Wednesday, August 27, 2003

the building has been full of noises tonight

I don't know if that's what was making me edgy, or the fact that I hadn't gotten enough sleep in a few days (sleeping on the floor will do that to you, I guess) and have still more to do than time to do it. But I'm feeling a little calmer plans for sewing a whole new playa wardrobe overnight have quietly fled. I did finish one pair of loose 'harem-style' pants that I'd cut from a sheet and sprayed with Dharma's great new permanent dye. Got the waistband in, after more tries than I care to admit, and elasticized the cuffs. Results are mixed, but now I have something comfy to dance in, and one less orphan on Ye Olde Project Pile.

I swear, I sew the way some people drive. Real fast and loose, as though I know what I'm doing when I totally don't. At least I haven't sewn any important openings shut lately, or accidentally hand-sewn some small, delicate item to the clothing currently on my body.

Tomorrow--later today--Burning Man! I'm finally really excited about it. Probably because I realized the implications of all that music (and all those Clif bars and so on Almeida and I bought)--I'll be able to dance for four days solid if I like. Wow.

I'm also excited, admittedly, because I miss PRobot a little. He left yesterday to collect a friend, and it took them a while to get it together, so they were leaving Reno when he called tonight/last night/whatever it was. We haven't made any sort of plan or anything, any sort of playa 'date', but hopefully we'll be able to track each other down reasonably soon after A and I get there.

Last batch of bottle caps did not turn out so well. Oh well. I think I have about sixty ready to go--that's decent.


Monday, August 25, 2003


Very few things as sweet as having a sustained burst of creative energy, working fast, and then collapsing into sleep. Particularly if you know that you won't have to set an alarm for the morning. I always try, when I get home from catering jobs, to do a little something before I crash--read, write, make something--so I don't dream about work. It only took one dream of carrying a tray stacked ceiling-high with tinkling glassware to realize the importance of a buffer zone.

Tonight that buffer was talking to PRobot and making yet more bottlecaps. I'd found these great books with lots of illustrations at the secondhand store, so I was happily punching out one-inch circle pictures of penguins and gnomes and so on while at his end of the line, PRobot was spraypainting a foam creature head. I think we were both working a little sloppily; he was getting paint on his hands and I was spraying bottlecaps and paper scraps everywhere. We were both breathing fumes. God help us if we continue to like each other and decide to spawn; at the very least our children might have two heads apiece or nicitating membranes over their eyes or gills or something.

Not that that would be all bad. I suspect he would like it and I know my folks wouldn't care, but I draw the line at having to cut holes in my child's garanimals to acommodate extra limbs.

But the thing that was interesting for me is that I am very sensitive to what happens to my creative impulses when I get involved with someone. I have finally made the connection that if I'm not at the very least drawing regularly when I'm dating someone, that is a Bad Sign. It's not that I've dated men who have actively squelched me (well...BowlCut did say some pretty thoughtless things, once upon a time) but for some reason, which could use some meditation, I get into someone and stop getting into my own stuff.

I don't perceive that as a potential problem here. I mean, who knows, this is still a very new thing. But it was cool doing projects 'together.'

Work was. I got to work a wine-tasting bar with one of our new people, a very cool, level-headed woman who has forgotten more about wine than I will ever know. We had six kinds of wine, a couple of them very nice considering how cheap they were. But everyone wanted orange juice. It was very strange.

Two more days here, and then Almeida and I head into the desert. Way too much needs to be done between now and then. I've given up on doing anything more elaborate for BM than making all these bottlecaps and finishing a couple of pairs of loose pants; as ArchitectX explained to me, focus first on water, sunblock, and clean underwear.

God, I'm even boring myself here. Must sleep.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

my big fat Greek catering job

Whoa. Last night I worked a party for an exceptionally wealthy Greek-American family who live in a conservative California town. They had just finished building a new pavilion in their compound, and were breaking it in with a birthday/anniversary celebration.

