tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-31308772010-03-07T00:31:42.982-08:00MonoblogTranscript of the musings of the little voice inside Mary Forrest's head.Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.comBlogger1618125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-36317756471756442052010-03-07T00:31:00.000-08:002010-03-07T00:31:42.991-08:00<P><B>Definity</B><BR><br />Sometimes when I lay very still, I can't feel my arms or legs or any part of my body. I can't even feel my teeth. With my eyes closed, I'm floating in the vacuum of space, slightly surprised I'm able to breathe.<BR><br />Upon waking this morning, after seeing <I>Alice in Wonderland</I> the night before, I realized I had been dreaming in that theme. I was trembling and you held me, but I was tall and you were small, and there was no magic cake in sight.<BR><br />I also realized that there are birds that sound like rain. The dogs always sound like dogs, but the birds -- the birds can sing a variety of songs.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-3631775647175644205?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-32157948695200691482010-03-03T11:49:00.000-08:002010-03-03T11:57:08.476-08:00<p><b>The Disingenuousness of Polite Encouragement</B><br /><br />Last summer, my neighbor told me she would be gone for a week. She was going camping with her daughter. I said, "Oh, that sounds fun!" But I didn't mean it. Not truthfully. To be terribly honest, it doesn't sound like anything but the opposite of fun to me. But it's not my job to burst my neighbor's bubble. She doesn't need to know that I'm afraid of possums and raccoons. She doesn't care that I don't know what poison ivy looks like. She was probably only telling me so she could blame me if her place got robbed. And I was just being polite in the way that we are polite to each other in our fraudulent little society of liars. And if you think I'm wrong, please cite the last time you said, "You look AMAZING!" to someone and meant it.<br /><br />Maybe if a camping trip was planned by someone who really knows how to camp and is really good at it, I'd end up not loathing it. Maybe if the centerpiece of the camping trip was a two-night stay at a five star hotel.<br /><br />But if you left it to me to plan a camping trip, I would just come up with ways to make it feel like it wasn't a camping trip at all. Because I can't think of anything less appealing than being outside all the time and learning why everything is all wet in the morning and not knowing who has recently peed on the spot where you are now about to pitch a tent.<br /><br />I can make pancakes and steak on a Coleman stove. And I can remember to buy all the right booze. There is virtually no end to the number of travel size shampoo bottles I can offer you, and I buy only the most luxurious t.p. You want me as your supply officer. But you don't want me as your captain where camping is concerned. And you don't want me in your tent. Unless you like the delicate art of complaint. And let's face it, if you're inviting me somewhere, you probably do.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-3215794869520069148?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-15775167885449719342010-02-14T23:56:00.000-08:002010-02-15T01:03:38.477-08:00<p><b>Year of the Eye of the Tiger</B><br /><br />Today was my first visit to San Diego in 2010. A longer absence than usual. Truncated by the same reason as nearly always. In a recent email, my mother invited me to come to a Chinese New Year dinner with the family, and she adorably and somewhat passive-aggressively said: "We have not seen you for so long. Your dad and I like to have you here as long as we can. I hope we are also your Valentine. :)" This is the form of guilt I find most irresistible.<br /><br />Usually, Chinese New Year's most noteworthy impact on my life is a slight urge to go to the post office and buy year-of-the-whatever stamps. Back in 2004, I was on this mail art kick, which I unashamedly attribute to watching <i>How to Draw a Bunny</I> and getting all caught up in the genius of Ray Johnson. In addition to buying a photocopier and a lifetime's worth of art supplies, I bought far too many year of the monkey stamps as a means of supporting my plans to send random letters and little arty things I made to various people I knew. I did it for a while. Sent letters around the world and across the country. Sent a bunch to my sister. It never really kicked off a movement, as I might have hoped. I think the only person in the lot who sent me something in the mail was my friend Geoffrey, love that he is. In the end, I was left with a lot of extra stamps. And I seem to have misplaced the little address book I was keeping. So the mailing of stuff won't reinstate itself without at least a little bit of leg work.<br /><br />So this year, I don't really care that it's the year of the tiger especially, but I do care that it's something new. Time is linear, but the way we experience it is largely cyclical. And these occasional markers are as good an excuse as any to kick yourself in the pants and say, "Hey, how about doing things a little differently this time?" You don't get to unlive or undo. But you can certainly start over. As many times as you like, really. Maybe you can even get it perfect eventually. As long as part of what you change is the way you define perfect, and as long as you learn not to throw away too too much when you're doing your spring cleaning.<br /><br />I'm not drinking glasses of whole eggs for breakfast. That would just be taking things too far.<br /><br />Gong xi fa cai, people. Possibility is as much about what won't happen as it is about what will. But in either case, it all begins with the walnut shrimp.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-1577516788544971934?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-41942346737393361112010-02-07T01:38:00.000-08:002010-02-08T10:52:37.086-08:00<P><B>Towards the Memory of a Better Prom</B><br /><br />I did not have one of those longstanding boyfriend-girlfriend things in high school. A lot of people I knew did. And at the time, I probably envied them. But through the filter of my more experienced recollection, I look back on those scenes and assume that I wasn't feeling especially left out. Even though they were 15 maybe 16 years-old, my classmates in relationships became like old married couples. The girls became practical, dour. And they expected things. The boys had to think ahead to bring a second jacket, in case girlfriend required first jacket over the shoulders of her cheer sweater. The boys had to be careful not to talk to other girls. Not to look at other girls. The girls had to be careful not to tell their blabber-prone friend the details of their various dissatisfactions. I remember seeing them talking to each other at their lockers, these coupled up ones. It never looked fun. It often looked angst-ridden. And at the time -- as I was listening to The Smiths and The Cure and David Sylvian -- maybe it was the angst I envied. But I think about it now, and I have to wrinkle my nose. I had my crushes to depress over. But I didn't have this boyfriend-girlfriend thing. This "let's hold hands even though neither of us seems to like doing that" thing. This "I'll just wait in your car while you're at football practice" thing. At the time, having someone expect you to be waiting outside for them at the end of the day seemed like something I would have wanted. Looking back, though, I'm relieved I never narrowed the field in that way. (At least not until the absolutely very end of my senior year. And at that point, half the time we weren't in school anyway.) I compare it in my brain to going exploring and stopping at the first place you see that seems different and just staying there. You don't know you're just steps away from the unattended entrance of the world's coolest abandoned amusement park. You don't know that you could walk five minutes and see an original Van Gogh. You don't know there are restaurants that don't have microwaves in them. How could you know? You've settled in right here. In this little alcove that inadvertently provides shelter in the event of rain but doesn't appear to have been designed for that purpose.<br /><br />In some ways, I think growing up is just the act of revising your wants. All those things you thought you needed. All those things you knew you had to have. Looking back at them from years away almost demands the making of excuses. I don't know that many people who can talk about those tender, temerity-filled teenage years and say, "This is who/what I loved," without having to immediately offer, "Let me explain..." Life mostly ends up being the many ways you push yourself towards the things you convince yourself must happen. You rewrite the musts over and over. But the pushing itself is written in indelible ink.