Sunday, October 18, 2009

In case of WOLVERINE

I love.

I love.

And it’s on nights like these that I love best, and most deeply, and most purely. George Winston’s “Autumn” is spinning languidly on the record player. I have a cup of cinnamon tea. And upstairs, Beth and Justin are talking, loving each other.

Just when I think I’m too hurt or too scared to go on, quiet moments like this come to me and I’m wrapped in a circle of unbroken love – my friends stand strong around me, my family clasps hands in a wider ring around them, and our God binds us all together. Nothing bad can happen to me. I’m safe.

And with that safety comes the beautiful freedom to love back, to give back. You can’t pry yourself open; I’ve tried. The harder you wrench at your seams, the tighter they knit themselves shut. Nothing opens them but love. You do have to try, but you try with love. Not desperation. Not fear.

It’s a weird metaphor, but I feel sometimes like the X-Men. Specifically, I feel like Rogue. I feel like a poison to everyone I want to help, to everyone I try to love. I keep people away; I want to touch them, but touching them will hurt them. Sometimes, I wonder about the creators of X-Men and how they could be so awful to create someone like Rogue. She embodies, in one way, one of our most fundamental fears – that we are our own enemy.

But, in their infinite grace, the X-Men people also created Wolverine. And Wolverine heals. He can heal himself, yes, but he can also heal Rogue.

Wolverine can heal himself and he can heal Rogue.

He can touch her. Does she hurt him? Of course. Inevitably. But he heals.

God has given me dozens of Wolverines over the years. Maybe hundreds. He put the ability to heal inside everyone. Humankind is entirely made of Wolverines and Rogues.

Sometimes we’re more one than the other. That’s our war. But we fight it and so does everyone else. Everyone. We don’t have to fight alone.

And on nights like these, I’ve been touched by a healing hand, not a poisonous one. I’m wrapped in a circle of unbroken love. I’m open. I love back.

I love. And I'm not Rogue, tonight.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In case of ALCHEMY

At six, my body is a furnace.

I stoke it out of bed and coax up a flame in my eyes.

I send myself faithfully out.

I am the quiet priest of a quiet religion,

Cloaked in flannel and milk white fog.

At seven, I turn the key in the lock, brass to brass.

I fling wide the door,

Opening, open,

Before a morning has been sung hello,

Before a plank has been lifted or a nail driven,

Before a pen has touched a page.

My body is a furnace,

Opening, open.

By eight, I’ve already served bread to the jangling gypsy band,

Tea to the king’s mysterious wife,

Dark cups of blood to the usual ghosts.

I send myself faithfully out.

At noon, the sun is roaring with his golden mouth,

Opening, open.

I am tumbling in a sphere of metal and glass.

I measure ice and potion,

Weigh metallic heaps of dust,

Pour and chop and carry.

I coax up a flame in my eyes.

At three, I am a cog in the clock of time.

I’m pulling coffee from its dark bean fists,

Separating water from earth,

Sorting moons from stars.

More visitors cluster around to watch me work,

To trade their coins for cups.

I am the quiet priest of a quiet religion.

At six, the sailors come whistling in, homebound.

Beggar children stretch out their hands for hunks of cheese.

The king stops by to ask after his wife.

I kiss them all,

And turn them back to the door.

I am tumbling in a sphere of metal and glass.

By nine, I distill the day into night.

I float through the shop like a white moth in a cave.

The lamplighter comes by, singing,

Offering me his arm.

I turn the key in the lock, brass to brass.

I am a cog in the clock of time,

Opening, open.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In case of 2007: The Very End

They stretched out, stomachs full of warm coffee.

And this, she realized, this was how it would happen. How he would finally drop anchor, cutting those telephone wire lines that connected him to Hannah. Because of this, he would call her tonight and tell her, voice breaking, that he would not be coming back to New York.

She expected this knowledge to come to her with a jolt of vicious joy, but it didn’t. She felt only relief, relief that it would all be over and that he could join himself together again. His continents would drift back together, glaciers cracking, tectonic plates rumbling in reverse, molten lava bubbling back into the earth. This was a prehistoric morning, as he rolled onto one shoulder, sand sugaring half his face. This was Pangea.

“It’s the bluest thing I’ve ever seen.” She said, nodding to the sky.

He smiled, but didn’t reach for her.

A gull squawked nearby. They listened to it and to the thunder of the Pacific and the starting-up morning sounds of the pier.

She noticed a wild-looking man, shirt off, panting as he jogged down the shore.

“Crazy man dead ahead.”

He only smiled again.

The relief began to ebb as he rolled back onto his back. She felt the rush of time come sweeping up through history, yanking landmasses apart at their seams.

He sat up and it was going.

He grabbed his phone, checked the time, said, “We need to move your car.”

And it was gone.

They stood, brushing sand off their bodies, and turned their backs on the Pacific. Their shadows stretched behind them.

And by the time he finally reached for her, she took his hand in full awareness that there was no Pangea. Not for her anyway. His hand, clasping hers tightly to help her over the dunes, was no more than an apology.

Monday, September 7, 2009

In case of 2007: Fall, Exercises

When I was seven, Jurassic Park was released into the world. Of course we weren’t allowed to watch such things. My sister was nine and even she didn’t see it until two years later. For some reason, though, the stories I’d heard about the movie haunted me. I saw clips, little clips about it on TV. I drew pictures of dinosaurs, and my older cousins terrorized us by hunting us down as raptors.

I don’t know if it was this way for everyone, but that craze seemed to last forever. It was four years later by the time I actually saw it. 1997. We were in the basement. I’d long since gotten a minute-by-minute retelling of the movie from my sister. And, even so, the film surpassed what four years of an overactive imagination could create. I don’t remember if this is true, if I said something about it right then, or if I could pinpoint that moment as being when I decided to make movies. I was already a writer. But Jurassic Park set me to fire.


On Christmas Day – I was probably about 14 – my mother told my grandparents that my sister was a better writer than me. I don’t know if, even then, my dreams of writing had solidified. But I know now that writing has always been so entangled in every part of my soul. It was the way she said it, a slight incline of her head at my own false assertions. I was trying to impress upon my grandparents just how talented Lisa was. But when I said she was better, I didn’t mean it.

