wednesday, 27 nov.
tee shirt:
tangerine, AMOEBA MUSIC
cab driver: so, you work for the music industry?
me: no, i like the store. and i like orange.

tuesday, 26 nov.
tee shirt:
teal, LE TIGRE, poor drawing of chihuahua
grocery clerk: so, you like cats? [points at shirt]
yes i do.

sunday, 24 nov.
tee shirt:
guy at newsstand: my granddaughter goes to stanford.
me: oh, lucky her! i had a really good time there.
[guy makes a sour face and stalks away]

tuesday, 19 nov.
tee shirt:
magenta, no text, paul frank logo
guy at gas station: is that for the movie monkey bone?
me: no, it's this designer's thing. the monkey's name is julius.
guy: brendan fraser's in monkey bone, so it's probably pretty good.

my little sister is wearing a BRITNEY SWALLOWS shirt to a stroke 9 concert tonight, god help her. i'm accompanying her, god help me.


happy birthday, mister president's daughters -

my favorite berkeley coffeehouse has a bush twins tribute wall. they could be having a big latte-and-schnapps party out there right now. i miss my car.

the word on the street is that the media can go crazy on the First Kids now that they're of age. we all remember how vicious the news became once chelsea clinton was old enough to defend herself - wooh. poor bushies, someone will mock your every legal margarita, or something.

big trip to talk with prospective landlords in seattle next week (thank you, ms. gaw, for your friendly local pointers). i got a haircut that says "clean credit report" today in preparation. a ladybug promptly buried itself in my bangs. omentastic! - like the ladybug that dove into a bucket of propane on my porch and came back to life on the day i first posted kidchamp. maybe washington will make me happy! maybe i'll get past the banana breakfast in my latest attempt to read gravity's rainbow!


after a seven-year streak of utter pathos, cal beat stanford at the big game. then they stormed the field and ran off with their own goal posts. maybe they'll slice them into little segments and wear them as bangle bracelets? maybe they'll make a battering ram and loot the local noah's bagels? i can but speculate; we left in the fourth quarter to avoid head trauma and the beery berkeley guy chatting up my mum.

i was very proud of the fancy chili i made last night, but i had convoluted chipotle paste dreams. in the one i remember, i was flying around in the car above a digitized map of the northeast. the goal was to land in massachusetts - that's a recurring dream thing - but i stopped in delaware at a state fair. i had a large foam cowboy hat and stringy blue hair that kept crawling down my shoulders, so i yanked it out and hid it in my pocket. "vegetarian / vegan chili!" yelled a food vendor, and i was hungry from all the car flying, so i approached him.

guy: ask me anything you like, Hat Girl!
me: tell me about making the chili.
guy: it's hard to get everything right when the RV is bouncing around. and in between, my little girls had two funerals to attend.
me: are you sure it's vegan? no rennet, gelatin, broth, big bacon bits? crazy things have animal products.
guy: like?
me: like peanut butter. they have to squeeze a chicken over it to make it creamy.

i walked off with my chili, but i realized i should have provisions - who knew if i'd find more protein before massachusetts? i met another guy and sent him back to the vendor with my twenty-eight dollar bill. he returned with a bucket.

guy 2: [peers at roiling sky] there's no way you'll make it now. best to just get a job and stay here for the winter. also, i love you.
me: i know. but do you know where i went to school? harvard [a lie]. and the little girl, the me with thirteen-year-old dreams, is dying. please help me find my car. it has a prawn hanging from the mirror.

and we set off down a bottomless concrete staircase. i woke up.

i told mum to wear neutral clothing to the game, and then i tired of the sorority girls in FUCK STANFURD [sic] tees; we found a vintage shop. now she has a fancy (red) scarf and i have a (red) beret and (red) fingerless lace gloves. i recommend this to visiting football fans: why bring an old college sweatshirt when you have an excuse to buy a ridiculous (red) boa? it'll cost like five bucks.


i switched elementary schools just before the ship trip in dana point harbor, the night when our class would pretend to be scurvy sailors and sleep on an historic clipper. the new class had a harbor day that emphasized biology - petting pools, kelp-smelling, watching swallows hack at the cliffs between mansions and beach. the highlight of this day was to be the monstrous old octopus in a tank at the visitors' center. as i had a love affair with scary things and a crippling fear of, er, krakens, i was thrilled. they were sort of the same thing in my head.

but the octopus had escaped, was the thing. hit the road, headed for the harbor, gotten the hell out of dodge, said our docent. in fact, the tank was ajar and there were suspicious squelchy marks on the table. i'm very gullible now, but i had an excellent bullshit detector then - i think it was true. though the octopus was probably piled like organ meat behind a door somewhere, it's awfully exciting to think that he might have executed fancy invertebrate cartwheels and rolled back into the ocean.