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-4194234673739336111?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-16934169106714262882010-01-23T16:10:00.000-08:002010-02-08T13:38:08.863-08:00<p><b>Keeping Things Whole</B><br /><br />A while back, I watched <i>Waking the Baby Mammoth</I>, in which paleontologists study the remains of the most perfectly preserved woolly mammoth ever found. And as I watched them take her apart, I realized that I hated watching them do it. It might be the same thing that makes it hard for me to cut up a book for a collage if the book is perfect or part of a set. I treasure the completeness and know that once you've started cutting, the wholeness can never be restored. "Whole" is an absolute. Once it is diminished, it is no longer. Once you've taken something away, "whole" requires an adverb.<br /><br />I've spent a lot of/too much time in my life thinking about the irretrievable messing up of a perfect thing. Things that go on your permanent record. Things you do that make it so you can never say "never have I ever" anymore. (Drink.) It's misplaced concern, I'll grant you. But it is a thing I think. Sometimes it works better for me when something brand new or perfect gets marred in some way very soon after it comes to me. It takes the pressure off. Next time I buy a new car, I should knick the bumper on something right away. That way I can loathe its imperfection but no longer feel a prisoner of my desperate desire to prevent it.<br /><br />Maybe second chances are folly. We like to pretend we can put things behind us or unfeel things we've felt. Maybe after a severe brain injury. But in the absence of that...I guess I don't know.<br /><br />I forget very little. And frankly it's only a strength when it's valuable to remember something. But in a way, it's like paying for storage month after month for a thing that you'll only take out once or twice ever again. Just to look at it. Never to use it. Never to put it to work earning back all that rent you paid. I would forget many things, if I could. I would put a lot of things out of my mind and never give them an opportunity to transport me anywhere. Especially not back to a place of insecurity or hurt. I'd like it to be more like in Dickens. Where, having been transported, you can just stand off to the side and watch yourself objectively and maybe not actually BE in the moment all over again. Where's the fun in that. Those ghosts never take you back to any places you want to go. Scrooge doesn't proudly survey his favorite orgasm in any of the versions I've seen. And I feel like I've seen all of them.<br /><br />The sun's back out. The sky is a solid crayon color of blue. Sometimes it feels like the world joins me in my desire to have something to look forward to.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-1693416910671426288?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-13713472485518812872010-01-13T15:38:00.000-08:002010-01-13T16:54:33.599-08:00<p><b>Inert(ia)</B><br /><br />I was looking back at the earliest of my <a href="http://www.maryforrest.com/monoblog" target="_blank">blog</a> entries. They go back to September of 2001, right before I got a new job and moved from San Diego to Los Angeles and told myself I was starting over, when really I was just starting.<br /><br />From my corner office on the 6th floor of the City National Bank building on Wilshire and Fairfax, I had a pretty enviable view of Century City in one direction and the Hollywood Hills in the other. And whenever I thought, "I should write something," I'd usually just have to look through the glass to find something to say. Homeless guy this. The clouds that. A doubledecker bus filled with Austin Powers lookalikes. It wrote itself. I guess having an office with a window that looks out on the rest of the office instead of a bustling, piss-soaked sidewalk is as viable an excuse as any to explain away the dearth of inspiration I have been feeling.<br /><br />I've had phases. Sometimes I would write about what I was doing and say nothing about how I felt. Then I would write about what I felt and say nothing about what I was doing. Maybe this is the phase where I'm doing nothing and feeling nothing and the obvious result is a reduced urgency to tip tap type it out. In the marketing and public relations world, there are various positions taken on what constitutes an announceable event. You don't want to overreport. You don't want to be one of those companies that issues a press release to say how much you love summer or to remind people that "lunch" is a fun word. But you also don't want to keep too quiet. Lest people forget you. Or assume you're working on something you're ashamed to talk about. It's hard to imagine what that could be in these modern times. Porn is utterly mainstream. Dropping out for a year to live on your disability settlement is like a generational rite of passage. Even prison has become commonplace and banal enough to not keep you from getting to second base with a lady if you meet her at a bar in Silverlake. It might even be a selling point. The shame of just not having anything interesting to say is on a separate scale. A more shameful scale. And a far less rebloggable one.<br /><br />These days, I have my best ideas on the treadmill or in a movie theater or while driving. And I command myself to remember and write them down. At which time I often find I'm lacking a pen. That can be as literal or as figurative as you like. It's true in both directions.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-1371347248551881287?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-43214685584885820372010-01-07T21:15:00.000-08:002010-01-07T21:15:48.970-08:00<P><b>It comes in waves.</b><BR><br />I saw three white balloons drifting up into the nighttime. Past the moon. In front of the stars. I don't know who let them go, but I felt sorry for their goodbye.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-4321468558488582037?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-52301592638562003722010-01-04T20:13:00.000-08:002010-01-04T20:13:50.693-08:00<P><B>She said "yes."</B><BR><br />I had a dream the other night, but enough nights ago that we can accurately say "the other year." I was in Culver City. I kept having the answers to geeky questions, and I kept not getting credit for it. And there was this pall of injustice and urgency hanging over it all. Everyone was getting something they wanted. I was just watching it happen. And despite my frustration and an overwhelming feeling of being left behind, I kept it all to myself and offered my congratulations. A bystander, making notes in a journal, saving the commentary for later, when -- after rigorous editing -- it might be palatable to judging eyes without revealing the subdermal layer of "it's not fair." <BR><br />Say what you will about Jung and Freud, but some dreams are so easy to interpret, you might as well have read their transcript in a fortune cookie. And if anyone ends up turning two-line dream synopses into a fortune cookie's insides, I expect a healthy share of the profits.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-5230159263856200372?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-55003508230019378402010-01-03T21:29:00.001-08:002010-01-07T20:32:30.563-08:00<b>Kisslock</b><br /><br />The moon came down to meet me. Like the inside of a cooked egg. The part of the yolk, both yellow and grey. You have to be careful not to overcook eggs, you know. But I won't decline a cooked egg, under any circumstances. I'm very forgiving that way.<br /><br />I looked at the moon the way I always look at the moon, when I see it. Expectantly. Hopefully. Once a great source of inspiration. It's so easy to write lyrical little turns of phrase about things that are persistently, prettily present. That's why thousands of years of writers have written about the moon. Many of them calling it "she." And why they write about stars and the sun and mountains that haven't yet come down. It's easy to treat them like gods. They're always there. But me? I wrinkle my nose at things that promise permanence. Even pens.<br /><br />But I keep seeing the moon from the same angle, from the same point of the compass, from the same street. With the same dog leash in hand. Passing the same neighbors. The ones who always seem to be frying onions. The ones who have everything but curtains covering their windows. The ones who turned that little shoebox of a house into such an adorable little opposite-of-an-eyesore.