My mother meant it. I don’t know if I so much cared about being worse than Lisa – she was older, of course, and she was Lisa. It was just an assessment of me, by my mother, that declared me unfit to pursue my deepest longing.


Three swings, all about a foot from the ground and then one baby swing, dangling by wound up rusted chains. They’re framed in yellow, garish, bright, rectangular. Someone built this playground, but they forgot the grass. Instead they’ve tried to keep the city out with chain-linked fences, drab brick, and dry mulch.

Spider-vein cracks in the greentop suggest earthquakes, past and future. In the inescapable angles of a Los Angeles sunset, towels sway on the clothesline.

No one but me knows this family has a baby. What a thing, what a beautiful chore, to roll up that last swing, raise up the baby so she can fly, suspended, tiny fists waving, all almond eyes and black bean little toes. She can sway, dancing, to the tumble of sirens.

I want that. I want this – four swings, a slide, four walls, and a city to keep at bay. And the breath of a baby in October. And a pumpkin.

I demand that, if I can never have the grass.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In case of 2007: Midnight, August

I once said that God must be a city built on the shore. I still believe that’s true. He must be cliffs, so strong and solid. He must be a roll of dark mountains, ferny and alive with unseen vegetation, the sound of crickets and the damp smell of fog.

He said a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. I still believe that, too – now more than ever in the murk of this particular Malibu evening. He is light, stronger than neon and fluorescent pollution, the clear ring of a bell against a low urban and suburban buzz.

And the Franciscans must have known, to have so well followed His example. To fortify themselves here, surrounded by the ocean – the blue and thick gray, a vast and melting nebula. At night, it’s not alive, not moving and certainly not audible above the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s inanimate, a dead thing, swirls of anesthetic and comfortless sleep.

This. Here. This is where we make our stand, toes at the edge of this. Not conceding anything but in plain sight, in piercing gold, a hiccup in the droning ocean flatline.

God’s hand will reach down from His city and plunge into the water and fish out buildings and SUVs and great fistfuls of humanity, wrench them, dripping mire, out of the abyss. He will invite them, longingly, with a searchlight beam in high, clear soprano notes, undulating, rapturous. He will speak in his booming voice and it will resonate in the chests of men and they will drag themselves up from the sucking tide and begin the climb to his city.

God is a beacon.

And it's for us to walk along the shore, pointing and saying, "Look, look!"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In case of 2007: Mid-July

Danny to me in the video store: “Why not get this one?”

I paused, biting my lip.

Danny, YOU could be biting my lip right now, I thought. Let’s go. Let’s tuck ourselves into a closet somewhere and you can kiss me as hard as you want.

But maybe it was something in the neon blue lights or the DVD he was holding. He just raised his eyebrows and waved the movie in my face.

“I don’t want to.” I said. “That one’s lame.”

“It’s funny.”

“Who wants funny?” Yes, I said it. Sarcastic and mean, just like that. But, you know, don’t get me wrong. I was in favor of funniness. I’m a funny girl. Danny was just not getting it.

He sighed and put the boring movie down.

The point was: we were young. Do you know how often you get to be young? We were young and on that particular night, we looked amazing. My hair was down, brushing my shoulders. Danny’s collar was open and I could just see his collarbone, curving beneath his skin. But it wasn’t just about making out, either.

I just wanted Danny to realize that we were young. That it was a night in July and there were crickets chirping out there in the darkness.

He was standing there, holding a romantic comedy, and probably not thinking about it. He was probably thinking about popcorn, probably about work in the morning, and, yes, probably about sex – but only in that brief, idiotic way men typically do.

He shoved his glasses up the bridge of his nose. I adored those glasses. They were part of his charm.

Somewhere, someplace, there once were two young people. And they went to the beach on a July night and wrestled in the sand. She rubbed sand in his face and when they tried to kiss they knocked their heads together. And the next morning she woke up with her hair in knots and her shoes soaked in seawater. And then he wrote it or she wrote it or they told a friend of theirs who wrote it. And that’s where Danny’s lame movie came from.

Danny wanted to watch something someone else had lived. And while it might make us feel good for a while, really, it would just get lost in translation. Because probably they didn’t even really knock their heads together when they kissed, but the person who wrote it decided that nobody would believe it if they didn’t knock their heads together. Because the truth would actually seem less realistic than the cute quirkiness of people who can’t kiss right. Good kissing is so done. The time has come for bad kissing and knotted hair and shoes that smell of the sea.

To Danny, it didn’t matter what had happened to these people. It only mattered what the writer wrote and what the two beautiful actors did. To Danny, that was all there was.

And he just stood there, lanky, glasses glinting in the fluorescents. For God’s sake, I know why he wanted that movie! Because he was only halfway on the beach, had only one foot in the closet, only one arm draped (very loosely) around my shoulders.

I wanted to know if Danny and I would ever knock heads. I wanted to do something that would make a good movie later.

But, at the end of the night, Danny and I watched his lame DVD. And, five years later, I wrote something I just made up.

And Danny and his tall blonde wife thought it was great.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In case of 2007: June

I guess we’re never promised anything. Not even this: the chatter of strangers and the silent bumper car collisions of their spirits. I’m writing a paper, ironically, about the function of religion. The airport is perfect for it, seemingly so ordinary – women staving off old age with too-red lipstick, little girls in Barbie shoes, heavy bags slung over shoulders.

This is the church of travel, the sanctuary of transition, and the harried flight attendant is our priestess. This businessman takes communion in his coffee.

I wonder how many souls are as deeply entrenched in living as I. How many are as determined to consciously breathe and to know the flickering red-yellow-green-go­ of passing moments? Oh, Creator of the air in which we’re prepared to trespass, send a tremor through space. Send turbulence or déjà vu. Send words to accompany my expansive ache.

This, then, is the function of religion: to explain the boy who wears socks with sandals, the striped ties, the thick blood/glass eyes/brittle marrow of passing bodies, the answer to Eliot’s overwhelming question.

