Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I am a magical being. Take off your bra.

In case you needed some help--and I'm not saying that you do--may I direct you to some surefire pickup lines?

Monday, March 29, 2004

I shouldn't have the window open

People on the street have to be wondering what kind of sex I'm having at a quarter after one in the afternoon. But it's just the Trunk Monkey, courtesy of Robert at Hitched to Everything. If you like monkeys, go there now.
this will surprise exactly no-one

Remember back before the Internet, when you had to buy cheesy women's magazines to take personality tests? One of my troupemates sent an email instructing us all to try this.

free enneagram test

The thing is, I took the short free version of the full test, the one that the site says is not "scientifically validated." It's 36 forced-choice questions, and you're not supposed to think about the answers much, just go with what feels right. And I have a really hard time with that (probably because I'm a four, natch) because on some (many) of the questions, neither answer is accurate, or both are. And are we talking about the way things are right now, or the way they are when one is not doing her best to stay upright when the ground is shifting beneath her feet?

I am struggling with how to express that last to people, because it's a real issue in my life right now. There was an unfortunate incident this weekend involving a friend, several margaritas, and a sexy flight attendant who had clearly spent too much of the day cooped up indoors. Did I mention the porn on the living room telly? Or the fluffer-nutter sandwiches? Or the knitting? Leave it to Snufkina to take me to the only Stitch-and-Bitch in the city that had Interview With The Vibrator playing in the background; apparently there isn't any porn yet of women crocheting those doll-bodied kleenex-box cover thingies. Anyway. Snufkina and I ended up on the phone last night (can I just mention that it's sort of entertaining to stand at the corner of Geary and Hyde at 10 pm in tight jeans, talking on a cell phone? Everyone thinks you're a pro, but they leave you alone) processing; while I had been distressed about how things had gone down, I knew that nothing meaningful had changed between us. But I couldn't get that across.

The challenge lies in the fact that I know I'm really emotional right now. My skin is providing an excellent literal manifestation of the fact that everything is close to the surface for me. I've been having various sorts of rashes and itches (I will spare you the details) and zits, above and beyond my usual panopoly of such things; literally and figuratively the barrier between the outside world and my inner resources is very thin. And yet.

I am coping. Yes, I cry so freely that I've thought about installing a salt lick to make sure I don't run low. I feel like the world's most lugubrious conversationalist. I am staying the hell away from catering for as long as I can because I don't want to run the risk of losing my shit on a party and creating a situation for either my manager or my staff. Yes, yes, and yes. But these are not the worst possible reactions, are they?

What I'm trying to get at, clumsily, is that everyone who knows what's going on is being really good to me, and I feel like I'm asking a lot of these people, and I am so not accustomed to asking for help. And I want to reassure people, hey, I know I look like a slow-motion train wreck, but it really isn't that bad. Hippo wrote that I hadn't heard from him in weeks because he felt awkward saying, "Hey, I'm sorry to hear about your dad, wanna catch a movie sometime?" and I understand that. But it's a question of balance. Maybe those of us with a loved one slipping away could have cards printed up. Like this:

Go ahead and talk to me about the usual things, in the usual way. But please no jokes about (fill in the blank) unless I do it first. And for heaven's sake, don't make a fuss if you look over and I'm oozing; just get me out of there if we're in public.

Just please don't disappear on me.

Friday, March 26, 2004

lorem ipsum!

If my forehead were bigger, I might get these guidelines for better Web design tattooed across it. Macrotypography also links to a wonderful tool that will generate "greeking" (the dummy text used in mocked-up print layouts) using one of several different text sources, from the Esperantist's manifesto to the Tao Te Ching. Here's what happened when I asked it to use Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre:

Lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside and with her darlings about. Clear panes of glass protecting but not separating. With ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly, her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked, does Bessie say I have. Her darlings about her (for the time, with pictures I mounted into the windowseat gathering up my? Long and lamentable blast I returned to my bookBewick's History. Pleasantly remain silent" A breakfastroom adjoined the drawingroom I! Her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy Me she? But not separating me from the drear; I asked "Jane I don't like cavillers, studied the aspect of that winter afternoon Afar, by the fireside and with her darlings about her (for the time neither.

Pleasantly remain silent, indeed! There are some other little toys on toolbot that should distract you for the time it takes to finish your coffee.

time to start dating a masseuse

I'm a little afraid to go to sleep tonight. I'm afraid that when I wake up in the morning (too early AGAIN; this time I have plans to go see a 9:30 am presentation of Nightmare on Puberty Street for an article I'm writing on didactic youth theatre) I will not be able to move.

