or sweater and go, "Oh. I remember when I wore this that one time." And I can imagine a time in the future when I may regret having discarded that skirt or sweater because of a neurotic desire to look at it again and go, "Oh. I remember when I wore this that one time." But I can also imagine a time in the future when I might like to move. Or when I might like to offer someone a place to hang a coat. Or when I might want to actually be able to step into my walk-in closet. So, I toil. And there is a sidebar benefit to culling through the piles and bags and boxes and heaps. I may never have to buy a pair of socks again. See, it is often my practice -- when I can't find a matching pair or a pair that is matchingly clean-looking or a pair that is soft and brand new -- to just go buy a whole bunch of new ones. And even though some of my older socks -- though hardly unwearable by homeless standards -- will never ever see the inside of my sneakers again, I have really never bothered to throw any of them away. Sometimes this comes in handy. One of my ex-boyfriends was trying to cover his wrists when he was dressed in a Scooby Doo costume that wasn't long enough for him, and I found a pair of Calvin Klein socks in a suitable yellow/brown hue, and we cut the feet off and made makeshift sleeve extensions out of them. If I only had a few pairs of socks, I could certainly never have spared that pair. So, you see, there is reinforcing circumstance to promote my packrat behavior. But at the risk of failing to complete a future costume, I'm getting rid of a lot of socks. And good riddance. At the same time, I have found an unbelievable number of perfectly good and often new pairs that I can now stuff into a drawer and not wear for years to come. It's like sock Christmas. Maybe I'll wrap some of them for fun. I'm also getting rid of a lot of things that still have pricetags on them. This is embarrassing. And part of why I will probably never own a house that I paid for with my own money. I am careless when it comes to shopping. And I could probably wear something different -- something entirely different -- every day for a year. Maybe two. Of course, some days would be weird, because I'd have to be wearing a ball gown or a Star Trek uniform, but you wouldn't be able to say you'd ever seen it before. If you happen to see me wearing anything you've ever seen me wear before, you should probably be disappointed. In practice, I have numerous pieces of clothing I count among my favorites, and they get much more frequent airplay than the others. But I don't see any of you frequently enough that I think you would notice, and I'm down-to-earth enough to know that you don't care.

I'm reorganizing my office, too. It's always on the verge of being declared an avalanche zone. I'm tired of that. I'm tired of having to move 200 CDs out of the way before I can get to the copier. I'm tired of not being able to open my filing cabinet drawers, even if they are only filled with old bags of Easter candy and back issues of the International Male catalog. I'm tired of wondering what the wheel of my chair is always caught on. I'm tired of hearing my friend Julie talk about feng shui and feeling embarrassed by it. I'm tired of talking about all the art I've been meaning to frame and the wall shelves I've been meaning to install. This way, when I decide that I'm also tired of not having finished scanning that stack of Lomos on my desk, I can actually raise the lid of the scanner without displacing a stack of CD-Rs containing my old email files from the year 2000 and software installers that are of no discernible value in this age and operating system. When I think of all the things that bar me from being a dynamo of productivity, I want to declare war on them. And when I am declaring war in my imagination, I'm dressed like a Mongol but cleaner.

I drove home from San Diego this afternoon after having a nice leftover Thanksgiving lunch with my mom. My dad was already napping, the dear. It was cold and blue-skied this afternoon. And it felt good to want pockets for my hands. Less good to not actually be wearing pockets. But I survived. It was a long and action-packed weekend, and I felt the relief of getting home. I felt it in my very bones.

I got a little sentimental a few times. And it didn't kill me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:16 AM
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11.27.2004

coelacanth



I'm wearing fishnet stockings with tube socks. My mom eyed my legwear and said, "Fishnets? Are they back in again?" I scoffed. As if fishnets have ever not been in. If there's one thing that can be said about fashion, it likes women to wear things that may someday help them catch a meal. Just the way Jesus did it. This is a perennial truth.

I buy a lot of clothes and stuff at Anthropologie. If you're familiar with that store, then you know that this means I really don't like money at all and am frequently looking for preposterous ways to throw it away.

Beulah and I agree that that fake Tiny House show that's in the Geico commercial would actually be a really great show to watch. I'm no fan of reality television. No, sirree. But I might enjoy watching that couple live a year in that house. For kicks.

So, maybe it's obvious that I'm stalling, but I'm afraid of getting started on what may turn out to either be a heap of crap or a very longwinded escapade, neither with a shred of brilliance. But I suppose there's only one way to find out. Fasten your safety belt. It's not going to be a bumpy ride or anything, but I like saying things that imply I can control you.

Last weekend, I came down to San Diego to get my car fixed and to sing in church. My mom has been acting as my manager since she and my dad began attending a new church in their new neighborhood. She has been calling periodically and trying to get me to schedule a date and sing. It has taken months. I even picked a date in October, but they had scheduled someone else. I was beginning to feel like one of the members of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Just not Crosby. One of the other guys. That no one knows. I felt like Stills and/or Nash trying to book a gig at a hole in the wall as a favor to a friend and getting bumped because Dan Fogelberg came to town. When my mom finally booked me, she called to say the pastor was giving me ten minutes to do whatever I wanted. I could sing two songs. Maybe lead the congregation in something, my mom suggested. I don't do this, just so you know. I'm not some traveling troubadour. What was she expecting? That I would tote in my guitar and teach them all that "Doe a Deer" song? Not happening. I don't even have a guitar.

On Friday, my car got a new radiator, after which Sarah and I went down to the Gaslamp to watch the new Bridget Jones movie, which was largely a disappointment to me. If it wasn't for Colin Firth (and Hugh Grant to a lesser degree), I can't imagine it would have been watchable. If it's possible for Renee Zellweger to look any uglier, it might have to involve surgery and a series of blows to the face with a two by four. The kind with a few rusty nails in the end of it. It was actually painful to watch her. And not at all believable that there would be men battling for her affection. Unless those men like rosacea and girls who walk like their joints have been splinted. I once knew a girl in grade school who always walked like that. Kind of on her tippy toes all the time and with knees that looked like they didn't bend. And I can assure you, no one liked her. I think she also had a weird tuft of blonde hair under her chin, but that's neither here nor there.

After the movie, we strolled a few blocks, reaffirming for me that I despise the scene down there. The Gaslamp on a Friday night is such a drab display of ick. It's not as flip-flopped and t-shirted as Pacific Beach. But it's the same gross clientele with the same natty pick-up lines and the same bullshit posturing. I detest it.



I wonder if the psychic whose sign this is had any foreknowledge of how much the misspelling of the word "psychic" might depress business.

We almost went to Airport, but I insist that there is nothing particularly cool about going to a club where everyone inside is a friend of the door staff. Not only do I revile the currency of bouncer worship, but I can't imagine that anyone who is willing to be friendly with these power-mad, near-minimum wage-earners and their orthopedic shoes and flashlights and earpieces and bad haircuts is someone I want to be standing next to when I'm pouring booze down my throat. I maintain a modicum of standards where I can.

We went instead to Nunu's, my reliable home base. There was a line out front, so we went to the back and were let in by the door guy who regarded us as regulars. We were greeted with aplomb and almost immediately invited by my bartender friend Jeff to a party after closing. Two French guys -- both chefs -- were annoyingly all over us. I said something about us being gourmands, and one of them started running his hands down my midsection from behind and saying, "I don't think so." I assume that was him saying that I'm not fat enough to be a food-lover, so maybe that was compliment enough for me to tolerate the intrusion. My standards here might be questionable.

Sarah and I did go to the party. It was someone's birthday. I don't remember whose. We met a number of nice people, drank a number of stiff drinks, entered into a few minor contests, and left in time for me to just barely make it to bed before sunrise.

The following night, I had plans to go out with Krissy and Dorian and Pam. Our friend Becky works at Club Rio, so we stopped by there early enough to be embarrassed by the male strippers doing their thing. We played a little shoddy pool and then took Becky with us to Nunu's, where we didn't stay long enough for my taste. Then we went back to Dorian and Krissy's place and ate late-night Mexican and played strip poker until it was late enough for me to be concerned about my singing obligation. Not to mention the fact that I was playing strip poker only hours before I was going to be sitting in church having to think about the fact that I was playing strip poker only a few hours ago. Which is in fact what I was thinking about, when I was sitting in church, waiting for it to be time for me to sing.

I sang.

Apparently there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Even my sister Sarah, who was good enough to drive up to watch me, said she was welling up a wee bit. I'm pleased that people liked my singing, but this sort of thing always makes me feel guilty and hypocritical. Because once I finished singing, I sat in the pew and wrote jokes for the rest of the service. And that's the cruel truth. And one of them was pretty good. And one of them was about the pastor.

Later that day, I found a John Deere tractor just sitting there, waiting to have its photo taken with me. And you know how I am about things like that.



Monday night, Martín and I went to the Paul F. Tompkins Show, the show's namesake having returned from England at last. We had a fine time. Laughed it up good. Ordered the halibut, both of us, which is the only new thing on the Largo menu these days. But they served carrots instead of peas, and that's a fair cop. I hate cooked carrots. And I adore peas. And it's hard enough working up the juice to look forward to something you've ordered at Largo, only to have your hopes dashed by substandard vegetable replacements. Cooked carrots. Plegh. It's almost a fruit. Not at all pleasing. The show, by contrast, was very pleasing, ending in a rendition of How Soon Is Now? with the Watkins Family adding violins where once there were synthesizers. I've been planning to cover Every Day Is Like Sunday with Josh for some time now. And I was going to replace synths with violin, too. But now I just feel like a copycat.

We had a few drinks at The Dime after the show with our friend Tom and his friend Marcia (whose name might be spelled "Marsha" -- I've not yet seen it written). And then I went home, feeling a smidge badly for keeping Martín out so late. But not really. Corrupting my friends is a favorite pastime of mine.

Tuesday night, I had dinner at A.O.C. with my mathematician friend Paul. I will gladly go again. And I will order the brussels sprouts. Because they were magnificent. I adore brussels sprouts. And I don't care how much of your nose you wish to wrinkle when I say it. They are grand. And they make me feel like a giant. Eating entire heads of cabbage like popcorn. It's fun. After I eat them, I go and make my magic harp sing for me. She's a bitch and will betray me at the drop of a hat, but the songs are pretty for now. And I believe in living in the moment.

That's not actually true. I don't believe in living in the moment at all. For the record. I've noticed that I tend to not do it almost as a rule. But that's a matter for another entry. One with many, many commas in it. And time set aside for a potty break. Perhaps in the form of a musical interlude.

Once I got home, I picked up Audrey and took her with me to Steve and Chris's place to help them with some Mac issues. If that was at all ambiguous, I meant that Audrey came with me so that I could provide the computer help. Audrey doesn't exactly perform Mac troubleshooting. She's remarkable, but she's not magical. And, for the record, that's me showing up in Studio City after midnight to provide IT assistance. I can't imagine anything less sexy. And then Audrey peed on the carpet.

Wednesday, after sending out my annual Thanksgiving email message, I drove down to San Diego through a number of hours of what might have been horrific traffic, but I had my iPod playing and my dog in my lap, and I was happy as a clam. And come to that, I love the phrase "happy as a clam." I don't know why. Maybe it's the notion that bivalves know something the rest of us don't. So, yeah. I was fine with the delays, but a little tired when I got to town. I went to Jivewire at the Casbah with Yen and Beulah and Jantzen, and we drank a lot and danced a little. I was finally able to spend a few moments of face time with the lovely Kate and her handsome companions. I can never stop saying how pretty she is. She's just the prettiest pretty pretty thing there is. And she's smart and stylish and fun. I totally want to kidnap her and take her with me everywhere, just so I can show her to people and say, "Look at my pretty friend. Isn't she just super pretty?"

Then it was Thanksgiving. Sarah invited her friends Linda and Jim over to spend the holiday with our family. I brought down several bottles of a merlot I really like, and I kept offering it to everyone but found no takers. I was beginning to wonder if everyone had become recent Jehovah's Witnesses and if I was making a jerk of myself trying to force my booze on them. I still don't know what the story was there. But I drank nearly the whole bottle myself. Dad helped a bit. He's a sport. And Justin may have had a splash, too. But mostly it was me. And nary a buzz to show for it.

Dinner was extravagant, as usual. My mother is some kind of kitchen sorceress. You can't believe how good everything she makes is. But it is. And why fight it. Everyone ate to busting. Then Beulah told a series of hilarious stories. Then we all watched (and intermittently dozed in front of) Elf. That was enough nap for me. After the movie, I went and picked up Yen and brought her to Nunu's for what is becoming a traditional holiday nightcap. We ran into friends we knew, met people we didn't know, and drank many drinks which we did not have to pay for. When I was leaving the house, my mother was disapproving. "You go out every night. It's not normal." I didn't argue. First of all, I don't go out every night. And secondly, I'm not especially interested in being normal. Particularly if it means going to bed at a reasonable hour. That's just not for me.

Tonight, I went out and met one of my former bandmates, again at Nunu's, somehow the default locale for all my liquored-up chit chat. We had not seen or spoken to each other in well over a year. And it was nice to not be bothered by any of that nonsense anymore. A few hours into it, Krissy came and joined us, and we stayed for a bit, until it was time to get Krissy something in a food way. My outfit, which was not fancy or anything, provoked approving comment from a bartender or two. I don't know why that makes a difference, but it absolutely does. Without fail.

When I was driving home a short while ago, the fog sat above the Del Mar valley like a translucent ribbon, sheer enough to give away the locations of the McDonald's and the supermarket. I had my iPod on shuffle, and I kept hearing songs I've never heard and wondering if I would remember them if I ever heard them again. Nostalgia is great. Repetition is powerful. But there is something to be said for feeling something for the very first time ever and having nothing else at all to connect it to. There is something nice about getting a chance to write a proper history. One that isn't bogged down with footnotes and a backstory that takes up more space on the page than the story itself. This was my Thanksgiving. It wasn't particularly eventful or remarkable. It wasn't somehow an offshoot of a previous experience. It wasn't a reminder of last year's Thanksgiving. Or a retelling of the one the year before that. Or an echo of the one the year before that. It was just a day I spent with friends and family. And it probably won't have nearly as much staying power as some of the previous ones have had. Next year won't likely transport me back to this one in a way that will catch in my throat. I'll remember it, sure. I remember nearly everything. But I won't be crippled by the memory. Nor will I likely be able to get high on the fumes of it for years to come. And perhaps that's as it should be.

So, there you have it. I don't generally prefer to do my catching up in bulk like this. Surely I've missed something. Surely I've skipped over an opportunity to tie things up with a clever quote. Surely I could have held your attention better by saying these things in smaller spurts. I seem to have even forgotten to bother telling you why this entry is called coelacanth. But that's the way it goes. You can't eat a sugar cookie without losing a few crumbs. Even if you have a gigantic mouth. Just try it.

That's it for me. For now.

Mary Forrest, an incurable romantic whose immune system is kicking in

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:22 AM
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11.25.2004

That Familiar Bird Stink

Ho ho ho! It's Thanksgiving! You Only Live Twice is playing on Spike TV. The house smells of turkey and pies and cooked things. My father is wearing a nature-colored sweater. So is my dog.

I realize I have some catching up to do. Reports I owe. Stories I've not yet told. And they just keep mounting, so I intend to get to it. I've been taking notes. Never fear. And the pictures are forthcoming, too. If you care about that.

Before I go immerse myself in the familial orgy of pretending we are as tightly-knit as a circus troupe, I just wanted to tear the package open a little at the corner. You know. Begin the practice of peeking. Soon, the entire box will be denuded and you will see that it is just a box. No matter the shape of what's inside, a box makes for easier wrapping and stacking.

Here's to decisive creases! I'll be chattering in your face soon enough.

posted by Mary Forrest at 10:59 AM
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11.22.2004

Audrey-D2 Gets Her Fifteen Minutes

My dog's picture is in the running for Neighborhoodie of the Week. Vote for her, or those two girls with their underwear showing will receive a much undeserved boost to their collective self-esteem. Audrey's picture is the one in the middle. Easy to find. It's the only one of a dog.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:34 PM
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11.20.2004

Low-Flying Craft

This time, I'm just getting in. And I feel just grand about it. I like closing the place. I like after-parties. I like making friends. I like making drinks from what's there. Even better, I like having the makeshift drink made for me. And I like getting home when the sun is coming up. If only for nostalgic reasons.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:38 AM
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11.19.2004

Worm-getting

In terms of journal entries -- the rote kind -- I went to see Brendon Small's showcase on Wednesday and enjoyed the bejeezus out of that. And last night, I went to Largo to see more comedy before packing up my stuff and trundling Audrey and myself down to San Diego. I arrived a little after 3 A.M. and had to get up to bring my car in when the place opened, so I've had about forty-five minutes of sleep. In case you were wondering. This is one of the few times when an early morning entry of mine isn't the result of still being up. It's a new day. And I predict it will be a bleary-eyed one.

I hadn't intended to come down here so early. I have performance obligations over the weekend, but I was going to cut it much closer. My car had other ideas, though. And rather than risk having it blow up on me while I'm idling on Olympic Boulevard, I decided to be reactive in a way that was slightly closer to being proactive. Good for me. That proves that I am both a grown-up and that I have a certain amount of available credit on my credit card.

I was hoping that by starting to write, I would maybe stumble onto a thread that would be worth writing about, but I'm coming up bone dry here. I'm tempted to go digging through my IM logs and crib from recent conversations. And that would be like panning for gold in my bathtub. (Note to any eager prospectors: There is no gold in my bathtub. By making this analogy, I am trying to convey that there isn't much of value in my IM logs. I am not trying to get you to come over to my house with your sluice.)

I was shopping in Westwood the other day, and I bought a number of things that caused the store security alert to sound. After trying to correct the problem three times, the sales clerk and the manager had to take all of my purchases back to the register bay and de-thieverize them. When the manager returned contritely, he asked me if these were for a studio. I guess I was buying enough of whatever I bought that it looked abnormal, and he was wondering if I was shopping for a photo shoot, and maybe that was cool to him, so he wanted to know what awesome person I might be. I said no and ended up sort of babbling through a bunch of nonsense about gifts and not being able to get certain things in San Diego, and I could see that he had long since lost interest. I'm going to try and make it my policy, when asked a simple question to which the answer is no, to just say, "No," and smile. I'm sure this will assist in my coming off as mysterious and perhaps even elite -- instead of inferior and apologetic. I realized it's not a very good story. I'm just making a note of this so that I will remember not to be such a moron all the time.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:06 AM
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11.16.2004

Rock! Rock! Rock!

Buy the new Mojo. The December issue. The one with Velvet Revolver on the cover. And not just because you have a thing for Scott Weiland. That would be you pretending to be me. Buy it because the complimentary CD on this month's issue is a super duper old school rock and roll collection that will make you want to dance dance dance. Honest and truly. I'm listening to Little Richard right now, and it makes me want to shake my can. And find some greaser to go get a tattoo with.

You could also just watch American Graffiti or something. But where's the fun in that? Most of those guys are bald now. It's depressing.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:46 PM
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so many scorpios

Did everyone's parents really get it on on Valentine's Day? Is everyone really that cliche? (If you were born in November, but prematurely, please accept my apologies for implying that your parents live in a greeting card world.) I only ask because I have noticed a palpable glut of scorpios in my social circle. More October and November birthdays than any other month. There's a scary concentration of August birthdays in my life, too, but the Novembers have pulled ahead like Africa in a foot race. And despite their reputation as the most hated sign in the zodiac, some of my very closest friends are among their ranks. So, I guess it's all right. I don't mind that everyone was born in November. I was just curious about it. My science mind gets bored sometimes. It tries to find things to figure out. Last week, that led to trying to remember the combination to my neon green padlock. Today, it's this.

Well, happy birthday, scorpio. You don't look a day older than you want to.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:59 PM
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Nobody knows the wreck of the soul the way you do.

I'm all for quiet days and for nights in. Especially in this latest speck of life-time. It's been a murderous few days of work stress and time pressures and still making time to be fond and out there and hopefully stringing together the sentences in a less than ordinary way. But it feels as if it has been more than a few days. I've been in the aging chamber. For now, the pressures have eased. My bid has been submitted, and I'm in a state of benignly optimistic relief. Especially because my client did not yell at me for getting it in so late.

I worked last night until it was today. Some time well after midnight, I could be found driving to Koreatown to deliver a DVD of images to Josh. I had Audrey on my lap, and every 7-11 I passed looked like Mecca to me. When I came home, I took Audrey for our usual spin around the block, and there was a scary, loud fellow yelling obscenities, mad at the world, as he mopped off his windshield with a t-shirt and made ready to drive away. He was excitable enough that I got my keys out and had my cell phone at the ready. Maybe my mind was dulled by overuse, but I began having morbid fantasies of my assault and ensuing death. It never came to pass, but it was good in terms of waking me up and getting my blood going so I could go back home and work the rest of the night. Which I did.

Today, I worked all day. From the moment I tumbled out of bed. I had a catalog deadline to meet and a bid to submit, and that amounts to a lot of PDF-making. I make so many of them these days. And yet I can recall a time when there was no such thing. Just as I can recall a time when there had never yet been a psychotic postal worker showing up to blow away his supervisor at the depot, so the phrase "going postal" made no sense at all. And as if I wasn't already feeling a bit on the old side, I went to Amazon.com with the intention of shopping for an Xbox so I can play Halo 2 with Steve and Chris, and my page was headed by a promo for the Phillips Heart Start Home Defibrillator. I'm totally putting that on my wish list. Not the Xbox. I'll buy that myself, because you can't be counted on to get me what I want on my schedule. But the person who buys me my own defibrillator will go down in history as a total freak. And one with $1500 to spare apparently. Good for you, future freak. You must have managed your spending properly. My mom would really like you and tell me to watch you carefully so I might learn something.

They died in the drink.

The other night, the ants were out again. I left a glass of water on my bedside table, and they had found their way into it. And drowned there. I did not pity them. I went and got my can of Raid and made sure to take care of as many of them as I could see. When the climate changes or when the exterminator visits or in certain other non-scientific scenarios, they come into my bedroom, and I wake up feeling one or two crawling on my arm or on my face, and it gives me the willies. My grandmother died of a stroke when I was just a child, and when the tale was retold to me, I remember my mom saying that, before she died, her mother was complaining that she felt as if there were ants crawling on her forehead. That has stuck with me.

And maybe because of the proximity of my bed to the windows in my bedroom, I always seem to find out I have ants by finding them on me, and I hate that. I have been thinking of redecorating. For some time now. Maybe I will face my bed the other way. The Chinese believe it's bad luck to have the foot of your bed facing the door anyway. Apparently, Death can come in at night and snatch you away by your feet. Apparently, Death isn't one for snatching people away by the head, arms, or shoulders.

Ironically, as much as I knit my hands together and laugh with glee when I exterminate entire races of ants, please, HBO, please please PLEASE stop showing documentaries and investigative reports about dogs being treated cruelly or disposed of or abandoned. I simply cannot bear it. My little sister and I cried our eyes out when we watched Shelter Dogs. And now, there are promos for an episode of Real Sports about what happens to greyhounds after they are done with their racing careers. And I know better than to watch it, if I want to keep my mascara intact. Horrible horrible. My little Audrey, curled up on my lap right now, came from a rescue, and -- although she has her share of behavioral problems -- I can't bear to think of what would have happened to her if she hadn't found a home. With me or elsewhere. She's my sweet little angel. You couldn't help but love her. Even though she will try to bite your face off when she first meets you. And every time she sees you after that. No matter how many treats you give her. Her tiny little skull is so smooth and round, you just want to bite it in two.

How could you believe me when I said I love you when you know I've been a liar all my life?

Jane Powell sings so pretty. I'm watching her in Holiday in Mexico, and I'm remembering that great number she did with Fred Astaire in Royal Family. And thinking of Fred Astaire makes me think of The Barkleys of Broadway and that splendid dress Ginger Rogers wears -- the one I once said I would like my wedding dress to emulate. And watching That's Entertainment! on television with my dad and having him play docent to the golden age of cinema. Movies were such an offshoot of Vaudeville back then. Jose Iturbi got to be in all those movies just because he was a piano virtuoso. Good old Vaudeville. I miss movies with big musical numbers in the middle of them. I miss men in funny pants. I miss slapstick.

But I also wish I could live in deep space. On a space station. Where the light was always sort of blue and the buildings always sounded as if they were breathing. I'm always in the wrong time. Now. Then. Yet to come. I'm the girl on the train platform and you're the boy on the opposite side of the tracks. And we run down the stairs to meet each other and end up on opposite platforms again, laughing like fools. But -- unlike in Cousins and whatever other list of movies that happens in -- we never end up on the same side. You give up and get on the train going one way, and I get on the train going the other. And we both find newspapers that someone is finished reading, and we get lost in current events and department store extravaganzas. And before we know it, none of it ever happened. Do you ever get that feeling?

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:25 AM
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11.14.2004

Good for Nothing



Warning: There are a lot of commas in this post.

I've been working a lot. And I'm very nervous about how things are going to turn out. In a lot of ways. But that's no way to be.

Despite everything, there is a color that is always in my head and in my pictures and in my eyes. There is a sort of out-of-controlness about it all. And the more I become aware of how much that distresses and unsettles me, the more apparent it becomes that you can't just turn those things off and on. I don't know if it's as lonely as it looks. Or as lovely. I don't know if it makes people jealous or anxious or proud. I don't know what it is or what it does. I don't even know what I'm talking about. I just know that sometimes, I feel exactly the way I look to the world. And sometimes I don't. And I love to watch French movies.



I saw Julie an unprecedented twice this past week. Tuesday night, we had dinner at Beacon. And Friday night, we went to the Whiskey Bar and drank a lot and spent too much of our time talking to people other than each other, but we made up for lost time by driving through Lucy's and eating our guilty late night fare at my dining table and in front of my cameras. On the way home, I demanded that we stop and take pictures of the Trashy Lingerie windows. I stop there as often as I remember to, which is not as often as I ever plan to. One of these days, when I get around to uploading the stacks and stacks of pending Lomos I have, you'll see if that makes sense or is true at all. (It is.)



Saturday night -- after nearly no sleep the night before and working the whole day with Josh -- despite the onset of a continuing and debilitating exhaustion, I got dressed, got going, got parked, got change for the meter, and got to see my genius friend Anya at the Cat Club. As I was leaving, a burly fellow outside the Whisky a Go Go stopped me with the following announcement: "Ma'am, we have live bands inside. Ten dollars." I tried not to laugh, but I may have spit a little before saying, "Really?" I didn't mean to sound bitchy, but who cares. I crossed the street, got back in my car, noticed that a number of calls were not being returned, made my way towards Hollywood, found parking (for free), drank a room temperature Red Bull I found in my car's backseat, then headed to the Burgundy Room, where I did not find what I was looking for, and then crossed the street. On my way from the car, a homeless-looking guy told me I looked wonderful, and I was impressed at his enunciation, given his lack of a full set of teeth. Crossing Cahuenga, I was intoxicated by the smell given off by those vile hot dog/bacon/onion carts that are never outside when I'm alone and won't be judged for buying up their entire inventory. I continued on my way. I looked at the open sign outside Huston's and felt sadly sure that it wouldn't still be lit by the time I was interested in it. The scary door guy at the Burgundy Room always seems to have had a nearly-nauseatingly perfumed plate of Huston's barbecue in his hands each time I have begged admittance. Enough so that when I see him making his way through the bar, placing his large and sinewy hands on the shoulders of the rest of the clientele, I wrinkle my nose and think, "His hands probably have barbecue sauce on them. And knowing how people eat barbecue, they probably also have spit all over them from having had the recent barbecue sauce licked clean." It only takes a moment for a thought like this to cross my brain. It surprises even me. [I don't have a problem with spit. I mean, I don't want it landing on me randomly and from unidentified sources, but I'm okay with spit. Despite the fact that Parris Harris (true), when we were in the fourth grade together and paired up for square dancing, used to lick his palms before we began and grin at me with sinister and willful glee.] Later in the night, I glanced over at the darkened interior of Huston's and experienced the unrewarding reward of being right about my own impending disappointment.



I stood outside the Beauty Bar, talking on the phone with Chris and essentially telling him how much I don't really like the Beauty Bar. I don't think the door staff overheard me, but I felt loftily better than them for my brashness. They let me in without any scuffle. And I met Mig and Farrah and their numerous friends. I took a lot of pictures of them. Well, us, because obviously I was in most of the pictures, but you don't have to be obnoxious about it. So I like to take pictures -- who does it hurt? Farrah and I were dressed in similar stripes by sheer happenstance. We will call ourselves Jailbait from now on.



Farrah and I were delighted to see a photo booth, but when we huddled into it, we found that it was not plugged in. And despite the fact that unstoppable Farrah found and applied the plug, it never seemed to want to take our picture. So I took pictures on my own. Many, many pictures.

All in all, when the night was over, I liked this photo of Farrah best. She is like a porcelain-skinned, more-exoticized Dorothy Lamour. And I think that really rears its head in this photograph.



I made my way through the crowd a couple of times for various reasons. And I laughed at the unifying factor of Journey's Don't Stop Believing hitting the turntable. Do these people really like this song? Did they have a poster of Steve Perry on their locker in junior high like that one tough girl in my school. I think her name was Nola. She had written "fox" on the poster, and I crossed it out and wrote something like "gross" or "gay" instead, and I felt pretty proud and strong, until she started asking us all who had done it and threatening that someone's ass was going to get kicked. I looked her squarely in the eyes and said I didn't know who had done it. And then I took a shame-filled coward's shower, washing my hair with Finesse shampoo. But seriously, I'm guilty of this myself, but I am amused by the thrill that runs through a crowd when an old, familar song comes on. It doesn't have to be something you liked. In fact, it's often better if it's something you didn't like. But when you hear those first few recognizable chords, you start moving to the beat and widening your eyes and singing along like a fool. And you can't possibly feel like a fool, because everyone else is doing it, too. And it's just the law of averages that not EVERYONE can be the town idiot. Right?

We had a last hurrah at the Burgundy Room, where the singalong trend continued. Joan Jett has a way of bringing out the singer in all of us.

I really was tempted to have one of those hot dogs. That's what it's like at the end of the night. Farrah made it her task to save me from myself. And I guess I'm grateful. We headed over to the 101 Coffee Shop, where we were treated like homeless people, made to wait at a table for a half hour, after which we were told that the kitchen was closed. I have never seen such a thing. I wanted to punch someone. Or bend a spoon and leave it on the table for them to find. Ha.

So, after all the parking challenges of that neighborhood, Farrah suggested Swingers instead, and we raced their four o'clock closing time to get our burgers and onion rings and ranch dressing and whatever else. By that point, our party of eight had dwindled to just Farrah, Mig, Chris, and me, but we all got what we ordered, and I made it home to relieve my dog and congratulate her on her good girlness. I didn't find the place where she peed on my carpet until this morning.

And now, with deadlines pressing in on me like the walls of the garbage compactor on the Death Star, I'm looking for something with leverage. My addled brain is saying, "Cheeseburger? No, no, no. That's wrong." At least I'm not so far gone that I can't tell when I'm just being a retard.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:26 PM
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11.11.2004

Girls on Film

Jessy and I went to Hollywood last night to be in a (sexy little) photo shoot for our friend Nico and his new project. The fabulous Apollo Starr was behind the camera, and we were at his ultra awesome studio. I wore a trampy black outfit and took plenty of my own pictures while we weren't shooting. We drank vodka tonics out of plastic cups and I showed the boys how to give a proper spanking. And I sat on a bench that wasn't bolted down, and it fell over, and I looked like a complete idiot. We met Perry and Amber and Kelsey, and I debated whether I should follow them to Star Shoes after we were done, but I've got work things to attend to. I'm bidding on a big project that I would really like to land, and it's putting a lot of pressure on me. And tonight, I'm meeting with one of my mysterious benefactors to see about that career I've been wanting. And I've been writing a lot of things down, and I think it might actually amount to something. I have a few goals to see to. It always makes me feel like a jerk to think of how long I've been planning to do so many things. But I'm hoping some of that jerkness will abate if I ever actually get any of it done. I just feel like I'm talking to myself right now. Which is something I do more often than anyone would believe.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:48 PM
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11.10.2004

Do you watch and love The Venture Brothers?

If you do, then you are just as cool as me on at least one level.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:24 AM
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Setting the Stage for Public Service Announcements

I don't think serious products with serious messages should purchase advertising time on networks like Comedy Central and Spike TV. I was watching Comedy Central tonight (an episode of Crossballs -- the one about sexual harassment, which is further proof that Jerry Minor is the funniest man I have ever stood next to while he was wearing a cape while it was raining outside), and at the commercial break a spot began airing, featuring a man and a woman in a car on their way to a show. The woman (I'm assuming she was the wife) was cooing over a pair of tickets to something and saying how she couldn't believe he'd gotten such good seats. She was holding them up and grinning and carrying on, and the dude (I'm assuming he was the husband) was concurring, and then the woman looks up and sees lights and cries out and suddenly they've been in an accident. And he asks if she's okay, and she says she thinks so. And she asks if he's okay, and he says yes. Then she opens the car door, with a crinkly sound from the airbag and perhaps from the crumpled metal, and she approaches the driver of the other car, and they begin asking one another if they're okay, all with expressions on their faces as if they've just had an alien encounter. And, here's the thing: because I had just been watching a funny show, I was expecting satire. I was just in that frame of mind. So when the accident happened, I was expecting that the woman was going to lose her shit because the tickets had flown out the window. Or maybe, when she asked her husband if he was okay and it turned out that his legs had been telescoped by the steering column, she would shrug apologetically and get out of the car and hitch a ride to the show to make use of her wicked awesome tickets. And when the other driver got out of his car, I thought he was going to bitch them out. Maybe with a comical foreign accent. But then the voiceover began to play, and it turned out it was an Allstate commercial, giving viewers advice on how to handle a car accident, including tips on what to keep in the car in case you have to document a collision. All of this, of course, assuming you haven't lost all your fingers and are able to dial a cell phone, wind a disposable camera, and assemble a portable road hazard indicator. Maybe some of these functions can be performed with the flesh from your face. I don't know. The human spirit is indomitable. Anyway. I wasn't looking up at the clock, so I didn't know if it might be the top or bottom of the hour. Maybe this was the lead-in to an episode of Mad TV (in which case, I would be angry that I hadn't been able to change the channel fast enough). Maybe the Energizer bunny would begin making its percussive way across the screen any second now. It just didn't seem possible that this serious, perhaps even important message was sharing a viewing wall with a man with a robot vagina in his pants.

Something similar happened the other night when I was being introduced to Lost by Steve and Chris. We had been watching funny things and laughing a lot, and I was just in that mode where everything seemed stupid or ridiculous to me. And Lost is one of those shows with high melodrama in play anyway. So I kept expecting something wacky to happen, but it kept being serious and sort of scary and desperate. This is probably also why you shouldn't go watch a slapstick comedy just before attending a funeral or a baptism. No one appreciates a case of the giggles when Jesus is in the room.

My point is just that -- much as your sobering words about cancer or violence against women or healthcare or venereal disease need to be heard -- you should try and time it so that people hear those words after watching something neutral and lacking in irony, like a news magazine or Yes, Dear or something featuring Cedric the Entertainer. That way they won't feel gypped when they realize that there is no punchline to wait for.

On the other hand, if your product or service is amusing and whimsical and your message is clever and wit-laden, don't buy advertising time during a show about dog euthanasia or fetal alcohol syndrome. It's possible you'll be disappointed in the return on your investment.

This has been a morsel of mass-media marketing wisdom from Mary Forrest, professional former professional marketing professional.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:18 AM
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11.8.2004

Gratifaction



Musicals are risky. Sometimes the songs are good, but the singers aren't. Sometimes the singers are good, but the songs aren't. Sometimes none of it's good, but everyone in the world loves it anyway. Sometimes it's Andrew Lloyd Webber. I was watching the musical Tom Sawyer yesterday while I was getting dressed. I think it's the formermost case that applies.

After that, I took Martín to the Griddle Cafe for more stretching on of his birthday celebrating. I like to celebrate people's birthdays until they tire of hearing me wish them well. I like overdoing it. Last week, I took him to Disneyland. Our annual birthday tradition as of last year. It was the best possible way to spend the day after Election Day. I was grim and disillusioned, and I didn't want to even accidentally hear what the pundits had to say. There are no newspapers to worry about in Disneyland. At my most vitriolic, I took a picture in congratulations of the Republican victory.



That's about as partisan as I get.

I have been asked by a number of people why I haven't written anything about the election results yet. And I don't really have an answer. I had a lot to say on the listserv for my comedy group. And I've certainly waxed on in conversations with friends. But I've been reluctant to seal the capsule. I don't know if I really know what I think. And very little comes of announcing how I feel. It was a difficult day. I drove a lot, waited a lot, worked a lot, sighed a lot. I felt the world coming up around me as if I was sitting still on a spot that became the epicenter of a sink hole. I felt like I was in the shadows. And I ate McDonald's.

"I don't think I can enjoy candy. Not after what's happened in my life."

So it's been a spot of dismal on an otherwise shimmery terrain, I suppose. If I'm honest and fair about things. I have nothing to complain about. But there are plenty of things I'd like to fix. And there are plenty of things that still make me feel itchy or sad or vulnerable or stupid. As much as there are things that make me feel dopey or sheepish or sparkly or breathless. I got the variety pack this time around. It's always been my preference.

On the side of industry, I've finally sorted through photos that are owing. There are documents of my Halloween weekend, my day at the races, my inspection of Disneyland, and my Saturday. And there is a little story with me as a blossom of snow in it. I am welcoming winter. Everything dies. And the cold makes my cheeks pink. If you ride a roller coaster on a cold, windy day, it will make tears come to your eyes. No matter how happy you are.



"And to think I let you kiss the air next to my cheek."

My note-taking is fragmented. Dreams I've been having with people in them I don't actually know. Things I notice that make me ashamed. Meanness. I think about how easy it has always been, picking up where we left off. And then I notice how we have this habit of leaving off in the nastiest of places. I favor a change of venue. Affectionate messages. Affectionate and undeserved. Affectionate messages from all the people you don't deserve. And I waste my time passing judgment in the dark. In complete ignorance. I waste more of my time than anyone would ever believe.

I have a very short memory for good feelings. There's this greediness. As soon as the curtain falls on one act, I forget that it happened. I look for the next one to begin. I'm rushing toward it at all times. Having something to look forward to is my fuel. My only fuel. I have abandoned sleep and food and sustenance of all kinds. It's only anticipation that makes me go. And that's the sort of go that never gets you anywhere. It's all carrot-chasing. Despite my preference for hot dogs.

"Forgive me. I am new to sarcasm."

My dad's blood type changed in the middle of his life. One day he was one type. And he was giving blood all the time. And then one other day, he went to give blood to a friend who was having surgery, and they told him they couldn't use his blood because it wasn't the right type. Just like that. When he was in his 40s. He gives a supernatural and spiritual explanation for it. I don't have anything to counter that.

Cinema-style plates of spaghetti and meatballs look uncannily appealing to me. Even though I would never order such a plate from any actual restaurant. Maybe because of my certainty that I would only ever be disappointed. How could such a thing live up to my expectations? And frankly, I prefer the short varieties of pasta. Spaghetti swings around and splashes sauce on your clothing. And nothing makes you look like more of a fatso than spots of marinara sauce on your turtleneck. Except maybe spots of chocolate milk.

Still beautiful after all these years.

Isabella Rossellini is so pretty. I used to tear pictures of her out of fashion magazines, when I was in junior high school and preparing to cut my very long hair into a short 'do. I would look at her face and envy it. And when I saw her in movies, I would swoon a little bit. Especially in Cousins, when she shows up wearing the spitefully-bought hat and says, "Hi," in the cutest possible way. The theme song from that movie (Angelo Badalamenti) makes me feel like it's summertime. I will avoid listening to it until I've had a chance to soak up more of the wintry feeling I'm soaking in. But when I listen to it again, I'm sure I will be capable of flying.

I fall behind all the time. But I like to catch up all at once. Sometimes it seems sort of spectacular. Sometimes it just seems like a lot of puff. Either way, it lets me get back out in front of the train, where I must run very fast.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:49 PM
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11.7.2004

Sentiment Sandwich

I didn't make it to Kevin's party until around three a.m. I spent the earlier part of the evening meeting up with Josh and his pals, going to see Colder at The Echo, and then figuring out reasons not to wrassle. There were only a stalwart few left when I arrived and tossed my boozy offerings in the cooler. But that's all right. I don't always like having to make myself heard above the din. And there were still plenty of reasons to stay and chat and do the bottoms up gesture.

It's been an unusual week. And though I might like to say a great deal about why that is the case, I also feel as if the moment has passed. Let that be a lesson to you. When something occurs to you, say it. Waiting only allows you to reconsider. And sometimes that is the worst possible thing.

Muppets Take Manhattan was playing on the television when I left the house, and it was playing many hours later when I got back home. It's a persistent reminder that I can still manage to feel nostalgic, even when I have attempted to cauterize every possible vein and synapse. I'll think more on that later.

My phone was ringing off the hook tonight. I love that.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:39 AM
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11.2.2004

Forever Yours, Nocturnal Me

I am wide awake.

You know what song I love an especial lot these days? Ocean by Sebadoh. I bought Harmacy when it first came out, and it continues to be among my most favorite albums. And every time I hear Ocean, I feel its jaunty melody bouncing in my brain, and I love the contrast of the cheerily sad lyrics. Residue of resignation. I bought that album years and years ago. In so many respects, nothing has changed. I would revisit that past if I had to, but there wouldn't be much point. I would still have Bill Clinton as my president and health insurance as my failsafe. But the rest is all just an expanse of beige. The details have eroded. Like bumps of braille in the erotic passages of a novel for the blind.

Anyway I like the song as much now as then. And I like people to read the lyrics to songs I like and go, "Yeah."

So you think you're in the middle of the ocean
Stranded on an island of your own?
Or stuck on the top of a mountain,
Either way you're gonna say you're all alone.

And I hesitate to say that you're a liar
I never tell the truth myself.
But I tried to chase you down and I got tired
So I'm leaving you to be with someone else.

'Cause you never wanna hook up in the middle
And I'd meet you there to talk if you would show
But you answer every question with a riddle
And refuse to even choose to let me go.

It used to be I'd tell you all my secrets
Giving you the credit you deserved
I guess you didn't care to lose or keep it
And we never quite connected from the first.

And I wish I had a way to make it better
To rearrange the world and make you smile.
But it's dumb to even think I had that power
And we haven't been that close in a while.

And I don't even wanna try to name it
Explain it for the one who couldn't care
'Cause all that matters is the way you choose to frame it.

I hesitate to say that you're a liar
I never tell the truth myself.
But I tried to chase you down and I got tired
So I'm leaving you to be with someone else.

'Cause you never wanna hook up in the middle
And I'd meet you there to talk if you would show.
But you answer every question with a riddle
And refuse to even choose to let me go.


And still, that melody makes me want to go sailing. In a little boat. The kind that won't stave off seasickness but that can be managed by a party of two. I would make sandwiches for such an outing. And they would be delicious even if they got all wet.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:14 AM
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To the Archipelago

I almost forgot to gush about the Sci-Fi Channel's creation of an Earthsea mini-series. I don't know if it will be any good, but I'm glad someone remembered that Ursula K. Le Guin has genius in her blood. And right after I saw the promo for the series, a commercial for something unimportant had Mendelssohn in its soundtrack, and I thought -- in a Frankenstein voice, "Commercial interruptions good." It is easy as fuck to make my day.

My dog is sitting on my lap and just stuck her nose down my shirt. Don't tell anyone.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:00 AM
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Mnemonic Devices

The bartender at the Derby used my name every time he spoke to me tonight. Every time he checked in on me, took my drink order, or just said howdy. I figure it's a good way -- in that profession -- of both making sure you remember people indelibly and of coaxing them into a lavish tip. "He's said my name so many times, I guess we're friends now. And I wouldn't want any friend of mine to know how cheap I really am," they might be encouraged to think. Well, it worked, I suppose. I always tip mightily, but this time I think I redefined "gratuitous." Ironic epilogue to that story: I can't remember his name to save my life.

My friend Maya O'Migh was shaking her groove thing burlesque-style, and Josh and I went along to cheer for her and to be intoxicated. I took scads of pictures. So many that I actually drained my camera battery completely, which seldom happens. Afterwards, Maya and I enjoyed unhealthful fare at Swingers. She is exceptional and glorious in many ways. What a bonus. I only just met her recently, but I have pictures of her that I took at the very first Lucha Va Voom back in August of 2002. I should dig those up. It will be like a time capsule. And if you have a time capsule that doesn't have a volcano goddess in it, your time capsule is crap.

Getting to know someone is somehow like rounding a corner. You can always mark that point and think back to a time when you didn't know them, but that time is around the bend and at an angle so that you can't easily see it. It's easy enough to remember a day when you didn't know them but a much harder task to remember how not knowing them made you feel. I'm collecting meaningful friendships like Fisher-Price people that fit into the peg holes in the Fisher-Price school bus. They are all brightly-colored, and they all fit perfectly. And the more of them there are, the less the early boarders look like a busload of retards.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:25 AM
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11.1.2004

Daylight Going at Fire Sale Prices

Nearly all of my important clocks are network-managed. My cable box. My cell phone. My computers. It's easy and painless to transition out of daylight savings. And I catch myself thinking, "Dumb kids of today. They don't even have to learn to set their clocks back. Why, in my day..." When did I turn into an adult. And a cranky one at that. What suckness.

So I didn't actually get to dress up this Halloween. Everything was up in the air, and then the next thing I knew I was performing in San Diego on Saturday night, and that was that. It wasn't a curse in any way. The shows were smasheroo, and I had a great time. Even in -- and maybe especially in -- Oxygen Deprivation, the game where one player at all times has to have his or her face submerged in a basin of water. I ruled that game. I almost wish we could play it more than once a year. And I love our Thriller ending. Love it love it love it. I can forgive many of Michael Jackson's transgressions solely on its basis.

After the shows, I met friends at Brians', where I drank jungle juice from a Big Gulp cup and watched the endless parade of questionable costumes on the gay, the transsexual, the straight who are cool with it, and the straight who don't know any better. Late, late in the night, two police officers sat down to their meal, and I checked for their adam's apples before deciding they were, in fact, the law. They were. But they didn't hassle me. Even though I kept sipping from my cup and eyeing them rebelliously.

So, here's something that occurred to me the other day when I was driving in the suburbs and saw a pair of hot teenage hipster dudes crossing the street. Maybe the reason the fashion comes around again on such a dependable cycle is so that women in their 20s and 30s will find themselves nostalgically and irresistibly attracted to fifteen year-old boys who are, of a sudden, wearing the same tight, boot-cut cords and Op shirts and feathery haircuts that adorned the cool boys in their grade schools. At least that's how it seems to be working for me. And the dangerous part about that is that those fifteen year-old boys have no aversion to sending me messages on MySpace asking if I'm into younger dudes. So many lines to be crossed. So little bail money.

Well, I'm a little sad that I didn't get to put together a slammin' costume for this year's festivities. I was looking forward to seeing how much easier it is wearing wigs with my shorter hair. Maybe I will throw a New Year's Eve masquerade. And when no one comes to it, maybe I will hang myself with a belt.

I'm a bit sore and bruised from Saturday night's goings on. Which, in my case, involved breakdancing and falling dead from a standing position multiple times. I could have guessed that breakdancing would hurt. But now I can expertly testify about it in court. I need to learn a few new moves, though. The lower part of my spine has nearly been rubbed raw.

Vote for John Kerry tomorrow. Vote for anyone, obviously. But if you want to earn points with me, vote like a person who is smart and vote for John Kerry. We can all celebrate in the democratic hot tub on Wednesday. But only if you do the right thing. I'm not sitting in a hot tub with a lot of Republican pee.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:50 PM
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10.29.2004

Fleeting Fame Finds Me

Hey! I just read an email notice that my moblog is Editor's Pick on textamerica.com. Not half bad for a blog that is nearly nothing but pictures of my head.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:48 PM
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Is that the finger I think it is?



Apparently, even my dog occasionally tires of my incessant shutterbugging. My friends may hate the frequency of my snapping, too, but they're usually less overt. In some ways, you have to envy animals, don't you?

Note: My dog was just sitting there when this photo was taken. She does not have the ability to flip the bird. If you are a novelty act talent scout, please do not contact me. But isn't the depth of field cool? If you are a photography talent scout, please contact me immediately.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:13 AM
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10.28.2004

Continuum

My friend Mig posted this awesomeness.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:38 PM
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There are flies on the windscreen, for a start.

Sarah just called to tell me that our cousin Michael passed away this morning. Yesterday, we found out that he was in a coma. I don't really know any of the details. Only that he was in Israel and that he was HIV-positive and that he was the closest thing to a son my dad ever had and that he was my Aunt Geri's favorite person in all the world, her grandson. I hadn't seen Michael in years, but I remember him treating me like a person even when I was a little child. And I remember going swimming with him in our pool in Northern California. I remember those things with great fondness.

Last night, I wore a black turtleneck sweater that I haven't worn in a while. I always have trouble finding it when I go to look for it. A sea of black knits to rifle through. I hung it over the back of a chair in my room last night when I was getting ready for bed, and this morning, I picked it up and caught that familiar scent that many of my sweaters have. My perfume. My skin. My sweat, I guess, if we're being grown-ups about it. Nowadays, that scent always transports me back to one very specific point in time. One very specific night in an autumn of a few years ago. When my sweaters brush past my face and they carry this scent, I am taken there immediately and without fail. And without reprieve. This sweater has been sitting in a drawer for at least a year. Possibly two. I might have put it away without washing it -- you can do that with sweaters, right? as long as you don't wear them for an impromptu game of touch football? -- and it sat there in my drawer, waiting to be sent back into the game. Dormant. But the scent stuck with it. Even my washed sweaters seem to hang on to a bit of it. Something that would seem to be the most organic and impermanent quality. It lingered. As if there was something living on in my clothes. As if some part of me might live on when I am absent. You can smell my perfume when I leave the room. Sometimes you can smell it when I haven't been in the room for days. There are fingerprints on things that I don't remember touching. There are flower petals pressed between the pages of books. Some of them have fallen behind pieces of furniture. I won't remember I own them until it's time to move. There are notes I wrote and left. There are songs I made up. There are expressions I make with my face that only people who know me understand. There are ashes in my fireplace and dishes in my sink. There are reasons for me to be remembered. Perhaps enough to outnumber all the reasons I should be forgotten. There are desk calendars I wrote things in. Documents of my passing. Scribbles that tell where I was supposed to be and where I went. I got an incredible feeling of déja vù the other night at Matt and Lesley's play. I think it was during the synchronized swimming portion (which was my favorite part). And there is no way I had seen it or knew what it was going to look like, but it was like I was seeing something so familiar. Like I'm living my life in a loop. And I keep passing by these same scenes. Maybe it's how we deepen the grooves, deepen the footprints. Maybe it's how we prove it.

The scent of my sweater, especially right at the neck, makes me think that parts of us live on, even when they're tucked away in a drawer. Even when they dwindle in disuse. People persist in the world. Even when you haven't seen them since that time you went swimming with them in the pool in your backyard. They stick around with you. The only afterlife I can conceive of is the continuing story of everything you ever did being passed down in an oral history to the people who know your name. Heaven is when they only retell the good parts.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:58 PM
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Absence and What It Makes

I went to the Brendon Small Show tonight. It was great great. I can't wait to put up a sketch show I can really get excited about. Well, when I say I can't wait, I'm being somewhat extravagant. Sure I can wait. And I will. As with everything. I live my life on a train station platform, bags in hand.



This is a photo of my little one. Martín called her "Audrey-D2." Her shirt says, "Star Wars." (I had it made for her at Neighborhoodies.com. Let's be honest; I had a few things made there.) Even my dog has to subscribe to my geek chic. Poor thing. Anyway, it's the cutest thing in the world, seeing her in it. And it's soft and cuddly and keeps her from getting quite so much fur on my clothes. Plus, if she's embarrassed, it doesn't show. She's a cooperative little angel.

I was thinking about how we say we are missing something or someone. How it sounds materially as if the something or someone has been excised, amputated, cut out. That it must have been an actual part of you in order for it to be missing from you. So that explains the tenderness. The soreness. The hurt. Even when they cut your leg off, you keep feeling it ache. And it throws things off kilter when you expect there to be more people in the picture than actually show up for the shot. You can't leave room for the no-shows. The picture would be full of holes.

I say I am missing things all the time. Whether it's a pair of sunglasses or a dear friend. I'm always noticing the holes. I'm always counting the empties. I'm always taking stock of the inventory that never made it to the shelf. I wonder how huge and enormous I would be if I had everything with me that has fallen away over the years. Maybe that's why certain handbag animals molt.

I don't think absence makes the heart grow at all. I think it makes it shrink and shrivel like an unattended piece of meat. But I'm no scientist.

The world is full of phantoms.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:47 AM
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10.27.2004

Gravy

It's a little surreal getting pinkly out of a scalding bath at four a.m. Even when you keep my schedule. But the rain and the stretching on of things kept my feet cold and wet in their shoes for far too long, and I don't need another opportunity for my mother to lecture me about the value of vitamins. That's a dead boring lecture. There aren't even any circumstantially funny parts. Unless you maybe get a chuckle out of talking about the color of your pee. I don't. Unless I'm really drunk. And my mom is seldom up for that. Anyway, so I boiled myself for a bit to make sure my chilly tootsies didn't hasten my succumbing to the unenriched elements.

I had a nice time tonight. But my eyes are tired. And I'm looking forward to falling asleep to the sound of the rain.



Incidentally, Carl Weathers adds so much to a movie.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:40 AM
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10.26.2004

Ballot Practice



My schedule careens further and further out of whack with every day that passes. I was up working until after six a.m. yesterday, and then the day seemed so short, and I had work to finish. Matt and I went to the Farmer's Market and shared a pitcher of Stella Artois. And then I went to meet Chris at Cinespace for Channel 101. Steve was there with a wizard hat on. I shook hands with a lot of people. Was introduced to a lot of people. But I'm pretty sure I've forgotten all of their names. Suddenly that infomercial with the memory "system" seems appealing.

Rather than scurry over to the Big Foot Lodge, I made Chris go to Pink's with me, thus popping his Pink's cherry. We ate the junkiest of junk foods at my dining table and talked until I felt guilty for keeping him out so late. It's always the way with me. I wish everyone would want to be up with me all the time. And I secretly hope they won't feel it the next day. But inevitably, people have to go home. Someone needs to call it quits. The party is over. There are plenty of cases in my life when I find myself hoping that if I cover all the clocks and shutter all the windows and manage to keep a low profile when anyone asks the time, the people I like to be with won't notice that any time has passed, and maybe we can have an amazing time together forever. But I realize this has the sound of a manifesto written by a soon-to-be kidnapper. Don't worry, friends. I won't keep you against your will. I won't lock you up and not tell you what day it is. I just secretly wish that every now and then you wish that I would.

I took plenty of pictures. And I will be glad when my new Canon shows up. The stupid LCD on the one I bought is making my picture-taking so random and risky. It's like strapping a camera to the paw of a bear and then seeing what photos he managed to take by smacking the camera against a tree in an effort to get it off. I prefer more deliberate acts of art myself.

When Matt pulled up, I was walking my dog, and I was wearing knee socks and tennis shoes (the cute Donald Pliner ones I recently got), and he said I looked like a super hero. I'm fine with that.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:16 AM
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10.25.2004

"I wanted to be the god of irony. But that went to Ironicus."



It was so beautiful today. We went to the Grove and the Farmer's Market for lunch, and there was this amazing, great band playing between the Cajun place and EB's (the place where you can get all those pitchers of beer). They are called The Lucky Stars, and they are my new favorite next thing. I love the clever lyrics and upbeat despair of that kind of mid-century country music. And I do love me some steel guitar. I guess it's called "Western Swing." Which makes sense, as a number of couples of varying ages got up and did their little swing dance routines. And then there was the old dear with the hunchback and the bright blue and yellow sweater. She danced up an endearing storm. And then asked the band if they knew On the Road Again and was offered an apology and declination.

Anyway, it made me feel good. We stuck around for a while, even after we finished eating, and if they'd ever gotten around to breaking out their merch, I would have bought it up. Nearly all the songs were laments about betrayals and jiltings and other sad fare, but that's the thing about that kind of music -- it's a sad that has a bit of irony in it, and that is its own triumph. I ate a hamburger with a fried egg on it, and that was grand.

When She Was Camera

Yesterday, we did some Melrose shopping and then some La Luz de Jesus shopping. There are Joe Sorren paintings at La Luz right now that make me wish I had $14,000 to spend on a painting. He is a big, fat genius. And I am tired of not being wealthy.

There were other pieces in the gallery, too. And a few of them made me feel all itchy to scatter my art supplies across my dining room table and begin again. Begin. Begin something. Continue something. Be in the middle of the something. Be immersed. I want to play with the layers and not worry so much about what parts get covered up. I look for the moment when the mess becomes something lovely. And I'm not making any sort of reference to my morning routine. There's only so much mascara in the world.

The bathroom at La Luz de Jesus is all pink inside.



Do you like being a liar with pants constantly on fire?

I do so love the sweater weather. Sweaters and skirts and pants cuffed to the knee. I've been wearing my share of those. And tee-shirts and pigtails and even some hats. I've been enjoying the season and the use of my fireplace. And I plan to play more music before the year is out.



Another genius whose art I love is Aaron Kraten. I don't have all that much wall space, but a bit of it has his name on it. Which reminds me, I have like a hundred thousand dollars worth of framing to do. I need to start cozying up to the apron-wearers at Aaron Brothers and pronto.

I can smell the ashes in the fireplace, and I know that dawn is coming soon. I wish I had gone to Disneyland with Michelle today. I love it there.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:41 AM
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10.23.2004

Next Year in Mos Eisley

I love watching Star Wars with Martín. We had the most fun and made the best comments and the best jokes. I remember when the special edition releases came to the cinema and we made such a big deal about going to see them on the days they opened. I think I had to take the day off from work to be able to see Empire in that big theater in Mission Valley that has since been turned into a church. When the opening titles for A New Hope began to play, I asked Martín if he was feeling a sudden thrill, and he admitted that he actually was. I love that we both still get boners over Star Wars. That we're cool enough to not feel the need to divorce ourselves from that piece of our history. And that we're cool enough now that we can notice the things that don't make sense or that need making fun of.

Eventually, we were joined by Beulah and Justin and Matt. And Steve held his cell phone up at the El Rey so I could hear William Shatner "singing." I got the best of all worlds. We didn't make it through to Jedi. Beulah doesn't approve. But the night was full, and that's what counts. And I laughed a lot. And Martín will be sorry in the morning, but sometimes that's the price you pay.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:01 AM
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10.22.2004

Star Wars Trilogy, Fuck Yeah

Martín and I are getting drunk and watching my Star Wars DVDs, instead of everything else I thought we were going to do tonight. It's the best thing ever.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:06 PM
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"Never give up."

TiVo faithfully captured The Office Christmas Special for me tonight. I downloaded it ages ago, but I never managed to watch it. And now it's on back to back to back to back on BBC America. And I've finally seen it. And it just broke my heart. I guess I would have felt sad if everything hadn't worked out the way it did, but I'm plenty sad anyway. And a MySpace friend of mine (Jude) posted a Pablo Neruda poem that is aptly entitled Saddest Poem to the bulletin board tonight. Perfect.