The answer (with as much precision as we’ll ever get this side of a downed 747).

I find myself in love with the most unlikely people.

Oh, painted toes, round glasses, braided hair, and rustling newspaper – know that steel and sky only imitate a deeper motion. Know that it is only love that holds you aloft. Know that we’re never promised anything.

Not even this.

Monday, August 17, 2009

In case of 2007: April and May

I get the feeling I’ll look back on this and either remember how and not why, or why, but not how.


Circumstantial evidence:

  1. I am wearing a pair of his socks.
  2. The movie is stopped somewhere in the middle.
  3. I have no idea if it’s rainy or sunny.
  4. The fridge is empty.
  5. My earrings have disappeared.
  6. My fingerprints. Everywhere.
  7. The corpse, still warm, in the middle of the living room floor.

Yep. I think there’s enough to convict me.


One line slashed down from his collarbone to his hips and ribs materialized around it. His frame bled and grew, budded into shoulders, deepened into almond colored skin. I watched with fascination as Eric blossomed beneath my gaze. He seemed to me to be a man of clay. Ash and bronze and pyrite.

The earth moved beneath me and beside me on the living room floor. He yawned once, curled himself around my body, and kissed the small of my back.

I ate Cheerios (witnessed his birth.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

In case of 2007: Early January

He hunches sideways in the chair, long backbone wedged at an awkward angle, arms folded gracefully over the left armrest. I watch; my eyes trace the angular lines of his body, making a mental sketch of this pose in crude slashes of black ink and red lipstick. I will remember him in this instant – the minute threads of tawny hair, the freckle constellations, the feathery eyelash shadows on his cheeks. No one else can have these details; these are visible only from the precise distance between my eyes and his.

From his glance, I realize my locket has fallen open. I snap it shut.

Deep breath.

Like bad actors, we’ve lost our place in this conversation. We fumble with our scripts. The audience grows restless. Coughing. Programs rustle.

“I’m growing a thorn bush,” I begin.

His lips twitch slightly, listening.

“I’m still mad, I mean. At Bobby. I’m mad that I’m not over him. I thought I was. But this thorn bush has been growing. I realized it.”

The eternal theater critics lean forward in their chairs.


“He made my sister cry,” I say, plowing ahead with my monologue. “She was visiting and they talked – they were friends, you know, before. I went to bed. She woke me later, crying. She’d just believed in us so much and had never really had a chance to grieve about it. It made me mad. Most of the time I’m like the Queen of Hearts, you know? Paint the roses red. But every now and then, just for the hell of it, I go over and – are those thorns? Shit!”

He smiles. I’m on a roll.

“I don’t know. At first I was mad because he didn’t hurt me worse. He could have been cruel. Maybe that would have made this easier. But even if he had been, I wouldn’t have believed him. I can’t make my heart believe him. Which means that I’m living in this thing that isn’t true. And that pisses me off.”

He absorbs this, then asks, “Do you think you’ll get back together?”

New territory.

I improvise, “Part of me thinks so. But another part of me tells that part to forget it. It won’t happen. I don’t know.”

“You told me that love sometimes dies.”

I look up at him quickly.

“I don’t believe that,” he reassures me. “But you do.”


Silence. I bask in the glow of his faith. He is suddenly so old to me. He is ancient and I am ancient. And we go on, walking, talking, our ancient hands clasped firmly together. The veil of the other life hangs paralyzingly close. The watchers hold their breath.

But my coffee cup is empty.

We are so young. I let it go. Sand through my hourglass.

A shining, beautiful grain of sand.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In case of 2007

Today, while I was tidying up my room in anticipation of Jans coming tomorrow (!), I found an old spiral-bound notebook. As most of my notebooks like this one tend to become commonplace books – that is, full of everything from writing to doodles to class notes and phone numbers – I was intrigued to discover that this particular book contains a pretty accurate reading of my entire life from the year 2007.

2007 was an eventful year. It started with an incredible secret fling (as I was rebounding from my breakup with Bobby), moved from there into our mad and manic production of Flutter, took an unexpected twist in my romance with Eric, dipped low into a lovely, languid summer in the Pinery with Jes, then wrapped up with my last hectic semester of college at LAFSC in Hollywood.

Plus, add in there my sweet friendship with Jeremy McDaniel, visits from Tyger and Margie, a whole crammed month at Act One, and the perfect marriage I found in Kevin, Katherine, and Rian.

2007 was maybe the best year ever.

And so, for the next few entries, I’ll be posting some long lost essays and scrawlings I found in the 2007 notebook this morning. I know they won’t mean as much to anybody as they mean to me, but I thought you might like to come with me on this trip to the not-so-distant (but distant enough) past.


Sunday, July 19, 2009


I think I gave up my search for identity a long time ago.

Let me explain.

From what I remember from Psychology 101, generally speaking, most people form their identities during their teenage years. They actively wonder who they are, what they will become, what their role in the world should be. They collect some ideas, choose some childhood experiences that correspond to and support these ideas, and sort of build an identity foundation with these large granite ideological blocks.

And from then on, it’s all just pebbles, really. Little stones here and there, whatever you can make stick, whatever you assign meaning to, whatever is the same color of granite you have already…that’s what you use to build the rest of your identity. Occasionally, you get some bigger stones – like at major life events – but mostly you build with small rocks from there until the end of your days.


Sometimes I feel like I’m made entirely of small rocks. Where are my cornerstones, my irreplaceable truths? Who am I? What has formed me? What do I believe? I have no idea. I’m like a child in a sandbox that builds something gorgeous one day, then knocks it down and starts over the next.

Gah, stupid metaphors. What am I really saying?


I gave up looking for Tricia. I gave it up long ago. I don’t know who or what she is, and – to be perfectly honest – I don’t care.

I suspect that this is abnormal; most people don’t live this way, they walk with both feet on the ground. One step leads to the next, one foot is always in the past, one foot moves ahead into the future.

Me? I jump.

