"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves." Ludwig Wittgenstein

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Hadn’t he met her half-way, in fact, more than half-way? Richard pictured love as an expansive river over which two lovers, typically, built a bridge toward one another. Aren’t we supposed to meet in the middle? he thought. A current of fear ran through him now, as he imagined that he was building the entire bridge himself. At first, he pictured Lola, innocently standing on the other side, her dainty hands seemingly beckoning him, but as he approached her, he could see she was really waving him away, as if she had decided bridge-building was not for her. Richard feared he was about to fall now, into the deepest, darkest flow of the speeding torrent.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Backing-up into the Future?

Following the unmistakable thud of the collision, Lola grabbed her purse and jumped out of her little car. She skittered around the back, and immediately bent over the right rear fender to see how much damage she’d done. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad—after all, she’d only been going a few miles an hour, as she tried, unsuccessfully, to maneuver out the tight parking space in front of Jackie's house. As she examined the damage to her car, the driver of the car she’d bumped, a man who appeared to be in his early thirties, approached her with his drivers license in one hand, and his sunglasses in the other. Lola didn't immediately look up, but if she had, she would have seen that the man who approached her walked towards her with an oddly familiar gait. She would have seen that he was wearing blue jeans, a white shirt, and cowboy boots.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Electra Uninsured

Even though Lola had started therapy with Jackie, months ago, as a way to find out if Richard had been cheating on her, she was surprised now to discover that she was actually learning things—seemingly important things-- about herself, despite her original ulterior motives.

Know thyself, isn’t that what Socrates had said, or had it been the oracle at Delphi
? Lola couldn’t recall now, she was preoccupied with today’s session.

Emerging from Jackie’s office, she crossed the burnt grass of Jackie’s front lawn, and slid behind the steering wheel of her little smudge of a beige compact car. She was lost in thought about today’s session: did she really choose men who, on the one hand, reminded her of all the things her father was unable to be for her, but on the other hand, were just like her father in some imperceptible way? Heedlessly, she shifted the transmission into reverse, and immediately backed into the car parked behind her. The smash of collapsing metal instantly jarred Lola from thoughts of her ‘Electra complex,’ to fears that she hadn’t paid her auto insurance bill in more than two years.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

She Wears His Cologne

Lola gently daubed a bit of Richard’s cologne behind each of her ears and then sneaked just an ever-so tiny splash onto her chest. It didn’t bother her at all that she was wearing a man’s cologne. How many women, she wondered, were confident enough—or just didn’t know better than---to wear a man’s cologne? The sweet, earthy fragrance mingled with her natural sent, and the resulting admixture smelled simultaneously woodsy and oceanic, like the scent of a stand of California Redwoods towering next to the Big Sur coast. She immediately imagined the roots of huge trees anchoring her lithe body to the earth, as early morning striated sunlight combed through her being, like streamers of light cutting through the forest’s foggy canopy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Unmarked Border

An imperceptible line runs between love and not love, and it is a gray, ambiguous territory on either side. Sometimes we tread one side, sometimes the other, as if unknowingly crossing and re-crossing an unmarked border.

As Richard pulled his car up to the front of the restaurant to pick her up, Lola opened the car door and gracefully slipped into the passenger seat. Surprisingly, tonight, she felt a kind of gratuitous glow for this plain, yet unusual man, who worked so hard to make her happy, and about whom she often wondered if she really were in love.

Now, as Richard gently smiled at her, and pointed the car toward 4th Street, Lola discovered she didn’t care if she couldn’t quite tell which side of that blurred border she now stood.

Richard calmly eased the car into the right lane, careful as he did so—or so it seemed to her—to stay within the neat white lines of his narrow lane.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crawlin' Dragin

Immediately following her session with Jackie, Lola met Richard at their favorite Chinese restaurant, in Santa Monica. It was more than both of them could afford, but Lola promised herself at least one good meal, "out" per month. So maybe the Crawlin' Dragon, wasn't the greatest Chinese food, in LA, but it was really good, and the waiters remembered her name whenever she appeared there.

