Nov 26, 2006

Repetitive Motion Injury

Although it comes but once a year, it isn't lost on me that it comes every year, this Thanksgiving business. And that each new one I celebrate is piggybacked on all the rest that preceded it. And that maybe I'm getting tired of having all these milestones to mark my progress. Or regress. Or no-gress, as the case my be. Maybe it's just "gress" at that point.

Often with the hope of not being extremely redundant -- despite the fact that eating a turkey dinner every year at the same time seems prone to a redundancy that even Kurt Vonnegut couldn't dress up in disguise -- I end up reading over my previous writings on this subject. Now that I've been writing in this venue for over five years, there's more to pick through and more to tiptoe round. It wastes a bunch of time. And usually leaves me with the feeling that the thing I wrote last year or the year before was better than whatever I'm going to say now, and why didn't I ever get paid to write when I was saying clever things like that? And why doesn't it result in any palpable satisfaction to read something I've written and like it? Why isn't that ever ever enough? Anyway. I went back is my point.

I began my holiday on Wednesday, leaving town at precisely the stupidest possible time and having already been warned that there was some shitty-ass shit going on on the 405. But surprisingly, I really didn't suffer much. The big hubbub in El Segundo was still there, and many lanes were closed, but I probably had to slow down for ten or fifteen minutes, and then once I was through it, I was flying along at 75 the rest of the way. So I got to my parents' house with time to heft all my junk in the house, write my annual Thanksgiving email, feel very tired and contemplate not doing anything social, and then get myself into the car and on my way to Ono Sushi, where a typically super duper dinner was had. After sushi, I visited Nunu's, where I was treated like a princess -- as usual. I had hoped to stop by Jivewire at The Casbah, but the ranks of enthusiastic compatriots had thinned, and I guess I was tired enough that dancing would have done me in. So I'm glad that Nunu's was where we landed. My mom didn't even hassle me about not getting home until well after her Thanksgiving day preparations had begun. That's unprecedented.

Come to think of it, this year was different than previous years in a few ways. But it was also very much the same. Maybe with deliberation attached. Like my annual Thanksgiving nightcap at Nunu's. I've come to look forward to that, so I make a point of perpetuating it. This year, there were so many people there with me and other people there that I knew, it really did feel like it's own special holiday thing. And after a dinner of turkey and lobster -- yes, LOBSTER -- and more things than can be artfully put on a normal-sized plate at once without layering and overrun unless you serve your cranberry relish and yams and stuffing in tiny little tablespoonsful, like they might do at a chi chi restaurant. With like cilantro oil or a vanilla-infused truffle and balsamic vinegar reduction drizzled on the plate and a garnish of something like star fruit or caviar. That gives me an idea. Would anyone mind if I started calling poultry eggs caviar? I will serve turkey caviar at my next Thanksgiving dinner. And see if anyone notices. And if anyone wants to try and fit it on melba toast.

If I can recall properly, here was our menu:

Cheese Platter
- Aged Mimolette
- Huntsman (Stilton layered with Double Gloucester)
- Wensleydale
- one other one I didn't try
- every possible kind of cracker
Fresh Fruit
Marinated Mushrooms
Kalamata Olives
Picholine Olives
Wine: Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

Roast Turkey (specially brined and cooked to moist perfection)
Broiled Lobster Tails with Clarified Butter
Mashed Potatoes
Jansen's Temptation (a Swedish potato casserole, apparently secretly including herring -- yum)
Chestnut Stuffing
Mashed Yams with Apricots and Almonds (?), Topped with Bruléed Marshmallows and Coconut
Cranberry Relish (a special recipe that causes all others to be deemed inferior)
Green Beans (I almost called them Haricots Verts. And I can't remember if they were Amandine.)
Corn (It wasn't fancy, but it's still my favorite.)
Gravy (duh)
Wine: Stag's Leap Merlot and Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

Side by Side Pumpkin Pie and New York Cheesecake with Raspberries
Apéritif: Sambuca

I hope I've managed to make it sound fancy and perfectly planned and brilliantly executed. Because it was. And I noticed how proud and happy it made my mother to have everything go over so well. Big success. Big success.

Friday night, I went over to Beulah's, and we went shopping for groceries and treated ourselves to a variety of artery-clogging snacks. A lot of cheese and crackers and apples and pepperoni and stuff. But also Totino's Pizza Rolls. In case anyone was wondering if I've ever eaten poorly. Believe me. I have. And I do. We also watched The New World on pay-per-view. Essentially only because it's another flick Christian Bale is in, and Beulah is devoted as the day is long. We didn't like it. It was the slowest movie I've watched in a long time. Perhaps ever. Unbelievably slow. And the dialogue was so soft and so ickily poem-like that I often had to stop chewing and lean in to try and hear what was being said, only to find that what they were saying revealed nothing at all story-wise. The only way Beulah and I were able to enjoy it was in being so disappointed in it. We began to sarcastically wish it could just be slower. That Christian Bale and Pocahontas would just TAKE THEIR TIME. I once heard a comedian say that he was surprised that Finding Neverland had been nominated for Best Picture; he said the movie was so slow it should have been nominated for Best Photograph. I liked Finding Neverland, but I thought that joke was funny. Even funnier, however, was Beulah's exclamation during one of the sequences of inanimate objects being shot for long silent moments for no apparent reason: "This movie is a screensaver." It really is like a two-and-a-half hour poetry reading. And if you're into that, we probably shouldn't go to the movies together. Incidentally, Beulah's never seen Reign of Fire and was concerned that it, too, would suck. But I maintain that Reign of Fire is a terribly underrated film. As long as you let yourself buy into the whole dragons thing -- and as long as you can bear to watch Matthew McConaughey playing an insufferable wacko, which I further maintain is less insufferable than watching him play a love interest or a looker -- and if you allow that these kinds of grandiose fantasies might call for some grandiose acting, it's perfectly entertaining to watch. And it contains one of my more favorite Star Wars references. Which will do nothing to help Beulah want to watch it, I realize.

I performed in a couple of improv shows on Saturday night, spent the night at Beulah's place, then drove home to Los Angeles today, with not much traffic to grouse about, bookending a relatively painless travel experience. And while I was driving up today, I listened to nothing but Beatles music on the radio. First it was just Beatles Beatles Beatles, and then it was an hour-long tribute to George Harrison, the fifth anniversary of whose death is this Wednesday. Which made me sad, and made me marvel at how long it's been, because I distinctly remember when I heard he had passed. And the night it happened was an awful one for me, through no fault of George's. Golden Slumbers made me think of Tasha, which made me cry a bit. The rest of it made me think assorted things. I never give you my pillow. I only send you my invitation. And in the middle of the celebrations, I break down...Lying there and staring at the ceiling, waiting for a sleepy feeling...You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.....Everybody had a hard year. Everybody had a good time. Everybody had a wet dream. Everybody saw the sunshine...Bang, bang, Maxwell's silver hammer came down upon her head. Bang, bang, Maxwell's silver hammer made sure that she was dead...Will I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will...Boy, you gotta carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.