The past is gone, over. It’s nice to look at and watch, to bring out and listen to as a favorite song or movie, and I cherish the people from my past, I do. As for the future, it’s exciting. I can’t wait to find out what’s coming…

But the present is always this detatched, suspended leap.

And I am always a different collection of experiences, the important ones are interchangeable, the sad ones don’t matter, the bright ones have faded. I can have or have not, I don’t care. And if I do care, then I care for today, or for this month, but next month I won’t. I will look back and say, “At that time in my life, I cared deeply.” And that’s as far as it will go with me. Already I will be devoting my attention to something else.

Former versions of myself seem like strangers to me now. I have some things in common with them, but I am not them anymore. And I don’t miss them. I miss very little. I need almost nothing that I don’t have, now, at this present moment. Plus, I don’t remember much. I think the memories might be in me somewhere, but I have to go actively hunting for them in my mind.

The point is…

I let go. I don’t know how not to. I let go of everything and everyone, beautiful or ugly, joyful or painful. Either “Tricia” is buried so deep in me I can’t see her or feel her, or she is always on the surface and shape-shifting too fast for me to know her well.

(And so if you love me, hold on to me. I just don't know how to hold on to you.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In case of BOB DYLAN

Well. I’m back. And even I can’t believe all that’s happened in the last couple months. I’m reeling in the shock of it, the joy of it, and the mystery of it all. My life is radically different…and amazing.

Here’s an enumerated list.

  1. Screenplay. I finished my screenplay, the screenplay that kept me away from this blog, on June 22, and I sent it off to Forceful that night. (Still waiting to hear from him, so don’t get excited.) Looking back on that process, though, gives me great pride. I worked my butt off. I wrote daily. I wrote pages and pages and scenes and scenes that wound up in the trash.Sometimes, I would sit and stare at my computer for hours without writing a word. At other times, I would write ten pages in two hours.

    To borrow an idea from Madeline L’Engle, I feel more NAMED. I feel like a radio, picking up waves, playing the song of the universe. I feel like I know what I’m supposed to be and do. I feel strong, important, alive. Pages and pages of more thoughts on this later, inevitably.
  1. Good food. Shortly after I quit writing on this blog, I came down with some kind of strange internal disease. After some debate, days of pain, and a trip to a doctor, I decided it was linked to my gallbladder and/or pancreas. Obedient to research on the matter, and at the suggestion of the aforementioned doctor, I cracked down on my diet. No more two cups of coffee a day. No more fattening foods, including chocolate and all forms of refined sugars. No more beef or fowl, and no dairy or eggs, even. Nothing processed. And I became a vegetarian – well, more like a vegan – for two weeks. Not a single slip. The pain wasn’t worth it.

    After that, I started working little things back into my diet. Cheese came back. Fowl, so as to get my protein. And by the time my sister’s wedding rolled around, I was doing well enough to eat cake at the reception. The gall bladder/pancreas thing? Pretty much gone now. However, what I found out through the whole thing was that GOOD FOOD MATTERS. Giving up eating shit was like…well, torture, at first. But after a while, I felt so good that I stopped craving the bad stuff. I feel lighter, better, healthier. Plus, cooking is AWESOME. So much fun. And I love knowing what’s in the food I’m eating, you know? Let’s hope this lifestyle change is here to stay.
  1. Michael. Michael came to California on June 23, and then we both went to Ohio on June 25. Getting to see him, here, in my world? Indescribable. So good. SOOOO different than I thought it would be. (In this case, the “good” and the “different” are unrelated, “different” being fundamentally neither positive nor negative.) I just can’t get over it. I’m dating him, and we’re happy, but we can be such strangers to each other at times. It’s been eight months now – going on nine – and how can I learn so much that’s new, really new to me? And the new things are delightful, wonderful, but NEW?!? How can that be?

    As Michael say, “It’s like knowing half a person. The half I know, I know very well. But the other half has been so hidden until now.”

    In any case, we are learning. And we’re excited to be learning. Onward and upward!
  1. Lisa and Lin’s Wedding. What can I say? It was beautiful. It was incredible. It was just about perfect.

    It was also 100% STRAIGHT CRAZY. The days leading up to the wedding were some of the most stressful, busy, manic days of my life. The sheer number of crafts and projects! I can’t even describe it. But was it worth every minute?

    Yes. Yes and yes. A thousand times over.
  1. Job. Well, it happened. Oggy let me go.

    It was kind of mutual, if you want the truth. He and I discovered months ago that I was wrong for the job. When he hired me back in January, he thought the studio needed someone administrative, managerial. But as it turns out, the studio needs someone sales and business. I’m not that person. I’ve never been that person. And I’ve never claimed to be. So it was only a matter of time before Oggy’s need to pay his bills won out over his love for me. This happened on Tuesday, July 7. Less than a week ago. Incredibly, though, I already have a new job. It’s nothing fancy; it’s at a cool little coffee shop here in Monrovia. It’s part-time. It’s minimum wage. And it won’t fix all my problems. But I’m so happy. In all honesty, Oggy did me a favor.

    Plus, now I may even be able to go back to teaching my kids. Can you imagine? Serve coffee to hip locals? Teach my beautiful, inquisitive Asian children? Do you have any idea how fulfilling that would be?!? I should have quit at the studio long ago.

Which brings us up to where I am now. What do you guys think?

That’s right…

The times they are a-changin’!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Every November, Jans writes a novel. 

She makes me jealous.  She inspires me.  She shames me.  It’s an incredible feat, and one that she has somehow pulled off for the past three or four years or something.  10,000 words in a month.  Amazing.

Now, I’ve never read any of these novels.  Jans, to the best of my understanding, keeps them under lock and key.  So I don’t know much about their quality, except that I’m sure the writing is superb, even if the story lags a bit in places.  The writing is the point, anyway.  She writes for the sake of writing.  Because it is in her.  Every November, Jans writes a novel with desperation, as though her life depends on it.

I’m only now beginning to realize that it does.

A few weeks ago, three and a half now, I befriended a man who writes for a living.  We’ll call him Forceful.  And what Forceful has been teaching me is that a writer who doesn’t write every day, who doesn’t write like her life depends on it, is a sham.  A writer who writes casually, as though she has all the time in the world?  That, my friends, is not a writer.