After dinner, their waiter left Lola and Richard with two fortune cookies, one for each. While Richard was fumbling with the check, rooting around in his pocket for his wallet, Lola leaned across the table and surreptitiously switched her fortune with his. She opened the cookie, read the words "The Love of your life will appear in front of you unexpectedly," and immediately swallowed the tiny white paper--downed it, before Richard could see--in one quick and skittish gulp.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Looked Like He Just Shot His Horse

Lola looked at Jackie, “I was so young, and it was so long ago…back in Boston, when I was still a ‘girl’, still in college. During the first few years of school, I must have dated 35 boys, but all of them were idiots, emptier than a bucket with a big hole in it. By my junior year, I’d stopped dating, completely, because it was a totally futile exercise—a little like Sisyphus pushing a giant bolder up a hill, only to be run over, again and again. Believe me, I’d given up any hope of meeting anyone I could really love, anyone really worth loving.

Then, one day, while I was sitting in Harvard yard, it was a bright spring day, and this boy—I still remember that he wore dark blue jeans,a white button-down shirt, and scuffed up cowboy boots—approached me and asked if I knew anything about ‘heroic couplets.’ I immediately thought either this had to be the worst come-on line I’d ever heard, that this guy was completely joking,or that here, at last, in the middle of Cambridge Massachusetts, had finally arrived the man of my dreams---even if he was wearing beat up cowboy boots and looked like he had just shot his horse, to put it out of its misery.”

Stock Feint

In Jackie's office today, Lola settled back into her 'analysand's' chair, which, as she imagined it, felt like a recliner on the first class deck of the Titanic. Lola relished the undivided attention she received in therapy, and she liked the way it made her feel when she talked about her struggles--her doubts and fears---with an intelligent woman peer, even though she knew she couldn't tell Jackie quite EVERYTHING--that would be disastrous.

"I keep dreaming about this man...well, a boy, really when I knew him, back in college," Lola nostalgically confessed. "It's been fifteen years since I've seen him, but he keeps periodically showing up in my dreams like an old ghost. What do you think it means when I have recurrent dreams about a man I haven't seen in such a long, long time?"

Jackie gently smiled, as she deployed a stock feint, "What do YOU think it means, Lola?"

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Home Office?

Buck turned off his car’s engine, and gazed for a moment at the red tile roofs that seemed to predominate the bungalows in Jackie’s Melrose neighborhood. A strange uneasiness began to cast a shadow over his previously chipper mood---at least his father would have called it ‘chipper.’ He found himself wondering if Jackie felt entirely safe conducting her therapy practice out of her home? What kind of woman would regularly invite the emotionally troubled, the psychologically disturbed, to spend an hour each week, under her roof? He puzzled over whether it was a kind of brazen foolishness that allowed Jackie to see ‘clients’ in the place where she lived, or if it was a sign of a kind of laissez-faire bravery. Unable to follow this thought any further down what felt like a too-dark mental path, Buck preferred to think it was the latter.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Lola angrily tugged the sheets off her bed and crumpled them in the corner, as if they were trash to be discarded, rather than merely laundry to be washed. She fleetingly thought of Richard, and then, momentarily, about her column at LA 29.

Lola then unfurled a set of new, clean sheets, which, like a topsail, gently descended over the naked bed that lay before her, quiet as an empty hull. She loved the tidy pattern of these sheets, their vertical lines smartly running from head to toe. Neatly striped, in a narrow, pencil-width blue and white pattern, they recalled from long ago, her father’s striped dress shirts: neat, clean, and crisply parallel.

Why, Lola mused, can’t love be like that?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Advice to Strangers

A 'disaster' of a boyfriend, a mother who had committed suicide when Lola was just a girl, a father who, back in Boston, defended corporate criminals, and who believed money was love, in fact better than love---how could Lola ever hope to give advice to others about love, life and relationships? She tugged at the Wal-Mart, faux diamond bracelet that Richard had given her, as she worried herself into a mood as empty and abandoned as a junkyard refrigerator. Who did she think she was, writing an advice column at LA 29? She felt like an impostor.