It's not like I don't want other people to end up happy. Or that I don't believe in happy endings. Or that I don't know what it all feels like. I just miss the ghastly, glorious feeling of being in the spiny clutches of romance. And I've lately begun to wonder if I've ever had any idea about love. If I might have been confused about everything all along. Sometimes it seems that way. As if I might have just gotten it wrong. When I'm really honest about things, it's hard not to conclude that I was only pretending all the while. Getting used to something doesn't make it real. Or wonderful for that matter. I mean there are people out there whose love I thought I would never ever be without, and they don't even know my phone number anymore. Maybe perpetuation is a delusion. And I guess that's fine. I wouldn't want to receive calls from plenty of those people. I'm sure there are precious few things that are great enough to last forever and still be of any use to anyone. Even petrified forests must snuff it at some point.

And of course it's only a television show. And there's this whole business of actual life to contend with. My time is slipping away as quickly as theirs is. I'm widening my eyes at how many things are already a year behind me. Two years. Three. I'm incapable of handling that sometimes. I'm prone to feeling weepy and soft and blown to bits by it. I don't look in scrapbooks much either. Sometimes I prefer not to remember. Sometimes I don't like being able to see the trail I've left. My footprints always look too big to me.

My feet are cold, and I'm going to light a fire. Which means I will be up for a long time, because I don't like to waste, and I worry that the fire will be lonely.

It's been years. For them.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:14 AM
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10.21.2004

Good Dog

Krissy and I went to see Lesley and Matt's play. We had to pick up Gordo at UCLA. Then we ate yakitori and drank beers and waited for Pam and Tom. Then we went to the play. Then I drove Gordo home and met my pals at Liquid Kitty, where a very forward guy asked if he could buy me a drink. I let him, but I shouldn't have. He kept putting his hand on the small of my back and paying me the following compliments: (1) "I like your height." (2) "You have a great body." (3) "I like your turtleneck." Yeesh. He and his friend found their way over to where my friends and I were congregated, and I kept being certain that the other guy was going to suddenly shiv Tom in the gut or something. I just knew we were all going to end up murdered and in a ditch somewhere.

But I was wrong. We just got a few free drinks out of the deal. And had to spend far too much of our evening making nice with two guys who bored the shit out of us in an overly familiar way. In the end, I don't think those drinks were free. Lesson learned.

Tom and Pam and Krissy came back to my place, and we ordered pizza and watched the Ali G. movie and drank a few more beers. And if it weren't for people and their annoying work obligations, I'm sure it would have turned into the finest of pajama parties.

I was tired most of the time. Ready to call it a night long before the night had even begun. But that's the way it goes. In the end, I'm always glad I persevered. In the end, I'm nearly always glad I chose this rather than that.

The coming nights are full, too. I like having so much to look forward to. And yet I find myself shrinking from the idea of it all. I shouldn't give myself so much time for second-guessing. The second guess is always the wrong one.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:34 AM
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10.20.2004

"I love you, mother father."



I feel as if I made some strides today. And not just because I wore fabulous boots or because I kept thinking my skirt was too short when I felt the breeze up in my nethers. I mean thoughtful strides in the unearthing of difficult-to-unearth objects. Progress, maybe. The difference between flailing and upsetting. It's one thing to just flail about. But if you knock something over, too, then at least the flailing is productive. Right? Anyway.

My dream state is a plague. A blight. I have no further desire to know what my mind wishes it was up to. I am no longer curious what my secret self wants. I just want some rest. Damn it all.

Saturday, Steve and Chris showed me the footage of Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire. Watch it. It's all over the Internet, so you have no excuse to not see it. We screened it on Chris's Mac, after finding the Growing Pains reunion to be unwatchable. And not in a campy, kitschy way. Just plain unwatchable. I hope you missed it. And I hope you didn't bother to TiVo it. And if you did, I hope you deleted it before you bothered to watch it. We also watched that scary little midget guy on Jimmy Kimmel -- the new Red Sox good luck charm. They won a few games, so I guess that's something. But that little freak is a freak. I felt sad and dirty after watching his segment. Like I did after nearly every episode of Webster.

I forgot to mention that the hands-down funniest moment in Team America is the "signal." If you've seen it, you will know what I mean and agree with me. It's not what everyone will be talking about, but when you flash back to it in your recollection, you will laugh and laugh. Because it is fucking hilarious.

My dog doesn't like to pee in the rain. I don't think she likes to pee on my rug either, but it seems she likes peeing in the rain less.

Adam and I had a somewhat inspiring conversation today about the political process and what ails it. We talked about the fact that the mistake the DNC has made (other than letting Terry McAuliffe* anywhere near a camera -- or a decision for that matter) is that, in its desire to curry favor among swing voters, it has forgotten its liberal base. When I heard President Clinton speak earlier this year, he quoted statistics about registered Republicans and registered Democrats and pointed out that we Democrats are usually fighting that uphill battle of trying to convince the undecided to vote in our favor and also to turn some of the more moderate Republicans come election day. But what I've noticed is that the party's ardent desire to close that unfortunate gap has given it a case of tunnel vision. Because I listened to the third Presidential debate, and I was so discouraged to hear John Kerry continually touting his sameness. I'm like he is, he seemed to be saying. I own guns. I go hunting. I pray a lot. I go to church. And I'm not saying that he can't be a good Democrat while doing all of those things, but what I want is for the candidate of my party to finally do some damage to the crazy notion that a president HAS to do these things in order to gain mass appeal. That he must be a Republican, even if he's running as a Democrat. I want to elect a Democrat, but I want to elect his courage and his convictions and his ideas and his plans. Not his Republican outfit -- the one he wears when he doesn't think any of his Democratic friends are looking. The one he thinks will fool the neo-cons into thinking he's one of them. What a 21 Jump Street-caliber idea. I want to elect him because of how DIFFERENT he is than George W. Bush. Not because of how nearly the same he is. And I think the DNC has lost sight of that. I think they have lost sight of the need to give those of us out there with our hearts a-bleed a candidate we can thrill to. They need to give us a candidate that will win over the Nader-lovers and the fringies and the George Carlins who think voting doesn't matter because we end up electing the same guy no matter what we do; he's just got different initials most of the time. I'm tired of my electoral passion being limited to my desire to get my "I Voted!" sticker. I want the faithless to turn out to be wrong. I want to believe in a candidate and have him turn out to be a statesman. I want the system to work. Just once before it gets dismantled by Cheney and his gang of hard-arteried thugs.

I don't think John Kerry is a bad candidate. I just wish the party would let him run a little. Let him stretch his legs. See what he can do. And I wish that Howard Dean had been given an actual chance. Because I think the system needs some shaking up. And the country needs to be reminded that a bloody war was fought to keep us from being exsanguinated by the tyranny of the rule of the monarchy. Our government happened because of a desire to protect freedoms and limit the autonomy of the buearucracy. To give those without money or power or aristocratic privilege a voice and proxy. Someone needs to remind us that what is at stake in this election is not just a presidency but our very way of life. I know that will sound to some like liberal hyperbolizing, but I am dead serious. Josh and I went to see Paul Krugman speak on Friday night (he is brilliant, by the by), and it really is downright chilling to consider what has been happening in our country for the past four years and to tally the shockingly small number of voices who are saying anything about it. It seems unimaginable that the dollar will collapse or that a revolution will blister out of the fallout. But we've already seen a coup. I know people pretend this isn't the case, but the 2000 elections were a travesty. And if the Supreme Court and the Governor of Florida are allowed to APPOINT an executive this time around, I hope I won't be the only one on my block shaking my fist about it. We are a nation disenfranchised. And saying that in a roomful of people runs the risk of being transported into an episode of The Twilight Zone. I'm always talking, but no one seems to understand a word I'm saying. Anyway, that's why Adam is my hero. He actually bought a plane ticket and is spending his last pre-election weekend on the campaign trail in Ohio. I am not doing nearly so much for the cause, and I am ashamed of that. I contribute monthly to the DNC and the DCCC, but that's the laziest participation there is, and I know it. I'm trying to mask my shame by applauding Adam. I'm clapping extra hard. And if a Democrat is elected this November, I will give Adam all the credit.

I am reading a lot. I am catching up. I am getting caught up. In both the transitive and intransitive senses. I am keeping busy. There's work. And there's want. And there's trying to get organized enough to BEGIN. And I'm noticing that I'm using a lot of capitalization emphasis in this post. And I think that's EMBARRASSING.

Everything feels so new. Enough so that I get hopeful. That I get happy. Enough so that I want to see what I can get away with and to get away with all I can. I have not been feeling very poetic. But there seems to be poetry all around me. I find myself noticing little wonders all the time. And wondering if that makes me crazy. I'm reading psychology and philosophy at the moment, and maybe that makes me pay closer attention. Perhaps we are not supposed to be able to open our eyes to all that we experience for fear of being overwhelmed, but I do give it my goddamnedest. That I do.

You will notice the absence of a segue.

I think it is my father's contention that if a person does something bad to you, it is because that person is bad. Not because he is good but flawed. Not because he is usually good but the victim of a lapse. When a person hurts you or lies to you or treats you with disrespect or disloyalty, this is because it is in him to do it. When a person breaks a commitment, it is because the commitment was never real. A person who falls out of love with you was never in love with you. Oh, to live in a world that was so black and white.

The title of my post was exclaimed by a Japanese girl into Dave Attell's camera on a recent episode of Insomniac. I don't know why I wrote it down. It amused and delighted me when I heard it. And with all the delving I've been doing into what is broken in my brain, I sometimes feel the need to reaffirm. I do love you, mother father. I sometimes wish we could have done things differently, but I love you just the same. And I know you did your best. And I know it won't be the end of me. And I would like to believe there is a chance that we can all be happy without any of us having to lie about it.

The same goes for the rest of you out there whose approval has mattered to me or whose affirmations have superseded food and warmth on my hierarchy of needs. If I can make you believe that I was worth any of it, I might be able to get a good night's sleep after all.

But maybe not. I think sleep is overrated. And I do tremendous, amazing, inimitable things in the nighttime. It's not the shuteye I'm missing. It's the daydreams.

I'm thinking in spurts. It's symptomatic of something. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that everything is symptomatic of something. EVERYTHING.



*If you haven't already heard me say how much I hate Terry McAuliffe, you haven't hung around me much.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:04 AM
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10.18.2004

play within a play



I went to see Team America: World Police today. And I thought it was really great. The songs weren't as brilliant as they were in the South Park movie, but this movie isn't really a musical, so it's not tremendously damaging. And for some reason Marc Shaiman wasn't involved this time. It was Harry Gregson-Williams instead. He's not awful or anything. But he's no Marc Shaiman. The lyrics were really funny, though. Thankfully. I was actually surprised to see Trey and Matt reuse the montage joke that was so funny to me in that Aspen timeshare episode of South Park. But they did. It's still a very funny joke, but it wasn't new to me.

The puppeteering was super great. Surprising and brazen and awesome. I like puppets anyway. I would have liked the puppets if they were made out of cantaloupes and pipe cleaners and didn't have any movable facial features. But this flick goes the distance. As far as I'm concerned, Thunderbirds are no longer go.

I could lick the rain from the sky, you know. Just lick it right up. I saw galoshes today, but I didn't buy them. I still like the idea that I might need them at some point, though. I like the rain. And I like the clouded face of the sky and the chilly, smoky scent of nighttime. It's been a banner weekend. And there's evidence even.

Here is a photo album posted by the lovely and brilliant Michelle. No one is more thrilled than I am when there is more than my camera at work. And here are my photos from the same night. I have also posted the rest of what I snapped on the Roundup page. Just sorting through all the photos and jottings-down and loose ends, I'm sort of shaking my head at all the time I did not spend sleeping. But I'm remorseless. Sleep is not the best stage for the picture play. What better time to squander youth than when you're soaking in it.

Some see a life as half full. Others see it as half empty. I see nothing but the cracks in the sidewalk.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:41 AM
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10.17.2004

I love a rainy night.

Last night, it was sweaty libations at the Burgundy Room followed by sweaty, dancing libations at Beauty Bar followed by secret street meat followed by 101 Coffee Shop. Tonight, it was laughing long into the wee hours and drinking the booze I carry in my trunk and telling sordid stories and getting dirty raindrops on my white turtleneck.

I drove home long after closing time, through bouts of angry rain, with music playing on my stereo that reminded me of other wintry passages. And I got home to my doggy and took her for a walk with the rain still coming down and the sidewalks puddled and dark. There's a crazy huge raccoon cruising the neighborhood. When I was walking my dog at four a.m. yesterday morning, I saw this monstrosity walking right up the side of a tree. And we walked past it. And I wondered if it was wise to wander so close to something feral and icky that was already high above my head. Tonight, I saw the scary critter in the headlights of my automobile, as I turned the corner onto my street at an hour approaching five. And when I took my doggy out for a walk, I kept a wary eye out for rustling in the bushes and scary, glinting eyeballs. No encounters were had.

It was cool and grey today. Enough so that I wore a sweater with long sleeves and my favorite knee boots. I look forward to this weather. I look forward to my fireplace. I sit in anticipation of the lives I will have led when looking back from the precipice of other winters. I bought some gloves from Italy. Someday soon I will wear them.

It is imperative that I see Team America before the weekend is out. Imperative does not have a slew of alternate meanings. Take me at my word.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:12 AM
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10.15.2004

Secret Spots

Is there anything in the world I love more than racing the dawn home after an absolute exploitation of all that the wee hours have to offer? I submit that there is not. Tonight was a perfect adventure. A serendipitous bit of seat-of-the-pants flying. I thumbed my nose at the law. I broke my sugar promises. I drank until morning in public places. I took pictures like a blind person. I got to to the 101 Coffee Shop about fifteen minutes before they closed. Just in time to spike my drink and get things underway. I didn't even leave my house until two a.m. That's the way I roll.

My weekend began early and adventurously. I suspect that the next day or two will either pale in comparison or render tonight a flimsy bit of mediocrity. And either scenario would suit me fine. I'm all about superlatives. Make it the best possible thing or the worst possible thing. But spare me the in-between.

You carry around a bottle of Skyy Melon Vodka in the trunk of your car for a few months, and it's bound to come in handy. Lesson learned.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:01 AM
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10.14.2004

a practiced self-deceit

I am drunk and unable to cobble together the thoughts I was having before I sat down and set to the task of cobbling. Dinner at Table 8. Party time at Star Shoes. Ran into a friend or two. If it wasn't for my neurotic dog and the stress she imposes, the world would be close to perfect.

I didn't have my actual boogie shoes on tonight, but there were quite a few songs that made me want to christen the pair I was wearing anew. I did eventually hit the dance floor. But I was too far gone to make the most of it. I will do better next time.

The debates tonight were not nearly so provocative as they were last week. I was so bored watching them. I sure hope Kerry has it all sewn up. Because if he doesn't, I may have to blame it on all that god talk.

I spent a moment or two marveling at the passage of time. Marveling that it's the middle of October already. Marveling that it's been a year since last October. Comparing things now with things then and being relieved that I'm not stuck in the misery of my past. I don't know how time manages to stretch and strain the way it does. I don't know how it manages to squeeze and compress the way it does. I don't know the first thing about time. I only know that a lot of it has passed while I wasn't being vigilant. And I deserve a scolding for that.

I don't like scary movies. But there are a number of scary movies I want to see. It's a problem.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:54 AM
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10.13.2004

They were rolling out the red carpet today.

So what if it was for the premiere of The Grudge? And so what if I'm not in that movie? And so what if I was not even invited to the screening? I was walking past, and they were rolling the carpet out, and it felt for a moment like it was for me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:36 AM
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10.11.2004

Superman is dead.

Long live Superman.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:27 AM
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10.10.2004

It comes, and it goes.



The sequel to my pain opened in theaters yesterday morning. I spent the day in quiet anguish. Today was sunnier. Better. But I feel the walls collapsing again. I remember feeling cold a moment ago. I remember thinking about closing the window. I looked up and noticed that it was closed. But I don't remember ever getting up to close it. That's sort of what it's been like all week. Dream state. Doldrums. Fog rolling in. All the time.

Movies are making me sad this weekend. I'm sure it's just the downs of being less than perfect. Less than myself. I am a big wound. And the salt keeps drifting in.

I went a-thrift store-ing today. I bought a green typewriter, some paper dolls, and a stack of books I am anxious to decimate. I will make something of all of this. That is my pledge.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:52 PM
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10.9.2004

"That's what liberals do."

At the beginning of tonight's debate, I was going to ask you to explain to me the infinitely inflated value of the so-called undecided voter. Why do we care so much what these people think? In my estimation, someone who hasn't made up his or her mind at this point is more lazy than discerning. And while the outcome of the election may depend on how these twats sort it out, I don't necessarily think that their impressions of things should be counted as more weighty than mine. Yes, I'm going to vote for John Kerry. But why does that make me dismissable?

Well, Josh and I went to Cinespace to watch the debates tonight, and I have to say there are few better ways to do this. We got there nice and early, had a few cocktails and a little bit of food and got a nice table in the big screening room. And we got to take the whole shebang in in the company of our liberal compatriots, so that means everyone clapped in the same places and laughed in the same places and groaned in the same places. Which is not what would have happened if I had watched this with my family. I watched the first round of debates at Cinespace last week, but I was craning my neck to see the screen in the smoking lounge. This time, my view was unobstructed. As was my access to alcohol and french fries. But this was all new to Josh, and I'm happy that it went over so well. I was convinced that this namby-pamby "town hall" style of debate would give Bush far too much of an opportunity to use his supposedly vast folksy charm. But I was shocked to see Bush not just lose his composure but really never have it to begin with. From his very first leaving of his seat, he scolded his audience with a shockingly belligerent style. His posture on the floor was a sort of chicken dance, confusing emphasis with impatience. He seemed to be saying, "Don't you rubes get it?" with every argumentative sentence he uttered. He seemed angry. Defensive. Those chicken feathers were clearly ruffled. And I can't imagine his handlers did anything but shake their heads while watching. This was not the display that they intended. I'm sure of it.

I hated that Kerry had to keep insisting that he has been consistent. I realize it's one of the noticeable chinks in his armor, but I really wish a lot of this work had been done before tonight. But it's easy to forget about that when Bush is comparing the anti-American sentiment extant in the world today to the attitude of the Reagan era. "People love America," Bush said. But I don't know what he meant by that. He spent so much of the past three years telling us how much so many people hate us and all of our delicious freedom.

I also noticed that Bush seemed to want to remind us continually that he has actually been in the White House and the Oval Office. He kept beginning responses with phrases like, "I remember sitting in the Oval Office," or, "I remember sitting in the White House," or," I remember going to the basement of the White House," as if to say, "Hey, did you guys know the White House has a basement? I do. Because _I'm_ the President. I have been all over the White House. Have you? No. You're not as important as I am. Don't you get that?" And whenever Kerry was speaking, the cutaways to Bush's face seemed to be saying, "Come on, dude. Don't tell them THAT."

I kept hearing Bush reiterate phrases which had been obviously drilled into him beforehand. I know the speech writers come up with things for every candidate to say, but with Bush it sounds more like he's tagging up. He never seems to wield these phrases effectively. And of course he said something about rumors on the INTERNETS, and that got a big laugh from the audience in the room. And he also said something about the war (or something) being more FACILE, and I'm positive that's not the word he meant to use.

And when John Kerry delivered zinging retorts -- like when he said that, if Missouri was a country, it would be the third largest country in the "Coalition of the Willing" -- George Bush really seemed to be blinking a lot.

And when George Bush announced that it was going to be "a long, long war," I could almost see the foreshadowing of the run-up to the Constitutional amendment proposal wherein Bush gets to be president forever. Yikes. "Liberty can change habits," he said. But what the fuck does that mean? That sank in with about as much resonance as the answer he gave when that very direct man asked him about why he won't let us buy drugs from Canada and he said because he wants to make sure the drugs we take are safe. I applaud John Kerry for never once saying, "Yeah, right."

And then that creepy wink. Why was George W. Bush winking at people after not answering their pointed questions? I can't imagine they were winking back. When the CNN camera pulled in on the face of the woman who asked Bush to name three mistakes he had made while in office and he basically refused to, she did not look like she would want to be winked at. Any winking happening on that stony visage was going to be the result of an involuntary facial tick. "I went to Washington to fix problems," he said. I have no response to that.

I also noticed that Bush had apparently been counseled by his people not to call Kerry by name. He nearly always used pronouns or the term "my opponent." With the exception of the time he called him Senator Kennedy. And what was that about? That preceded his announcement, "That's what liberals do." I was surprised by that. Because although this was an audience of supposed undecideds, the questions seemed to have a decidedly liberal slant to them. Not the chick who doesn't want her tax dollars to pay for abortions and not the other chick who doesn't want embryonic stem cell research to happen. But pretty much everyone else. I was skeptical at first. But I love those Missourans. This "undecided" audience may just as well have been a bunch of Nader-lovers. Speaking of which, when the environmental question took to the air, I laughed when Bush touted his record of doing things "to help improve wildlife." Is he talking about the performance of beavers in standardized tests? I wonder what their reading comprehension is like. And then he said that he proposed the hydrogen automobile. And let me tell you, if this gets anywhere near as much play as the whole thing about Al Gore claiming to have invented the Internet(s), I will be a girl agog. Few circles are every so complete. "You could say I'm a good steward of the land," got a particularly loud guffaw from the crowd around me. I was very happy when John Kerry responded by saying, "I'm gonna be a president who believes in science." So on point.

And the last straggling random comments I can make follow here. I'm glad John Kerry didn't back down on the embryonic stem cell research issue. I'm glad he made his case on the abortion issue. I'm glad that Kerry didn't let Bush get away with saying that ES research is "the destruction of life" right before he patted himself on the back for being the first president to have allowed some form of it. And I'm skeptical that Bush even knows what the Dred Scott decision was.

After the week I'd had, I was determined to get dressed and go somewhere today. So when I called Josh and asked if he wanted to watch the debates with me, the wheels started turning and all was well. I put on an outfit, reminded myself how to blowdry my hair, and we hit the town. And it was a lovely night. Yesterday was Marco's birthday, so we met him at The Abbey to celebrate belatedly. Pam and a friend of hers showed up, and I was pleased to see her/them. I don't see enough of Pam. She's another bust in my gallery of small crushes. Running into the various exhibits in this gallery is always a nice little boost.

When Josh and I were walking back to his car, we saw his friend Renato and jumped into his car. This sort of thing happens to Josh far more than it happens to me, I'm guessing.

So I think I'm back in the swing of things. Feeling pretty good in the corporeal sense and optimistic about Election Day. Some of the meaningless things I do feel a little more important than they used to. I really notice it when that happens. And I chatted for a bit with Mig in the din of the club. So, there you go. Everybody wins. Well, I do anyway.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:42 AM
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10.8.2004

Windmills do not work that way! Good night!

I should have spent the day resting, but I had a deadline to meet, so I worked and worked and worked. And the morning became afternoon became evening became night. And now it's whatever it is. I have afforded myself the occasional distraction. I have lost track of time. I have benignly watched a lot of network television. And I have a conference call to attend tomorrow morning. This is no gift. The one nice thing is that you can still say I always come through. Even in a pinch. Even in a weakened and feverish state. It matters far too much to me that no one be justified in saying that I ever let them down. That's what got me to miss a day of Comic-Con. That's how I managed to make my deadlines even when I spent the day a-funeraling. Priorities, friends. Plain and simple.

Things have been looking different to me this week. Maybe it's being so sick. Or being stuck at home. Or laying down and praying for death so much. Walking the dog when I can barely stand upright. Not being able to keep track of how much showering I've done. This is an unfamiliar passage in what is typically a very familiar chapter. I can't tell how I feel. Maybe I never can. There are a number of questions I have noticed I don't know how to honestly answer. When someone asks me how I feel (emotionally or otherwise), it's hard for me not to answer with my cerebrum. I have no capacity for taking stock of such things. I guess it's possible that no one was ever really asking before. It's possible that I have spent too long a season in the company of people who didn't care to know how I was feeling or who only asked believing they already knew the answer. I indict myself for not having given myself proxy. For not counting me. But I was merely following suit. There are ranks of those who didn't count me before I jumped on board. I remember being a little girl who shouted out what restaurant she wanted to eat at, only to be drowned out by someone else's logic or whining or force. It's no wonder I'm less likely to insist on anything anymore. And when someone offers to give me exactly what I want, I am caught between the rock of not believing them and the hard place of not knowing what to ask for. It's a snug fit.

I think I feel all right. The physical pain aside. I think I'm going to make it. And I'm happy about that. Let the games begin.

I also care deeply about things that remind me of myself.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:55 AM
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10.7.2004

More Ad Watch

I don't care much about TIAA CREF Financial Services, but I love that they are running an advert with a version of Somewhere (from West Side Story) being performed unmistakably by Cat Power as its soundtrack. Chan Marshall needs to be heard and widely.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:12 AM
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Interrogatastic

There's this GMC commercial that says, "If an eighty ton bullet train can glide on air, why not your SUV? At GMC, our engineers don't just ask questions. They have answers." And this always makes me think, "At what company are there engineers whose job it is to 'just ask questions?'" And shortly after that, "I would like to work for that company." I'm picturing a busy day at the office.

Phil: What makes cereal taste that way?
George: How can we harness all the love in a star?
Hymie: What's on after ER?
Vlad: Who took a bite out of this doughnut and then put it back in the box?
Ed: Who cares about baseball?
Evan: Why do birds suddenly appear everytime you are near?
Rick: Why does everyone insist on calling me Ricky?

Wouldn't it be great to work at that place? I think even performance evaluations would be a blast. Use your imagination. See? Doesn't it rule?

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:01 AM
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10.6.2004

I've never put much faith in Eastern medicine.

My mom tricked me a little bit. The doctor she took me to, whom she described as a Chinese doctor who practices Western medicine, too, is actually a potential business associate of hers. Someone who wants to work with her. I should have known when she showed up at my apartment and asked didn't I want to change. I didn't know she was hoping I'd make an impression. It wasn't atop my priority list, as I was sweating to death and bereft of energy. My fever had already broken, and I was taking my temperature like an OCD-haver. Believe me, it was not my great desire to leave the house today, devoid of make-up, damp hair in sloppy pigtails, shuffling along in my cute pink and white Pumas and rumpled pajama pants. When I took the bands out of my hair just now, my reflection looked to me like a sad little boy with hat hair. Believe me, that was not my plan.

We drove all the way out to Temple City, to a hole-in-the-wall clinic on the side of the road. The waiting room was warm. And the music playing in the PA system was horrendous. First some sort of Chinese opera and then a Filipina singing evangelical folk music, always slightly flat. And for some reason, they were keen to play her entire album. Because song after song whined forth. And when I pointed it out to my mother she said, in that way she has of showing you how she is better, "I just don't listen to it. Just ignore it. You used to play music that I didn't like, and I didn't complain." And I said, "Yes, you did," recalling the countless times she had pushed eject when the cassette I had chosen wasn't to her liking. And she said, "Well, it's different when you're in the car."

An older Chinese man in a wifebeater came out and delivered some herbs to a Caucasian fellow waiting with us. Later, that same wifebeater was covered in a white smock, and he was the first doctor I saw. Although he insisted on not being called a doctor. I presume because he is not one. I went into a cramped office with an untidy bookshelf and began to explain my symptoms as my mom helped with frequent translation. He asked me to say "aaah" and I did. Then he reached down and picked up a flashlight -- and I mean the kind you buy in a hardware store -- and shined it into my mouth as I continued intoning. He then reached down -- possibly onto the floor, I couldn't see -- and produced a wooden tongue depresser and put in my mouth. And that was about it. He prodded at my lymph nodes for a while. Then the real doctor, my mom's friend, arrived and did a few of the same things. At one point, the un-doctor reached across the desk and dropped a little needlepoint pillow that read "God Bless America" down in front of me. I wondered if this was intended to put me at ease. It didn't. But then the doctor reached for my wrist and placed my hand on the pillow as he felt my pulse briefly, and that made more sense. He diagnosed me as having some sort of infection and said that I am also suffering from exhaustion from overwork and too much stress. And my mom made a sound and a face that had an "I told you so" quality to them. I asked if it's a sinus infection, as I suspect it to be. And he dismissed that as immaterial. It's an infection. My desire for details apparently made me nosy.

While in the car, my mom had asked me if I would let them do acupuncture on me, if they suggested it. And I told her that I don't really have much confidence in acupuncture. I don't mean to be closed-minded. I just don't know that many people whose serious afflictions have abated at the behest of those weird smoking needles. It was no matter. They never prescribed it. But I did walk past a room with multiple exam tables in it and people with needles sticking out of them. And later, it smelled like pot to me.

The doctor suggested I receive an IV and take some herbs. I agreed, but no one ever told me what was in the IV (it looked sort of like iodine). Before they started me up, they offered me use of an abysmal-looking bathroom, but I did not have need of it. The un-doctor -- who was really very nice -- stuck me a few times in the crook of my right arm, but that didn't work. I have been told my veins are hard to find. I wasn't surprised. He ended up finding a vein in the back of my hand and administering the IV there. I had to lay there for an hour or so as the fluid drained into my bloodstream. My hand and arm began to hurt. Like there was an icy cold pressure being applied all over them.

And then it was over.

And my mom stayed and talked with the doctor a bit as I stood in the hallway and was bored. That happens when two people are chattering away in a language you don't understand. It left me the time and distraction to peer into a utility closet of sorts where countless jars and bottles and boxes and tupperware containers were stacked in disarray. The substances in them were mysterious to me. Some looked like cinnamon. Some looked like industrial solvent. Many of the lids did not look securely placed. Some of them were lidless altogether. I tried not to think too much about it. I probably ingest all sorts of things I wouldn't want to know about. This is just an unnecessary glimpse behind the curtain at the sad little man working the controls. And he doesn't have anything in his bag for me. My shoes are already awesome.

Epilogue

I just took my temperature. It's up well over 101 again. I'm anticipating a bit more up and down. I don't know if my symptoms will devour themselves or if I will be devoured by them. But people have called and cared, and that's lovely. I can be both overglib and overdramatic when I write, so I know that people don't always know whether to take my woes seriously when I voice them. Don't worry. It's not your job to sort it out. I am in a great deal of inconvenient pain. But I'm getting used to it. And my mom bought me take-out Chinese and then told me how much she likes Everybody Loves Raymond moments before she fell asleep in front of it. I think that is her favorite show. The one that puts her to sleep the fastest.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:51 PM
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For those of you who bought squares in the office pool

My temperature was down to 97.5 this morning, and now it's up to 102.0. The pain is pretty impressive. And I'm in bed with a ski hat on my head and a bunch of warm layers on. All black. I think it's just a sinus infection, but my friends keep saying the word "meningitis." And me without health insurance. If you love me, you'll vote Democrat. And I mean that.

My mom is coming sometime later today to take me to some doctor. I wonder if I should shower.

Audrey is gnawing on the zipper on my warm-up jacket, and I find it strangely comforting. Which means I'm nutters. Because I really like that warm-up jacket, and she shouldn't be getting her stinky breath all over it.

I'm taking my temperature...right...now...and the verdict is...102.2. Great. Hello, brain damage, here I come. I'm going to go get an ice pack. You should start composing something to say at my service.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:23 AM
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10.5.2004

Happy Thoughts

I'm in unbelievable pain. I have a fever of 101.9 and counting. I called my mom and started to cry, and she advised me to think positive. "Calm down and think about being well." Oh, now she just told me to say a little prayer. Great. I MUST be dying.

This is not my finest hour.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:45 PM
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I've still got it.

As Mona Lisa Smile was beginning, I heard the score and thought, "Hm. That's either Rachel Portman repurposing her The Cider House Rules theme, or it's someone else pretending to be her." Sure enough, it was Rachel Portman. And it made me feel a little lackluster. I did so used to love the main titles from The Cider House Rules. I did so love it. The main titles for Mona Lisa Smile is so similar, though, it's almost like when The Simpsons parodies some well-known theme. Like that episode with Shary Bobbins in it. The tunes are nearly the same. Just the end tacked on the front or up when it used to go down and vice versa. It's brilliant when it's a parody. Less so when it's supposed to be something new altogether. Disappointing, in fact. And I hope James Horner is reading this.

Anyway, I guess I'm still able to spot a film music composer's work in a note or two. There are just fewer people in the world who will be assigning me any extra points for that. I should be more choosy about the circles I attempt to crash, shouldn't I?

What the fuck is Tori Amos doing singing in this movie? I mean, there's a lesbian in it, and I haven't been watching long enough to see if anyone gets raped or objectified, but that's borderline at best. I used to take her seriously. Sheesh.

I guess this movie means well, as so many do. But it's really just so obvious. And false. Like the seminal moment when they get to see the Jackson Pollack for the first time. Just like when Rose is all on about Picasso in Titanic. I love how movies want me to believe that people are ever forward-thinking without having to be. I have begun to believe that forward-thinkingness comes from being unable to artfully exist in the present. Progressive ideas come from dissatisfaction with the now. Dreamers don't like what they see, so they spring forward into what lies ahead. But so few of those dreamers are the pretty ones or the well-to-do ones or the ones for whom everything was always easy. I guess there are the Jacqueline Bouviers to consider. But I prefer to crankily dismiss movies that want me to believe that Julia Roberts can change the world. She can't. At least not until she learns to walk like a lady.

My MySpace friend Aaron messaged me this evening and expressed concern over my possible neck tumor, and I said this:

How serious can it be? I told my mom about it today, while laying in bed and feeling like utter crap, and she got off the phone in thirty seconds to take another call and didn't call me back for five hours. At which point she scolded me, saying she was teaching someone how to crochet. As if I should know better than to expect to supersede that.

Then she suggested I seek out Chinese medicine. Ha ha ha. If laughter is the best medicine, she may have just healed me.


I can crib from myself, can't I? I can repurpose my junk. At least I'm up front about it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:40 AM
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10.4.2004

They say, to play the blues, you've gotta understand pain.*

I hate it when I fall behind. And it's something I've been doing a lot of. Things I never said but meant to. Like when I was going to talk about having gone to see We Don't Live Here Anymore with Arthur and thinking to myself, "This movie needs a shave." That was ages ago. The first week of August. Practically dinosaur times. I hate that.

So now it's just about the week and what I've missed and what I hope won't get swept under the rug and what I want to emblazon on something. It'll end up coming out all staccato now. And that's a shame. My thoughts have a pleasanter rhythm when I'm first having them. But the things that stick out will stick out no matter what.

Arthur and I tried to see a screening of Beyond the Sea. When that didn't pan out, we went to Casa Vega and quizzed each other on our various desert island necessities. The last time I went there, I had just moved here, and it didn't seem real to be on Ventura Boulevard. It didn't seem like it was where it should be in my mental map. I was still staying in a motel back then, and getting there and eating there with a bunch of people who knew their way around was actually quite uplifting. The salsa is just as good as I remember it. And then Sarah came over. And Audrey bit her. I found myself a therapist at long last and met with her for the first time. I went to the Sunset Marquis, where Sarah was staying, and had drinks and was told that Jessica and Nick had just walked in, but I didn't care enough to turn my head and look. Who cares about them. I worked all night. Several times. Bryn and I caught up. I don't know if it was the food from Versailles or some other happenstance, but I was sick for a good long while from the middle of the night on into the next day. I almost didn't leave the house, but then at the last minute, Matt and I met at Cinespace for the debate-watching party there. I had a pretty obstructed view, but it was nice to see the spectacle in the company of compatriots. Tommy Davidson was standing next to me the whole time. I had to move because I was getting jostled a lot. I ended up in a corner where both the debaters' faces were usually blocked by light fixtures. It was just like radio. Afterwards, Matt took me to the Casting Office to celebrate Gretchen's birthday, and I had too much to drink. But that is always made better by a trip to Lucy's, so we made one. The dog trainer lost hold of Audrey's leash when they were outside alone, and I almost had a heart attack watching from the window. But Audrey ran to the door and wanted to come inside, and she probably has no idea how close she came to another mad race across busy streets. I like to think it's because she loves me now, but I still don't trust that she wouldn't bolt if the opportunity came. It's what min pins do. My Uncle Virgil is in the hospital awaiting some pretty hardcore surgery intended to prevent his having a stroke. Apparently, he had a minor stroke-like event just a week or two ago, and it brought attention to the need for him to have what amounts to bypass surgery on both the major arteries in his neck. He is my dad's best friend, and I hope he will be all right. I drove down to San Diego to perform at the comedy theater. We went to Fred's in Old Town for drinks and food. I wore white pants, thinking I loved them, but I saw my reflection and realized I couldn't possibly wear them, so I made a mad dash to the department store, where I bought several other pairs of pants to try on at Krissy's place before going to the wedding at which I was to be her surrogate date. The reception was in Rancho Santa Fe at the inn where I once played for someone else's wedding on a weekend in October three years ago. I saw some people I knew. And I drank the free booze. And then Krissy and I went to the theater to catch the last half of the last show before going out for more drinks at Shakespeare's. We ran into David and Janet, because it was about to be David's birthday. The entire team has a crush on David, so that was a treat. And when I speak for the team, I really just mean me. Yen invited me out to see Transfer, but I didn't get the message until late. I bought a Happy Meal on the way home and was not happy with my fries. My mom crocheted a little lavender sweater for Audrey, so she's been wearing that around. Her barking and viciousness towards everyone but me are wearing on my nerves. And an unmentionable part of her required expressing today. If you know what that means, you feel immensely sorry for me, as well you should. I thought about seeing some comedy but didn't. Passed on seeing I Heart Huckabees. Passed on drinks. Drove home later than I planned. And I'm beginning to worry that I have a tumor in my neck. Seriously. It's like it's god's way of helping me choose between the HMO and the PPO I was about to sign up for. Considering how much I'm going to have to pay for the coverage, I almost hope I've got something that will kill me sooner than later. My mom would be upset at me for saying that. I had some sketch and short film ideas this week. And I actually wrote them down.

My neck really hurts. And there is a weird little bump in it. I hope it's nothing that will require me to wear a wig. Wigging is only fun when it's voluntary.

Nothing super out of the ordinary happened when it became October, and I think I was a little surprised by that. I expect the apocalypse even more ardently when November spins up. It's the changing, the dying, the drying up, the falling off. It's the grey of cloudy sunshine and the chill of dusk. That whole "I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A." bit isn't entirely true, you know. It gets cold here, too. Things die here, too. People here dream of being elsewhere, too. I know I do.

*Ironically, this comes from a commercial for diabetic testing supplies, but you get the gist.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:18 AM
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Full of Wist

Well, that's not what that means, actually. "Full of wist" is not a synonym for "wistful." I'm just being obtuse. "Wistful" is the word of the day, and I wanted to not be a total joiner.

I get wistful all the time. More often than even you would suspect given all the evidence already supporting my claim. But it's not always paralyzing. Sometimes, it's even nice. Sometimes, I miss it when I haven't had a bout of it in a while. Sometimes, I forget that millions of other people get through a day without sighing heavily or looking backwards. They watch the t.v. shows they've been looking forward to. They discuss dinner options. They revel in a good night's sleep. They don't plague themselves with the fear that they will never be whole. They don't weigh themselves down with the anxiety that nothing gets better or that life doesn't have some implicit joy guarantee. They don't compare themselves to anyone. They don't worry. Who are these blissful millions? Robots? Did they get some lucky piece of brain removed when they were born? Do they believe in something? Or something? Just talking about them is making me angry and resentful.

Anyway, don't get the wrong idea. I have a grand time, too. Much of the time, I do. Honest.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:59 AM
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9.30.2004

Someday, this picture will provoke nostalgia.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:58 AM
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9.26.2004

How it came from there to here

It was three years ago today that I showed up for my first day of work at my new Los Angeles job. I had driven up from San Diego the night before and stayed at a hotel with my mom so we could go apartment hunting together. I was wearing a sleeveless black turtleneck and these sort of dark greenish-brownish cigarette pants. The woman in HR took my picture with a Polaroid camera and put the photograph on the bulletin board with all the other employees. I remember being surprised that I didn't look horrible in it. I actually looked very thin. It had been a trying month. And I had lost my appetite. My day started late and ended early, and I drove back home to San Diego that night. Still so many loose ends to tie up. Packing to do. I met my friend Jennifer, and we went to Nunu's and had a drink or two. A guy kept smiling at me at the bar. But I didn't know what to do with that. We left when someone we knew but didn't want to see walked in. And the guy who had been smiling at me followed us out and said good night to us. I have nearly no recollection of him.

How we muddied what seemed clear

How can it have been three years. Already. It's something old people say. How time flies. It's not something you pay attention to when they point it out to you. You don't listen to the lyrics to Sunrise, Sunset and go, "I know, right?" But then all of a sudden you're looking back on something that has grown so very small in the distance. Something that used to fill the horizon. To all four corners. Something you couldn't see past or climb over or work around. All of a sudden you are giant and it is miniature, and you could smash it if you wanted to, but it is too far away to reach. All of a sudden you're out in the middle of nowhere. The last gas station for miles is well behind you. And everything looks the same in every direction. There is no difference between forward and back. Except whether you will have the sun in your eyes. When I let my memory catch me up, there are great stretches of ugly. A word. A phrase. Something that still stings when I hear it. Even in recall. Moments that can stop me dead in my tracks and make me ask myself how I ever got past that or why I ever let myself. Sure, I'm only flesh and blood. I'm no monument. I'm no glorious amalgam of perfect things. But there's flesh and blood and there's flesh and blood. And one of those pairs is weaker than the other. I spent a lot of time thinking I was saving something good. Spent. Wasted. Semantics. You could challenge the words I choose. And you would be right to. I go digging for things, and I worry too much about the dirt under my fingernails and too little about where I'm going to put all the dirt I've displaced. It's not like these questions answer themselves. And yet they do. Even if you don't ask.

Were we just doomed from the start

Were we just doomed. Were we just. I don't believe in fate. I don't believe in what is meant to be. I don't trust that things always work out. I mean, they do, of course. But not according to some plan. They just work out how they work out. But it isn't predetermined. You can totally fuck it up. That's the easy part. It's making sense of it -- or making lemonade out of it -- that weighs you down. I like to watch Iron Chef. I like the fact that the chefs are given some specific ingredient to dress up. I like that they have to make the best of whatever it is. They have to make the best of scallops or lamb or beets. It's not their fault if you don't like those things. They didn't pick it. I like the automatic absolution of that surrender. Maybe I just like being able to blame someone else. Or maybe I like the fantasy of an even playing field. Maybe I just like Japanese things. I'm not so complicated as all that.

We all get what we deserve

I believe that and I don't. Maybe I believe some version of it. "We all manage to deserve what we get." Some backwards business. The placement of a verb. I think therefore I am. I am therefore I think. Chicken. Egg. I like them over easy. I think the idea of deserving things is egotistical and Western and illogical in the grand scheme of things. It makes you penitent for no good reason. It makes you feel persecuted by happenstance. It makes you sorry, or it makes you feel entitled. It makes you think you are bigger than everything around you and that you MATTER and that some force in the universe is dialed in to what you are doing. I only wish there was something fair about the way things work out. Some form of justice. Some form of equanimity. I wish I could see the balance for the scales.

There are days when the light hits true

Yesterday, I took Arthur to LACMA, and we looked at the Robbert Flick exhibit ("Trajectories: The Photographic Work of Robbert Flick"), and I really liked it, and I bought the exhibit catalog. Early on in my time here, there was a contemporary photography exhibit at LACMA that included one of his sequences on Pico Blvd. I loved the piece then, but I wasn't as famliar with Pico as I am today, and when I couldn't find things on it that looked familiar, I thought to myself that I had more driving to do. When I saw the three pieces on Pico Blvd. yesterday, I found all sorts of things I recognized. All sorts of businesses that I drive by and know. That record store I keep meaning to patronize. The dry cleaner with the fancy ampersand in the logo. I know which side of the street they are on. I know which direction the camera is facing without having to read the caption. That's what three years of living here will get you. And that's not nothing.

Afterwards, Arthur taught me to play cribbage on the grass, and I almost won.

I also almost went to the Rustic with Arthur and his friend, but Josh and I got to Zach's party later than I had planned, and by the time we had said our hellos and gotten through a drink or two, it was nigh on last call. So we stayed put for a while. And I stopped trying to map the mystical progression of conversation topics that happens when you're standing somewhere with a drink in your hand. The police found a dead body in the trunk of a car near where Yun lives. Paul is considering becoming a vegan after seeing a documentary called Earthlings. Josh believes George Bush is going to be re-elected, even though none of us wants it to be so. Roz is a public defender. Eric chooses vodka, too. Geoffrey had an unusual UFO-shaped steel drum thing in the trunk of his car. You play it with your hand, and it sounds very pretty. Mario is very direct. By the end of the night, it's no wonder you can't remember people's names. Chances are you never heard them.

If the sun's too hot, well then sit in the shade

Another lost summer. I don't know that this one was particularly cruel. It had its moments. I made plans and sacrifices and commitments and progress. I saw flames rekindled and extinguished. Friends rediscovered and re-lost. Promises made and not made. Promises made and broken. Surprises. Delights. Glimpses of the unexpected. I cut my hair. I started over. I went swimming. This summer left marks on me. It lingers.

Given the chance I still defer.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:17 PM
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9.23.2004

Map Quest

I keep dreaming advice. But none of it is right. And I forget that I've dreamed it until sometime in my normal day, I catch myself thinking, "You're not supposed to eat cabbage because it makes you fat because of the sodium and the...wait, this makes no sense." And then I realize that it's something I dreamed and that it should be ignored. All these random bits of things I now know that are actually false. My brain. Full of false facts. I dream that certain things are on sale now. Or that health insurance is affordable. Or that mashed potatoes contain a lot of vitamins. That cops like it when you offer them carrot sticks and that motorcycles are very safe. I even dreamed that "Chinaman" was coming back into vogue as a way of referring to my people. And I was glad of it. But none of it is true. And I'm worried that, before long, I will find myself on my way to a place that doesn't exist to keep an appointment I never made with a rabbit who doesn't observe Purim. My schedule can't accommodate that kind of error.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:51 PM
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Word Scramble

I had to go to traffic court today. I got a fix-it ticket for a headlight that was out back in February. With all the added fees and nonsense, I had to pay $135 (not including parking) to get the story put to bed. Los Angeles sure is a ritzy town. Ten dollars here just FEELS like so much more...

The new issue of The Believer contains a copy of Army Man #1. So awesome. My dog trainer was having me stand outside for a few minutes, and I found it in my mail. I started reading it and didn't want to go back inside. Dog training isn't really very funny at all, while Army Man -- by contrast -- is. I started a zine last summer. I should finish it. I have some ideas. And plenty of glue stick.

The other night after The Pixies, some guy hawking tee shirts told me I had pretty legs. Then later, when Krissy and I were further into the parking lot, he crossed our path again and said, "You still have pretty legs." And then he called me "mama." And then he said, "What's your name?" And I said, "Mama." And he asked for my hand, and I reluctantly gave it to him. He kissed it and then wiped the kiss spot off with one of his Pixies tee shirts. And then he thanked me for letting him kiss my hand and not scratching his eyes out. And those are exactly the words he used. I like a compliment as much as the next girl. Maybe more. No. There's no maybe. I like a compliment as much as a Christian girl likes Jesus. That being said, there are few things flattering to me about being called "mama." I realize that he was saying it in that Woodstockian way that just means "girl," but I still prickle a little. Krissy laughed about it and started calling me "mama" right off. Only she said it like she was a little baby and that weirded me out.

I spent my entire time in traffic court playing Bejeweled on my cell phone. It's the only way I could keep from punching someone in the heart during the Q&A session before the judge came out. People are retarded. Bailiffs are power-mad. And English is not spoken by many with any great aplomb. If that one guy had raised his hand and made another inane, time-wasting query, I would have shown him how well my retractable pen fit in his eye. Fortunately, he didn't ask. And I got a huge high score. When I was leaving, a fellow in a wheelchair said something lewd to me. He was smiling and I'm sure he intended it as a compliment. Maybe I should have said something nice about his chair.

After my day in court, I went to The Grove where I saw Steven Weber playing with two kids on the grass. I passed him and was treated like a princess at Nordstrom. I saw at least three other minor celebrities at Anthropologie, Barnes and Noble, and just in and around the trolley tracks. The Grove is peculiar that way. Los Angeles is peculiar that way. I like secretly recognizing people. I don't get starstruck. I just keep track. Before I lived here, I would just be able to point out some ordinary, unfamous schmo and tell you what celebrity he or she looked like. But in this town, my work is cut in half.

Then, at Whole Foods, I saw Nestor Carbonell and his brood walking in. He is very handsome. And I remember him as Batmanuel on The Tick more than as that Luis guy on Suddenly Susan. This is important to me. Steven Weber was also very handsome. I don't want his feelings to be hurt or anything. In case he Googles himself and finds this entry.

It was such a gorgeous day today. I wish I could have wrapped it up in paper and put it in my pocket.

"I heart you" is only one consonant away from being "I hate you."

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:36 PM
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So few things stand the test of time.

I drove down to San Diego to see The Pixies last night. That drive. It gets so...samey. But it was a lovely day. Cooler than today. Sunny and super. And I arrived in time to not feel anxious about the evening. Krissy and I got to the arena early enough to save seats for the rest of our compatriots. And in time to see The Thrills. Who were less than I would have hoped. And not at all The Distillers, who managed to not open for The Pixies this time. Meriting a cry of, "Shucks!" from me.

I loved The Pixies at Coachella. And I loved them last night. They are like a genius machine. Everything they do. How they do it. So nonchalant in being absolutely unsurpassed. Kim Deal is a darling. And she makes smoking look cooler than anyone else I have ever seen. Joey Santiago makes noises with his guitar that tempt me to go buy a heap of effects pedals and see what guitars sound like when you play them with kitchen utensils. He, too, makes cigarettes look awesome. Especially when you hold them with your guitar strings until you are in want of a drag. I couldn't really see David Lovering because of the amps, but I did notice that he keeps very busy. And Frank Black makes my heart pound. Makes me want to jump up and down. And he has no need of me. And that makes him irresistible. I would totally have sex with all of them.

I felt really good. I sang and danced and loved it to death. And I wished I could one day do something that would send a roomful of people home sweaty. And I don't mean opening a bikram yoga studio.

Sitting here wishing on a cement floor
Just wishing that I had just something you wore

I put it on when I grow lonely
Will you take off your dress and send it to me?

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:39 AM
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9.21.2004

Everything looks perfect from far away.

Josh and I went to see Garden State today. After having thai for lunch, beer for afters, good samaritan cell phone retrieval, and starting to watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. We had lots to catch up on and serendipitous time to do it in. I think Zach Braff is the bee's knees, and this movie didn't set me off that course. It was a little obvious in places and romantic and well-meaning, and these are not necessarily bad things. Although I do have a tendency to compare things to Fassbinder more than the next girl might. It also made me very sad at times. And very certain that I waste too much of my time and my synaptic discharge pillaging a dry run. I could have been someone entirely different if I had avoided squinting when I should have been wide-eyed. I should have paid better attention. I should have seen things for what they were. I should have given myself a chance. I should have counted my vote. I should have treated myself like I mattered. Instead of expecting that anyone else would do it in my place.

I have traveled great distances and exerted great effort to experience The Shins as many times as possible. It was nice to see them so prominently featured in the film soundtrack. She's right about that one song. It will change your life.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:24 AM
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9.20.2004

I do believe in spooks. I do I do I do I do I do.

It's not even October yet, and I'm seeing my share of inadvertent creepiness. The L.A. Philharmonic is advertising Placido Domingo in their season, and his face is set against a black background on these banners that hang from the lampposts. When you're driving at night, you just see this large face floating in the black, and it takes a moment for you to resolve that it is Placido Domingo. And then you see another one. And another one. And maybe Placido Domingo isn't traditionally considered to be creepy, but any stern face floating in the sky is bad news in my book.

And when I was walking Audrey in the late late night, I tugged her to the right to avoid more spiderwebbery. But the only reason I knew a web was there is because there was a single leaf twisting in the air, suspended about a meter above the ground. Nothing visibly holding it there. It's a shame I'm not superstitious. I find superstitions amusing. And there isn't enough merriment in my world.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:44 AM
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9.19.2004

The pound is sinking.

I took Audrey for a walk. Beulah and Justin live in my old neighborhood. Near where my last apartment in San Diego was. Near where my parents' house was. Near all the things I always used to drive past. And the weather today is cool. Almost chilly. Back-to-school weather. Fall weather. Leaf-peeping weather. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I would come back to San Diego on the weekends and stay in this neighborhood with my parents. And it was fall. And I would go running in weather like this. And every song on my MP3 mix would make my guts churn. Even the stupid techno crap. Everything had significance. Everything tugged at overused heartstrings. Everything kept my mind racing and my heart pounding and my legs pumping. Who knew nostalgia could be so cardiovascular.

But that was three years ago. And my parents don't live in that house anymore. And I don't come back every weekend. And I don't always go running. And I almost never listen to that MP3 player anymore. Its battery doesn't like to hold its juice. Everything has changed. But when it's cool like this, something about it betrays a constant. The smell of the air. The grey of the sky. A little bit too brisk a breeze. A week ago, the summer was murdering me. And all of a sudden, it's time for a sweater and lip balm. You won't catch me complaining, though. I love both sweaters and lip balm.

Everything changes. I'm about to head back up to L.A. That familiar drive. So often done as Sunday was winding down. Yesterday, when we were on the road, we found ourselves navigating streets I used to drive all the time. Corridors that used to be welcoming. Second nature. I remembered them. If only to be able to identify all that is no longer the same. When I first moved to L.A., and I had to drive past these freeway exits late on Sunday nights as I was returning to my work week, they used to make me feel small and sad and insignificant and powerless. And I remember thinking to myself that someday they would represent something else. Someday, different buttons would be pushed and for different reasons. Someday, my re-wiring would be complete and I could get back to being the person I used to think I wanted to be. Even that has changed.

I am free of much that was once weighty and worrisome. I don't get stuck in that sentimental bog so much. My balloon has fewer sandbags in the basket. But even that weighs on me. Worries me. With all this weight falling away, will I just drift off into the sky and never find my way back down? Won't I? There has been an urgency in me. It has been pointed out to me before. It has been a fuel for my fire. An impetus to carry cameras or to buy paints or to sharpen my pencil or to type madly in the wee hours. I worry when things upset that balance. That I will stop doing anything because my creative urge is intentionally antibiotic, wiping out any nagging fear or doubt or angst that persists. I worry that I might find myself an organism in stasis if my slate ever gets wiped that clean.

But I don't suppose I have so much to worry about. Obviously, a drop in temperature and a short walk with my dog are enough to send me into a drippy reverie. I can't be that far ahead of the game.

Last night, there were many moments when I found myself stuck. Stuck on a word or a thought or a memory or a promise. It happens most when I'm in unfamiliar places. When I have nothing to hold onto. No view of the horizon. I have been to a number of big rock shows in the past few years. Maybe I'm just tracking through where they all fell on my timeline. Whether I wore a hat. Whether I forgot to bring sunscreen. Whether I stopped to write things down. Last night was nothing like the night before it. How many more times will I be able to say that?

Everything changes. Everything has changed. Everything is exactly the same.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:59 PM
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Nobody walks in L.A. Nobody lives in Devore.

Today was a lot of road trip sandwiching a day of Inland Invasion. Morrissey didn't show. Like a jerk. And Ian Brown of the Stone Roses sang just slightly offkey the entire time he was on stage. And he also broke the news about Morrissey, which must have upset the highers up, because when his set was over they started rotating the carousel on the stage as he was still singing, and they shut his mic down when he was trying to say, "Thank you very much." I kind of felt bad for him. But I also felt bad about his performance. So that's a tough call. His band sounded great. I wonder if when they all got backstage they beat the shit out of him.

I missed Muse. Again. This is the third time I've not seen them. What gives? We arrived at the beginning of X's set. And then we went and bought Chinese umbrellas.

I love The Killers. I bought their CD months ago, but seeing them live today renewed my thrill. Because I am shallow, and the lead singer is hot.

Dr. Drew and his clan had seats two rows back and to the right of us. Beulah noted how much he was enjoying his popcorn. Seriously. But he enjoyed Devo along with all of us. And it may have been the fault of substance abuse, but I could not stop laughing at how old those guys all look. Mark Mothersbaugh is awesome and a hero of mine, but he was all grey in the hair and paunchy in the paunch. As were a few of his compatriots. It was like watching your friends' parents parody a rock show.

Tears for Fears are a band again, didn't you know? Curt Smith is all slim and distinguishedly grey now. Roland Orzabal's hair is the same, but a little too black. Beulah said,"Oh. He's gone all basset hound on us, hasn't he?" It's true. He has. When they played Sowing the Seeds of Love, I was reminded of how that new song and the album it came with made Tears for Fears sound to be shamelessly alluding to the Beatles. And today, Curt was wearing a Beatles tee shirt, and playing a Hofner bass. And when they played a song from their new album, Roland sounded so much like John Lennon at one point that Beulah had to say so. And we kept noticing from bridge to bridge that we were hearing pieces of other Beatles hits all over the place. Beulah asked if it was just a Beatles medley. And she was right to ask it. Taking stock of all the clues, she whispered to me, "They're giving away all their secrets." They were very clever, though. Curt said that we may not be used to hearing Tears for Fears cover other people's songs, but they were going to do this one anyway. "It was made famous by Gary Jules." And then they played Mad World, and everyone was glad.

My feelings for Franz Ferdinand are no secret. And they gave another great performance. Over the delightful din, Beulah and I yelled a conversation to each other about the problems inherent in liking guys with that foppish style that Alex Kapranos (also hot) sports so dandily. Maybe I'll only ever fall for gay men, but I can't change what looks good to me.

Billy Fucking Idol. Okay. Let's at least say that the man did not disappoint. I had no idea what to expect. What he would look like these days. What sort of show he would put on. If I would have to be embarrassed for him. I mean, there was, after all, that horrible dreadlock phase that shouldn't be forgotten. But thankfully, he has returned to his classic appearance. He is beautiful to look at and egotistical as all get out. And we couldn't wait for him to get shirtless and were not complaining when he did. Steve Stevens was also a sight for sore eyes. I'm glad he's still wearing the black pants with all the hardware and the mess of hair and the black nail polish. I'm glad he's reliably cool, if bafflingly petite. And I'm glad I got to see the show in such a HUGE venue. I would have felt sort of sorry for him if I were seeing him in some tiny little club that might as well be called The Has Been. But enormous as the place was, Billy Idol romanced the crowd shamelessly. All of his song lyrics seemed suddenly dirtier. All those faces he was making. That cocky grin. (He looks a lot like Paul Bettany, don't you find? It makes sense.) That knee-weakening flrtatiousness. If I hadn't had to pee so bad, I would have come in my pants. And that could easily be another story that won't be told here.

Siouxsie Sioux was artfully gorgeous. Another artist I've never seen live and have always wanted to. Her music brings back so many memories for me. And they span two decades.

Beulah and I made each other laugh so much today. We were strangely in sync. And I don't mean menstrually. We kept having to say, "I was just about to say that." I'm a fan of when that happens.

And on the way home, we were all losing our minds when we got stuck at a railroad crossing being crossed by the longest and slowest train in the history of rail travel. Hitting the freeway at last was such a relief. Justin said something about fireworks that was so funny I'm still laughing about it right now. And it's been hours.