Very little Guitar Hero was played. Very little sleep was had. There was an unfortunate -- and perhaps statistically unavoidable -- falling out with my mother. She was so happy with me for two straight days. That couldn't possibly have continued without somehow triggering the onset of Armageddon. I had a lot of work to do. I squeezed that in where possible. I edited and posted photos, despite drooping eyelids and flagging spirits. I didn't get to eat Thanksgiving leftovers even once. And I didn't bring any home, which is usually the case and an unfortunate one. I drove home wondering why I allow things to matter, particularly when I am doing it alone. And I felt thankful for a sense of history. Even though it's a sense of history that most often prevents me from ever having a sense of present.

Everybody had a hard year. Everybody had a good time. Everybody had a wet dream. Everybody saw the sunshine.>

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posted by Mary Forrest at 11:10 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 23, 2006

You know what I am thankful for? You, et cetera.

Reprinted from an actual email.

Dearest email recipient,

Please consider this my heartfelt request that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I guess you could choose to not have a wonderful holiday, and there's nothing saying that what I want is atop your list of priorities, but if saying so makes any difference, I'm pulling for you in the great battle of enjoyment of the holiday versus glaring at people who look to be happier than you.

So, let it not be left unsaid that you are awesome, and I applaud you for having the temerity to share your email address with me. I even applaud the apathy that has kept you from changing said email address or -- in the event that you really need to keep it -- creating an email filter just to weed out messages from me. No one would blame you. Even I know that.

But consider doing a few things for me this Thanksgiving, if you would.

1. When the "what are you thankful for" thing is making the rounds, think of Mary Forrest. Just for a second. You don't even have to say it out loud. In fact, it's perfectly acceptable for you to think, "What am I thankful for? Not Mary Forrest." As long as I'm on your mind.

2. Don't tell anyone about how bad the holiday traffic is or why the city you live in is better because it is not Los Angeles. (This means you, San Diego.)

3. Let someone else have a turn at Guitar Hero.

4. Tell the people you love that you love them, and make sure to point out that you're only saying it because it's expected of you.

5. If you have a dog, make him or her wear a humiliating outfit.

6. Don't get murdered. I ask this of you a few times a year, I know. But my stalwartness is unwaveringly vigilant. If you can do everything in your power to not be murdered this Thanksgiving, you will have given me yet another thing to be thankful for. Thank you in advance.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and know with great certainty that I am thankful for you. Even if you are receiving this email in error.

Mary Forrest, thanksgiver

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posted by Mary Forrest at 10:57 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 15, 2005


A few months ago, Beulah told me a story about going to In n' Out and witnessing a guy ordering a ridiculous sandwich. Of course you know how you can order the Double Double, but perhaps you also know that there are myriad off-menu items that you can request. In addition to "animal style." You can get a "3 x 3" (triple meat, triple cheese) or a "4 x 4" (do I really need to explain this?). But the other day, Beulah watched a guy order a "13 x 13," in an effort, according to him, to break his friend's previous record -- assumedly a "12 x 12." So this guy ordered a sandwich with thirteen patties and thirteen slices of cheese, and it had to be served on its side in the cardboard boat, like a glorious yule log. Or a glorious log-shaped hamburger. Did he order a shake? No. He had just come from eating fish tacos at Rubio's and thought a shake might put him over. Did he go for "animal style?" No. He thought about it but decided that would just be absurd. Did he finish the sandwich? Yes. Is that any less absurd than if the sandwich had had grilled onions and "spread" on it? No. Categorically.

I have never attempted to break an eating record. I have never entered an eating contest. I have occasionally wished I could. In the absence of the shame I would feel when I read the lips of onlookers whispering to each other, "She really doesn't need any more of those hot dogs," I'm sure I could kick some serious ass. But then I remember my mother's now famous pronouncements about the disproportionate largeness of my eyes as compared to my woefully inadequate stomach. And I remember that I rarely ever want more than a bite of anything I want at the time. I was recently watching an episode of Malcolm in the Middle where Lois and Hal entered a kielbasa-eating contest, and I really felt envious of them. When am I ever going to get a chance to eat twenty-some kielbasas? And why is the answer to that question, "Never." Of course, I wouldn't win that contest. I don't even have seconds at Thanksgiving. I do know this, however: I would never enter an eating contest after having just eaten at Rubio's. Hopefully this means my eyes and my intellect are in better proportion.

But it's true that I often think I will want more of something than I end up wanting in the end. I used to greedily hoard my Halloween candy each year, hiding the bag I kept it in to protect it from the imaginary scavengers in my family who would betray me for a few of those generic Smarties. For the record, my older sister always perferred salty snacks to sweet ones, and my dad used to keep a stash of full-size candy bars and red licorice in his desk drawer. He clearly didn't need my half-assed fun-size portions. But that didn't stop me. I was determined to save my candy for later, and no I was never in a concentration camp. But saving often turns to wasting for me. I would forget about the bag. Then I would find it six months later. And if it wasn't overrun with ants, it was still not likely to hold much interest for me, what with it's Now and Laters whose syrup had sweated through the wrappers or the chocolates that had already bloomed*. One year, I rediscovered my Halloween takings months after the fact with a piece of schiacciatta my Uncle Bruno had made, hidden away in a little baggy along with the petrifying candy. I had apparently wanted to save it for later and didn't understand that bread turns blue after a time, and the blue part is not nearly as tasty as you might think.

Just this past weekend, I got motivated to get rid of a good many things that needed getting rid of. There are bowls of chocolates in my house. Nice ones. The bowls and the chocolates. But I don't eat them. And they just sit there. It's nice when someone comes over, but not when telltale seasonal wrapping lets guests know I have been peddling these sweets since Easter. I replenish the supplies pretty often, but I decided it was time for a fresh go. Plus, who would be more mortified than me if a guest unwrapped a chocolate and found a worm in it or something. I would have to kill us both if that ever happened.

So I threw out old Halloween candy and many, many Dove dark and milk chocolate pastilles and wrapped Japanese hard candies still in their covered glass bowl since when I moved from San Diego. They're not really on display, so they weren't likely to be eaten, but the reason they were there is I had eaten the varieties that tasted delicious and left all the ones that tasted medicinal. An easy decision. In the trash they went. I boxed up the silverware I no longer want to use and put the pretty new sets in the drawer. I put away all my dishes and washed and put away my dish rack. I cleared everything from the counter, so if you want to get a glass from the cupboard, you can actually open the cupboard and do so in one easy step, foregoing the previously necessary rearrangement of sundry kitchen goods that have since been chucked. Why was I saving the unused packages of butter-flavored topping from my microwave popcorn? Why was I saving packets of soy sauce from the Chinese place? Was I planning to one day give a second shot to that herb concoction my mother made me get at the Chinese doctor's office last year? The one that made my hands break out in hives? It's not that I think things can't be thrown away. I just don't usually feel motivated to do it. Maybe I'm too soft-hearted. I like to give things a chance to fulfill their destinies. But I give too many chances all around. As a rule.