Of course, Lola's failures, her 'train wrecks' and imperfections were not really the professional liabilities that she feared they were. On the contrary, these were the very things that perfectly prepared Lola to give advice to strangers, the very qualities that made her an actress that could reach the emotional depths that, sadly, Hollywood rarely needed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Out of Left Field

"Left field, left field!" he shouted. Richard then bolted upright from his dream, a feeling of terror splashing over him like a bath of icy Gatorade. He'd dreamed that he'd been playing baseball with Lola, just popping up some hits, so she could catch them. He kept on hitting them, but Lola failed to catch a single one. He realized now that in his dream, he'd been so intent on hitting flies that could be caught by Lola---a woman who hated baseball, and who said that she hated any game that required donning gloves--that he hadn't noticed that no one was in left field. In fact, Richard had been so intent on trying to get a game going with Lola, that he failed to notice she had abandoned the field entirely, while he remained struggling at home plate, futilely hitting hundreds of shiny white balls into a baseball-littered empty field.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gradual Cooling

Richard suddenly awakened. He hadn’t been dreaming, just a blank sleep, from which he abruptly arose, as if he had been electrocuted. He looked at the clock—3:00AM-- and after his initial shock began to subside, settled into a resigned bout of half-wakefulness, which he knew would last at least an hour, before he would submerge again into the dark blankness of a full sleep.

His mind turned to thoughts of Lola, but not as you might imagine a man might think in the early morning hours about his lover, but rather, he began to worry, to brood, about how Lola never called him. Then he thought ‘She never invites me over to her house anymore; I have to invite myself.” His anxiousness deepened as he further agonized, ‘She rarely kisses me anymore, either.’

Richard began to fear if, in fact, there wasn’t something “wrong” between he and Lola, or if he was just irrationally imagining some change in the ‘temperature’ of their relationship, a gradual cooling which he feared was really more than a mere cooling, more like an un-recognized chilling in their formerly searing love?

Lola’s Poison Pill

Richard was speeding his way to the emergency room to visit Lola. He hoped it wasn't too late. Lola had ingested a handful of M&Ms, which she had earlier mistaken for sleeping pills. Richard knew that she wasn't in any real danger---after all there aren't many medically documented cases of M&M overdoses, except perhaps for a few cases among 6th graders in the San Fernando Valley, where everything is just a little twisted. But Richard also knew Lola's was not entirely a medical case. 'It's the thought that counts,' he thought to himself---Lola really intends to take her life, even if it is only death by very little low-dose chocolate PIXIES---the kinds all the really big stars ingest with impunity.

Read the Last Page, First

Lola read novels, backwards---not upside down, of course— but backwards, from front-to-back. This fact drove Richard crazy.

“Why do you read the ending first? ” Richard inquired, as if he was pleading a case for the preservation of Western civilization.

“So I know, of course, how things turn out in the end,” she explained in a tone that revealed her impatience at Richard’s failure to understand the self-evident benefits of her reading technique.

“But doesn’t that take all the mystery out of reading, all the pleasure?”

“Honey,” Lola explained,” reading is like our relationship: the only reason I’ve stuck around this long--which, by the way, is a lot longer than I have with others--- is because I’m curious to see how it all turns out in the end.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp

Sometimes, Richard felt, Lola was just way too hard on him, too demanding. What did she want from him, what did she expect? Didn’t he love her more than the moon and the stars, and didn’t he spend every last dime he had (and a few he didn’t have) taking her places he couldn’t possibly afford?

Occasionally, when she wasn’t aware that he was looking in her direction—when they walked by a storefront window and Lola was busy looking at her reflection in the glass, or when he took her shopping, and she would gaze in the mirror at her image, dressed in a stunning new outfit ----Richard would catch a glimpse of Lola, and on those occasions, he felt as if he were seeing the true Lola, Lola as she really was: not just a beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful woman who had immense sensitivities to the world and a substantial talent for acting, but a hardened, invulnerable character who had learned to protect herself from everything and everyone, even the man she said she loved, by growing an impenetrable ‘exoskeleton’ of emotional defenses and aggressive complaints.

Sometimes, especially after one her infamous “episodes” ---belittling remarks about his undeniable short-comings,---Lola’s criticism made Richard feel as if her were little more than peel-and-eat shrimp, and Lola was happily dining at one of her favorite, all-you-can-eat Restaurants---and the “bill was on him.”