<br /><br />And now I look at the moon and it's all so very the same. A postulate. How I long to see something new. Even when I am looking at something that can't possibly be. It's all so very the same that I find I often don't even look anymore. I feel my poetic leanings crusting over, as if I'm one of those storybook work-a-days who tunes out the world and never realizes they're riding on a subway train made of gold. Oh, there's a fable to be written about me and my kind. Tin joints covered with that reddish, brittle coating that comes from the rain and the salt air and a terrific flood of weeping. <i>Oil can. Oil can.</i><br /><br />I lay my fingers across the keyboard, and there's this paralysis. Do I not know what to say? Do I not want to say what I'm thinking? Am I actually thinking anything? Maybe that's the primal arrogance of me. Believing I <i>should</i> have something to say, whether I seem to or not. And that was just the primal self-deprecation of me, in case you didn't notice. I'm very good at making sure no one thinks I really believe I'm worth listening to. Just in case.<br /><br />I may actually be making a formal sport of saying nothing in five hundred words or less.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-5500350823001937840?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-55904595202001664202009-12-18T10:47:00.000-08:002009-12-18T11:01:05.601-08:00<P><B>Snip</B><BR><br />I got a haircut a short while ago. I've got bangs and a blunt little bob. <BR><br /><center><img src="http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs117.snc3/16455_189594367742_522757742_3899900_570289_n.jpg"></center><BR><br />As any woman will tell you, bangs are a big commitment. And I've never actually had them in my adult life. I guess it could have gone either way, but I'm reasonably happy with the outcome. But I've noticed that -- while I do get many compliments from friends and even strangers on the cut -- the bangs might be a complication. It might be one of those situations where there's something so ugly you can't help commenting on it, and the only way to be polite is to say you love it. Like a terrible sweater or a startling elective surgical procedure. I get a lot of "I could NEVER wear that look, but it looks good on YOU." My little sister said, "My face would look like a garlic with those bangs, but you're working it." My mom congratulated me on finding a way to cover up that unfortunate little bump on my forehead. A guy last night said, "I love your hair." And a few seconds later added, "Unless it's a wig."<BR><br />Anyway, these aren't actually raves is my point. I'm fine with it. But I think it bears pointing out.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-5590459520200166420?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-33460486472058776152009-12-02T00:59:00.000-08:002009-12-02T01:02:15.866-08:00<p><b>A Belt of Stars</b><br /><br />The day never really began. It just lurched into a going state, and I went along.<br /><br />The cold sneaks up on you. Next thing you know, you're sitting in a t-shirt, shivering, and you don't even have the good sense to reach for a sweater. You can be comfortably eased into discomfort. Like boiling a frog. And once you're there, there is always the risk that apathy will guide you to your own lazy end. You just sit still and wait for it, and eventually it comes. It's the most effortless thing in the world.<br /><br />I began writing this entry almost a year ago. Jotted down a line from a song, because it meant something to me. Today it means something completely different, but it means something just the same. I take notes for a reason. Even if the reason doesn't reveal itself until you've long since given up. I tell myself I pay such close attention. I get lost in the details. And there is no honor in that.<br /><br /><i>You are my sweetest downfall</i>.</p><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-3346048647205877615?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-43034347392935306272009-11-29T12:57:00.000-08:002010-01-23T16:36:08.473-08:00<p><b>Thankspassing</b><br /><br />For the past few years, owing to the unromantic reality of a crotchety and spam-suspicious mail server, I've not been able to send out what had become my customary Thanksgiving email. Well, I COULD have, but I've generally waited until there was too little time to properly create a mailing list or to figure out a back-up network solution or to come up with something to say, for that matter.<br /><br />It gives the appearance of growing apart, but the appearance is unintended.<br /><br />I took my younger sister to New York for four or five days just before the holiday. We did many things I've always intended to do when visiting there but haven't managed to do so far. It gave the month a different flavor. And a different perfume. Beulah, unfortunately, does not cherish the scent of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. She did however immensely enjoy the shop windows at Lord &amp; Taylor. As did I. They were spectacular.<br /><br />I'm in a familiar place in an unfamiliar time. I've been here before, but it was a younger me. A different me. And all the things I worried over were only the things that mattered then. And the things I worry over now seem trite. Even as they are paramount. Even as I know one day they will be as useless an investment as any financial choice I've made so far. It seems I need to worry. Without vexation, I have no idea what to do with my hands.<br /><br />I'm sorry I missed the window, although I don't know that you should be. My Thanksgiving email would probably have been defiantly cheery and obsequiously glib. You didn't really miss anything. But I would have closed it with a slightly jarring moment of sincerity, I assume. I would have told you how thankful I am to share a bit of anything with you and that you have made my life richer in ways that only you could. If I had your correct email address.</p><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-4303434739293530627?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-85678329807189760622009-10-05T14:14:00.000-07:002009-10-05T14:14:28.689-07:00<P><B>Chasing a Spurious Starlight</B><BR><br />Everything is far too familiar. Perhaps if I remember less, I wouldn't greet every experience with a sense of wry knowing. I've put away the childish inclination to hope things turn out better this time. I just conveniently expect them to disappoint, and they reliably do. And someone out there reads that and thinks, "Maybe she's read <I>The Secret</I>." P.S. I haven't.<BR><br />This all sounds very cold. There is a plainspoken practicality in it. A less feeling take on a more feeling memory.<BR><br />I don't forget the lessons of history, but I seem doomed to repeat it just the same. It's a pattern. Irrevocable. It's in the script.<BR><br />This isn't a nostalgic interlude you can share with me. Even if you were there. Even if you are here. My throat is beginning to close around it. This cooling trend promises diminished resistance.<BR><br />Today reminds me of a different you. And a me that worried what you saw when you looked at me. The puffy eyes of an allergic fall. The desire for a sleek comfort that proved persistently elusive. The space is the same, but the time is different. Less light used to come through the windows. Mornings felt more private. More precious. For all my rearranging, I fish a black blouse out of a drawer and it smells like me. Like anything else I've worn. Even if the last time I wore it was seven years ago. There are certain kinds of chemistry you can't change.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-8567832980718976062?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-55309788637296970622009-09-29T17:01:00.000-07:002010-01-23T22:00:19.957-08:00<p><b>The Opposite of a Secret</B><br /><br />There was an old lady crossing the street in front of me on my way in to work today. She was wearing a crazy denim get-up, with crocheted pieces added to it. I'm assuming she made them herself. And a big floppy knit hat that looked like a modern re-envisioning of Whistler's mother's kerchief. And she was pumping one arm vigorously as she strode across the street. Her slouch implied a certain hippie <i>joie de vivre</i>. She had a water bottle holster slung over her shoulder and a big handbag syncopating bounces on her hip as she walked. I'm assuming she was headed to Pavilions. I'm assuming she had shopping to do. I'm assuming a lot of things.