For the past few days, I have been in San Diego, playing my violin in a few performances of the Christmas show I play for nearly every year. My mother represents a long list of specialty food companies, and her house is overfull with confections of ever possible variety (including the variety "gross"). Some are samples from her clients. Some are booty from trade shows. But you can always count on finding some sort of snack if you go looking. Even if all you're looking for is a ziploc bag. Yesterday evening, after a bitterly long day, I was shaky with hunger, so I went into the kitchen and tried to find some small thing to tide me over. And something happened that has never happened before. I ate four different things and ended up spitting each of them out in the trash can. There was some kind of breakfast cereal bar that tasted like dirt with raisins in it. There was a fancy cheese spread that is probably also a tire cleaner. There were were unsalted pistachios which, although not inedible, are just not worth eating if you ask me. And there were madeleines that would have been delicious had they not had mold on them. I didn't spit out the basil cream cheese spread that I tried, but I didn't like it either. I don't think cheese should be made to look green and fuzzy on purpose. And it tasted a lot like pesto, of which I am not the world's largest fan. In the end, my mom served me homemade fried chicken and made unenlightened comments about how a guy on the television looked like "a typical Jewish." My dad exasperatedly pointed out that he could just as easily be Italian. And she said, "Yeah, but his name is Steinberg. So you can tell." Delicious, delicious.

So, I am trying to be more conscientious about not letting my house turn into a food museum. But I think what I've learned about myself is not that I have bad habits but that I have difficulty forming habits at all. I would like to make a habit of keeping my kitchen more orderly. I would like to make a habit of opening my mail when it arrives. I'm good about making my bed and hanging my towels and charging my camera batteries. But I've got a lot of other areas that could use improvement.

I would also like to make a habit of getting it right the first time. But I don't think it works that way.

*Bloom is when the cocoa butter has separated, causing it to rise to the surface of the chocolate, leaving the appearance of a surface that is dull or has grayish-white streaks and dots. This happens when the chocolate is stored in too humid or too warm a temperature. Or for too damn long.

Note: This post was started in August. A sentence saved as a draft in my Blogger account. I doubt it ended up being about what it was originally going to be about. Except for the recounting of the In n' Out story. But maybe that's all right. I let this one age for a while. I hope it's just right and recommend it be served room temperature with meat or less delicate varieties of fish.


posted by Mary Forrest at 1:53 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 4, 2005

Overweight America, I know your secret.

We are a nation of excesses. We like restaurants that serve us more food on a single plate than we would need for the whole day. We care more about portions, much of the time, than we do about how anything tastes. It is less about getting what we want and more about getting our money's worth. At Disneyland, everything is pricey, but it's also usually quite tasty, and the portions are enormous. You won't feel bad about spending six dollars on a corn dog, because it's a corn dog the size of your forearm. And if you don't want a corn dog that big, well, that's too bad. Take some of your corn dog home with you. They don't come in other sizes. Whatever new chain restaurant opens up in the strip mall near your suburban tract home, it will probably have chicken strips on the appetizers list and will be popular with your neighbors because, haven't you heard? They have blueberry muffins there as big as a pie! When you order fried chicken, they bring you a whole chicken! With a certificate of authenticity to assure you that none of this chicken was left alive for its family. You got the whole deal. Except for the parts that are only eaten by cats and Chinese people. You can't eat the brownie mud pie cheesecake, friend, so don't even bother ordering it. It has a pound of butter fat in it. And you are required to attack it with a novelty shovel.

I know this is a country whose reputation is one of prosperity and milk and honey and large motor cars in the driveways of ranch-style homes. But I don't really know when everything went nuts the way it has.

And then I was watching the imbecilic Emeril Lagasse as he prepared some unimpressive pot of something or other. I used to watch his show when the Food Network was just getting its legs. I found the notion of having a house band for a cooking show patently dumb, but I was supportive of the people getting excited about cuisine. He can be a bit of a dumbass, but occasionally he is even cutely dumb. Funny from time to time. But once he gets the idea that anyone thinks he's funny, he gets all excited and tries too hard. Which is unbearable. That's when I prefer the Great Chefs style of programming where a lady with a genteel southern drawl narrates as chefs who probably don't speak English make beautiful fare in rooms that actually look like kitchens. Those programs actually show you how it's done, and you never really get to know who the chefs are, greatly reducing the chance that you might one day want a t-shirt with their name on it.

I've long since lost my patience for the celebrity chefs, though. There are now superchefs where there once were supermodels. And celebrity has a way of ruining everything -- cooking being no exception. My mom doesn't like Bobby Flay. She thinks he's stuck up. She's seen him at various Fancy Foods shows, and he apparently acts like he's all that. I guess it's not surprising. Now that everyone knows his face to the last freckle (as if you could ever find the last one -- there are MILLIONS), he probably gets stopped a lot, and people who stop you to tell you how great you are quickly begin to seem like lower-class citizens to you. It's a quantifiable fact. It's not his fault. But then I've watched Iron Chef America a few times, and my big criticism is that Bobby Flay says "so to speak" way too much. He says it in the way that someone uses a phrase they think makes them sound more erudite when it's really just filler. This happens a lot with guys I know who have an inflated estimation of their grasp of the language and the art of conversation. Even if he doesn't mean it to make him sound smarter, if I notice that you've used the same valueless filler phrase three times in the span of ten minutes, the bulk of which you weren't speaking during, it's possible you say that phrase too much. Bobby Flay should look into this. Sylvester Stallone, too. He talks as if everything he says needs to be bookended in quotation marks. And his mother is nuts.

So I was watching Emeril, and I got so annoyed with the studio audience, because they react as if putting more of an ingredient into a dish is somehow luxurious or decadent. As opposed to excessive. And they act as if certain cooking ingredients are contraband. Do we really need to give that knowing laugh when cayenne pepper is being added? Do we need to ooh and aah when garlic is mentioned? Is there something sexual about a bowl with some butter in it? Does heavy cream have the same effect as rave drugs? You'd think so. These audiences -- being absurdly serenaded by guests like ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald during the commercial breaks -- act like they're getting off on every ingredient Emeril touches. It's like they're watching a lady being raped by an oily pirate or something. They love it.

The truth is, it is possible to have too much of something. It's easier than you think, Fat America. Have you ever made chocolate chip cookies and you put in too much butter? They come out all flat and too crunchy and greasy. Putting in an extra hunk of butter doesn't make you swashbuckling. It makes you a poor cook. That's why there are recipes. With numbers in them. And devices for measuring. Especially with desserts, it's way easy to ruin what you're making by dumping in a little extra of whatever it is you think is the flavor equivalent of a hand job. If you put fourteen cloves of garlic in your salad dressing instead of two, chances are it will be bitter and gross. Is that how you like your hand jobs?