It wasn't as hot as we thought it was going to be. It wasn't as stressful as we worried it might be. It wasn't anything but great. And I'm glad it was how I spent my day. I posted pictures to my moblog. It was the best I could do. Cameras weren't allowed, so the phone was my only documentary tool.

The drive home was long. A lot of singing. Often in harmony. I'm plenty tired. But that's as it should be. Being tired because you've earned it through toil or good times or some other exertion is awesome. Being tired because you can feel all your cells dying and taking stock of it saps your will to live is the opposite of awesome.

And all this renewed, feverish fandom. I'm going to be downloading a lot of songs. And none of them will be by Morrissey.

If I could change your mind, I'd really love to break your heart.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:01 AM
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9.17.2004

I've been working on something.

If you're hankering to look at a lot of photos -- hundreds possibly -- mostly of me, I invite you to please yourself. I made something I call roundup, and it is guaranteed to make you sick of my face.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:19 PM
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9.13.2004

Stop the Abuse

I'm listening to a really awful synthesized instrumental version of Penny Lane on hold with Cingular. Cingular and I have a weirdly evolving relationship. I almost feel like we're dating. Based on the number of times we're on the phone for forty-five minutes or more. How quickly my mood changes when Cingular answers the phone. How often I lose my temper. Have to fight back the tears. Or fight the urge to hang up without saying goodbye. Cingular is a lousy boyfriend. A boyfriend who won't let me talk on the phone with anyone for more than ten minutes at a time. A boyfriend who is constantly saying, in so many words, "What do you want from me? I've done everything I can." Cingular takes my money and makes me feel like I'm being taken advantage of. And Cingular is always suggesting that maybe the solution to my problem is that I need to upgrade to a newer and more sophisticated model. If Cingular and I ever get married, please do everything you can to make sure we don't have children. This is just not a healthy environment for kids to be raised in.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:40 PM
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Liminal Programming

So, now it's The Hudsucker Proxy that's playing all the livelong day. A few weeks ago (and perhaps still) it was The Muppets Take Manhattan; now, it's The Hudsucker Proxy. Yet another film I will nearly invariably watch if it's on. I love the way it's written. I love the way it looks. I even love Jennifer Jason Leigh, whom I hate. That grey, snow-spattered, deco-inspired world is welcoming to me. And I also like to speak at a fast clip. There used to be a time when certain movies would only come on television at certain times of the year. The Wizard of Oz, for instance, would be aired on network television -- WITH commercial interruptions -- once each year and always at the same time. They would advertise it to pieces, and I would look forward to watching it with my family. We would even go out for some sort of fast food to eat in front of it some of the time. It was an event. But these days, every movie is playing everywhere all the time. It gets my sentimental clock all discombobulated. If I'm watching the same thing all the year long, how ever will I know how it made me feel? I need demarcation. I need calendar spaces. I need to know if it was a Monday. And if it was raining.

It is a Monday. And it isn't raining. But I don't think I will remember that the next time I need to. All these Mondays seem to run together these days. Every day of the week is like every other day of the week. I could sleep for weeks if I wanted to. Or stay awake. I could move to France.

Maybe I will.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:36 PM
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Front Row Seating

Although Paul F. Tompkins is now an actual acquaintance of mine, I can assure you that I shill for no one. So I trust that you will believe me when I tell you that The Paul F. Tompkins Show this week was as brilliant as a show could be without simultaneously being mistaken for a lighting device. I will miss it next month when it is in England and not happening. Jon Brion and Dave Foley and Derek Hughes were splendid. And Paul F. Tompkins slumping over dead on a stool was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I mean it ranks up there with that video of the monkey that smells its hand and falls off the branch. I even got hit in the face with shards of breakaway glass. And I don't have health insurance. Talk about getting Martín's money's worth. Speaking of which, Martín and I only narrowly escaped being enveloped in a panic when it turned out he had no idea what he was doing with regard to making reservations and paying attention to what time they were for, but it all worked out painlessly in the end. Which is lucky for Martín, as I wouldn't have thought twice about leveling him. Side note there, I think Martín is the anti-buzz. It seems I can down half a dozen bottles of beer with him and feel no chemical change whatever. Whereas I can drink two bottles of the same beer in a room with someone else, and suddenly I'm telling "romantic" stories and concocting excuses for playing strip card games. It's a curiosity. And a shame, really, because in my recollection, getting sauced with Martín was always a good time. The last few occasions we were drunk together were among the finest of times.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:21 AM
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9.12.2004

What you don't know

So, I never really got around to telling the tale, but I suppose now is as good a time as any. A few weeks ago, I adopted a two year-old miniature pinscher. I call her Audrey. She was rescued from a puppy mill, where she had really only ever interacted with other dogs. So, she was terrified of me. And any other human being, particularly if there were no other dogs around. I brought her home and spent a very stressful lot of time with her trying to put her at ease and get her to trust me. It was like having a new baby, but one with all sorts of problems. She wouldn't eat. She wouldn't drink. She wouldn't go to the bathroom when I took her out. She just huddled over in the corner in my bedroom, shaking. She likes to sit in front of my full-length mirror. I think it makes her feel like there is another dog in the room.

She made so much progress that first week. I could see her warming up and settling down. She still ran away from me when I reached for her, but she was also very cuddly once she made it to my lap. And let me tell you, I was never prouder of a turd than when she made her first in the back yard. Getting her to go on the leash was a big triumph. It proved she trusted me enough to be that special sort of vulnerable with me only a few feet away. I was ecstatic. Anyway, before my first week with her was up, I was preparing for my evening, and I saw that she was sitting by the back door, so I applauded her for what I assumed was her way of letting me know she wanted to go out. I threw on a skirt and a tank top and slippers and took her out into the back yard, where she promptly did her business. And I cheered her for it.

When I was taking her into the house, up the four steps to my back door, she jumped off the side of the steps, and -- the leash being short -- I leaned forward to make sure she had enough slack to not hang herself, at which point she yanked a bit and caused me to lose my balance. I fell. Flat on my face. Onto concrete. Somehow managing to badly cut the bottom of my foot, skin my knee, my elbow, my palm, and my knuckle, all of which were bleeding. And just as I took stock of all this, I noticed that I was no longer holding the leash, and Audrey bolted. Right out across a very busy street and far out of my reach. I kicked off my slippers and went running after her, barefoot and bleeding. I called her name. Drivers called out to me and told me where they had seen her go. I ran for blocks. A fellow in an SUV of some sort with a young lad in the front seat with him rolled down his passenger side window and told me he would circle the block in the direction he thought he saw her go. When he returned, he had lost the trail. He said he would keep an eye out and asked for my number to call me in case he found her. I gave it to him. He offered me a ride home, and -- as was the case on the one other desperation-filled time that I accepted a ride from a stranger -- I reasoned that he wasn't going to murder me with that boy in the car, so I climbed in and let him drive me home. And when I got out, I felt bad, noticing that I had gotten some elbow blood on his door. He gave me his card and asked me to call him if I found her so that he would know to stop looking. I thanked him and went into the house and began making calls. The micro-chip place where she was registered. The L.A. animal control place (where no one ever answered the phone). The people I had adopted her from, because her tags and micro-chip were still in their name. And Beulah. And by the time I spoke to Beulah, I was crying my eyes out.

The woman from the min pin rescue tried to calm me down. Told me what I should do. Make some signs. Go out and drive around slowly. Bring a friend. Do you have someone you can call? Someone who can come be with you right now? In case you get hysterical? Someone who can drive around with you so you have two pairs of eyes? Bring a blanket, because Audrey will probably be cold. It all began to blur together. I think the needle in my brain got stuck on the part of the record where she asked if I had a friend I could call and I thought to myself, "No, I don't." Not that I don't have any friends. I just couldn't think of anyone I would call at this moment, when I'm terribly upset, when it's an inconvenient working hour, when they would have to drop everything to come to my aid. It made me feel so sad and alone to think that the answer to that question was no. Even if it wasn't. At that moment, it felt like it was.

In the short time after I got home, I had already told myself I probably wouldn't get her back. She's so small and so unfamiliar with cars and the road. She's scared. She will get run over. Or eaten. Or trapped somewhere. I was in quite a state. Beulah and Adam both reassured me that she would be found. People will see she is on a leash and they will know she got away from someone, and they will try and help.

I couldn't decide if I should call and cancel my plans for the evening. I didn't want to. But I wondered what sort of company I would be or what sort of person I would look like if I didn't say that this was more important. But within about two hours, I got a phone call. Someone had found her. She was at the West L.A. animal shelter. I could go collect her in the morning. The rescue people would have to come, too, since the micro-chip was still in this woman Jeanine's name. I would meet them. They would call me. It would all work out. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then, just before I was leaving my house, I got a phone call from the woman I had adopted Audrey from, Sharon. Sharon let me know that Kim, the coordinator for the rescue society, was going to be calling me. They had some concerns. Apparently Audrey came right up to the guy who found her in the street. And everyone at the shelter said she was being very friendly and allowing people to pet her. Maybe she just didn't like me, Sharon was saying. Maybe they weren't going to give her back to me. This all sounded so ludicrous to me. I went out, but in a strange mood.

And the next morning, when they called my house, I wasn't home to answer it, but they never tried my cell phone, which was the phone they had been using to contact me all along. So when I got their message, I learned that Audrey had already been picked up and taken back to Sunland, to the home I had adopted her from, and some things needed to be decided. I was upset and frustrated and angry and confused. And I placed several calls in the hopes of resolving things quickly. But they didn't end up caling me back for seven hours. Seven excruciating hours, during which -- much like the afternoon before -- I had nearly convinced myself that I wasn't going to get her back. But in the end, I drove back out to Sunland and collected her. And she was frightened and skittish. Moreso than before. And it took another week of trying to work back up to where we had been. And I certainly had to sort through my own anxieties about taking her on walks and feeling that sense of panic that I was going to somehow lose her again. We spent a lot of time with Beulah and Justin, because Audrey really comes alive when she's with Tasha. Even though Tasha looks annoyed most of the time. And it's been a few weeks, and she is fine now. Sitting on my lap, as a matter of fact. When I type at my computer, she likes to sit here, with her chin resting on my left forearm, so that her head bobs around as I type. Martín says it makes her look like an animatronic dog. I believe him. Sometimes, things scare her, and I fear that she will revert back to that earlier state. But she still curls up against my lap when I sit down. And she licks my hands when I put lotion on them. And she's been eating her dinner -- even the dry food -- and doing her "business," and I see her tail wagging, and I know she's happy. Even though she still runs away when I reach for her. She comes to me when I'm sitting here at my desk. And I'm sitting here a lot.

I'm just summing the tale up, because I said something about the fact that I was bleeding (and in truth when I typed it, I got blood all over my trackball and my wrist rest), and people who read this speculated in a number of wrong directions. Believe me, if I was going to write about my period, I would totally just come out and say it. Check the archives. I'm not lying.

So the guy who gave me a ride home ended up calling me the next day to see if I had "found my dog." I didn't catch the phone call, but it's just as well. The same thing happened when I got a ride home from an off-duty police officer in San Diego many years ago. It amuses me that someone would look at a girl running down the street, barefoot and bleeding and not dressed in her Sunday finest, hair not yet styled, lipstick not yet on, and go: hot. But that's apparently what happened. I love that there are good samaritans out there. But I worry for them socially.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:21 PM
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I was never here.

I never existed. You and I never knew each other. Our paths never crossed. I never made eyes at you. You never held my hand. I never got nervous when the movie was ending. You never made it up to me. I never paid for your ticket. You never bought me a drink. I never liked a photo of us. Nor did you. You never saw me with braids in my hair. I never slipped you a secret note. I never beat you at a game of anything. You never saw me shine.

It never happened. None of it. I was never anything.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:11 AM
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9.11.2004

I realize the power of a soundtrack.

There is a memorial program airing on HBO. A program memorializing 9/11. A program that concatenates the footage collected by hundreds of plain old people with their handheld video recorders and their curiosity and their speculation. A program that wants to remind you how that day felt.

A couple of days ago, I was walking my dog, and an older gentleman with a newspaper in his hand approached me and asked if I lived in the neighborhood. I affirmed. He had read an obituary in the paper. An actress had passed away. She used to live on this street. My street. And this older fellow had lived only a block further down. He and his family had lived there in 1938. And his rent had been $27 a month. He told me a lot about the street and the people who had lived there and how much cheaper college tuition had been. And then he said, "I remember one day when the woman who lived in that house over there leaned out her window and told me and my father,'The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!' And we said,"Really?! Where's that?'"

I remember September 11 three years ago. I remember waking up to a phone call from my closest friend, instructing me to turn on the television. I remember watching it with him still on the line and not understanding what was happening. A very short time after that, I was on the phone with someone whose love I still wanted. He was confused and jarred. He sounded upset. He got emotional on the phone. Tearful. He asked if I wanted him to come up to my apartment. But within a short span, he was distracted by friends who hadn't television sets of their own and co-workers who would egg him on in his comedic antics in line at the blood bank and the lady at the blood bank on whom he had his eye. I would not see him at all that day. And it would not make any difference to him.

I was scheduled to perform in a comedy show on the evening of September 11. For a church, I think. It may have been the first remote I had been cast in. The show was canceled. But we didn't know until the eleventh hour. Everything was so up in the air. No one knew what was really happening. No one knew whether we should just keep on trucking or duck and cover. At some point in the afternoon, I went to a tire service center with Beulah. And later in the day, I went to my parents' house and watched the network news coverage with my dad and felt despondent and disconnected and entirely alone.

The night before, I had gotten home from having practiced with someone from the band I was later to join and having had a few drinks with and a metaphorical slap in the face from the guy whose love I could no longer claim, and I had walked into my apartment awash in a mixture of rage and bemusement and abject despondence, only to listen to my answering machine messages and learn that the company with whom I had interviewed the week before was going to be sending me a job offer by fax the next day. I would be moving to Los Angeles. Screw everyone who had made my final year in San Diego such an abominably hurtful season. What a triumph.

But when I turned on the television and saw that unimaginable series of events unfold, I did wonder if anything was ever going to be the same again. I did wonder if there would be no job offer after all. If there would be no Tuesday. If there would be no America as we knew it. If businesses would fold and borders would close. If we would suddenly be living on war rations. I had no idea what to plan for or what to expect. I had tickets to see Weezer that Friday. And sure enough, that show was postponed.

Tonight, as I was getting dressed to celebrate Angie's birthday out on the town, I had the television on, and HBO was airing this memorial program about that day. There is footage I saw a hundred times. Footage I vowed I did not need to see again. Would not try to see again. Much like the footage of the Challenger explosion that I saw on the television that day before I left for school. It was so vivid in my mind that I had no need of repeat viewings. And the feelings it evoked were too painful to want to be dredged up by even the most masochistic parts of me. But this program brought it all back. And there was a moving score to push whatever emotional buttons might have been missed by the sight of the sheer destruction and the grief of those who saw it happening.

Right in the middle of it, I had to leave. I had to pick up my quarry and head out to celebration town. I held up my end of the bargain. I kept up the conversation. I bought plenty of drinks. I used a friendly rebuff when the one very drunk guy copped a serious feel of my backside. I gave my number to the Australian guy who expressed an interest in having tea. I kept up the volley with the bartender who takes the teasing route. And I bandied late night fast food providers in the car on the way home. It wasn't really until I got home that I let myself drift back to that previous mournful state. Turn the page on the calendar. It's September 11 now. Officially. And all I ever get stuck on is the amount of love that was felt by those who lost loved ones in the carnage. Maybe you never feel such things as poignantly as you do on that tragic stage. But I keep getting hung up on how simple and clear things become when the world seems to be ending. I remember asking myself who I would have called if I had been on one of those planes and had a cell phone handy. And I knew the answer to the question. And I was ashamed of what it was.

Tragedy is an important part of the completeness of being human. I don't wish it on anyone. And yet, I know that it should be treasured when it falls. It is the lens that puts everything in perspective. It is the reminder that life is short. And unfair. It is the eye of the needle through which the thread of everything else must be squeezed. Pain. Loss. How could anything be considered beautiful in the absence of them?

I am not at all the same person today that I was three years ago. And certainly not exclusively because of what happened three years ago. These years have smoothed and scored and shaped me. Living them has been its own gauntlet. But anniversaries make such things more prominent in the recollection. They mark them. They freeze them forever in a vague diorama. For me, everything still exists in three dimensions. For me, the world is still a Viewmaster reel in my head. I can remember what I was wearing. I can remember what I smelled like. I can remember the weight of my long hair as I tossed it over my shoulder. I can remember the look on my face as I said my goodbye and drove home. I remember the wrongs that could so easily have been right. And I have to laugh at myself for having been such a foolish girl. Such a romantic idiot. Such a naive buffoon. I have said many times -- but perhaps never really taken to heart -- that bit about giving up on the possibility of a better past and how it relates to forgiveness. Whatever silly things I have wanted or wished, there is wisdom in accepting that there is no editing to be done. You can tell it any way you want to, but the important people know what really happened. And they will make up their minds. Behind your back if necessary.

I can feel the veil of tipsy on me. I can anticipate waking up in a few hours and striking everything I've written from the public record. But maybe I'll sleep the night through. And maybe I'll wake up and think that everything I've said has value in some universe or other. Maybe I'll let sleeping dogs lie. After all, when you wake them, they get all barky and are usually in want of a wee.

I should be getting to bed. In a very short time, it will be getting too warm to sleep and I will be sorry for having squandered my chance at it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:24 AM
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9.10.2004

It's not the heat. It's the economy, stupid.

Woe to us with working sweat glands. I am anti-perspirant. And I mean that in an ideological sense. And yesterday morning, before I jetted out of L.A. (in a Honda, not a Lear), it was sprinkling maddeningly warm bits of rain on the scorching sidewalk. There's nothing grosser than moist heat. I need clothing made of that desiccant substance they put in boxes of candy but warn you not to eat.

I was listening to NPR while driving back home this afternoon, and I kept wanting to call someone and make sure they knew about the partisan nonsense that was being said. I didn't, though. I just listened patiently and hoped that I would retain my arguments for future publication. It's hard when you're driving. I have so many ideas on the road, but I only have so many palely-colored pieces of trash in the car to scrawl them on.

Rumsfeld's been talking about why we haven't been seeing or hearing from Osama bin Laden in recent months. His theory? It's because we (America) have been keeping him very busy. Rumsfeld wanted America to think that Osama bin Laden hasn't been sending out videotaped tauntings because we're on the right track. That we're warring on the correct paths now, and that's got Osama bin Laden stuck in meetings all day. He's probably working longer hours than ever. I'll bet he hasn't even had a chance to catch the latest few episodes of The Surreal Life.

There was also an adviser to the Bush administration being interviewed on The World, and I wanted to fork her in the face. With a fork. She spoke very calmly and eloquently, but what she was saying was a bollocks sandwich. She was saying that we should not ignore the fact that George W. Bush's original campaign message in 2000 contained an assertion of our need to shift U.S. foreign policy to deal with rogue leaders, or something equally inane. She said that we should remember that and not act as if Bush decided to invade Iraq without having offered us a proper excuse for it. It was not an argument that I would say lacked, shall we say, perforations. She kept insinuating that the case on the weapons of mass destruction is not yet closed. I guess one of these days our troops may dig up a really big hammer and show it to us so that Bush can prove that Saddam Hussein was planning to hit us each over the head with it. The interviewer mentioned Cheney's recent penchant for asking voters to choose Bush in November because of how much less safe they will be if Kerry gets elected. I think she may even have asked if this wasn't outright audacity given the fact that the September 11th attacks occurred on the Bush-Cheney watch. That question was also weaseled out of in a good and weasely fashion.

A different interviewee spoke about her discomfort at how the Republican Convention so selectively used the 9/11 topic. She pointed out that, as much as the Bush camp would like to pat themselves on the back for the work accomplished by the 9/11 Commission, no one seemed to remember that the families of the victims experienced a shamefully tribulation-filled struggle in their attempts to even get an investigation underway. And when the interviewer asked if she feels safer today, she said, "No, I don't." And I think that's a very important question to be asking yourself. Because, even if we are quicker to shoot with George W. Bush behind the trigger, the net result has not been a downturn in terrorist atrocities nor has it been a rise in the worldwide comfort level of civilians from any but the very most Arabian of countries. It's a double-edged sword, this Republican propaganda. They want everyone to be scared by how bad the terrorism is right now so that fearful, shivering citizens will want to have their goose pimples smoothed by a guy who can start a nuclear holocaust without actually being able to pronounce "nuclear holocaust." But they also want to take credit for how much better things are in the world today than they were three years ago tomorrow -- or for that matter, four years ago on election day. They want us to believe that we are winning the war on terror, while Bush announces that this is a war that can't be won. And then changes his mind about it. I just wish that they would pick a premise and stick with it. Are we in grave danger? Or are we safer than ever? To hear Rumsfeld and Cheney tell it, we're both. It's fun to create these kinds of contrasts. Maybe it should be an exercise in an English class. A way to teach students the meaning of antonyms. "I'm happier than I've ever been . So happy that I want to kill myself." "Chocolate is my favorite food. It makes me want to puke." That sort of thing.

It's been a while since I said anything politically charged. I wish I'd spent more time writing this. I would have wanted it to be a humdinger. C'est la guerre.

So, it took a while for Mark the Cobra Snake to get the photos up, but my friend Jessy and I were captured at the Curiosa Festival after party a few Fridays ago. I have some photos from that night, too. Unfortunately, temporal displacement makes me too lazy to go fish them out and post them right now. Can't you just be happy with what you have?

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:12 PM
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9.8.2004

Late Night Strolls and Candlelight Vigils

I'm beginning to wonder if the spiders in my neighborhood are actually trying to catch me. Each time I take my dog for a walk, I pass through a jungle of spider silk, slung between the various trees and bushes that line the sidewalk on my street. I am constantly having to sputter threads of it out of my mouth or extract it from my eyelashes or maddeningly try to wipe it from my clothing. Are they actually hoping that I will become ensnared so that they may cocoon me for eating later? I suppose you have to admire their ambition. I'm not as fast as an insect, but I'm pretty sure it takes a little more to immobilize me. Anyway, I hate it. It's nastiness, and it gets all over me. And any of you out there who know of my weird fear of accidentally getting pee in my mouth can probably imagine what runs through my mind when spiderwebs get stuck to my lips. I mean, that stuff totally comes out of the spider's ass. Gross.

On Monday, when I was getting ready to go to the pool party, I saw some TV vans across the street, and, if you must know, I'm WAY too cool to take an interest in other people's tragedies. (And by "cool," I mean nothing of the sort.) Nothing maddens me more than getting stuck in traffic because someone ate it on the turnpike and all the other drivers are hoping to catch a glimpse of his brain matter. So, I tend to regulate myself about such things. I noticed the vans, but I didn't crane my neck or ask what was going on or even really try and focus my eyes very much. But tonight, a neighbor greeted me and told me that "the kids" were gathering over on that corner because sometime in the wee hours of Monday morning, a surface street drag race ended in a car smacking into a building, splitting in two, killing all aboard, and jettisoning part of the car into a pedestrian leaving the 7-11, killing him dead, as well. Death so nearby. Blood on the concrete. Pointless and sordid. Depressing and sobering. And maybe vindicating for crotchety old folks who think that those upstarts got what was coming to them. Maybe they did. Who am I to judge. I'm no saint, and I drive like a lunatic much of the time, but I'm alive, so I guess that puts me in a slightly more advantageous position than the poor sods who ate it on the street at three a.m.

Few things are fair. Change is sudden and swift. Your favorite show gets canceled just when you were getting into it. They shut off the fire hydrant in the street just when you got around to putting your shorts on. The slow song ends just when you were going to ask that girl to dance. And it's followed by Say You, Say Me, and no one can dance to that crap, right? With that weird fast part in the middle? It will sink your game before the tip-off, friends, and you can quote me on that. So maybe you should do more. Now. While you're still breathing. While the cancer you've always feared hasn't actually shown up. While the rates are still low. While your car can still make the trip. While people will still be able to respect you for trying. While you can still go shopping in a skirt. Maybe doing something now would be the best thing ever. And maybe it would free you of that hang-up you have. Your father's approval. Your friend's expectations. Your lease agreement.

This is all very inspiring, but I feel quite certain that the bloke who died across the street was probably doing about as much as he was ever going to. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback the situation from where I sit, but I saw his friends. He wasn't going to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease any time soon. Maybe the reason for his death was that I should find out about it and write this blog entry. See? There is a god.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:04 AM
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9.7.2004

It is expected that I be gracious and fulsome in my praise.

Never a fan of the hot hot heat. Never that me. I like it cool. I like baring my arms, but I like not having to. I like turtleneck sweaters and sleeves that are too long. I like fireplaces and chats by them. I like roasting chestnuts and pretending not to be disappointed by how they actually taste.

I have never chosen summer as a favorite season. I have never preferred it to any other time. I like the late autumn. I like the winter. I like the cold February. In Los Angeles, February is priceless. Sunny and clear but crisp and expectant. None of the haze of disappointing June. Clarity and the occasional bit of rain.

And spring is fine. All that hope and possibility. All the references to rabbits and the incessant humping they do. Easter candies. Egg-shaped and with gooey insides. I saw chocolate-covered Peeps at the store. They looked horrible. I think it was for Halloween. Imagine the makers of Peeps thinking they could branch that brand out to the trick-or-treaters. What arrogance.

I have an outfit in my head that I wish I was wearing. Something Sophia Loren wore. Or Ann-Margret. Or Audrey Hepburn. I will wear it someday. All I need is the perfect pair of pants.

Angie is in town again. She sent me photos from the party yesterday, where she claims I was fending off the boys in some amusing fashion. I tell a good yarn is all. Maybe boys like that. I'm no expert. This is one of the pictures I like best. It's Drew protecting his delicate parts.



"Fulsome in my praise..." I liked that phrase when I heard it. Even though I found precious little else to like in the movie it comes from. There is merit in that -- finding the specks of pleasantness in even the most hateful things. Highlighting the good. Fondly remembering the parts that don't gnaw at you. I lived in Guam for four years, and I didn't like it every day I was there. In fact, I liked it very little for most of that time. I prayed for the National Spelling Bee to provide me with all-expenses paid passage back to the mainland. And it did. But only after three long years of having only one television station and schools without air conditioning and very little access to American conveniences beyond McDonald's and Shakey's. It was a drab backdrop to my adolescence. But when I remember it, I smile. I remember glass-bottomed boats to Cocos Island and Sunday brunch buffets on Hotel Row. I remember Catholic girls' school uniforms and cinnamon buns at snack break. I remember boomboxes playing Hard to Say I'm Sorry and Abracadabra on the bus in the rain. I remember the baseball stadium and the Pescador and playing in the orchestra and playing the part of a princess in the Thanksgiving parade. Climbing up a ladder onto our white-painted rooftop to lay out in my bikini and listen to Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Siouxsie Sioux. I remember mango trees and badminton and school-age crushes and shopping trips. I remember the good parts. And when I remember them, I always forget how sweaty it all was.

I jotted down the words, "Time takes away all feeling," but maybe that's not what I meant. Maybe time only takes away the feelings that can't redeem themselves.

David Sylvian sang something I liked. "And the mind's divisive. But the heart knows better." And we all know what that means. Except the retards. And they're the lucky ones.

It is too hot for my liking. I slept like MURDER last night. Like bloody murder.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:11 PM
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Vietnam Veterinarians

Again, I cannot seem to applaud Sacha Baron Cohen loudly enough. Can you hear my hands? They're bleeding.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:30 AM
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9.6.2004

Rage of the Sinuses

I am an allergic mess today. And every time I sneeze, it startles my little Audrey. Every time I blow my nose, she glares at me, before reverting to her curled up position on my lap. I am allergic to dogs, but I attribute this to the weather. After all Audrey and I have been through in the past two and half weeks, I am unwilling to consider the possibility that we are clinically destined to be apart. I'd rather drive a PT Cruiser.

I'm off to a pool party in the mid-day swelter. I hope no one there minds the sniffles. More than likely, they will assume I'm hopped up on cocaine. Let 'em. I've nothing to prove.

If this is what is meant by "bikini weather," I'll take "parka weather," "galoshes weather," or "full body cast weather" any day of the week.

Beulah calls Ashley Olsen "the fat one." That makes me laugh.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:38 PM
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Onomatopoietic Groaning Sound

However did it get so hot? I had only just been singing the praises of this Los Angeles summer season for not having demoralized and debilitated me as last year's did. I had just been remarking that it sure has been nice out and that I haven't really even needed the swamp cooler my parents bought me for my birthday. I had just been shooting my mouth off all over town like a bona fide know-nothing, unaware of the power of jinxes, lauding the ecosystem for being so welcoming and temperate. I know people are dying and losing everything in the world in Florida, but when I see Dan Rather getting flapped around by that sideways rain, I can't help but think to myself, "It's probably cooler there than it is here."

My little canine angel is snug in bed. I used my grill for the first time since buying it sometime early last year. There was enough food for everyone on my block. But I am stingy and had no desire to invite them. Too high a riff raff quotient. I like to control the guest list. And I like to keep the good beer for myself. I drove up from San Diego this afternoon, aware as I did, that I was in the confirmed square category, as it seemed that everyone else was headed in the opposite direction. Woe to all on the southbound 5. It was like an RV parade. I was grateful that the traffic was not terribly challenging for me, especially since -- even with my air conditioning on at full blast (and this is air conditioning I recently spent hundreds upon hundreds of dollars suping up) -- I was very, very warm. This is the sort of weather that melts your lipstick in your handbag, even when you're careful to keep your handbag in the shade. This is the sort of weather that forces you to just accept that you will feel sweaty and unappealing and that a shower will be your only salvation. This is the sort of weather that makes you say, "Ick. Don't touch me."

I've got nothing to fear but fear itself. Which gives me the willies.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:27 AM
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9.4.2004

Prestidigitation

With nearly no exception, when I put a bit of lime into a bottle of Corona and then cap it with my thumb and turn it over like the cool kids do, it fizzes and sputters and gets everywhere. I am having to come to terms with the possibility that my thumbs are too small for this feat. Mary Too Small Thumbs. Would be my Native American name. Thank the heavens that they are at very least opposable.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:17 PM
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Wham Bam

Yen and I painted the town again. We went to see Transfer at The Casbah. Campaign for Quiet was the headliner, but for some reason, they went on first, and apparently we missed them. That makes no sense to me. But I didn't make a stink about it. I just felt sort of sad, because when Yen and I were later talking to Nate, it was apparent that he was very cute and therefore his band deserved to be watched. Or listened to, I suppose. A somewhat overly "familiar" fellow named Ray invited us to some after party, but we didn't go. He kept trying to plant kisses that were entirely unwanted and far too moist.

Okay, here's a little back story. When Yen and I went to the Ken Club last week, we happened to see Transfer, because this guy Steve, who we met that night, told us we should check them out, and we stuck around to hear them and found them to be awesome. So, we bought the CD, met the band, got invited to come back and check out the Casbah show, and Justin, the drummer, suggested I get in touch with him about playing some violin for them. And maybe I will, but this is not a moment filled with promises.

Fast forward to Friday, we ran into Justin and Matt from Transfer in the back game room. Someone said, "Mary," and I turned around and saw the two of them but wasn't really sure I knew them, and then it all came back to me, and I was a little embarrassed by how long it had taken me. So we said our how do you dos, and then Yen and I played Ms. Pac-Man for a while. Steve found us, as well, and seemed impressed that we showed up as we said we would. And I guess there's some room for that sort of feeling, as I was really very close to coming up with an excuse to not go out at all. My client meeting earlier in the day had gone much, much longer than I expected, and I was tired and drawn. But I know all too well how I end up feeling at midnight or so when I've decided I'm not up for a good time. I invariably realize I was plenty up for a good time. I just needed some time and a drink with ice in it to get into the groove.

We left The Casbah just barely in time for last call at Nunu's, where we were treated like princesses. Even by the hard-to-discourage Australian fellow who talked endlessly about golf, despite my initial admission that I know nothing about golf, and smelled as if he had just come from an onion buffet. Outside the bar after closing, I found myself having to be clever with a guy who had letters tattooed on his knuckles. I have noted that, by and large, boys are likely to have one of three styles when it comes to courtship and flirtation. (1) They try to impress you by showing you that they are awesome and that you are wrong about everything. (2) They antagonize and tease you about everything you say. (3) They listen with interest to what you have to say and offer discerning responses of their own. Number three is rarer than numbers one and two. It mostly happens with grown-ups who have a good amount of self-esteem and who are comfortable showing a woman respect and courtesy. Which means that most of the practitioners of this method lived in a time when men carried hankies and slapped each other with gloves. I have recently learned that this approach may be referred to as a "conversation." Anyway, he and his pals also invited us to carry on our evening at another location, and I allowed him to write his information in my little book before Yen and I went somewhere to eat. I didn't mean to be disingenuous in allowing them to infer that we would accept their invitation. I just felt like the polite thing to do was to eat a sandwich, so that's what I did. And it was wonderful.

I used my car's cigarette lighter to melt through the sealed edge of one of those Costco packages, because I decided I wanted some lotion for my legs, and once I set my mind to something...well, anyway, look out. So my car smelled a little funny for a while. But then not so much anymore. And I suddenly recall that, as I circled the block looking for parking before my sketch show, I saw a little person walk across the street. And when I say "little person," I mean midget. Which is precisely why I think the phrase "little person" is ineffective. It sounds too much like you might be talking about an eight year-old boy who likes to wear three-piece suits and a bowler hat. But the dude I saw was a midget. And he was wearing a smart little outfit and walking with some bounce in his step. Maybe he was headed to the flower stand to buy some plumage for his date. I'm sure she liked his plaid shirt. It looked crisp and neatly pressed. A midget dude in khakis crossed my path. Does that have any superstitious meaning?

I have a feeling this weekend will stretch on and on and on. It's been like stasis, being here in San Diego. It's been like a vacation or a prison sentence. Either way, you're not responsible for how little you got done.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:58 AM
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9.3.2004

I see that face coming back to me like an old familiar song.

There are lessons to be learned from The Muppets Take Manhattan. Please enjoy this litany of them.

Stories about two kids who go off to the city to get married are not totally played out at this point.

Interspecies dating has been sanctioned since the '60s, but by 1984, full on frog-pig marriage was totally the social norm. I realize they weren't a GAY frog and a GAY pig, but I'm sure my point is still effectively driven home here.

Everyone prefers the rubber Wall Street Journal to the rubber Washington Post. Everyone.

If a pig can get a job at a department store and a frog can get a job at an ad agency, what's your little brother's excuse?

Construction workers will make love to anyone. Anyone.

I would take a meeting with a frog with an afro.

Wouldn't it be rad if dogs could talk?

Pigs CAN suck their thumbs.

Joan Rivers was never funny.

"Boffo, Lenny! Socko, Lenny!" is one of my all-time favorite exclamations.

Lonny Price went from The Muppets Take Manhattan to Dirty Dancing to Hot to Trot. Talk about the dictionary definition of trifecta!

Even frogs get nervous when marriage is the topic.

Puppets can make you cry. And you don't have to be a big gayrod like me, either.

I used to say I wanted to sing that wedding song at my own wedding one day. I am slightly less gay right now. And I no longer know how to fly. Goodbye, childhood, my old friend. La la la la la la la la. It's time for saying goodbye.

Those Muppets have been through so much together. They have weathered jewel heists and murder plots and the Big Apple and the briny seas and Charles Durning and the '80s, and they're still thick as thieves. I wish they weren't doing Denny's commercials, but in all other respects, I adore them.

Friendship is the finest ship in the world.

What better way could anything end, hand in hand with a friend. There's no arguing that.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:06 PM
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"Delicious wine?" "Exactly."

It was a well-filled and affirmation-espousing house at the comedy theater tonight. A mass of paying customers there to see The Unaffiliated put on (or perhaps pull off) our show "Nothing to See Here" for the first and penultimate time. It's been an arduous ascent, and I already don't like where this metaphor is going, but you know what they say: it's all downhill from here.

On this show's account, I have had to drive back and forth to San Diego a lot more than I would like, and those who know me and my calendar would contest that statement, believing as they do that I ADORE driving to San Diego, since I seem to be doing it all the goddamned time. But in all reasonable truth, I always tell myself I won't be there all that much this month, and then it turns out that someone in my family has a birthday or a surgery or a movie they want to watch with me, or I'm scheduled to perform, or I have to get my car serviced, or I need to deposit a check, or I find that I'm really missing the Mexican food, and whaddya know -- bingo bango bongo -- I'm in San Diego every weekend with no one to blame but CalTrans.

I'm trying to curb it -- trying to actually allow myself to be a citizen of my zip code. But there is an ebb and a flow to even that. I spent nearly all of the first three months of this year in Los Angeles with nearly nary a visit to the southerly county. But that's easily forgotten when you look at the mileage I've racked up since May. So, I can't promise that I won't keep subverting my own journey towards the absence of a sense of displacement. But I can put forth my stolid wish to do more in my current city of residence. After all, I hear you can actually do comedy shows in Los Angeles, too. And some say that the Mexican food isn't half bad either.

So, I've been in San Diego for a few days now, and I may be here for a few more. I don't know yet. The only thing I'm sure of is that all our post-show celebrating has made me very thirsty, and there is bottled water only feet away from where I sit. And that means it's time to break. I'm a firm believer in hydration. Even though I prefer not to call it that.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:58 AM
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8.31.2004

I'm no Superman.

I wonder if Clark Kent ever has trouble sleeping. Or if he knows that you can order Ambien without a prescription now. I can't sleep. And while I'm fully prepared to hate myself over it in the "morning," and while I do know that you can order Ambien without a prescription, I've never actually done that. Nor have I ever actually taken Ambien. How do babies find comfort from the heartbeats of their mothers? My heartbeat is annoying the crap out of me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:42 AM
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Savoyardesque

I went to the New Beverly and saw a couple of Marx Brothers movies tonight. There was a third film playing afterwards, but I strongly suspect that sitting through three movies in a row at that very human-smelling cinema is a surefire way to get crabs. I also had somewhere else to go. And it was not a delousing plant.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:36 AM
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8.29.2004

Face the Facts

Even when you plan for your evening, it can take twists and turns you can't have foreseen. I spent some lovely catching-up time with my dear friend Yen, and I showed her around a smattering of the parts of the San Diego nightlife that I know. And we made new friends, and discovered new music, and made new plans, and laughed at the La Posta-ites' conversations. One fellow said of me: "She looks so couture." I pretended not to hear it, but you and I both know that I did. Brett, who I've not seen since the last time I played with my former band at the Ken Club, recognized me as I walked by and said, "Hello, Mary." Even with the three feet of hair I cut off and all the extra blondeness. And my favorite bartender was kind enough to ask for a kiss. It reminds me that it is still possible to be surprised in San Diego. Even when I'm fully expecting to be.

Note: Said bartender also lifted me off the ground when giving me a hug, and I noticed that flash of my usual fear that he would telescope his spine or keel over dead under the weight of me. I guess I must not actually be so very heavy. But I'm about sixty-seven inches in length, and that makes me longer than the average gal, and I have a very unflattering perception of what I actually look like, so whenever this happens -- and I'm not saying it's often -- I race through my mental files and wonder if I have the sort of insurance that would protect me in the event that I did actually crush him. Wheeeee! -- I'm flying!

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:14 AM
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8.28.2004

Caution: I am about to make a sweeping racist generalization.

Persian people in the customer service industry are never willing to say, "I'm sorry."

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:27 PM
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8.27.2004

Card Catalog

If you're looking for me elsewhere and haven't already found me, well, first off, you're not looking with much fervor, are you, because I'm EVERYWHERE. And that lie aside, I have had a moblog for a few months and have been posting pictures there from my camera phone. That's really all it is. Pictures. I think I only bothered to type a caption for one entry. And perhaps that will change, but I don't owe you anything. Anyway, there you have it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:38 PM
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8.26.2004

But the dead only quickly decay.

Tuesday night, I went to the Body Worlds exhibit at the California ScienCenter (and I am not a fan of this brand of nomenclature when it comes to academic things, believe me, but there is a big jet aeroplane outside, and that's pretty cool), and I suppose there are a few things to say about it. Namely, if you want to see a lot of penises, many with no skin on them or only portrayed as their bright red bloodflow, go. It's a penis bonanza. Testes, too. Lots of 'em.

If you don't know about this exhibit, it was a source of great hubbub a couple of years ago when it was shown in England. Actual cadavers have been subjected to a process called plastination, and you can look at all the parts up close and personal-like. Apparently, the exhibit with the pregnant woman, reclining on her side, with her uterus flayed open and the fetus curled up inside was such a source of consternation that people threw their coats over it to protect her dignity.

I understand that reaction, I guess. Even though all the subjects in the exhibit agreed to donate their bodies to this specific project and everything is on the up and up. There are times when the cadavers are presented so, well, ARTISTICALLY that you might start seeing the human body as a medium. And maybe there's a slippery slope in there somewhere, I don't know. Crackheads selling unconscious prostitutes to artists for a score. I don't know.

I don't know what these people did in real life, but some of them have been cast in roles: "The Teacher," "The Runner," "The Chess Player," "The Swimmer," "The Goalkeeper." And they are shown in quaint little dioramas, mid-activity, props in hand, or in some cases prop in one hand, lower digestive tract in the other. I do wonder whether there would have been a tussle about it. "I agree to let you carve me up and show my denuded nervous system to the world, but PLEASE let me be The Swimmer and not The Dustman." I also kept expecting the informative captions to give me the name of the subject and the circumstances of his or her death. Thankfully, no such information was offered. Especially because people like my sister took such special note of who did and didn't have an impressive package. How humiliating. She also tittered at the anuses, but you can't really blame her, can you?

There is a guy, I think they call him "The Winged Man," with all of his insides open and displayed. For some reason, there is a fedora on his head, à la Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. I hope it was a prank. I can't imagine this is an important part of what he has to say. "Annie, are you okay?" "Yeah, but there's this guy at the door with no skin and all his insides on the outside. Do you owe him money?"

There is also one guy who is standing and holding a completely intact "suit" of his skin in his right hand. It's phenomenal. You can see the pores and the small hairs on his shoulders and the scuffed bottoms of his feet. The works. Terribly impressive. Fascinating.

And in truth, the show really is interesting and educational, but it has a slight air of sideshow, as well. It reminds you where the duodenum is and shows you what smoker's lungs look like and brain hemorrhages and Alzheimer's Disease and all that other important stuff, but it also lets you look right down a dead guy's gullet. And some of the figures -- the ones with eyes -- look like they're staring you down. And that's just freaky.

I have to say, I kept looking at the parts and the bodies and the faces (well, what you could see of them) and feeling so sad for these people. I would look at a woman standing with her internal organs displayed, her skin mostly gone, a smattering of oddly colorless pubic hair atop her nethers, and I would think, "Someone used to make love to her." That's me. Always romanticizing and always morbidly. Sometimes I feel like a reincarnation of Edna St. Vincent-Millay. What a copycat I am.

The developmental birth section of the exhibit with all its many-sized fetuses was also sort of sad to me. Those poor guys never had a chance.

I just look at all of this -- this corporeal inventory -- and I realize that that's all I am -- all we are. And one day, it won't matter what I did or didn't have for breakfast. Whether my handbag was a knock-off. Whether I ever finished reading Ulysses. Whether I can still speak French. I'll just be a decaying mass of tissue, no longer loved or remembered or necessary. And just seeing those words written out reminds me how egocentric that sort of thinking is. Of course I won't be remembered. Who cares about me. I'm not so explosively important. I'm just a girl. And I know a certain number of people. And I owe some money on my credit cards, and I don't get my oil changes as often as I should. And I look in the mirror and think I'm awesome and awful by turns. And I never know which it's going to be, so every hour is like a yank on the slot machine. Come on, cherries.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:55 PM
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Best of Times, Worst of Times

It was both of these.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:44 PM
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8.25.2004

Impact

Boy, could I have used a friend today. If only to help me clean up the parts of me that are bleeding.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:00 PM
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8.24.2004

I heart TiVo

If you didn't see Ali G doing his abortion beatbox, you are such a loser. Sexy time explosion. Respect.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:59 AM
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The louder I say I'm happy, the more I believe it's so.

Saturday night, an anomalous Paul F. Tompkins Show found me at Largo. Paul F. Tompkins, who was so bearded and mustachioed as to make us think at first that his evil twin from the alternate universe had somehow found his way onstage, turned out to not be evil at all but in fact hilarious. It seems pointless to even offer superlative assessment, as each show seems to top the preceding one, and you start to ask yourself if you were even paying attention before because how could it possibly keep getting to be so wonderful. Surely, you just missed part of it before. Because you thought it was damn fine back then, too, and when are you ever wrong. I'm not following my own logic here. Anyway, it ruled. In my notebook, I nearly illegibly wrote, "Paul F. Tompkins, maverick hypnotist," and, "A fun word for the color yellow; 'Rocket Red' is too scientific." You don't know why that's funny, but it is, and you can trust me. Uncannily, Pee-wee Herman was introducing his hypnosis doll Dr. Mongo on t.v. just as I began to type the maverick hypnotist thing. And maybe that isn't exactly uncanny, but I know that very few of you will bother to look it up to make sure.

So, Paul F. Tompkins, right? Give this man his own television show, or I will strap sticks of dynamite to my bodice and blow my womanliness to smithereens. What do I have to do? Seriously. Just don't make it a show that requires him to stop doing his shows at Largo, for that would make me truly and ironically furious.

My pals and I went to Canter's after the show, and I ordered blintzes, but I wanted vodka.

And there's more.

I got a doggy last week. Her name is Audrey. And she runs away from me whenever I reach for her, but I'm sure that will change. Eventually. I also cut and colored my hair again. And celebrated my sister's and my father's birthday. And my friend Jessica was visiting for most of the week, which was lovely. But for some reason, I was tireder than I've ever been last week. I felt like I was falling asleep all day long. I could barely keep my eyes open for the shortest of drives. And I wanted naps again and again. And I didn't get them nearly that often.

The week before last, I went to Las Vegas at the drop of a hat and lived it up at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, where I spent hours at the heavenly man-made beach they have there, swam with my sunglasses on, and liked the fact that you can walk through the lobby dripping wet and in your bathing costume and share an elevator with a woman in a bridal gown -- and look down on her for how gauche she is.

I spent a lot of money gambling, but it didn't hurt at all. I was totally up for losing it. That's a nice feeling. If you can go to Vegas and feel that way, do.

I had all sorts of ideas while I was driving up. I scribbled a lot of them down on a parking stub while I was on the road. Which I shouldn't be proud of, as I covered the 280 mile distance in about three hours and forty-five minutes, including the trafficky part getting out of L.A. I don't think it's recommended that you write while you drive at any speed, but that's just ridiculous. I even had a highway patrolman pull up behind me when I was going 95. I looked in my rearview and saw that scary, cockroach-like silhouette that those cars cut with their coloring and their antennae. I pulled to the right and assumed I was going to get a ticket. After all, my tags are expired, and even though I had an extension in my windshield, this cop couldn't have seen that. But to my surprise and delight, he passed me and pulled up behind the red Acura in front of me. They did not get over right away. And when they did, he pulled in behind them, sirens a-blazing, and I experienced the schadenfreude high that I nearly always feel when someone is getting a ticket and it isn't me. I don't know why I didn't get a ticket, but I took it as a sign and parlayed my good luck at the roulette table, where I did in fact win.

My journey from the angels to the stars was inspirational, to be sure. I spent a lot of money and had a lot of fun and wrote a lot down and learned to use my new camera. Well, one of them. The Sony is still gathering dust. But my new Canon goes with me everywhere. The road to Las Vegas is a tire tread graveyard. Ruined carcasses of shredded black rubber. I empathetically pitied the travelers who must have had to pull off to the dusty shoulder and work a jack in the 110 degree heat. They're long gone now, but the pieces of tire linger. It feels like the Old West, only less old. All the abandoned gas stations and ramshackle diners. Towns with no one in them. Quivering heat fanning off the sandy valley floor. It was stormy on my drive home. Rain and thunder and lightning in the desert. A pale grey sky. Majestic, in a way. I drove straight through to San Diego -- stopping once at Minneola Road to pee and take a picture of an old sign -- and performed at the comedy theater, where I was happy to have done so. I no longer remember what I did on stage on Friday and/or Saturday that might have been worth mentioning. But I remember having a good time and being told by a weird fellow leaving the theater (as he touched his eyebrow to mine) that I was the best one. I would ordinarily not have allowed such an invasion of my personal space, but it came as such a surprise and afterwards I just shrugged it off and told myself he was probably autistic.

Miss Yvonne sure was buxom. She plays old ladies in commercials now. I feel sad for that. But I feel happy when Kap'n Karl says, "Miss Yvonne, may I LIKE you?" Because that is a very funny thing to say. Paul Reubens is a genius. I give him a special dispensation to do whatever perverted and illegal tihng he wants to. He'll always be great to me. And our society is too uptight anyway.

Oh, when I was in Vegas, I took my crew to the Star Trek Experience, for I am a nerd of gargantuan proportions. And nothing was funnier to me than when Justin thought that the signature Borg phrase ("Resistance is futile.") was, "You are not suitable." I wish that's what the Borg would say. It's much better. Did you know that when you go to the Borg attraction at the Star Trek Experience, they poke you in the ass? It's true. Vicious pointy things prod you through your seat and make you wonder what might have happened if you had been sitting only two inches further to the left. It's similar to those 4-D attractions at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. That "A Bug's Life" show touches you all over the place. And that's all right in the context of the show. But in the Borg thing, getting poked in the ass makes no sense based on what's happening on the screen and around you. It's completely out of touch with the narrative. It was just rude. The Borg Queen is talking to you and the Doctor is yelling and a hole gets blown in the overhead part of the bay you're in, but nothing really explains the ass-poking. I wonder who designed that part. Maybe it's an artifact left over from the previous attraction, Date Rape 4-D, starring Leslie Nielsen.

Yesterday, I was driving south past La Jolla, and I saw a scruffy couple walking on the freeway with their two dogs. They were dragging an amply loaded cart up a steep grade. I don't really remember whether they looked destitute, but in my imaginary memory they were shirtless and poor. I was listening to Bill Collins reading his poetry on A Prairie Home Companion at the time, and I wanted to write something amusing about them, but I didn't.

The Muppets Take Manhattan has been playing on cable like crazy. It's one of my favorite movies in all the world. And all the songs remind me of our living room in Guam, where I watched our VHS copy of it again and again and again. I wonder sometimes if the fact that such a great lot of my sentimental ooze is unleashed by shows that feature puppets and cartoon characters says something distasteful about my brain development. My tears get jerked by lots of things. But that Saying Goodbye song in this movie is like getting sprayed in the face with mace.

Life is a lot like that drive to Vegas, you know. Like a two-lane highway where everyone around you seems to be content to go sixty. This is an ineffective analogy. But I am always in a hurry. And I seldom get what I want.

When I ramble on like this, I am often at a loss for a way to let go and end it, so in closing, here is an excerpt from a conversation in a coffee shop where pictures were being drawn on placemats:

J: See my Luxor sign?

B: Yeah. I hate it.

J: Well, I hate your house.

M: You guys are like six year-olds.

J: You make me six years-old.

M: Poached eggs are not supposed to be completely cooked through in the yolk.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:18 AM
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8.17.2004

Pssssst

Whisper me your secrets, I won't tell a soul. One by one, I'll treasure every story.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:51 AM
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nights I feel your cigarette burn

I began somewhere in the middle of it. There was sunshine streaming through cloud cover. A sky perforated with regret. Familiar spots grown unfamiliar with time. How quickly an afternoon turns into an afterthought turns into two years ago turns somehow again into five minutes ago. There are places that are gone. Places to which I no longer have the key. The things that come to supplant them seem ersatz. But only for a while. Eventually these memories can be relearned. This steadfast loyalty to the history of a glimpse of what might have been is energy that could be better spent on campaign fervor. Vote for John Kerry, please.

I have lived here a while. I can tell. I know my way around. I know how far I am willing to go. I understand the currency. Sometimes I even have the upper hand. If there is a perfume to Los Angeles, I am foul with it tonight.

I taste cigarettes and aftermath and the morning approaching.

My brain is too muddy to make pretty sentences.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:40 AM
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8.8.2004

Meat market



There was a man at the park at LACMA who positioned himself just so that he could see my panties while I was reading. He was shameless about it. Eventually, I left.

Then I got a message on MySpace from some guy I don't actually know asking if I would be free today for a quickie, and it made me feel so sad that I wanted to cry.

I got a small lecture from my mother about calling every day or two to let them know that I am alive. And rather than cherishing her concern, I secretly wondered if I could get away with a text message.

I wonder if I should have gone to the beach today. And I wonder further if everything there would have looked like Stardust Memories to me.

You can breathe too deeply, or you can hold your breath. I think either way, your lungs hurt.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:11 PM
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Luckiest Day

Chinese people believe eight is lucky. The more eights the better. I remember August 8, 1988 -- it was some sort of big deal that a day could have so much luck. I don't actually remember anything that happened on that day. I was living in Japan, but I lack the details.

So, for all intents and purposes, today is a lucky day. I hope Chinese luck means more than just not having a safe drop on you. I like to set my sights a little higher.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:14 AM
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8.7.2004

Grind Groan Grist

I don't need to be hit over the head with the lack of things. I don't need an intervention. I know what's up. I get no kick from champagne. But if I were to get hit over the head with a bottle of bubbly, that might help me call it a night.

It never did feel like twenty-one hours of Friday.

And then someone* tried to sell me asthma supplies and it made me stop and ask myself if I have ever been able to catch my breath.

*an email

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:54 AM
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8.6.2004

Medicinal Tea

It was actually chilly when I got out of the shower this morning. So much so that I closed the windows and put on my robe. I know it doesn't mean that there won't be a series of unbearable days of heat and humidity in the coming months. Last year, the summer lasted until November, for instance. But it was a welcome bit of gooseflesh, and it expands my wardrobe options for tonight.

Last night, I did a script-reading for my friend Arthur, whose screenplay The Second Best Man has already been optioned but has not yet gotten underway production-wise. It's the second screenplay of his I've helped read on a stage, the first being Fist in the Eye, and further proof that Arthur is funny and able to gracefully tackle delicate subjects like porn and masturbation. Just a few months ago, I was doing script-readings practically every weekend and thinking triumphant thoughts about my articulation and reading comprehension skills. Which made me think of the old days of elementary school testing in the California public school system and wherever else I was living. I always got very high scores, but in retrospect, none of that ever, ever mattered. So, if you are a school-age youth reading this today and you've got the straight razor poised above your wrist because you don't think you marked your scantron sheet correctly, know these two things: 1) nothing you do will matter for as long as you think it will and 2) cut along the vein, not across it.

I also went to Vida and drank a few cocktails in a very short span of time, not really noting to myself that I'd barely eaten anything, so the buzz came fast and sturdy, but I only really recognized it in retrospect. The night before, my friend Jessica was visiting, and we visited a number of East Side haunts and both woke up with those headaches that remind you that you didn't drink any water before bed, you idiot.

At Vida, I heard a rumor that Jackson Browne was in the house, and later, I saw him as he was leaving the house. He has had the same haircut for like thirty years. I think that's what you recognize. More than Jackson Browne himself. Because he's shorter than you would think. But you look over and you see Jackson Browne's haircut walking out the door, and that's practically admissible in court as evidence that it was him. What fifty year-old dude is still wearing that layered look?

I did not mean to be a jerk last night. I hope I wasn't.

My iPod just arrived! (And it was delivered by my cute FedEx guy -- bonus.)

posted by Mary Forrest at 9:10 AM
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8.2.2004

Truth

Do people really watch and/or enjoy Def Poetry Jam? I mean REALLY? Come on. I don't believe anyone enjoys this. Even English teachers in "at-risk," inner-city schools have to think this is bollocks. Come on.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:31 AM
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8.1.2004

One Saturday I took a walk to Zipperhead.

I can't clock this day. Time stretched and strained. The middle part was nothing but compression. I went very high on the swings. So high that I got a little sand in one of my shoes when I jumped off. There are things you can do in the nighttime that you can only do in the nighttime. And sometimes it's just a question of courage. I'm never embarrassed when I know no one's looking.

Somewhere between the beginning and the end, I saw Spider-Man 2 and talked about Holocaust documentaries with my father and thought about going swimming but didn't. Somewhere in there, I liked the way I looked. At some point, I got the itch to make memories out of blankness. And for a moment, I was glad to have given in to the inclination to take pictures.

                  

                  


The moon was full tonight. I could feel it in my throat.

Flip Side

My mother went to an estate sale today and brought back a small stack of very old books for me. Mostly poetry. Some Shakespeare. A small red volume has a binding that reads Master Pieces of Humor Volume II, and inside, the title plate says, "Little Masterpieces of American Wit and Humor." My mother said, "It says humor, but I tried to read it and nothing in it was funny." It's copyrighted 1904 and bears a photo of an unsmiling man who looks like a Victorian version of Captain Kangaroo. I'm not surprised there was nothing funny in it by my mother's standards. Her hope that something in it would be funny was the most amusing part to me. Especially given the things I know are prone to tickle her. But there is something to be said for her enthusiasm for wit. My mother is the only person I know who has a special folder to save the email humor she gets from friends and colleagues. And it isn't the SPAM folder. She LIKES it. That being said, she is much funnier than anything that goes out over the Internet, I can assure you. Later in the afternoon, we were watching some home entertaining program with a particularly effeminate man giving party tips to an uninspiring couple, and my mom said, "There's more and more gay people all the time. What am I going to do?" And that, to me, is a laugh riot.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:00 AM
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7.31.2004

I can hear his tongue on his teeth in his mouth when he talks, and I love it.

Holy lord, but this latest Batman movie is poised to rock my world. No one looks better on that gritty, colder-hued film stock than Christian Bale. I can't wait.

Well, that's not true. I can wait, I suppose. In fact, maybe I prefer to. The anticipation of something great or cool or excellent always, ALWAYS eclipses the reality of it. And movies nearly never fail to disappoint me these days. Christmas Eve is better than Christmas. Red is better than yellow. Thursday is better than Friday. The memory of hoping for something will always trump anything that comes after. Unless, of course, it's a surprise ending.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:39 AM
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7.28.2004

The goodness of being a girl.

You have hips that you can use to help carry things when they get unwieldy or heavy. Sometimes people will stand up for you on a bus or a train. No one worries that you are about to chop at them with a knife you are hiding in your pants pocket. Vanity is your birthright. Merchants will cut you a deal without your having to ask, just "for your courtesy." Nobody thinks you're a killjoy for not wanting to join in the impromptu game of touch football that just cropped up. You can fan yourself with a piece of paper or a magazine without looking like a gaylord. You can bat your eyelashes when asking for help and you will make a customer service person's day. Even if it's a girl that's helping you. You can charm your way out of a traffic ticket. You can wear whatever shoes you want with whatever socks you want or with no socks at all or with two pair on each foot. You can be just friends. If you don't hurry when you cross the street, people don't mind so much. You can buy anything you want, and no one will look at you funny. Even dildos. You can ask for multiple tastes at the ice cream counter, and the scoop-wielder will be happy to serve you. Unless you're fat. If you're fat, all of the above is null and void. You can get away with thinking you're fat. But if you actually are clinically fat, the world -- which was once your oyster -- clamps shut, catching the hem of your chocolate milk-stained sweatpants in the process and forcing you to tug awkwardly, tear your clothing, and skulk off in the other direction, telling yourself that oysters were never so much to begin with. Too much guts in the middle. Not nearly so nice as a good clam or shrimp.