<br /><br />Over the weekend, my dad said to me, "You love living in Los Angeles, don't you." And I thought (and said), "Yes, actually." It's one of those things that people who live here get asked. And they have to make the decision whether or not to follow the answer up with a bunch of explanations. "I know there are a lot of shallow people, but..." "I know it's dirty in places, but..." "I know it's hard to feel like you're somebody, but..."<br /><br />I do love living in Los Angeles. Both in spite of and because of all its peculiarities. The only Los Angeleno instinct I continually strive to unlearn is assuming I can figure everything out in a glance. Summing people up is something I do, usually for the blithe amusement of my friends. But I'm also prone to look at a person -- say, an old lady crossing the street -- and think I could tell you everything about him or her with breathtaking accuracy. And, of course, like all such casual experts, I seldom ask how someone looking at me might similarly sum me up. I seldom even catch myself wondering it. Living in Los Angeles trains you to walk about knowing everyone is looking at you and ignoring you at the same time. When I enter a room, people turn and look right at me in a manner far more forward than you see happening anywhere else. Except maybe for Europe. They look at you and you can see them asking, "Is that someone?" And you just as quickly see them decide, "No. It isn't."<br /><br />I have never craved fame. At least not the sort that involved visual recognition. Ironically, I only crave the kind of fame advertised in the lyrics of the theme to the movie and television show and then movie again <i>Fame</I>. I would be content to have people remember my name. But to have them see me walk into a room and feel the need to tell someone or to feel the need to approach me for any reason, no thank you. I'm instead working on very slowly earning my reputation through excessive tipping on a server by server basis.<br /><br />You can live anywhere, and there are certain immutable parts of yourself that will persist. But it's just plain impossible to be so stubborn or so stalwart that you don't eventually let some of your surroundings seep in. You become a part of the place, and it becomes a part of you. It took me a number of years to actually realize that I live in Los Angeles. At first, I spent so much of my time back and forth to San Diego that it still felt like San Diego was my home. And if someone asked me where I live, I'd often accidentally say San Diego. But eventually, you've spent enough time in a place that you know how to get from here to there and you know where to get the best whatever it is, and you take that place in and it becomes yours. And you begin to belong to it as much as it begins to belong to you. And in the case of this city, you get the added benefit of very frequently getting to see it portrayed in film and television, if that matters at all to you.<br /><br />I'm not suggesting you should move here if you're not already in the neighborhood, by the way. It's hard enough finding a decent apartment. I don't need to fight over it with you. I'm sure you're very happy in whatever place you live, and I don't in any way feel the need to challenge you on it. Please enjoy the rising and setting of the sun as it appears in [Your City], [Your State], and with my compliments.<br /><br />I transcribed a poem a few years back. You can <a href="http://www.maryforrest.com/monoblog/2001/11/from-old-book-of-poetry-called-city.html" target="_blank">read it if you like</a>. The bit I am thinking of today is in the voice of the city, and it goes:<br /><br /><i>Bring me your muscle and spirit and brain --<br />Here to my glory-strewn, ruin-strewn plain!</I><br /><br />I don't always think of Los Angeles in an anthropomorphized fashion. But when I hear her voice, I don't try to drown it out. <i>Sure as the spring is the food of the sea</I>.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-5530978863729697062?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-23860667410697186932009-09-28T02:01:00.000-07:002009-11-16T16:18:16.782-08:00<P><B>Exploring the Savage Mind</B><BR><br />In my lack of desire to see if anything else was on, I sat through three re-airings of the same episode of <I>Mad Men</I>. It reminds me of the days when my parents' big old console record player would automatically kick back the needle at the end of a record and start playing it all over again. The intervals were shorter, and there was less of a sense of completeness, as you would only be listening to the same half of a thing again and again. I would usually leave a record playing when I was reading something with many pages or when I was trying to write something that mattered. When we lived in Guam, my father's big wooden desk -- the one where the writing surface folds up on a hinge to reveal a beautiful bas-relief of Japanese ladies carved in shiny, opalescent stones -- was set in his study, in front of a great window. Floor to ceiling as all the windows in that house were. This one looked out on the palm tree on our front lawn and the steep grassy slope at whose base our house sat. I would languish at that desk and gaze out that window without purpose for days on end. Particularly on those days during the summer when my older sister and my mother were traveling to the National Spelling Bee, and I was at home studying dictionaries in the hopes that the next year I would get to make the same trip. So I spent a lot of days in my dad's study, alone with the record player and the reel-to-reel. I mostly listened to showtunes (<I>Grease</I> and <I>Fiddler on the Roof</I> were the first records I ever bought), a collection of Jewish music called <i>Spirit of a People</I>, and a compilation of Telemann and Vivaldi called <I>The Splendor of Brass</I>.<BR><br />I remember the heft of that desk. If I'd tried to move the whole thing, it would have reminded me of my impotence. But the writing surface was on a hinge, so that big slab of wood could easily be lifted by me. The only thing I feared was fully closing it, because I always worried that I would catch my fingers when it shut. I don't know what kind of wood it was, but I think of cedar when I remember its smell. And I don't know why I refer to it in the past tense, as it's sitting in my parents' formal dining room at this very moment.<BR><br />I didn't learn every word in the dictionary during those summer days. And I didn't write anything important. And I didn't read as much as I could have. But I learned there were certain halves of albums that were my favorites, and I would play those with prejudice.<BR><br />And if you can look at an excerpt in place of the whole, you can see things worth cheering for without being burdened by the details. You can wish for less and thank for more. You can forgive and forget. You can grow nostalgic without inevitably falling into melancholy. And you can tell yourself it's better than looking at things more truthfully, because not all things must be examined truthfully and directly in order to be properly appreciated. In fact, looking at a solar eclipse without the aid of a camera-obscura will burn your retinas blind. And knowing everything about everything will hurt more than knowing nearly nothing about most things, because knowing carries with it the obligation of recognition and ignorance is more likely to make you popular.<BR><br />I strive for symmetry even when I don't prefer the look of it. I hate running out of shampoo when there's plenty of conditioner left. I like hot dogs to fit the bun. But I was able to ignore the symmetrical imperative when playing records in my dad's study. I was able to distract myself with the demands of all the words I wanted to learn and read and write and say and all the blank notebook pages I expected to fill.<BR><br />If I allow myself, I can identify which side of the <I>Mad Men</I> record I would rather play. But it would seem tawdry and for all the wrong reasons.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-2386066741069718693?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-59560064631917796452009-09-27T19:23:00.000-07:002009-09-27T19:31:43.927-07:00<P><B>Day for Night</B><BR><br />I feel as if there has been a void in the part of my brain that used to scramble to write down the little bits of inspiration that every day held. I've faulted <a href="http://twitter.com/maryforrest" target="_blank">micro-blogging</a> and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/thisismaryforrest" target="_blank">social networking</a> for that to some degree, and that seems reasonable. I distill my momentary impressions into brief little bursts and post them with such immediacy that the tangential expressions that used to come from writing down this or that never have a chance to flower. I've thrown a blanket over the creative halo.