Everything--and I mean everything--had been covered in blue-and-white striped fabric. Walls, chairs, tables. The floral arrangements on the dining tables were great masses of blue hydrangea, quietly burning black at the edges from the little votive candles. Each place setting had a little Greek flag standing at it. We served Greek food, natch, and there was a troupe doing traditional Greek dances after dinner--my favorite part by far. There was also a tap-dancer, and some famous New York pianist I'd never heard of mauling the Great American Songbook, and a cake shaped like the Parthenon.


I am of serveral minds about catering. I've been at it pretty much full time for four years, and my enjoyment has seriously waned of late. I have grown to hate being thought of as 'the help', particularly by snotty entertainers who have to have all the waiters cleared out before they do their sound check. I am heartily tired of handling things that have been in other people's mouths. My back hurts. I'm in the highest position I can achieve within my company, on the track I'm on, and I don't see anywhere I'd like to go. Yet sometimes--like a few moments last night where my guests were being really sweet to me and really enjoying their meal (we have great cooks)--I remember how good it feels to make a wonderful experience for people.

But this has got to stop. It is time. I want my weekends back. I want health insurance. I need to focus on and sell more writing. I would like to be able to spend time with friends that work those strange and exotic day jobs. I would like to be able to spend a Saturday with someone I'm seeing and not have to rush off, crumb knife and wine key clattering in the pocket of my outsized tux pants.

It's been so long since I held down a regular job, though. I don't know if I'm even capable of it. Two nights ago I went out with a group of friends, including Mask, who like me is an INFP. Mask works for himself, but he used to be some kind of management dude. He told me Friday as we were heading to dinner that a consultant who deals with organizational psych once told him that INFPs should not work for other people if they can help it, or work for companies which they don't own. Which makes perfect sense to me. Also, both of my parents have been small business owners, which makes me more statistically likely to be an entrepeneur myself...I just need to pull my stuff together and learn how to handle paperwork, marketing myself, and so on. I want people to find me and offer me fabulous work, but I'm getting the picture that it doesn't work that way.

The grace note: yesterday PRobot drove me to the BART station so I could meet my ride to the job, and in the car we started barking and howling like dogs. All the way down Market Street. The windows were open. No, it wasn't exactly a heavy, intimate, intellectual conversation.

But it was some damn good howling.

Friday, August 22, 2003

chocolate, vanillin, sugar, corn syrup, pectin, citric acid, sodium citrate, natural raspberry flavor

I must stop eating these damn things.

Trader Joe's sells little nuggets of sugary goodness called, creatively enough, Chocolate Raspberry Sticks. They remind me of the Joyva Joy bars I used to get as a child at Zukin's Deli in Detroit. Walt Zukin was a big, big man who could quote at length from the Canterbury Tales in Middle English in a beautiful big voice; wedged behind the register of his place he would do so for me while I looked at all the candy in the rack--Joys and Halvah next to the Hershey's (rememer the 25 cent candy bar?) and gum. Zukin's was everything I believe a deli should be--brightly-flavored new dills in a jar in the cold case, shrivelly salamis of varying lengths hanging from the ceiling, corned beef and pastrami and whitefish and endless loaves of rye bread. Lox glowing atomic orange-pink from its bagel beds. Sliced beefsteak tomatoes. Blintzes. Incredibly old waitresses.

Last night before the show we went to David's Deli, across from ACT. I cannot believe how expensive it was. I guess traditional Jewish deli is so novel in this city that you can pay more for a bowl of matzoh ball soup than a plate of pad thai. Considering that matzoh ball soup is made up of like, three things, I was amazed to be paying seven bucks for it. Matzoh meal, egg, chicken broth. Yipes.

And no Middle English, either.

I am so not Jewish in most things. But the deli thing...runs deep.
god bless the ex-boyfriends

I don't even know where to start. Today was resoundingly suckacious, and if I can't make it interesting there's no point in talking about it. So at least I'll explain my title.

Today was the day I'd set for moving the bed into storage. So last night, after the flash mob, the Josh show, and some lovely gelato (on top of the No Protein I'd had all day, wheee) ArchitectX and I came back and moved the bed into the van I had so carefully rented yesterday. He was really a good sport about it--I may have underestimated him--I sort of thought that once the physical side of our relationship was terminated, he'd be historical, but such does not seem to be the case. He also remembers that I came to his office one night and helped him put together his insanely complicated, military-level-engineering desk until one in the am (after working a full shift), and figured he owed me one. So. Part One, easy.