When you're a girl, you can paint your dog's toenails without getting funny looks from the neighbors. You can blame everything on your hormones. Even bank robbery. You can wear fashions of bygone eras and be admired, unlike boys, who look dumb when they dress up like Confederate soldiers or President Lincoln. You can have a cat. You can cry at the movies. You can buy flowers for no reason. You can drink cocktails that are neither clear nor amber-colored. You can open a boutique with a frou-frou double entendre name and no one will throw a brick through the window. You can drive a pastel car. You can sell cosmetics for a living. And if you listen to all the grade school hype, you can be a bank president or a fireman or a lady astronaut or a trapezist or a school teacher or a doctor or a doctor's helper or a train engineer or a parole officer or a game show contestant or a grandmother or a political activist or a bear tamer or a tattooed freak or a photographer or a newspaper reporter or a landscape artist or an administrator or a bus driver or a mail carrier or a judge or a jewelry designer or a divorcee or a movie star or even president of the United States of America. One thing I think you can't do is eat a really staggering number of hot dogs in one sitting without making everyone frown. And this is especially true if you're fat.

Also, when you're a girl, you can post pictures of yourself on the Internet. See?

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:37 PM
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7.26.2004

Dan-dan-dandy San Diego

Comic-Con is over. Phew. San Diego was lovely. The weather was beautiful. I used mass transit for the first time in a city I lived in for years and years. And I never once complained about my feet hurting, even though I wore impractical-but-pretty footwear the whole time. It's a policy with me. Unless I'm actually bleeding, I will accept the consequences of the shoes I wear without drawing attention to my sacrifice. I'm not in it for the pity, after all. As far as shoes are concerned, I'm fairly invincible.

But I am bent and bedraggled and all that comes of no sleep, no food, and no relief in sight. I met a deadline today. It's only the beginning. And I have a funeral to attend this week. And that promise dulls all the colors.

I had wanted to complete my entry for an essay contest, but I missed the deadline alas. This is no way to become a respected writer.

I spent a shameful amount of money on pens at the convention. Maybe I will do some art.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:56 AM
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7.23.2004

I'll be your cocktail napkin.

I listen to the hum of the fan, and I imagine myself inside a machine floating in the depths of space. And it is no one else's fault that I am alone. And there is nothing to reach for. There are no failures to count or possibilities to assess. What is is. I would deem that freedom. The freest kind.

It's a marvel that I am not asleep at the moment. A marvel.

But I am in a sort of dream state. My heart is breaking for a dear friend. My fingers are sore from wringing. My heart is heavy. I can feel it in my eyes. I am tired of this slouching posture and the taunting, leering, jeering face of every time-keeping device in the room. My heart is breaking. But it seems that there is a numbness in the wreckage. And that smacks of conditioning. And that means that I have been here before. And that is the saddest story of them all.

I will be valuable when you realize you've forgotten. I will remind you. When you find me, crumpled and left, you will smooth out my edges and find the words you wrote. Will you remember what you meant when you wrote them? Will drinks or tears have bled the ink? Will the numbers and letters have all gone to mush? I'm sorry. I am more absorbent than I'd like to be.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:36 AM
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7.22.2004

Handshake Agreement

I once knew a guy. But now I don't know him anymore. He is no one to me. I am nothing to him.

I once thought I knew myself, too. But that was ambitious.

The only thing I know today is that I am in too deep and the work is hard and the rewards are small and the joy is shortlived and there is very little peace for me in the rotation of the earth. There is nearly nothing but that dizzy spinning feeling.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:30 AM
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7.21.2004

Drug of Choice

I like to call people things that aren't their names. I like to call people things that make no sense. Especially when addressing them in email. I like to call people Pegleg and Daisy and Cuttlefish and Slapstick. Jonny-O. Fruit Loop. Scallywag. Heartbreaker. Snowcap. Handheld. Jawbreaker. Gold Doubloon. Crowbar. Tiger. Linchpin. Latchkey. Vortex. Popsicle. Loverboy. Lawgiver. Patterson...maybe it's something about the unsatisfying dearth of syllables in what most people call themselves. And what of those who shorten their names? I can't get used to the single-syllable. It might as well be a sneeze. I like it when syllables take on a lyrical quality. I like it when your name is something I can sing at you.

I like to call myself things, too. Not so much in name but in title. If you look through old emails of mine, you might find that I professed a post-closing claim to the throne of Cereal Magnate or Purveyor of Teas and Sweets. Or I might have adopted an ad slogan for myself. Something like "good to the last drop," or "4 out of 5 dentists agree." And even more commonly, if I've bothered to take any time at all, there will just be some phrase at the end. "Mary, cold in the shoes," "Mary, up from the ashes," "Mary, to the infinite power," "Mary, shape of a billfold," "Mary, not much of a leprechaun," "Mary, wish I had an elephant," "Mary, a toothbrush a day if necessary." Sometimes they mean things. Sometimes they don't. Mostly, they just point to the fact that I never seem to think "Mary" is enough.

Some of these words occurred to me last week. I was sad and trying not to be. I am only a little sad today. But plenty overwhelmed and the blue that comes from tired and taxed. I worked until 5:30 A.M. for the second night this week. And I'm not where I need to be workwise. I let movies play while I toiled. Good ones. Crap ones. Late in the night, I put the second season of The Office in the DVD player and let that go. And when all the episodes had done, I called it a night.

And I was thirsty in the wee hours, so I drank a Vitamin Water. They're full of sugar, so I haven't been drinking the ones I have in my fridge. But I didn't want any more Diet Coke. So I drank it, and it was delicious. And I awoke this morning with the worst possible headache in the history of headaches. How's that for a sugar high?

My sleeping was done in a typical fitful cadence. And the dreams I had are just beyond reach. Like nearly everything else.

posted by Mary Forrest at 9:03 AM
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7.18.2004

"The years have been short but the days were long."

It's been a long day. Ever so long. I played three shows at the comedy theater. I felt good about them and bad about them and satisfied and frustrated. But when I was wringing out a mop outside and an audience member said, "She's the best one up there and they make her mop up?" it made me feel just slightly less beleaguered. I'm sure I wasn't the best one up there in everyone's mind. But I'll settle for pleasing the people who can be pleased. I felt a little roughed up and maybe a little betrayed here and there. But these are things that I will forget. My tendency to take things too personally is trumped by the passing of time. Even now, I can barely remember how we were sweaty and impatient for our breakfast at Nick's, and at the time, it was the only thing that mattered.

Since then it's been a book you read in reverse
So you understand less as the pages turn
Or a movie so crass and awkardly cast
That even I could be the star


The day aches in me. In my eyes. In my gut. I am not myself tonight. And no amount of cool shower or oscillating fan or beachy night air will restore me. I take great comfort in the fact that tomorrow is something of its own, and once you're in it, today ceases to exist. I don't want to suffer in the heat. I don't want to suffer at all, if I can help it.

I don't look back as much as a rule
And all this way before murder was cool
But your memory is here and I'd like it to stay
Warm light on a winter day


This was me the night before.

            


Two loose kites falling from the sky
Drawn to the ground and an end to flight

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:44 AM
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7.16.2004

"All around me are familiar faces..."

I went to the premiere of Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut tonight at the Egyptian Theatre. The affair gave the appearance of swank, what with all the be-earpieced security personnel. A good chunk of the cast and crew (including Jake Gyllenhaal and Katharine Ross) were in attendance for a post-film Q&A and after-party. And there was a smattering of press on hand. So that explains the bounce staff. But I got through their flimsy phalanx without a ticket just fine. I'm cunning. Like a fox.

I wish I could have enjoyed myself more. I was uncomfortable and tense. It just got warmer and warmer and warmer in the cinema, until I found myself wanting it to be over and not caring anymore. And the guy running the Q&A asked his questions in the most long-winded and sycophantic way. If I'd had rocks in my pockets, I'd have thrown them.

I've seen Donnie Darko many times since its original release, which happened just a short time after I first moved to Los Angeles. I remember seeing billboards for it when I had just gotten here, and wondering about it. As early as November -- only a month or two after my move -- I remember going to a performance my friend Jo Alexis was giving at the home of her friend Bairbre Dowling and meeting Holmes Osborne there and noting that he was to be in the film. It was all just a rumor at that point.

And, though I've seen it many times and own the DVD and have never really attached much sentiment to it before, for some reason, tonight, it dragged my heart around a little. I thought about those first months here. And the year that followed. I thought about all of the hopes I had and how so many of them were dashed. I thought about the way I would feel each time I came home to this apartment and how that changed over the months that followed. The ups and downs in my sense of welcome. This place has been a refuge and a prison. A rendezvous spot and an escape pod. It has been more trouble than it's worth and more reward than it has cost. And, as inconstant as it has been, it has been the only constant in my time here. The rest has been a roller coaster. A toggle switch. A strobe light. Mercurial. Fickle as a woman or a winning streak.

I enjoyed the movie, I suppose. Drew Barrymore is only more awful in it because there's more footage of her, and she is really terrifically bad. But the rest of the more that was added was helpful in changing a lot of what the story once was. I don't know if it was as effective as Richard Kelly assumes it was. In his Q&A comments, I gathered he thought that a lot more questions were answered by this new cut, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. It did offer more opportunities to see how the characters felt about each other, though, and that had its value. But it's still not a transparent narrative by any stretch. And it takes a lot longer to get to the final question mark. So it's a good thing I didn't have to pee.

The Cinematheque is about to have a sort of '70s and '80s wacky musical fest, so we saw trailers for The Apple and Can't Stop the Music, and they were hilarious, and I would like to see both of them while under the influence of a cocktail of things. But that's just something else to look forward to.

I don't know what to make of me at the moment. I would say that I have been blue lately. But I think it's more accurate to say that I have been black. If I ever have a sunny disposition, I don't like it to be called that. But I have a feeling most people see me smiling most of the time and that I strike them as pleasant and encouraging and cheery. And I wonder if that's still true today. I feel less than apple-cheeked, I'm afraid.

I'm always keeping something secret, though. I suppose that's true. I'm always harboring some bit of unknown. I may wear my heart on my sleeve, but nearly everything else stays in my handbag.

No one knew me, no one knew me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:54 AM
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7.15.2004

Mood Elevators

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:59 PM
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Finally, the Finality

A lot has happened. A lot has sunk in. I can make sense of things. I can't make sense of things. I get it and I don't. It's a mystery. My head is stuck inside a giant walnut shell. It's echo-y and dark. I took a bite out of a piece of bread and I saw the marks it left. And I thought, "If I took a picture of this and posted it and then later killed someone with my teeth, this would be the forensic evidence that would convict me." I don't want to be a downer. And I don't want to be a faker. And I don't want to be the only one of whatever I am. Let's start a club! We'll meet on Tuesdays and take turns bringing snacks. And we will drink punch out of Dixie cups with trivia questions on them and whoever gets the most questions correct will not have to pay dues.

Let's do something, anyway. Time is running out.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:53 PM
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Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky.

There's a momentum to getting errands done, I find. Once I leave the house, I'm on a roll. Have a stern talk with the photo place people who printed all those pictures on glossy instead of matte. Go get a draft at the bank and make sure to let them know how many hours you spent correcting their account-opening errors the day before. Get your smog check done. Buy more bandages. It helps that I live within blocks of the bank and the post office and the drug store and the auto place. I even made a few phone calls that were long overdue.

But even when I get that fire lit under me, there are times when it falls flat. I'm glad I got it done, but I don't really care that I did. I feel life draining away and the desire to make anything of it growing into more of a legend that you pass on to the young'uns. It always worries me when I just don't feel like it. But it feels more and more familiar every time it happens.

I am standing by myself in line for something I don't want to go to. They will be selling popcorn inside, but it will be stale and I will hate it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:10 PM
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At the Risk of Oversleeping

I am one of those few. Maybe they're a lucky few. It depends on how you look at it. I have a hot FedEx guy. Two of them, actually. And I get deliveries from one of my clients so frequently these days that I see at least one of them pretty frequently. Frequently enough that he calls me by name and comments on how early I'm up -- if it appears that I am up in the first place. So, I'm lucky I guess because it's a pleasure to go to the door much of the time. But then there's that other component of panicking that I look frightful when he has a 7 A.M. delivery for me. Honestly, who looks good at that hour? Well, he does, but that's different. He's used to it.

When I told Adam that my FedEx guy is cute -- and I honestly don't recall how that came up in conversation; I don't think I just blurted it out for no reason, but who knows -- he was quick to advise me to "go for it." He seemed convinced that you are actually required to take action under these circumstances, given that so few of us receive deliveries from any but the most unappealing of characters. But that's not how things work in my world. And maybe there's a reason for that.

When I heard the doorbell this morning, I had to throw on a bathrobe (because I was literally just about to step into the shower) and I recall regretting my outfit. That's what proves to me that I live in a ridiculous unreality (a) because I have been reduced to dressing to impress the couriers and (b) because, in truth, I don't think it matters to them what I'm wearing. If I come to the door with a glass of wine in my hand and a come-hither expression on my face, whether or not he takes the bait will probably not be a factor of what color robe I'm wearing. Anyway, it's all too Adrienne Barbeau.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:11 AM
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7.14.2004

Crazymaking

I finally went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 last night. I've been meaning to go. Wanting to go. Missing out on opportunities to go. For weeks now. But at last, I went, and it was a good thing. It was really entertaining, really informative, really provocative, and really infuriating. What I've heard most often from friends who have seen it is their disbelief at how much of the information the film presented was not being delivered by the major news agencies. Or any news agencies at all, for that matter. And that's definitely something you come away from it thinking. But I don't want to posture or preach. I want people to see the movie, but I won't twist any arms. You will make up your own mind. As you should.

A hispanic couple left early into the film and didn't return. I wondered if it's possible for someone to come to see a Michael Moore movie and be caught unawares by the subject matter. Maybe they mistook it for a screening of the Ray Bradbury story the title parodies. (I'm being sarcastic; they were wearing matching sweatpants.)

In my ongoing trailer commentary, I will say that the trailer for Motorcycle Diaries made me want to go buy deodorant, and the trailer for the remake of The Manchurian Candidate really, REALLY chafes at me. Manchurian Global. The very idea.

I've been on hold and not on hold with Cingular Wireless for the better part of two hours now. I'm now hearing an extraordinarily cheesy instrumental version of Belinda Carlisle's Mad About You. I can't quite put my finger on how it makes me feel. But I think that synthesized steel drums might be a trigger mechanism for the "sleeper" in me.

And in further news of my wound-healing: Peh! I think I just got Neosporin in my mouth.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:57 PM
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7.11.2004

Relief and Sighing

Tonight was the final show in the run of Guys and Dolls. I was so drained all day today. It's been such an oddly stressful few days. I have felt exhausted in every waking moment. Except for those in which I was too tired to take stock. I haven't been what I would call miserable. Not by any stretch. I've just been taxed. And I've had persistent headaches. And I have felt tired and listless. And I have noted that it sucks when you're not at least hungry. Because at least when you're hungry, you can eat something, and it's like you solved a problem. There's no solving feeling curiously not right.

Last night, I decided not to stick around for the strike party. I sort of wish I had worked up the willingness to stay. And not so much for the Italian food. Although, when I heard there were giant meatballs, I felt sad and deprived. I love meatballs. And I'm not trying to be cute. I really do love meatballs. And the really large ones are especially luxurious. In addition, I found out today that I missed being presented with the "Golden Note" Award, the orchestra recognition trophy that gets presented to one musician in each show this stage company does. I was so pleased to have received it. I wish I could have been there to hear what was said about me, but in a way I'm fine to have missed it. I might have been dashed if the conductor had said, "We're giving this thing to Mary in recognition of how far she had to drive to do the show." That's not quite the same compliment as, oh, say, "She played the fiddle real purdy." I'm happy about it, though. Either way. Because it's nice when people think enough of you to give you a trophy. No matter what it's for.

Plus, in the old days, I always used to prepare little song parodies and similar such cutenesses that made cast members say, "Yay! Orchestra strikes!" And this time, I didn't really have any wry wit to apply. The bugs weren't too bad. The climate was pretty consistent. We didn't get jacked out of parking. A pony didn't almost come careening into the pit. Not much fell on us. And nothing very important ever got screwed up. Which makes for pretty uninspiring parody fodder. But I may just be tapdancing around the fact that I spent the first two weeks of the production sick with a cold and this last week of it sick with ill-at-ease. And in the downtime, I began and finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and found myself wishing I had made the book last longer. I then started into David Sedaris' latest release. And -- while EVERYONE surely knows by now how much I adore David Sedaris -- I was longing for a sustained narrative. And that's exactly what David Sedaris is the opposite of in the habit of writing. Also, humor suffers when you have to pick the book up and put it down at the whim of the dialogue. I just read when the lulls in score are long enough to allow it. And tonight being closing night, I decided not to bother. I wanted to soak in the show a bit. And my eyes were tired and sore. Anyway, I didn't have any strikes this time. So the absence of having something to contribute to the party made me less eager to hang around. All the same, I'm sorry I missed it. And I wish I had stuck around long enough to say goodbye to cast members I like but rarely get to see.

I went to the cinema today to see Anchorman. And I scribbled notes down while the previews played. This is what they looked like:

[About Cat Woman] Do you smell something? Oh, it's that new Cat Woman movie. Pee-yew.

[About Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle] Is this court-mandated multi-ethnicity? Neil Patrick Harris has hair plugs. This is just another in a string of films on that new theme of the ultra-mundane quest. Hm.

[About Taxi] It's Jimmy Fallon, but it should so be Will Smith. It's really just Jimmy Fallon doing a thin impression of Will Smith. And if it was Will Smith, I would even more fervently not go to see it.

[About Wimbledon] I love Paul Bettany. But I don't love Kirsten Dunst. And the two of them as a couple -- it's just too...blonde. They make me feel like I want to go put on some sunscreen. But then I don't want to bother, because they also make me feel like I already have skin cancer. But it is about time they made a big TENNIS movie.

[About Collateral] Jamie Foxx turned serious actor? Tom Cruise turned old?

I took some notes during Anchorman, too, but I didn't want to not pay attention. I just remember seeing the scene of Ron Burgundy's home with the brown Pontiac (I think) out front, and it made me think of all of those automobile ads I've torn out of Look Magazine. And it made me want to drink amber-colored liquor from a highball glass. With ice. And I also remember thinking that I heart Steve Carell in the way that makes it appropriate for me to use "heart" as a verb.

Anchorman was very funny. I could criticize the story, but I won't. I saw Christina Applegate on The Daily Show yesterday, and I made some snarky comment about how her trying to be funny was comedically cockblocking Jon Stewart, and Krissy said, "You hate women." And I thought, "Do I?" It can't be. It shouldn't be. I would be ashamed if that turned out to be true. But then today, during the movie, I realized that, by and large, I do hate women. And it's not very winning of me. But there are precious few of them who don't stick in my throat like so much alum. The ones I approve of get front-of-line privileges to be sure. But the rest of the lot make me cringe and wish I had been born a boy. And Brick was right. Their periods DO attract bears. If I ever amount to anything, it will always remain that I was pretty good FOR A GIRL. And that makes me want to open a can of something bad for me and eat the whole thing.

I had ten friends in the audience at tonight's show. I suppose that makes up somewhat for the number of nights when no one I knew showed up at all. Some people say they just love to play and that they don't care if anyone sees or hears it. Those people are liars. Playing "for yourself" is a crock invented by unpopular people. Anything you do that's good needs a witness. Preferably two. Otherwise, with no one to corroborate your claim that you knocked it out of the park, you become that guy who toots his own horn and mixes band and baseball metaphors.

Am I just TRYING to make this post long?

I want someone to offer to buy me a drink and to have it be for at least one of the right reasons. If it's for all of them, even better. But if it happens while I am at Comic-Con, it will be creepy, and I will pretend I never wanted it in the first place.

I never got anything particularly delicious or satisfying to eat today. I hate that. I wish someone would buy me a burrito. And I wish it would have extra sour cream in it. And also magic.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:38 AM
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7.10.2004

"Your mind is fancy."

I have been wrung a bit today. I woke up way early and took my car in for scheduled maintenance and a recent air conditioning issue. And I ended up paying $1755. Seventeen hundred and fifty-five dollars. And change. $1755! That's rent for some people. A house payment. That's minor elective surgery. In certain countries, that's enough to feed a boy and his village for several years. And build a university in his name. That's a lot of potatoes.

And it hurt. I'm strapped, and I hate it. But I tried to look at the bright side. The bright side being that I can come up with the dough. There was a time when I would have just had to say, "Sorry. I'll just have to take my chances with the timing belt and the rear brakes." I would have had to go without air conditioning. I would have had to tell them not even to bother with the oil change. I would have had to look into my car's eyes with a mixture of shame and sadness and inform it that I was going to have to sell it to a lab for medical experiments. I would have had to explore public transit. And public transit is a pee factory. So I am grateful that I am no longer in that part of my calendar. And at the same time, I hate how much it hurts to deal with all that is real. It's just not nearly as much fun as I would like to pretend it ever could be.

Also on the bright side is the fact that occasionally, a bartender knows me well enough to make sure my glass is never empty and likes me well enough to say that that last one was on him. It seems like something out of the movies. Maybe that's why it makes such a difference.

When I got the call from the service center, Willie said, "Are you sitting down?" And I thought, " I don't find that funny." I don't think that my having to spend this gargantuan sum merits the employment of a tired cliche. I was, in fact, lying down. In a bed I'm not used to. But the reclined position did nothing to soften the blow of the estimate he gave me. Do people really faint when you deliver bad news? Does that ever happen? Don't you have to be a bit of a drama queen to go weak in the knees when your mechanic calls and tells you the water pump can't be saved? I'm no drama queen. And yet I'd have to be a queen of some sort for the $1755 tab to not have made a difference to me. I'd have said, "Please, my good man. Don't be vulgar. You needn't read the figures to my highness. I have a staff for that." And then I would tell Rita, my secretary (who curiously happened to be male), to liquidate one of the rubies to cover the cost of the repairs. I'm fonder of emeralds anyway.

I was anxious and uncomfortable from the moment I woke up. I had unhappy dreams. I waited for phone calls that did not come. I answered calls that I wish I'd missed. I took surprising comfort from talking to my mom. And I wished that I had been smarter about so many things. But that's nothing new. And nothing ever is.

The guy who gave me a ride from the car shop told me about the hard knocks he's been enduring. His lady of four years left him for some dude named Paul. But she still yanks his chain. I was a patient and compassionate advisor, but the ride home was brief, and I'm no shining example of choosing what is right and smart and healing. But it's always easier to give advice than to choose. Especially when you're dealing with a relative stranger. It's not like he'll ever know what a fool I was. And maybe I was enough of a fool that someone hearing of the tale would find me pathetically endearing. An adorable muffin with a smiling dimple and a cheerful disposition. Sometimes -- and I almost never believe this -- it's easier for girls.

Paying for car repairs is a very grown-up thing. Maybe that's why I want to kill it with a stick. I like going for ice cream and getting toys out of the machine with the grasping claw thing (hopefully a temporary tattoo!). I like individually wrapped snacks. I like passing notes back and forth and buying make-up and staying out until everything is closed. I like hot dogs. I can be a right grown-up when I want to be, but I will only ever be the sort of grown-up who glares at you when you ask me if I know what's REALLY in a hot dog. Don't imagine that you could ever list an ingredient that would alter my course when I'm headed to the hot dog stand. I'm Chinese, for Pete's sake. Pig lips and beef toe sound good to me. That's a good tip for you if you want to avoid having me tell my closest friends what a jerk you are: Don't get in the habit of telling me what's good for me. I already know, and I'm not interested.

My finger hurts. And I can't keep track of what day of the week it's been. Tomorrow is the last night of my show. I will put some extra stink on that vibrato, in case anyone's listening. It's going to rule.

Your mouth is everywhere. I'm lying in it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:44 AM
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7.9.2004

Blood is yuck.

I hurt myself today. Pretty badly. I shaved off a piece of my finger. And when I say "shaved," I mean as in "with a razor." The kind meant for smoothening the gams of lovely ladies. Curiously, they are as deft at removing a piece of knuckle as they are at decimating leg hair. I was in a hurry and rifling through my overnight bag for my toothbrush, and I forced my hand downward too quickly and found the triple-blade of my Venus shaver. Of course, I began cursing immediately. And then I began to panic. I was in a hurry because my orchestra call time was 6:30, and now all of a sudden I'm wrapping wads of toilet paper around a throbbing wound that won't stop welling up red. Krissy made a wad of paper towel into a sort of absorbent doughnut around my finger and taped it in place with scotch tape. And then I drove to the theater, where I could be seen squatting down beside the first aid kit, fumbling with the bandages and antiseptic wipes and making those sharp sucking in "s" sounds you make when something really stings. Because it did.

It was my bow hand, so it wasn't as painful as it could have been to play tonight. But it sure did get cold out, and that didn't make things any better. My bandage is soaked through and my finger is sore to the touch. Who am I kidding. It's sore to the thought. And all I keep doing is running the scenario through my head and thinking of all the ways I could have avoided the injury in the first place. It's a thing I do. When I told my friend Joe about it, he said that habit was very Run, Lola, Run of me. I liked that.

I stole a few bandages from the first aid kit. Krissy doesn't keep them. That's why the paper towel doughnut. In my house, all the bandages have pictures on them. Hello Kitty. Star Wars. Disney Princesses. I'm glad that the bandage manufacturers of the world recognized this opportunity to make wounds more fun. I know, at least for my part, that stopping the bleeding with Jar Jar Binks is better than stopping it with plain. The only case where I don't think a character version is better is with pancakes. If you get suckered into ordering the Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes, just realize that the places where his ears and face have to be defined are the places where you got robbed of pancake. In terms of value, round is the only way to go. With pancakes anyway.

I used to prefer plain wound dressing. Particularly that time I woke up in the fourth grade with a neck so stiff that I couldn't raise my ear from my shoulder. My mom took me to the infirmary, and the doctor put one of those spongy beige neck braces on me. The kind that fits with velcro. And -- as a favor to me -- he didn't send me back to school before using a black magic marker to draw a bow tie on the cloth, right where an actual bow tie would have been, had I been wearing one. Well let me just tell you, that was one of the worst days in my fourth grade life. Not only did I not get any sympathy for my troubles when I got back to school, at lunch, this one bullyish older boy named Bill Roberts (a very pale-headed blond fellow who liked to wear an orange windbreaker and talk a lot of shit) ridiculed me relentlessly. He wasn't so clever as to link my look to Vaudeville or anything, but his audience wasn't so very discerning. I was just lucky it was super taco day in the lunch room, or my shame might have held their attention for more than twelve or thirteen seconds. When I got home, my mother and I figured out that the brace was reversible, and I was spared the shame of having to wear the clumsy trompe l'oeil a second time, but the damage was done. We never did find out what was wrong with my neck. But it went away, so we forgot about it.

No one made fun of my finger tonight. But I didn't draw a picture on the bandage, so who knows.

Anyway, ouch. And good night.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:57 AM
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7.8.2004

I was riding a giraffe across Africa.

That was a dream I had. The giraffe bit. It's one of many, many dreams I've had in recent nights of staccato sleeping. I find myself fading in and out of strange near-realities. Sometimes confused and dizzying. Sometimes sweaty and fitful. Sometimes just slow and syrupy. Molasses-like. The dream you come up out of where your tongue feels so heavy you can't bear to speak and yet there's so much to say.

I have heard countless dream theories. Every character in your dream is you. This represents that. You're afraid of dying. But this is an area in which I am faithless. I don't know what things mean. And I think you're inclined to believe the interpretation that best suits your idea of yourself. Like when you go to a psychic and she asks you if there's someone in your life whose name begins with "K," and you go, "Yes!" and that somehow constitutes divination. And then she wants you to pay her a hundred dollars and to not eat any meat for the next week. Whatever. At the same time, I know it has to be part of something. Even if it's something primordial or something unimportant. I think whole lives are lived in dreams. Like that "Inner Light" episode of STTNG. I love that idea. Maybe that's how I can wrassle me some second chances. I sure needs 'em.

The faces that show up in my dreams follow no logic. Sometimes it's the boy I never see anymore. Or the one I have just seen. Or the one I should never see again. Sometimes it's my mother. Sometimes it's only someone pretending to be my mother. Sometimes it's the movie star or the bass player or the genius. Sometimes it's the character in the movie I never saw or the one in the book I never read. Sometimes it's a trace of an idea that can never be realized. Dreams are written in sand. And it's windy out.

I regret that I didn't take more pictures when I was younger. Even if I hated the way I looked. I'm sorry I didn't capture more of that time. I took up photography in high school and college and that led to a lot of images. But these days, I take pictures of my friends and the places we go and the things we eat and drink when we're there, and it isn't important, but it's beautiful. And one day when my memory requires jogging, it will all be there for me. The diaries I have kept over the years do the same thing for me. Only with pictures, you can keep the feelings secret. You can show a houseguest the album with all the photos from that amusement park day and he need never know that you were sad that day. You can show the raised glass photos and he needn't ever suspect that everything went wrong when the drinks went down. And maybe there's the added beautiful possibility that you might change the way you remember those things. And, without the guilty, damning words to lock you in to the sentiments, you might look at the photos one day and see an event that had nothing painful in it at all. That has been happening for me more and more.

So I look at the photo albums and I notice the gaps of the years when no pictures were taken. And I feel sad, because it makes it look as if there was no one I loved that year. No one who loved me. No puppies that made me gurgle and coo. No parents to get misty over. No crushing crushes. No fun times. No bad times. No times at all. It's just a void. Stasis. An ice age. I wish I had thought to save more of it. I have more bits and pieces than would be needed to fashion even the most prolific exhibit of my life and times. And yet, it's nearly blank. The canvas is so vast that all that is on it barely colors the corner. And when you stand far enough back that you can see all the edges, you are convinced that the canvas has nothing on it at all. This is what makes me want to travel in outer space. I think traveling in space is like painting with a larger brush. Maybe some of it will actually show up.

But there is no galaxy for me at the moment. There is only a bit of Los Angeles and the concern that there are too many blank pages in my various diaries. When all this is gone, will it be like I was never here? In the years where there were no pictures, I begin to wonder if I was ever there. So it stands to reason.

I am treasuring memories. Running my fingertips lovingly over photographs on matte paper. I am shying away from the recollections I know will hurt me. I am turning the light out on slideshows that shouldn't be watched. I want to sleep, but I know I won't. I tried to yesterday. Ever so determinedly. But it didn't work. I reached out in dream stupor. I saw the clock more times than anyone ever does. I felt the breeze and the buzzing in the night air and I pulled the sheets up to my chin and slid around under them. And waited. And eventually, sleep came. But it was like the party guest that has somewhere else to be. That guest is rude. And you will know not to invite him to your next affair. The nerve.

My landlord is willing to let me have a dog. So, I'm officially looking. It's the best thing ever.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:09 AM
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7.5.2004

"She's dressed in black again."

I have always been susceptible to being highjacked into inadvertent trips down memory lane. But for the past several months, I've been surprisingly free of the nostalgic interlude. At the same time, the absence of that component of myself has left me nearly paralyzed. At least in the writing sense. The past few days have seen a slight return to those old sadder habits. There's no scientific explanation for it. And I don't know whether to welcome it all or curse it. I see myself in glimpses. Fun-loving. Dependable. Friendly. Surprising. But there's a little bit of morose and brooding in the mix. Ironically, I've trained myself to see them with relief. Going anywhere without my introspective episodes is like removing the training wheels from a bicycle. But in that simile, it would seem that a big girl like me would want to do just that.

I've still a touch of the coughing, but I'm mostly right as rain. Tired. Dreadfully tired. But only from how much I've gotten to do. And I cheer for that.

And I realize it can be of nearly no value to anyone to read several paragraphs about me being tired or nostalgic or hungry even. But I haven't had a moment to spare. If I had been able to see a movie, I would surely tell you what I thought of it. If you're keeping your bank book, you'll note that I still owe you an opinion on the Paul F. Tompkins Show. I shall make good. With interest. I would hate for anyone to think I had ceased to be a rabid fan. But hold fast. There are lots of things yet to come. I can't even count the number of photographs I have scanned in the past week. Prepare to have your eyeballs shown things.

Oh, but I am tired. The sleep I have tonight is destined to be of the very finest variety. No matter what.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:07 AM
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6.29.2004

Dizzyingly Late

My cold and I are headed for sleepytown. Sweet dreams, suckers!

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:28 AM
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6.28.2004

I'll cough myself to death, and then you'll be sorry.

I'm home safe but feeling poorly. And the only optimistic part is that I know I get extra skinny when I'm sick. I'm preparing for the cold medicine tingles. My face is hot, cheeks pink. But I think I look more like a happy little girl than a fatigued grown-up. That's what a barrette will do for you.

I haven't much voice, but what I have I would use to say sweet things. And you would be sweetened by them. And then I would cough all over you.

The night has been called one.


   

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:21 AM
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6.26.2004

Shame on me, for it is dawn.

I'm doing it again. Shunning the rest my body requires. Even though I am throttled by the onslaught of a cold I do not wish to have. Thursday was opening night, and now it's smooth sailing, but I'm sitting out in the misty mountain nighttime for hours and hours, sucking on cough drops and then marching out to my car only to seek out the revelry elsewhere. Tonight, a cast member who has known me for a number of years asked if I was off to meet someone. Apparently, it looked like I was. I neither revealed nor rebuked. I suppose I am always off to meet someone. But it isn't always anyone in particular.

I liked the look of the hairband I chose, but I'm not so fond of the vise-like pinching sensation I have been experiencing in my skull. It's time to revert to pajama notions. If it weren't for the inherent rudeness of it, I would call everyone I know and tell them something noteworthy.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:28 AM
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6.24.2004

Please don't make me care about this.

I have never been someone who cared all that much about my age. When I was younger, I was often mistaken for older. I was a precocious child. An annoyingly precocious little peepot of a child. I wanted to be a prodigy. I remember watching some "news" magazine story (probably on That's Incredible! or something like that) about a family with an Asian mother and a Caucasian father and four daughters, all of whom had been raised to be geniuses. Their mother read to them in the womb. They were performing simple math problems by the time they were like four days old. They were reading before they could open their eyes. The oldest one was in college at age eleven. And I envied them. I resented my parents for not ever giving me a chance to be that brand of brainy freak. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that by the time I was fourteen and on the debate team, I was occasionally mistaken for a teacher rather than a student. And I didn't mind in the least. The only embarrassment was to be had by the Nabokovian lechers who wanted to get to know me better, only to find that they would be judging my debate round. And that I was still a sophomore. And a sophomore who skipped a grade (and was therefore all the younger).

Looking back on it, I was proud of such things at the time. I could hang with the parents just as easily as with the kids. Maybe more easily in some cases. But I never used this chameleon gift to buy cigarettes or liquor. I was afraid of consequences. And by the time I actually realized I wanted to buy cigarettes and liquor, I lived in Japan, where you can buy nearly anything you want from a vending machine, no questions asked.

So, I was always mistaken for older. Until such time as it no longer made sense to be. And then I started being mistaken for younger. In the Asian tradition. As I have actually gotten older, I have found myself in a sort of age-appearance eddy, swirling around a twenty-something epicenter. And now that I have cut my hair, it seems that I have regressed all the more. I met a few of Beulah's high school/college friends tonight, and they asked which of us was older. Said that we looked like twins. A stylist at the hair salon asked me the same question. I'm seven years older than Beulah. And for a good stint there, I was often mistaken for her mother. It's a wonder what a little barrette will do. I'm sure it's not that Beulah looks older than she is. If anything, it seems that we all just collapse inward towards some vague mid-twenties appearance. Fashion tugs us there. Music, maybe. Something like that anyway. Tonight, a clerk at the drug store looked at my i.d. as I was buying beer and cigarettes and said, "Fifteen. Just as I suspected. Do you have a note from your mother for these?" I laughed, the way you do when you are participating in the social formality of not saying, "Please shut up and complete my transaction. You are troll-like and wasting my time." He made a few other conversational quips. Flirting, of course. I have to admit, I laughed at each line, but I honestly couldn't understand what he was saying anymore. I wondered if he knew it. If he had asked me a question to which laughter would not be the appropriate response, we might both have experienced a moment's awkwardness. Fortunately, I didn't care if he thought I was a moron. When that happens with a friend, I'm mortified. When someone says something to me and I mishear it or try to play along without actually understanding, I might laugh or nod or say some packaged thing, and then in my internal instant replay, I begin to sound out what was actually said, some interpolation happens, and then all of a sudden I realize that my friend asked, "What time is it?" to which I scoffed, "I'll say!" There's no fixing such blunders. You have to just walk away and pretend it never happened or look the person in the eye and say, "I don't know why I just said that. I'm retarded."

I don't take special note of instances when people think I'm younger than I am. My mom always used to. She always used to brag that no one believed she had a pair of grown daughters. People would see her with me and my older sister and tell her that we all looked like sisters, and she would coo over it, and it would make her day. I don't know if any of these people weren't hitting on my mom or trying to sell her something. It's possible these sentiments were genuine. My mom was a very young mother, and she's Asian, and she takes good care to look nice all the time. There's no reason anyone should think she's not a good deal younger than she is. But the difference is she cares about it. And I don't. My older sister likes to cite instances of twenty-three year-old dudes thinking she's twenty-four. And there's nothing wrong with that. But I have never made it a thing on the list. I don't want to care about it. And I fear that all this youthful mistaking will leave a greying hole if it ever ends. If someone tells me I look exactly as old as I am, it might actually hurt my feelings. But it shouldn't. If a crass street urchin points a soiled finger at me one day and cries, "You're old, oldie!" it shouldn't make a crumb of difference. It shouldn't even matter when I one day cross the threshold after which people start saying, "She looks great for her age." Age is for census-takers and tree surgeons. Who cares how old you are or how old I am? The only time it matters is when we're trying to figure out whether we both watched Charles In Charge. This isn't Logan's Run, is it? And if it is, cool! -- I love domed cities.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:03 AM
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6.19.2004

"You've just gone and missed it."

I don't want you to adore me, don't want you to ignore me, when it pleases you.

What is this sunny disposition all of a sudden? Under more pressure than olives giving forth their oil. But it's weightless. This time around, all of the wry looks, the snide remarks, the guise of politeness -- they're unnecessary. Even the disappointments are inconsequential. I just keep moving. I'm finding that it's much easier to keep from getting mired in the muck if you make certain to never let your feet touch the ground. I have often walked down this street before. The pavement and I never parted.

Don't know where I am. Don't know how I got here. Don't really remember what it used to feel like. Even the things that recall the old chaotic exasperation do it in cartoonish parody. And I do love a good parody.

Yeah. I'll do it on my own.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:16 AM
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6.18.2004

Heaven or Las Vegas

I like that it's nighttime, but I don't like the way it gets to be that. I'm tired, and I have every reason to be. But I bite down on it just the same. The week ahead is frighteningly crammed. But I wouldn't be surprised if I come out on the other side of it with a suntan. There will be plenty of poolside hours, I expect. It's the nighttime that will be gruesome.

I often joke about being a vampire, and maybe this goes against that. But I'm nothing if not inconsistent. Anyone who knows me will affirm this.

Last night, late night brought me to Monterey Park and Peking duck and assorted delicacies at prices that make you WANT to drive that godawful stretch of the 10. Bring on the food adventure. Monterey Park is Adventure Town, U.S.A. But then it suddenly felt so late, and I couldn't keep from yawning, and I just wished that something in my body would right itself so that I could feel chipper and rested for just one small stretch. I'll bet I could fashion a metaphor with that old adage about Chinese food and being hungry soon after eating it, but I'm tired again, and I can't make the ends meet.

I'm going to be playing my violin a lot for the next few weeks. a) Hurray. b) Please don't make a point of noticing the red mark under my jaw. You will want to make a sly remark about it being a hickey, but you will be wrong. And I will feign amusement but only enough to make it clear that I've heard it before. Save us both the tense aftermath, won't you? If you like, you can gesture at the bruisy patch and say, "Hey. I like your throat."

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:47 AM
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6.17.2004

Sugar Free

I don't have anywhere else to put these, and they're building up something awful. I wouldn't presume that they are long-awaited, but they are at least long-promised. If you download them all and scroll through them quickly in your file list, they make a fun yet uninteresting flipbook of sorts. In the story, this girl looks up, then down, then to the left. Sometimes she smiles. And she is nearly never more than the length of her arm away from you. It's not much of a story, but our minds have been dulled by decades of bad television writing. I'm pretty sure SOMEONE will find this plot captivating.

I put some blonde in where there wasn't any before. That's what this is about.








posted by Mary Forrest at 12:00 PM
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6.16.2004

Trophies are heavy.

I ended up watching the NBA Finals tonight out of sheer happenstance. And, as is often the case with sporting events that you watch with people who care about such things, it was a fine time and far more meaningful and educational than it would have been if I had watched it on my own. Although I can't imagine the circumstances under which I would ever do such a thing. Maybe a homework assignment...? I don't know. Anyway, I drank a lot of beer, and that makes me happy. As does putting the emblem of authenticity on long-anticipated connections. Remember, Matthew: veryverygay.com.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:10 AM
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6.15.2004

The Killing Moon

Does anyone in the world stay up as late as I do? And I had junk to post, too. But it's so late now that I don't think I shall bother. The same thing happened last night. And the night before. I never even bothered to write about the sunshine or the belly-baring or the bed collapsing in the middle of the night while I slept. And what of the swim? And the militant raw food place? What of all the ideas? And the picture-taking? And the tuna sandwiches I never made? What of all the hopes and the expectations and the fulfillments and the failures? Yes, well, it's always quite a list with me. Here are some things that remain true: I despise Doug Stanhope. Gas costs a lot of money. The Mobil on Magnolia and Mast has the nicest bathroom I have ever seen in a gas station. Generosity isn't free. And neither is being able to hold your liquor. Sunlight makes my nose itch. Dancing is groovy. But only when it's groovy. The drive is long, but the road remains the same. I like to play the violin.

The last time I had a first-time-in-a-long-time swim with short hair after years and years of long, long hair, I was eleven, and it was Guam, and I was at the pool with my little sister. I had just cut off a good three feet of hair that day. And I was anxious to see what it felt like to glide through the water without getting entangled in the kelplike tendrils that used to come up under my arms and bind me to frustration. Sitting poolside while Beulah splashed about, some utterly forgettable Marine sat down beside me and started hitting on me. He asked if my husband was on a ship. I said, "No." But the subtext of that was, "I am eleven years-old you perverted pervert." It was not the last time that a fellow would mistake Beulah for my daughter, but the other story involves less perviness and more Holstein-cow-printed seat covers. Gross.

Could the commercials for the Girls Gone Wild videos be any less enticing? The synthesized steel drum soundtrack loop only further affirms for me how much I really, really hate Doug Stanhope.

Which reminds me, I also can't stand the pants off of Matt Pinfield. He is such a revoltingly inept interviewer he nearly made me hate the Beastie Boys tonight. And I LOVE the Beastie Boys. Why are some untalented people not starving to death in a ditch somewhere?

The girls dancing in the commercial for the Girls Gone Wild video make me think of that movie The Accused. That would be a good way to sell those videos: if they promised that one out of three of the hotties you see shaking it in that classic dancefloor sexual palsy will get gangraped before the tape ends. They're asking for it, right?

After the Girls Gone Wild video infomercial ended, an informercial for one of those motorized geriatric scooter places came on. Classic.

P.S. Happy birthday, Pants.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:29 AM
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6.11.2004

Party Down with Erroneous Information!

Adam sent me the link to this article today. It reveals that the U.S. wrongly reported that worldwide terrorism was way down in 2003, attributing that statistic to American efforts in the Middle East. But it turns out, the report was totally wrong! Worldwide terrorism was actually way up in 2003! Ha ha ha! Isn't that hilarious? Those loveable State Department bozos -- it's like the Keystone Cops over there. I sure wish I could be funning and laughing in Washington right now. What a blast!

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:56 PM
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6.10.2004

Short Short

I cut my hair last weekend. Again. My mom saw it today for the first time and said I look thirteen years old. Hurray, I suppose.







Today, I added highlights to the mix. Another first for me. The pictures of that will follow as soon as I get inspired to make them do so. It's fun to change your look all the time. But it's a bitch to keep up with it photographically. I tell you.

This is the first time I've had short hair since high school. If you ask me, it's about time. I was tired of being known as the girl with the really long hair. I intend to keep changing my look with such frequency that people will be forced to describe me on the basis of my consistent traits, such as kindness, curvaceousness, and really excellent shoes.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:24 AM
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6.7.2004

Cooling All the Blood to Slush

Franz Ferdinand. Best rock and roll show ever. I am happy.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:17 AM
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6.4.2004

Find it where it is.

The dictionary.com word of the day on 2 June was autochthonous. The following day, David Tidmarsh correctly spelled the same word to win the National Spelling Bee. And he totally knew it when they read it to him. In the same way that he clearly knew gaminerie before it. He was near to hyperventilating as he spelled it. I don't know if that's officially uncanny. But it's a good way of learning the word autochthonous. And you never know when that might come in handy. I already knew how to spell it, but -- as with a secret many things -- I might have been hard-pressed to tell you what it meant unless you presented it to me in context. And a sentence like, "Fred was autochthonous," wouldn't have been enough.

My sister and I were talking about this the other day. The fact of her former spelling champion-ness (yes, both of us; can you believe it?) came up in conversation with a client (if I remember the anecdote correctly), and he challenged her to define the word lugubrious. And she said that she could SPELL it. Who cares what it means. Lugubrious, as it happens, means mournful or sad. By rights, it should be a favored word in my lexicon.

This same thing happens to me from time to time. It's the curse of being labeled a smart pair of pants. Everyone wants to unseat you. And I swear that any pun quotient in that sentence is not only unintentional, but you are forbidden to infer it. I was called "Brain" a lot in school. And for some reason that is both a term of esteem and loathing. They admire your smarts, but they also hate you for them. And nothing gives them more pleasure than to catch you out. Like the time my fourth grade math teacher made me cry by getting the entire class to chant taunting remarks at me when I missed one on a test -- FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR. It was Mr. Acheson (fondly called "Mr. A"), and he and the entire class sarcastically asked and answered the same sentence over and over and over again until I ran crying from the room. "Mary missed one? Mary missed one! Mary missed one? Mary missed one!" I ran past the open door of my sister's reading class, and Jason Loomis, the cute boy that everyone liked who always carried a Goody comb in his pocket to tend to his feathered hair, leaned over to my sister and whispered, "I think your sister just got her period." And my sister, never one to disappoint, later told me that her greatest concern was not that I was in a state of duress, but rather that I might have gotten my period before she did.

Later that week, when Mr. A was the teacher on duty at lunch recess, he saw that I was red in the face from a game of whatever I had been playing at (probably tetherball or handball), and he placed a hand on my forehead, thought I was feverish, and had the nurse send me home. It was clearly a guilty peace offering. And, while I enjoyed helping my mom fold laundry in front of the Richard Simmons show instead of whatever we would have been doing in social studies that afternoon, I neither forgave nor forgot that incident. If you're reading this Mr. Acheson, shame on you.

Some of the games we play at the comedy theater require us to get difficult words from the audience, and I am often put on the spot when someone suggests a word like defenestrate or stochastic, and my teammates turn to me, knowing that I will be able to tell them what it means. I ALWAYS feel that sense of panic: "What if I don't actually know what the word means? What if I've been faking it all this time?" Don't worry. I know what defenestrate and stochastic mean. Never you fear. But there are plenty of words I know how to spell and only know how to spell. And having that made public in front of an audience is never a pleasant thought.

When you play the role of the smartypants, you have to fake it a lot. It's a terrible habit. I, in my growing up, have tried to break free of it. I have tried to say, "I don't know what you mean," when I don't know what someone means. I try to say, "What is that word?" when I don't know what a word is. I try to be okay with not knowing everything. Because I have a feeling that leaving the desire to always know everything unchecked eventually evolves into other roles such as the agoraphobic, the sniper, and the cat lady.

And believe me, it's a far sight better actually learning things from people than trying to learn it all behind their backs while no one's looking. If you have something to teach me, I welcome it. Maybe not so much when I was a sophomore in high school. But I've done a lot of growing up since then. And there is actual truth to the notion that it takes more courage to admit that you're wrong or that you don't know than it takes to lord your rightness over everyone. I wasn't going to bring up anything George W. Bush-related today, but there you have it. Why won't he ever admit he's wrong? No one even thinks he's a smartypants? What has he got to lose?

I was really just going to point out that autochthonous was the word of the day only the day before it was the word of the hour. But, as has been known to happen, I digressed. Don't get me going about me and my pants.

P.S. Autochthonous means originating in the place where found. Just in case that wasn't clear.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:02 PM
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6.2.2004

Say it. Spell it. Say it.

So, I've been watching ESPN's coverage of the National Spelling Bee today while working and doing all the other nonsense I do in a day. And I've mostly been listening and playing along, like you do with Jeopardy. I have more interest in this than most, mainly because I competed in the National Spelling Bee when I was in eighth grade, flying from Guam to Washington, D.C., the longest distance traveled by any competitor that year. I'm noticing that, at least in the rounds I've watched, it helps to have been raised a Christian. With words like "catechistic," "isapostolic," and "trepanation*" coming up in the rotation, the pagan kiddies are at a distinct disadvantage. I would easily have deduced those spellings, even if I hadn't already known them, having had bible stories read to me each night and having sat through hours upon hours of church, Sunday school, parochial school, and (shockingly) voluntary theological discussion. If you actually watch the coverage, they put the word and it's definition up on the screen while the contestant is still at the microphone. But I haven't been looking. You'll just have to trust me that I would have gotten those words right. Because I would have.

People are often suggesting that I should watch Spellbound. I suppose they're right. I should.

Isn't it "interesting" how the conclusion to any contest is always anticipated to be "dramatic." The commentators for the spelling bee coverage (and that's a seat I have to wonder about) ushered me into the commercial break by insisting that I look forward to tomorrow's coverage of the bee's "dramatic conclusion." What if it isn't? What if the runner-up misspells a really hard word that everyone expects him/her to misspell and the winner correctly spells it and then corectly spells the follow-up word, which happens to be somewhat easier and consequently no one is surprised when he/she succeeds? That would hardly deliver any sort of promised drama. Who gets goosebumps when everything goes to plan? If any demographic could answer yes to that question, we might have seen a different archetype in the movie genres Heist, Caper, and Thriller.

And now it's some sort of ping pong championship. Have I stumbled upon a special ESPN network that only broadcasts events that will not alienate paraplegics? And I quote: "Folks, this is a fast-moving sport. Tremendous athletes playing at a high pace." This is just side-splitting to me.

Another thing I should do? Get back to work.

*This one was added for humor. The puncturing of the skull is hardly an exclusively Christian practice. Gotcha! Curiously, I learned the root word "trepan" when reading a book about Jack the Ripper in my junior high school days, while I was still studying for and hoping after the spelling bee prize. So I would have gotten that one, too.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:31 PM
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38 Songs of Hope

Okay. I really want them to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease, too. But do they have to commit brand suicide? There's a benefit CD out now called (get this) ParkinSong. And I'm not saying you shouldn't buy it. In fact, please, accept my invitation to buy it right now. But you must agree: this is a very disappointing naming strategy. Even if it's the best various artists collection ever made, what should you say when your friend asks you what disc is playing when you pick him up from the bus station? You can't very well say, "ParkinSong!" And you certainly can't say it with the same verve that used to embody the name "Freedom Rock!" Marketing people (and I speak as one of them) like to come up with cutesy names. They really do. I don't know if it all got started with Sniglets or if it dates all the way back to the days when everything ended in "o-Matic," but making fun, punny product names that merge two well-known meanings is like THE most popular thing to do, third perhaps only to putting a starburst on the package that says, "New!" and just outright lying. But I don't think any word benefits from having "Parkins" added as a prefix, especially when it's the "Parkins" that comes from the word "Parkinson's." Try it. Parkinsburger. Parkinstastic. Sir Parkinsalot. It really does less to cheer a sentence than even the most optimistic ad wizard might estimate.

Gosh, 38 songs. That's a lot of hope. You can't argue with the value anyway.

I drove down to San Diego tonight to see Dave Chappelle at UCSD. Great show. Love that guy. You know the drill. Buy all of his DVDs. You won't be disappointed. Unless you're some sort of human fount of disappointment. And for you, every sunrise is like a slap in the face, so buy the DVDs anyway so that you will have something new to moan about. Anyway, as I was getting onto the 10 from the 405 a short while ago, his giant tour bus was right in front of me. I had only just seen it a few hours previously, walking back out to the car after the show. And then there it was again. Like in that movie Duel. Only in front of me rather than behind me and not apparently wanting to murder me or Dennis Weaver. Strange coincidence. Nothing came of it. I didn't lean out my window and flash him my boobs or anything. I was driving, for heaven's sake.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:21 AM
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6.1.2004

Swan Lake

Let me just start this out by saying that my face is tingling with anger at the fact that I had finished this post and was pleased with it and then went to post it and found that nearly everything I'd written had been cut off. I have tried to recreate it, but I am so tired of having to assure you that I am better at this than I appear. What I wrote the first time around will live on ghostlike in my memory, a taunting reminder that what you will now read is a mere shade -- ersatz.

But on with it.

I had lunch at the Hotel Bel-Air today with Adam and Scott, who wanted to thank me for designing his web site when he was running for elected office (he won). He really didn't owe me anything; I was happy to do it. But the lunch was nice just the same. Lovely company in a terribly beautiful setting. We walked by the little Swan Lake they have there. It was idyllic and sunny and tranquil. It hardly feels like Los Angeles. Until you see all the embarrassingly swanky cars in the lot. And Joe Millionaire was sitting at the table beside us. I have no patience for such things.

As a surefire means of eclipsing the tattered remnants of a month that might have ended without much glory, Martín and I went to see the Paul F. Tompkins Show, and -- like magic -- all that was wrong in the world was set right again. I cannot venture far enough into the depths of the superlative to craft a compliment that would do this man justice. He is the awesomest. He and Michael Penn did a rendition of the Talking Heads' Psycho Killer that you should kill yourself for having missed. Seriously. Right now. Get your affairs in order and get on with it. He even worked an homage to the Violent Femmes' Blister in the Sun into the opening number, and that, too, was several magnitudes more excellent than anything you could possibly have seen or done today. Why oh why did you go to that barbecue where at least three different people brought crockpots with some gross bean dish simmering in them? Why did you let your girlfriend talk you into shampooing the carpets on THIS NIGHT? Why did you waste the day memorializing our fallen soldiers? They can't hear you. And frankly they're not altogether impressed with the fact that you don't think about them at all during the other 364 days of the year. Sure, you have a static decal of the ol' stars and stripes stuck to the window in your Toyota truck's camper shell, but were you really "saluting" it by spending most of the day skirfing? Maybe you just hate yourself. I can't let that be my problem. And I don't actually have any power to compel you in this, but my strongly-worded suggestion stands. You cheated yourself tonight, and for that you deserve to be punished. By you, because the cruel irony will teach you a sterner lesson. I was going to play good cop-bad cop and tell you that you deserve better than the Paul F. Tompkins-free world you are living in, but the more I think about your behavior tonight, the more convinced I am that you don't. A foolish person might see the PFT and wish that everyone in the world could be that funny or that talented or that smart. And another foolish person might call that person a communist.

Martín also finally gave me my birthday present. He had left it in the trunk of his car all this time. We joked that it was a puppy. That reminds me of the time my cousin gave me a brown paper bag that was stapled shut and instructed me to give it to my younger sister. I stuck it in my car and forgot about it for weeks. When I finally remembered, we hesitated before opening the bag, thinking, "What if it's a bag of cheese?" But then we remembered that our cousin is Chinese and not likely to enjoy dairy products. It turned out to be a wetsuit. Which doesn't make for much of a story.

So that's how I spent the last day in May. My birthday month. The only month that doesn't require abbreviation. I also finished up some work, did a little tidying, and looked at hundreds of items on eBay. And while all of that was going on, I let Quiz Show play on the television. And it occurred to me that that film is an uncanny allegory for that whole scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison and the ensuing public relations nightmare. If you need me to explain myself, I will. But you will have to ask me to, and that will be embarrassing for you.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:55 AM
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5.31.2004

No more drama. Please.

I never managed to go into much detail about it, but the story behind my greatest birthday lament involved my family's unique talent for spontaneous combustion. My two sisters are at war. My parents announce their desire to not get caught in the undertow, but they have clearly chosen sides. As they always do. And the damage isn't anywhere near being done with me. If it matters to anyone, I have only gotten smacked around by any of this because (1) it happened during my birthday celebration and (2) I am fond of justice. But these facts haven't spared me any suffering. Nor have they influenced my father in his rigid unwillingness to have an actual conversation with me. Or at least one where he doesn't roll his eyes, walk away from me while I am still speaking, or deny that he has said any of the things we both know he has said. For all the hassle, he might as well be my girlfriend.

Today was not my favorite day.

To commemorate the actual carnage, these are pictures Beulah took before all hell broke loose. Yes, that's a kickboard, and, no, I don't need it.



My mother is traveling in Asia at the moment. And when she returns, it will be my parents' anniversary. I was so sad this time last year. I put a picture from their wedding in the new art journal I had just begun. And I sat at the table, sweating much of the time in the cruel Los Angeles heat, hoping for inspiration and sentiment and talent to transport me from the clutching grip of inspiration and sentiment and lack of talent. But at least last year, I wasn't also sad because my father isn't kept awake at night by the knowledge that I am kept awake at night by the knowledge that he doesn't care that I am kept awake at all. If you aren't following any of that, you are in vast company.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:29 AM
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5.29.2004

A Good Farewell

When I watch movies with battle scenes in them, I get this sentimental feeling. I'm sure the makers intend it. The faces of the dying are the faces you have come to know and care about as the story unfolded. The music plucks at your heartstrings. Almost ravenously. It's all manipulation, that guided portrait. But I imagine it is similar, the real thing. If you go to war, and the guy beside you gets it, his dying face will be one you knew. One you cared about. And maybe you, like me, will wonder what it was like for him. What those last moments held. Whether it was horrible. Whether he suffered. You might not know what his final act was like. Not know whether he was valiant or cowardly. Whether he cried for his mother or for his god. Whether he thought most of his girl at home. Whether he only saw fiery red.

When I watch movies about war, I wonder about those who have died in all the wars. I miss them, though I don't know them. I pity them. Envy them. Applaud them. I think of the times in my life when I felt great passion. Unwavering certainty. Commitment. I wonder if I was ever so sure. I wonder if I would make anyone proud with a sword in my hand. I wonder if I would be able to press on through loss. If I would manage to stomach it. If I would favor the mission over the heartbreak. If I would care.

I also think about the uncivility and the grotesqueness. The unwashedness. The dirt under the fingernails. And I wonder if I am so keenly sensorily aware because I don't have anything more important going on. If I smell the restaurant in my hair because I'm bored and unengaged. I don't like to smell less than wonderful. I don't think I would be an asset on the battlefield. Except perhaps as a sort of potpourri.

I showed Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World to my father tonight. And I remembered watching it in the cinema last November and shuddering at certain delicate parts and feeling that swelling, soaring, glorying rapture that always accompanies the Corelli Christmas Concerto for me. My father was a seafaring man, so he knows more than I do what was and wasn't fairly portrayed. But he didn't NOT enjoy it, as far as I could tell. Sometimes that's as close to a coup as I come.