<BR><br />And there's also room for the gingerly admission that when certain categories in my life flourish, the writing withers. It's not necessarily because I'm so productive or such a failure or because I'm so happy or so sad. There's just a specific little mix that occurs from time to time -- often for months or years at a time -- that quiets my fingers. I've never been so courageous or so brash that I didn't always worry how things might appear. I am careful not to tread on toes or the feelings that figuratively reside in them. I am careful not to undermine relationships or professional affiliations or perceptions that might be important in the looking back. And that means that the more I work and the more people I know, the fewer things I am free to say. At least in the prison of my own sense of propriety.<BR><br />It taxes me. If only in my sense of having dropped the torch. What many fires might have been lit had I just worked on my upper arm strength a bit more. And how tired I grow of having to hide behind song lyrics.<BR><br />When I was a little girl, I loved being inside a tent or a fort or a box big enough for a human of my size. I am a middle child, and I never had much time to myself or space of my own. And there was something precious about an assigned seat or bunk bed. I'm sure I'd have lain contentedly within the confines of a chalk outline if it had been drawn just for me.<BR><br />There is a difference between reveling in a sweet secret and hiding from what has already been revealed. You can zip up the tent so no one will know you're in there. But that won't keep that family of raccoons from noisily helping themselves to the remainder of your Kettle Chips. They like that sort of thing. And what do you know about camping anyway. Come to think of it, this tent is air-conditioned and what a surprisingly beautiful shade of green marble surrounding the bath! Is that a Kohler tub? I knew it.<BR><br /><I>I'm tired of diamonds that turn out to be sand and emeralds that turn out to be glass.</I> There's a third part to that statement, but I didn't write it down before I'd managed to forget it.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-5956006463191779645?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-70745017055193363082009-07-29T23:18:00.000-07:002010-02-08T13:58:46.330-08:00<p><b>In-Flight Ramblings</B><br /><br />Trapped in the center seat of the center aisle with a non-working audio jack on a flight from New York to San Diego, this afternoon was as good a time as any to break the silence. So here it is.<br /><br />Comic-Con was a familiar yet unfamiliar revisitation of the places and (yes) pablum I make space for year over year. Rob and I even did an interview for ESPN late in the night of Comic-Con's final day. We both made numerous pithy observations about what makes Comic-Con quintessentially CON -- and what might conceivably be done to preserve and even revitalize what is in danger of being lost -- in an hour-and-a-half long phone conversation that yielded a threadbare clump of less-than-verbatim quotations in the final article, through no fault apparently of the reporter. But still. They didn't even use the photos of me in costume I spent an hour trying to send. Maybe that disappointment is precisely what Comic-Con yields for me today. For years, there was so little expectation associated with my annual trips to the San Diego Convention Center. But at some point -- perhaps when I began laying out serious coin to stay at the Marriott Marina and exerting considerable effort to rally the enthusiasm of my friends and family -- I began to feel this BURDEN. And if the experience was ever less than...well, I noted it. And for a few years now, it really has been. Even this year, it's hard not to glare accusingly at the marketing materials. I have literally adopted the position that if I am not actually ON a panel or the close friend of someone else on one, I don't even bother trying to get in. It's not that I'm uncommitted. It's that the whole business has become this clusterfuck of bad crowd management and an impossibly unsatisfactory user experience. Comic-Con needs to hire those Disney engineers that design and manage the line dynamics. Because for some reason, I resent that experience less. I get into line after having seen a full-disclosure estimate of the time it will take me to hop aboard a gondola, and there is an implicit understanding that this is an acceptable exchange of services. I'm willing to wait. But at Comic-Con, there is no estimate. No reasonable expectation of satisfaction. No promise of a repeat performance. No enchanting fantastical environment. No textured walls to run your hands over as you breeze past. No easter eggs.<br /><br />There's literally no incentive to wait. (Ironically, a similar indictment could be made of me and my blogging dereliction.)<br /><br />My favorite thing in the five days I was there was the dependable late night reunions in the lobby bar of the Marriott. Where we dissected our experiences and justified our disillusionment. Where we were well looked-after by a server named Cinnamon. Where we ordered our fill and always felt welcome. It was Steve Melching who astutely pointed out that the arrival of celebrities to the Comic-Con line-up was what seems to have ruined the whole thing. The people who queue up for these Hall H presentations aren't (to a one) excited to see the creators preview their offerings or to hear about the magic behind the mask. They're there hoping to catch a glimpse of Robert Pattinson. Full disclosure, I just typed "catch a clap of Robert Pattinson" at first. I don't know what that means. I'm just saying.<br /><br />And that's the seminal disconnect today. Comic-Con used to be the place where you would get to rub elbows a bit with your heroes and creative geniuses. And there was a noble appreciation of the actual creative arts. And a well-placed reverence for the men and women who write and draw and conceive the fantastical characters, environments, and scenarios that Hollywood has co-opted into the money-making machine of studio movie-making. Don't get me wrong. I'm so grateful that Warner Brothers exists. I'm so grateful that well-heeled, well-funded enterprises recognize and revere the value of science fiction, fantasy, and comic book superheroes. I'm so glad I can be transported to these worlds I have loved by purchasing a ticket to an Arclight screening. But at the same time, I wish there was some persistent recognition that the phenomenon of Comic-Con is more about the dedication of the fanbase than it is about the endorsement of the studios. And the teen girls that rally around an opportunity to see their heartthrob are all well and good. But they're missing the big picture. Those actors -- cute as they may be -- aren't, for the most part, responsible for the product they adore. It's writers and directors and musicians and visual effects people and the whole lot. Just seeing Gerard Butler last year at the RocknRolla panel brought that succinctly home. Gerard Butler was above it. An ACTOR looking out on a sea of weirdos. This wasn't an audience in whose bosom he wanted to find himself. Ever. This was, instead, a freaky, funky (in the olfactory sense), socially inept army who came across frightening if only for their numbers and like-mindedness. These were people he was clearly afraid would love him to death. He needn't fear me in that respect. I can assure you.<br /><br />But he was wrong. Because, in my experience, the true Comic-Con faithful are the most respectful, most self-effacing, most personal space-respecting sort. They might come up and thank you for the entertainment you have provided. They might ask you to allow them to take a picture. They might blush. But these are not the paparazzi. And they won't ask you to sign the interior wall of their uteruses with a Sharpie they will happily provide. And they won't assume that once you lock eyes with them, the whole of the future will reorient itself to adjust to their personal fantasy, heretofore only ever lived out in the company of a lip-print-laden glossy poster hanging above their bed, coincidentally fashioned in the likeness of the Starship Enterprise. The NCC-1701A, since you asked. And if anyone in the world is more anxious to preserve the sanctity of fandom, it's the attendee badgeholders at Comic-Con. Who spend thousands of dollars to attend. Who endure thankless, sweaty discomfort wearing their various helmets and wings and body armor. It's those die-hard devotees who recognize the divide between the fan and the fawned-upon more than anyone. These are fans who aren't hoping that a short skirt or a willing twinkle in their eye will give them a pre-shame glimpse of the color of a celebrity's pants-lining. They're not hoping to be noticed or to be befriended. They're not expecting their lives to be changed. They're purely there to appreciate. And as their ranks have been infiltrated by the scoop-hungry bloggers and the scout-minded studio execs and the panty-less skanks, it seems the landscape has been blurred. Like one of Bert's sidewalk paintings in Mary Poppins after the rains came.