I should have known.

Part Two, dreadful. The new storage facility is subpar, especially after the lovely storage paradise I had before (SafKeeps, if you're looking; run by angels and glazed with heavenly frosting), but I needed something quickly. This is what it is like: when I went in to the new place to rent a space, the two guys behind the counter got into this whole thing with me about the lock I'd brought. It's a perfectly good lock, strong, heavy, long hasp. I'm very fond of it. BUT it's a combination lock, because I'm bad with keys. And these guys explain to me that combo locks are like "asking for someone to break into your unit." They're relating gleefully how easy it is for someone walking down the halls of their facility to pick out the units with combo locks and let themselves in. So I ask how often the place gets broken into, and suddenly it dawns on them that maybe, just maybe, they are not making their place seem so appealing to a potential customer who has yet to sign the contract. "There hasn't been a break-in in the whole time I've been here," one says.

"How long have you been here?" I shoot back.

"Well, he's been here two years," the guy says, pointing to the guy sitting at the computer. "And I've been here, uh, six months."

"No break-ins in my time," says desk guy helpfully.

Uh huh.

But I'm desperate, and I don't really care that much if someone steals my mattress, and I'm paying extra for insurance that covers almost every possibility besides nuclear radiation or fallout (seriously, I turned the contract over and there it was on the back: nukes and insurrections, not covered) so I signed.

Which brings us back to this morning, and yours truly sitting outside the place in my U-Haul, waiting for LabRat to meet me. He shows just after the gate has opened, coffee in hand. He's got fifteen minutes to help me before he has to leave for work. How hard can it be?

Pretty damn hard, if you go to the second floor instead of the basement and can't find the unit, and then get split up and the elevators only work a certain way, and one must go up some stairs (avoiding a large puddle of crystallizing urine) so that one can yell through an alarmed fire door, "Hey, LabRat, you're on the wrong floor! Get back in the elevator and meet me on the first floor!" and there isn't anyone in the office to help and one imagines one's friend and ex-lover lying on the floor in a puddle of cold coffee, bones gnawed clean by savage storers, surrounded by one's boxes and shreds of mattress and boxspring.

We got it sorted out, through no skill of my own. I'd had three hours of sleep and was completely useless and whiny. LabRat, to his eternal credit, did not escalate with me. We finally got to the right unit, offloaded the gear, and then I realized--

I didn't have the key to the lock yesterday's bozos had sold me, after the stern talking-to about combination locks.

I was going to have to go back to the place I'm housesitting for my other keys.

My stuff was going to have to sit in the hall until I got back.

"I wouldn't worry," said LabRat, eyeing a pile of discarded boxes sitting in a corner. "If the halls are any clue, you don't need to worry about anyone taking your stuff."

Fortunately, he was right. I released him to work, I went and got the key, got the stuff in, returned the truck, etc. Grateful the whole time that there are two men in my life willing to help me out in my life in a pinch, two men who I've been with and with whom I am still capable of friendliness. It's a good feeling.

Which is good, because the rest of the day pretty much went straight to hell.

I did see "Urinetown", though, which I thought was pretty good. Made me wonder what would happen with Emerald Rain's Young Zombies in Love if they had any money to mount a big sexy professional-like production. There's a moment near the end that obviously did not sit well with the well-heeled ACT crowd, when a character made a pointed statement about how we cannot continue to live the way we do, at our rate of consumption. I could feel the ripple of discomfort, but I loved it. I see so much theater and so much of it has no teeth. I am all about teeth.

Then I had to explain who Malthus was to my friends. But that was okay.