I think America is fat for many reasons, but wanting too much of everything is probably really high up on the list. I'm as guilty as anyone. My mom measured my eyes and found them to be bigger than my stomach when I was barely able to see over the top of the buffet line. I always think I will want more of something than I actually end up wanting. I serve my dinner guests eye-popping portions and delight in their dismay. I order the biggest steaks and lovingly fondle the biggest potatoes. I can't ever get enough rice. I'm not saying I'm any better than anyone. I'm just saying I've figured a little of it out. And I was very proud of myself when Beulah and I stopped on the way back from Vegas at an In n' Out, and I ordered a plain cheeseburger without fries and without a drink, because that's all I wanted (I also asked for extra lettuce and forgot to request that they not grill the bun, but that's just a detail that would come in handy if you were actually trying to live exactly as I do, which I totally don't recommend), and because I did the math and realized that ordering the meals is exactly the same price as ordering a la carte, and I don't really like the fries there very much, and I'm pretty sure I only ordered Double Doubles because it sounds like a brand name, and that makes it feel more like McDonald's, where my heart will probably always reside, and because I'm in a phase of being over animal style. So I ate dinner there for like a dollar eighty. Which is really a pretty great value, any way you slice it. And even though it's probably still the worst possible meal choice in the grand scheme of things, I was glad that the KFC next door was closed, because Beulah and I saw that it had a sign for an all-you-can-eat buffet, and our eyes nearly popped out. I've never seen such a thing at a KFC. If we'd gone there, I'm sure I would have eaten enough fri chi to quell any future cravings from ever showing themselves, which would be tragic, because I enjoy nursing my periodic fri chi cravings. I've been riding one for a good year now, even though there is a KFC right down the street from me and a Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles only a mile or two away. I think I get more from denying myself things than I ever get from satisfaction.

Plus, it was the night before Thanksgiving. You just can't DO that.

I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings by calling you fat, America. I'm not trying to be mean. It's my love for you that charges me with this burden. I think you can have too much of a good thing. You can absolutely have too much of a bad thing. And it's also possible that you regularly get too much of a thing that you feel benignly towards. Won't your food taste better if you don't try to eat so much of it that it interrupts your normal respiration? Are you always in the middle of a hot dog eating championship in your head? Do you really need to taste everything those surgical glove ladies at Costco heat up in their toaster ovens? I'll bet you don't. I'll bet you a doughnut you don't.


posted by Mary Forrest at 1:10 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 25, 2005

Thank Tank

It was a lovely dinner and a fine day. We watched movies and drank wine and drank bourbon and drank more wine and then dozed on the couch. And it was all very nice. My mother made the finest turkey you have ever seen. And I felt loutish for sitting still and watching her make it. I had Thanksgiving dinner at my home a few years ago. And back when my parents lived in Italy, I used to prepare Thanksgiving on my own nearly every year. I enjoyed it and hated it equally. I think the cleaning up was what I loathed. Especially when I was doing it on my own at 10 P.M. and everyone else was napping elsewher. My mother managed to have everything cleaned up and leftovers in containers well before sundown, however. She is a miracle.

My mother found a method on the radio that seems to be working wonders in quelling Audrey's vicious outbursts. It involves putting twenty pennies in an empty soda pop can and taping the opening closed and then shaking that can whenever the doggie erupts into her barking cacophony. Amazingly, in just one day, Audrey is not barking at everyone who approaches me. Nor is she any longer puncturing parts of my family's hands and feet with sudden toothy lunges. My mother was ecstatic. She said, "I can't believe it. What good advice. It makes me think it's worth it to buy the radio." I love that. That is exactly how my mother's science works, and I love it.

We watched After the Fox, and Beulah and I probably annoyed everyone by saying every important line along in unison. Perhaps I should mount a stage production of that film with a Greek chorus made up of me and Beulah.

After people went home, my dad and I watched Farewell, My Concubine. It is one of his favorite movies. His favorite movies often seem to be epic Chinese tragedies. And I only think that is partly a ploy to charm my mother. He really gets down with the dark shit. I admire that about him. He is half slapstick and half Brecht. And he can watch movies that don't have a word of English in them and still enjoy them. Even when there aren't any subtitles. When we lived in Japan, he looked forward to the New Year's twenty-four-hour broadcast of samurai movies. We recorded them one year. Tape after tape after tape. And there wasn't any translation, nor were there subtitles. But he loved to watch those movies. And I love things that bring pleasure to those I love. It makes things easy for me.

My father has a problem with his eye. For the past few weeks, he has been wearing a black eye patch a la buccaneer. He was experiencing double vision and was only able to see clearly -- albeit without proper depth -- when he covered his left eye. We did not know what could cause such a thing. I shuddered when our amateur diagnostics turned up words like "stroke." But it doesn't appear to have been a stroke. They think it is ocular myasthenia. Not that autoimmune diseases are anything to feel particularly relieved about. The patch doesn't seem to be hindering him much. I sang in church last weekend, and it made my dad cry. Eye patch and all. And then a little old lady came up to me after the service to thank me for singing and she mentioned that she had told my dad the patch was sexy. Her words.

I felt good and tipsy by evening, this Thanksgiving. Beulah and I had just gotten back from a luxurious visit to Las Vegas where I never got a buzz on once. (A tragedy for me.) Nor did I do nearly as well in my gambling pursuits as I did the last time I visited. Nor did I have much in the way of cash to play with. There's always next time, I suppose.

We were about to go around the table and say something we were thankful for. My mother started by saying she was thankful for my dad. Everyone acted as if she was being sarcastic. And then somehow we got sidetracked. Because we never resumed the recitations. I don't even know what I would have said, had it ever come to my turn. This year has been extraordinarily challenging and disappointing for me. So much so that it's difficult to even rely on old adages about looking forward. Year after year, I keep finding myself wishing I had just not bothered. But I can find things to be thankful for if I just narrow the spread of my vision a little. It wasn't the best year ever. But there were nice things. New friends I adore. A lovely little dog who might not bite my friends anymore. Parties I will remember with great fondness. Performances I don't hate. My super family. And I am thankful for how good things are in the lives of others I love. And I am thankful that there is a James Bond marathon on. It's the little things in the end.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:37 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 24, 2005

One day a year, wearing brown isn't just for the Gestapo.

reprinted from an actual e-mail

I don't know why everyone tries to wear brown on Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims didn't wear brown. I'm pretty sure they wore black. With white collars. And large hats. And great buckles on their shoes. Whereas the Indians sort of wore brown, but only if you consider their skin an outfit.

For much of my judgmental adolescence, I felt that brown had gone out of fashion after the original airings of The Brady Bunch. Wearing a pair of brown slacks and an autumn-hued blouse made one look -- to me -- like a Burger King employee.