So for the past three and a half weeks, I’ve been working on a screenplay.  I came up with the idea, developed it, and dove into writing it within a handful of days.  It consumes me.  The screenplay is all there is.  And, in case I ever for a second forget that, there’s Forceful to kick me in the ass and make me go again.

So that’s where I’ve been.  I get up, shower, breakfast, work, home, dinner, and WRITE WRITE WRITE, then Michael, then bed.  In fact, it seems the only time I have to breathe is lunch.

So I’m sorry that it’s been almost a month since my last blog.  I’m sorry for all of you, because I’m being a bad friend.  But I need to do this.  I need to quit whining and be a writer.  I need to write.  Forcefully.

I'll be back when it's done.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Australia is a strange land.  It’s nothing like North America.  It’s not even anything like Europe.  It feels familiar, but foreign.  It’s like stepping into another dimension, parallel, but unrelated to this one.  It’s just Australia unto Australia.  Itself unto itself.

And when I was there, I was like a parallel version of me.  Like Alice in Wonderland.

In Australia, I had a new name.  Tricia, the way they say it.  Michael’s Tricia.  I had new friends – a whole group of them – that seemed like they’d just been waiting for me to get there.  Strange, romantic, wonderful people.  So inclined to like me, to love me.  I had  new money in my wallet.  New streets and towns.  New words jangling around in my head.

And there was no adjusting to it!  There was no time of “settling in.”  I went to sleep on the plane and woke up and then suddenly Michael’s arms were around me.  And I was in Australia, deep down the rabbit hole, among mad hatters and march hares.

It just happened.  The week just happened, as though it had been happening all along and I'd never really known it.

I moved Michael into a house and we lived -- lived -- there.

We cleaned the old kitchen and hung clothes on the line.  I met the neighbors.  We ate cold chicken with Dave and Lucinda in the middle of the night.  We ate cereal in the morning sun, sitting on the flagstones in the backyard.  And we wandered Sydney at night with Simon and Victoria, ducking in and out of pubs, dodging early-autumn rainstorms.

And Michael was there.  He was there when I went to sleep and there when I woke up. 

And every time I saw him, it was like a miracle.  That we were there, and I could reach out and touch him.  That we could go buy groceries.  Groceries!  Shopping was a revelation.  Riding the train?  An adventure.

And yes, of course, we did things.  But we didn’t do anything that wasn’t a part of his life now, a part of my parallel life.  A tourist goes somewhere to see something they wouldn’t ordinarily see.  I felt like I was seeing things I’ve already been seeing things for months, for years.  Because they are familiar to Michael’s eyes.

And because Michael is a part of me.

And because when Alice wakes up, she finds herself on a riverbank, and she tells her sister the dream of Wonderland.  But her sister knows that Wonderland is not a dream, not an inaccessible dream anyway, but a lovely dream that lives and breathes and goes on and has a life of its own.

And that’s Australia.

I’m back in California now.  But Michael and I have a life of our own.  And that life goes on.  We carry each other.

And we go on, parallel, Australia, California, Michael and I together like a heartbeat, on and on.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In case of BLOOD TIES

This is my brother.  He is neat.

But tonight, he's asleep in the ICU at the Hospital.

For anyone that doesn’t know, Alex has been going through some pretty scary stuff lately.  He developed some weird symptoms about six weeks ago.  His torso was strangely numb.  It didn’t make sense.  He told my dad.  My dad was worried, but said nothing.

Then, on a Thursday – two weeks ago from today, exactly – Alex woke up and had trouble moving his legs.  My dad took him to the doctor.  The doctor drew blood and ordered a CAT scan and an MRI.

It was the first time I’d heard about any of this.  And suddenly it really looked like my brother had MS or, worse, that he had a tumor on his spine.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.  That was a horrifying weekend.

My brother is 18.  He’s the star of the cross-country team.  He’s long and angular, built to run.  Just like my dad.  He’s the lead in the school musical.  He has a lovely tenor voice and a beautiful girlfriend.  I’m frightfully proud of him.

But with this sudden threat of slowly debilitating diseases and cancer, I’ve started remembering that my brother wasn’t always cool.  And it wasn’t just that he was neutrally neither cool nor uncool.  He was ACTIVELY UNCOOL.  He was a downright GEEK.  My brother used to be a natural klutz, socially awkward, incredibly misunderstood. 

We used to call him the Master of Disaster.  In his childhood, he split his gums open and had to get stitches IN HIS GUMS on two completely different occasions.  There’s also a home video in which toddler Alex picks up a kitchen knife and ALMOST falls on it.  I mean, every single time you watch it – though you know it all turns out okay – you still want to grab the knife away, or catch him, or something!  No, Alex, put the knife DOWN!

Plus, Alex was the kid that EVERYBODY tried to ditch.  Like, Lisa and I are going out to do something.

Mom:  Take Alex with you.

Me:  No way!  He’s too little.

Mom:  Well, you can’t leave him ALONE.

Me:  Watch me!

Lisa:  (feeling vaguely guilty) He can play with…Ben…

Though, of course, we always LOVED Alex.  But he had trouble fitting in.  In fact, for a while it seemed, we were his only friends.  We were very imperfect friends.  But we were stuck with him.  So we made it work.

But then, abruptly, it seemed…Alex grew up.

He did this mostly when I wasn’t looking. 

And the second I realized it was happening, that I was in California, and that Alex was coming into his own…

And that I was missing it…

This is my brother.  My BROTHER.

Some people AREN’T friends with their siblings.  But I never wanted that for us.  I wanted – WANT – to be a part of his life. 

And I want his life to continue.

Anyway.  It turns out that Alex doesn’t have MS.  And he doesn’t have cancer.  But he does have a mass on his spine – or did, until this morning.  The mass is a birth defect.  Alex has probably had it his whole life.  It’s a cluster of blood vessels that, about six weeks ago, started to rupture and bleed into his spinal column.  This is still very bad.  It can cause nerve damage and, obviously, a loss of motor skill, etc.  And it still requires – required, past tense – spinal surgery.  Risky.