Also spent a great deal of time on the phone with PRobot, who had gone out tonight with a woman our mutual friend thought PRobot might like. It was kind of weird--we both think that it's too soon to worry about exclusivity--but I had felt strange when I learned that he was planning on following through with meeting this woman. I've been in the situation a couple of times now that a man I'm just starting to date has some kind of unfinished business with another woman, and has articulated to me that he might still hook up with her. Happened with Fusion when I was 20, and then a few years later with BowlCut. In both cases, the man in question decided to focus on me, and in both cases things went pretty well from that point forward, but it still makes me nervous. I don't like feeling like I'm in the "pick me! pick me!" position; I don't believe in competing with other women or trying to make myself look like a better option. Maybe because I'm so convinced other women are better at the woman thing than I am? Worth thinking about.

Anyway, I hadn't really said anything about it at the time. My experience has been that at the beginning of a new thing it's best to make as much room as possible. But I was a little concerned, though I didn't give it a whole lot of brain space.

It seems I needn't have worried. And while I am totally sympathetic to the fact that PRobot had a less-than-satisfying first date with this person, I'm not feeling all THAT bad about it. The fact that he talked to me about it made me feel better too.

I also got another 30-40 bottlecaps glued while we were talking, which was satisfying. I now have about a hundred ready to be resined, as soon as the glue is dry, so I think I pour tomorrow. That should give them time to set, time to drill holes, and then if it comes to it I can thread jumprings while Almeida drives us to BRC. I'm very excited, but nervous; I'm not sure how to give things away to strangers. This will be a good lesson for me, I think. Also a chance to Use Up Beads, which is all to the good. Not that it makes a huge dent in my backlog of little weird crap, of course, but it's a concept.

It was good, the talking and the gluing. Made me forget the two dreadful work-related emails I'd gotten today that left me feeling like a totally incompetent putz. I am getting a lot of messages right now, I told one of the friends with whom I went to see Urinetown, between being evicted and having all this work stuff come down the way it is; I just need to listen closely to what the message IS. Right now it's sounding suspiciously like sell all your junk and move to Europe, but then I hear that voice a lot and generally squelch it.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

love and taxes

Long day, capped off by Josh Kornbluth's new monologue of the above title. If you're in the Bay Area, I highly recommend Love and Taxes, at the Berkeley Rep for the next few weeks; Kornbluth (author of Red Diaper Baby and Haiku Tunnel) is very, very funny live, and this show might just turn your ideas about money on their ear.

It was one of the nicer things to happen today, which was otherwise mostly spent driving around in loaned or rented vehicles. Now that I haven't been driving for a couple of months, I'm realizing just how much of a drain it can be--worrying about parking, break-ins, other drivers--yeesh. But I did get some of the things on the list done daddy done.

The bottlecaps, it turns out, drill very nicely. The resin doesn't get weird, although the smell of escaping esters is a little off-putting. I'm going to production-line bottle caps for the next couple of days, and I'm childishly pleased by the concept.

Speaking of childish, Mob #3 was today. I'll write about that more when my eyes aren't having a competition to see who can hide farther back in my head. But it was really fun, and involved a noisy scene in a hotel lobby.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

unexpected travel plans are dance lessons from god

Thank you, Bokonnon; thank you Kurt Vonnegut. Today I found out that I am being evicted. My situation was always a tad dodgy, and I saw this coming, but I really did not prepare as well as I might have. So, a week before Burning Man, I have to hustle up some boxes, rent a storage space, try not to get too flustered. Eeep. I am trying to look upon this as an opportunity. Yes! A great big chance to get to know all of my friends' couches Real Well. I'm loathe to take another place, make another commitment, in light of the fact that I might be going home to be with dad in the forseeable I tape and pack and wrap and toss.


I'm still planning to make as many bottlecap fetishes as I can to give away at bman. There are about a dozen on my desk waiting to be drilled and jumpringed, another dozen awaiting resination, and a shoebox full of empty bottlecaps that need to be rinsed. It's kind of exciting, in light of the fact that I'm shuffling everything around anyway. Tonight after work if I don't get to visit Purring Robot I may just come home and get medieval on my stash of magazine pages. I have also discovered that glitter sticks to that plasticky fabric paint really well, so I can embellish with that stuff and use up some of my seemingly endless supply. PRobot and I had a discussion about art supplies recently. He's of the mind that one can never have enough; I feel like it's possible to have so much that one becomes paralyzed by all the choices and shuts down. One of my most creative evenings in the past few years came when I was out a retreat center whose art room contained nothing but crayons, glue, construction paper and magazines; I was perfectly happy without all the nonsense I've managed to accumulate here at home.