My dad used to wear brown slacks pretty frequently. And often with a green shirt. We used to say he dressed like a tree. But even that isn't really appropriate for Thanksgiving, when apparently we are expected to dress as if everything in us is dead. Or at least parched. Green just won't do. Unless perhaps it's meant to be the color of an infection.

I once had a pair of brown corduroy Dittos. They were extraordinarily tight.

I never really liked wearing brown. And then somewhere along the way, I decided I liked brown again. And orange, too. Orange quite a bit as a matter of fact. So I no longer dread getting dressed for Thanksgiving. But I still don't understand why it makes any difference. Even if we were trying to celebrate by looking like the early American settlers, we'd probably have to work in more of a malnourished cast. Maybe manicures that look like frostbite. And what about me personally? There were no Chinamen at the first Thanksgiving. Brown outfits or no.

I'm going to wear a dress that's brown and pink for Thanksgiving. It's more of an ice cream theme than a harvest one. But I just want you to know that I wouldn't give you a hard time if you came to Thanksgiving dinner in whatever color you like. Last year I wore black and green. And three years in a row before that, I wore all black. Anyway, why do you care so much what I wear?

Maybe you haven't guessed this yet, but this is my annual Thanksgiving message. It's not that I don't want to take the time to write an ACTUAL Thanksgiving message this year. It's just that I used up much of my well-wishing in years past, (see for yourself) and I don't want to bore you.

So in the interest of non-redundant sincerity, I'll just wish you all the things that I wish Thanksgiving could be for me, despite the reality of what it is going to be for us both. I hope your Thanksgiving is not overcomplicated by frustrations with your wardrobe. I hope that you do not find yourself traveling to a faraway place only to learn that you forgot to pack something you need for what you were planning to wear. I hope that you don't think about carbohydrate content at all. I hope that you don't feel guilty that your mother is doing all the work. I hope you don't feel secretly sorry that you can't just have your Thanksgiving in Los Angeles for Pete's sake. I hope that you're not saddled with deadlines all weekend. And I hope that you remember not to take too many leftovers home with you. Turkey goes south fast, and if you don't eat it right away, you'll never believe how awful your refrigerator will smell. Of course, I would rather have prime rib, but Thanksgiving isn't a time for selfish demands. Unless you're one of the people in the family who insists that we have to have turkey every year.

Lastly, I hope that you will forgive me if I have been anything less than a jim dandy friend to you this year. And I hope that you won't gnash your teeth when it appears that this mass e-mail is intended to somehow smooth over my lengthy bouts of incommunicado. I am thankful for you. And if you are at all thankful for me and the verbose e-mails you periodically get from me, then turkeys the world over will go to their deaths with pride, knowing their expiration will not have been in vain.

I apologize for the length of this message.

Mary Forrest, thankful as the day is long


posted by Mary Forrest at 3:57 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 29, 2004

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.

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     Nov 27, 2004


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

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     Nov 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 | Back to Monoblog

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     Sep 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.

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     Apr 23, 2004

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.


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 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.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 4:17 AM | Back to Monoblog

     Nov 29, 2003

Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops

I don't know if I will remember today intact. Something about it felt disjointed and surreal. Just a series of moments strung together. Plans looming. Catching up afoot. The occasional misty moment. The hot, dry Santa Ana winds blew soot and ash all over yesterday. In the morning, before turkeys were carved, my father was out hosing down our cars and the stone walk up to the house. He said the skies looked the way they had a couple of weeks ago when so much of the county was on fire (and not in a disco way). It was still grimy and grey this morning when I headed out into the unseasonal warmth of the morning.

Although, I don't know that it's unseasonal actually. There seem to be Santa Anas at this time of year more often than not. I remember a November long ago when I was sitting on a bench at Mesa College, waiting for my Japanese class to start. I was wearing all black and reading Stephen King's The Stand. And it was way hot. And I remember thinking, "Christ! It's November. What gives?" Back then, the term "Santa Ana conditions" didn't really mean anything to me. Not so today. I've been in Southern California long enough to have learned. In a way, I wonder if that's good. I had a very transient childhood, with my family hopping from continent to continent every couple of years or so. And as I grew older, I found that periodic wanderlust to be inescapable. These days, if I don't actually up and move to a new city, the best I can do is maybe rearrange my bedroom furniture. But it's hardly the same. I am often convinced that a change would do me good.

It was too warm for my tastes last Thanksgiving, as well. I remember wanting to make a fire in the fireplace but finding it stifling even with the windows cracked, what with the cooking and the drinking we were doing. It's peculiar. I can remember last Thanksgiving so vividly I can nearly not believe that it was a year ago. It's in my head and in my mouth and in my memory like it happened only moments ago. I remember preparing that last dish and scrambling to create extra table space with a few TV trays. I remember what I was wearing (as I always do) and what it felt like to hover over that stove all day. I remember washing dishes while Martín, sitting on a stepping stool in the doorway of the kitchen, kept me company and helped me choose what containers to put lefotvers in. I was surprised to be less exhausted than I would have expected. The preceding days -- and the day itself -- had been so taxing and arduous. But I put all the food away and settled on the couch to watch Eddie Izzard with Kevin, who had not yet seen the DVD. That makes two Thanksgivings I've not managed to have a midday nap. Crimes!

Too too warm. I want to throw on a scarf and mittens and take wintry photos, but it would be a ruse with sweaty underpinnings. I may have to wait for February.

It might as well have been last year today. Standing at the Cingular store, waiting for assistance, it might just as easily have been that day in December right before Christmas last year when my phone display stopped working and I had to get a replacement. It was the same sort of temperature. The same sort of light. The same swarthy guy who couldn't grow a very convincing beard helping me. But as much as it was like other days I've had, it was also unlike any I can recall. I had a couple of important talks with my dad. And I took stock of how quiet and empty the house is now that Beulah and Justin and Tasha have made a new home elsewhere. Sometimes you get used to having certain things happen. It's hard to unlearn the habits.

I had a lovely salad lunch with Jenny at La Vache. Then I met Karen and her friends Reyna and Jan, and we made a grand effort to make something of the San Diego scene but were met with adversity much of the time. Jan wanted house music. We never really found it for him. The bounce staff at On Broadway was ruder than can be excused. And the demographics of the Downtown clubs left a bit to be desired. But Jan and I gabbed about physics and grad school and films and politics and the way things are in his native Germany and whether Jews are liberal or conservative by and large. And Karen complimented my dance moves, which was outright flattery considering what a hot hot hot dancer she is. And my outfit received raves on block after block. I will certainly take it out for a stroll on another night. If only for research purposes. I even batted my lashes for the door staff at the Bitter End and saved us a steep cover, something I nearly never do. Feminine wiles must be used carefully and with reverence for the cosmically inestimable powers they embody. Sometimes a gal just doesn't know what she can do. And that smacks of danger.