Friday, May 14, 2010

Just a Little More 'Umph'"

"My battery is always running out of power," Richard complained, as he snapped shut his clam-shell cell phone.

“You can say that, again,” Lola sniggered, unsparingly.

Richard looked wounded as he gazed at Lola’s smirk and wondered why she was always criticizing him?

“I was referring to my cell phone,” Richard continued, as he caught Lola’s jibe.

Lola looked at Richard, her eyes softening now to a merciful concession, “Well you’re pretty good, honey, but sometimes I really wish you DID have a little more energy. You know, Richard, sometimes maybe just a little more “umph?”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blind Leading the Blind

Half-way through her next session, Lola confessed to Jackie the obvious irony of the partially ‘sighted’ seeking directional guidance from the totally ‘blind.’ “People are writing ME, sending me comments on my blog, at LA 29! They are asking ME for advice! Can you imagine that? Asking ME for help with their careers, their futures, my god, their relationships!! Can’t you see the joke in that, the ultimate hilarity?” Lola pleaded rhetorically, as Jackie smoothly nodded a neutral, therapeutic “ummm, ” neither revealing her agreement nor disagreement with Lola’s utterly accurate, indeed, un-debatable, self-observation.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rinse and Repeat

Matter-of-factly, indeed, blankly, Lola stared into Richard’s eager face and conceded an emotionless “Yes.”

Richard nearly fainted, but in less than a breath’s time, found himself in Lola’s much-too-small bed. They made love.

They made love, again.

Later, as Richard lay exhausted and nearly asleep, at her side, Lola gazed up at the ceiling hovering above her bed, and wondered about the directions on the shampoo bottle: rinse and repeat.

“Is it really necessary?” she wondered.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Writing Hero

Lola was getting more---not completely---but ‘more,’ comfortable with giving advice to the total strangers who read her column. “Lola Sez,” her column at LA 29, had received a lot of hits during the last few months, and this made her feel affirmed, even if the advice she gave sometimes sounded like it was coming from a quaint Ann Landers. "Better Ann Landers, than Miss Lonleyhearts," Lola thought.

She ended this week’s “Lola Sez” with, “If you start something, you must not be afraid to finish it. You must have the courage to love, and the courage NOT to love.”

She shut her computer and thought, In writing, at least, every coward, and most fools, can be just as brave as an action hero.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Burning at Both Ends

Lola sat at her keyboard, no lights on in her bedroom, her face glowing a blue-white tint as it reflected the cool glimmer of her laptop computer’s screen. Her worried fingers began to peck out the first lines of her new advice column for LA 29, her friend Beth’s e-zine. She began typing, then paused for a moment, as she thought about the advice she would give her new, predominately West LA and San Fernando Valley, female “readership.” She wanted to type, “DON’T EVER FALL IN LOVE,” in bold capitals at the top of the page, but instead typed, “For the post-modern woman, it is sometimes hard to know if falling in love signals either the beginning, or the end, of romance.” She had no idea what this meant, but she knew from experience, that love was like a candle that burned at both ends, toward an inescapable, defenseless, and ultimately, near-fatal, center.

She sat motionless now, her hands hovering above the keyboard, as if she were trapped in a reminiscent trance, picturing not Richard, but a lover from long, long ago.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wanting it All

“I wanted it all---then entire ‘world’ and everything in it. At least, I thought I wanted it all…all the pleasure anyway, but I realized, of course, the world is filled with pain, too. But I wanted everything…everything. So I started writing, because by writing, I imagined I could have everything, I could possess the world.”

Jackie listened attentively as Buck, dressed in his perennial jeans, striped shirt, and cowboy boots, sat before her with the recognition of his own original innocence washing over his increasingly astonished face. Buck spent the next hour or so, confessing his original sin—the sin of desire for the world---and imagining for Jackie, all the lesser sins he had, yet, to commit.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Furniture Doesn't Cry

"I like to take things that don’t belong to me,” Buck confessed.

“Is that why you left?” Lola sneered.

“The story is a little more complex than that, but basically ‘yes.’”

“But I didn’t ‘belong’ to you, Buck, I wasn’t a piece of your ‘property,’ at least not entirely.”

“You were 100 percent mine, and you know it---your mind, your body, and most of all, your story.”