It's been a long day.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:48 PM
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5.28.2004

The day breaks. Your mind aches.

It will be dawn soon, and I don't like that. I'm of a sudden sort of hungry and restless and sleepy and all of that. I can see that awkward bridge between the days looming. There's no escaping crossing it. It comes up on you like a video game effect. Even when you sit still.

But tomorrow will be good. I know it.

I wake up. I make up. I take my time and I don't feel I have to hurry. It's the part before the waking that concerns me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:57 AM
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5.27.2004

If you want me, I'm your country.

I saw the Cardigans last night. It was a sweet sort of show. Crammed with devotees. They meant well, but their fervent cries of adoration and playlist suggestions wore on my patience. Nina Persson sounded wonderful. And she was lovely. I would never wear my jeans that tight, but I am able to admire those who do.

I looked over at the journal I have been keeping for a few years and I noted that I haven't been writing in it much. All the things I used to keep track of I seem to have let slip. There have been such statistics in my history. Tallies I used to keep that I eventually abandoned. Maybe because of the security or the dependability of things always staying the same. You get used to things. And it ceases to be a surprise that they are as they are. And there is nearly nothing new to say about them. No matter how frequently they recur. Maybe that's it. Me and my cramped, tiny handwriting -- we've taken a sabbatical. We don't always write down the dates and times. We don't always commit it to memory. We don't catch ourselves counting so much anymore.

I've been a diligent little doll lately. But oh how the time passes.

All my ways of soft distraction meant to bring you back to earth. There are words I listen for again and again. I look for them. No matter how many times I hear them. Like my father coming home at the end of the day. I never stopped looking forward to it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:58 AM
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5.24.2004

America with George Martin, 1975.

I went to see Cat Power at the Troubadour tonight. There was a guy making a scene at the door. He and the bouncer were having words because he had been kicked out for ordering drinks without an i.d. I didn't pity him. And then I did. I'm a softy that way. Never one to hold a grudge.

It was a long, long weekend of glory and exhaustion. I lose track of time. I covet naps. I scowl at unwashed dishes and close the door on untidied rooms. I would rather not know.

The coming week is coming. I have noticed lately that when I look at my calendar, I am sometimes agog at all that I have smashed into the small day spaces. How did I do all that? How did I convince myself that it was possible? There was a time when I believed I could fit anything into whatever span of time. ANYTHING. And then I crossed that naive threshold and started thinking I could only ever do one thing in any given stretch of time. I don't know where I am on that spectrum, but I realize that I do more than I ever expect and still manage to have done less than I have ever wanted. It's not time travel I want, necessarily. It's more the chance at having certain hours over again. And over and over and over.

I had expectations in these past few weeks. And many did not come to fruition. Many days passed in ways I had not expected. Many moments never arrived. But I have a tendency to get caught in that net. That assessment debacle. And I'm struggling against that at all times. When you aren't always taking stock, two things occur: (a) you don't worry about where you are, and (b) you run out of inventory. This is an important lesson in economics.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:10 AM
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5.22.2004

"Cereal is gay."

Despite getting quite literally not a wink of sleep last night and having to effect perkiness for client meetings' sake, I made it home and to the verge of rest, which is where I perch. I worked until 5:30 a.m. or thereabouts, and then tried to capture the 120 or so minutes of sleep still left to me, but I couldn't do it. Damned birds. Damned cold feet. Damned ideas. Damned passage of time. It's a wonder I am here. And if sugar-free Red Bull causes cancer, I would rather not know. I just plain couldn't go on without it.

I was noticed tonight for my deadpan delivery, which is a greater feather in my cap than anyone probably suspects. It's not something I was ever sure I could pull off, and it's taken time to navigate that precarious line as a girl on stage. It's been important to feel finally disconnected from that approval system that is the very heroin I seek. The only way to be a girl in the funny business is to not care and to not look as if you're trying. And occasionally to put unpleasant things in your mouth when no one's expecting it. And I'm kind of a giggly sort that spoils punchlines or that can't let them hang. So to have at last developed the wry reputation is a boon. And it makes it easier for me to get away with saying horrible things that involve diseases or urine or the uterus or the savior. And several people told me I should play more often, and that made me feel really good. I had a better run in the joke-telling games tonight than I can remember ever having had, and I never used an old joke of mine or a joke of anyone else's. Never not once. I didn't have to, for some reason. There just kept being new stuff to say. Don't ask me how that happens. I just like it when the compromising ache of overextension manages to squeeze something out of me, and I don't question it. There's been a great deal of that lately. And as tired and frail as I feel, I am terribly terribly grateful for it. That sounds insincere. Especially now that the whole deadpan thing has taken hold. But I mean it. I'm better off than I've ever been in nearly every way.

My burning eyes are tired. I will look for pretty pictures in my dreams.

You made me smile again. In fact, I may be sore from it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:43 AM
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5.20.2004

"You are only a dream that I am doing, aren't you?"

A fellow from France wrote me an email containing that sentence. How great is that?

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:07 PM
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5.19.2004

Everything's alright.

I had a thought as I was driving to Glendale tonight. Something about the proportion of time I get down. Of my being sad as compared to other people. It's true, I get sad from time to time. And I wonder if other people are less sad, or if they just measure sadness in different ways. Maybe they are all just as sad as I am but never aware and never bothered by it. And isn't that sadder still? Or maybe I'm not really sad at all. Just labeling it incorrectly. Maybe I'm fine even when I feel less than.

Whether the nights are short or long, they come and they come and they go. I'm not feeling very sad. I'm feeling like dressing for spring and wearing pretty colors and sitting with crossed legs and not worrying about the time. I drove home with the sun on the make, and I marveled at Los Angeles and all its busy business. All those people with somewhere to be on their way to. I felt like the only one in the lot who was just going home. I'm not feeling terrifically sad at the moment, but I know it comes and goes. And I know it's nothing to fear.

I'm missing you like hurricanes. I'd give them names but their waves keep rolling on and on and on and on.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:22 AM
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5.17.2004

"...and you are the first and the last to ever be the first to love me for who I am."

Jolie Holland is a genius. Every sound she makes is a smile for me. I long for the chance to share all this. Joy that eclipses everything.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:38 PM
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"Mother, may I go and maffick."

My birthday party on Friday night was, hands down, the best I have ever had. Hands down. For the 30 or so friends who came out to play with me, you are part of a personal superlative that won't soon be outdone. My second birthday party on Saturday night was also great. Not quite so glittery or spectacular, but still very, very great and involving a heap of dancing. My birthday celebration with my family today came apart in tatters and might be the very worst birthday experience on record for me. So, I defer to averaging techniques that will enable me to cancel at least part of that grossness out.

Once I scan the photos and take some time to piece it back together, I think my Friday night tales will be a thrill in any language. But I hate how I keep having to promise what is to come. I have things I haven't said and shown about far too many items at this point. I can feel it piling up. But if you count pre-birthday drinks on Thursday, I've been sort of drunk for nearly three straight days. And it's time to give my poor blood and the organs that clean it a rest. Is there a gene for a predisposition towards murdering oneself? If so, map me, genome scientists. I'm your girl.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:34 AM
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5.14.2004

Build me, up, Buttercup.

My dad called me at 8:45 this morning and sang You Are My Sunshine to me on the phone. Maybe the Happy Birthday people were too hard-nosed in the royalty negotiations. Actually, it was the sweetest thing. And I preferred his song choice to the traditional. His was the first of many phone calls and instant messages and emails and e-cards. A flood of them. Today, I am well-remembered. Seriously, people have been just first rate. And it makes me very, very happy. xox

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:33 PM
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5.13.2004

Ditches and Dalliances

What was brutal was tamed. And then shepherded into the fold. I've got a handle on things for the moment. And I'm glad.

An old friend from my biotech days is in town, and that made for another late night of waxing nostalgic over wine and LCD chronologs. I may get some rest tomorrow. I must.

I had all these things I wanted to get back to here. It will all be so woefully out-of-date by the time I get my pockets emptied and my scrawling realigned. For now, I will offer a picture of me at Coachella, taken by Beulah and her fancy new digicam. I loved this day. Incidentally, I recall walking past two guys talking, and one said to the other, "Ponytails give me such a hard-on." I assume he meant for me to hear that, but I just kept on walking. Partially because I was trying to go photograph Stereolab, and partially because it would have been such a throttle to my self-esteem to have turned and seen that the guy he was talking to was wearing ponytails, too.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:29 AM
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5.12.2004

Everything's Different Now

As if to urge me forward in my party-planning, the word of the day today was imbibition. I consider it a form of cosmic perfection.

Today was another ghastly travail. After about three hours of sleep, I started work before 10 A.M. and have not stopped yet. I'm waiting for files to distill right now. But I have barely left my desk. When the FedEx guy came to my door, I realized I was wearing the same shirt I was wearing when he delivered to me yesterday. How embarrassing.

I'm bleary from troubleshooting and slumped over with the weight of it. But I'm nearly there. Lord, how I hope I'm not proclaiming that too soon.

So I'm tired of sitting here, but I got to see that The Problem with Popplers episode of Futurama a little while ago. I love this part:

"There are many good reasons to eat. Hunger, boredom, wanting to be the world's fattest man. But not revenge." - Jrrr of the planet Omicron Persei 8 (Lauren Tom)

And, owing to my hair and make-up, Sarah said I looked punk on Sunday. How do you like that. I liked it fine.

Oh, and in case you missed it, my pal Simon -- true to his calling of he who most reliably makes me feel grand -- left this comment about me on a recent post: "I declare, she's got a balcony you could do Shakespeare from." Is it just being Australian that grants him such a knack for paying a randy compliment? Anway, it suits me.

So that's that from the freelance desk. Correspondent signing out, eyes slitted with the weeness of the hours. I've been thoroughly trampled by my workload in the past few weeks. And I'm looking forward to a break just in time for my anniversarial celebrations. When drinking time arrives, no one will be readier than me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:26 AM
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5.11.2004

Bag Balm

See? I had to work the night through yet again. And I'm disappointingly far from finished. If you ever catch yourself envying me my lazy afternoons, reading books on my belly in the sunshine-dappled park, just remember this night and its accursed ilk. I wanted to take NyQuil three hours ago. Now, there's just no point. Soldier on? I shall. No one loves a non-soldiering-on-type person.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:37 AM
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5.10.2004

"Gabardine" always sounded more luxurious than it was.

I thought I had outwitted that cold last week. But it doubled back and got the best of me. I haven't been sick in quite some time. It's humbling. And I can't even take advantage of that sickness-mediated excuse to stay in bed all day and recuperate while dozing in and out of I Dream of Jeannie reruns. I have deadlines that would set a deadline fairy's hair on fire.

Perhaps because I'm under the weather, perhaps because of the familiarity of driving home on Sunday nights, perhaps because of the great lot of things I still keep wanting to get done -- it makes me feel soft and fragile and contemplative. My body wants me to take medicine and let the gravity of delirium pull me down to the ocean floor. My urgency doesn't like that idea.

I was listening to music in the car, and I thought of secret messages I wanted to send. But I outgrew them nearly as soon as the ideas hatched. That's the thing about being stuck in traffic. It's like an incubator. And sometimes you can pass in and out of phases without ever leaving your seat. And you can't help but wonder what things might happen if you let the whim be the plan instead of letting the pragmatism digest the folly. Even moreso in the lusty month of May. I played violin for Camelot one summer. There were lyrics in those songs that had their way with me. Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks. Everyone makes divine mistakes.

You can learn a lot of things from the flowers. But apparently that's for next month.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:47 AM
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5.9.2004

Ghost of Birthdays Yet to Come

It was nigh on a week till my actual birthday, but I was favored with a surprise party tonight. The first ever for me. The party was not a surprise. But that it was for me caught me entirely unawares. I was pretty in pink and tipping into the eighties chic, and I was given gifts that bore a spanking theme. I tried yet another something new with my hair tonight, and Tom said at one point to Krissy, "Every time I see her, her hair looks completely different." And I took that as a fine compliment. I always wanted to be one of those girls who was constantly reinventing herself. I have an appointment at the hair salon in a bit. Who knows what madness will ensue.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:05 AM
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5.7.2004

The Exaggeration of Ecstasy

I did not die in the desert. And, though my body returned with some amount of promptness, the rest of me did not. This week has flown out from me like a whisper or a raft of soapy bubbles blown through a hoop. I am alive -- not that you were worried. And I am in the throes. And I am on the verge. And I am ready.

I am also taking notes, so you needn't fear that the details will be left for the scavengers to find. I have lots of things to write and less time than I'd like to write them. I also have more pictures than I could possibly ever want to look at. And all of that will come in time. My voice is husky from an artfully avoided almost-cold. Krissy suggested I record all of my voicemail messages again on account of its sexiness. But I don't have so very many outgoing messages to record in the first place, and I never know what to say.

My birthday is coming, and nary an idea of what to do about that lurks anywhere in my sunburnt brain.

You can find me and my freckles in the swimming pool. We like it there.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:45 AM
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5.1.2004

The night is full of sweet scents.

It has been a week of unrest. Some good. Some typical. I need rest, but I won't find it. And I'm okay with that. The more I've worked, the freer I have felt. But I have also felt caged by it. And cagey because of it. I spent far more afternoons lounging on the museum grounds when I didn't have so much to do. I miss it.

Watching The Corporation really had an effect on me. Got all my little liberal atoms buzzing more than usual. Got me thinking. So many things deserve the name evil. It's strange how the meaning of that word has been changed by its prominence in the Bush administration's rhetoric. It's been made impotent in certain ways. It's no good any more. It's sort of a shame when a word or phrase becomes catch. Just as "liberal" and "conservative" no longer imply what they used to. Our quilt of a language is being diminished and disempowered every day. By television and politics and pop stars and preachers. Words fall flat now because we infer them in their most popular selves. And we don't seek out subtext or etymology. We don't endeavor to understand as much as we used to. I have always been one who strives to keep saying the same thing in a different way. Lucky that. If I had a smaller vocabulary, people might just stop listening altogether. Of course, I'm only taking it for granted that they mayn't already have.

It smells like night time. My pillow is full of sweetness. Perfume from my hair reminds me that I've slept here. Four walls. Two doors. Two windows. A room. A haven. A prison. A playpen. You can call a thing many names. A rose by any other name and all of that. A rose may smell as sweet if you call it a schoolbus, but it would be a lot harder to find in the card catalogue. It's a good thing no one uses those anymore.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:24 AM
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4.29.2004

She certainly can can-can.

I don't want to talk about how hot it's been. I don't want to talk about how strange it's been. I don't want to talk about tape delay or hand-squeezing or crossing the international date line. It seems, lately, I don't want to talk much about anything. At least not here. I get my lists together and I fall behind. And I feel this strange unfamiliarity with the old days when I had so much to say about so little. I have been working a lot. That may be to blame. But in the absence of inspiration, I defer to discipline. If I don't keep up, I can only ever fall further behind. So these are the highlights that missed the stage's center in recent days.

Disneyland was brilliant and sunny and hotter than it's ever been in my recollection. Not as humid as that time I went in July. But hotter, certainly. Tom is a "cast member," so we got into both parks for free. I had never been to California Adventure. I had never eaten a fancy dinner at the Blue Bayou. At least not here. I think I did at Tokyo Disneyland, but I was too much a teenager to have ordered anything smart. This time, I had the prime rib, and plenty of it. That Soarin' Over California attraction is breathtaking. Such pretty pretty music in that park. A film score enthusiast's cup of tea -- with milk even. And that Screamer is quite a ride. Tom didn't want the secret of the super high-speed take-off to be revealed so he kept insisting on the long way around the park. A trek we had to make repeatedly because the first time, we waited 40 minutes in line only to have the ride break down. But it was worth the wait the second time around. Even though I almost had to throw down with a girl in line who kicked me in the hip as she was climbing over the rails only to blame it on me for not getting out of the way. Using my mom's terminology, I'd say that the attendance at California Adventure appears to come from a slightly different "income level," if you know what I mean. If you don't, ask me in private.

The Paul F. Tompkins Show was terrific as per usual. I laughed until my face hurt. And I wish I'd written more down. Or that I hadn't had so much to drink, as I would surely crib from the best parts and lay the decontextualized quotes down here to confuse you. Instead it's all just floating in a fog of funny. Pieces of silver. This is sad. Oh, my god! I can't forget Murderton, Crackshire, and Rapeham! I nearly collapsed my own trachea on Rapeham. If you knew why that was funny, you'd be floating on a cloud of it. Sucks for you. Incidentally, I saw that my table was right up front on the reservation chart, but somehow someone else was sitting there when I arrived. It was TV's Teri Hatcher and some other unidentified woman. Now, I'm no very important person, but I was in a minor state of dismay. Then, the server took our drink order first, but brought drinks to Samm Levine and his guest (sitting close enough to me that I couldn't help but overhear Samm's discovery that the Sprite he ordered had booze in it) before serving us. Stee-rike number two. If you count giving people with IMDb credits preferential service over ordinary paying customers like me a strike. Which I do. Jon Cryer was down at the far end of the tables, but as far as I could tell, he did not preempt any of the service I was waiting for, so I guess he's okay. For now.

I drank too much, anomalously, and that made a dent in my productivity later in the night. But it's the sort of thing I don't have the attention span to regret. Mr. F. Tompkins was spinning brilliant yarns about his recent high times in London, and I was envious. Not just because he is funnier than I will ever be, but also because he got to go abroad. Side note: I don't think I'm going to be calling him Mr. F. Tompkins anymore. I think he was referred to as Mr. Eftompkins or Mr. Ephtompkins in an interview I read, and I thought it was clever and endearing, but when I write it like that -- Mr. F. Tompkins -- it looks and sounds like the sort of name an old woman gives her overly important cat. From now on, it's anything but. Carrying on. Aimee Mann -- high on my genius list -- sang and strummed. Michael Penn was sitting down to a meal at Canter's just before the show. I saw him as I was leaving. I even said out loud but not within Michael Penn's earshot, "I hope that Aimee Mann will be playing." And that's reason number one hundred and forty-seven to attend the Paul F. Tompkins Show: it grants wishes. Paul F. even worked the Handbags and Gladrags theme into his opening number, and it gave me cause to wish that he would release that version -- and all of his songs -- on CD. I would buy such a CD again and again. You think I'm being hyperbolic, but I'm not.

So, yeah, I came home from that a bit fizzy in the head. And I wrote saucy responses to emails in my inbox, knowing I would have no recollection of it in the morning. That's what the Sent Items folder is for. Shame and retribution. I slept fitfully and awoke early enough to know that I shouldn't have gotten up. And I had all this work to do. And it was murderously hot. But it was not the end of me.

The deadlines this week have nearly been the end of me. I'm a survivor so far, but there's time yet for me to cease to be. I finished an article I was asked to write for a magazine that circulates in the Inland Empire, and I was sure it was shit, but the editor -- insisting it couldn't have been a first draft -- accepted my first draft and liked it. This is the exact sort of turnabout that will never ever teach me that procrastination and slapdashery supposedly have an effect on a career similar to the effect curiosity has on cats. How will I ever learn this lesson? If ever there was a girl in need of discipline, it's me. And I'm not just referring to the striking of the fanny.

Pasadena was hot as a motherfather yesterday. Hot and under construction and quaint-looking. I was on a job interview that seemed to go well. I was wrapped up and pitched out into traffic right at 5:15 and was surprised to find that it wasn't half murder getting home. An encouraging detail if I end up having to go there regularly.

I agreed to do some freelance transcription work yesterday, as well. Which I should never have done. I did some of this work before the holidays, and it was extra money, but laborious and time-consuming, and I don't need the money right now. But I hate to say no to people who are counting on me. Stupid as that sounds sometimes. That left me stoop-shouldered and frustrated and further behind than ever in everything else I was behind in. But when I was driving into the Hills to drop off the video tapes, it was around the hour of last call, and I decided to stop and take photos of the window display at Trashy Lingerie. That accounts for one of the eleven rolls of Lomos I dropped off today to be developed. Let's hope there's one or two in there worth keeping. I'm glad I stopped. I always think about taking those pictures, but it's always when the streets are congested and the sidewalks attentive. I liked the barrenness of La Cienega after one a.m. and the absence of self-consciousness I feel when I'm confident that no one is watching.

Tonight, I went to the Egyptian to see The Corporation as part of the Artivist Film Festival. It was just amazing. I really want to buy it by the case when it comes out on DVD and give a copy to everyone I know. I was so moved by it. And so convicted and inspired and disheartened all at once. And it provoked all manner of compelling discussion afterwards. I wish I had the presence of mind and the focus to recount some of what we talked about. But I really do hope that everyone will see this movie, and -- in the case of those who like to talk to me -- that a subset of everyone will bandy ideas around with me in the aftermath. There are some very compelling and startling ideas in this film. And I'm hoping that I can be an instrument of change. Ironically, I just became a corporation myself last week, but I promise that I will not plunder our natural resources or exploit third world labor. You can quote me on that.

After a bit of Toi, I said good night and got into my car, at which time my pants ripped completely open. And, it's not because they were too tight or anything, so don't jump to conclusions that aren't flattering to my figure. They were jeans that I paid a lot of money for and there must just have been a flaw in the weave, because they split from the seam just under the waistline all the way down the back of my thigh. And I was terribly relieved that I didn't have anywhere else to be. I even held my handbag in a strategic place when walking from my car to my apartment for fear that my neighbors might think I was clumsily trying to resurrect that Def Leppard look of 1987. Joe Elliott was great in many ways, but I can't get behind his fashion choices that year. I don't know if I should bother trying to seek reparations from Anthropologie. I'm not keen on getting that once-over from the sales clerk who will obviously think it was the fault of my ass. Speaking of which, I got a full-on, head-to-toe once-over from an orthodox Jew today. Hardcore. Anyway, now I have yet another thing in common with Spongebob Squarepants. The oops-I-ripped-my-pants thing -- not the orthodox-Jew-once-over thing. Incidentally, the things previously on the list were naïveté and butterfly kisses.

This is the point at which Blogger ate a portion of my post. A lengthy, satisfying, wrapping-up portion of my post that I will now try to recreate -- a task at which I will fail miserably, if history is any measure. And I should know. This happens to me all the bloody time. And always with the prolific posts. I'm gnashing my teeth. But back to closing.

I'm going to Coachella, but this year get this: I'm going with a VIP wristband and press photo pass. I swear, if I get a cool close-up photo of Frank Black or Kim Deal, who in the world will be cooler than me? No one! I have every Pixies CD and a wide-eyed helping of lolling admiration that cannot be outdone! You so wish you were me. Don't even try to deny that you do. I'm also thrilled and excited to see The Cure and Radiohead and Muse and Air, but rather than dangle it all before you in a disordered series, I'll just send you here so you can see for yourself. I am a bit concerned that some of the other acts I'm keen to see (Savath & Savalas, !!!, Prefuse 73, Erase Errata) are playing early enough in the line-up that, if I go to see them, I may risk speeding toward a much earlier exposure-related death. If past experience is any proof, getting there before dusk will be a form of self-immolation. It's going to be cooking temperature out there. I expect my meat to be falling off the bone by the time I'm through. But I have lovely accommodations at a chi chi resort where I can rehydrate poolside and have a massage. And a gang of other lucky folks will be bunking with me there, so there's no need to pity me.

We're in a bit of a cooling trend right now, sure sure. But they say the mercury's set to bolt right back up again just in time to incinerate me and thousands of other music-lovers like me in the cruel desert. Rolling in the rave tent is not how I'd like to go, pleasant as it might sound.

I am fairly certain that I will die out there, so if there are any of my belongings to which you are particularly attracted, get your dibs in early. And remember me fondly to those who come after us. Tell them all that I was worth it, will you?

But before any of that can happen, I've still mountains more work to do. So much so that it seems a crime. Even when life is full, it is no less fleeting.

See? I had a much better ending than that, but it's lost to me now. Afford me the benefit of the doubt and superimpose something that you would have liked to read. I'd be ever so grateful.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:37 AM
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4.25.2004

It's the cream that rises to the top. Everything else is just plain milk.



I went to the UCLA/LA Times Festival of Books. I saw Julie Andrews and William Gibson and got a sunburn on one of my arms. No matter how much coffee I drank, I never stopped feeling three quarters of the way to sleeping.



My parents are selling our old house. I looked at the pictures online, and it made me sad to see it all up-for-grabs and empty. It sure does look pretty in the pictures.



I have worked more this week than ever. I have played more this week than is excusable given the amount of work I had to do. I have had a pain in my eyes nearly constantly. And a glittery feeling when the rewards rolled in. And I'm not talking about money.



I drove to Huntington Beach to have dinner. I took pictures out on the pier of signs that may look less silly to me when I see them developed. I had that salt air smell in my hair, and my hands got cold.



I bought a super sexy top on Melrose, and I paid way too much for it. When I realized how much it was at the register, I was too embarrassed to back out. But when I tried it on at home, I loved it and was glad I didn't sink that opportune ship.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:11 AM
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4.23.2004

Out of hope. Out of rope. Out of time.

I am going to be bankrupted by the number of television programs now arriving in DVD boxed set form. The Dukes of Hazzard! Wonder Woman! The A-Team! What if they put Simon & Simon on DVD? Or Magnum, P.I.? What if heaven is real after all?

It's terrible to be able to see your doom coming for you but to know that there is nothing you can do to avert it. What? you say. Why not just not buy them and keep your accounts flush? Not buy them? she says with a quizzical look on her face, sounding out the words as if she can't quite place their meaning. Then suddenly! Recognition! Followed by maniacal laughter. Followed by an abrupt and frightening calm. You can't be serious, she says, glowering. At which time, you back out of the room cautiously, feeling behind you for the door knob and hoping to be able to reach the safety of the street before she erupts into the violence you know is simmering. Will she melt you with her laser vision? Engulf you in a fireball thrown from her fingertips? Constrict you to death with her truth lasso? Drive over you in Robin's ferrari? What show is this, anyway? And why haven't the writers learned how to use quotation marks?

Don't try to dissuade me. With the General Lee tooting Dixie and my Intellivision console plugged in with the Nightstalker card slipped in place on the controller, it'll be just like the babysitting days of yore. Friday nights have never since been so sweet. Cigareet?

"Sure, sure. Some jerk we can really push around." It's like he was talking about me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:48 AM
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Frame Rate Fake-Out

I didn't realize that I was going to be on a chat show tonight, but then all of a sudden I was signing a model release and letting people assign me a model (read: "porn star") name on my friend (don't click the link if you're going to give me a bunch of crap about it being a porn site) Kylie Ireland's show on KSEX Radio. Resorting to the old rule about your first pet's name and the street where you grew up, I was known to the faceless airwaves as...well...someone else. It's a cheat, because I didn't really grow up on that street, having lived all over the place during the formative stages, but it is the street I lived on the longest. And that really was my first pet's name. And that's something.

I'm no pro. I kept getting distracted by the flicker of the monitors with their four-way camera split. I looked foreign. To me. The slow blink of an animatronic. The occasional frozen expression of pursed lips or eyes less wide. I was told later that the webcast is actually at 30 frames per second, so I guess it was a waste of concern. Still, I'm not good at playing it cool when I'm out of my own pond. And live sex chat is a pond to which I am somewhat less accustomed than other frogs. I didn't let them coerce me into any fleshy revelations, but I was almost tempted to. There's something about being in that little room that makes you forget that there are people in other rooms watching. Danger danger.

We were supposed to go to a strip club for a series of reasons, including visiting with Julie Night, but plans went awry like they do. And we ended up trying to talk to each other over the loudness of the Dresden for a bit until it was time to move our nocturne elsewhere. I felt good and nice. A little square. Outdone by all the little things that make me a nervous, tittering child when I should be vain and glorious. The chat room audience said nice things about me. But I never knew what to do with myself.

Cloud-Cuckoo-Land

I put diamonds in my pocket to make sure that I never have need of change. A headache is a high of sorts. There are very few french fries so appallingly bad that they aren't worth eating. Who decides if I am gamine or grave? When you tell stories to people who aren't listening, you can tell them again without fear of repeating yourself. Every time I go to the museum, I feel it belonging to me more.

This was written at a previous 3 A.M., but I can't remember what day it was. Tuesday, maybe?

More Shadowy Bits

I still haven't the time to flesh it all out. And I don't want to just drop names. But after greedy museum consumption, I played violin on a recording today in Manhattan Beach. Like a pro. Kevin noticed that I have a very small waist. I forced him to order a marshmallow malt. I stood on the street corner with my violin slung over my shoulder, and I met a man with a dog named Lulu. I never got to hear any of the songs we picked at the Snake Pit.

This was written at 9:30 A.M., after facing off with the night and never being forced to fold.

I'm never nothing.

I can see the aftermath of everything, and it glistens.

Though the impulse only hit me intermittently, when it hit me, it struck hard and I was bruised by it. Whatever that means.

The Anya of the previous post is Anya Marina, and she is the niftiest. We worked together at MP3.com many moons ago. I only wish I had known then how much of a genius she is, for I would surely have tricked her into going off with me somewhere secluded where I could kill her in secret and rid the world of the single greatest threat to my rise to stardom. But seriously. She's splendid. And I do wish I had done her in when I had the chance. I can't wait for her new CD to be released. And I exhort you to carpet the road before her with flower petals and adulation and the crumbs of your own teeth, which you had previously ground into a powder for the sake of an offering to her. She's so wonderful that I want to mash her into a ball and carry her around in my pants pocket. Don't let the references to jealousy, insecurity, and murder disconcert you. I love this girl. And she makes music so lovely that the very birds slit their own wrists in abject surrender and tribute. Don't point out that birds don't have wrists, (a) because you're missing the point, and (b) because maybe you don't know all there is to know about ornithology, Professor Know-Everything*.

*not a real doctor

I made Kevin go with me to a carnival on Santa Monica and Cahuenga. It was the dirtiest, depressingest carnival ever. But I thought it might favor my Lomo. Kevin talked me into taking a ride on "The Zipper." And after being shaken and tossed with such violence that we were literally being pelted in the face with quarters and salt packets as they fell out of the outside pocket of my handbag as the vicious cage we were locked into tumbled against gravity and my objections, I emerged from the capsule a broken woman. Nauseous. Woozy. Hoping for the relief of an upchuck that never came. When I told this story to my mother, she was angry that I didn't go back to collect the quarters. Truth.

We salvaged our dignity with dinner at The Kitchen. And french fries and fri-chi (my adorable nickname for fried chicken) distracted me from my churning guts. Kevin and Mary stayed up too late that night. But who are they to question the clock.

Josh and I were going to go to see Amy Goodman and applaud her, but it was another calendar item that didn't fully materialize. Instead, Krissy and I met Pamela at Canter's, and I felt embarrassingly hyperactive. Caffeinated and Thomas Dolby-ized. I hoped I wasn't woefully trying. I hate it when I can hear myself spinning out of control. I tell all these stories, and I can barely catch my breath. And there are better reasons for breathlessness, I've learned.

I also interviewed a woman for an article I'm about to write. And if you throw in the stints of picture-taking and the career-related phone calls and meetings and the little time I set aside to bathe and to nourish and to sleep, I packed a horseload into the cat-sized spaces this past week. And I never asked for mercy or for pity. I never felt it getting the best of me. Even now, weary as I have every right to be, I'm only concerned for my typing accuracy. As an eager, shirtless, one-armed push-up-doing serviceman told me as he tried to convince me not to leave the Thanksgiving party, I can sleep when I'm dead. But you have to say it in a creepy loud whisper to get the full effect.

Season Two of The Office is wonderful and terrible. Wonderful because it is brilliant and real and true but also impossibly, retardedly implausible. Terrible because I can't believe they only made two seasons. And because failure -- as it is portrayed in Slough -- is so heartbreaking. I'm sad they only made two seasons (and short BBC seasons, to boot), but when I contrast that against the tragedy of Friends still being on the air, I accept it with humble gratitude. I don't like Friends much. And I don't think it's just me rebelling against NBC's authority. Tell a girl like me, "You MUST SEE this," and I guarantee you, I will try to close my eyes. But for nearly everyone else, it seems, the "Must See TV" label (and you are correct if you, like me, are bothered by the absence of the hyphen between "must" and "see") is as effective as the Ludovico Technique. In my head, I sometimes shuffle the words around and it becomes can't not watch. But that's when I am most ashamed of the ways I waste my think junk.

I played violin at an engagement party in San Diego this past weekend. My friend Elizabeth and I play violin duets for weddings all the time, but this time we were asked to play for three hours at a sort of garden party, and we were adventurous with our fare. After we had exhausted all of our wedding stock and had begun to fear that the weddingy nature of the selections might give the bride- or groom-to-be foot chills, not only did we play a two-violin arrangement of Meet the Flintstones, but we also played Hot Hot Hot, New York, New York, Tequila, Your Momma Don't Dance, Doo Wah Diddy Diddy, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, and many other unlikely tunes. Elizabeth drew the line at Mony Mony. We were already laughing like fools when we figured out what The Merry Go Round Broke Down was about eight bars in. Anything more would just have been unprofessional.

After the party, Sarah and I went for cocktails at Charlie's. There was a street fair in Encinitas that Sarah wished we had gone to. I did not share her wish. I am not a fan of street fairs. I can buy incense and kettle corn at Costco. But the ocean was lovely, and we let the wind toss our hair around before I made my northbound exodus. And when I got back home, Kevin and I had beef at the Whisper Lounge (him: Kobe beef in hamburger sandwich form; me: New York strip steak) and hot drinks at the Coffee Bean, and the night thinned out, and he went to bed, and I worked until morning. That next day, we went to see the last in the University of Judaism lecture series for which I had tickets. It was Tom Brokaw with Ari Fleischer and Dee Dee Myers. I despised Ari Fleischer (and, no, I don't mean that I disagreed with his rhetoric or his views -- I mean I hated him as a person). And I found that I liked Dee Dee Myers more than I had expected to. I don't know why I had it in for her before I went to the event. She was the cat's whiskers.

Afterwards, we had dinner and drinks at El Compadre. I don't think our server could have disliked us more. But whatever amount of retaliatory body fluid he may have put into my carnitas plate, it was still yummy. That night, after talking and laughing at DVDs and fabricating every other possible time-wasting device I could muster, I spent the wee hours working yet again.

I'm telling this all out of order. I got two hours of sleep last "night." I always wonder if it shows.

I guess I don't mind working the night through. Even back when I held an office job, I never minded giving dawn the finger if something magical could be had in place of sleep. I like the way it feels to sleep. I like the sheets on my bed. I like the warm and the cool. I like the press of the fluff. I like the descent. I like the way I smell in my pajamas. But I would chuck it all for a chance at immortality. I would toss the sleep if more of my waking hours didn't already feel like somnambulance. But, as in the election of 2000, I know that my vote doesn't count, and immortality gets squashed every time. By Republicans.

But this was all yesterday and the day before and the day before that. Today is just a scar. Today is beginning for some. Ending for some (me). Today is another wasted outfit. Today is another chance I didn't take. Today is as uneasy as the tickling itch on the roof of your mouth you try to scratch with your tongue, but it only makes it intolerably worse. Today is a lost cause. And denial is a river in Africa. I've always hated that joke.

Please don't make me redundant.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:17 AM
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4.19.2004

Vague Suppression

I think I end up laughing to myself when I have to work the night through. I'm proud I made it. But I'm nowhere near done. There's just time enough to curl up in the linens for a few measly hours and get cracking all over again. And not enough time yet for the expanded edition of commentary on all the subjects this weekend shouldered. Among them:

Anya at The Derby...Seedy night carnival on Santa Monica Boulevard..."I have a vomit illness"...The Kitchen...I made hot cocoa with marshmallows in (but not for me)...Early morning machinations...The long sundrenched drive...Engagement party...Two violins playing Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and the theme from The Flintstones...Freckles emerging...Cocktails and oysters on the beach...The long drive home...Dinner at The Whisper Lounge...Quadruple espresso at the Coffee Bean prepared lovingly by James (Mr. Madonna)...Firefly and The Office DVD festival...Quark XPress ad infinitum...Fire in the belly...It felt like Christmas at The Grove.

Think of it as a possible list of coming attractions.

When I told my mom that I had been eating oysters, she said, "Now, you're full of hormones."

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:42 AM
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4.17.2004

Backlash of the Vice Sisters

Kevin and I basked too long in the welcoming but fickle embrace of the abovementioned siblings. And then early morning upstairs cacophony put an end to my rejuvenation. She was crying and yelling and stomping around for hours. The only solace I took in it was knowing that she was obviously miserable. And it serves her right. Later she was dragging a suitcase down the stairs in bellowing thuds. And he was out in the car. Honking for her. Of course he was. The car is parked mere feet from the door, but the horn is as good a voice as any. Those people are the rotting tooth in civilization's mouth. When you don't find sleep until dawn is on the creep, you become an expert in matters of dental health.

It's sunny out but with those darkening rain clouds on the verge, opaque and ominous. Laughter becomes a memory far too quickly for my tastes.

posted by Mary Forrest at 9:58 AM
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4.16.2004

She must suffer till her last breath.

Oh, what a tragic, frazzled mess I am at the moment. But the report is not all blood and guts. Tons of new work. Deadlines that can't possibly be met. An unwillingness to pass on lunch dates or anything else. And Kevin, freshly back from his Australian sojourn, is staying with me for the next few days. I have a calendar and a pencil and a head for numbers. Why can't I ever make it all fit in?

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:04 PM
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4.13.2004

I think Rachmaninoff's just delicate.

There are so many things that I love that it is almost not worth mentioning them. So many that I sometimes forget items on the list until something recalls them for me. A little bit of The Seven Year Itch in the background, and all of a sudden, I am reminded that I do so love Rachmaninoff. So much so that I rush off to Friendster to update my profile. What if someone wanted to be my friend last month but was disappointed by the gaping hole in the portrait of my musical tastes? It's a crime.

I remember going to see Shine in the theater back in late 1996. Or perhaps it was early 1997. I think I went to see it by myself, but I'm not positive. I do remember buying the film score but not really caring about the original bits. I just wanted to hear the piano concertos. And there's also a lovely but of choral Vivaldi in the mix. Highly recommended. But these are the sorts of talking points that come out of the mouths of people wearing argyle socks. And not in a cool way. I realize that. There is a(n) hoity-toity quality to the nature of such discussions. I can never decide which camp I wish to reside in. Because I like too many things. I like plenty of highbrow. But the lowbrow is just as dear to me. I like fine dining. But I also like hot dogs. I am not unwilling to pay corkage fees. But I also like to swig from the bottle. I keep my legs crossed and my hands folded. And I also run amok. I don't like to be tied down. Especially when it comes to favorites. When pressed, I writhe and wriggle and find ways of skirting the issue. I am almost always willing to proclaim my love for something. And often my disdain. But the regions in-between are untraversed. I am a coward when it comes to such judgments.

Anyway, I do so like Rachmaninoff. I remember listening to a collection of piano concertos (or concerti, if you must) in my office at my beloved biotech employer of old. Countless days in that office. With my Japanese alphabet tacked up on the wall and my CDs stacked high. I used to bang my knees on the handles of my desk drawers all the time. That was not my favorite thing. But there was a security and a serenity to my life at that time. I knew what the days were going to be like. And it didn't bother me. And when the fall daylight savings switch happened, I would drive home through residential neighborhoods, where little herds of goblins and spooks were making their way from door to door. Actually, I don't remember seeing any goblins or spooks. Football players and shamefully six year-old hookers, but no goblins or spooks. And in those days, I listened to music that made me love being awake and alive and sitting upright. And Rachmaninoff was in the mix. That's all.

I also love Marilyn Monroe, as some know. But that's an entirely separate topic.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:56 AM
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4.12.2004

The bed is back to green and I love it.

Yesterday, I went to San Diego to have Easter dinner with my family and to have an early birthday celebration for Beulah. The weather was wonderful. The pool was warm, though I was destined to regret not using it. It was a day filled with laughter and revelry and grand exclamations about the food. My mom made a turkey. Sarah made a ham. An ice cream cheesecake appeared afterwards. I did not eat any of it.

Beulah took some pictures of me in my new dress. They are linked to the divvied bits of photo below. Along with a few that I snapped myself. Surprise, surprise.



I was tired when I drove home. But so alive.

Today is my little sister's actual birthday. Happy Birthday, Beulah!
posted by Mary Forrest at 4:45 PM
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4.11.2004

Architecture of the Memory-Filled Mind

I went to see Chris Ware and Ira Glass at UCLA last night for this strange and wonderful thing they did. The telling of a story with their two media: comics and radio. Chris Ware is brilliant and shy and unassuming and apologetic. And funny. Ira Glass strokes and releases the controls of his sound devices like a concert pianist. But with more grandeur. He then self-consciously finishes each fluorish by touching his nose or running a hand through his hair. As if to disguise the fluorish as the mere beginning of the scratching of an itch.

The story they told was based on an interview with Tim Samuelson wherein he talked about the buildings of Louis Sullivan and how he (Samuelson), as a boy, had strived to know them and how he watched as they were torn down, one by one, struggling to save them with the might and impotence of a child. It was a poignant story. Full of the ornate language of design and architecture and the appreciation of a bygone era.

Ira Glass made some assertion that perhaps both Ware and Samuelson maintain this love of the look of the past because they were both raised by grandparents. I was not raised by grandparents, but my father is older than the fathers of many people my age. And I suppose that may explain why I cotton to things with dust on them. Why I enjoyed watching the old black and white comedies of Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and the Marx Brothers. Why I like the sound of scratched records. Why I like to collect things that were old before I was new. Maybe. Chris Ware didn't think there was any correlation. And I suppose there are plenty of people who appreciate fragments of history and feel the destruction of those fragments tearing at their very souls, regardless of the ages of their peers or upbringers.

There was a point where Chris Ware made a comment about the sadness of the passing of those old, wonderful structures as they were replaced by modernity that provided such a cheap backdrop for the living out of our many American existences. And I felt a little quietly embarrassed, thinking that I sometimes find that cheaper backdrop to be charming, as well. That there is a certain naivete about the advertising language of the 50s and 60s, a certain innocence projected in the message of image there. But then I fully agree with him when he draws the conclusion that people today don't care so much whether they live in a room that is wonderfully designed, because they come in and sit down and watch the television, and their surroundings cease to matter. And, perhaps, by and large, that is true. Perhaps that explains the glut of boxy apartments and Navajo White walls and beige carpets and vertical blinds and halogen torchieres. I guess even the ambition of the mid-century moderns is charming to me, because it precedes me. Because it is something I can only know through the lens of history. Through Viewmaster reels and old encyclopedias. Through postcards with scalloped edges and staple-bound magazines. And this world I'm living in is challenged to impress me, if only because I am in it and able to see it in all its dimensions without the aid of history. Without the special complimentary glasses.

I am fond of experiences that provoke thought and discussion. And I am so grateful for the company of those who do not yawn when I start a sentence. I love to talk it over. All of it.

Earlier in the day, after post office errands and before little-sister-birthday-shopping errands, I went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and liked it. The handheld camera technique made me a little queasy in places but not so much that I had to close my eyes. It made me wonder about the snow and want to eat Chinese food out of boxes and make a painting and take a nap all at once. I have had a crush on Kate Winslet for many years now. That has been perpetuated. I really had a lot of ideas in that cinema. I may have waited too long to write them down. They draw away from me, and I can't make them out.

But the verse whence the title comes was repeated in the film. It goes:

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.

               -- Alexander Pope, "Eloisa to Abelard"

It made me want to write verse. I remember when I used to replace vowels with apostrophes and wondered if it made my poems seem dumb or full of themselves. I was concerned about the meter. That's all.

In the end, impassioned conversation long into the night and plans for upending things and finding ways to be pleased with how everything has gone made up for the bandage on my knee and the twitching of my eye and the strange void of sleepless caffeination. The night before last, I took sleeping pills to assure my descent into the gloom. And I awoke about an hour after taking them, finding my arms were strange and heavy. Paralyzed in a way. But with some sort of associated pain. I couldn't stretch or clench them enough. I could not get comfortable. I stumbled around in a fog. Looking for Pop Tarts I thought might still be in my bedroom from that time when my stomach was upset. But I couldn't find them. And I gave up sugar a few weeks ago, so it's for the best that I didn't. The memory of that strange sensation is still in my mind. I keep having fussy flashbacks of that stiffness in my arms. And then I realize that my arms are stiff again. Particularly the right one. I gave up sugar, so it can't be the onset of some sort of diabetic neural damage. And yet it could be many things. Being without health insurance, I often laugh to myself that one of these headaches or stomach aches or muscle pains or tumors is going to turn out to be something serious. On account of the irony, you see.

I often admire people for the wrong reasons. And as experience both emboldens and restrains me, I recognize the futility of the early admiration. I see the pitfalls in wait. I know where the path goes and how the story turns out. And I can't help but wonder if I will ever get smarter about anything. These days, I'm fine. Bogged down in certain ways but diaphanous in others. Glad it's not summer yet. I do things inexplicably. And it is the very absence of the possibility of explanation that frees me from regret. And that might be a method worth exploring. Trusting instincts that don't deserve your trust. Acting on impulses that are ill-advised. I am frustrated when I am careful, and I am frustrated when I am not. Too smart for my own good. Too dumb for the horse races. And always curious as to how I manage to make it to the next morning when I'm certain every night that this will be the last thing I ever think.

These are the words I like in the song. This is not the order in which they are sung.

This is the room one afternoon I knew I could love you
And from above you how I sank into your soul
Into that secret place where no one dares to go

As we would lay and learn what each other's bodies were for


When I think of the words to songs, I hear them sung to me in my head. I am a mass of blood and inspiration. Every touch sets something off. Like turning on a light in a room filled with light-activated toys. They all start running at once. Cymbal-clapping monkeys. Dancing Santas. Singing sunflowers with sunglasses on. What a noise it all makes.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:21 AM
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4.10.2004

Chinese Logic

"Chinese authorities have fined an Internet cafe after two teenagers spent more than 48 hours playing an online video game, then fell asleep on a railroad track and were killed by a train." [Details.]

Isn't the placement of blame a curious thing?

Speaking of which, the taking of blame is a rarer animal than ever. Condoleezza Rice makes me so angry as to spit. I'm glad there are satirists and pundits who can wryly find ways to debunk her bunk without bursting bloody brain matter all over the cameras and microphones. I've been relying on them to voice the displeasure that threatens to devein me if I speak it. I suppose some admiration can be reserved for a woman who is able to turn what ought to be a contrite admission of a ball dropped into an election-season advert. She pats herself and her cohorts on the back for what has been accomplished. For the laying waste of countries. For the passing of the Patriot Act. For the damming of intellect. For the taking of vacations.

Apparently, the Washington Post calculated that George W. Bush has spent 42% of his presidency on vacation. Maybe that's why he's so sorely unconcerned about how many of the rest of us are out of work.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:36 AM
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4.8.2004

I Get Weak

So many secrets are best kept. When I want the truth -- when I puff up and defy reality -- when I smirk and say, "Do your worst!" -- I am usually operating on false valor. I am usually asking for revelations because I believe I have foreknowledge. Because I think I know what to expect. Because I am certain that I will not be surprised. Or undone. If archaeologists discovered something today that turned everything we know of history on its ear, we would reject it, wouldn't we? At first? We would carry on, assured that we know how things are and should be. We would let the past lie quietly in its grave. We would put it away and wash our hands of it. It's easier. Easier than republishing the textbooks and relearning the periodic table and replacing all those bumper stickers.

It's like that with me. Everything is steady until it isn't. And for so long now, I feel as if I have been sitting on a barstool with one short leg. Wobbling precariously on a lumpy tile floor in a sticky, dim bar where I would prefer not to have to touch anything. Even if only to steady myself. I've been teetering. And it upsets my motion sickness.

I don't really know anything new today. And yet every day holds the promise and the risk of everything I know becoming everything that is no longer true. Every day may be the day my history becomes fiction. The day my edition becomes outdated. Every day that I am outside, the things going on inside exclude me. They threaten to erase me altogether. That's part of why I fear staying away for too long. Eventually, I will become a face in memory. The sound of my voice will be replaced by the sound of someone else mimicking me. Until the mimicking stops and I am lost altogether. I have always been good at keeping in touch. Maybe this is why. And maybe the times when I have been less good at it can be grouped together as times when I would prefer to have disappeared. Or when I was being remembered sufficiently by the audience on whom I placed the greatest value. I have compromised my widespread celebrity with wasteful private performances. And yet they have been my favorite performances. The ones of which I was most proud. Were always the ones where nearly no one was watching.

I think of it like Back to the Future. When someone or something goes and monkeys with the past, I begin to fade from the future. I begin to dematerialize. I get all see-through in the photographs. When the history changes, everything does.

There's plenty in my history that I wouldn't mind rewriting. But, as with nearly everything, you never get to choose what goes and what stays. I might change a hairdo. I might change a prom date. But it wouldn't be up to me. And there's the rub.

May the gods forgive a Belinda Carlisle reference at this wee hour. Even the strongest among us can be trounced by pop song love when sleepy sentiment sets in.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:21 AM
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Death Luck Death

Fourth month. Eighth day. Fourth year. Now all of a sudden it's a lucky death sandwich. The number eight (or "ba") is very lucky when seen through Chinese eyes. In case you didn't know.

And, a propos of nothing, the word of the day is "bailiwick."

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:53 AM
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Six Double Five Three Two One

As we were leaving the Arclight tonight, I said to Zach that I am so grateful for this theater, and he said how it makes him feel so lucky to be living in Los Angeles, and I completely agree. There are many things that people dismiss about proximity to the soulless world of entertainers and their entertainment, but my brain requires this sort of addling and plenty of it.

The Arclight is doing an AFI tribute series, and many great flicks are being revived. Tonight, it was A Clockwork Orange, one of my all-time favorite films. Perhaps in the top two. Certainly in the top three. I even wrote a paper on it in a college writing class. I'm sure I would be embarrassed by that paper today, but the point is, I was keen on the film and had been to way back. I'm one of those few people of my age who read the book before seeing the movie. It was a book I bought on a whim in the college bookstore, as I used to do. That's how I read Crime and Punishment, as well. I was never one to require the assignment. Anyway, I was fortunate to have that experience of struggling with the language and then realizing that you can actually learn a language contextually. And right quick, too. But seeing the film after the fact was also a treat. I felt as if I had earned it in a way.

It seems to me that the characters in this film are all being viewed in funhouse mirrors. Kubrick pinches and punches them, distorts them in so many surprising and ingenious ways. Even the good guys are bizarre. Perhaps especially the good guys. So little of it rings true, and yet all of it does. The violence is sexy. As is the sex. It just makes you wonder if you might be harboring some shameful proclivity, too. And I am nothing if not absolute putty in the hands of the Ninth. Putty, I tell you. I love how fixed and functional the world looks in this movie. And yet how it is obviously coursing out of control. I wonder if Jeremy Piven liked it as much as I did. He was there, you know. He looked nervous. When I saw Luke Wilson at the Grove, he had the same jitters on him. I think that certain actors, when out in the wild, actually look as if they are afraid they are about to be assassinated. I wonder if that's anything at all like what they are thinking.

There are forces in the world that have strived to ruin this film for me. Have endeavored to fill my head with referential malignance. Have wanted to spoil my every favorite moment of it. Have wanted to take it from me in its favoriteness. But I felt some triumph over them tonight. I was afraid I wouldn't enjoy myself, and that simply was not the case. It was a brilliant picture before I ever saw it. And it will be brilliant long after my eyes have rotted in their sockets. It is not great as a function of me. It's just great. And that is a relief.

I want to marry a lighthouse keeper. Won't that be okay?

Anyway, I've got loads of work to do. I should feel shame at that, and I do.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:24 AM
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4.7.2004

Impetus



I got a great deal done today, but I am so far behind. And I have this ache and this desire to not be doing anything at all and to not be plagued by the fact of it. I yearn for sleep. I am anxious for tomorrow. I am glad to have gotten my fingers into so many messes. I like what I see.

Oscar Wilde said, "In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants. The other is getting it." I have had, perhaps, too much of both and too little of either.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:05 AM
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4.6.2004

Scrubbies

I just put on my pajama shorts and noticed that the drawings on my thigh are still faintly visible. It is a pleasant reminder of my previous fun-having as well as a scowling indictment of my bathing practices. Shame on me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:50 AM
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4.5.2004

Inifinitely Good

So I survived the death day. With pictures and stories to tell. Besotted stories.

I survived, but in a sort of unwitting homage, I bought a Deathray Davies t-shirt that reads, "If it were up to us, you would all be dead." They opened for the Starlight Mints. As did Dressy Bessy. Starlight Mints news: the girl in the group is pregnant, and they only get better every time I see them.



I almost lost my Lomo. Dropped it on the floor at the Troubadour, but a girl beside me noticed that I had dropped something, and I went down to have a look. Happily. Where was my head? Half-lodged inside a vodka bottle, I suspect. By the time I got home, I nearly forgot why there were all these pictures on my thigh. I didn't draw them. It was just how I was sitting and that there were pens handy, I guess.

So Beulah and Tommy went to see Tesla at the Avalon. They came and met me and Yen at the Abbey after our show. And glasses with spirits in them were raised. And photographs were taken. And synapses stopped firing where others started. It's strange how far away it feels now. Only hours later.

Anyway, it was a weekend. And I lived to call it one. Minus an hour and all.







Too bad I missed Franz Ferdinand when they were in town. I guess triumphs are never without defeat. You can feel my lips undress your eyes. How awesome is that.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:46 PM
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4.4.2004

Death Death Death

The number four is unlucky in Asian cultures. The word for four is a homonym for the word for death. Today is the fourth day of the fourth month of the fourth year of the new millenium.

Best of luck to you. Don't go dying or anything.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:51 PM
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4.3.2004

I'll be your plastic toy.

Last night, I was feeling giddy and good. All sorts of exciting things on the horizon. And that open feeling that I've missed. Wide open. Ready. Tickled by the fizzing of it while I drove home, listening to music that made me feel happy on a molecular level. Subatomic, even. Sometimes, it's just so good that it makes you laugh, you know? Unfortunately, that looks to others like insanity. And objectively, maybe it is. Sometimes everything is just crazy good.

I saw and liked Hellboy. I have my criticisms. (When don't I?) But it was a fine departure. There's something sort of real and jarring about the marriage of the supernatural and the adolescent in that story. I dig it.

I look sleepy today. I don't mean to. But I've given up on waking rested. Sleep is for the birds. FOR THE BIRDS!

Listen to the girl as she takes on half the world
Moving up and so alive in her honey dripping beehive

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:01 PM
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4.2.2004

Hypermnesia

All the thoughts are there, and yet I draw a blank. The databanks are full, but I get tired of sorting through, so I chuck it and opt for something mindless. Something time-consuming. Something without promise or pretense.

I carry memory with me like a great armload of groceries. An overambitious, can't-quite-get-your-arms-around-it heap that cripples you on the stairs. And all because you didn't want to have to go back out to the car for another trip. I carry memory that makes me knock things over when I turn corners. I carry it and it makes me unwieldy and graceless. Bulky and tedious. I was never as lithe or as loose as the forgetters of the world.

I would toss you a line, but I can't see if you are still floating out there. And I don't know that you want to be towed in. I would use a tractor beam, but technology has as yet failed to give me nearly everything I have wanted. Teleportation. Time travel. Unlimited do-overs. Justice. I would reach out my hand, but I have this fear of dark places. A shark might leap up and bite it off. Something slimy might touch it. It might get cold. I would call out or sing a song or whisper something soft. But how could you ever hear me over the sound of the sea? I would sneak up on you, but I am wearing tap shoes. And you were never moved by my surprises. I would make us a picnic, but I don't want to carry it all alone. I've got my hands full with this memory business as it is.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:32 AM
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A brief bout

It rained for a bit today. Torrentially, it sounded. But by the time I had to go out, it was just a memory. A vague scent still in the air. And shiny streets. Beset by strange and sometimes gross dreams, I found the waking hours to be only slightly more tolerable than the sleeping ones. Although I did have a nice dinner and milk tea with my math-savvy friend Paul. I didn't know to look forward to it until I was actually out. Further proof that I need to trust my calendar rather than my whim. If I allowed my periodic reclusiveness to reign, I would probably never see anyone.

The activist in me has been stirred recently. I have volunteered my services and opened up my home and made good on pledges and gotten out the vote and posted essayed retorts to misguided rhetoric. It feels good but foreign, in a way. A reminder that I have been far too inactive for far too long. Like the pinprick in the foot they give paralyzed people. Something you want so much to feel, but once you feel it, you kind of want it to stop. Just because you used to be paralyzed doesn't mean that as soon as you get the feeling in your legs back you want to be clubbed in the knees over and over again just to savor the sensation. At least, I'm imagining that's the case. When Superman is able to walk again, I doubt he'll celebrate by slamming his foot in a car door.

I like the rain. Especially from the safety of the indoors. My dreams involved a downpour. But it wasn't rain. It was birdshit. And I couldn't find my car. And Jerry Seinfeld had gone ahead, leaving me stumbling through the hideous torrent. That's what you get for going to dinner with a comedian in Rhode Island.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:20 AM
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4.1.2004

I'm only happy when it rains.

And even then, not so much.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:39 PM
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The world loves a clown. Conversely, no one loves a fool.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:08 AM
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3.31.2004

Some blues are just blues.

I still taste his kisses like candy in my mouth.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:57 AM
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3.30.2004

A day of celebrity

Well, I don't know if you can call it celebrity per se. In that word, I see the root that later becomes "to celebrate," and I don't know that I need to celebrate the fact that my personal ad is being featured on various Spring Street Networks affiliate sites. I haven't been very faithful about checking in on that effort. Then all of a sudden, late last night it seemed the floodgates had been opened, and I was receiving message after message in my inbox. I was curious, but not at home, so I didn't investigate with any notable verve. A friend recognized my photo on the New York Daily News web site and emailed me today. Yeesh. Newsflash: Check me out -- I'm single! If my mother is watching, she's saying something humiliating in Chinese.

When I first put an ad up, ages and ages ago, I was featured within the first month, and I remember being kind of excited and flattered. But today, it seems less of a coup. I picture a comedic finish, the descending scale of "wah wah wah wah" or that mugging expression that says, "You got me." Okay, America. Okay, World. So now you know. Don't all pity me at once, will you? I'm actually a good hand at being a single girl. It keeps me on my toes. And it keeps my toes painted in pretty colors.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:33 PM
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Alert

Deep Space Nine marathon on Spike TV starting next week. I would say that this fact justifies the existence of Spike TV, but I also approve of Ren & Stimpy and the many excuses they find to play James Bond movies. How can it be that a station "just for men" can be so to my liking? Is this my comeuppance for letting a former boyfriend use my Secret anti-perspirant?

I remember when I used to look forward to staying home on Saturday nights to watch Ren & Stimpy on Snick. After which, on numerous occasions, I would saunter down to the hot tub for some quality Mary time. And I never thought I was missing out on anything. If only I could recapture that feeling.

Anyway, I've often gotten on better with the boys than with the girls and sometimes to my chagrin. And it isn't only because I own an Intellivision. Apparently, some guys don't even know what that is.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:37 AM
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"What's that noise you're making with your throat?"