Jan and Reyna are going skydiving in the morning. I remember a time when that was an adventure on a list of those I intended to have.

When I hear songs these days, I make an effort to think of what they meant to me when I first heard them. Where I was. What my life held. I noticed that I have a tendency to commute my sentimental attachment to things across time and space and assign great significance to things that never existed together in the same moment. And there's no need for that. There is enough opportunity for sweet remembrance in the moments themselves. I'm sure of this.

Down in the basement, listening to the rain
Thinking things over, I think it over again
I think it over again

She slips into the night, and she is gone
Gone to settle the score, gone into the town
Rain shining in her eyes

I'm riding it down
Listening to the rain
She'll be here soon
I lie back and drift away

A thought to pass the time
To occupy my mind, while I'm waiting for her

I'm feeling so alive, feeling so real
On a stormy night, the rain is coming down
Rain like never before
I've got some records on, some bottles of wine
On a stormy night, the rain is lashing down
And I'm waiting for her

Reyna was astute enough to tape Justin Timberlake's NBC special tonight. I was not. I caught a few minutes of it while we were waiting for our cab. I don't know what it is about that boy, but I think it's worth looking into.

Last night, I fell asleep with the South Park movie playing, and I dreamed I was in an eating contest in an office I was working in. The things we were to eat were largely the contents of our desk drawers. In my case, it was a lot of M&M's and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup minis. And some books.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:41 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 28, 2003

Give Thanks

My mother has the best self-image of anyone I know. No one pays her more compliments than she does, and they are well-deserved. When I was finishing getting dressed and she was flitting from station to station of her Thanksgiving dinner preparations like a bee attending to a field of flora, she was assessing each thing that was in progress and exclaiming, "Perfect!...Perfect!...Perfect!" She presented an extraordinarily beautiful meal, and no one knew it better than she did. I admire her for that. And also chuckle with affectionate amusement.

At the table, we did that sort of forced tradition of going round and having each person cite the the things for which they are giving thanks, and that was a tender thing. I found myself censoring my words, not wanting to flood myself with emotion. I realized that we are predisposed to listing the perfunctory things: family, health, the weather, a job, a car that runs, the successes we've had. When it was my dad's turn he reminded us that we should also be thankful for the failures, for the things that made the year difficult. He cited the biblical admonition that we should give thanks in all things. And in my head, I noted that, when it was my turn, I had had to stop myself from saying, "I am thankful for the chance for a better tomorrow." Maybe I didn't say it because it sounded like an ad from the American Plastics Council. But really, I didn't say it because I didn't want to fog up and get misty-eyed, knowing in my quiet interior that this year has held a great deal of disappointment and suffering and that I am fully prepared to be grateful for it because I know that the tempering pays off. It would have sounded cheap. And I would have been uncomfortable with the sincerity, so I probably would have followed it up with some crap joke to deflect the urgency of my loved ones' attention. That's what happens when things get a little too real.

I was tired for most of the day. And the vagueness of scheduled interludes made it impossible for me to take the typical post-turkey nap. And I had a few invitations to "stop by" at various spots. And I saw that they were all accepted and fulfilled.

When I stopped by the after-dinner wind-down of my friends from the comedy theater, I felt delighted when people laughed at nearly everything I said. It was an effortless sort of reminder that maybe I'm good at this after all. A very young, very cute Navy dude got a little too much Crown Royal under his skin and spent a portion of the evening trying to woo me with endearingly clumsy banter and a bizarre display of one-armed push-ups. He expressed disappointment when I was leaving, and I deferred to my need for sleep. He whispered in my ear in a slow, slurred fashion, "You can sleep...when you're dead." I said, "That's true. And a little bit creepy when whispered like that." I had just met him, and he did spend a few sentences talking about the types of rifle he shoots, after all.

Lia called as I was leaving and invited me to stop by a surprisingly well-attended Nunu's for a late drink with friends I've mostly met. I was momentarily indecisive, but I resolved to have only one and was true to my word. I told the people at our table about my mother's self-confident exclamations earlier in the day, and a few of those in attendance said that I come across as very confident and self-assured, too, and it was said in an entirely complimentary way. I agreed that this is true of me in certain situations. And I realized that I have it in me to be in better command of my faculties than I sometimes am. That I am indeed a competent and confident girl in many situations, but that I sometimes allow things to get the best of me. That in certain settings, I melt into a sort of quivering, amorphous soup of insecurity and uncertainty, desiring nothing more than the assurance that I needn't be so afraid. The contrast is stark, and not very many people have a chance to witness it.

So now, before I get any closer to next year's table, I think I can acknowledge that I am grateful for revelations. Even those that I didn't seek. Even those that I would prefer not to face. I am thankful to have the chance to learn something and change things and fix my missteps. I am thankful that sometimes it actually is like a Choose Your Own Adventure, which -- with the artful use of Post-It Notes -- can nearly always be steered full throttle into the happy ending slip. I am thankful that I can choose at all.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 1:21 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 27, 2003

Quelle the After Party

In my experience, the eve of Thanksgiving is either a stress-filled, last-minute prep time for me in the kitchen or a sad testament to the absence of real nightlife in the city that I happen to be in, but Jivewire at the Casbah was going off, even though I didn't get there until well after midnight. I ran into some friends and some strangers. A girl asked me for some gum and whispered to me on the sly that she was planning to make out with a boy tonight. I wished her well and assured her that my spearmint Orbit gum is the very best possible thing for that exact scenario. And she favored me with her friendship by saying, "You should make out with that guy behind you."

Coincidentally, I ended up at an after party at the home of the guy who was behind me. But not before watching a lot of dancefloor oddities. A couple doing tandem (shabby) robot. A guy doing a sort of swim-slash-bunny hop thing. Friends of mine getting busy to the beat. My drinks were steep and strong. Whiskey with a whisper of seven. Those bartenders did me no favors. I was just planning to catch up with a friend before the holiday got underway. Little did I know.

The after party took some time to get its sea legs. But I sampled a number of conversations and learned that I really have difficulty receiving compliments. Gary, a guy I've met before on a number of occasions at a number of different bars and parties, said very little to me other than, "You're gorgeous," over and over again and always with a hint of flattering disbelief. Each time I caught my reflection, I disagreed with him, but I can't help but be grateful for the repeated attempts to break down the walls of my stolid self-deprecation.

I met a girl I had only ever seen on Friendster and told her that I had thought she was really pretty and wanted to write on that sole basis but was fearful of coming across like a weirdo. She soothed my fears and agreed in advance of my asking to become part of my network. Victory served neat.

Kiley is moving back to New Orleans. I had never met her before, but I admired her red jacket.