As Lola, like a rag picker, began to rummage around in her purse, she began to weep, but Buck could see that Lola’s tears weren’t tears of sorrow, they were tears of rage.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You Don’t Sleep in the View

This morning, Lola’s hair looked like she had stood for a week in a north Atlantic gale. Topped by a tangle of blond strands, she looked like a Nordic Medusa, as she squinted out her apartment’s front window. Of course, she couldn’t see the beach, it was too many blocks away. When she had first rented her small apartment a few yeas ago, after she moved from Boston, she had been too worried about whether she could get from Santa Monica to Hollywood, to even think to ask about the distance to the beach.

As she looked out the window now, toward the white stucco apartment with black trim, across the street, she remembered that when she had originally called to inquire about the flat, and asked the cranky, impatient landlord if the apartment had a view, he had sarcastically quipped, “Honey, you don’t sleep in ‘the view’.”

Since moving in, Lola had gained, regrettably, a pretty good appreciation for the distance between Santa Monica and Hollywood.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Miss Lonely Hearts?

“You’d be perfect,” Beth coaxed. “You’re smart and beautiful (with “beautiful,” Lola blushed into the phone, although Beth, of course, couldn’t see her pink flushed face) AND you can write. We really need someone for our e-zine who can write the advice column, you know, relationships, men, women, that sort of thing? Your perspective, as a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood, would be fantastic for our readership. You can do it whenever you’re not going to auditions.”

As Beth paused her sales pitch, Lola froze for a second. The word “relationships” grated on her. She wasn’t sure which would be more intimidating: learning to type well enough to submit her writing to an editor—even if it was just her friend, Beth, or pretending to be an “expert” about two of her most dreaded subjects, ‘men’ and ‘relationships.’

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Just Don’t Say ‘No’

Lola returned home from another audition in Studio City (it wasn’t even in Hollywood), peeled off all her clothes, and laid down in an unconscious, if heavenly, crucifix position, on the living room rug. This is insane, she thought.

She counted the number of auditions her agent had sent her out on this month, and it was not a beautiful number. It was an odd and ugly number, whose two digits seemed to point accusing fingers at one another.

Just then, her phone rang, and as she picked up the receiver, she could hear her friend, Beth, chirp, “Hey Lola, honey, listen. Whatever you do, just don’t say ‘No’ to my brilliant idea.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Birthday Girl

Richard looked into Lola’s sky blue eyes. Tonight, only a few days before her up-coming birthday, she seemed especially withdrawn and distant. Did he detect the faint shadow of a cloud? Her gaze wasn’t vacant exactly. More like a calendar, with “x”s marked through all the days of the month. Except, perhaps, for one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Interpretation of Dreams

With his eyes closed, Buck randomly picked a book from his bookshelf. As he blindly opened it, he felt, between the thumb and third finger of his right hand, the talc-dry pages and for a moment, luxuriated in the nearly featureless tactile sensation of the pages’ dry paper, as if each were a small, bendable, desert.

He imagined that each page’s surface was covered in neat, black script, which he imagined would be, before opened eyes, instantly transformed into a welter of ideas and images and concepts... but for the moment, he continued simply to feel the blind sensation of the arid pages.

Just then, the phone rang, and as Buck opened his eyes, he saw that he held before him a small paperback, entitled The Interpretation of Dreams. He hadn’t read it. As he answered the phone--- his heartbeat elevated just a bit---and heard Jackie’s rich, sonorous voice say “What’s up, handsome?” He wondered if she ever had?

Friday, February 5, 2010

One Woman Per Day?

Richard read that during his lifetime, Warren Beatty had slept with 12,775 women—and he wasn’t’ even dead yet. He did a quick calculation on his Blackberry. Could it be that Warren had slept with a different woman a day, every day, for 35 years? Richard breathed a sigh of relief, Thank God, Hollywood isn’t like THAT anymore!