July 24, 1983: An Asian elephant, Misty, broke free from her chains at Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California. Head game warden Lee Keaton, apparently was attempting to put a chain around the elephant's leg when she turned on him, crushing his skull and killing him instantly. (Misty had attacked a handler, David Wilson, just three weeks earlier. The handler survived.) After Keaton was killed, Misty managed to run off the property, causing an evacuation of a nearby swap meet and a massive traffic jam on a nearby freeway. Misty was loose for three hours before being recaptured. At the time the elephant was owned by Gentle Jungle, a company that supplied animals for movies and television. Misty is now at Hawthorne Corporation giving rides to children.

i was four. i remember this - but i remember her on the 405, the same freeway (the same spot) where o.j. would joyride in his bronco ten years later. hadn't known how it ended, though.


i've hinted at it before: i spend substantial periods of time trying to zap myself into a molly ringwald character. lots of people wish themselves into the brat pack films - her lives in sixteen candles, the breakfast club, and pretty in pink are all fairly enviable. i tried to broaden my thinking - the stand would be tenable, too. fate is tricky, though. if i've succeeded, it's in being the bowl-cut, angsty molly in early episodes of the facts of life. that's like wanting to be janet jackson and becoming todd bridges' girlfriend on diff'rent strokes. eighties, i hate you!

zadie smith's autograph man was alright. like rushdie, she's prone to developing one-liners at the expense of cultural texture: she's funny, and i love that, but white teeth was a more thoughtful book. this is the sort of novel one expects from a twentysomething. smart and occasionally touching, not so substantial.

what am i expecting, though? how many people are capable of really nailing rites of passage, er, in passing? i think about paul and his novel - roland is about his age, and it's p's job to bring him to life in a way that resonates with millions of strangers. terrifying! i mean, i struggle with poems that convey the significance of the cat's toilet-drinking.

okay, but when is meaning clear? if zadie smith wrote the autograph man in twenty years, would i take her more seriously?

my parents' split and its aftershocks have made historians of the whole family. some interactions are simpler to categorize in the past tense: mistakes become patterns, long-term friction is identifiable. more often, we lose certainties: A doesn't remember what B considers defining, C can't trust B if A can't, D is neglected, E is misunderstood. you grab a subjective truth and hope it's true tomorrow, or to a stranger, or in twenty years. you try.


i don't have the taste-specific imagination that one needs, i'm guessing, to be a good cook. joe can take one whiff of a pumpkin bisque and know that it needs a certain kind of curry. emily and i, on the other hand, substituted frozen cherries for fresh cranberries in a holiday preserve because they were both round and red. ultimately it tasted divine, but we couldn't congratulate ourselves in good conscience.

i am, however, a vomit artisan. not real vomit (though, honestly, i find that awfully fascinating as well), but simulated vomit: when i was a slip of a girl, i dominated the lilliputian field of faux barf production to convince mum i needed to stay home from school. careful pummeling of things that looked like breakfast, a smattering of progresso bread crumbs, a dash of vinegar for that unmistakeable tang - i showed her a few early attempts, and honestly they may have been unconvincing, as the later triumphs never went beyond me and my palette. created for the pure joy of damn good mimcry, and flushed.

this anecdote was going somewhere, but nostalgia got me fuzzy. oh, well.

jen's slithy tove had me thinking yesterday. she opened the floor for a discussion of improbable reasons for love (he wears moccasins in the winter, he cried at the end of the hobbit). my initial think was a rejection of the premise - quirks endear because you're already infatuated with the whole thing, or because they suggest grander, more huggable traits (he's creative, she's sensitive). they're shoes and books, you know.

then i contemplated my navel for a bit and tried to simply respond. an approximation: the missus and i are a tesselation, a fish-bird-fish escher print. ignore the metaphor behind the curtain - i'm not saying that he completes me, that we complement one another. too squooshy. literally, you live with someone for long enough and your nose magically fits in their shoulder. their foot behind your knees, your arm on their back. add two cats who twine together in their sleep, and you have a monkey's fist for a bed. i've ended fights because it would be too weird to wake up sprawled on something i hated. it's a useful idiosyncrasy: sometimes your head decides things, and sometimes it's the random parts.


ENNUI NON!: exorcising the demon

1) join a huddle of little old men sitting on a porch and watching the city demolish housing projects. accept their pronouncements; reject their thermos of "oolong tea".