Of course, maybe if i collect enough paint and fabric and glitter and esoteric tools, I'll reach some sort of critical mass and create some masterful, gorgeous thing. Effortlessly.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Monday, August 18, 2003

A snake is a snake to a snake-eating snake

Friday marked two weeks from the first date I had with Purring Robot. So yesterday I gave him a page from one of the old books I'd bought to tear up and collage. It's from the "snake" page of a Funk and Wagnall's animal encyclopedia, and the best part is a photo of a two-headed snake that used to live at the San Diego Zoo. The heads were named "Dudley" and "Duplex." Unfortunately, the heads would try to eat each other, and evenually the whole snake died as a result. Which makes me wonder how they could have kept the heads apart--it's not like separating rowdy kids on the playground. And making the heads wear those sort of Elizabethan collars they put on dogs who have just had surgery seems unmanageable as well--I mean, where exactly is the neck on a snake?

Anyway, I was afraid that he might find the symbolism disturbing, but instead he read the whole page to me, including the line that graces this entry. I hadn't realized that snakes were cannibalistic. There was one story about a kingsnake that resolved a conflict between two smaller snakes over a frog (each had a leg) by swallowing the frog itself. As well as the other two snakes.

Being digested must suck. Or squeeze. Or something.

I'm really happy I'm dating a man who can accept a picture of a two-headed snake in the spirit in which it was given.

The rest of the weekend was a flurry. Driving around in a borrowed car, eating homemade goat's-milk ice cream at D's, working model jobs, watching PRobot drink a truly astonishing amount of tea so black you couldn't see through it. In addition to the goats (the youngest of which make a sound indistinguishable from a human's child's crying, their long narrow grey tongues extended past the tinist teeth) D and her husband are now raising a pig for an eventual special guest appearance at the dinner table.

That thing people are always saying about how pigs are actually very fastidious creatures? Woo ha ha ha ha ha ha. We had to hose off our arms after we went to see the pigs, who were all but chewing each other's ears off. Their noses are a lot harder than they look, and can retain a great load of snotty mud to wipe off on silly city people who get too close.

Today more wild animals; Snufkina and her boyfriend have two new shar-pei puppies that I went to meet AND Almeida and I went to Costco. Getting in there, wow; we stalked people leaving the store until we found an abandoned cart.

Looking down from a certain angle, I am suddenly aware that there's a fair bit of crap stuck in my keyboard. Mostly double chocolate Milano crumbs, probably. Where is my keyboard-cleaning nanomachine?

Thursday, August 14, 2003

All cats are black in the dark.

When I checked my phone messages from work this afternoon, there were three from my mother. I hadn't realized that the blackout had spread as far west as Lansing, Michigan. I'd heard that it was just (just!) New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. But no--southern Canada, Ohio, Vermont, and so on. And of course my folks are in Detroit. So my mother left me a message to call my father at work--she couldn't reach him, since the phones were all jammed up, but she could call out to the west coast--and tell him not to come home, but to stay at his lab, which boasts a generator.

I thought that was sort of a funny thing to say. It was like, "Honey, don't come home! Stay with the generator where it's safe!" Perhaps seperated from the generator, my father might weaken? Obviously whenever something like this happens we are all forced to recognize our dependence on our fragile little creations, but it started me thinking about electricity as something more; not only tool, but safety blanket.

If you were home alone in a swiftly-darkening apartment with no a/c that you'd climbed nine stories to get to, would you want your spouse to stay away just so they could be someplace where the lights worked?