I adore the Paul F. Tompkins Show. (Even if I am now referring to it in intimate company as the Paul F. Tompkins Has a Girlfriend Show.) Paul F. Tompkins really has no business not being the most successful man in comedy. There is no one in the world who better deserves fame, fortune, and a grandiloquent wardrobe. Although, in a way, I'm certain I will rue the day he explodes in the collective consciousness and is suddenly too big to do these shows each month. I look forward to them more than most things. And I'm someone who overheard a guy at Canter's explaining to his lady friend what the word "rapture" means for Christians.

I saw Alex off at the airport today. He was boarding a big, giant Air New Zealand plane with the faces of the stars of The Lord of the Rings painted on it and something about it being the way to Middle-Earth. In fact, if you go to the Air New Zealand web site, it appears that they are actually calling New Zealand Middle-Earth now. Hasn't this gone far enough? I mean, are maps being redone? Movie characters are on the En Zed stamps. Are they also on the money? And are the film's stars being given giant keys to Auckland? Have they been crowned honorary royalty? What I really want to know is why were those bastards in Tunisia so ungrateful when George Lucas turned them into Tatooine? Where's the Skywalker commemorative stamp issue? I'm wondering if the employees of Air New Zealand are forced to correct passengers who insist on saying they want to fly to New Zealand. Maybe they won't let you on the plane until you admit that you believe you're actually going to Middle-Earth. Maybe that's what they stamp on your passport. I also wonder how the Maoris feel about all of this. It's like New Zealand is a fake country now. A giant, country-sized theme park. How degrading. Well, who am I kidding. I live in Los Angeles.

So, Alex is a rock and roll journalist now. And I am jealous. I keep managing to not happen upon the chance encounters that would turn me overnight into a success of massive proportions. I'm growing impatient for it. My web site was mentioned in Rolling Stone Magazine once, but that was a long time ago, and I've long since surrendered the bragging rights. I need new laurels to clutch.

Not just in this respect, but I do feel as if I am waiting for something to happen. It's terribly trying. Every day I find myself wondering if this is going to be the day. But I have no idea what I mean by "the day," nor have I any idea what's supposed to happen. I'm just waiting. Shifting from foot to foot. Somewhere -- maybe just around the next corner -- something is about to spring on me, and it will change everything. I know it. I'm just hopeful that it won't be a disfiguring incident involving acid in the face.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:16 AM
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3.29.2004

Shadoe Stevens to Block

My web access has been maddeningly unavailable to me since the wee hours. I can't get or send email. I can't update my site. I can't even post to my blog, which makes this an exercise in futility. I guess there's value to it, though. It's like a mandatory simmering time. Time to rethink what you wanted to say. Time to think better of it. I was always one to delay acting on my feelings. I never trusted the immediacy of an impassioned moment. I never knew if I was really so very angry or so hurt or so happy. I often wait to proclaim anything I'm feeling until it is safe and rational and certain. There is always something flowing. Patiently stemming it keeps me from bleeding to death.

Messages in my outbox lost their importance and got moved to the trash like so much...well, trash. But I have to be very deliberate about such things. Sometimes, the fact that I've written it makes me think it's permanent. And words that have never been said go down in the history books as statements made and heard. It's a task keeping track. I start a lot of sentences with, "Did I already tell you...?" and, "I may have said this before..." In all honesty, I'm not always sure.

There are many tender messages I would have wanted to write in a soft hand, roll up in a secret compartment, and pass on to you with hopeful anticipation. When my eyes twinkle like a girl in a Japanese cartoon, it means I'm hiding something. And hoping it will be found. I frown when I think of all the things that went unsaid. I miss the sense that there would always be time to get to it later. It makes me want to treat every encounter like a round of Supermarket Sweep. The clock is running down, and I don't want to come up short. I always spend too much time in the cereal aisle.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:32 PM
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Sunsoaked and Caffeinated

I had time to nap, but I realized I was just lying very still and acknowledging that I was awake with closed eyes. The day got such an early start. In a way, I praise the obligation current. Having to be somewhere is an excellent means of being somewhere. But I'm back now, and the web isn't working for me, and there are things coursing through my brain. I felt pretty in summer clothes but sleepy-eyed. Coffee on Melrose brought back memories of coffee on Melrose. The stroll of the sidewalk rendered leggy reflections. I was only under any pressure when I was standing still.

That's what leads to a certain frantic posture. And questions get raised and go unanswered. I picture things going a certain way. They never do. I think, "Wouldn't it be nice?" It never is. Whatever it is I am missing -- maybe it's the plug to a drain. And everything else circles down into the overflow. It keeps me from ever maintaining proper levels of anything. Unfolding something folded and finding nothing inside. Or unfolding it to find it isn't what it once was. Mysteries. Magic tricks. Is this your card?

I detest not being certain of anything. But perhaps it is the gateway. Perhaps it means being open. Perhaps certainty is a tomb. I just know that it has been easier and it has been harder. It has been wonderful and it has been cruel. It has been instantaneous and it has been endless. It has been excruciating. When you get to the place where everything is said in the past tense, it's as if the present no longer exists. You can't catch it. It's always a second ahead of you. You're so busy cataloguing what once was that you have no fluency for what is. And you wrap yourself up in what's next, blind to what's now. Isn't there a pair of glasses I can wear -- something that will help me to keep an eye on all of it? Isn't there a point where it ceases to be academic? Isn't life more than all the reasons to be sorry?

It makes me scoot my skirt a little further down on my hips. It makes me stand up straight. Being a girl is making a woman of me.

It's hot out there. And I'm STARVING.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:26 PM
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Up all night. Sleep all day.

It works in theory. But I didn't actually sleep all day. And I'm all twisted around. Bent backwards and knotted through. Not enough rest. Not enough catch up. Too many plans. Too many places to be. Too much parking to find. I performed in the last of the spec script staged readings from my workshop class tonight. I enjoyed being Susie Green (Curb Your Enthusiasm). I cotton to the foulmouthed; no sense denying it. Salt isn't just for steaks. It's also been a spell since I had to haul out the New York accent. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to fake.

I went and saw some more comedy tonight. When Los Angeles serves up the Paul F. Tompkins, I'm sure to be found nearby. They serve giant cocktails at St. Nick's. I love them for that. My Ketel One soda was a spot-hitter. But I haven't had a shred to eat all day, and I'm not feeling as fine as I'd like. I don't know why, but I feel like I got all dressed up for nothing. That happens sometimes. Usually when my skirt is short and my stockings are saucy. And the evening doesn't end with me being chosen from a crowd to board a spaceship bound for the party planet.

I had such strange dreams when I was dozing today. I get confused. I get stuck in that bleary between state. I have no idea what's real. It was warm today. So terribly, wonderfully warm. If I were a seed in the soil, I would surely be sprouting. Or shriveling. Things have a way of going too far.

In the coming weeks, I'm certain to be crushed by the weight of all the work I have to do. I'm fond of not being destitute, but I wish there could be some middle ground. I was beginning to believe I was living a life of leisure.

Oh, and the taxes loom. Bloody taxes. Shoving me, fingers first, into the memory mill. I get all chopped to bits in there.

The commercial for the new Snickers energy bar plays the dirge from Beethoven's Seventh. I don't understand that choice. Maybe I resent it. That movement (the second) is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. It often threatens to wring my tear ducts when I hear it. But what could it possibly have to do with mountain biking? If I were still updating those old list pages of mine, I imagine this would have ended up on one of them.

We can't stop to love takasaki. Let's come and join us!!

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:03 AM
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3.28.2004

Your Eyes, Beauty, and Tequila

I'm just getting home. Well, that's not true. I got home a little after two a.m., but it was only to stop in and pick up booze and potato chips and go right back out again. It's nice to be up and about when the sun is so early in its workday. Even if it is only to drive a bloke to Silverlake.

I missed seeing Bunny Lake Is Missing last night, but it couldn't be helped. I was a go go yesterday from the morning on. And there is little chance today will be much different. I have the freedom to go nap right now, but I'm almost afraid to do it. In a matter of moments, it will suddenly be over. Sunday.

In truth, it was vodka all night. But that's not the song lyric.

Oh, yeah. Your eyes and tequila.

posted by Mary Forrest at 9:51 AM
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3.27.2004

Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Back to the Egyptian for the Howard Hawks double feature that ended up being a Howard Hawks single feature plus a movie that happened to have the same name as a Howard Hawks feature but had nothing whatever to do with Howard Hawks. I love the Egyptian. I remember the first time I went. It was on Memorial Day, I think. 2002. I went to see a Mario Bava double feature. I wore the striped t-shirt that looks most like Ernie to me. And I wore tennis shoes. And I felt entirely welcome. I have been back many, many times. And secretly, sometimes I sneer at the other people there. I like to tell myself that I discovered the place and everyone else is a latecomer. I have ridiculous lapses of sanity from time to time.

I spent more time in LACMA's permanent collection today. There are many wonderful things to be found. And the coffee you can buy from the cafe cart is great. I'm glad to have so many different friends who want to be shown around. It's part of how I get my money's worth.



Oh, and there was a problem with the link to my evangelistic efforts of March 18. I have fixed it now, if you care to give it another try.

You'll be older, too.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:45 AM
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3.26.2004

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Someone asked me tonight whose writing style I would choose for my own. I hemmed and hawed. Not good at narrowing it down, me. But I remember that it was T.S. Eliot who made me want to write poetry. And it was J. Alfred Prufrock who made me wish that the mermaids would sing to me. Do I dare to eat a peach?

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:06 AM
       |

"Richard Simmons cited for slapping man"

I didn't read the story. I didn't need to. The headline alone made for hours of amusing imaginative excursions.

If you haven't already heard it, you should get me to tell you the story of the time I ran into Richard Simmons at an airport. He did not slap me in the least.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:01 AM
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3.25.2004

"...a bit woebegone but drolly unsurprised by life's vicissitudes..."

Orange Shirt

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:10 AM
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3.24.2004

It's like it was named for me.

M Bar is, of course, the subject of my subject line. I've been meaning to go for ages. Tonight, I went. Got robbed in some respects because Nick Swardson didn't show, and no apologies or explanations were made. But Blaine Capatch emceed and the line up was as tight as I could have wanted. Quite a few people I've seen around town on other stages. A lot of character work from Brendon Small, Scott Aukerman, and the guys from the Upright Citizens Brigade. But the most important component is that I now know how it works over there. Checking out new comedy clubs for me is like going to a new gym. You eventually have to get past that fear that you will sit down at a machine and not be able to figure out how it works. The faceless illustration on the machine looks simple enough, but somewhere in the room, a muscle-bound dude is laughing at me as I push the levers in the wrong direction. So now I know my way around M Bar. Sigh of relief.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:41 AM
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3.22.2004

Getting the Story Right (as in Correct)

Apparently, I paraphrased Josh's story with embarrassing inaccuracy. What am I? Working for Fox News? Here's the real lowdown from Josh himself, and the photographic evidence to boot:

so, i was at the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown on saturday, wearing my
"Live WRONG and Prosper" jacket (which has a picture of George Bush as Mr.
Spock, giving the vulcan hand symbol) when this group of people approached
me. i was on my cell phone at the time, so of course, i gave them all
stink-eye, until i realized what they were trying to say to me. "this is
Mrs. Nimoy! This is Mrs. Nimoy!" i had no clue why they would be telling me
this, and then i remembered hearing them inside the museum commenting behind
my back about how funny they thought my jacket was. oh...her husband is Mr.
Spock! she liked my jacket and thought Mr. Leonard Nimoy would love it too,
"because he is of course anti-Bush you know." as it turns out, he was
sitting 20 feet away in his car, so she escorted me over to him and he
started laughing and said he loved it and wanted to buy one. i was in awe
and forgot to open my mouth and say, "dude, i'll give you as many as you
want." instead, i just smiled and asked if i could get a picture ;-)




If you are interested in buying clothing with Josh's "Live Wrong and Prosper" design, let me know and I will put you in touch with him. And if he puts up a site to sell such things, I will certainly announce it here.

And isn't Josh a cutie pie? Mr. Spock looks good, too.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:26 PM
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"I don't know why bear hugs enjoy such a great reputation."

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:38 AM
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3.21.2004

Jewish giant at home with parents in Bronx.



I went to the Diane Arbus Revelations exhibit at LACMA today. It was much more extensive than I realized. I wish I'd had more time to linger. But Adam had a plane to catch. I really feel grateful for people who had the desire to photograph the mundane and the quirky and the bizarre back when photography wasn't nearly as accessible a practice. Otherwise, how would we know what a living room in Long Island looked like on Christmas morning in the 1960s? Today, with digital cameras everywhere and the freedom to take pictures of nearly everything you see, I'm saddened by how few interesting pictures get taken. When I go to the place where I get my 35mm film developed, the board that displays the kinds of finishes you can choose shows them to you by way of graduation photos and wedding photos and smiling snapshots of children in little plastic pools. And that's the kind of pictures most people take. The "say 'cheese'" variety. The one friend who likes to make silly faces when the shutter opens. The rabbit ears. The winning smile. The proud displaying of trophies. The "get in close so that we can all prove that we were here together" kind of portraits that end up on people's refrigerators or in the large collage of photos they hang in their bathroom. My mother always used to shake her head at me when I took pictures of strangers on trains in Japan. "Why do you want a picture of that girl? She has such bad skin." And she is even less moved by the pictures I take of shop signs and glassware and forks and knives and mannequins. But most people share her idea of what photography is for. For memory-making, I suppose. As opposed to art-making. Or for hoping that the thing you see in your brain can be transfered to the emulsion somehow.

But I did used to love to go on photo outings. To get on the train and ride to Tokyo with the hopes that I could take a photo without offending anyone. Maybe the problem these days is that you have to worry if people will LET you take their picture. With a big 35mm SLR camera in front of my face, I suppose I look a bit like an insect. People don't always know how to take it. But back then, I usually took the risk. And Japanese people were too polite to object. And I was too art-hungry to worry that they were saying mean things about me in their heads. And I developed my own film and printed and printed like a mad printing person. I spent hours in the darkroom. And it was always cool in there.

I'm buzzing with the desire to take my Canon A-1 back out and capture all the lame, the luxurious, the dirty, the gritty, the lurid things I can find. I am weary of all the pictures I take of myself. There was a time when I felt a little bit like a pioneer in that. And I have a few photos I've taken of myself that people have found interesting or inspired. But there's also just a great heaping lot of them that are from the inside of my apartment day after day after day. Or from the benches at LACMA. Or from the front seat of my car. I'm not entirely resentful. I'm glad I have some of my history captured. I'm glad I can remember what I looked like from month to month. And I recognize that the days when I don't take any pictures of myself are the days when there just doesn't seem to be anything new or interesting to see. And that makes me sad. I would take pictures of other people if they were nearby and willing. But that isn't always the case. And I fear the getting-fed-up that inevitably happens. When a friend or family member gives me that look and says, "Mary, enough!"

My friend Simon is also an avid shutterbug. I like that about him. I also like that he says such hilarious things. The latest was this:

I heard a good pickup line the other day: "Does this rag smell like ether to you?"



posted by Mary Forrest at 3:42 PM
       |

Spring Sprang Sprung

That many consonants in a row looks German to me. It's Sturm und Drang in pastel colors. I like Easter bunnies that wear neckties.

Restless day of painting and waiting and noticing that the sun had broken through but not feeling able to go collect it. I was touched with blue. But I wore green.

It was a nice dinner at Angeli Caffe -- one of my favorite places to eat. I was introduced to it by my friend Jo. It seems that was ages ago. Tonight, I shared it with Adam and a handful of his Los Angeles friends. And then we danced (and drank) the night away in West Hollywood, until Josh and Joey and Zach arrived, and I was able to mingle the many pals and take advantage of how well Josh knows that one bartender who makes our drinks so strong you have to thank him through clenched teeth.

In dancefloor news, Beulah was the first to admit that Britney Spears' Toxic is a better song than any of us would like it to be. I think Britney looks like she should be checked for the presence of the appropriate number of chromosomes, but I'm willing to admit that the people who write and produce her material make it tough to oppose her and all of her damnable pop currency. They obviously know more about me and what I enjoy than I do.

When is that robots attacking the earth movie coming out already? Josh showed me this trailer before Christmas, for the sake of someone tardy. I need scientific distraction.

You know I'm keen on Al Franken and whatever it is he's up to. The latest on his liberal radio network only makes me long for it with all the more impassioned zeal. Hurry it up, Al. I've got a fire in my belly and no one to share it with.

But first, a quick anecdote. Apparently, Josh was at MOCA today, and he was wearing the "Live Wrong and Prosper" jacket he designed and silkscreened -- the one with an image of George W. Bush turned Vulcan and giving the Vulcan greeting with his hand -- and Leonard Nimoy's wife came up to him, avec entourage, and said, "Oh, you have to come over and show it to Leonard. He'll love it. He HATES Bush." And she ushered Josh and Joey over to their car where Leonard Nimoy took a photo with Josh and inquired about the jacket and how to get one. Josh called me because he wanted to share the story with someone who would properly appreciate it. And he was right to. I had to admit that I had just finished watching the second half of Star Trek Nemesis on the television. It's abominably bad. But I'm too far gone to care. If I'm ever stuck in outer space with only one television show to watch for all of eternity, let it be Star Trek. And preferably Deep Space Nine. Our species will surely fail to perpetuate if I am stranded in the cosmos with nothing to watch but Home Improvement. Anyway, I love many things about this incident, but mostly I love the solidarity of Mr. Spock hating Mr. Bush. I knew we had a few things in common.

I need sleep, but I won't get it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:26 AM
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3.20.2004

Vernal Equinox

   salad days, noun:
A time of youthful inexperience, innocence, or indiscretion.

Those were his salad days, and he thought they might last
forever.
--David Gergen, " 'They Love You. Watch Out,' " [1]New York
Times, February 2, 1997
_________________________________________________________

Salad days was coined by Shakespeare in Antony and Cleopatra:
"My salad days,/ When I was green in judgment, cold in blood."

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:16 PM
       |

"I'm ready. Ready ready ready, I'm ready."

Adam says John Cusack was at The Little Door with us last night, but I didn't see him. And I was too preoccupied with being upset that they said their oven was broken and that we couldn't have dinner. It's not often that I bother to make a reservation, but it stings all the more to be turned away when I have. It was one of those moments when I wished I was important enough that the chef would have run home and cooked me something in his own oven just to make sure I was happy and looked after. I've never been that important, so it's not like I would know what that's like. But the sneery treatment I got from the two Italian women in charge made me feel like the rest of the evening was just sandbagging.

And I haven't been able to sleep at all. Not last night. Not in the morning when I could have tried to. I'm doing the deep breath under the covers and everything. The weird alertness that almost feels like a panic attack. The frustrating, pillow-punching, channel-changing, clock-watching, fist-clenching, tooth-grinding, forcible exhaling, fetal position-adopting, back-cracking, sheep-counting, boat-watching, prose-writing alertness that convinces me that, one day, when the world thinks I am dead, I will be lying there in my coffin, breathing deeply and patiently thinking through all the words I ever said and that were ever said to me.

The Girl Can't Help It is on the idiot box. I'm an idiot for this movie. I bought it on VHS because there was no getting it otherwise. It's great. All the rockin' and the rollin'. The bluesy Julie London dream sequences. The sublime Little Richardliness of Little Richard. And Jayne Mansfield may be a poor man's Marilyn Monroe, but she sure is perfect in this film. Plus, she got decapitated in a car wreck. That's some tragic cred right there.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:37 PM
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3.19.2004

Housecleaning

I'm sprucing up for yet another weekend visitor. My hands are cold and dry from scrubby chores. But my floors are shiny and clean and a portion of my clutter has been tucked away. Leaving space in the cosmic clutter continuum for me to crowd your eyes with pictures. Have at.






posted by Mary Forrest at 3:53 PM
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3.18.2004

This is nothing more than evangelism.

This song does something to me.

one man's righteousness is another man's
long haul, sentence carried out
long haul, counting the miles
to the four corners of the world


Buy the album. If you want to.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:22 PM
       |

"You tell me you love me, but there's hate in your eyes."



Another St. Patrick's Day when green was not worn. Not by me anyway. But I helped my friend Arthur celebrate his birthday, which involved karaoke, and I'm all over that. I don't know if that's what's given me a headache. It could also be chewing gum for too long. Or not getting enough sleep. Or not getting enough water. Or not getting enough Advil. But when my head hurts, I do tend to assume that it's because there's something out there I need more of. This is not a scientifically-founded hypothesis. It's just easier than deciding to give up sugar or caffeine. Or singing at the top of your lungs.

I feel a little raw from today. A little sore. I get more from the downtime than I admit. But I pray for the uptime all the while. How powerful long it's been since I've had a bit of up.

And what of all the fishy birthdays? My mother has a March birthday. And last night it was Noam's turn. And tonight, Arthur's. Tomorrow, it's JoJo. I don't really like birthday parties for me. Maybe I've always wished I would have a wonderful, spectacular one, but I haven't ever, so I prefer to just treat it like whatever day of the week it is. It's not martyrdom. It's the resignation of a busy girl with plenty of other things to eviscerate herself over. I don't know what I will do for my birthday this year. I have a feeling that it will be nothing much.

I get a kick from champagne. Who doesn't? But I prefer my Ketel One soda any day of the week.



These hips may never bear children, but it won't be for lack of having been made for it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:02 AM
       |

3.17.2004

The tanked leading the tipsy.

I drove over speedbumps in quiet neighborhoods where I knew sleeping people could not hear me crying in my car.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:35 AM
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3.16.2004

"But first, the tranya."

The Corbomite Maneuver is on just in time for me to watch it from under the covers. Oh, Balok. I love that little guy. I don't have much to offer. I'll tell a story while I'm sleeping and forget it when I wake. I hope you relish it as much as I.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:19 AM
       |

Night Shivers

Alba found a piece of metal shiny in the gutter
She put it in her pocket and then squeezed it till it cut her
Danced across the intersection, bleeding from her fingers
And found a field of flowers where the bees had lost their stingers

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:50 AM
       |

The Ides of March, Survived

A gallery of pictures of my haircut follows. Look at them. Or not. It's entirely your choice. And don't worry. I'll tire of all the photoplay almost as quickly as you do. Mainly because writing all this code is a bitch.








There's something almost disappointingly appropriate about spending the entire day talking shop at Jerry's Famous Deli. But life in this city is nothing if not disappointingly appropriate.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:32 AM
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3.14.2004

Snip Snip

It is finished. And I'm fine with it.



I have a long switch of hair to go with the long braid that was cut back when I was about to begin high school. No one at the salon believed this is my natural hair color. I got some fruity-smelling styling products to help me aspire to rock-stardom. So far, no one has made a sad face upon seeing me. These are all encouraging things.

It was steamy and sticky and crowded at the Whistle Stop, but I danced for a while and felt my hair moving differently about my face. I'm looking forward to going swimming. Long hair is like tendrils of grasping kelp when you're putting the breast stroke into play.

For a day that had so many moments that weren't defeating, I guess I'm surprised at how downtrodden I feel. Tomorrow, it'll be something new. Something else. And who knows how that will feel or what it will amount to. I do wish I had more people in my life who could be counted on and whose concern for me could be deemed genuine. Finding friends and keeping them at this stage of my life feels a lot like trick-or-treating.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:45 AM
       |

3.13.2004

Truth or Dare or Dare or Dare

Ice cube down the pants. Hickey on the hinder. Strip tease to I'm Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman. Simulations. Revelations. Kiss teaching. Only a miniature hangover this morning. A glance in the mirror says I look not so bad in this bra. As the fog burns off, I suppose it's necessary to ask whether I'm a little too grown-up for these shenanigans. But what, I ask you, are shenanigans for, if not to remind us that we are too grown-up for them?

The stage was fairly good to me last night. I liked much of what happened on it. A woman with red hair told me, somewhat on the hush as she was leaving, that I was the brains of the operation. I don't know what led her there, but I didn't fight it. And I ran into a handful of people, both at the theater and then later at the Alibi, who inquired or made comment about my absence from my former band. Supportive things were said. I was comforted. And I also noticed that these demons have long since fallen away. I haven't been mad in a while.

Today, as has been the plan for a few days, I'm visiting the salon with the intention of coming away looking different. I think I'm done with my concerns over the backlash that cutting my hair will cause. I'm not shaving it all off. And as far as I can tell, it will grow back, no matter what happens. I mean, I won't let them cauterize my follicles or anything. So there's no need for tears, you who would weep. And it would do the opposite of wonders for my self-esteem if I see you about town and you tell me what a shame it is. Dare me to cut my hair. I'm game.

But I've got to get going, haven't I?

Keeping young and beautiful,
Mary

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:55 AM
       |

3.12.2004

Plush, human-size animal suits rule.

Trigger Happy TV needs a hyphen in its title. But in many other respects, it's quite good. I love the animal costume people running down the street or having lunch. I wish the world had that sort of business in it. Maybe it's my love of Star Trek. "Futuristic girl looks forward to interspecies dating." They played that song I love by the New Pornographers in the first few minutes of the show, The Laws Have Changed. Maybe they're referring to the laws about interspecies dating. And I thought I'd never live to see the day. I always had a sweet little crush on Morn from Deep Space Nine, for instance. If only t.v. was real.

Now, there's a man-size penguin standing on the side of the road holding a sign that reads, "I am a mirage."

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:10 AM
       |

And when I touch you I feel happy inside.

They played the full clip of the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show tonight on Dave. It sounds like Paul and John didn't split for the harmony in places where they were supposed to, but it's a fine performance. They're so young and so eager. It's really difficult to believe how long ago that was. But the most remarkable part to me was how ridiculous the audience shots were. Especially this one gum-chewing, horn-rimmed-spectacles-wearing girl who kept having these giddy, geeky little clapping fits. I'll bet she was CERTAIN that Paul would marry her if he could only meet her.

When I was a very small girl, before I'd even begun school, I used to love to fall asleep on this orange and blue plaid wool blanket with a fringe border while the record player -- a big-as-a-freezer behemoth of a console deal with the looped fabric in front of the speakers -- delivered the dulcet tones of The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles' Hits, my very first exposure to the Fab Four. I Want to Hold Your Hand was the last song on one side of the record, and it was my favorite. I sang along to all of them, but that's the track that made me happiest.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:38 AM
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3.11.2004

Two reasons I'm glad I live in Los Angeles.

This and the traffic.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:44 AM
       |

3.10.2004

"I know you. I swear I do. You're just like me. You're sipping a cup of pity."

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:21 PM
       |

Flawed. Organic.

I would like a place I could call my own
Have a conversation on the telephone
Wake up every day that would be a start
I would not complain of my wounded heart


I was grateful for things today. Sunshine. Motivation. Something like letting sandbags go from a hot air balloon. Even when I get caught listening to songs that tug at overused heartstrings. It's all going to be all right. Even when I listen to that Coldplay song and know the story behind it and remember hearing it played live at the Hollywood Bowl last summer. Oh, take me back to the start. It's just music, isn't it? Maybe it's something chemical and electromagnetic. You listen to it and something drips into something else in your brain and produces that sensation. I'm going back to the start. That heaviness in your chest. Exploding heart syndrome. Longing. Fondness. Love. Anything but regret. Just don't let it be that. Anything but that.

Cyndi Lauper is underrated.

Do dogs get sentimental? Do cows? I'm just made of meat and organs like them. But I have many kryptonites. And I get no pleasure from chasing rabbits. Nor from the taste of fresh-cut grass. And I nearly never go apeshit when I hear the phrase "treat treat".

I'm getting ideas. I need to go do something about them.

You may think that I'm out of hand
That I'm naive, I'll understand
On this occasion, it's not true
Look at me, I'm not you


I think my path will always be littered with reminders, strewn with the fallout of everything I do. It's like that with me. Everything reminds me of everything. Everything is a link to everything else. Bumpers in pinball. That one key on the organ that you push and it makes a bunch of other keys go down. Something automatic. Killing a flock of birds with one stone.

Just wait till tomorrow
I guess that's what they all say
Just before they fall apart

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:51 PM
       |

Jerry Goldsmith Afternoons

Yesterday, my friend Mark invited me to see A Patch of Blue at LACMA. It was such a gorgeous day, and the museum campus was all abuzz with children in school uniforms and old ladies complaining about the service at the ticket window. Sigh. The film was wonderful. It set all manner of things loose in my head. How important it is to receive feedback from the outside world. How dangerous and damaging it can be to be isolated when the people who surround you tell you that you are worthless or ugly or unlovable. How important it is to leave the house and sit in the park. The gift of someone else's ability to see potential in you. There were other ideas churning, too. The danger of romance. Expectations being raised to only risk being crushed. Isn't it easier to live in the absence of those expectations? Wouldn't Eliza Doolittle have been happy enough and fine on her own? Was the improvement she underwent to her benefit? Even she fears that she has been ruined -- made a lady only to find that she can no longer live independently or respectably. This movie is another Pygmalion tale. Only it's Sydney Poitier and a blind girl. And the Jerry Goldsmith score is delicate and beautiful with tinkling piano keys and tender motifs.

After the movie, I stopped in at the exhibit of costumes and designs for the Ballets Russes, mostly by Erté. It was really inspiring. Beautiful and grand. The costumes are preserved beautifully and made of such delicate materials. And you can't get over how small those dancers were. And then you can't get over how intricately detailed Erté's drawings were. Gouache on paper with the tiniest, most uniform little strokes. Gorgeous stuff. If I were a temperamental girl., I would have burned the place down for not having thought to provide an exhibit catalog. I so wanted one.

Then I looked at the Jasper Johns' Numbers exhibit. Also inspiring. I can't laud enough the value of seeing works of art in person. Seeing all those clumpy layers of oil paint made me want to rush home and make a mess of my own on canvas. The ideas start cascading through my brain and I feel like rushing out of the exhibit before I lose them. This happens to me often at museums. Especially because I am a member and can get in without paying. I walk into an exhibit and can only bear to stay for five or ten minutes before the urge to run out and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT overtakes me. Not so, my father, who likes to look at every little thing in a meticulous and careful (read: slow) manner. You might catch him reading a placard with instructions for evacuation in case of fire, and, unless you tell him, he'll think it's part of the exhibit. It's modern art. How's he supposed to know? Anyway, no stone goes unturned or unread with my dad. Even when he was perusing my art journals. He's the only person who ever looked at them and actually read what I wrote. Many of my friends and family members paged through them with such swiftness I wondered if they were afraid of catching something if they were to linger any longer. Art journal cum flip book, I guess.

Then I went out to those brick steps and read for a while. Until I got tired of flicking ants off my arm.

I went to the gym today and am still being carried by that wave of self-satisfaction that comes from getting that chore out of the way. I always feel a little taller when I leave there. It's embarrassing to think how proud I feel after running in place for an hour. What would the ancients think.

On my way to the gym, I waved at my UPS guy and he flagged me down because he had a package for me. I realized how glad I am that there are people who know me in my neighborhood. Even if every encounter with him is guaranteed to contain two things: a package changing hands and the delivery of a compliment, innuendo, or proposition.

My friend Simon in Australia alerted me today that he hasn't been able to keep up with my blog as much because apparently my entire site has been blacklisted at his company for inappropriate content. I am both upset and delighted. What a weird thing. I guess, in the eyes of business owners, I say risky things. Simon wrote because he had received the postcard I sent out about my script reading. He said:

I've been showing off the card to people, it's not every day I receive
an invitation to a salubrious shindig on Hollywood Boulevard. It's quite
an honour. My little brother wants to know if you have written any plays
around one hour long for around six actors... I showed him the card and
then I was like "She does improv comedy and plays the violin and..." and
he interrupted with "I know who Mary Forrest is" while looking at me as
though I was a caveman. So there you go.


He also said: "In other news I have been doing weights." And he signed the email "Beefcake McMeataxe". Ah, Simon. Australia's finest son. I love that guy. He made me a CD a while back called The Mary Forrest Choice Bro Mix. And I always remind myself that these niceties are the product of the Internet, wondrous thing that it is.

One other impression A Patch of Blue left on me: Blind people must have really dirty hands. Watching Selina gingerly run her fingers over buildings, signposts, people, crosswalk buttons, and then begin serving food or leveling the instant coffee on the spoon with her fingertip or feeling the contours of her lover's face...well, you see where I'm going with this. I mean, they didn't show her washing her hands once. Sidney Poitier even sent her into a public bathroom alone. Imagine what she touched in there.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:21 PM
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All Tomorrow's Concerts and CD Purchases

I think there should be a section on all of those online communities for guilty pleasures. It's hard not to feel pressure, when listing your musical likes for instance, to edit in the hopes of tipping the needle towards "cool cat", or at the very least away from "total loss". You don't want to include everything on your current mixtape. And that's because I (this is where we change pronouns in the interest of honesty) listen to all sorts of music I'm not really interested in. And I'm frequently surprised to learn that I know all the words to song after song that I never liked -- even hated. I like Prince, but I never liked When Doves Cry. But play that track on the jukebox, and I can sing along. The spirit of something takes over. It's like the Banana Boat Song scene in Beetlejuice. Only I don't usually get up and dance. Why was Beulah listening to that Journey greatest hits CD in her car? I asked myself. And yet, there I was singing along. I think I even knew more words than she did. I own the album, as it happens. I may even own two copies of it. One on cassette. But that doesn't mean I ever say, "Journey, man!" when someone asks me what music I dig. And why am I able to tell it's REO Speedwagon's I Can't Fight This Feeling within two notes? And why is there room in my brain for so many Chicago songs? I'm no poseur. I admit to liking all sorts of things that no one else condones. I've seen "Weird" Al live. Come to think of it, I've been to a Jimmy Buffett concert, but I did not enjoy it and I didn't buy the tickets, so I'm off the hook on that one. And in the heyday of my concertgoing youth, I even went to see many heavy metal hair bands. And no I wasn't always wearing a blazer. Although on at least one occasion I was.

A partial list of the bands I've paid to see -- including non-optional opening acts and what I can remember of the handful of festivals I've been to -- would include: INXS, UB40, Sting, Social Distortion, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Scorpions, Trixter, AC/DC, L.A. Guns, The Alarm, The Fixx, Oingo Boingo, The Black Crowes, Slaughter, Jellyfish, Morrissey, Cocteau Twins, Concrete Blonde, Jimmy Buffett, Acoustic Alchemy, Billy Joel, Elton John, Weezer, No Doubt, Jane's Addiction, Soupdragons, Chemical Brothers, Ozomatli, Fatboy Slim, "Weird" Al Yankovic, Gangstar, Sigur Ros, Photek, Blonde Redhead, Pedro the Lion, Paul Oakenfold, Nikka Costa, Peter Gabriel, Stereo MCs, Cousteau, Tenacious D, Naked Trucker, Spinal Tap, Smokey & Miho, Starlight Mints, Steve Burns, T.V. Eyes, Seksu Roba, Vagenius, John Vanderslice, Jonatha Brooke, David Bowie, Macy Gray, Pete Yorn, Tori Amos, Rufus Wainwright, Joe Jackson, Duran Duran, Willie Nelson, Beulah, Calexico, Frames, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, White Stripes, Raveonettes, Neil Finn, Dolly Parton, Peter Murphy, Deerhoof, Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Erasure, Ex-Girl, Future Bible Heroes, Lisa Germano, Jurassic 5, Incubus, Audioslave, Lake Trout, They Might Be Giants, The Shins, !!!, Iggy & the Stooges, The Mars Volta, Har Mar Superstar, Spoon, Cat Power, Liarbird, Jackie-O Motherfucker, Shonen Knife, Pinback, Aspects of Physics, Van Stone, NOFX, REM. So many more that I can't remember. And even more -- you may be dismayed to hear -- that I bought tickets to but couldn't go see or forgot to go see. Many here that I saw more than once. Some bands I won tickets to see but just didn't bother to go pick them up. I think I pay more attention to the omissions than to the entries. The shows I never saw are the ones most dear to me.

This is just recordkeeping. I try to see live music as often as I can. I love it. I'm the perfect temporary groupie. I often fall in love with a band upon hearing them for the first time. I buy a t-shirt and all their CDs and then never listen to them. Such fleeting devotion. I would hate to have someone like me for a fan.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:45 AM
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3.9.2004

Luxurious? Yes! Bug-infested? Also!



When I stayed at my parents' new house for the first time, I came home with a number of little bug bites. Near my ankle. On my hip. Right next to my arm, if you know what I mean. And I told my mom that the house might have fleas. They've steam-cleaned the entire place, but you never know with critters. My mother sent me an adorable email in which she "wondered" if I might have gotten the bites from Beulah's apartment. She suggested I come and stay again and see which of their homes has more fleas. I did come stay again, and I got more bites. My mother has this notion that when she moves into a new home, the bugs have to get used to her. She also congratulates all of us on having such delicious blood. "Must be because we're so sweet." Yes, Mom. It must be. As you can imagine, I am a big fan of this problem-solving technique.

I'm not terribly worried about it. We will prevail over the bugs. And I will still visit whenever I can. It's like a mansion, that place. My poor dad didn't get a chance to repaint the room he chose as his study before the move, so the walls are still a sort of purpleberry color. It suits me fine, as it gives me more opportunities to tease him about being gay. He loves that joke.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:09 AM
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"Oh, I like your poetry, but I hate your poems."

I don't want it to be summer again so soon. Not even for a day. I don't want the sweat or the restlessness or the lethargy or the memory of any of those things. I don't want to go get my electric fan out of the garage. I don't want to shy away from cozy.

I walked to the post office today with a stack of brown paper-wrapped parcels. They were playing The Carol Burnett Show on the television up in the corner. My family always laughed at Carol and company. I keep passing up opportunities to see Harvey Korman and Tim Conway live. I have no idea what their show would consist of. I just know that it seems to be priced at a dollar per year they've each been alive. Live entertainment is getting to be outrageously expensive. And for the actual transcendency of entertainment value, ticket prices are making heroin look more and more attractive.

Already a week of March gone. I can't say it often enough how much the passage of time amazes me. No, really. I can't. You should expect to hear me say something about it on a near-monthly basis. I'm like a child still fooled by a game of peek-a-boo. Every month I forget what's hiding behind the calendar page. Another month! Peek-a-boo!

February had many pretty feelings in it. A few days of blue skies and the reminder that nearly everything in the world is painted in primary and secondary colors. And all of the other colors come in your crayon box. Fill in the blanks.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:56 AM
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3.8.2004

"This world wasn't meant for us both."



Aboriginal instruments make music that is dumb.

Is it possible that the phrase "a long drink of water" when used to refer to a tall person is actually referring to the distance between the mouth and the urethra? If so, gross.

Zimbabwe's first president's name is Canaan Banana. Ha ha ha ha ha.

I was looking for Coachella tickets and the confirmation word was "ennui."

I'm so used to porn emails trying to deceive me with their inoccuous subject lines that when I saw an email with the subject "titfucker," I clicked on it thinking, "I wonder what this is." Am I too smart for my own good? I also received an email ad with the subject line "Suffer no more." Yeah, right.

Murder is funny. Until it happens to you.

In the Rolling Stones concert at Madison Square Garden they televised on HBO, Keith Richards said, "It's great to be here!" Then he said, "It's great to be anywhere." Then he shrugged and said, "You know me."

I got an email today urging me to hurry to get Thomas Kinkade's first painting of a Santa.

Here is some evidence that Mel Gibson isn't the only one who can offend the Jews, as presented by my family while we were driving somewhere and my mom was telling us about some guy (Note: My dad is Jewish, so this is all allowed.):

Mom: This guy was very Jewish. You can tell.
Dad: What makes you say that?
Mary (interjects): He was very cheap and he killed Jesus.
Mom (ignoring Mary): You can tell. He's very Jewish.
Dad: But what makes you say that? How do you know?
Mom: His name is Jim Schwartz.


posted by Mary Forrest at 7:18 PM
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When the Body Gets It Backwards

Twenty-one hours now that I've been going. Many of them exhausting. And here I am, so tired that I can't rest. So desirous of slumber that I can't claim it. I'm sure I could fall asleep at a stoplight on most days. But here in my bed, I guess it's just too easy. Confound my overachieving Chinese insides. If only I could trick them into believing I'd rather be awake.

Do you know that end scene in Rob Roy? Not the gay homecoming scene. The one before that when Liam Neeson and Tim Roth square off with swords. It looks as if they tried to shoot at angles that would not reveal so readily that Tim Roth is just barely over four feet tall and that Liam Neeson is eight feet if he's an inch. Tim Roth makes a great powdery villain in that movie. Although I think this was the film that first drew my attention to the fact that he and Judith Light are the same person.

And now the birds have started up. Who likes the sound of birds "singing"? I mean, honestly.

This is what happens when what I seek evades me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:53 AM
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The Sailor in Love with the Sea

Tonight, the spec script I wrote for Scrubs was performed at the Black Box Theatre of the Improv Olympic West. It was the culmination of eight long and grueling weeks of writing that felt more like self-performed surgery. As if I had to extract the dialogue from somewhere deep in my kidney and had only a fork and a pair of garden shears with which to perform the extraction. But, in the end, it was a wonderful experience and a minor triumph. Tonight in particular. I was bowled over by how many of my friends came out to see it, some driving all the way up from San Diego even. The place was full to standing room, and I was one more vodka tonic away from accidentally falling out the window. I needed it to take the edge off; I was fairly certain I was going to have a brain hemorrhage in the hours preceding the event. But after more than a day of not eating and more than an hour of only drinking and many hours of cursing the unseasonable heat, I was, shall we say, aglow.

I even managed to secure the generous participation of Neil Flynn, who plays The Janitor on the show and is really what I would call alarmingly -- even frighteningly -- funny. I owe a debt of thanks to all seven of my actors, and if it seems like I'm giving special recognition to Neil, it's because he's famous and therefore better than the rest of us. He also happened to be wonderful, and I felt thrilled and lucky. Hearing the words that I wrote being spoken and acted and responded to was first rate. Really. Especially when the laughs came in the right places.

What's interesting is that my inner hostess -- and this is another of the many stages on which I am known to perform -- was also thrilled tonight, because all of the refreshments I brought were consumed. All of them. When does that ever happen at a party I'm throwing? Never, that's when. Not because I serve gross things. But because I always, as a rule, have too much. This time, I did not suffer that same affliction, and it was a relief when I had to schlepp all of my accoutrements out to the car. Cheers for proper planning. Jeers for the parking regulations in this town.

I did put on a nice little reception, if I do say so. I had to run all over town yesterday to get the precise things I wanted. But I'm inclined to say it was worth it. If I don't get a job as a writer, maybe I'll find fortune as an event-planner. If I had brought those cream puffs I usually get, that audience would have been eating out of my hand. Especially if I filled my hand with cream puffs.

Beulah and my dad drove up from San Diego. My dad was sporting a scab from an injury he sustained last week when we went out to celebrate my mom's birthday. Something to do with the car door and getting his head caught in it. When I noticed it, I said, "Dad! What did you do? I can see the bone!" And he just laughed it off and dabbed at his head with a bloody napkin. Among the fam, we're going to start calling him Head Wound. Lovable nicknames go a long way. Poor Sam. I remember when he cut his hand with a chainsaw. I get a lot of my grace from him.

When I was walking on Hollywood Boulevard on my way to the theatre, I was averting my eyes from a transaction involving cash and illicit substances when I inadvertently -- what's the opposite of avert? vert? -- made eye contact with a bold fellow who looked right at me and said, "Now that's a woman. Beautiful." And I smiled out of embarrassment and kept walking, noting that he said it as if he was looking at a picture of me in a book. As if I couldn't hear it at all. Or maybe it was just that it didn't make any difference to him that I could hear it. Maybe that's what's meant by all this talk of the objectification of women. I don't know. I can't say I mind. On an iffy day, a good compliment goes a long way. Even if the bulk of my self-esteem-boosting comes by way of chatty hobos and sociable vagrants. Pretty is pretty, any way you slice it. Even if you slice it with a homeless knife.

I felt certain that at the end of this evening I would suffer a relief-induced stroke. But so far, so good. It's good to be done. Good to be going places. Good to be good at things from time to time. And if nothing else, it's sort of satisfying to have that stack of paper in your hand. A stack of paper too thick to secure with a regular staple. That's something for sure.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:58 AM
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3.7.2004

So full, the moon.

I remember in French class when we learned that the word for pregnant and the word for full had some usage considerations to be employed lest they be mistakenly interchanged. Something about pleine being the way to say that a cow was pregnant but not to say that one has had enough to eat. Anyway.

The night before last, the moon was so full and the sky so clear that, walking out to my car in the wee hours, the street and buildings looked to be bathed in blue sunlight. Like in South Pacific. That old Hollywood "trick" of filming night scenes in broad daylight. So, too, last night. Which was my mother's birthday. I called her and she was eating lobster.

The moon was full. The moon was pregnant with its fullness. Pregnant like a cow. Full like a woman. I'll get around the rules every time.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:03 AM
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3.5.2004

Get your click on.

It's just USAToday, I know, but there's a poll about the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage up on the site today, and if you have the desire to weigh in, you should. I was somewhat heartened to see, when I voted, that I am among a sizeable majority of site visitors who don't think this amendment should be passed. 76.78% to 23.22% at last count. I can only hope that there is as large a proportion of reasonable citizens and reasonable congressmen. Not since prohibition has there been an amendment to the Constitution designed to limit rather than to grant civil rights. And never has there been a constitutional amendment that specifically denied certain civil rights to a named minority. There have been some astutely written articles recently, elucidating the madness of this move. This one from the New York Times, in particular, I found to be worth reading and on point.

Regardless of what you believe, religiously or otherwise, I hope that it's apparent to everyone that the so-called sanctity of marriage is none of George W. Bush's business. I wonder if all of this is just backlash against the years and years of comics who insinuated that his dad was married to a man all along.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:23 PM
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Martha Stewart Living

Am I wrong to dread the coming torrent of jokes about Martha Stewart gussying up her jail cell or teaching fellow inmates how to make a proper shiv? She was convicted of all charges. And I can't tell if I'm surprised or not. I guess when someone walks into a criminal trial, it's always fifty-fifty. But I can't help thinking about what certain people said when she was first charged, about how her celebrity worked against her in much the opposite way that O.J. Simpson's did. I don't know how I feel about the criminal justice system making examples of people. I think, generally, I feel pretty down on it. I feel similarly down on the criminal justice system turning a blind eye on good ol' boys who have greased the right palms. And I am cynical and idealistic at the same time about the role of judges in keeping everything kosher -- which leads me to my next big idea: robot judges, and preferably Jewish ones.

I do think Martha Stewart got a raw deal, and I'm not saying that she isn't guilty. I'm just surprised this wasn't handled in a less circus-like manner. And I was wryly amused at how little press the release of Erbitux, ImClone's miracle colon cancer therapy, got when it finally happened. After all, that's what all this hubbub was about. Miracle drug. Shady test results. FDA debacle. And the sad fact was that colon cancer sufferers were seeing remarkable results with this drug, but they weren't able to get their hands on it because of the bureaucratic complications. Now, Erbitux is finally available, and it seems strange and sad and slightly unfocused that no one really cares about that anymore. The fact that Martha's daughter was dating Sam Waksal (or that Sam Waksal seemed, to me, both reptilian and undateable) was just a curiosity. And the likelihood that both Martha and her daughter received inside information is huge. I just think that lots of people trade on inside information without even realizing what they're doing. It's just that if they're like me, they still manage to lose their shirts and the government doesn't take an interest. The government is only interested when you keep your shirt and also get several new ones and perhaps an outrageously expensive handbag (about which who cares really). There was a great article in Vanity Fair about the backstory on this in May of 2002. I read it on the plane to Boston. I think I read that issue cover to cover, and I wished that I had time to do that more often.

I doubt the feds would have gone whole hog after someone with less of a household name than poor Martha. She wasn't even charged with insider trading. They're just hanging her out to dry on obstruction of justice and making false statements -- cases which can almost never be made without the preponderance of evidence coming from hearsay or the word of one person against another. It's not that the dishonesty isn't important -- if it did in fact happen -- it just seems like it's crazy to convict someone for lying about a crime you don't care if they committed. If they didn't charge her with insider trading, what difference did it make to them whether she lied about it? Am I totally outside the park here?

Anyway I wonder if justice will be as deeply hued in the imperious palette of self-righteousness in the outcome of the trials involving Enron and Worldcom and Tyco. If Jeff Skilling doesn't end up making license plates, I don't want a license plate anymore. Okay, so I might need to look into more effective means of protestation.

Last night, my friend Steve was in a bit on the Jimmy Kimmel show dressed up as a girl scout selling an armload of cookies. And I told him that I still have girl scout cookies from last year, possibly even the year before, in my cupboard. I should know better than to ever buy them. I hate supporting causes with my patronage anyway. And I have a feeling girl scout cookies are racist. This made Steve laugh.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:33 PM
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3.4.2004

The trick is not to mind that it hurts.

I am tired and wounded and weepy and not at all the vision of myself that I project. I don't like to admit it. It's ugly weakness. The most despicable kind of frailty. My tears make me angry. And in the background of it, there is that guilty feeling that I will regret it all, let them all down, miss some opportunity that will haunt me when the ships have all sunk and the night is no longer a precursor to a dawn of any sort. I tell myself I never asked for this. And yet I also tell myself that everything -- all of it -- is my fault.

I am reading The Little Friend. In the later chapters, Harriet cries a lot. And I keep finding that I am crying with her.

I'm either going to toughen up or withdraw into a shell of some sort. It seems inevitable. This sensitive, emotional, tear-soaked me is no good to anyone.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:52 AM
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3.3.2004

Linguaphile

You wouldn't believe the dreams I've been having. You just wouldn't believe them. And what's more unfathomable is why I allow myself to stay asleep and keep dreaming them when I could just as easily leap from my bed and remind myself what's real. But it's not my bed. And it isn't me. And the word "leap" makes no sense. None of it does.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:19 AM
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Bullfrogs and Butterflies

It never lets up. I keep catching myself with a pained look on my face. Even when I think I'm expressionless. I drove beneath an ominous black sky, with thunder and lightning cracking the blackness in two, and firm, heavy raindrops pummeling my windshield. Relentless little bullets with every intention of eventually breaking through. Like Armageddon in Escondido.

I voted. I got my sticker. And I spent very nearly the balance of the remainder fretting and trying and hoping and failing and wondering how long it will be before I can get through an entire day without a reason to cry or at very least the urge to.

If the stress doesn't kill me, the stress will.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:22 AM
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3.2.2004

I got an A in Civics.

Freshman year. Academy of Our Lady of Guam. Mrs. Dent. Sarah stayed up and tested me on my exam questions all night, and I got a 100 on my final. Actually, I think I got an A+ in the class. I got top marks in my college political science classes, too, although my teacher asked me to start typing my papers as my handwriting was too small for him to bear. Anyway, I was a good student when it came to matters of government, so you can trust me when I say that, if you have the right to, you must go out and vote today. For if you don't, you are an asshole. And if you see me about town, please compliment me on my "I Voted!" sticker. I will be wearing it with pride.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:50 PM
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The Time It Takes

A band was playing a rendition of Fooled Around and Fell in Love on one of the late night shows after the commercial break one night. A former boyfriend of mine used to say that, if we were to get married, he would want that song to be played at our wedding reception. It meant something to him, I guess, about playing the field till it's barely recognizable as whatever substance a field is made of and then suddenly finding love and knowing that this is something somehow different. I always thought it was corny, and I didn't like that song much. And I guess I wasn't in a place in my life where I wanted to be picking my wedding songs. I wasn't planning to be married right away, and who knew what songs Sting might have written by the time I was ready. Of course, that was back before Mercury Rising was released. Anyway, at the next commercial break, a spot was playing Rhapsody in Blue as its soundtrack. That same former boyfriend really loved that tune. Though he only ever referred to it as something having to do with United Airlines. He even put it on a mix tape at one time.

While I was going through old boxes from storage, I found heaps of cards and letters and things from him. All effusively adorned with tender sentiment and awestruck appreciation from a guy who claimed again and again to be unable to believe that he had been lucky enough to find someone like me. I was surprised, in a way. It's been so long since I have had cause to revisit any of those memories that they had very nearly ceased to be. It was like opening a stack of letters you had never received and reading them for the first time, years and years after they were written. It made me think of that part of Amélie when she pieces together a letter that was never written, professing a love that did not persist, all to mend the still-broken heart of a woman who now need no longer believe she had been scorned, replacing that bitter ache with the sweeter one of having been robbed by romantically tragic circumstances. I could pretend that someone had done something similar for me, but the letters weren't really that good.

There's no real reason for this reminiscence. Just artless indulgece.

You can't lose your innocence twice. But you can wake up and find that there was more of it to lose. And as it ebbs away, you can notice how much has passed from you. And mourn it.

One of the guys on my Yahoo! group (Yes. I have a Yahoo! group. Shut up. You're just jealous.) asked for my review of the Oscars, and I'm going to cheat and crib from a message to one of my friends on MySpace:

I didn't get to hear much of them, because I was at a party full of overloud Improv Olympic people, and I didn't get there until late. The kind of late that you are when you get lost in Silverlake with nothing but a Mapquest printout and a frustrated look on your face. But I didn't see anything that gutted me. I expected Peter Jackson to win, but I kind of wish The Return of the King hadn't gotten quite so much lauding. On its own, it wasn't that great a flick. I liked the first one better. And I didn't care for the Annie Lennox song at all. Drab and uninspired. Even though Fran Walsh keeps dedicating the awards it wins to some dead kid. And I'm glad Sophia Coppola won, although I hear a lot of balking because her "script" was largely improvised. I didn't see Cold Mountain, but I'm certain that Renee Zellweger didn't deserve the Oscar, because I find her appallingly ugly. Nicole Kidman still looks insane. Johnny Depp was awfully good-looking. And I was surprised Sean Penn actually showed up, even if he was considered a shoe-in. I wish Bill Murray had gotten the statue, but I think Sean Penn was a class act, and I can't begrudge him any victory. I wonder if Madonna was happy for him or sad.

And there are still a lot of movies I haven't seen. But that duet with Will Ferrell and Jack Black was worth the money, huh?


In its original form, this message was riddled with typos, because I was fairly swimming in cabernet by the time I wrote it. But I forewent the use of the [sic] business because I have no fear that I might one day sue myself. It was also considerably shorter, but I'm an editor and an embellisher and I never waste the chance to get it right the second or third time. It's in my blood. Anyway, that's that.







I spent today with Josh. He's moving. I was helping. It's funny how cleaning someone else's bathtub can take your mind off things. But then I am also empathetic to the upheaval of moving. And to the emotional havoc that can be wreaked by opening those old boxes and finding what's inside. And I looked around Josh's place -- the artsy digs on Western that I have visited enough times to know where to park if you're smart -- and I saw it empty for the first time, and that reminded me of the night I went back to San Diego when my parents had completely cleaned my apartment and I was going back to turn over the keys. It was strange to be there at night and all alone with absolutely nothing in the place -- to be reminded of how it had looked when I first moved in. How big it was and yet how small. And all those ghosts traversing the grey carpet. Josh's carpet is grey, too. But that was no big deal. My hands were so cold today.

It's no fun to move in the rain. And it's no fun to come home cold and wet and with a headache. But it's great to be a good friend and to be told so.

These pictures were not taken today.

In like a lion? No. Not me. March maybe. But not me. I wonder if lion tastes as good with garlic and rosemary as lamb does. I'll bet it's gamey. I don't think I'll have any this time, thanks.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:41 AM
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2.29.2004

Oscar Predictions

Someone will wonder who much it would cost to put out a contract on Joan and Melissa Rivers.

Parking in Hollywood will be a nightmare.

I will be disappointed and wonder why I watched them.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:08 AM
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2.28.2004

There's no story here.

I know I said I wasn't going to continue flogging this horse, but I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher tonight, and The Passion of the Christ was one of the topics. Sir Ian McKellen pointed out the problem that I also saw: the complete absence of the story. Good old Gandalf reminded the panel that, for those who aren't Christian, the details of the story are missing. He didn't know who Herod Jr. was. He didn't know who Mary Magdalene was. "That's the problem with the movie. It isn't made for people who don't know the story. And if you're not a Christian you're probably not going to be able to respond to it...On the whole, you know, movies are meant to tell stories, and you have to tell people what's going on...You see, this is a movie, before everyone gets het up about it, not for atheists -- it's for Christians. And frankly, if you were really going to make a movie about Jesus Christ, wouldn't you want to tell us a little about what he believed in? -- and what he did?" Then he pointed out that the scourging we saw would have killed poor Jesus long before he got to the cross. Bill closed the discussion point by saying, "I think what's dangerous is the idea that someone can wash away your sins. You know, I think that you are the only person who can cleanse your sins." And then Ian said calmly, "You know, you have to be a Christian before you believe that you've sinned." And he's the most charming deliverer of a refutation I have ever seen. Sigh. I wish he was my friend.

Later, when an anti-gay lady with a crooked nose finished her diatribe on the decadence of our society, Ian McKellen quoted Thomas Jefferson, saying:

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

I'm with him. And I have to say that I can't understand the tolerance of the American voting public for the focus being placed on this topic by the sitting executive. I suppose I'm glad that conservatives are making this a table issue, because it can only force the hand of civil progress, and that's for the best. But at the same time, with everything that is splintering and faltering in our country today, the idea that Americans would tolerate any resources being wasted on the legalized persecution of a portion of our citizenry before we do everything in our power to keep our economy from spiralling itself down the crimson-rimmed galactic toilet is a mystery to me. Do we really want to write this guy a check so that he can give us the finger from his new summer home on Mars -- one that will probably be decorated with lampshades made from well cared for gay skin? I, for one, would rather live in a country where I can get a job again. And if I have to marry a lesbian to do it, so be it. I realize that no one is asking me to do that, but I'm just saying.

One of the New Rules on the show was that gay marriage won't lead to dog marriage, captioning a photo of a demonstrator carrying a handmade sign that read, "I want to marry my dog." Bill Maher pointed out that when women got the right to vote, it didn't lead to hamsters voting. And that made me laugh. And also to think that hamsters, if they could vote, would probably vote Democrat.

So this started out on the Passion topic and veered off into politics, thanks to Bill Maher, for whom I have had a longstanding heap of pulsating affection. I know some people hate him, but they are wrong.

Oh, and Conan's bit about the Oscars tonight was blindingly brill. Night after night, I continue to wish Conan O'Brien had married me before I turned into the spinster I currently am.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:38 AM
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2.27.2004

"We'll rent to start."

It was fun for a while. There was no way of knowing. Like a dream in the night, who can say where we're going?

I've watched Lost in Translation a couple of times this week. And it keeps making me want to cry. Charlotte in the windowsill, alone, a grey day. I know that feeling. I know that windowsill. All the same, I love the way this movie makes me feel. I remember seeing it at The Grove on a hooky afternoon. I was wearing a short little black jumper and high heels. My bare legs were cold in the theater. And the movie made me want so much to go back to Japan. To relive that sort of inside joke. Knowing what's going on when no one else as tall as me does. Being a foreigner in Japan is very lonely. You stand out. You can't find obscurity. You can't blend in. You're lucky if you can find shoes in your size. But there's something about that singularity. Maybe I crave it again. I just want to be somewhere different. Somewhere else. And maybe being somewhere else will allow me to be someone else. Someone entirely else. Or maybe I will just be me. I have a feeling there's no escaping this particular prison.

My mother is going to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and there is talk that she will take me with her. I'm beginning to be excited about the prospect. My passport is valid. And I'm itching to go. Just go. I will take a million thousand million photographs. And I will take extra special note of how it feels to not be anywhere near anything or anyone I know. Of course, it's possible that I won't go. Even likely. But while the "no" has not yet been uttered, I'm hopeful.