His mind immediately turned to thoughts of his hauntingly beautiful Lola, and what he feared was her deeper vulnerability beneath that studied “hands-off-Mister” veneer. With A gulp of sudden trepidation, Richard flinched, Maybe Hollywood still IS like that?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunnyside Up

How could language, any human language, capture the overwhelming complexity of reality, especially inner subjective reality? How could a writer ever hope to describe what it feels like to be a human being, any human being? Buck snapped two eggs against the frying pan’s side, lifted their damaged domes above the skillet and watched as the yokes and albumin dripped to the sizzling surface, below. It was impossible for a writer, even the very best, to accurately describe experience, to ‘get at’ all its messy, sticky, slimy, prickly detail.

Just then, when Buck accidentally brushed his left hand against the side of the burning skillet, he bellowed an injured, ear-splitting expletive, and felt the burn, like a rising flood of mind-numbing stupidity, radiate outward from his red, fried knuckle. He immediately abandoned all thoughts of language’s inadequacy, settling instead, for the pure ineffable burn of raw experience…sunny side up.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Penguin's World is Black and White

“Do penguins see the world in black and white?” Richard wondered.

He reflected now, about how he viewed the world, and although he hated to admit it, he had to confess --to himself , at least--that he saw the world pretty much in “black and white,” in “either/or,” categories. Maybe that’s why he had encountered such a difficult time with his college major, philosophy? In philosophy, everything seemed to be plagued with “slippery slopes” and colored in “gray,” ambiguous, hues—even the easy questions were hard.

He had graduated with only a ‘C+’ average in his major, an undistinguished record that made him feel envious of the others who seemed to instinctively understand that the world was more complex and that it was not just “black and white” --- not even for penguins.

Driving home from work, Richard recalled that Lola had graduated at the top of her class, summa cum laude—straight ‘A’s in philosophy. The gray areas, the “slippery slopes,” Richard, now realized, apparently hadn’t posed an obstacle for Lola, at all, although Richard wondered if it didn't make Lola just a little bit chilly.

Two Timer?

“I want to tell you about a dream I had last night."

In mock protest, Buck objected, “But you’re the therapist—aren’t I supposed to tell YOU about MY dreams?

Jackie smiled as she yielded, “OK, you go first.”

“Hell, I can’t remember any of my dreams…maybe I don’t have any?” Buck confessed.

“I’ll bet you dream all the time, you just don’t remember your dreams. I could help you with that Buck, if you’d like.”

Just then, Buck half-consciously noticed that on both Jackie’s left and right wrists, mixed in with her delicate, dangling silver bracelets, which jangled like wind chimes in a breeze, Jackie wore a tiny, silver wristwatch, as if she needed to multiply by two, the time she spent with Buck.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Porcupine Teddy Bear

What kind of stuffed animal? What kind would she be?

Richard mentally reviewed the stuffed animals with which he was familiar. Let’s see, there are fierce tigers and cheetahs, their soft fabric teeth only intimating danger, cute basset hounds, with the droopy little silky ears, Bennington bears, blue cookie monsters, shocking orange day-glo Elmos, cuddly bunnies with pink noses, even huggable gray elephants, with Dumbo ears and long gray trunks. No, Lola is definitely not any of these. He paused for a moment as a silent question formed in his mind like a cartoon bubble above a cartoon character's head, Uhhh, do they make porcupine teddy bears?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt

“Have you actually READ all these books?” Jackie, genuinely astonished, asked Buck, as she surveyed the walls of Buck’s living room, three of four of which were entirely “bricked,” from floor to ceiling, with what appeared to be thousands of books.

“Nah, just one or two of them. They’re mostly eye candy, for my intellectual friends,” Buck falsely demurred.

“It looks like some pretty heady stuff.” Jackie slipped a book entitled, The Phenomenology of Mind, off one eye-level shelf.

“I never did let my reading get in the way of my education,” Buck punned, as he wondered if Jackie might be familiar with the inimitable Mr. Twain.

God, Exhausted, in Los Angeles

Buck was gazing at Jackie, as she seemed to float about the crowded, over-lit gallery, whose bright white length gave the long rectangular room the appearance of a luminescent tunnel, filled with black clad bodies milling about sharp, brightly colored paintings.

Although he was watching Jackie, Buck was—inexplicably---thinking about, of all things, ‘God.’ He was thinking that God must know every individual human’s experience—that was the price of omniscience—to follow the lives of all 7 billion humans knocking about this earth. Not only must God know each person’s past, present, and future, Buck mused, he must know the lives of all the earth’s past and future inhabitants, the dead, as well as the lives of the not-yet-born.