I drove down from L.A. tonight and didn't reach San Diego until after 10 P.M. Before stopping by Beulah and Justin's new apartment for an hour or so, I was at my parents' long enough to hear my mom tell me how she essentially stole a turkey from Henry's. Apparently, she went to get her turkey and learned too late that, without a reservation in advance, she would only be able to purchase a frozen turkey. They were all out of fresh turkeys except for those that had been presold. Well, she knew that a frozen turkey would not thaw in time, so it was paramount that she acquire a fresh turkey, as was her original intention. Therefore, when the butcher was busy with something else and foolishly turned his back on her, she stealthfully lifted a twenty-three pounder from the top of the display and tucked it into her cart and made for the registers. I gasped and asked if she considered that she was ruining the Thanksgiving of the Benson family or the Rodriguez family or whatever large clan had required that large a bird. And she shrugged and shook her head and said, "Nah. They had more." She was convinced that the butcher had only denied her for spite, I guess. Twenty-three pounds was a bit more than she had wanted and would require her to be up at 4 A.M. to put the bird in the oven. That's why I had to shamefully affirm that I just got home when she spoke to me through my bedroom door a moment ago. I had no intention of being out so late. But that seems to be a frequent condition.

So many things were different today. Too many to enumerate. Less remorse. More hope. The ability to sing along to the songs. The urge to groove to the beat. I didn't feel gorgeous exactly, but I felt pretty. And I felt a bit guilty when a guy touched my arm to get my attention and asked me to dance and I said, "I'm taking a picture." I was taking a picture, in point of fact, but I guess that sounded like "no" to him. Oh, well. The turkey will still taste like turkey to him. I'm certain of that.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 4:37 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Feb 16, 2003

Full Moon. Dirty Something.

I am ashamed of how much I overdid it last night. I know I planned to. But the aftermath was brutal. I had a good show and received copious kind words from exiting audience members, which is always selfishly thrilling to me. Then I headed out, avec empty stomach, to poison myself. Which I did. I was having a great time right up until the time when I wasn't anymore. It must have been that last yucky creamsicle shot, I tell myself. But there's also the fact of my being on the verge of singlehandedly causing a vodka shortage. This girl needs a break.

I was grateful for sleep today. Although certain aquariums make far too much noise for my liking, and I kept finding myself being still but in a state of great tension. What fish needs that much air? Now, I've got driving to do and work to catch up on. And self-flagellation to get to. I have been away from home for a long stretch, and I can feel it. I want to go back to that previous state, when I wasn't always wondering what was coming next. I'm tired of all the surprises.

My little sister's dog got into a scuffle with a hideous opossum tonight. She appears to be all right. I have just grown to be very protective of her since that Thanksgiving a couple of years back when I took her out running with me and she was attacked by two big dogs. I cried the whole way home as I carried her, getting blood and fur all over my clothes and wondering why police cars kept driving by me uninterested. A few weeks ago, I took her for a walk, and a big dog came running after her, and I chased it away and scooped her up in my arms to make sure she was okay. I was in an adrenalized frenzy and on the verge of a panic attack for a few ghastly moments. I despise the accuracy of sense memory where fear and grief are involved. How easily it all comes rushing back. I would rather be assaulted by the neurochemistry of a sigh of satisfaction or a swell of sentiment or the sort of surprising gratitude that can't be voiced in words.

Beulah likes to watch Autopsy. I have noticed recently that even the discussion of death has some sort of dramatic effect on me. I get this sense of tragedy and loss and I feel immediately sad. I can feel tears welling up in my eyes just thinking about it.

I left the refuge of a friend's couch this morning and walked -- slightly shamefaced -- into the sunlight and the hubbub of a farmer's market. A girl was carrying a loaf of french bread and a bag of fresh vegetables. I liked her for it.


posted by Mary Forrest at 11:04 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 2, 2002

She comes in colors.

I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Thanksgiving Day. These pictures made me think of Violet Beauregarde and the Oompa Loompas. Vaguely.

We had an interesting discussion that night about the transgression of referring to the movie as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or referring to the book as Willy Wonka. And about Roald Dahl in general. For some reason, though, the discourse eventually broke down into groans and yawns and the loosening of belts.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 9:04 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 29, 2002


So ends the ordeal. Not counting a three-course dessert or an elaborate spread of pre-meal munchies, I prepared nine different dishes today, one of which was a turkey, properly brined. It's been a long time since I did the whole business myself. Since 1997, I think. I have a few memories from that Thanksgiving. I recall standing alone in a kitchen for a long time cleaning up as everyone else slept or went home. It did not bother me today. I had good company while I toiled. I'm tired from standing all day and from feeling as if nothing would ever be finished.

But the meal was a smash, and everyone went home full to bursting. And I have the makings of a brilliant turkey soup simmering on my stove. I wish I didn't have so much to do tomorrow. I could have used a break.

I think I paid closer attention to the voices I didn't hear today than to the voices I did. And that was probably crap of me. No wonder the good son got so riled up.

I guess I'm looking forward to the leftovers.


posted by Mary Forrest at 2:09 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 25, 2002


When I was a girl in grade school, Thanksgiving became a list of words and pictures. Cornucopia. Indian corn. Pilgrims. The Mayflower. Still life arrangements of gourds and squash and unappetizing-looking dry things. Centerpieces with accordioned crepe paper in them. Aprons and bonnets. Buckled shoes. Dead leaves. Turkeys in black hats and little pilgrim outfits. Thanksgiving was the smell of paste behind orange and brown construction paper letters, jauntily affixed to the board in the classroom where the teacher put up timely and topical collages. I can barely remember a Thanksgiving meal from those years. They all run together. In a time when nearly every night was a celebration, those occasional Thursdays never stood out.

I outgrew the spell of construction paper holidays.

I remember a lot of Thanksgiving dinners now. I remember who was in attendance and who wasn't. I remember whether I did the cooking or not. I remember the windows in my Hillcrest apartment all being steamed up when I had the oven going one year. I remember washing dishes long into the night while everyone else in the house slept. Putting leftovers into the refrigerator strategically, somehow making it all fit. I remember shopping. Always buying chicken broth just in case. Always having plenty at home. I remember having to get up so early to get the turkey started. And being so proud of it when it was done. I remember the dilemma of video rental choices. The crackle of fire logs. The comfort of a home filled with friends and laughter. The years when tears were in order. The years after the point when I came to enjoy wine with dinner. The television marathons. The green bean casseroles. My special, drunken candied yams. Ways to use cranberries. Driving home after a long, long day of eating and dozing and festivity. The dual-edged sword of the gift of reflection.

I catch myself no longer looking forward to grand holidays. They've come to be days on which an unfounded smile must be maintained for much longer than usual. Merciless memory machines. Harrowing markers of a stretch of life that feels as if it is laughing at me. They have become that thing one must "get through." Rather than the thing one yearns for. That infuriates me. And causes me to wonder if this is all just part of a network television feature wherein a grouchy girl learns the true meaning of the holidays. What a strange thing that would be. If it turned out that I was just living in the pages of someone else's script. If some unseen pen were making all of this so. Drat that pen and the hand that grips it, if that is the case.