<br /><br />My iPod playlist of choice at the moment is a collection of film music based on a mixtape I once made. I've now gotten to the opening titles of <i>The Reivers</I>. It's a John Williams composition, and it's brilliant and uplifting. The first time I remember hearing it, it was John Williams conducting the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl with Ossie Davis narrating. And I made a note to myself to go buy that soundtrack. And I did it. And I can tell you that, as huge a fan as I am of John Williams, if I were to see him on the street, the chances that I would even disturb him are slight. Beyond that, the chances that I would hope to attract him or fantasize about a night in the future when we might share an intimate dinner (maybe Italian?) are basically nil. That isn't the kind of fantasy I entertain. There's no sexual urgency in my worship. If I love your work, I love your work. And I maintain the steadfast expectation that I might not necessarily like you so much. You don't have to be cute. You don't even have to be clean. Your work stands alone. This is the mindset of so many of the Comic-Con faithful, I find. And whether that comes from having grown up as ugly outcasts, I don't know. And I'm not setting myself apart in that comment, in case it was unclear. My fantasies generally never extend beyond hoping to strike up a stimulating e-mail penpalship with those I admire. And even that I treat as a pipe dream. On occasion, I have found myself in that state of benign disbelief that I am now friends with someone I once placed in an untouchable personal pantheon of genius. And that's definitely a dream. But that doesn't mean I've ever found myself being an out-and-out weirdo. Nor would I. Even if I was meeting Marc Shaiman.<br /><br />So, Comic-Con this year was fun on many levels. Disappointing on many others. I learned that the thrill of being on the list for this party or that is misplaced. I don't care about the parties. Unless I'm going to run into my friends. And I could just as easily arrange to run into them at a convenient, comfortable place of our choosing. No amount of open bar is worth the harangue of skeevy people and their skeevier expectations and being made to feel that the actors of Stargate are more deserving of the edge of the concrete planter I've been sitting on than I am. <br /><br />I was having a cigarette outside the hotel with Danforth, and we were talking about the lack of impetus to try and evangelize people about Star Trek. And a lanky long-haired young man in a cape came up and said, "I overheard you talking about Star Trek. Mind if I join in?" That, coupled with the moment on the elevator when a fox-headed Jedi subtly effected the Jedi mind trick before the opening elevator doors, represents the very essence of Comic-Con to me. A welcoming of the often unwelcome. A committed performance of dedicated fantasy. An assumption that the people in the elevator will get it when you say, "Hey. That Jedi just did this [pantomime Jedi mind trick] when the elevator doors opened." And they will. And they did.<br /><br />I'm disappointed I didn't see or do more. As evidenced by my one panel reference above being from last year. The convention hall actually seemed less crowded for most of the show. The exception being Sunday, which also happened to be the day I was dressed in my <a href="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3546/3796761296_2391ef9745.jpg" target="_blank">U.F.O. Moonbase Operative costume</a>. I managed to move about on the floor with very little panic for the most part. But I didn't even bother to plan to go to the panels I would have wanted to see. I went to see a couple of panels Rob was either moderating or participating in. And I attended the panel on which I was an actual panelist. But that's what allowed me to breeze in after everyone else was seated. And I have a faint recollection of Comic-Cons past when I could do that -- panelist or no -- at nearly every panel on the events schedule. I doubt that even relocating the Con to Los Angeles or Anaheim or Las Vegas will make that possible. All that will do is make the becostumed attendees that much funkier (again, we're talking about smell here). And wait till a couple of Bladerunner Replicants get mugged in Downtown Los Angeles. The end of the innocence has long since been marked. If the future of the comic arts is as bleak as the future of the biggest, most wonderful celebration of them, I can only hope the <i>Y: The Last Man</I> movie comes out before it all goes to shit.<br /><br />I don't know if I'll ever be married. But if I'm ever on the receiving end of a wedding dance, I hope it will be <i>Let Me Roll It</I> by Paul McCartney.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-7074501705519336308?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-13259062662262303502008-12-22T16:22:00.002-08:002008-12-22T16:50:45.641-08:00<P><B>Now in Vienna there's ten pretty women</B><BR><br />It's cold, and the streets are wet. My winter coat had barely been worn, and it already looks like the weather has had its way with it. Few things manage to remain new. Even things that are black. Maybe especially such things.<BR><br /><B>Oh I want you, I want you, I want you on a chair with a dead magazine</B><BR><br />I had plans of pressing down with greater force in these waning days at the year's end. These are always days I fill with examination and plans. Mostly with little outcome. When the mornings smell of recent fireplaces, and there is never a perfect temperature. If my hands aren't cold, the rest of me is too warm. If the rest of me is cold, my hands are useless. Every hour feels like something I've set free. And as soon as it's gone, I regret the release and weigh it all as waste. This is an apathetic passage in an otherwise apathetic season.<BR><br /><B>There's a concert hall in Vienna where your mouth had a thousand reviews</B><BR><br />I don't go looking for memories so much as I go feeling around in the dark, hoping I won't happen upon something sharp. And I keep everything in such disarray that it's a wonder I manage to stumble on things that are relevant. And yet I do. My fingers are nearly blue, barely visible at the ends of my coat sleeves. It's much safer to listen to songs in French. I both love and loathe the smell of artificial heat.<BR><br /><B>The hyacinth wild on my shoulder, my mouth on the dew of your thighs</B><BR><br />There's so seldom time to reminisce about all the out-of-doors kisses and projects with no purpose and moments of irresistible inspiration. Nor time to act on reminiscences and the inspiration you find in them. I can go back to those places again and again. But they've changed. And I've changed. And I can't just put those clothes back on and have it be the same. I can't even wear my hair that way. I've long since discarded those tresses. I long ago decided there was no beauty there. <BR><br /><B>And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook, with the photographs there, and the moss</B><BR><br />I was telling the story of how I slipped in my socks and fell down the stairs in our house in Japan and how the rest of the family heard me thudding, step after step, and laughed as soon as the falling stopped. They always had greater faith in my resilience than I did. But I managed to stand up and walk again, grudgingly proving them right. If I'd remained at the foot of the stairs, paralyzed forever, they'd eventually have come running to comfort me. Once the blame had been carefully placed.<BR><br /><B>And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty, my cheap violin and my cross</B><BR><br />I prefer it to be cold and sunny if I have to be outside. I've never been to Vienna. But I've listened to Leonard Cohen. A pretty song with a real violin and a synthesized trumpet. It isn't Vienna that I go to when I hear it. But it's a place where you can order schnitzel.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-1325906266226230350?