2) hike down to the grocery store for something you desperately need; buy milk and breath mints and realize you completely forgot the thing when you reach the top of lombard street and are almost home, sweating like a whore in church. repeat.

3) visualize your migraine as a bald guy with a jackhammer and a barbed wire tattoo on his forearm. imagine him getting smaller and more insubstantial as you descend the stairs and stomp on his face.

4) how about crochet?

5) peanut butter jelly time.


fury isn't really a novel, it's proof that salman rushdie can make oodles of money for riffing on whatever catches his fancy. it reminds me of my own trip to new york: this is what we ate, here's what people said, these are the accumulations i found when i got home, showered, smelled my clothes. i haven't the patience for Literature - between studying like a meth-addled monkey, playing grendel's revenge, and pretending that i stand at the core of my family's emotional well-being, the days have been brimming. fury was timely. i wanted to see trivial things bound together and advertised as A Serious American Work, and i wasn't disappointed. thank you, sal, for attaching weight to buffy the vampire slayer and long afternoons at home.

i would like to tell kaplan about my GRE score. they make posters of testers who excel, and i think i could best my fear of cameras for the opportunity to mock lesser monkeys on walls across america. oh, definitely. i would wear my hair in the messy buns everyone hates and draw mysterious glyphs at the corners of my eyes so that superstitious course-takers would maybe mimic me in order to succeed, yes yes. they would study my dopey picture face and ape it at home. i don't get to feel this way very often, you understand.

the storm that stranded me in pinole was a real brouhaha. i assumed the zap-sizzle-flashes were sparks from the electric bus lines, but the clouds rushed together with such verve that bmw car alarms rose together in song all over the neighborhood. i am not proud of requiring rescue from a gas station, but i adore the moments when weather-pleasantry conversations actually mean something, when the guy at the corner store almost tells you to leave your car outside, there's some monstrous stuff out there and you shouldn't go.


1590. the world is my butt monkey.


1: so, you remember peter the deke?
2: um, no.
1: peter the frat boy?
2: oh, yeah.
1: he's starring in a horror movie. the milkman. the alumni magazine says he's the villain...i think peter's the milkman.
2: maybe it's a red herring, maybe he's the victim.
1: or the hero. maybe osteoporosis is the real killer.

[phone goes dead]


pinole, you never left my heart. i'm back at the lovingly paved blip on the freeway where kidchamp's first entry stumbled together last year. as before, denial is a theme: i got caught in a nasty thunderstorm on my way to davis, and accidents on the bay bridge kept me on the road until (what little)sun(there was)set. i remain blind as a bat on freeways after dark, so pinole and i are getting comfortable with one another. but all is not lost - a nice man at the shell station is letting me leave my car parked there overnight, and mom is ferrying me to davis so i can take the GRE in the morning. mothers are wonderful people, and mine is the hercules of mothers. i am the augean stables for the time being, but we won't dwell on that. for now we will dwell on jack in the box, a pen and soggy scraps of paper, and a big-ass cup of free root beer.

phil seconded my comments about the ring, after a fashion, and notes that ringu (the japanese source film, and a substantial franchise at this point) is harrowing. paul claims to have bested its horrors, but he also refuses to drink tapioca pearl tea; sometimes we listen to him, sometimes we don't. i'm happy to report sleep sans incident for the last few days, though i now shut doors to televisions (in addition to closets) before bed.

affable big-headed foam guy or no, free root beer or no, i don't really trust jack in the box; their menu is too varied. they sell the sort of things that one eats when grocery shopping isn't feasible and the freezer is full of mummified food from a volume discount store: jalapeno poppers, taquitos, injection-molded sausage patties. i grew up going to carl's jrs, and though they are also utterly vile, each franchise smells the same and each item tastes like the same deep fryer. they generate a queasy sort of recognition, while jack in the box gives me the impression that they're serving whatever fell from trucks on the freeway over my shoulder. given a choice, i would not patronize them. it's still pouring, though, and my sweater has the weight and smell of a yak.

as months go, october was fairly bizarre. i finally 'saw' my father without a moustache, courtesy of the new york post and people magazine; a pair of irishmen, both named mick, began demolishing my apartment without warning; joe passed the foreign service exam and moved back to arizona, and mom offered me my sisters' wisdom teeth for a halloween costume. i'm a tough cookie, but wisdom teeth are strange things. they're striped like agates, and they look like they could run away on their goofy little roots. they are suspect.

i still get the feeling that i invite drama because i coveted it so much as a teenager. should i apologize to my family for being a lightning rod for weird shit? is it that i simply attach sinister meaning to innocuous things? can i start fires like drew barrymore in that movie?

here's mom.