But it went smoothly.  And tonight, I know, though slumbering in a deep haze of pain and painkillers, Alex will pull through. 

If you know him at all, you are lucky. 

But my sister and I are the luckiest.  We’ve gotten front row seats to watch him, to watch this KID, beat it all.  He beat accidents, beat injuries, beat bullies, beat abandonment, beat everybody on his cross-country team, and now…

Now we get to watch him beat potential paralysis and death.

Alex, I love you.  Fight, Bud.  Fight.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Although my hopes could not have been higher, I was surprised at just how wonderful Australia was.

A full update to follow.  But for now, this.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In case of TERROR

Tonight I saw, up close, the deep and fearsome solitude of a closed person.

One of my friends, a girl who married young, is unhappy in her marriage.  This does not mean her marriage will die.  It simply means that her marriage is sick.  She and her husband have not yet gone to have this illness professionally diagnosed.  But she suspects that it may be quite serious.  Only time will tell.

But, anyway, this has thoroughly shaken me.  Remember the wedding I went to a while back? The beautiful, romantic, heroic wedding?  That changed my views about marriage and weddings in general?

This is her.

And tonight she described her frustrations and resentment and pain to me with a shocking cynicism.

My heart twists away from me, whining.

I have given up on Truth in relationships.  There is no way to find out why we do the things we do.  Or what it all “means.”  Who can begin to know, who can begin to say, what has happened between people?  Even if we could write down everything we say out loud, who could write down the things we don’t? 

Who can score and tally glances?  Who can quantify a touch, a kiss?

We say things that we WANT to be true.  I say things that I want to be true.  That’s just how it is.

And even if you think you Know in the moment, time will warp your certainty and strip it from you.  You will be uncertain the second It is over.  You will doubt almost immediately.  You will fear, you will wonder, and guess.  Five years later you will look back and say It was because of This.  Ten years later you will marvel that you were ever so ignorant as to believe That.

You will close.

People open and close. 

And even they don’t know when or how or why.

There is no Truth that can be known.  Not between human beings.  Not between anyone who is flawed, imperfect, insecure, afraid. 

Perhaps there is – there will be – Truth.  Perhaps the Truth is that whatever MUST happen will happen.  But we’ll only know what that is when the movie fades to black and the credits roll.  And, in this life, there’s no script to read or way to fast forward.

I cannot tell you how this realization pains me.  As Billy Collins says, I cannot tell you how vastly my loneliness is deepened.  How poignant and amplified the world before me seems.

In a week I will get on a plane and go to Australia.  I’m going to see a man there.  I think this is a brave thing to do, but it seizes me with terror – with the oldest, most familiar fear I know – the Terror of Being.

The consuming, breathless Terror of Being.

I have pinned my hope to a star.

But since there is no discoverable Truth here, since I am an astronaut, exploring things I can't even begin to understand, and since I know that...I go with hope.

Because my friend DID get married.  Because she WAS heroic.

Because, even if there is a death in the future, there once was a life.  LIFE in all capitals!  

And the alternative is tin and stone and sawdust.


Yesterday, on my way in to work, I noticed a man looking curiously at a bench.

He seemed stumped, perplexed. He looked around several times. Then, when he noticed me staring, he hurried off, dismissing the bench as uninteresting. Uh, I wasn’t looking at that bench. I don’t know what you mean.

When I grew closer, I saw why he was so captivated.

The bench was strewn with books.

Books, perhaps ten, all tattered and well-loved, sitting quietly there. Completely unattended. They might have been patiently waiting for the bus. But it wasn’t a bus stop. It wasn’t anything. It was just a bench. A bench and some books.

And, standing there, I was felt a surge of affection for Monrovia. I love this town. Although I haven’t lived here long, I’m constantly discovering new and beautiful things about it.

The restaurants, cozy, locally owned and incredibly diverse. The cute streets and colorful residents. The street fair every Friday and Family Festivals in the summer. I love getting out of work, inhaling the smell of funnel cakes and barbeque, and lazily beginning my walk home. I love that by the time I get into my room, the ceiling fan is spinning, Beth is home, and the sun is setting out our window.

I run into my neighbors at the bank, at the grocery store, at the little frozen yogurt places. I run into my friends, and my brothers and sisters from church. Sometimes, in the evenings, Justin plays music at Monrovia Coffee Company. And I walk there to see him. Normally, when I get there, the room is already full of people, sipping warm coffees and looking at whatever new artwork is on display. It’s always like they’re waiting for me, somehow.

I mean, I’m sorry to gush like this, but to me Monrovia is the place we all kind of wished we lived. It’s a simple place, full of young people, and interesting people, and history. It’s quiet and lovely, away from the frenzy and paranoia of Los Angeles. It's the kind of town that would have a statue of Mark Twain in front of the public library. It’s the town Upton Sinclair called home, anyway.

So I stood there for another minute, wondering what Monrovia meant by leaving these books here for me to find. I looked around, to see if someone had intentions to come and retrieve these books, but all I saw were a few couples eating breakfast on the curbside café tables in front of The Monrovian. No one paid me any attention at all.

And, well, what would you have done?

I took a book. And no one stopped me. I consider it to be a gift – one of many, many gifts – from Monrovia. My Monrovia.

And it’s called, appropriately enough, “Oh The Glory Of It All.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The older I get the more I wonder if life might really be all about sex.

I’m not sure who said that to me first.  That life is actually all about sex.  I read it somewhere, I think, or heard it in a movie.  Anyway, it’s a catchy idea, you’ve gotta admit.  Life = sex.  It’s got a nice ring to it.

And people certainly do live like that’s true, sometimes.  Let’s take one of my co-workers, for example.  Which one of these, do you think, is his favorite thing to do?

a)      work at the studio

b)      crack

c)      his girlfriend

Well.  Okay, I admit it.

Between B and C, it’s a toss up.

And Oggy?  Well, after trying a long distance relationship for a while, he decided it would be better to date someone locally.  So that’s who he’s sleeping with now.

Not that he bothered to break up with the long distance girlfriend, mind you.