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-53161074861295867212008-12-16T21:38:00.000-08:002008-12-16T21:55:57.934-08:00<P><B>Collectibles</B><BR><br />When I hear dates, I put myself in them. Meaningless markers that are part of the legitimacy of a television script. There is no radius that reaches out to me. But when I hear, "December 2, 2004," I go back to that date in my brain. There is a vague haze of what was going on at that time. If I look it up in the blog archives, I can see that I wrote something about SpongeBob watches at Burger King. (I did end up getting two of them.) But it's nothing so specific. It's just a color code. A flavor of marshmallow that envelops the era. It's a circa.<BR><br />Time and distance refract all of it, reducing it to the most obvious details. This is what I was wearing. This is what my hair looked like. This is what I wore. This is where I lived. This is what I did for a living. And in the vicinity of these larger points are the more hovery details. A broad brush that paints those eras in one opaque tint. I remember measuring things in moments. And every wall was painted a different color. I remember time seeming both immovable and uncatchable. But now it's all just a field of green. Or blue. Or pink. Or angry, suffocating red.<BR><br />I hear a date on a TV show, and I react as if the universe is trying to send me a message. The universe is opening a time capsule for me. And I can't help but wish I'd put more things in it. I can't help but wish there were more details and less marshmallow.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-5316107486129586721?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-47939963177420993772008-11-03T22:08:00.000-08:002008-11-03T22:19:36.604-08:00<P><B>A further criticism</B><BR><br />What is it with all of these erectile dysfunction medication commercials using swing dancing as a metaphor for fucking? Guy gets urge, makes eyes at old lady, then the two of them suggestively engage in a lame living room tango. What's sexy about this? I know you can't show the actual act of coitus -- particularly because they're always old people -- but this just seems like a really archaic and uninspired way of saying, "These two geezers are about to get their bone on." And I frankly don't applaud the spontaneity that says the old lady should be up for it when grandpa comes over all hot and heavy while she's wearing her house sweater and lounge pants. If you're doing it that seldom, it seems like all the more reason to gussy up. Tell Daddy and his union suit to go make themselves comfortable while you put on something pretty. Seriously.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-4793996317742099377?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-78464763391076892362008-09-30T14:45:00.000-07:002008-09-30T16:41:57.066-07:00<P><B>This took the language right out of my mouth.</B><BR><br />I was looking for parking near my office today, and I saw a man hanging by the neck from a noose made of a green garden hose. He was moving. Flopping kind of like a fish, but not really moving his arms and legs. And his entire lower body, from the pelvis down, was on the ground. The noose was only a couple of feet above the ground, but his head was through the eye of it, and he was suspended by the neck to some degree. I could see him moving and twisting, and I couldn't really tell what I was looking it. When I see things I don't expect to see, especially here, it's my habit to look around and see if someone is filming or if it's part of some joke or perhaps some private activity that is none of my business. Because no one hangs themselves on a street corner at ten o'clock in the morning, right? I stopped my car and didn't know if I should call someone. I couldn't see the man's face. Only the back of his head. And because he was still moving around, I wondered if he was just trying something out. (I don't know what. There's no use asking me what I mean by that.) But it bothered me, and I felt like I should check and see if he was okay, and at the same time, I didn't want to embarrass him. And I was a little bit afraid. So I went into my office and told Jessie, and she called 911 for me and they said they would send officers to check it out.<BR><br />The police called my office a short while later and spoke to me directly and asked me to tell them what I saw, and even at that point I wasn't sure if they had actually seen the man, or if they were just about to go over there or if they were documenting the report but maybe when they got to the scene there was no one there. That's what I was thinking. But the officer said, "Oh, no, no. We've already been over there. Another neighbor saw him and cut him down and he was taken to the hospital, but we don't know if he lived." And I was shocked and I felt sick. I still do. Mainly because I've never seen something like that. And I can't get that picture out of my head. Everything feels very delicate and brittle right now. Like if I move too quickly, it will all break apart. And my brain is stuck on it. I didn't make an affirming statement to myself or reconsider my own tenuous attachment to life. I don't even know what to say in the privacy of my own thoughts. I don't know who that man was, and I don't know what was happening in his life. But I felt very bad about it. And it really, really bothered me. Really. And other than being able to say that, I don't know what words to use.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-7846476339107689236?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-23873975907692658522008-09-23T21:55:00.000-07:002008-09-23T22:06:28.162-07:00<P><B>Blood-Brain Barrier</B><BR><br />There was an episode of <I>House</I>. A little girl was dying of a number of things. Mostly cancer. Dr. House posited that her bravery was not admirable but a symptom. A symptom that could lead them to an answer that could enable them to prolong her life. At one point, they even surmised that she might be mature and manipulative at the hands of molestation. But eventually, they found the blood clot. It wasn't in the amigdala, rather it was in the hippocampus. Ergo, her courage was not a symptom. They fixed her up. She walked out of the hospital, and everyone clapped and cheered for her. And she went and hugged Dr. House and said something brave. And he looked uncomfortable. And I realized that I was quietly rooting for it to turn out that there was something wrong with her. That she was broken in some way. Because who can face death with such aplomb. Who can be so selfless as to choose to go on suffering to spare her mother the loss of her for as long as possible. All the while wearing the signature kerchief of the cancer girl.<BR><br />I love the show. I relate to the character. I balance my judgmental dissatisfaction against the wry membrane of disinterest. I don't excuse it. Or me. I should be doing more. I should be more valuable. I should be mattering. I should be making the difference that supersedes my lack of interest in making a difference. I should be transmuting what I lack. Defying alchemic laws. I should be taking fearless journeys. Or cloaking my various fears with opaque bravado. Even though, if you ask me, I will say I detest being inspired.<BR><br />I will say this. There's too much Dave Matthews Band in <I>House</I>.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-2387397590769265852?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-40614634700460853332008-09-12T00:03:00.000-07:002008-09-12T00:16:01.582-07:00<P><B>It's not that I can't bear suspense.</B><BR><br />But I'm on page 438 of <I>Carter Beats the Devil</I>, and it's a highly suspense-charged scene, and as I cross over the gutter, the syntax doesn't seem quite right. One minute, I'm in the middle of a sentence being spoken by a magician, and the next minute, there's something about what the newspaper reporters printed and the excitation of atoms. Three seconds and two glances later, I realize my softcover copy of this book (paid for at full retail price) skips from page 438 to page 455. Just like that. There is no poetry in how much dissatisfaction I feel tonight.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-4061463470046085333?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-1337652956421092842008-09-04T17:02:00.000-07:002008-09-04T17:03:06.756-07:00<P><B>I may be a little late to the fundraising party.</B><BR><br />But if you go here <a href="http://my.barackobama.com/page/outreach/view/main/maryforrest" target="_blank">http://my.barackobama.com/page/outreach/view/main/maryforrest</a> you can join me in supporting Barack Obama by putting your money where your mouth is. I just gave on my friend Adam's page. Please give on mine. Or create your own. This is no time to be shy. I'm buying ponies for all of you to celebrate the Obama-Biden victory. But if McCain and Palin win, I'll have all of these ponies and nowhere to put them. Please think of me for once in your life. And those precious, innocent ponies who never hurt anyone.