Overwhelmed at these thoughts, Buck paused for a moment, as Jackie suddenly turned to smile at him—as if she had suddenly become aware that Buck’s gaze had been tracking her movement about the gallery.

God, Buck imagined, must be very, very fatigued from all his watching, from all his knowing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Richard wasn’t as deep as a well, he knew that, but he wasn’t shallow as a teaspoon either. He sat at home, tonight, in the near darkness at his blue computer screen and wrote one of his little poems, one of those that Lola frequently complained were not about love or about her.

It was a fall day.
A man sat weeping,
behind the steering wheel of a parked automobile.

Outside, the wind surrounded a lone maple,
lifted up its leaves, and threw them, red confetti,
into the blue pool of the sky.

What good is love?
When it’s gone, it's gone.
Even the dead can steer a parked car.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Movie Star Haircut

It was a plain little barber shop. Not one of those shi shi Brentwood salons, all high modern, black and white, in which the women stylists each appeared as if they, themselves, not their patrons, were the movie stars, but a plain red, white, and blue barber-poled, store-front shop, right out of the 1950s, with just two old-fashioned cracked leather barber chairs, and only one gray headed barber still working.

Max had been cutting hair in Santa Monica since 1970, which meant that he had seen quite a bit of history in men’s hair fashion and had cut some pretty important “heads”. Richard liked Max’s shop because it felt safe and secure and because Max didn’t expect a tip the size of the national debt each time Richard came in for a trim, which took about 8 minutes to complete, because Richard liked to come in every two weeks, so that his hair always looked perfectly neat.

“Hey ‘George Clooney,’ ” Max jested in Richard’s direction, as Richard walked through the small store-front door, and the little metal bell tinkled to announce his arrival. “Made any good movies lately?”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Baseball Tattoo?

It wasn’t in an easily viewable location. In fact, it was in such an intimate spot, that they had been dating one another for more than a year, before Richard had noticed it. Of course, the conditions were seldom right for unobstructed observation, so Richard could hardly be expected to detect the tiny etching, but when he finally did, he thought it looked like just the insignia of the Boston Red Sox: a tiny crimson colored “B”.

“You really ARE a New Englander,” Richard declared from beneath the white sheets of Lola’s bed, as he attempted to jest about the design of Lola’s tiny tattoo.

Lola smiled, although Richard couldn’t see it, “You know how I love the Red Sox.”

The sheets spilling about him as if he were emerging from frothing whitewater, Richard pulled himself up to kiss Lola, but as he did he, he thought, But Lola hates baseball?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Lola had given up playing the violin, even though she loved the instrument's taut strings and the drunken, scratchy timbre of her childhood notes. Why, she now wondered, 20 years later, did I ever listen to HIM?

Her father had said, "Girls don't play the violin." He then stiffly walked out of the room, as if departing a failed business meeting.

What did he know about 'girls'? What did he know about music?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


“You mean Johnny Carson isn’t hosting the Tonight show?” Richard inquired sheepishly, after Lola had screamed at him, accusing him of cultural inadequacy because he didn’t know his late-night TV lineup.

“No,” Lola snapped, “he hasn’t hosted it for nearly 1000 years,” exasperated, she exaggerated the figure.

“OK, so I haven’t watched late night TV since I was 14,” Richard meekly confessed. “You know I have trouble staying up late at night… except for certain nights when we…you know…” Richard’s voice trailed off, as if he realized he was about to enter taboo territory, a move that would be sure to result in his immediate skewering.

Lola looked at Richard as if she were looking at a pathetic child who was confessing his indiscretions to his mother, Why DO I love this man, she asker herself?

Despite the pummeling he was taking from Lola, Richard’s mind raced elsewhere, as he thought, not about late night TV hosts, but about the young girl from catering he had slept with two weeks ago, following the company party, the girl, "Trinity", whose name he was just now able to recall for the first time since he woke up in her pastel-wallpapered bedroom from where he had, without a word, immediately escaped without even saying goodbye.