And meanwhile, all I’m doing day after day is researching photographers as potential clients.  And what do you think this research has led me to?

You guessed it.  Lots and lots of pictures of mostly naked people.

Which brings me full circle back to:  life = sex. 

It does, right?  It must!


I have lots of ideas about sex.  What it is, what it isn’t.  What it means, what it doesn’t mean.  I’ve built these ideas from books I’ve read and people I’ve talked to and the handful of things I’ve actually witnessed and experienced.

But what I keep coming back to is that sex, boil it down, probably just satisfies that human desire to be in contact with other humans.  Even if it’s only physical contact. 

And when humans are most open, most intimate, most together…ladies and gentlemen…we call that love.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that sex and love are equitable.  But from where I’m standing, they’re born from the same two things.  Thing one:  the desire not to be alone.

Thing two:  the fear that we might be.

And if you have something to believe in, some reason to believe you’re not alone…then life, for you, is not all about sex.  At least, it doesn’t have to be.

But if you have nothing to believe in, if you’re a man at the mercy of chaos, a figure alone on a distant star in a cold universe…then you will reach out with every part of you to be touched.

And even those of us that do believe in God need that, too, sometimes. 

Monday, March 9, 2009


I see things.

And in case you’re about to be all comforting and reassure me that, it’s okay, everyone sees things, let me say right here exactly what I mean. I see things that aren’t there.

This is, I think, what it must mean to be a writer. We’re the kids that played pretend games all the way through elementary school, all the way through fifth or sixth grade, all the way until some Backstreet-Boy-Wanna-Be decided to start pushing us around. And even that wouldn’t have gotten us to stop if it hadn’t awaked our survival instincts. I mean, really. I blame Darwin. Survival was the reason we stopped.

We stopped and we traded our pretend games for, well, secret pretend games.

It sounds funny, but I’m not kidding. It wasn’t that I ever stopped SEEING The Big Dragon. I just stopped POINTING at The Big Dragon.

Thanks a lot, Chuck.

But now I’m starting to wonder if it really is all in my head.

Like, I look around. And there’s all this drama and meaning. There’s all this story everywhere. I can point to anybody and be like “you did this because of that time in your childhood when you ran through the lawn sprinkler. And, what’s more, you’re bound to run through the lawn sprinkler again!” Or whatever. And I can write it that way and it will make perfect sense.

But some days I wonder if I’m just grasping at the air. I wonder if The Big Dragon really exists at all. Or if he ever existed. I used to see him and I ran. But to everybody else…I was just running. I wanted to believe that my running meant something. But maybe it didn’t. Maybe it really didn’t.

And sometimes, when people hurt us, we feel like there’s a reason. Because in our minds, there was a relationship there. There was a promise there. There was trust and love there.

Trust. Love. Intangible things. But they’re the realest things we know.

So when we hurt, we want to believe that it means something!

But maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it really doesn’t.

I’ve spent my life throwing words at this, throwing flour at the Invisible Man. I feel like if I can just powder him from head to foot, give shape and space to him, then I can prove that he is there!

But sometimes the flour just floats, gently, in a horrible yawning silence, to the floor. There’s nothing for it to cling to.

And sometimes there’s no reason to run, anymore.

Friday, March 6, 2009

In case of THE KGB

My boss is Bulgarian. And 90% of my job is handling him.

When I first met Oggy, he was very off-putting. He shook my hand, very obviously checked me out, and then monosyllabically answered what I thought were incisive, conversation-starting questions.

The second time I met Oggy, he asked me about my boyfriend. I told him my boyfriend lives in Australia. He looked wryly at me and said, “So you don’t have a boyfriend.”

Of course, now I know: that’s just Oggy. He’s incredibly racist, sexist, and wildly inappropriate. He likes to insinuate to clients – clients! – that he and I are sleeping together. He openly hits on every woman we meet. The hotels in Vegas? He says they have too many black people, so he doesn’t like to go there.

He drinks. He throws fits. He can’t keep track of any part of the business and insults his employees. He cusses out telemarketers.

But the really crazy part? I love him.

He’s hilarious and brilliant and colorful. His past – from what I know of it – has been full of great pain. And yet he keeps a sense of humor. As quick-tempered as he is, he’s also quick to forgive. And he’s full of love for his son, his daughter, his new grandson, his on-again-off-again girlfriend, and even his ex-wife. And he would never fire me. Never ever fire me. Only if he couldn’t pay me anymore.

There was one night in Vegas when Oggy and I maybe each had one cocktail too many. So we were striding, laughing uproariously, through the casino in the Golden Nugget. Oggy asked me if I’d seen the tigers in Vegas. Tigers? I said. No.
He held my arm. “They have tigers everywhere here. You should see them, the lions and tigers.”
“And bears?” I said, being witty. “Oh my.”
He didn’t get it. But he did stop the nearest casino attendant. Just a random guy there by the slots. “Where are the bears?” He demanded. “We need to see the Las Vegas bears!”
“We know you have bears!” Oggy said. “Tell us where they are!”
“Maybe in the zoo?” The guy said doubtfully.
“It is her first time in Vegas.” Oggy explained. “She wants to see the bears.”

But then, before waiting for an answer, Oggy steered me on and off we went.

At the elevators, I said I was going to go up and go to bed. “I’m leaving you,” I said.
“Why?” He whimpered.
“Because I don’t love you anymore.” I said.
He nodded sadly. “Already you don’t love me anymore. Okay. But, please, do not take the children!”

I laughed.

When people don’t remember him, Oggy helps them out by saying, “You remember me. I am tall, blue eyes, blond hair, no accent.” Then they laugh.

Then he says, “No, I am only kidding. This is Ognen Borissov. KGB.”

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In case of DOMINO

I am a wild girl.  I claim that.  I own it.

I like to drive about 90 miles an hour, the windows down, racing the James Bond music I’m blaring over the roar of the freeway.  I wink at people as I blow past them. 

I like to wear bright red lipstick, knee high boots, and dark eye makeup.  Like James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, I have a red leather jacket.  I’d get a tattoo if I could afford it.