In the scene when Bob Harris is in the elevator surrounded by stonyfaced Japanese men, my mom laughed and said, "They all look so sad, and he's the tallest one." When you tap into her humor, you are always the happier for it. She, more than anyone, says things that I scramble to write down. Laughing all the way.

The people at the Chinese restaurant near my apartment are so nice to me. They know me by name. They give me free stuff. They always compliment me and inquire about my love life. I always wished that there would be a place where I was considered a familar face. I have a few now. I am grateful for that. I saw Jay-Z at the Chinese place. I'll bet they didn't treat him as nicely as they treated me.

I wish I was going somewhere. I feel stuck. I'm not looking for the easy way out. But even that isn't enough. And I'm scared of certain things. A lot of things. And I don't like to admit that I am ever scared. Except at the movies. Startle me there, and I will throw the popcorn right up and over my head. A strange reaction, but a reliable one -- much as I try to change it. I think, in real life, when I am scared, I smile more. I go all nice. Charm the villains. Flirt with the demons. Wriggle out of your bonds while they're noticing your dimple. When I am scared and sad, however, I am hopeless.

I miss holding hands in the movie theater. I never really did it all that often. But it seems like a pleasant memory. And my hands always get so cold.

I hear music vibrating in my ears and in my chest cavity. A buzzing. It lifts me. Like I am rising to meet it. Ready to leap up at any moment.

As free as the wind and hopefully learning why the sea on the tide has no way of turning.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:01 PM
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String Finger

I watched a little bit of The Count of Monte Cristo, mostly to make note of how different Jim Caviezel looks in it. And it tugged a bit at my nostalgic innards. I watched that movie on a flight to Boston, the day after my birthday in 2002. And I was prickly with that thing that sometimes happens when some sweeping romantic ending looms. I push it away. Reject it. This is not the world and what is real. This is the world through the perfected prism of literature. This is a story. This is rubbish. I don't know the exact dates, but there was a time when a wonderful romantic story sat fine with me. These days, even the crap ones are an irritant.

I wrote a lot in my journal on that flight. The one with the paper and cloth cover, with the screen print of a horse illustration with all sorts of angles and math nonsense written on it. I wrote in it once in 2000. September. Then I picked it back up again in 2001. And I have been writing in it on and off ever since. With very, very small handwriting. Which is why I am only a little past halfway through it. I flipped back to those pages and read some of what I wrote. Nothing I care to publish. Little that I care to remember. That is unusual for me. I am someone who catalogues things with such diligence that to realize one day that I wish I hadn't is jarring. I had the same experience when I was wrapping up some tax things and had to go through my 2002 desk calendar. Day after day of details I'd rather not recall. I have never ever felt that way before. I have always prized my meticulous memory and my ability to relive and recall. Somewhere along the way, the details began to be a burden. Little irritants. Like bug bites you get from your socks.

I don't know why I detect that slightly hostile response where romance is concerned. It seems unfitting for me. I think I am always in love with someone or something. But it has begun to feel like the aftermath of a mouthful of very dry toast. The romantic storytellers imply something with more moisture, I think.

Anyway, it's just a feeling. And they are nearly never permanent.

This was me at the John Kerry thing. Well, in the bathroom of the thing anyway.





posted by Mary Forrest at 3:26 AM
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Denzel Washington's Brick Tuxedo

I had sketches I wanted to post, but my scanner is funky since my last OS upgrade, and I have less patience than usual. The day fell.

I haven't colored this yet, but I drew it a while ago. And I liked it when it was done. It is not what I had hoped to share, but it is not dog food.

She dares not waste the firelight.
She anticipates hours of cold.
She despises the ordinary, celebrity, and steep climbs.
Where her pen falls, marks remain.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:12 AM
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2.26.2004

Oh, yeah. The score.

I forgot to make the comment that John Debney's score in The Passion of the Christ sounded so much like James Horner. There are pieces plucked right from Glory. I like John Debney, but I'm used to hearing his work in comedies and animated features, the occasional action flick, I guess. It was grand enough, though.

There are a lot of things I forgot to criticize. And there was that nagging feeling that -- if the goal of this picture was ever to evangelize -- it really blows a chance to tell the actual story. You don't see why the high priests have such a beef with Jesus. You don't see why Judas' guilt is so piquant. You don't see why people thought he was holy or why others thought he was dangerous. And because you don't see these things, you don't incorporate them into the film. Unless you are well-schooled in the gospels and are just going to the cinema to see a startlingly violent depiction of a tale you've heard before. However, if you are going to the cinema not really knowing the whole story, you will leave knowing little more than that. You'll just have a far more vivid idea of what it was like to die as Jesus, as opposed to any sort of idea of how it was to live as him. Or near him for that matter. In a way, I'm surprised that Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell have endorsed the film so vociferously. It's not that it would offend, but I'm surprised the evangelistic community didn't see this is a gargantuan missed opportunity.

You do see a few pieces of the preceding events. Little snatches here and there. Mostly in flashbacks bookended with dramatic slamming noises. Reminiscences of tender moments being recalled during moments of horrific agony. There are a handful of gentle vignettes, but they almost seem forced. Like when Mel Gibson implies that Jesus invented the dining table and chairs. I've read my Josephus, and I don't remember this bit. For my money, comic relief might have been the one element Gibson could have foregone in this flick.

I don't speak Latin or Aramaic, so I can't say if there are people out there who screwed up their faces and made that stinky face when they heard all these guys butchering their syllables. I suspect there might have been some of that. But I actually thought telling the story in this fashion might have been a stroke of genius. I do think that a lot of those lines have become canonized to such an extent that it might have just sounded corny to hear them in English. But I don't know. I got tired of craning to see the subtitles because they appeared so low on the screen that the heads of the people in front of me were often in the way.

And if there is room for such a complaint, I kept being distracted by all the special effects around Jim Caviezel's eyes.

And I'm pretty sure I've said all I need to. If I mention this picture again, it will probably be in reference to something else. It's not a promise, but it takes up space.

posted by Mary Forrest at 10:40 AM
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Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I went to see The Passion of the Christ this afternoon. It was emotionally exhausting. Relentlessly emotional and heartwrenching. But that may be my gravest criticism of it. That, from the moment the film commences in Gethsemane until it ends in the vacant tomb, the intensity and melodrama never flags. Is there a way to pronounce melodrama so that it sounds ridiculously inappropriate? I wish I knew what portion of the film was shot in slow motion. Or how many frames of film centered on Jim Caviezel's gasping open mouth. It was just agonizingly drawn out. To the point where I found it alienating.

And yet, it recalled to me an experience from my youth.

When I was a young girl on the island of Guam, my family attended a missionary church whose services were broadcast on the radio. The pastor at the time was called Tom Larmore, and I appreciated him very much. Never moreso than on that one Sunday when he preached a sermon about the punishment and crucifixion of Jesus, based on something that had been published, I think, in the New England Journal of Mediciine or some similarly prestigious title. That Sunday, he gave a harrowing and clinically detailed account of what those last days were like, including descriptions of the scourge and explanations of the mechanism of execution that crucifixion employed. That a crucified man died -- after a time -- of suffocation, once he was so exhausted that he was no longer able to counteract the hanging forces with the resistance of his legs and feet. Things like that. On a different Sunday, Pastor Larmore gave a similarly studious depiction of all that befell Jonah in the belly of that great fish. And I remember that these messages appealed to the academic in me. The intellect that was being steadily alienated by spiritual fluff and the absence of salient answers. This film -- Mel Gibson's film -- was a depiction of this same horrific tale. And I did catch myself feeling a weighty grief. An empathy for Mary in particular. I found myself blinking back tears and admitting silently that this is a story I was taught to believe -- to know intimately -- from the time I was the very smallest child. When my daddy used to read Bible stories to me and my sister in our beds and I used to raise my hand at the end and hope that he would let me answer the questions, because I knew the answers so well. Those days seem a far-off memory. A shade of what remains.

The mischiefmonger in me admits that there was a moment depicting the three crosses at Golgotha when I thought how much barer would be the metaphoric lexicon had it not been for this event. And how ever would we rid ourselves of vampires?

I called my dad after I saw the film. He hasn't seen it yet, and I am interested to hear what he thinks of it. I know he can be a stickler about biblical accuracy. Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth is one of the few cinematic Bible stories of which he approves, and even that has its moments. But I also told him that we saw Elijah Wood outside the theater, discussing the film with a group of friends and citing what he knew of the biblical account. He sounded surprised. And maybe a little impressed. And when I said it, I said "Frodo Baggins" instead of "Elijah Wood." That way he would know. And he did.

I am not always certain what I believe. But at the center of it, I know that I am a big softy, and that it doesn't take much to make me cry. I feel things easily. Almost with a cruel ease. I am vulnerable. Fragile. And I experience nearly everything with empathy. I wish I didn't cry so much. But it can't be helped. And maybe someday this mushy center part of me will be of value to some other firmer soul. As a means of providing ballast.

With the rain and the gloom, I almost didn't want to go back out, but Krissy and I eventually got good and gussied up and went to the Young Hollywood for John Kerry event at the Luxe Hotel. Billy Baldwin was handsome and charming, and I wished I had gone up and told him so, but I feared that I would end up confessing that I really just wanted him to act as liaison and to give a message to Alec that I think he's the bee's knees. Donal Logue also spoke at the affair. And my friend Murad, who I haven't seen since the one time we ever saw each other -- a sultry night in 2002 -- introduced us around a bit. And I drank cocktails, broke the lever on my Lomo, and fussed over my skirt, which was dangerously short. And I realized at the end of it all, as I have a dozen -- no, a million times before, that it's always better to go and see.

Krissy decided that she will begin exclaiming "Jim Caviezel!" in place of "Jesus Christ!" And I have already adopted this protocol. I can't speak for the rest of mankind, but this makes Krissy and me laugh like fools.

The rain continues to fill the cracks and crevices. I can hear the water spilling from the gutters, splashing down onto earth and concrete. Beading up on windowpanes. It's wet out there. And I am cold and longing to be cozy.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:55 AM
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2.25.2004

Unforgiven

I have so many things to say about how disappointed I was in Mystic River that I almost can't compose my thoughts into a paragraph. I think I must have had a perplexed expression on my face for most of the movie, as I was continuously thinking, "Why is everyone raving about this picture?" There are some truly wonderful performances, yes. But there are also some glaringly horrible ones (that means you, Morpheus; and the over-the-top kid playing Sean Penn's character as a child -- someone, smother him with an oily rag), and the head who most clearly deserves a conk has to be screenwriter Brian Helgeland's for delivering some of the most unnatural, obvious, and clumsily expository dialogue I have heard outside of the Star Trek universe.

And there was way too much butter on the popcorn.

Again, I can only laud the actors who didn't suck, because the ones that didn't suck tipped the scales in the opposite direction. Tim Robbins has only further solidified himself in my eyes as an actor of the highest caliber. And Sean Penn's first big outburst nearly drew empathetic tears from me. But it's surprising how quickly your tears dry when you start rolling your eyes, which I did in disbelief when all those police were swarming on him. One of many maddeningly deliberate visuals in a two-hour parade of unconvincing happenstance. I thought there was going to be some big plot twist when it seemed that the "woman" calling Kevin Bacon throughout the movie had a moustache and the lipliner of a drag queen. But I didn't read the book.

But Sean Penn has great hair. And the sound of my frustrated fists pounding on the table in my brain is meant not for him but for Clint Eastwood. Show. Don't tell. Right? George Lucas and I share a birthday, but when he converted from being the evangelist of the hero's journey to the new church of inspid chatterbox moviemaking, we parted ways. Has Clint Eastwood ever dated Linda Ronstadt? Because she may be the secret link to all this ruination. I just saw Jerry Brown on television the other night, and he looks awful. Coneheadedly bald and pinched and haggard. This may be something worth investigating.

I don't want to overdo my panning, but I noticed a lot of people applauding Clint for having composed the music for the film. I didn't pay very much attention to it, but some of it was bare piano that was about as complex as that annoying little etude from Eyes Wide Shut. Who cares?

In a nutshell: Disappointed in the writing. Too much butter on the popcorn. Sean Penn is hot. Go, ye, into the world and do with this information as you please. Tomorrow, I will be seeing The Passion of the Christ, and I suspect I will have a bit to say about that, too.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:20 AM
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2.24.2004

Circular Breathing

When I stepped out of the bath just now, I had the most violent case of dizziness. I thought I would fall right over if I didn't hold onto the sink. It was very hot water. Maybe that's it. I remember getting a persistent case of this dizziness a while back. Nearly two years ago, actually. I had gone out for Indian food and to see a revival of Kiss Me, Stupid, and, for some reason I couldn't shake this feeling that I was falling backwards all the time. What I think vertigo would be like, but I'm not certain. And it lasted for a couple of days. Leaving the Indian restaurant, the person I was with told me that it was something nice about me: how I sometimes seemed like this fast-talking career woman and other times I was like this little, helpless baby. I won't say that it's untrue. I often seem like many things. A week later, I was laid off from my job, and the whole world seemed to be spinning out of control, but that was another sensation altogether. And, happily, it didn't last.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:28 AM
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Fits and Starts

I went to see Bill Clinton and Bob Dole speak tonight. I'm just all thrill and inspiration right now. Bob Dole is witty and self-deprecating. Bill Clinton is eloquent and whip smart. Just fucking smart as hell. He's also charming and winning and really down-to-earth. I often say that I wish he could be president again. And I always mean it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:27 AM
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2.23.2004

Hamburger Sandwich

I was telling my friend Alex about the mysteries of these Los Angeles relationships. The way people just fade in and fade out of your life. The way you eventually don't fight it anymore. In his typically eloquent fashion, he said:

...it's interesting to hear you describe the way LA people enter and exit life like some kind of social ebb and flow. That's a pattern I'm very familiar with here in the big smoke if it's any consolation. Doubtful, but sometimes I feel like this joint is just a giant airport and people you might trick yourself into believing friends are really just being polite to kill the time before they make their way to their destination...

He is something, n'est-ce pas? And "the big smoke" means London. If he made that up, I'll build him a shrine. He closed that paragraph by saying, "Suffice it to say, London's cold and I don't mean winter." I guess I'm learning that the name of the city in that sentence is irrelevant. It could be anywhere. It's the heat that rises. The cold stays on you. And it stays and stays and stays.

I fried a turkey burger and now I may as well be one for the way I smell. I do so shrink from food smells on my skin and in my hair. When a nose comes close to my neck, I would prefer it to find a sweeter scent there. This is probably the only reason I never took up smoking in my reckless youth. In high school, my oral fixation was legendary. I could tell you that, by that, I mean I used to chew on my pencils, but you're going to read into it what you're going to read into it. And that's just fine.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:31 PM
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Slow down. You move too fast.

I was listening to a roundtable discussion on NPR the other day. The topic was gay marriage and all this hubbub in San Francisco. And something very important was said, though I came in too late to hear who was who, so I can't give proper credit. One of the gentlemen pointed out that, once a civil rights movement gets going, you can't just tell it to stop. You can't just tell people to take it down a notch when the momentum of their recognition of injustice takes root. I think, historically, this has obviously been true. And, were we to have balked at every plaintiff who sought a fair shake in recent history, we would never have been relieved of such craggy beasts as segregation or absence of the suffrage. People are getting all cranky about these gay couples receiving marriage licenses in San Francisco, but one day, those same people will look to us like the jerks in Alabama who wanted to cream a group of black kids for going to school. Arianna Huffington was one of the panelists. I recognized her voice. And she said a lot that rang true with me. It almost created a sense of nostalgia. Having been so attuned to what was giong on during the stupid gubernatorial recall last year, here in California. But even before that, I had really grown to appreciate her voice and her ideas. And I always hung on to the irony of how much I hated her when she was a fiery conservative, decrying my boy Bill. It's odd. I think I have become so anxious about the coming election that I have almost gone into stasis. I can't bear the fear that things will get worse, so I try not to think about it every day. But whenever I do think about it, I find that the impassioned convictions are still there. Thriving. It's a wonder to be so afraid. I was not afraid in 2000, and look what happened. Even now, I ask myself how I can worry that our country will re-elect a guy who probably put Hooked on Phonics on his Christmas list. He nearly always speaks in sentence fragments. And to me, that smacks of something other than folksiness.

Speaking of Hooked on Phonics, I saw an infomercial for it the other day, and the woman doing the selling was saying that, for just "spare change," you could improve your child's happiness and potential for success. That's right. For "less than two dollars a day -- spare change! -- you can make a difference in your child's future today!" Two dollars a day. Yeah, that's spare change TODAY. But if I spend it, I don't just have two more dollars of spare change the next day lying around. I carry that two dollars of spare change around all month. And I only use it if I have to feed a parking meter. What kind of spare change machine does she think I am? Well, whatever kind, I'm not that.

Some commercial was playing that Willie Nelson song, but it was being sung by someone else with a more Django Reinhart approach. Now I've got it stuck in my head. All of me, why not take all of me...Can't you see that I'm no good without you... If you want to do it right, repeat both verses before the big finish.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:25 PM
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Susurrous

It's raining. It's pouring. The old man is snoring. And by "old man" I don't mean me, because I am obviously wide awake.

Ever since I cranked my hot water heater up to the SCALD setting, I have had the steamiest, most luxurious cleansing sessions. It's hot enough now that, if you simmer long enough, your meat will just fall right off the bone. I've taken to thinking of my tub as a stock pot and my bubbles as bouillon. The word "broth" comes to mind. Anyway, it means I'm clean.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:44 AM
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2.22.2004

Flash Flood Warning







































posted by Mary Forrest at 6:27 PM
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Amazon Apology

Small men say hello to me on the street in this town, and I feel embarrassed because it takes me a beat to realize where the sound is coming from. I always say hello back, but I can often no longer see their faces by the time I do.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:31 AM
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Your To-Do List If You Had Been Me

Hang out with a rock star at an old-timey hipster lounge. Stay awake until long after sunrise. Drink hot sake while it's raining and try not to cry. Fail at it. Choose the banana candy. Let the fire burn out. Finish your script. Walk in the rain. Warm your hands. Do something thoughtful. Spread your sunshine. Brush your hair. Say, "Cheese."

A smile is something special,
A ribbon is something rare
So I'll be special and I'll be rare
with a smile and a ribbon in my hair.

To be a girl they notice
Takes more than a fancy dress.
So I'll be special and I'll be rare.
I'll be something beyond compare.
I'll be noticed because I'll wear a smile
And a ribbon in my hair.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:54 AM
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A Give and a Take

The titles music for The Office makes me sad. In a way.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:01 AM
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Second Story Man

Everything that stretches out behind me -- the wake of all of this. If I had it to do over again, I would just want it to take longer. I would just want it to take much, much longer.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:22 AM
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2.19.2004

"In the middle of a cloud, I call your name."



The room my parents prepared for me is so luxurious. I feel like I'm in a hotel. Lonely like when you're in a hotel. But also private and safe. Except for when my mom bursts in and brings me something. Tea or a question. I should remember to lock the door.

There are bullfrogs outside. Imagine that. Bullfrogs. And just a little further down the road, there are railroad tracks. Sometimes a train comes rushing by. But you can't hear it from the house. You can just hear the frogs. And some crickets. In the morning, sunlight streams in through more windows than I've counted. The tile downstairs is cold underfoot. The doors have latches on them that remind me of the past. I like it here.

You got to live.
You got to love.
You got to be somebody.
You got to shove.
But it's hard.
It's really hard.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:33 AM
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I spoke to them in the dark, and they lay still.



I think my father is disappointed that I never became a lawyer. Or maybe he's just disappointed that I'm not actively participating in a pension plan. We talked over very small glasses of wine -- cordial glasses were all he could find in the post-move bedlam -- and he asked me whether I ever thought about still getting that degree. It came on the heels of my telling him how much of a breeze I found tax court to be. I didn't want to disappoint him, but I didn't really know what to say. I think, ultimately, my parents want for me exactly what I want for me. But we have starkly opposed ideas about how one gets it. And it vexes me to feel so certain that neither my mother nor my father believes I have amounted to anything that approximates my full potential. Still, it was nice to sit and talk in the new house. My father even lit candles for our dinner. A big, florid tree of them. Far more fuss and fanfare than I am accustomed to when having dinner with him. There wasn't much hope of finding complex ingredients, so I made penne carbonara in a jif and we dined like kings. Kings surrounded by boxes and boxes and boxes.



I have been contending with a lot of disappointment this week. Just things not going the way I'd planned or hoped. Friends not coming through or plans splintering. I find myself growing weary of always donning the brave face. The no-I'm-not-upset face. The oh-it's-fine-I'm-better-off-this-way face. The face I wear so that everyone else doesn't have to feel guilty. They never seem to notice. It's not my face at all.



Having noticed some new photos on my MySpace profile, my friend Steve accused me of taking more pictures than anyone else he knows, even the photographers. I suppose this post is my way of proving him right. Although, I will note to myself that I haven't really been taking as many pictures as I would like. I want to be taking pictures I can thrill to. Showing them off is secondary. But getting a glimpse of some captured brilliance is lure enough. I think my poor digicam is beginning to tire, though. Knobs turning in a more grinding-like fashion. Compartment doors no longer smooth and true. Whatever will I do when this dear old friend succumbs to age and overuse. It's hard to imagine my hands knowing what to do with a facsimile. The spool on my trusty old Canon A-1 SLR camera broke somewhere between Gila Bend and Albuquerque. I don't remember where. It was outside a roadside attraction as I was trying to rewind a roll of shot film and found that it wouldn't go back into the canister. I ended up trying to do it manually under my jacket, but the color negative film was compromised and there were little shards sprinkling into my lap where the spool ripped through its perforated edges. Nearly seven years later, I hadn't yet taken that camera in to get it repaired. It had been my dearest love for years. Had carried me through high school melancholia and had introduced me to that special perfume of the darkroom. It busted on a vacation, so I made do with buying an Advantix camera at a Wal-Mart, in Albuquerque, I'm fairly certain, now that I think about it. I am not a fan of Advantix. And I'm sorry to have missed out on the certain-to-have-been-myriad pleasures my A-1 would have revealed. But the point is, this past summer, when I was at long last determined to get my A-1 back in working order, instead of suping it up, I bought another one online. The same model. With lots of fancy attachments. So now I have "my" A-1 again. And I still find it to be my most favorite camera. But it sure is heavy and impossible to carry in a handbag. So it stays at home most of the time. I long for an excuse to take it out and engage it in some stupid photo essay. It's much heavier than the cameras I currently use. My hands sometimes shake when I'm advancing the film. It makes me feel frail somehow.

As I have been sorting through stored things, I have come across many old photographs -- some of which I will likely post -- and folders filled with photos I enlarged and printed myself. They still smell of the darkroom. I like it. At Risley, I was darkroom manager for a year, and I remember spending nights in that creepy basement room, all alone in quarters which were already too close, glad that I had never seen Nightmare on Elm Street.

With her dark hair, and her arms around her knees, she looked like a little Chinese pirate.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:49 AM
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2.17.2004

Tight Close-Up

I saw another guy I know on an H&R Block commercial last night. This time it was a guy named Brian who I went out with about a year and a half ago. One more such sighting and I'll begin to wonder if H&R Block is toying with me. Perhaps they've never gotten over the fact that I started to file my taxes online with them a couple of years ago and never finished, choosing instead to file with my own tax software. I just used their site to file an extension, but it was nothing personal.

posted by Mary Forrest at 9:26 AM
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"Can the child within my heart rise above?"

Last night, I had this great gob of desire to post something about how things felt, but I'm away from home and connectivity has been more challenging than usual, so I made notes and made do, assuming I would return to the fervor when a network came available. Instead, I have the fragments of what I wrote and no real understanding of how they break from the glomerular state into distinct pieces. It's gone from me. Further proof that you can't put off inspiration. You can only deny it and lose it. But you can't delay it. I carry a little Moleskine notebook in my handbag just in case. But a lot of what should be written down comes to me while I'm driving or in the dark or not wanting to look like an undercover reporter. And as a consequence, far too few of the notebook's pages are filled.

I wouldn't have been able to write it all down in the car anyway, last night. I know that. And it's not that I'm so convinced that I would have written anything earth-shattering. On the contrary. I think I would have aspired at best to the heights of the banal, but at least I would have known what I was talking about. At least I would have been feeling it as I typed. Doing it this way is sort of like writing an adaptation. It's like documenting a previous event with notes from bystanders. These feelings aren't real to me anymore. They are secondhand.

"Time makes you bolder. Even children get older."

I can't feel it right now, but I know that I had wanted to pull the car over as I was arriving in San Diego, and I had wanted to cry out, and it was with great joy. The kind of joy that lacks smugness. And permanence. I only remember that I had this tremendous good feeling. I breathed in so deeply I felt a pain in my chest. Till I was ready to burst with the anticipation of exhaling. And I heard music that meant something to me. Songs that made me feel things, and I wasn't afraid of them. I welcomed them. I didn't go, "Yes, that's very true," and feel glum that the whole of what I know of love can be summed up by any 80s band who had it in them to write a song about getting it served to you in the wrong fashion (in this case, it was Naked Eyes). It no longer felt like an indictment. It really didn't feel like much of anything. Except a catchy song with synthesized marimbas. It felt like music again. Instead of retribution.

I was grateful to be feeling something of great intensity that was entirely positive and almost cloyingly okay. I wanted to yell, "I feel something! I feel something! And I'm so happy!" And I would have meant it. Tired as I was, I was feeling something at last. I was swelling with desire and anticipation and the urgency to barrel forward. And it wasn't an aftershock of anything else. It was just that feeling of a Sunday night with gas in the gas tank, a song in the speakers, and somewhere to be with people I like. I want to say it was just like old times, but I don't think that would be true.

"I'm lost but I'm hopeful, baby."

I don't know where I am, but I don't hate being here. There are still foul words to contend with and fears and categories and the acknowledgement of all that is over. But I'm not afraid of the landslide anymore. At least for now.

And, for the record, this sort of thing comes and goes. Shooting shabby pool into the wee hours did little to prolong my illusion of grandeur. Even now, I'm only recounting what I remember of having felt like a force to be reckoned with. But writing the words has a way of helping you commit it to memory. Maybe that will slow the ebb to at least a comparable velocity to the flow. And maybe we all won't dry up so soon.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:24 AM
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2.16.2004

"And you ask me why I love her..."

I just saw this guy named Sean on an H&R Block commercial. He's an actor who performed in the first show I ever played at Moonlight Amphitheater in Vista. It was the Kopit and Yeston version of Phantom, and he was incredible. And I remember hanging out at a dive bar with the cast and orchestra after one of the shows and talking to him and discovering that we both shared this huge love for Benny and Bjorn and hoped that Moonlight would put up Chess one day. Several years later, Moonlight mounted a production of Chess, and I was an eager member of the orchestra and was pleased and not surprised to see Sean playing the Russian. I've seen him on a number of commercials over the years. Some of them hilarious. This one wasn't hilarious, but it was definitely Sean. It's encouraging to see that you can admire someone and have it linger. With me, it nearly always manages to. If you could have heard him sing Anthem, it would have meant something to you. I never managed to get my videotape copy of the performance, and I have always regretted that.

No man, no madness, though their sad power may prevail,
Can possess, conquer my country's heart. They rise to fail.


"They rise to fail." I love that.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:39 PM
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2.15.2004

Co-Opted

Adam sends me articles from the New York Times on the Web so frequently that I nearly never have to visit the web site on my own. As proof that I actually read these articles, I am prompted to direct you to this one about Janet Jackson's boob, because I agree with it wholeheartedly. Even the part -- I am sad to say -- where it indicts Justin Timberlake for pretending he's really sorry about the whole thing. I would have gone with you to the end, Justin. To the very fires of Mordor.

But Adam never reads my weblog, so this accomplishes nothing.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:48 PM
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2.14.2004

The Rhyming Scheme

Many Valentine's Days ago, I wrote a poem that went like this:

Unobscured by hearts and flowers
I wish to simply say
That for these sweet red-painted hours
I love you on this day

And more so as each moment passes
More each breath I take
Every hour more love amasses
And it's for your sake

More so on the next sun's rising
More each morning new
My love just keeps aggrandizing
With the dawning's dew

More each time I see you smiling
More each time you call
Thrilled it's me you're not reviling
Pleased it's me at all

Now I've told you, plain as plainness
Now I've made you see
Yet remaining, sate my vainness
Say it back to me


I think it's the only Valentine's Day poem I ever wrote. Or at least the only one I ever wrote for someone in particular. If you don't count infantile things I might have done back when everything I owned smelled like Elmer's Glue and pink erasers. Back when it didn't count, I guess. I wrote my share of sentimental messages, but few of my sweethearts have been the recipients of poetry. Maybe I knew well enough that I was dating people who would likely not know what to do with it. Anyway, I thought about that poem today. And I thought of other days when I had wanted to write poems but felt a certain paralysis of sentiment. Other years when I would have wanted to write a birthday verse but couldn't muster the generosity of spirit to think of something kind to say. Other Christmases when I fantasized that the shape of my lyrics might make the difference but couldn't seem to bring myself to risk discovering I was wrong. And then there have been times when the rhyming poured out of me with gushing force. When I didn't want to sleep for fear of losing the patter of the meter in my head. Synapses dance when you get it right. For me, they do. Electrochemical firings ally themselves to the rhythm and all of a sudden everything you can think of fits into the syllables you've left. I'm no Shakespeare, but maybe sometimes I feel as if I'm channeling a long-removed bastard son of his. Or something.

Anyway, I look at the softer sentiments I have committed to the page and I sometimes feel sorry for that lost me of a distant part of a forgotten history. I see such humility in her words. Such certainty that she will be scorned. Such confidence that she will not be loved for long. At the time, it was the guise of preemption. Like when you tell everyone how fat you are to keep them from saying it first. At the time, it was that girl's way of glibly defying the inevitable disappointment she was marginally certain awaited her round the next corner or the next. It's hard not to feel sorry for that girl. What I miss of her naivete I also sometimes rejoice to have excised. Wanting to preserve the goodness of a trusting nature is a means of denying the inevitability of growing old. Age, experience, a life lived in any fashion -- these are the pinpricks in the cask that allow the precious water supply to seep away, till you're left in the very heart of the desert with nothing to drink and only the memory of the songs you used to love and no real certainty about which horizon to chase. The world is round. There are no edges to be found.

I lingered in the sunshine today. Felt the prickle of its heat on my pant legs. Had to make do with feathery wisps of my hair blowing past my face and occasionally getting stuck in my lip gloss. After a time, you just let them stay stuck there. It makes me think of those starving children in the sponsorship commercials, covered with flies but making no move to dislodge them. At some point, you get so accustomed to the nuisances that they cease to bother you. But it's surprising and a little bit sad to see that complacency in those who seem too young to have acquiesced to it.

The year I wrote that poem, my Valentine's Day was a disappointment. Disappointment is the offspring of expectation. That is a lesson hard-learned. That Valentine's Day also fell on a Saturday. Like today. The world is a mirror running in circles.

Decontextualized, the poem is still nice. An instrument rather than a memory. I'm not sorry for having written it. I'm just agog at the passage of time.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:01 PM
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Persistent Tears

Even the memory of tears brings tears to my eyes. Even when I'm talking about a time of sadness, the sadness is upon me. Maybe it is a gift rather than a curse. I have not yet had cause to decide.

If I remember it at all, I will remember the January of 2004 as the gauntlet to which everything up until this point had challenged me. But there is very little reason for me to remember it. Very little happened. I just stopped at one point and took a deep, deep breath.

There are things on a list that I wish I could take back. I wish I could take all of it back in one fell swoop. Erase their ever having happened. Undo the sharing. Unmake the existence of it. When you give people things to remember you by, you never think how it will feel when you no longer wish to be remembered.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:33 AM
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Conversation Hearts

Alec Baldwin is my perennial sweetheart. I think he's tip-top. If you saw him on Letterman tonight, surely you will agree. If you don't agree, it's because you have a chip on your shoulder; you are broken and can't be fixed. I guess I can see how some people might not like him. And I can also accept that it's POSSIBLE that he's not actually so winning and wonderful in real life, but it's also possible that we live in a universe that is actually a mere figment created by the crazed fantasies of an atrophying boy in a coma. Lots of things are possible. Alec Baldwin has been a longstanding item on my list of men I would like to kidnap and keep tied up in a basement. My affection has a way of appearing to go dark at the edges, but I assure you that I have no malicious aspirations towards the many men I admire and clamber after. It's just more amusing than saying that I keep a scrapbook of their clippings. Anyway, I like him very much on many levels. And sometimes I wish he would be president.

So, I bought this year's "Love" stamps at the post office a few weeks ago. And they're little conversation hearts and they say, "I love you." And I wonder if this is more direct than the stamps that have previously just had the word "Love" on them with some accompanying lovey-dovey graphic. I actually think twice before affixing such a stamp to an envelope. Wondering if the person who receives my resume or my gas bill payment might get the wrong idea. Wondering if my application or my check might get placed in a "special" stack. I think it takes a unique kind of nothing to do to have time for so much neurotic obsession.

There are few people who look more uncomfortable in front of the camera than Sofia Coppola. I have great respect for her when she is behind the camera, though. I'm not expecting her to win an Oscar this year, but it's nice to know that she could.

It occurs to me that the confusion over the password at the walls of Moria was really more a problem of punctuation than of anything else. "Speak, friend, and enter." "Speak 'friend' and enter." What a difference a comma makes. Or a quotation mark, for that matter.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:19 AM
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2.13.2004

It's your lucky day.

My sleeping returned to its corrugated state this past week. I took it for granted when it had suddenly and surprisingly gone all smooth. But that's the nature of everything. It's the absence of something that calls attention to the former presence of it, and then you can only acknowledge by missing it and feeling down about not having treasured it more when you had it. I can't properly list the number of times this has been true in my life. Everywhere I have ever lived, I have wanted to leave. Wanted to be in the States. Wanted to be where they had Big Macs. And every time I've left, I've always wanted to go back. Like clockwork. Anyway, I'm sleeping in spurts again. And that has its drawbacks.

It is not lovely out today. This is an aberration in an otherwise lovely week.

posted by Mary Forrest at 8:10 AM
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Don't you just love me all to crazy?

I took Tom and Krissy to see Paul F. Tompkins at Largo tonight. He was recording stand-up for an upcoming CD, and he was in rare form. But then, he's always in rare form, so how rare can that be. If all goes to plan, I will be heard on this CD, choking on my amusement, yukking it up to his every line. To the point where you might think I'm a shill. I am in the sense that Paul F. Tompkins can do no wrong by me, but he's not actually paying me for my services. Quite the contrary. I pay to see him regularly. Like visiting your analyst. Only with great joy. Like visiting your most beloved prostitute friend.

I'm still saddened by the fact that Paul F. Tompkins and I are not the best of pals. But I'm not loony enough to do anything about it. Krissy suggested I flash him some boob. I demurred. I've been to enough of his performances at this point that if he isn't already dying to know who I am, it's probably because he isn't into Asian chicks. And I guess I can respect that. Listen for my laughter anyway. There is a good chance you will hear it. That's no basis for a restraining order, right? I am content to lurk. Innocently. Asianly. In an intentionally non-threatening manner. I have a crush and a giant set of very sharp knives, but these two facts are entirely unrelated. The crush stands alone. The knives are just for show. And for slicing soft tomatoes with ease.

Tom and I stayed up talking long after Krissy had gone to sleep and for some time after The Muppet Musicians of Bremen had played itself out. I suspect he will regret that, because he has to work in the morning. If only no one had to wake up in the morning. The night owl in me would rejoice for days. I've still got miles to go before I sleep. Miles and miles and a bit of bathtime.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:16 AM
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2.12.2004

Potential Orgasm

I went to Spaceland last night to see Seksu Roba, and see them I did. It was a fine set, though too brief for my taste. Any more of that pornographic multimedia backdrop they play, however, and questionable things might have gone on. So perhaps it's for the best. Lun*na Menoh is sexy like whipped cream in your mouth. I can't say more without sounding like a pervert.

Hollywood and Vine

The night before, I went to see Sting at the Pantages with my sister. Front row seats. It was a sit-down crowd, which I suppose I lamented, but when they started dancing, I was embarrassed by most of them. I don't lump myself in with that "adult contemporary" set. I loved the Police, and I adored Sting's solo work for the first few albums. I don't dislike what came after, but it was never as moving to me. Alienation by jazz, maybe. But these days -- and at these prices -- the crowds that come out for a Sting concert are shaking their elderly boob jobs and simultaneously checking their watches to make sure the sitter isn't kept up too late. It's sort of like watching your parents get down. You wish it would stop. But Sting himself was just grand. And Mary J. Blige walked right in front of us on her way out. She's very small. Apparently Christina Applegate and her husband gave my sister the once-over. But I don't blame them. She looked beautiful.



Out of Mind. Out of Sight.

I'm finally getting everything done, tax-wise, but that has been an ordeal. The volume of paper to sort through. Persistent computer hassles. Forlorn trips down a refuse-cluttered memory lane. It's a fine line between feeling triumphant and feeling relieved. But I am glad to be putting that part of things away. I even bought filing boxes that I can label and lid and stack conveniently in my garage.

I've had a lot of words swimming round in my brain. So much so that I have to step out of the bath just when I've settled in because I've got something I should write down or that I know I will forget, no matter how many times I repeat it to myself amongst the bubbles. But it hasn't really been materializing into much. I haven't liked much of what I've written here in a while. I think that I am not happy to just report on what I've been up to or to quote song lyrics. I want to be writing as part of some irresistible chemical reaction. I want it to be changing me, sentence by sentence. But I have never not been accused of expecting too much.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:42 PM
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2.10.2004

The Return of the Coffee Table Book

Well, that was a surprise of grand proportions. My friend Arthur took me to see The Return of the King at the Writer's Guild Theatre, and we were given a very pretty hardcover commemorative book from New Line, and then afterwards, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens all sat and talked to us for another half hour, forty-five minutes or so about the writing process and how these three films came to be. Treatsville, population me. Although, from listening to her explanation of the progeny of her involvement, Philippa Boyens is only a successful screenwriter today because she was a Tolkien fan and Fran and Peter knew a friend of hers and somehow added her to the crew. She was the most talkative one on the panel, and I kept wanting her to shut up. Her claim on her notoriety is somewhat less legitimate in my eyes all of a sudden. If I had been living in New Zealand, maybe I'd be going to the Oscars this year. I've read the books, haven't I? Is there no justice? Well, I suppose I never really believed there was justice, but it's more plainly missing just now.

I went because it was free. The rest was just icing. Maybe there is a modicum of justice after all.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:57 AM
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2.9.2004

His Worst Fear Realized



I always seem to turn on Crimes and Misdemeanors at the same part. It's a shame. Most of the parts I like come before the end.

This has been a frustrating day so far. But I'm not willing to give up on it. Surely there is some solace to be taken from persisting reality. For instance, I am curvy in many of the right places. Even my dad once said so. And once I got over the akwardness of the moment, I was flattered.

I'm also being taken to see The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King tonight. I'm looking forward to that. I saw it already, of course. And I had intended to take my dad to see it over the holidays, but his health prevented it. And I just haven't been down in San Diego much. Perhaps that will change. It has a way of doing so.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:52 PM
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2.8.2004

Fair Means Fair Save for When It Doesn't



There is a song by Enya (hear me out) called I Want Tomorrow. For some reason, I have been thinking about it. Just now. Maybe because it feels like what I'm feeling. What my brain is saying. In very simple terms. Maybe because I feel discontented in the now and am banking on what comes after. And I want to know how it all turns out. I would rather be looking back on a moment than looking forward to it. I would rather have it in my pocket than looming.

I am always discontented, but not in a dire way. I am always editing. And there is always room for it. If I had it all to do over, it might not turn out better, but imagine how fine the edges would become. I just see the different options in the same frame. Whatever is could be otherwise. And I know this. And I think about it. And it makes me regret having a bowl of cereal when I could have made a hamburger. And it makes me look out the window to see if the sun is still there. I expect it to be. But I know better than to count on it.


posted by Mary Forrest at 7:10 PM
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"I must be all these things..."

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:23 PM
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"Up to 4 Hours of Relaxing Flames"



I would have gone out into the day yesterday, but it was terribly windy out, and I had so much to catch up on, including my writing assignment, which seems to take over my Saturdays now. A product of a lifetime's development of that procrastination muscle. You know the one. It's behind a vein in the forehead.

Not wanting to focus on what needs to be finished usually launches me into all sorts of productivity. More profound ideas. More art. More tidying. Yesterday, I thought about Solaris, and I wondered if I am just that. The product of -- the reflection of -- what someone else thinks of me. Limited by the ideas that someone else has. Unable to exist beyond the perimeter of someone else's consciousness. And whose idea am I? Who dreams me today? It's such a sad idea. And yet I have my own garden of these creatures. Substantive and corporeal. But limited. They are only what I know of them. They are only when I think of them. In the absence of that, a form of stasis ensues. I have images burned into my brain. Pictures of how people once were. And they never age and they never deteriorate. They are always to me as they once were. As they first were. Now just curios. Things to be displayed. Unmoving. Unchanging. Inert.

Do not go gently into that good night. Whatever you do.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:06 PM
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2.7.2004

Jumpsuits Need Pockets



Went back to the LACMA campus today. Found a nice spot. There was a breeze.

Spent the evening with Bryn. Talked about movies and television and people that give us the creeps. Watched some U.F.O. Scratched the dog's ears. Laughed.

Wine makes me sleepy.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:24 AM
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2.6.2004

Apophenia



Yesterday, the La Brea Tarpits smelled like they do. And a man was playing the banjo while school children square danced. I read and drew and wrote letters and took photos and stayed in the outdoors until I smelled of them. I like the wind in my hair and on my skin. And in recent years, I have even begun to like the way it makes my skin and hair smell. This is a new development.

I'm off and out again. The sun is beautiful and I long to be kissed by it.


posted by Mary Forrest at 11:01 AM
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2.4.2004

"Baby, when I see you, I'm gonna love you all over the place."



Macy Gray opened for David Bowie tonight at the Wiltern. I had been looking forward to the David Bowie portion of the show for so long that I had stopped looking forward to it and begun to dread it. As happens when the tumult of anticipation becomes so exhausting that I can only quiet it with disdain. I have never really been a fan of Macy's. I don't hate her music, but it didn't rile me or bowl me over in any way, and I found her speaking self to be nearly intolerable, so somehow an opinion was formed with less than typical basis, and I let it go at that. But she put on such a great show. I was glad to be wearing my dancing pants. And one of her back-up singers was just a dish and a half of sex and swiveling hips. It made my hips go round just watching her.

"Baby, when I see you, I'm gonna kiss you all over your face."

"Is it any wonder I reject you first?"

The man who sold the world had that same world on a string tonight. So continues my long love affair with the Thin White Duke. I never dreamed I would see him singing only tens of feet from my scream-choked gullet. Nor that I might see him perform so many of the songs that made him legend in my brain and in my notebook. He's still a hot ticket. Still a confusingly beautiful and sexual creature. Still a fashionista, whose outerwear tonight occasionally looked as if he bought it at Anthropologie, where I regularly shop. I and other GIRLS. Confusing, see?

"My little china girl, you shouldn't mess with me. I'll ruin everything you are."

I can pretend David Bowie wrote China Girl for me, can't I? Why not? I've said, "Shhh," before. Anyway, it doesn't matter. What you believe has nothing to do with me and my version of the truth.

"Why can't we give love one more chance?"

There was a stunning rendition of Under Pressure, with Gail Ann Dorsey, his bald chick bass player, singing Freddie Mercury's part in uncanny simulacrum, and I mean that in the most admiring fashion, despite it being the least flattering word I could have chosen, I suppose. It wasn't Freddie, but it couldn't have been, so it's nice that it was so nearly him and that it was not in any way Vanilla Ice. And "simulacrum" is a cool word. So I may have forced it a bit. The way you do when the shoe you love only comes in a size seven and a half.

I also loved hearing this:

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour, drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don't think
You knew you were in this song
And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk


Good God, I can't believe how amazing his voice sounded. Granted, the Wiltern is nearly the best possible place to see live music in these parts, but he just sounded amazing. I remember admiring him so much a couple of years ago after seeing the first installment of Sound + Vision at the Museum of Television and Radio, and I saw him acutely for the musician and performer he was, not just the baffling sex object I had known him to be and the singer of so many great songs. A really great musician. An instrumentalist and songwriter. In addition to having that rare gift for self-promotion and stirring the froth of the masses. But I was still asking myself, "Do I think he's hot because he's a guy or do I think he's hot because he's a girl? And does it matter?" It was a pleasure to be so unsure.

In the aftermath at Pink's, the younger server smiled at me and said, "You've been here before, right?" I said, yes, and he said, "I remembered you because of your beautiful face." And that was a very nice thing to hear. When I was leaving, he said, "See you tomorrow!" Which wasn't so nice to hear. I mean, I haven't been there since last summer. He makes it sound as if I'm a regular there with polish dogs coming out of my pockets. Hang my picture up if you want to, but don't make the people in line think I'm a fatso. I might need their votes someday. This isn't true. I'm not running for anything. My friend Scott Wiener is though. If you're registered in the 13th Assembly District in San Francisco, you should vote for him. I can vouch for the fact that he is a good egg. A good egg with progressive ideas and an admirable record. And a rather slapdash web site put together for him by me.

So looking over this post, it occurs to me that David Bowie sang with John Lennon, and then he died. And he sang with Freddie Mercury, and then he died. And he sang with Bing Crosby, and then he died. I think the lesson here is don't sing with David Bowie. You might die. Did Gandhi ever sing with David Bowie? The fact that we're not sure only gives weight to my hypothesis.

Don't sing with him. But do listen to him. And often. Some of the songs on this new Reality album are quite wonderful. And see him live if you can. I don't like to buy into this whole once-in-a-lifetime-chance poppycock, but then, in a way, everything you do is just for that moment. It's all once in a lifetime. So even if you've seen David Bowie before, see him again, for this once. Your lifetime will be better for it. And you will have a better contextual basis for appreciating what I have written.

On the lesser topic of me, I have a combination of a bunch of pictures to post and a lazy, uninterested lack of desire to post them. This duel will shake out eventually, but the winner cannot be foretold. Not even by the elves, whose prescience was shoddy at best on the whole topic of the quest claiming Frodo's life and all. You will never see all of the pictures. And at times I wonder if I'm doing you any great favor by letting you see any of them. Until this matter has been basted with more time and distraction and something other than displeasure over the look on my face, enjoy these words. They are worth more than a thousand pictures, I assure you.

I am also at long last effecting my revival (read: rip-off) of Ray Johnson and the New York Correspondence School. I don't expect it to go anywhere or turn into anything, but friends of mine have already begun receiving letters and artwork and oddities by way of the mails. And if anything I send out is someday worth a bundle on account of my tragic death, I will only be too pleased. In the absence of that promise, I have just been enjoying writing by hand and putting stickers on envelopes and anticipating the surprise and delight of the acquaintances for whom I have mailing addresses. If you have a mailing address and would like to receive my "art" at it, you can send it to me. I don't promise you will get anything. But I don't guarantee you won't.

Also, I enjoy remembering Douglas Adams.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:49 AM
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2.3.2004

The Public Opines

I was listening to NPR on Sunday, on the way from my writing workshop to a party in Santa Monica, and a piece was being done about the inertia of American public opinion. How -- despite factual revelations to the contrary -- a staggering percentage of the polled still believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the World Trade Center attacks and assorted other lies propagated by the current administration, even after those lies have been rescinded by the liars who first spoke them. The point of the discussion was why it is that Americans hear a poltician say something and then can't seem to expunge it from their thinking, even after it has been contradicted or debunked by reputable sources in the news media. And this isn't the first time in history this thought-centered immobility has been extant. American support for our involvement in Vietnam took more than two years to wane, regardless of what was being reported. It wasn't until the Tet Offensive that the tide of public opinion turned. It's frightening and further highlights the onerous responsibility on the shoulders of those to whom fame and power have given an audible voice. Stop lying, you liars. People are believing you and it is making the world a shithole.

I had so many potentially astute and eloquent comments to make on this subject, but that was days ago, and I have lost the inspired tendrils. That happens to me all the time. More often recently than ever before. The muse whispers and I bat her away, opting instead for painting or reading or a bath or a drink. Anything but the cogent assembly of thoughts and ideas I am convinced no one really wants to hear.

Later that night, on Loveline, Adam scolded a young woman for liking a guy who was bad news saying, "The only thing that could make that guy worse is if he had crabs in his eyebrows." I laughed and laughed.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:53 PM
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1.30.2004

K-118: The Widowmaker

This past week I watched the documentary Shelter Dogs on HBO, and it was terribly upsetting. I expected to tear up a bit, but when they put this one little guy to sleep, I started crying in full. So so sad. In the background, my mother asked me and Beulah why we watch things that upset us so much. Sarah answered in our stead: "They like to torture themselves." I don't think that's true. But maybe it is.

Sarah, my dad, and I watched the Gatti-Branco fight that Sarah had taped. There were some impossibly amusing moments. Like when my father was demonstrating to us what a rabbit punch is like by punching himself in the back of the neck hard and then groaning. And then telling us to try it on our own necks. Which we did. Later, he suggested we show each other what it feels like when another fighter leans on you. I don't know why he was in such a tutorial mood, but it was funny and strange and I vowed that these scenes will appear in my movie. The one I'm always planning to make but not really.

I'm finally out of my storage place once and for all. My dad is a whiz with a rope. I sometimes forget he used to be a sailor. Nautical Sam with his pipe and his helm. I like that picture. I get seasick, but I'd sail to the ends of the earth with my daddy. Anyway, his knot-tying skills came in handy as we made our three ambitious trips to and from the storage unit with his truck. What a dusty, dirty, spider carcass-infested, doom-and-gloom imparting place that little room was. And how I managed to buy so many sewing patterns, I'll never know. But the desire to have much of that once-prized booty is gone from me. I just want to sell it or burn it or mysteriously lose it in a tornado or a game of cards. My muscles ache from the chore of moving all of it. I would prefer to be less burdened. Temporarily, my boxes will be kept in my parents' orchid house. And that's something. That my parents' new home has an orchid house. We're moving on up.

My life is like a warehouse for Pandora's boxes. And I'm always having to open them. You know. For quality purposes.

I pulled a 40-hour day this week, laboring all the while at things that made me feel small and powerless, fragile and shrapnel-pocked, as I watched the hours pass and realized that I would not be able to race ahead towards sleep before the next lap. Pushing yourself to the point of breaking has its merits, if only scientifically. It's such a misery, it almost makes you prideful.

I found a great many things that had been lost to me for a long time. Finding them was a curse. A reminder of other losses. A way of causing the value of them to appreciate. Markers of milestones in a foolish girl's journey. However far I have come, I don't seem to have managed to get anywhere.

My dad and I drank egg nog and he told me stories and it felt good to be his little girl again.

There, now. You're all caught up.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:53 PM
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1.29.2004

Of Valor

I faced some monsters. I don't suppose that makes me a hero. But sometimes the hero gets his mantle by just showing up on reckoning day and then being able to walk away from the fracas. In that case, I am a hero several times over. In recent days, I faced longstanding fears and harrowing responsibilities -- grown aged and stiff from the perpetual shirking -- and the voracious, dark maw of what might happen. And I lived to tell the tale. In the cold of winter, surviving is a prize.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:55 PM
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1.26.2004

Truth in Advertising

I saw a commercial for Barber Shop 2 a few minutes ago. Last year, Beulah made the observation that Cedric the Entertainer's name promises a bit much. Unless of course you're entertained by hats. Because he wears one. (Note: The hat part was mine.).

Anyway, I don't plan to see the movie.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:24 PM
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Coincidence? Hardly.

So Ricky Gervais and The Office made quite a splash at the Golden Globes tonight. I'm so pleased. I don't take any great interest in these award programs. It's more of a secret rooting thing I do. I hadn't even planned to watch them, but you live in this town and the award shows find you. That and a few glasses of wine and you barely notice your life draining away.

Random comments: Lisa Ling is an embarrassment. Nicole Kidman looked insane, as usual. Peter Jackson reminds me of Paddy from The Blue Lagoon. Better keep him away from the sea when he's drinking. Bill Murray is a class act and perhaps my favorite person in Hollywood. Jim Breuer is fat. He was not on the Golden Globes. I've just got Half Baked on the t.v. right now and I'm noticing his dumpy midsection.

Sweet dreams, Hollywood hopefuls. You've got another year to make someone like me care enough to criticize you.

Now, The English Patient has begun, and I can head for sleep with its beautiful score playing in my head, carrying me back to my big oval bathtub in San Diego, where I used to light candles that smelled of cantaloupe and wait for my favorite tracks to play. It was a big lonely house. I cloistered myself in my big bedroom, mostly. And I wrote poems with the room nearly dark and only a small lamp going. And if I slept in too late, the birds would wake me, and I would curse them.

Is it ever of any value to remember the places to which you can never return?

I have nothing at all that is unkind to say about Juliette Binoche.

These are from today and thereabouts.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:52 AM
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1.25.2004

The Cringes

In my writing workshop today, my teacher brought in a recording of an interview done with Ricky Gervais (the guy behind The Office) on NPR. Find a link to listen to it here. I love BBC programming and despise the inevitability of the successful properties being coopted into an American setting. That's the part that causes cringing in me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:20 PM
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1.22.2004

Dreams Can Come True

Beulah and I were listening to the music being piped in to Hurry Curry recently, and a Creed song began to play. We hate Scott Stapp. Hate him. Really. So, sarcastically, she said something about being glad that they were at least playing her favorite mix of music. Only moments later, Cher's "Song for the Lonely" began to play, and we looked at each other knowingly and laughed at how perfect the weaving of this tapestry of disappointment was. I said, "What would be a real answer to my prayers is if this turned out to be Creed COVERING Cher's 'Song for the Lonely.'" And we laughed. But only for a moment. After which I realized that if Scott Stapp were to sing a Cher song, it wouldn't sound very different at all. Isn't that something to file under scary-but-true?

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:46 PM
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Pearl of Great Price

My mother called me this morning to wish me a happy Chinese New Year. I missed the call but called her back in the late morning. She said she has a red bag for me. I was disappointed at how much I was happy to hear that. For those not in the know, "red bag" equals "cash." Chinese tradition. When money is scarce, my eyes grow wide and I am worried about what I will do next. I don't like it when I am greedy.

We talked for a little bit. She sounded full of life and bustle and huff, as usual. I have been so grey and low and flat recently that the contrast almost made me uncomfortable. Maybe I was afraid she would notice or say something about it.

She put my father on the phone. He is sounding (and apparently feeling) much better. I think he probably still needs some fattening up. It's a shame we aren't all having some embarrassingly grand Chinese banquet together. It being the year of the monkey, I asked my dad if they would be having monkey for dinner, and he laughed and said he hoped not. But the funny part about that is that it's not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that they would. That's what's unique about being Chinese. The absurd things people joke about eating are all somewhere on our menus. Maybe hidden in the back and maybe not written in English. But they're there. In stock and ready to be prepared for you in a delicious sauce.

They're in the middle of moving, my parents, and I can only imagine what a task that is. The only household I would want to move less than my own is theirs. My mom has had a good two decades more than I have to accumulate all of her material tonnage. I'm apparently just getting started. And in my current poverty, I have been shedding as much of what I've got as possible and acquiring nearly nothing new. I might just be on the brink of a major change. Whether or not an unrecognizable, ascetic version of Mary will emerge one day, I can't promise. But I'm going to have less boxes marked "Clothes I Never Wear" the next time I submit my change of address forms. That's certain.

So, they're moving, and I guess I happened to call while they were in the middle of sorting through closetloads of mysterious inventory. My father said into the phone at one point, "Oh, now she's putting on a wig. Why? I guess because it's there." In the background, I heard my mom say, "What? My hair is short now. I can wear it." That's my mom for you. Finds a wig and puts it on. What else are you supposed to do with it? That's also how I think of the moving process for myself. The last few moves have not really been joyous and exciting, so I haven't really found myself sifting through boxes and enjoying delightful trips down memory lane, donning silly hats (and wigs) while my loved ones look on affectionately. But I do remember when moving was like that. More of an "oh, look what I found" experience than an "oh, I had hoped to never see this again -- put this in the box marked 'painful nostalgia provokers'" sort of thing. We moved a lot when I was a child. And it was always an adventure. When the packers came and the house smelled of tape and cardboard and sweat and cigarettes. My sister and I would hide in huge boxes and not let on our disappointment that no one was looking for us. And I would look so much forward to the plane trips. The longer the better. I used to brag about how long the flights would be. When we were moving to Guam or the Philippines, you might have overheard me saying to my marginally-interested friends, "It's an EIGHTEEN HOUR plane trip!" And I was thrilled. I would always forget how prone I was to motion sickness, and I would just be dying to get on that plane. My own personal rocket ship. Hopefully going to the moon and points beyond. It's been a while since I've flown anywhere for any good reason. That overnighter to San Francisco last year. A quick trip to Boston two years ago. A flight to Las Vegas the year before that. I miss the old days when it was important to have good luggage. I miss the days when going somewhere was a joy. For some reason, everything seems like a chore to me right now. Everything. Maybe it's just because none of my journeys takes me far enough away. I do hope I will be able to scrape together the dough to visit Australia while I have a friend there. And if only that could include some much-longed-for time in Japan. Oh, I would be the happiest duck in all of duckdom.

I have begun rehearsing with my new band. And it's exciting and good for me. I feel so much more confident about my playing now. I jam and everything. And I can't help smiling when the song rocks.

I took some pictures late last night. Pre-bath. Nothing racy. Afterwards, I read for a long time in a steamy tub and then had no luck falling asleep. For the record.



posted by Mary Forrest at 3:14 PM
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1.20.2004

Bored?

There are new images posted to Diario di Lomo and Art Expo.

Also, my upstairs neighbors have anvils for feet. And they seem to have taken up the Riverdance.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:19 PM
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The Urge to Resist



I want to remind myself that there was a great deal of laughter in today. That there were things that I had to write down and moments when I could barely keep the car on the road because the mirth was upon us so. I want to remind myself that the ups and the downs are all in the mix. That I fought back tears on occasion, this weekend, but some of the time, the tears were brought on by merriment. And some of the time, the tears were brought on by sneezes. That not all tears are the kind that need to be hidden or hated.

I heard that Andrew won't date Asian girls because they're ugly when they cry. I hate to afford him the courtesy of agreement, but I suppose he's right. Tears have always been a blight on my face. I avoid them obstinately.

I'm told by one in a colder climate that it's not cold enough in my world for the wearing of gloves. But my hands are small and they do get so chilly. Allow me this one indulgence, please. It will keep me from shivering all the time.

I'm also up very late again. It's been weeks of a weird sort of insomnia. Not the usual fitful sleep that has become the hallmark of my late-night tab-keeping. Just no sleep at all. Until it's morning and it becomes impractical to remain aslumber. It's a great cheat. And I frown at it. Combined with the return (again) of my nagging eye-twitch, this serves to remind me that harm does not always arrive in the form of a club to the head. You can hurt yourself plenty by just giving in. You can suffer at your own hand, and it can be a very gradual and insidious thing. And then, there you are with ailing health and a short attention span and no appetite and an eyeball that you would like to punch right out, and no one even notices that anything is amiss. Because you are always this way. And the world is bored of the telling.