Tonight Show

“If we could just get you on the Tonight show…that would jump-start your career, for sure. You, know, just get Johnny to interview you, maybe ask a few questions so you could talk about how you’re waiting for the ‘just right’ part, so you could explain how you don't want to rush into things, and how you don’t want to make the wrong script? I’d bet you get a hundred offers the very next day. Once they saw you, Lola, I know you’d get a part, instantly. Maybe Johnny could interview you right after Raymond, you know, that guy from Everybody Loves Raymond?”

Dumbfounded by Richard’s archaism, his out-of-touch naiveté, Lola’s expression rapidly washed from incredulity, to fury, as she yelled at Richard—a man who evidently hadn’t watched late-night television since 1992-- “Who the hell is ‘Johnny’?”

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Love is NOT like this. Love is NOT like this. Love is NOT like this. She repeated today’s nearly involuntary, looping mantra.

Each time Lola padded along in her daily 40 minute exercise routine on the treadmill, at the LA Sports Club, she found it almost impossible to think more than one sentence’s worth of thought.

Stopping suddenly, Lola had a moment of horrifying realization as the thought shot through her, Love IS like this!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Passion is No Ordinary Word

Buck’s father, Joshua, a history professor at UCLA, taught early modern European history, with a specialization in what was charmingly called the “the transition from feudalism to capitalism.” Despite his seemingly stodgy area of specialization, Joshua was no nerd. He had grown up in late 1960s London where it was possible for future academics and factory workers to find themselves sharing the same picket lines and the same street battles, as they confronted the forces of her majesty’s police.

Joshua had acquired the period’s tastes in music---English rock and American inspired blues-- which he shared with his son, while Buck was later growing up in suburban LA. That music loomed large in Buck’s consciousness—sometimes, too large, Buck thought,---serving as a soundtrack to a life that could on occasion seem like a movie he watched from the last row of an empty matinee theater.

Buck looked at Jackie as she strode among the art crowd this evening—her long brunette hair falling across her shoulders, her confident stride, her shape evident beneath appropriately conservative attire--- and he couldn’t help debating which song from long-ago London she most elicited for him now, The Faces’ “Stay with Me” or Graham Parker’s “Passion is No Ordinary Word.”

Nowhere is Home

The chic, if starkly white, store-front art gallery looked out over a run-down, decaying section of town. Although the real estate community said this neighborhood was “on the upswing,” and others called it “gentrifying,” most people agreed it was not a part of town that one would feel comfortable strolling in, after dark.

As Buck and Jackie approached the bright gallery, which seemed to glitter amidst the urban desolation, Jackie bent low to offer a 20 dollar bill to a homeless woman who sat huddled in a red blanket on the sidewalk, a few feet from the gallery’s entrance. She said nothing to the woman, as she handed her the bill, but smiled a respectful smile that Buck observed was simultaneously empathetic and detached.

Later in the evening, Buck couldn’t help reflecting that Jackie seemed as comfortable on the streets of Skid Row as she did rubbing elbows with the white wine-sipping “Art-ourgeoisie,” the dress designers, the daughters of British rock stars, the lipstick laden Beverly Hills matrons and their tanned and unfaithful husbands, who filled the Gallery’s shimmering space. Jackie, he mused, seemed at home almost anywhere--- a lovely contrast to his own naggingly persistent sense of feeling at home almost nowhere he had ever been.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Morning After

Richard woke up in a bedroom that was neither his nor Lola’s. Lying on his back in the morning light, he rolled over and saw before him a young woman, no older than 20, sound asleep, her bare, rice-white shoulders, exposed to the room’s cool air by a deep blue sheet that lie tucked under her arms. He thought he recognized his bedmate---hadn’t she been one of the caterer’s staff who he had chatted up last night at the office party, the one who had said that she liked men in uniform?

Richard immediately rolled to his right and could see from the side of the bed that his chauffer’s jacket and trousers were neatly folded and laid over the side of a chair, behind which a wall of striped pastel wallpaper rose toward a blank ceiling. Although he had drunk a substantial amount and ended up in this unfamiliar bed, oddly, now he was not the least bit hung over, but rather, crystal clear. If Lola ever found out about his indiscretion, she would first shoot him, and then, while he lie there bleeding, leave him.