I have it in me to laugh and to cause others to do so. I have it in me to appear a vessel of joy. I even have it in me to not accuse myself of a massive fraud each time such things appear to be true. But in the stillness of solitude, there is disquiet waiting for me. I wake with the hooks of dreams still in me but dissolving fast and gone before I can remove them. I wake with neither reluctance nor relief. Just the faint and far-off assurance that it's what one is supposed to do and one had better get to it.

This always filled me with a sense of melancholy that was once nearly glorious and welcome. Now, it is merely a path to the memory of that feeling. Even emotion is subject to generation loss, it seems.


posted by Mary Forrest at 11:16 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Oct 24, 2002

Bloody Marys of Days Gone By

This was another day that was filled to the box tops. And still I flog myself with certainty that I haven't done anything at all. But I'm glad that today took place. And I'm sure that something got done. That's fine with me.

When it's cool enough outside that you can use the fireplace in the morning, I'm twinkly-eyed and smiling. It reminds me of days off from school for holidays like New Year's Day, watching Die Fledermaus and asking to be taken out for miniature golf. There are no rules. It doesn't have to be dark outside for a fire to make sense. Set your blazes as you fire up your waflle irons, America. I will not judge you.

I never go to bed when I intend to. My brain gets busy and I indulge it. And I am reluctant to set the pen down or close the laptop lid when words are spilling forth. I love to write in the wee hours. I love to set down my teeny tiny handwriting in my journal -- the one with the old school schematic drawing of a horse on the cover and the cardboard-colored binding. I wish I was writing something that had a real purpose. But I'm glad I'm writing just the same. Whether it means that things are okay or that things are abysmal, I'm glad that I'm forming sentences and searching for more interesting ways to say the plain things I think. It is the illusion of accomplishment. And it keeps my penmanship sharp.

So, there's this sniper arrest special report all over the networks right now. And there has been a modicum of information offered, but mostly it's just news anchors filling and repeating and filling and pausing to make serious faces into the camera. This reminds me of the day that John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane went down. For days, the networks would cover nearly nothing else, but there wasn't any new information to offer. Just revisitations to childhood newsreel footage and magazine covers (including the People magazine issue that declared him the sexiest man alive) and George press conferences and paparazzi clips of John John and his girl making the most of the sidewalks of New York City. I wasn't unhappy to see all of this nostalgic fodder. But I got frustrated with how little new data was coming up. I felt like I was watching looped file footage. I get nervy and impatient, even when I should probably be mournful and reverent. I'm glad there have been arrests made in the sniper case. I am very angry at the sniper, and I rail against the idea that good friends of mine are having to put off refilling their gas tanks or having to walk in a zig zag pattern because of all of this. I want the sniper to be caught and "processed." But I also marvel at how many many many hours of commentary can be devoted to the singular announcement that arrests have been made. Can you imagine having an emotionally-charged discussion with someone who anchors the news? They'd probably blather on and on, repeating their points ad nauseum, recapping all of the salient points that have already been made, drawing correlations between this and previous discussions, and then let you know it's your turn to respond by saying, "Back to you." You'd never get anywhere. You'd roll your eyes and want to shove a Thanksgiving-sized turkey in their ear. That's the sort of thing frustration breeds.

I'm just taking note of the number of times this chick on NBC has said, "Again," in preface to her repeating everything she said 45 seconds ago. She's not even pretending to say anything new. She's just making sure that, if you joined the broadcast mid-sentence, you'll get the full scoop. She's very considerate. But I don't think she chose sensible earrings. And I'm beginning to doubt her sincerity. She's not really listening to the field correspondent. She's just looking at herself in the monitor. Egotist.

The drinks were good, but I shouldn't have passed on the edible fare. Now, I'm hungry. And forlorn about it. This is a microcosm of my greater dissatisfaction. If a pizza were to magically arrive in my lap right now, it would mean great things for the future -- all things being metaphorical. Incidentally, I am not a pizza purist. I like so many different kinds of pizza. I think it would be an unkind burden to have to feel loyal to a certain type of pizza just because of where you were born or because of how many vowels you have in your surname. So what if my pizza isn't like the kind you get in New York. So what if that's not the way REAL Italians make pizza. So what if it has ramen on it. Or cranberries. Or Chiclets, for that matter. I'm fine with it. And I'm not asking for your vote.

I'm only typing now because my computer is battery warm and the heat transfers cozily down through the comforter and onto my knees. I have run out of things to say, but spot warmth reminds me of living in Japan and surviving the cold, cold winters in the unheated houses with hot water bottles tucked under hefty bedspreads. I once cuddled with a metal hot water bottle that came in a corduroy drawstring sack. At some point in the night, my ardent clutching caused part of the bottle to be exposed, and I awoke with burns on my midriff from the hot metal. The burning itself didn't wake me. It must have happened gradually. As with frogs being boiled. I wanted the heat. And the burns on my belly were not too great a price to pay. Strange how our negotiating skills get diminished when the elements intervene.

I enjoyed taking pictures in the twilight. I liked playing violin on hardwood floors. I liked driving around town with a sweet little dog in my lap. Today was the sort of day that doesn't exist on the calendar. It's part of a holiday no one else is celebrating. It's a private escape. Very few other people had a today like mine. There is both privilege and elitisim in that.

Anyway...stop there.


posted by Mary Forrest at 2:51 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 22, 2001

I took Tasha for a run this morning. It was a gloomy, cool day. It occurred to me that when I started running this time last year, I used to do it with a sweatshirt on, and I used to come home with my legs feeling windburned and chapped. I've still been relying on my standard running garb, even into these colder months. Tank tops and bike shorts made of mysterious space-age materials that promise to prevent discomfort in all sorts of curious ways.

Tasha and I were almost to the end of the bike path running along the 56 when we came upon three people with two large dogs on leashes. The dogs came at Tasha, who ran at them as well. One of them bit Tasha's right haunch, lifting her into the air and swinging her like a rag doll. I was so horrified. I was screaming, "No!" and "Oh, my God!" And the people who had been trying to hold the dogs back were caring for the younger boy among them, who had been knocked down in the fracas. Tasha began to run back down the bike path, tearing her leash from my hands and only slowing after I chased and called her again and again. I scooped her up and carried her the mile or so home. Her blood was all over my arms and my clothes. I was crying and apologizing to her. I can't believe it happened. I washed my clothes out and had a good cry in the shower.

It's Thanksgiving Day. The house smells of turkey and warmth and all sorts of goodness. And my eyes are swollen and burning. And I am filled with a sense of sadness and failure at having let this innocent little creature come to harm.

Beulah and Justin just came in and showed me Tasha's stapled wound. She is quiet and still. And I am so sorry.


posted by Mary Forrest at 12:14 PM | Back to Monoblog

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