</P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-133765295642109284?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3130877.post-15038620019680841302008-09-02T13:58:00.000-07:002008-09-03T13:00:16.853-07:00<P><B>This began as a response to a comment thread on one of my friend Steve's Facebook notes.</B><BR><br />I'm tired of all the talk about the importance of values as if they trump all other decision-making factors. Ultimately, the job of President is a job. And the qualifications and experience one has, including past job experience and past life experience, are relevant in the job interview process. You don't go to a job interview and expect to get hired just because you go to the same church as your boss or just because you both like the Mets. That might help pave the way to the conversation beginning, but eventually, you're going to be asked what you bring to the table. You'll be expected to have real accomplishments under your belt. And you'll also be expected to be able to balance whatever's going on in your life in such a way that nothing personal ever seeps into your job performance. That's what millions of working people contend with. Some of them even contend with drug tests and background checks and credit history reports. Because what you've done and where you've been matters in certain jobs. And here we are, examining applicants for the highest executive office in the country. And suddenly, we're not supposed to care what the candidate's actual skills and experience are? We're supposed to applaud her because she believes in this, but we're not supposed to care that she believes in that? <br /><br />What I don't like about this discussion is that -- in my experience (and my parents watch nothing in their home but Fox News and Dancing with the Stars) -- many conservatives exhibit a sense of triumph when they can ferret out the personal failings and scandals of liberal candidates, but conservative candidates with the same personal failings and scandals are applauded. I suspect there are plenty of conservatives who share Sarah Palin's moral values but who are still disappointed to learn about her daughter's choices. The conservatives I know email me every time they find a blog that says Obama is a Muslim. But not a one of them has emailed me to talk about whether Sarah Palin is a good choice. It's like we're not allowed to openly discuss our opinions about these people despite the fact that one day, two of them are going to lead ALL OF US. I have just as much right to want John McCain to pick a qualified VP, because if he ends up President, I still have to live in the country the two of them run. It's relevant for us to talk about it. It's reasonable for us to ask questions. ALL OF US. Wouldn't it be beautiful if we could all actually talk about it without the iron curtain of partisanship dividing us? I would think every American would hope that both candidates would pick a great running mate, no matter who they personally support. We don't always get to choose our bosses at work, and when you find out your boss has hired some other person to exercise authority over you, it certainly helps the relationship if that person merits your respect and can wield your loyalty in a positive way. Why would this be any less true for the running of the country? <br /><br />Sometimes, I think the values issue is exactly what gunks up the debate. I think it's possible for a person to be against abortion but to not actively try and legislate against it. In the same way that it is possible for a person to be against pre-marital sex without insisting that it be made illegal. Your personal values shouldn't influence every choice you make as a public servant. Our shared value -- the protection of the Constitution -- is the one value that should supersede all others. You may not like the idea of gays getting married. You might even believe it's morally wrong. But that doesn't mean the Constitution doesn't attempt to offer all Americans the same protections and the same rights. You may be someone who once believed that Blacks and Whites should not marry either. At this point, I hope you know you were wrong to believe that. And if you don't, I hope you aren't serving in public office. And if you are, I hope you at least realize that you are able to believe that your bathtub is the Oracle of Delphi as long as you don't bring it to work with you. I don't want to know about your religion. I don't want to know what brand of greeting card you buy. I don't want to know your favorite color or whether you like Thai food late at night. I don't care about that. At least not at the time of the job interview or at the periodic subsequent performance reviews. At the job interview, I just want to know what kind of worker you are and whether you are willing and able to do the job you are interviewing for. Once you're hired, we can go out to a micro-brewery and you can tell me all about what you believe and whether you own a cat and what your dining room window looks out on and whether you were able to get a Wii. There's always the risk at this point that you will refuse my invitation to go to a micro-brewery because you frown on the consumption of alcoholic beverages, at which time I will make a mental note to never invite you anywhere ever again. And that will significantly hamper our ability to be best friends. But we'll still work together fine. I mean, it's work, right? <br /><br />And that is the most important lesson of all. We shouldn't be trying to elect the guy who is most like us or who shares our personal philosophies. We're not going to be best friends with him. If you want a best friend, sign up for a social network. Facebook is open to everyone now. Or join a community sports league. Or hang out at Borders and talk to strangers in the section of books that most interests you. This is the time you should be looking to hire the best man for the job. And, believe it or not, the job you are hiring for isn't "best friend." You're not hiring a guy to be your neighbor or to try new restaurants with you every Thursday. You'll probably never even see this guy once he gets started. What you should care about is whether he knows how to do what he needs to do. And whether he is resourceful enough to solve the problems you weren't able to anticipate in the interview process. And in the event he has to step down, you want to make sure that his understudy will be able to step in smoothly and finish the work he started. So the two of them should definitely have a lot of similar qualifications. You might even want to pick the runner-up for the job, since they were already <I>almost</I> good enough. Or you could focus on that guy's religious beliefs, get spooked by them, and pick someone by drawing up a game of M.A.S.H. Be careful, though. That's how you end up living in a shack, driving an ice cream truck to your job as a mailman. Also, you have eight kids and a pet hamster. Sorry.<br /><br />Anyway, as a woman, I wish I could be encouraged by the selection of a woman on the GOP ticket. But the fact that Sarah Palin is a woman who doesn't support my reproductive rights is a problem for me. I don't mind that she doesn't believe I should have them. But I do mind that she would actively seek to take them away. That makes it hard for me to think of her as "one of us." I would never blindly vote for a woman just because of her gender. That's as foolish as not voting for one just because of her gender. I'm also bemused by the double standard. Conservatives who disliked Hillary Clinton were often unable to simply not like her politics. Some of them shouted things out like "make me a sandwich," and pundits in the media even offered that one of her barriers to acceptance might be that the shrillness of her voice would remind men of the nagging wives they'd sooner forget. Are we meant to believe that these gender-specific barriers wouldn't apply to Sarah Palin just because she's prettier* than Hillary Clinton? That's about the most sexist and ignorant possibility of all. Are we really suggesting that the glass ceiling is being broken by John McCain? If there are truly millions of cracks in the glass ceiling, I suspect it's because the fat cats dancing on it have been eating more fried foods.<br /><br />Incidentally, I'm voting for Obama and Biden.<BR><br />*<I>Prettier? Maybe. But does anyone dislike polar fleece as much as I do?</I></P><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3130877-1503862001968084130?l=www.maryforrest.com%2Fmonoblog%2Fjournal.html' alt='' /></div>Mary Forresthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13127108612771957019noreply@blogger.com0