I got her message too late to call, and he went home and they were fine. Eating some fully pre-cooked food that would otherwise spoil. She tells me that the cats are having a rough time of it. "They're walking to the bathroom two by two," she says. "Don't ever tell me again that the cats don't need a nightlight." She is also struck by how quiet the building is. People aren't hanging out in the hallways because there's no outside light and the halls are pitch black. No music, no televisions. People are driving around outside, but the main light is that of moon and stars and the little red lights on the neighboring television station's antenna. Earlier in the evening the smell of grilling food--lots of grilling food--was strong everywhere. My mother was able to find two regular candles, a box of hanukkah candles, and a box with several kinds of batteries, none of which fit the flashlights.

Mom has never been good at sleeping in the dark. I hope she'll be okay tonight.

The news she had been hearing when the electricity went out is that the results are back from my father's needle biopsy, and the cancer is back. The Strange Mass Mystery has been solved. We'd been hoping for TB, which sounds weird--"I hope my dad has tuberculosis!"--but as mom points out, TB can be cured.

The doctor wants to start a third round of chemo. Moving on to Taxotere, which is supposed to be gentler side-effects-wise than Taxol. My dad's irked because his hair had just came back. Mom has told him that they'll go for passport pictures before the new round starts, so his passport won't make him look like Willem DaFoe in Shadow of the Vampire. Next year the three of us are trying to go to Israel.

I sat with him a couple of times during the first round. I went home for three weeks and cooked calorie-laden foods because the doctors told me to, potatoes and cheese. Butter. Milkshakes with Ensure or tofu worked in. Cut up cold fruit for the times his throat was too burnt for anything else. Every morning the three of us would get in the car and drive to the radiation clinic. Once a week it was the chemo clinic next. Each woman on the support staff had been issued an American flag T-shirt and a letter instructing her to wear it a certain number of times a week to show her support of our country. This was right after 9/11. I'd go into the room with my dad and sit in the next chair and watch the electronic portion-control device count down how much stuff was going into him. He usually slept through the whole thing, and I'd find myself talking to the other patients and feeling a little selfconscious that I had hair.

Watching him sleep, I realized that he was traveling in a foreign country. My dad, whose most exotic destination has been Canada. My dad who used to say, "I don't need to see those places myself, if I can read about them in your letters." My dad who finally admitted that he wants to see Africa, the Great Rift Valley. Go down the Danube in a boat. See Israel before he dies. In Tokyo, in Ueno Park the month after I went home, I hung an ema in a shrine and wished for his health, wished he could see the layers of thin wooden plaques for himself, the drawings of rabbits and dogs and lucky snakes.

I see him loping along in some strange place, a sepia photo under a layer of wax.

He is traveling in a foreign land, and he sends postcards, but I cannot go to him there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

My dad's been fighting lung cancer for a couple of years now.

One of my crazy schemes, since dad spends so much of his time being prodded (he went in for a CAT scan-guided needle biopsy yesterday; came out much sooner than expected, didn't have to spend the night in the hospital and they're STILL not sure what the lump is. My father the medical curiosity), is to establish a linkage between medical diagnostic scanning and the wonderful world of pampering spa treatments.

Every six months or so, dad has a PET scan--I think that's positronic electron topography or something like that. It's sort of a new thing in cancer work and my father is one of the first of his doctor's patients to be regularly scanned for that purpose. The only PET machine in Michigan is at Detroit Children's Hospital (where I have spent a bit of time myself, but as an actual child) so my dad gets to sit in a colorful little chair reading Highlights while he waits his turn.

When you have a PET scan, you have to be as still as possible, including your heart rate and everything. So in addition to not eating or drinking anything the night before, the patient has to spend (I think) an hour just before the scan lying in a dark room trying to make themself as comatose as possible. "Do you meditate?" they asked my dad. "Because now would be a good time to practice." No reading, no talking, no music, nothing.

So my idea is that we get a team of estheticians in there, and they wrap the patient up in seaweed and mud packs and mineral salts and flower petals and what-all those estheticians have; plastic wrap and hot damp towels and so forth. Bind the patient up like a fruity mummy. Relaxes the patient AND good for the skin! Keeps the patient still! Flushes toxins! Makes the room smell good! There are already dentists in NY who have massage therapists on staff to rub people's feet who are getting their teeth drilled; I think there's a market.