My tummy also hurts.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:14 AM
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1.19.2004

"I never said I was frightened of dying."



Smoke in the fireplace. Traces on the plaster. Dark sooty black on the arched ceilings of the little alcoves in the walls. Candles burning. Smoke everywhere.

It got cold all of a sudden. Even little droplets of rain found their way down. It got cold again is probably more accurate. It got cold again.

I wonder if I can be good at this.

Reflective surfaces get all smudgy. Smooth becomes sticky. Hot becomes cold becomes warm becomes cold again. I bought new red gloves while I was doing my holiday shopping. Sometimes they are nice to have around. It's good to be prepared when things take a chilly turn.

I'm refusing to be stymied by the little setbacks. But refusal is a state of mind. And it has this knack of taking on the color of a temper tantrum. I don't want to be pounding the ground with my fists. I don't want to be kicking and screaming. But I don't want to take it all lying down either. And I don't know what I'm talking about. My thoughts are choppy like sinister waves. I'm fixing to sink ships.

There are a number of things I almost did this week. A number of places I almost went. I'm sorry it didn't all make the desk calendar. I wanted to see Space Is the Place. I wanted to see seksu roba. I wanted to go to a number of parties and meet up with a number of friends. But the singular nature of my existence requires me to pick and choose. And it was hard to enjoy any of it. Too many things weighing on me at the moment. Too many stresses and fears and responsibilities and circumstances careening out of my control. Sometimes you just have to strap in and hope that you don't break anything vital on impact.

Last week's episode of Malcolm in the Middle had this exchange in it:

Malcolm: That's not what this is about. Ronnie's a lesbian.

Mom: Well, maybe she wouldn't be a lesbian if you tucked in your shirt once
in a while.

Malcolm: I'm just trying to help her. She doesn't deserve this. She went to
all the trouble to express something in a way that's actually good and now
she's being silenced by a bunch of stupid arbitrary people for stupid
arbitrary reasons, and I just think that's wrong.

Dad: Son, you don't want to come on that strong. That might be what turned
her gay in the first place.


It made me laugh out loud. And remember why I began liking the show in the first place. There is value in that. Remembering why you began liking something. It plays a hand in keeping you youthful and in touch with the many different versions of yourself that you have been. It's all well and good that we evolve and that our feelings change and our wants alter themselves, but it's a shame to let go of it all entirely. It's like making all of your footprints in disappearing ink.



If you can hear this whispering you are dying.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:12 AM
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1.16.2004

"I envy you. The world you're going to."

"I envy YOU. Taking these first steps into a new frontier."

I do still love Star Trek: First Contact. I do still have a magnet with its logo on my refrigerator. I do still remember looking so very much forward to seeing it. I do still remember what I wore the night I went. (It was something velvety. And there were boots involved.) The appearance of the Doctor still amuses me. The deflector dish scene still suspends and terrifies me. The music still moves me. And I still get goosebumps when Picard insists where the line must be drawn.

At the end, when Jean-Luc is saying goodbye, I note the dichotomy of the envies. She wishes she could skip all of the getting there and see the future and all its wonders. He wishes he could stay behind in the past and see how what is got that way. This is a contrast that presents itself in my life in many forms, including the movies. I keep stumbling onto it again and again. And I keep being reminded that to want a thing is dangerous. To wish for something is risky. And we nearly never want what we wanted once it's ours. You can't have it all. You can't have it both ways. And either way you get it, you probably won't like it. Predictable. Inexcusable. Unevolved. But true.

"I shall miss you, Lily."

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:11 PM
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1.15.2004

Accidents Will Happen

The word of the day arrived in my inbox a while ago. It was "serendipity." How fortunate. (Note: This is me attempting to be humorous.)

I don't know why I felt sad today. The sun was out and warm and brilliant. Crowds at the various shopping and theatregoing venues around town were ample and cheerful. I had a nice patio lunch and took a few photos. The shutter on my Lomo is a little sticky. Whiskey and 7-Up must have sloshed onto it during the Crystal Method affair. I will see to cleaning it with a meticulous Q-tip soon enough.

I was good. I returned some of my holiday shopping excesses and did not give in to the temptation to replace them with new frivolities. I was patient. I laughed when plans went awry. I shrugged off many burdens that might have leveled me on a different Wednesday. But still I felt sad. Still I felt the time slipping by. The meaning escaping me. The everything pressing on ahead of my grasping fingers. And I don't know why. Honestly. Sometimes I think it's the infrequent ghosts. The memories that visit me. The flashes that flicker in my peripheral vision. The times when I am afraid to turn my head. I just felt a sort of exhaustion. Barely willing to make a decision about what to eat because I didn't feel like eating. But I was ever so thirsty.

The dreams I had before I awakened this morning were numerous and strange. Too many stoves in the kitchen. Which one to keep. An extra apartment I had forgotten about. Seeing my dad driving in front of me and my sister on the highway on a motorcycle, then watching him veer sharply off the highway and seem to take a fall. We went after him, and he had indeed fallen, but he seemed angry with us for following him, and we were surprised to see my mom there, recording all the events with a video camera. He was wearing a red jacket. There were too many dishwashers, too. But none of the appliances were the same brand. And I couldn't be certain which of the stoves worked best. I'm not one to tell my dreams. I don't find them interesting, nor do I delude myself that others will. But I was in a loop this morning. Even in my dreams I dreamed I was waking in my room and looking at the clock and seeing that it was time to wake up. And then I would actually wake up and realize it wasn't that time at all and that it all been a dream. And then I would ACTUALLY wake up. For all I know, I am still dreaming even now. The morning had no meaning for me. No basis. I never got my land legs back.

Maybe that's why I have felt so caged in today. Maybe I'm just waiting to wake up and find that Wednesday is just beginning. Instead, I have already wandered into Thursday, and before I can get hold of that, it will be February. It's not the speed that unsettles me. It's the ease.

I always liked the name of Wednesday. Especially in French. It's the prettiest day of the week in French.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:06 AM
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1.14.2004

Dark on the Inside



It's noteworthy how much you can cram into an evening if you are willing to just step out and do it. I had a belated Ethiopian dinner that was also a belated birthday dinner with Paul, who is responsible for my first-ever Ethiopian meal, so double significance. It's a shame I had other obligations pressing on me. I'm sure Paul and I could have worn the night ragged with our sundry tales. Paul was also kind and thoughtful enough to divine a wish of mine from a blog entry, and he gave me that "all stressed out and no one to choke" t-shirt as a Christmas gift. Another day of me winning.

Then I met up with Josh and played some music at long last. We even recorded. And I was making stuff up on the spot and surprised to learn that I don't actually have to rely on notation if I don't let myself. I was often ashamed of having my music stand on stage when I was playing with my previous band. But we never got to the place where we were practicing often enough that it all became second nature. And in my defense, some of the parts I wrote for myself were not so simple or straightforward. Relying on the pencil markings I made on my homemade manuscript paper wasn't such a shameful thing. Anyway, I was glad to be making music again. I sometimes forget how much more alive it makes me feel. When I haven't been playing for a while, there are things in me that atrophy. And I don't approve of that.



I also went to an issue release party for Josh's magazine that was also the record release party for the Crystal Method's latest. I have seldom seen so many people who wanted so much to bust a move and weren't at a wedding. It was nice in a way. Although it was warmer tonight than one might have expected for a January eve. More anti-perspirant wouldn't have been out of the question for some on the dance floor. Jason Bentley was there. Lots of pretty people were there. And even some people I knew but hadn't expected to see. I wish I had been in more of a dancing mood. But the closest I came to dancing was being jostled on my way from one side of the room to the other. The drinks were expensive but strong. And expensive. My lips are whiskey-numb.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:14 AM
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1.13.2004

Bathtime Bubbles

I took a late, long, hot bath tonight. I'm still pink and clammy from it. Is it odd to emerge from a bath at 3 A.M.? I suppose it makes sense for me. My nights overlap most people's days.

I sort of lazily discovered today that -- if you knew where to look and had the right password -- you could see some rather revealing and possibly scandalous photos of me. Fortunately, you would have to know where to look, and you don't. I have no objections to the scandal of photography, even when it involves me, however I like to be in control of who sees what. I'm not worried. Except when it occurs to me that it's possible my eighth grade algebra teacher might have access. How can you ever know these things?

It was a bit of a maelstrom, today was. But I'm all right, I think. I miss certain aspects of how my days used to be. Elements that once owned and structured my time. The great expanses of time I am able to squander if I will are daunting in their vastness. Fortunately, I am not good at wasting time. Unless I'm accompanied in it. When I've got the day to myself, I am industrious and driven. But I have no way of giving myself a break or a pat on the back. I just keep going until there is somewhere else I have to be. I'm going to be interrupted in my industry a great deal in the near future. I have all sorts of a week ahead of me and am glad to be on my way to it. Sometimes, after many many martinis with olives in, it's nice to try the occasional lemon twist. Even an onion might make things interesting. Who can say.

Conan's wife gave birth to a baby girl. So, I guess he's OFFICIALLY off the market. Whatever. Congratulations, O'Brien family. I suppose. I will observe a brief period of mourning and then focus my attentions on someone equally unavailable. You know, if I ever did get to go out with one of my professed dreamboats, it would be the anticlimax of the century (albeit only a few years in). It would just plain murder my fantasy life if I found out that Hugh Grant had a crush on me. I'd still want to know, of course. I would just grieve the death of the dream.

Something I nearly forgot: I finally had a chance to watch my Criterion DVD of Sullivan's Travels, and I just have to say that it's wonderful. And I continue to be flattered that a judge at a speech and drama tournament I went to once compared me to Veronica Lake on account of the way my hair used to fall in front of one side of my face. At that tournament, I got caught with a number of my peers doing something we weren't supposed to. I think it had to do with curfew and boys in girls' quarters and possibly alcohol and even more possibly some form of card game where clothing was the currency. Anyway, the handful of us from my school who were caught were penalized by our faculty chaperone, and I was only able to take home second place instead of first in the humorous interpretation category or whichever one it was I would have won. It was a drag to later learn that our chaperone was the only one who penalized us in this fashion. The kids from the other schools who got caught were not penalized in points. Their chaperones seemed to actually want them to take home some awards. We were in a mountain resort in Japan, bunking in cabins and feeling all grown up. That was back when being away from home was always a magnificent adventure. I miss that feeling.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:49 AM
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1.12.2004

"Go, Eagles!"

A guilty admission: I am often reluctant to proclaim it when I am feeling good. Especially these days. Especially when I have become so accustomed to feeling sad and/or downtrodden. But I will risk it and say that I actually feel a far-off yet familiar tingle of pleasant optimism. I'm in a writing workshop that I am excited about. I posted some of my art and received kind encouragement from friendly voices. I had a nice conversation with my dad, who thanked me for the baccala I sent back with Sarah for his holiday eating goodness. I spoke kindly to both my sisters, as well. I painted a little. I noticed it was warm out. I found good parking. I got a wonderful, beautiful, loving letter from a dear, dear friend who made me feel such gratitude that my life has led me across so many brilliant and worthy paths, the intersections of which have occasionally created tangential rays of their own that were always worth following and often excellent in their own right.

I also drank some wine. Maybe that explains the tingling. And it's just like me to diminish the meaning of my feelings by making light. I'm not always comfortable with sincerity. And yet I do so appreciate it when it finds me.

It is probable that I will always carry a hint of the melancholy, even in my happiest interludes. I don't mind it. I often miss it when it wanes. But these past few weeks were more a paralysis of helpless sadness than any sort of melancholy mood. I wasn't just seeing clouds where there were none. I couldn't see a sky at all. And could find no reason for looking up to seek one out.

I am sorry that time passes as quickly as it does. But happy that it passes at all. Glad that I am there to see it as it goes by, waving as if on a parade float. I always feel slightly left behind at a parade. As if I am standing still while all that is glorious keeps moving. Once, I was in a parade. That was an entirely different feeling. Even though it happened on Guam.

And The Hudsucker Proxy is on television. Which means I win! I mean, when that little kid finds the hula hoop -- come on. It's magic! He's like some hoop-swinging savant. I also like that they almost named it the Shazamiter. Anyway, I win!

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:23 AM
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1.11.2004

For Those Among You Who Ceaselessly Pester Me for Something New

I have added a new page to the site. It's called Expo. It contains a few of the pages from my art journals that I like and whatever else I am able to squeeze onto my scanner. It will evolve as I soon discover that its current design allows for nearly no efficient or visually acceptable means of adding to what is currently offered. But that's how I learn -- from taxing you with my mistakes. Don't thank me. I wouldn't hear of it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:15 AM
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1.10.2004

Some love the smell of the sun in their noses.



I did this today. And some other things.

The picture above is a link. No sense in being sneaky about it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:13 PM
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Lagoon-Like

I don't want to keep being transported back to the feelings that were once wonderful. The memory of them is insidiously painful.

I don't want to be transported back to the feelings that were painful to begin with. Their painful potency is only exacerbated by time and the passing of it.

I don't want to be taken anywhere, at the moment. I think there is only immediate safety in right now. I can feel nothing. I can try anyway. It's the something that concerns me.

Now I've fallen in deep, slow silent sleep, it's killing me, I'm dying. To put a little sunshine in your life.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:10 AM
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1.9.2004

A Soul in Need of Chicken Soup

My dad lost ten pounds during his recent illness. I hear he is recovering, but I haven't heard from him directly. Beulah told me that my mom said he looks like a little old man. She said, "His head is so big." All of these things break my heart.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:06 PM
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Come back to me! Come back to me! and say my land is best!

Last year -- nearly a year ago -- while I was rereading The Lord of the Rings, I posted the song about the Entwives, because I liked it and was relieved to find that not all of the songs were a chore to wade through. I had the special edition DVD of The Two Towers playing in the background while I was working on my painting, and I heard Treebeard's breathy exhalations and inhalations of those words, and I liked it. Especially the flat way he says "best."

I wanted to stick that lyric into my writing today, but I knew that I had already included it somewhere, so I went back through my previous entries to see what I had said. I really hadn't said much about it. Just that it was romantic and that I liked it.

I also wrote this nearly a year ago:

I spent some time looking for lost things today. No luck. How is it that what is most precious to you ends up among the bits and pieces scattered to the winds whose trace -- once faint -- is now absent even from memory. I almost wish I could forget the things altogether. Forgetting where they are is one thing. But remembering THAT they are only leads to the despair of longing and an endless dance of turning up everything else I never meant to find.

And what's unusual is that I sort of remember writing it, but when I reread it, it was new. And I could appreciate the lyric for the lyric's sake. What I mean is, I could hear a melody in the words. The rhythm of them. And I thought, That's nice. If I correctly remember what I was so frantically looking for, I think I can also triumphantly announce that I eventually found it. Only it was many months later and long after I'd given up caring whether it still existed or not. I suppose that is always the way of things.

Groundhog Day was on the t.v. today. I love and hate that movie. I think it's great, and I adore Bill Murray, but it is also so effective in commuting his despair to me that I am prone to want to drop a toaster in my own bath before I make it to the happy end. It's such a simple story. But it has so many metaphoric truths in it, you have to ask yourself whether it is lifted from the pages of mythology or ancient literature. But I don't know why you have to ask yourself that. That's like saying that no one still living is capable of writing something with meaning. Just because things are old does not make them better. Even wine turns to vinegar if you leave it for long enough.

As I was trying to complete THIS post, I started looking at other journal entries of the past, and I guess I shouldn't have done that today. Not today. When I am vulnerable and soft. When I can catch my reflection and see that a smile would not be possible. Not today. All that I get from doing that today is a reminder that today is the fruition of all the many yesterdays, during which I made so many of the wrong choices and took so many of the wrong turns. Today is where you get when you did everything just like me. And that means it's all my fault. And that makes me angry but with no one to shake my fist at. Which reminds me a of a cute tee shirt I saw yesterday at Happy Six. It read: "all stressed out and no one to choke." I almost bought it. Anyway, I suppose that's what looking at the past gets you.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:50 PM
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"Stuffed whale? Wow!"

Put on your Sunday clothes, there's lots of world out there. Break out the brilliantine and dime cigars.
Beneath your bowler brim the world's a simple song. A lovely lilt that makes you tilt your nose.


I played in the orchestra for a production of Hello, Dolly! in the autumn of 1994. I was simultaneously cast in a production of Somerset Maugham's Rain, so on some of the show days, I only played the matinees in the orchestra, then I rushed across town -- sometimes stopping home to make a batch of homemade cookies or fried rice or some other treat to bring to the theater -- to costume and make up and act for a while. Our backstage area was largely outdoors, and we all used to sit around a table and play Skip Bo when we weren't on stage. When your cue came, someone else would sit down and take your hand. And when you exited, you could come and reclaim your place. It was all very civilized. And everyone loved me. And my fried rice.

I don't know how I found the energy, now that I think about it. I guess I do a great deal these days, too, but it never feels like it. And if I make a habit of writing down the obligations, I get overwhelmed just thinking about them. There was a time when I readily planned to be in two places at once. Nowadays, I often don't even plan to be in one.

I was retelling an anecdote from my youth this evening after dinner. When I was four or five years old, my sister and I were dropped off at a boy named Matthew's house to play and/or be looked after by Matthew's mom. We were out chasing each other around in the yard, and I slipped and fell, sort of in a sliding-into-home-base kind of motion, somehow managing to land in a pile of dog poo. It got all over the back of my pants, from the knee to the hip on the right leg. How embarrased I was. My mom came to pick us up in the big Chevrolet station wagon she used to drive in those days. The kind with the big bench seats. When she saw what I'd got into, she had me ride home standing up in the front seat, gripping the dashboard to make sure that I didn't accidentally sit my poo-covered pants down on the blue vinyl. It's easy to laugh about it now. Even though it might seem a travesty of driver's safety. But I guess we rarely wore our seatbelts back then anyway. I just remember that it was very difficult to not sit down. Inertia being a verifiable force of nature and all. And looking back, I wonder why my mom didn't just have me take the pants off. We were all girls in the car, after all. And after all, this was the same year of my life when my sister and I beat the summer Philadelphia heat by running through the sprinklers in just our underpants. I guess I assumed she made me stand up because she was mad at me. Anyway, that was one of the stories I told.

Hello, Dolly! is on the television at the moment. This movie gets a bit of a beating when people talk about it. Barbra Streisand was wrong for the part. Gene Kelly wasn't the finest director. All of that. But it does have Walter Matthau in it. And I do so love Walter Matthau. It also has lovely music and costumes with fancy hats. And it's in pretty Technicolor -- or something like it. I didn't watch in the credits, so I can't be sure. All the same, the music reminded me of that autumn when I was double-cast in two different cities. I was asked to read for Rain by a friend of mine who was cast in the play. They were having a hard time casting a part, and I was invited to come in on a Saturday afternoon. When I went to read, I wore a little white midriff-baring t-shirt and a short, flouncy little white skirt and probably tennis shoes. I used to get teased by one of the cast members who recalled that the ensemble left little to the imagination. But he didn't say it in a scolding way, and I didn't take insult. I do recall being in a white phase, at the time. A lot of white and cream and beige and very pale yellow in my wardrobe. I often painted with a very monochromatic brush, fashion-wise.

Side note: The big parade scene in Hello, Dolly is unbelievably boring.

That year was a renaissance in my performance life. I played in the Hello, Dolly! orchestra that season after having played in the orchestras for Guys and Dolls and Carousel earlier in the summer. And preceding all of that, I played Glinda in The Wizard of Oz. (I do a great Billie Burke, you skeptics.) I rememer being at a full cast rehearsal for that one when everyone was crowding around boombox radios to hear what was going on with a certain white Suburban being slowly chased on the L.A. freeways. My father was on those same freeways at the time. Driving to LAX to catch a flight back to Italy, where my family was living. I remember getting home that night to find a lovely note he had written me in his distinctive, fine handwriting. It was written on legal paper, and it made me well up with precious tears. Oh, and during one of the performances of Guys and Dolls, my hair caught fire in the orchestra pit, causing a horrible smell and great deal of anxiety for me. It's a long story, involving a stand partner and her citronella candle. Fortunately, it happened during the Manhole Dance, and the dry ice and smoke on stage hid my shame from all but the very first row of the audience. It was one of a number of bad things that had befallen me right around that time, and I was quite at the end of my rope when I called my mom in Italy to tell her what had happened. When I told her, she laughed. I did not laugh along with her. For the rest of that summer, when I went to the pit, I would find little ratty clumps of my burned hair lurking in the corners, near all the electrical cables, and I would stew over it.

Holy moly. What a flood of memories from the simple undamming effects of a few minutes of Hello, Dolly! It's a good thing they don't air these old classic musicals more often. I've played in so many of them, I'd probably be crippled by the time-consuming impulse to catalogue a great glut of reminiscences. What luck that there's no Rodgers and Hammerstein channel. I'd never get a thing done.

I finished a few art projects today. Larger formats than I'm used to, in some cases. A collage that started as a vague idea when I was looking through the paper offal I was planning to discard. Also, I returned to my art journal. I haven't painted anything in it for a while. I've been dabbling on other surfaces. It felt familiar. It seemed to appreciate my attention.

My pink satin pajama pants don't keep me very warm.

Anyway, the movie's on. And I will probably let it play while I fall asleep. I'm picky about what I fall asleep to. This film should be flattered.

I'm ready to move out in front. Life without life has no reason or rhyme left.

I post a lot of pictures, and I know there are people who won't believe it when I say this, but the more I look at my face, the more I hate it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:17 AM
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Long paragraph. Short paragraph.



     I believe that almost all of our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing. For this reason the sadness too passes: the new thing in us, the added thing, has entered into our heart, has gone into its inmost chamber and is not even there any more, -- is already in our blood. And we do not learnt what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing has happened, and yet we have changed, as a house changes in to which a guest has entered. We cannot say who has come, perhaps we shall never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens. And this is why it is so important to be lonely and attentive when one is sad: because the apparently uneventful and stark moment at which our future sets foot in us is so much closer to life than that other noisy and fortuitous point of time at which it happens to us as if from outside. The more still, more patient and more open we are when we are sad, so much the deeper and so much the more unswervingly does the new go into us, so much the better do we make it ours, so much the more will it be our destiny, and when on some later day it "happens" (that is, steps forth out of us to others), we shall feel in our inmost selves akin and near to it. And that is necessary. It is necessary -- and toward this our development will move gradually -- that nothing strange should befall us, but only that which has long belonged to us. We have already had to rethink so many of our concepts of motion, we will also gradually learn to realize that that which we call destiny goes forth from within people, not from without into them. Only because so many have not absorbed their destinies and transmuted them within themselves while they were living in them, have they not recognized what has gone forth out of them; it was so strange to them that, in their bewildered fright, they thought it must only just then have entered into them, for they swear never before to have found anything like it in themselves. As people were long mistaken about the motion of that which is to come. The future stands firm...but we move in infinite space.

     How should it not be difficult for us?


                                             Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:41 AM
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1.8.2004

"Wu-Tang is the CD that I travel with."

I had a party to get to tonight. My day has consisted of hours and hours of driving forth and driving back, changing clothes, changing my mind, changing clothes again, putting sparkly marshmallow-flavored powder all over my arms and shoulders and not being surprised that one or two partygoers asked to taste it, feeling debilitatingly hungry and then feeling debilitatingly full. No matter which way you slice it, there was just too much garlic.

Driving home, I was groggyish. And though I wished I had been able to have more to drink, I was also glad that I hadn't overdone it or I might have ended up in a smash-up. And music was a comfort. Songs that made me feel groovy, funky -- any of those words that one might not reach for in describing me. I have to credit Beulah with digging The Method Man long before I did. I in my little square world. But I'm onto it now. I like lots of things I didn't used to. And I've lost my taste for certain things I once loved. But I'm never rash about discarding such things. I have lived long enough and paid close enough attention all the while to know that much of it comes around again.

I recently read an interview with Orlando Bloom in Gentleman's Quarterly, and I was really charmed. Not just because he's such a super-duper pretty thing (and haven't you noticed that he could easily be Justin Timberlake?), but because he said all these wise things that made him seem kind and human and tempered. Maybe thinking you're going to die or that you won't ever walk again changes your outlook. I guess that's a worthy excuse. I know I've said this before, but I just don't like it when people are cavalier about saying things changed their lives. It just seems so weak that your life might be able to be altered by a book or a movie or a visit to Paris. Maybe I'm just saying that because I don't get that feeling very often, and my inner elitist believes that if I haven't experienced it, it can't be much. But I'm just prone to be skeptical when friends tell me that my life will be changed by going to this meeting. Or giving up sugar. Or striking the downward dog. My life feels too heavy to be changed on a whim. My life feels made of rocks and bolted down. Lest anyone should want to steal it as they pass through.

In any case, I can't really begrudge someone the life-altering experience of nearly dying. I don't know what it's like, but I do know that things that make us contemplate our mortality have more power than I would like them to.

But we made great time.

  

Don't go against the grain if you can't handle it.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:15 AM
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1.7.2004

The Tempest



I did not have a good day. I went and picked up seven rolls of Lomos, and that was fine. I scanned a sizeable stack in and will post soon enough. But there is something absent in it. I don't know what. I just feel it missing.

I finally got to speak to my father on the phone, but he sounded sort of disoriented and mushy, and I was sorry for having awakened him but glad to hear his voice.

Then the money issues with my mom tipped me over entirely. The stress of holiday overspending. There's no one to blame but me, but, still, just once it would be nice to not have my head lopped off every time I pick up the phone.

I couldn't get settled. Couldn't start the projects I wanted to. Couldn't bring myself to reach out to anyone. I just sat at my desk and scanned and wondered why I felt like crying.

Krissy arrived late in the evening, and we watched The Satanic Rites of Dracula, but it was really just too laughably unscary to be finished. Even though it pairs Grand Moff Tarkin and Christopher Lee on screen. I love those old Hammer Collection flicks and have a handful on laserdisc. But it's hard to share them with others. It's embarrassing.

Then we watched the Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" episode of X-Files, and that was that. I then spent the next four or five hours finishing my scanning and feeling lousy about everything. I just can't get the hang of feeling so dreadfully unhappy.

posted by Mary Forrest at 5:07 AM
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1.6.2004
I prefer movies where it's dark most of the time. In the movie world on screen. Where it's dark in most of the scenes. Where things have a blue shade to them. Or a brown one. Where sunlight is a surprise and a rare one. I prefer the comfort of a cinema that is not happier than I. Who needs that brand of gloating.
posted by Mary Forrest at 2:23 PM
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Bring on the Harpsichord and Euphonium

I just saw "Guest Appearance...David Tomlinson" flash across the screen. What a treat that would be. To have David Tomlinson make a guest appearance somewhere that you happened to be. Maybe he would sing Let's Go Fly a Kite! He's one of the first fellows who made moustaches make sense to me.

The guest appearance was being announced at the commencement of the classic Tom Jones, in which it is nearly impossible to believe what a strapping young bloke was one Albert Finney. And how scandalous and rompy this film must have seemed at the time. There is something particularly naughty about British versions of ribaldry. Like with Benny Hill. When American people make those mugging takes, it just seems backwoodsy and poverty-stricken. I was just reading a recent issue of Vanity Fair, and there was a lengthy article about Wallace Simpson and the abdication of Edward, the would-be king turned duke. What a tawdry and secretive life they led. She with her affairs, at times with gay men. He, rumored to be gay all along. And yet he gave up England to marry her and was exiled for the rest of his life from the country which would one day have knelt before him. Sickly and twisted, but romantic nonetheless. Even in exile, they were enviable. Leisurely globetrotters. Fashion cognoscenti. The smutty royals. And ever so thin. I am curious about the lives of others. Especially those who live on a plane I've not yet seen. I've always had a rich fantasy life. It's the actual day-to-day that's been on the disappointing side.

I bought large-ish canvases and boards today. And I completed several paintings. I sometimes wish I was forethinking enough to take pictures along the way. Inevitably I get to a place where I think I've ruined it and wish I could just see the canvas as it was when I was only a few strokes in. And then after a while, I grow accepting and can scarcely recall what the original strokes looked like or why I might have preferred them. In time, it seems, even ugly things grow weary of offending. You just get used to them is all.

I got some good news today. That's always better than a punch in the face.

glow worm

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:10 AM
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1.5.2004

Fading Out, Fading In



posted by Mary Forrest at 5:20 PM
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Heat Rises

I have really been catching myself in fits of anxious impatience lately. Drivers frustrate me more readily. Friends disappoint me more easily. Words carry sharper edges. For some reason, I am extra sensitive. And I don't know why. And I don't know how to protect myself. My candy coating seems to have melted away, and I fear I'm much more prone to losing my shape altogether.

I just want to relax. Think nice thoughts. Get a good night's sleep. Not care so much. I just want to be able to start something without knowing how it ends and that it will be disastrous. I'm still so busy with worrying about how I will be remembered when I'm dead. What I will be known for. And whether I will be pleased with it. I told my sister that I don't mind being cursed to a life of unhappiness and discontentment. As long as it leads somewhere. As long as I get something done along the way. I don't need to spend my days blowing bubbles and walking barefoot through sunny fields of lavender and whatever else is nice to walk near. As long as I've got something to show for it. There are many curses in this world. Creativity is only one of them.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:08 AM
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Tongue-tied and twisted just an earthbound misfit, I.



I never saw so much sky. Blue. Beaming down gold-tinged sunlight. It was cold but not brutal. I did not feel lovely enough to merit a slideshow, but I did not give up entirely on the possibility of prettiness.

There were a great many ugly things to contend with today. By dusk, I was sapped and found myself wondering if I might not benefit from a good cry. I didn't cry after all. I just listened to my old Pink Floyd records and worried about what comes next. Bela Lugosi got his dignity back in the end. That's something.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:32 AM
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1.4.2004

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking

I have no desire to be here today. Am a prisoner in today. My father is very sick, and I am not providing him with comfort. Just sitting still is a failure. Wasting time on wishes. Luxuriating in pauses where you forget to forgive. This is no time for holding grudges.

There is an ache in me today. A sleeping that does not want to wake. A numbness that does not want to feel. When I take time to measure, I deem it all a great waste.

For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:35 PM
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1.3.2004

"Truth is, I've always been thirsty."

I am a sucker for stories about magic and romance and redemption. I am not ashamed to hope for immortality. I cherish the spinning of outlandish yarns and the oral history of nostalgic fathers. I love the idea of perfect, incontrovertible love. I want so much to believe in the fairy tale that I am exhausted by it. Because it's difficult to believe in things that have come to seem silly. It puts you on your guard. You have to defend your naivete. And maybe sing that song from Man of La Mancha.

Seeing Big Fish today helped me keep the faith. I enjoyed it to the very edges of my iceberg. To the depths of my ocean. To the shores of my continent. I enjoyed it all the way to my fingertips. To my eyelashes. To my shoulderblades. I loved it. Even the crying parts.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:23 AM
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12.31.2003

Let the sunshine in.

When I lift my glass tonight, I hope that I will remember the words to the song. I hope that I will be more on the side of the beginning than the end. I hope that the word "new" will have weight and meaning. And I hope that your nose is also tickled by the bubbles in the wine.

I never got to tell my joke about Easter eggs that night, but I'm sure it would have gone over well.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:03 PM
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12.30.2003

Popularity Contest

So that picture of me with the great yellow head has already provoked a wealth of positive response from the audience of the ether. My friend Simon even sent me a photo collage of a scene from Red Dwarf with me as Holly. I was once superimposed into a spaceship cockpit with the caption, "Don't bother me. I'm on the ship." Apparently, there is the makings of a movement that wants to eject me into outer space. Which is fine by me. At least I'll get some peace and quiet.

posted by Mary Forrest at 10:43 AM
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Next-to-Lastly

Merriam-Webster's word of the day is penultimate. Of course, you and I know that it means the next to the last and not the extra-ultimate as some people seem to think. It is a great surprise to me how often this word is misused. I also thought it fitting -- as I'm sure the folks at the dictionary did -- to make mention of it on this, the penultimate day of 2003.

Speaking of which, I have been giving some thought to who the 2003 Meet Mary Forrest Person of the Year is, and I think, after great deliberation, I must declare that the first annual recipient of this meaningless award is...*drum roll*...VANITY. I'm accustomed to seeing it on the pages of the L.A. Weekly, but now even San Diego's Reader, the local free newspaper, has had its innards impregnated with ads for cosmetic surgeons and laser hair removal specialists and boob jobbers. And never before has the makeover been a more popular or powerful agent of change -- albeit strictly cosmetically. Whether it's Queer Eye or Extreme Makeover or Trading Spaces or your sister who only ever buys you make-up as gifts, it's plain as the arguably-in-need-of-alteration nose on my face that this has been the year of changing from without and never mind what's within. And maybe a little external refurbishment can have its internal effects, but I don't really believe any of those people whose homes got redone on television this year actually found themselves suddenly the havers of exquisite taste. You can give a hobo an Armani jacket, but he'll just be a hobo in an Armani jacket and therefore more prone to being arrested on suspicion of having murdered a sales executive and stolen his clothing; you're not doing that hobo any favors. Ironically, the Reader has gotten a makeover of its own. A nice glossy cover and newsprint inside pages that aren't nearly so filthy as in days of old. I'm assuming it can afford the new duds on account of all the fat being sucked out of the saddlebags of San Diego's beachbound beauties.

Anyhow, if you have ever misused the word penultimate, don't fret. Just get it right the next time and no one will be the wiser. Unless my little sister heard you do it, in which case you will never ever ever hear the end of it. Think of this as a public service.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:24 AM
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12.29.2003

"What do you fear, my lady?"

In 2001, my birthday fell on May the 14th, and May the 14th fell on a Monday, which means I had practice at the comedy theater. That night, we did an exercise, facilitated by one of our teammates, Dave George, who works for the famed (An)T(h)ony Robbins. Dave brought pieces of wood for us to break with our hands. On the wood, we were asked to write one of our fears. In pencil, with a modicum of mirth, I wrote "dying alone." And then I waited in my seat until it was my turn to get up on stage and give it a go. I was nervous -- sure I would fail. But I inhaled and pushed forward suddenly, and I busted that piece of wood right in half with my tiny little hand, much to my surprise. I have a Polaroid of the moment somewhere. I was wearing a pink sweater. Pink like ice cream.

I was born with jaundice. Like both my sisters, after I was born, I had to stay in the hospital for several lonely days, wriggling under a lamp until the yellow took its leave. Use your imagination and the following photo to picture this experience.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:59 PM
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Sunshine in the Shade

I've been so exhausted today. Nearly no sleep last night, as was my fear. And it's been a long and taxing stretch. The holidays have a way of pummeling me. Even when I'm loving them. I tried to do a great deal this week. I wasn't able to do it all. But I was able to do a great deal more than I would have expected. And that amounts to a heap of tired.

I performed at a bar mitzvah party today. It wasn't my best show, but the audience loved us, and the birthday boy and his family were delighted.

Al Franken guested on A Prairie Home Companion today. Double good.

An old friend I haven't seen in years and years happened to come to one of my shows this weekend. That's something I never sneer at. I also happened to have two great shows that night, so double double good.

I've been trying to post a few pictures, but Dreamweaver is in betrayal mode for some reason, and I'm giving up in frustration. Everything was working dandy fine yesterday. It irks me.

I forgot to take pictures of the green wall and red door I saw. I'm sorry for that. And I'm beginning to feel threadbare and weathered. I hope it isn't the start of something.

I meant for this to be more than bullets. But -- as is sometimes the case when my nagging eye twitch returns -- I'm at the bottom of the poetry well, and it's all dry down here. I'm climbing out and praying for rain.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:51 AM
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12.28.2003

Glorious Handel

"He Shall Feed His Flock" from The Messiah being sung in Latin by a tender-voiced soprano with a baroque chamber orchestra makes me cherish the cold times of the calendar. I sang this piece years ago, and feeling the easy vibrato of those vowels in my throat was like drinking magic.

Now, they're on to the Bach Air with a trumpet soloist. The theme in this piece is paid an homage in a violin duet that appears in the score of The English Patient. I used to listen to it when I lived in a big house all by myself. I would burn candles and have a bath and hear the harmonies winding so tightly they nearly choked each other, and I would feel this thing. It's hard to describe. Something almost being pulled from you. And you're holding on to it, not wanting to let go. So it stretches out from you, and there is a bit of pain. A tug. But the pain is so sweet you only want more of it.

If they play the Corelli Christmas Concerto, I might just melt away.

posted by Mary Forrest at 10:15 AM
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12.27.2003

Fair and Balanced

I love Conan O'Brien for not taking any crap from Bill O'Reilly on his show. May heaven bless him and his kin. He's so smart and quick. He can hold his own with a prodding blowhard without losing his cool or compromising the funny. I would have been gratified if he'd reached across his desk and stabbed Bill O'Reilly in the eye with a pen, but putting him in his place without letting it get grim was an even better choice. I worship at the shrine of his greatness. No matter the hour.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:15 AM
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A Life Before Doubt

Acknowledging an emotion can feel like having a house built right on top of you. Recognizing what things mean. Looking inside yourself as if you were one of those phones or watches where you can see all the wires and circuits inside. The intricacies of what actually goes on when you look just fine on the outside. It's a wonder and a mystery.

I enjoy making other people laugh. And there are certain people whose laughter has greater value to me. Whether it's because I never thought I would impress them. Or because I am impressed with them to begin with. There are attentions I crave and receiving them surprises me. It's nice, you know. You like someone and think he's cool and talented and then when he laughs at something you've said or looks delighted by a story you've told, it raises you up a little bit. Improves your posture. And you worry about looking too much forward to that response, as it may be fleeting. And then it keeps coming. And you think, Either I'm really great or that guy just likes me. Is either one of those selling you short? I don't know. I just know that I enjoy being surprised by certain things. Approval I wasn't seeking. Approval I might not have expected to get. Approval I have strived for at length and then finally acquired. That positive response is a currency with me. I don't cherish all applause. Some of it I don't even manage to hear. But the right pair of hands clapping at the right moment makes me relax just a little bit. It's a chance to say, There. That's what you wanted, isn't it? This is what it feels like to be good.

I also delight in cheering for those I like. I love it when a friend gets it right. I revel in the successes of those I care about. Maybe because I feel like we are on the same team, and it only gets better when we all do well. I can fall prey to envy and disillusionment as readily as the next lass, but more often than not, you will find me smiling and saying, I hope you win. There is a competitive spirit in me. But it's like a fuel, that. You can use it to propel yourself forward. Or you can allow it to go all incendiary and it will consume you. And you will expire like some NASCAR spectacle instead of taking photos at the end of the race in all those different hats the winners have to wear.

I wonder how many times I will miss out on the action by saying, No, no. You go first. But then I realize that saying it sometimes makes me happy and that means something.

You were no ordinary drain on her defenses. She was no ordinary girl. Oh, inverted world.
If every moment of our lives were cradled softly in the hands of some strange and gentle child, I'd not roll my eyes so.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:27 AM
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12.26.2003

Sin of Envy

Jennifer Connelly is a lucky duck. She is married to Paul Bettany. She is also beautiful and my choice for Diana Prince if they ever make a Wonder Woman movie, which I may have already published, as I have thought this for an age. Strange, because I didn't like her at the start of her career. Maybe it was those pants she wore in Labyrinth or the fact that all of my male friends couldn't stop talking about her boobs. I'm a grown-up now, and I have boobs of my own. But I am lacking Paul Bettany. That much can be written and believed.

When I watched Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, I may have been heard to say that I hope Paul Bettany gets an Oscar for his performance in it. He's good as good can be.

Louis Black said, when complaining about the fell weather, that maybe he should live somewhere nice like San Diego. But he said that when you live somewhere where it's nice all the time and you're depressed, it's your fault. I laughed because it's true.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:35 AM
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Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

When I was driving north past the car dealerships in Kearny Mesa in the wee hours of tonight, I noticed suddenly that they all have these giant American flags flying. Maybe it's because it was so all-over windy. They were all stretched out taut like sails. One or two of them had split between stripes. The beginnings of tatter. And they were all the exact same size. And -- as is the nature with things in the wind -- they were all blowing in the same direction and with the same ferocity. There was something majestic about it. Something sort of military but grand in the way that military things are grand. I don't know why it struck me at all, but it did. I told myself to remember and write it down later, and I'm pleased that I've managed not to fail. I wish I'd stopped to take a picture, but I can't imagine I would have been able to capture what I was actually seeing. The disheartening truth is that the camera lens does not see as big or as meaning-filled a world as I do.

What a lovely, long Christmas. Heaps of gifts to exchange and the perfect prime rib dinner. I was sorry that so many members of my family were ill and under the weather. I was also a little dismayed with the stormy outside that kept us in. Windy, misty, fiercely sprinklingness and trees flailing around like those creepy air-filled stalk men that flap at you when you pass car dealerships and upholstery showrooms. It's nice to sit in front of a fire when the wind wants to knock you over and the mist wants to mat you down. But after a time, it feels like a curse and a prison. It feels like staying in because there's no outside to go to. I never had snow days in school, but perhaps they were like this.

I was looking for something, and I happened upon a few posts from January of this year that I liked reading. They were far enough away as to be slightly unfamiliar. It felt like reading someone else. And as I sometimes tire of the sound of my own voice, this is a pleasant surprise. I feel the year pinching itself off at the end like a sausage. Finding things to remember in January makes some sense at a time like this.

There is a little tickle in my throat that may be the bequest of someone in my family. Many of my friends are also sick. I boasted today that I hoped to be the one person I know to not have taken ill in this rather hype-filled flu season. And then I washed some echinacea and golden seal down with the last of the merlot and crossed my fingers. I haven't been sick since January. It lasted into February. It began with a cough and a day of running that nearly collapsed my lungs and the fear that I had given myself asthma just from running on Olympic Boulevard at rush hour. And I remember noticing that a certain huskiness appeared in my laughter and never went away, even long after the coughing had subsided. I also once bought Beulah a t-shirt that says "Asthma is sexy," and I wonder if that isn't remarkably true. Of course, I don't actually have asthma, so if that were the rosetta stone of sex appeal, I suppose that would make a great deal of sense in my world of why not me.

On these lengthy pages, I've already once quoted my favorite line from the White Stripes song which is this entry's namesake, but I wonder if that matters. If every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me, then I suppose it bears repeating.

I do that a great deal. Write down a snatch of a song lyric without offering any contextual ornamentation. Sometimes words stick in my head or pop out at me and I want to save them or share them or wield them. They don't even have to mean anything. It may be a reminder of the value of a song. It might be a token of a moment that deserved a soundtrack. I just pluck them from the air and plant them here and watch to see if anything germinates.

Blue eyes, blue eyes, how can you tell so many lies?

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:03 AM
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12.24.2003

Savvy?

My mom doesn't know Johnny Depp's name. She calls him "Scissorhands." She thinks that Scissorhands was okay -- referring, it seems, to the movie of similar name -- but ever since then he hasn't been that good. She makes me laugh. She also seemed very frustrated at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean, which she barely watched, when Orlando Bloom steals the show, according to her. Why didn't Scissorhands get the girl? What a gyp, apparently.

I can't think of an unkind word to say about Johnny Depp.

While I usually welcome the rain -- hope for it, even -- I was sorry to see so much of it this week. It's less like Christmas when the gloom can be caught in a cup and saved for later. Soon, I will be on the other side of it -- these holidays. And I will be able to put a day to bed for the day's sake, silencing the sleigh bells and smashing the snowmen. December was a cold memory.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:37 PM
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Accidental Lateness

I am guaranteed to get no sleep tonight. Which means I will probably sleep through the entire A Christmas Story marathon. Nuts.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:59 AM
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12.23.2003

Et le voilà!

Delight in the product of my scanning labors, delight-lovers! The Lomo pages are proliferating like primary mammalian cells being cultured in a fancy incubator. Aseptic techniques in use!

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:47 PM
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Snap

It's funny. I didn't realize how close to Christmas I was until I went and doublechecked my last post and saw the "12.23.2003" staring back at me at the top of the page. I'm far behind in my holiday-themed accomplishments. It vexes me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:27 AM
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Table for Four or The Mocking Laughter of Intimate Friends

Such merriment was had at the Paul F. Tompkins Show tonight. Such fanciful merriment. Even though the food I got was not what I had wanted. Paul F. Tompkins spoke to me again during the show tonight. That sounds weird. He spoke to me. As if I was hearing the voice of god. What I mean is he had cause to address me in the audience again. Apparently because I was in his line of sight and had a candle lighting my face. Certainly it was the luck of the draw, but I blushed nonetheless.

The show ended in a sing-along of Auld Lang Syne, and I felt the impending urgency of calendar-based celebration pressing on me. I am seldom anywhere on New Year's Eve that allows for the singing of Auld Lang Syne. I felt a little like I was in a movie. One of those movies where the characters have some landmark breakthrough moment at a New Year's Eve party. Like When Harry Met Sally or About a Boy. Only Paul F. Tompkins and I were not really sharing a moment at all, and he appears to be wearing an engagement ring. So...

I got home in time to go out again. To go out into a quiet Los Angeles night where the streets were empty and parking spaces were as plentiful as flyers for lame rock shows. There is infinite room to be thankful for moments when your city is suddenly unfamiliar. It offers the hope of rediscovery.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:39 AM
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12.22.2003

Cribbing from James Joyce

I turned on the television at that part of Crimes and Misdemeanors where they're at the wedding reception at the end of the film and Cliff (Woody Allen) learns that Halley (Mia Farrow) ended up with Lester (Alan Alda) and says, "This is my worst fear realized," just before she gives him back the love letter he sent her while she was away. And he confesses that he plagiarized most of it from James Joyce. "You probably wondered why all the references to Dublin."

We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions. Moral choices. Some are on a grand scale. Most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are in fact the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, human happiness does not seem to have been included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love, that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying. And even to find joy from simple things. Like their family. Their work. And from the hope that future generations might understand more.

This movie means a great deal to me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:51 PM
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Earthquake!

Right now! Really. I'm getting dizzy from it. If I am crushed in an avalanche of CDs and books, please remember me as someone who tipped well and was kind to animals.

Epilogue

It was a 6.5 near San Simeon. And not the raucously annoying antics of my upstair neighbors as I momentarily suspected.

posted by Mary Forrest at 11:17 AM
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Sasquatch National Forest

Nearly every time I go to the Big Foot Lodge, there is some sort of holiday decor in place. I don't go very often, so this surprises me. Tonight, I went for Give Up Los Angeles, a night of gloomy music intended to cause you to reevaluate your reasons for not following through with your adolescent suicide fantasies. As themes go, this one agreed with me.

posted by Mary Forrest at 4:11 AM
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12.21.2003

Memory Box

It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

What are we holding on to, Sam?

There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.


I get hung up sometimes on how, when something goes wrong, there's no undoing it. I feel so defeated when what was once perfect becomes marred or even destroyed. Breaking things that do not mend. Losing things that can't be found. Taking paths that do not allow for retreat. It's the not going back that flummoxes me. Because of this very thing. The fear that what lies ahead can never be lovely when so much that lies in your wake is ugly and twisted and awful. And memories leave you with nothing to smile about. I think looking forward is a habit. A thing you learn from being delighted. Looking forward is what you do because you have spent your life knowing that what waits for you around the corner is something good. If you keep rounding corners only to be punched in the face by an old woman with a brick for a hand, perhaps the looking back becomes more appealing to you. And then looking forward just becomes that thing you do because your friends tell you that you must. And you cringe inside, because it sounds like faith. And faith seems brittle and naive. And you hate to have to admit that you may have lost yours. While everyone else parades theirs around so proudly. I envy people with something to believe in. And sometimes I pity them at the same time. It's difficult believing in anything when you spend so much time just waiting to be proven wrong. And succeeding at it.

But there might be some huge joy to be found in letting the pieces find their places. If you accept that joy can come and go. That the fact that it doesn't last forever doesn't diminish the value of having it for a time. Maybe that's the greedy part in me mucking things up. Not wanting anything good unless it can be sustained. Fearing the loss of it more than the absence of it. Because the loss begets regret begets sadness begets grieving. And grieving is something I tire of doing on a daily basis.

I hope I will one day be able to look at something beautiful without always being reminded how ugly most things are. It's the way I keep the scales in place, but these days, I'm longing to tip them.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:02 PM
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Art Projects

My friend Simon, who is cooler and more entertaining than nearly anyone else, made these for me yesterday from the picture that appears in my 12.19.2003 post. They make me want to be a cartoon character.





Also, his journal makes me want to spend a lot of money buying vintage photographic equipment and/or give up photography altogether.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:41 PM
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One Bad Thing

The worst part about always carrying two cameras is that you're always carrying two cameras. Which means you always have a bulgy handbag tugging at your wrist or shoulder, and you have that moment of panic every time you go to a rock show, wondering if you're going to be sent away because the lead singer doesn't want anyone to know he's a vampire.

The best part about it is that you don't have to kick yourself for not having a camera handy when something looks worth remembering. Last night, we saw a comical mullet-crowned fellow and -- though we talked about it -- didn't take a picture of him. When we got to the street, a big, vintage pick-up with the graphics of a pool care company on its doors, a pick-up bed full of pool-cleaning supplies, and a sweet doggie in the front seat was parked in front of my car, and the mullet fellow was standing a few feet further up the sidewalk, and we joked that it would be funny to get him to pose with the truck, since we had missed the photo opp earlier on. And then, his conversation ended, and he got into his truck, and he was the pool guy and we laughed and laughed, but we were already driving away and no pictures were taken. And in a way I think I would have felt ashamed to ask the guy to let me photograph just for amusement's sake. But I couldn't have found it more amusing unless he had driven off in an Oscar Meyer Wienermobile.

posted by Mary Forrest at 12:12 PM
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Journal Entry

I am fond of a night out. If there was less whiskey in my tummy, I might think of a more interesting way to say so. But I don't trust my typing. And it's a Lord of the Rings weekend on Starz. I've got footage to fall asleep to.






posted by Mary Forrest at 4:24 AM
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12.20.2003

Shopping Sickness



Oh, but there are so many things to buy. And as happens on the occasional Christmas, this holiday season my favorite gift recipient is me. From years of not really expecting anyone to get me the things I want most, I am in the habit of just getting the good stuff for myself. In truth, I do receive very nice, thoughtful gifts from the ones who know me best, but that has never stopped me from getting it all. Just in case.

Don't worry. I still buy lovely goodies for everyone else on my list. It's just not uncommon for me to get you something wonderful and cool and then -- realizing how wonderful and cool it is -- get one for me, too. That's no crime, is it?

It actually feels like a weekend to me for once. I'd forgotten that distinction for a while. I wish it had been sunny out today. I would have gloried in it.

I got lots done today but less than I wanted to. And now I have to get into night mode. Celebration awaits.

This is my new Friendster picture, by the way.

posted by Mary Forrest at 7:44 PM
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I smiled till my face hurt.

Sweet little holiday get-together at Zach's (does he spell it with an h or a k?), followed by Van Stone, Aspects of Physics, and Pinback at the El Rey. And then the longsuffering breakfast of the after-hours at Swingers.

Van Stone's front man is that guy Dave Sheridan, who played the mullet-headed, nunchaku-wielding convenience store loiterer in Ghost World. It's a novelty act, but the charisma alone has limitless appeal. How does that guy find time to stay so tan?

I have to admit, I didn't pay a great deal of attention to Aspects of Physics. Drinks were being spilled on the merch table, and I was distracted. But Pinback made me feel a swell of joy, even if it wasn't their most stirring set. I was stirred plenty. And glad to be.

Maybe today was a turning point. The first time in a long while I have felt beautiful and alive. The first time in ages that I have felt anything at all. I am catching myself looking forward. And shaking my head that it might have taken me so long to learn such a simple lesson. Even my mother knows the sinful trap of always looking back. Regret is a cancer. And it accomplishes nothing. What is past is written on paper. Tear the pages out and throw them in the dustbin. Then set the dustbin on fire and write something new. If it doesn't breathe and pulsate and need nurturing and appreciate the nurturing for nurturing's sake, it isn't worth living for. The only thing that matters is giving and what gives back.

I have party dresses picked out. Some of them I never thought I'd wear. It's something I don't mind being wrong about.

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:45 AM
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12.19.2003

I love a gal in uniform.

A meter maid did me a kindness today. Isn't that a wonder? I was coming out of the Giant Robot Store, and I realized I had forgotten to put money in the meter. Maybe because I usually go there on Sundays. Maybe because it was already dark out and it felt after six to me. But it was certainly my fault, and I rushed up to her and said, "I'm here! I'm here! Is it too late?" And she pitied and me and said, "Aw, honey, I hate to give you a ticket when you're right here." Apparently, she'd already sent all my information through, but she said she would see what she could do about canceling it. A ticket might still show up in the mail, but if it does, I will gladly pay it, knowing someone meant to be nice to me and bureaucracy be damned.

I had a wonderful, productive day. There's something surprisingly not-horrible about having to set your alarm and get up and be somewhere. I had forgotten that. One of these days, when I get myself a proper job again, I will try and remember that feeling and not long for the freedom to be nowhere at all.

And it was gorgeous out. Cool and clear. The sky a foamy blue. Brilliant, squinty sunlight without a spot of haze. I adore Los Angeles during these months. I mentioned how pretty it was when I was talking with my mom, and she taunted me in this fashion: "Whatever it is there, San Diego is better." Such certain smugness is nearly worthy of admiration. The way my mom gloats, you'd think she built that city. And if you ask her, she'll probably say she did.

I dropped off more film. The march toward Lomo domination continues. I will conquer the world with my red-soaked lens. Wait and see.

She called me "honey." I will remember that.

posted by Mary Forrest at 6:14 PM
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Three Thousand Words







This means I felt pretty today.


posted by Mary Forrest at 2:55 AM
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12.18.2003

The Deep Breath Before the Plunge



I never quite got my fingers around the neck of today like I would have wanted. If I had, I would have shaken some sense into it.

But I did get to see The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and I'm grateful for that. A strange thing happens for me with these movies. I am a devotee of the books, so I often have to try and curb my nitpickiness in order to try and enjoy the films in their own right. And, because my disappointment flared in the previous episodes only to later be assuaged in the special edition DVD releases, I tend to reserve absolute judgment altogether, lest I waste a great deal of vitriol on things that are destined to right themselves. It will take a year for me to be able to properly weigh what was wrought, and by then, I'll likely have forgotten a lot of what once hagrode me. The ire is temporary. And it seems to cauterize in its wake.

So, I watched and I wept (I do that a lot at the picture show -- dabbing at my eyes with the coarse corners of popcorn-soaked napkins and trying not to look a great fool) and I tried to remember the things that I know I would have wanted to remember. But as soon as a line would want to stick, it would occur to me that I'd already forgotten the last line that was supposed to be in the sticking place. Maybe I only have room in my head for one note at a time. Fortunately, in a matter of hours, the manic fanbase will have made a transcript of the movie available online, and I can go plumbing those depths at my leisure. See how easy it is to return a mountain to its molehill state?

To see a trilogy in annual succession in this way is also unique in that it spaces out your experiences and gives them these convenient markers. Each of these films came to me in the wintry times of my Los Angelism. The first year, I felt far from home. Alone in a new city. Cold and unsure of parking protocols. The second year, I knew my way to the theater, but there was the looming possibility that I would be leaving this city to go back to the one I previously called home. I couldn't let myself take root. And this year, here I am again. Or rather still. Still in the same zip code. Having just signed a new lease. Knowing I will be here for at least a little while longer. And yet I'm still in that waiting state. Not quite knowing how to pocket the holidays. Opening mail with a blank expression. Noticing when the sky is darker or lighter than usual but not going out into it very much. I live here, but I don't. In a way, I feel as if I don't live anywhere. Maybe because I sometimes feel that I don't live at all. That the light has gone out in me. Or the curtain has come down. Or the long-wearing mascara has called it a night. And then there are times when I thrill to each breath. Am dizzy with distraction and fervor and the way everything sort of flies past you like a fast-moving parade. Sometimes I look around and start to feel the room spinning, and I can't tell if I'm standing still. But all of it is fleeting. The drudgery and the delight. Inspiration. Deprecation. Despair. Demons. A kitchen that needs cleaning up. None of it lasts forever. None of it lasts for very long. You get through the worst things by knowing that they can be gotten through and that there is something on the other side worth seeing. Otherwise, no one would ever make it all the way to the Sistine Chapel. It's a long walk through many galleries -- many with prettily painted ceilings of their own. If you don't tell yourself there's something worth seeing up ahead, you might just sit right down in the middle of the place. And that would pose a nuisance. And you would miss out on lunch.

I suppose people who watched the original Star Wars trilogy may have similar spans marked for them, but the movies were released so much further apart that it would be hard to lay the spans down side by side and make anything of them. I never saw any of those films in the theater in their original releases. I was either too young or too living overseas or too the child of parents who don't take their kids to the cinema much. But when the special editions were released in 1997, I had the luxury of seeing them all on the big screen with only a month's wait separating them. It was good to get the whole scoop all at once. I had always felt a little left out. When dudes in my classes were carrying around Return of the Jedi lunchboxes, I didn't know what the word "Jedi" meant. The first time I saw Star Wars: A New Hope, it was airing on Guam network television on the one channel we got, and we taped it on our Betamax, commercial interruptions and all. And I watched it many times and noticed that my dad didn't seem to mind watching it with me. He used to get good and riled up during the final raid on the Death Star. He's a fan of action, my dad. For the record, I also did not see Grease until I was in my 20s. I think my sister and I assumed we weren't allowed to go to PG movies for a reason. When kids at school were singing about being born to hand jive, I assumed that was something dirty. And when the boys would sing that line from Greased Lightning, I had no idea what chicks creaming meant. I also had no idea that Greased Lightning was the name of a car. And that year my Halloween costume was made out of a paper bag. Just so you know.

Anyway, despite my nearly rabid dedication to the original texts, I really am so glad I got to see these movies. Glad that they were made. Glad I had the chance to have my love for the stories rekindled and reaffirmed. I realized at a young age that nothing shores up your convictions more than having to defend them. So even the things in the movies that jog my patience are good in that they force me to remember what I read and to tell myself what about it was important to me. Sparking debate is no kick in the teeth. I love to talk about this sort of thing. I could go on and on long into the night if I'm in willing company. Having those spots in my brain stimulated ranks in the height of pleasure.

And this third film did not disappoint me outright. Or raise my hackles to maddening levels. I did drop my jaw in a few places. I did occasionally peripherally peek at my companion to see if I was the only one bothered by this or that. I did laugh in places where laughing may not have been the desired response. And I did sigh in frustration once or twice, but in my defense, it was very late in the film and it could easily have sounded to others like yawning rather than the passive aggressive making of a scene. But so much of the movie touched me. So much that was missing from it or added to it prickled me. But I have reread the books recently enough that I can fill in many of the blanks internally and none of the meaning is lost. What a massive tool of metaphor is this tale. How many ways it can be applied to nearly anything that ever happens. I treasure the words. The ancientness of their cadence. I adore the universality. I embrace it and want to wrap it up in a giant squeeze of a hug. I want to draw it close. Because it is full of things that I feel and know and believe. In the end, Frodo asks, How do you go on when you realize there is no going back? And I got that feeling I get. That feeling I get when something is true. I think when things are true, they have a certain poetry to them. Effortlessly. When you find the way to say what is real, the words have a way of becoming a song. And songs have a way of sticking in your head.

I look for things every day -- in every moment of my life in every aspect of my experi