When I argue, I can yell.  Really yell.

I love big, cheesy action movies.  LOVE THEM.  I love watching Keanu Reeves try to deliver a serious line – Point Break, Speed, whenever.  I love to see shit blow up.  I even love totally unmotivated sex and violence.  Why not?  What’s not to like?  I’m not noble!

I like to run for the sake of running.  Not running like, I’m gonna go put on my running shoes and exercise.  Not like that.  Running like, I’m gonna run like Lola, in my jeans and sneakers, run until I can’t breathe anymore.  Run like there's something at stake.  I like to climb trees, too.  The higher the better.

And if there’s a dangerous river?  Give me a raft, a little instruction, and I’m in it.  And if there’s a small cavern, full of mud?  Give me a headlamp; I’m gonna crawl through.  And if there’s an expedition to the end of the world?  Sign me up.

And I speak my mind.  I tell the truth.  I’m not polite.  If I have a question, I’ll ask it.  If I see the answer to the problem, I’ll tell the person in charge.  And if he tells me that it’s not the answer?  I’ll tell him he’s wrong.

Show me a locked door to kick down, show me a window to smash open, show me a fight that needs fighting.

I am a wild girl.

Men tell me they’ve never met anyone like me. 

But I think the world is full of wild girls.  I think the world is full of girls like me that didn’t want – NEVER wanted – to quietly play dolls.  And I think that nobody should ask you to, just because you’re female.

I also think nobody should MAKE men like big, cheesy action movies.

I don’t think that the world full of wild girls or weak boys.  I think the world is full of people.  I think that if you want to drive slow, you should drive slow.  If you want to play with dolls, PLEASE, play on.

But if you’re a wild girl?  Be a wild girl.  And don’t apologize.

Holla back!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In case of A LOVE AFFAIR

I remember the first time I watched the Academy Awards on television.

We were living in Herndon, VA, and Billy Crystal was hosting that year.  I remember his opening monologue, which included a hilarious version of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme.  I remember Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who were young faces then, accepting a screenwriting award for a little movie they’d written and directed and acted in themselves.  That was the year Celine Dion sang “My Heart Will Go On.”  That was the year Titanic won everything.  It was 1998.

And that – those precious hours, right then – that was when I fell madly in love with Oscar.

And I hadn’t even seen Titanic.

First off, though, let’s get this much on the record:  I don’t necessarily place an absolute faith in the value of the Academy Awards.  I know that sometimes the winners don’t deserve it – not as much as some of the other nominees and not as much, even, as some people who didn’t get nominated.  I know that Oscars are political symbols, politically given.  So I’m not naïve about that. 

And I don’t always like the “celebrity” aspect of the awards either.  I almost never watch all that red carpet stuff beforehand, when everybody analyzes each other’s clothes and jewelry and hairstyles.

But what I love, LOVE, is the heart of the matter. 

What I love is that whenever I watch the Oscars, I feel like I’m hanging out with a bunch of my old friends.  Because these people love movies.  And I LOVE MOVIES, TOO!  It’s like I finally get see the faces of people – just like me – who want to devote their lives to the silver screen.  I know why they do what they do.  I know that, deep down, we all know how beautiful and poignant movies have made our lives.  And every year that there are more, that there is new beauty and poignancy brought into the world, that year is a year worth celebrating.  CELEBRATE CREATION!

So I have now spent over a decade watching the Academy Awards on TV.  I have seen Roberto Benigni climb exultantly across the tops of the chairs at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and I have seen Adrien Brody passionately kiss Halle Berry right on the lips.  I’ve seen the creation of an award for animation, watched the Awards move permanently into the Kodak Theater, and nervously hung onto my precious Oscars as they barely survived the WGA strike.  I’ve even spotted a member of the Secret Society of Seat Sitters!

And last year I got to stand on the stage and look out across that sea of empty chairs and imagine what the theater would look like if they were full. 

And tonight I get to watch the whole production for the twelfth amazing year.  So Happy Anniversary, Oscar!  I hope we stay together for twelve more years. 

Heck.  I hope we stay together forever. 

Friday, February 20, 2009


Hi, I’m Tricia.  And I’m a wedding addict.

(mumble mumble)

Hi, Tricia.

It has been…four minutes since my last geek out. 

(weak applause)

For most of my life, I didn’t care about weddings.  They were always the same awful things:  stuffy, boring, cheesy.  They were copies of copies of copies.  Tradition.  Formality.  They required uncomfortable clothes and uncomfortable conversations with distant relatives.

But then, in September, my sister got engaged.  And she started to plan.  That’s when I geeked out for the first time.  She sent me this link:  And she told me that she was thinking of getting married in a barn.  A barn!  Good grief that’s cute, I thought.  So I clicked on the link and I saw that weddings could be beautiful.  Tradition?  Formality?  No.  Weddings could be classy.  Weddings could be THE GREATEST THING EVER.

Since then I’ve been geeking out every day.  My sister created this wedding blog of her own (  And now I pretty much live there.  She’s got all these pictures of up the adorable little brown paper envelopes she’s going to send her invitations in, and some really wonderful stories about guestbook conversations, and two perfectly GORGEOUS inspiration boards. 

Plus, I’m totally IN this wedding.  It’s not even that I’m going.  I’m the freaking MAID OF HONOR.  Which means that I get to stand there next to my beautiful sister in her good-grief-that’s-cute barn and hold a bouquet and everything.  And everybody – but everybody – we know and love is going to be there.  And since I realized that?  I’ve started geeking out at least once an hour.

I’m kind of ashamed to admit it.  But I can’t help it!  She designed this whole incredible monogram for the invitations and she bought this dress and now she’s sending me links with more amazing wedding blogs, like and, plus a whole host of other links for photography and cakes and decorations.  So what am I supposed to do? I’m wedding obsessed!  It’s all I want to talk about weddings to everyone!  All the time!

And the worst part?  I don’t even want to quit.  At all.

(shocked murmurs)

That’s right.  I’m not going to quit.

I've gotta go geek out.

Excuse me.  (leaves the podium)