This morning was sort of like that. When I had finally unwound myself from AX (um yes, that's still going on) I realized that my back had turned into an oversized Powerbar: dense, rigid, and full of questionable material. Why am I so stiff? I whined. Did you take a strange pose yesterday? he asked, all logical the way he is. Not any stranger than usual, I responded, but I knew that he might be on to something. Not that I'd taken one particularly tough pose, but that I have been modeling a lot recently. To be precise, I have had at least one modeling job every day this week; today I did two--one 2 1/2 hour university job this morning, and a 4-hour private group tonight.

This is a lot. Combined with all the dance classes, and all the walking, it starts to make sense. I am simply not as resilient as I was when I was a wee sprout, yet I'm doing more modeling work. If I had any sense at all, I would start taking yoga before I completely freeze up and have to be dragged from place to place on a skateboard, preferably by a large dog who could hold the rope in his teeth. But instead I fantasize about dating some tasty massage therapist-in-training (I understand that once they're certified, many CMTs don't work on their loved ones pro bono anymore.) Maybe I should start hanging around outside the National Holistic Institute school of massage in Emeryville, tarted up in 100% cotton clothing and vegan Birkenstocks, and see if anyone takes the bait.

I've been having a pretty emotional week; the original title for this entry was going to be drippy girl, because that's what I've been. It seems like my range of responses to various situations has narrowed dramatically; I can smile wanly, I can rant, or I can cry. Oh boy can I cry. It doesn't even matter any more what the original stimulus is. There are the obvious ones: I feel neglected by the troupe and worn out from all the tension of getting the fundraiser together, I cry. AX makes an honest, if grievous, error and schedules a date with someone else for the night he'd promised me, I cry. I learn that my father has lost the use of his legs and has to use a wheelchair even within the apartment; I wait until we're off the phone (We're doing fine here, kiddo, just fine he tells me and I can feel my mother's snort traveling down the psychic line) and then I cry.

All of that makes sense, and even more so when I admit that I'm having one of the harder periods I've had in the seventeen years I've been on the Pill (god bless Carl Djerassi, who will be tended by hosts of voluptuous angels if there is in fact a Heaven)

But crying when the only stimulus is that I'm confused because I can't decide whether to have lunch right away or wait until after I've run a couple more errands? Crying when someone says something nice about my modeling (and I'm going to brag and mention that such has been the case pretty frequently lately)? Crying when an interviewee tells me a great story about the positive impact her theater program is having on wayward youth? It's like, "maybe I should cry" has filled in all of the available spaces in the emotional rota. It's not even that I feel bad all the time, because I really don't. Some really wonderful things have been happening, I've been spending good time with people, and I'm doing interesting work.

I'm just... damp. Squeeze me, and out it comes. I have to remember to drink plenty of water, and maybe I should be boosting my salt consumption, huh? I'm starting to think of crying as something I could schedule a little time for every day, like morning pages. If you're not familiar with Julia Cameron's work, she's a writer who has made a tremendous amount of money telling frustrated artists to wake up and write three pages of crap every morning, to get it out of their systems. You write them, and then you're not supposed to look at them again, ever. Morning pages. Big money. You can even buy a Morning Pages Journal, which seems odd to me if the pages are supposed to be virtually disposable, but then that is perhaps why Julia Cameron is famous and wealthy and I am... damp. Anyway, I'm digressing. I have this idea: Morning Cry. You have to cry for three minutes, just to get it out of your system, and then you never have to look at those tears again.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

now I know what "my blood ran cold" feels like

Hutton Gibson (Mel's father), being interviewed by radio talk show host Steve Feurstein on WSNR 620 AM, explains what we're really up to:

I don’t know what their (the Jews) agenda is except that it’s all about control. They’re after one world religion and one world government. That’s why they’ve attacked the Catholic Church so strongly, to ultimately take control over it by their doctrine and make one world religion and one world government.

This is courtesy of a mom-forwarded email; you can read a partial transcript at Speak Your Piece

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

atom and eve

Over at Zyvex Dr. Ralph Merkle explains nanotech for people who maybe didn't absorb the more sciencey parts of Stephenson's The Diamond Age because they were too busy cheering on the awesome female hero:

Manufactured products are made from atoms. The properties of those products depend on how those atoms are arranged. If we rearrange the atoms in coal we can make diamond. If we rearrange the atoms in sand (and add a few other trace elements) we can make computer chips. If we rearrange the atoms in dirt, water and air we can make potatoes.

Todays manufacturing methods are very crude at the molecular level. Casting, grinding, milling and even lithography move atoms in great thundering statistical herds. It's like trying to make things out of LEGO blocks with boxing gloves on your hands. Yes, you can push the LEGO blocks into great heaps and pile them up, but you can't really snap them together the way you'd like.

In the future, nanotechnology will let us take off the boxing gloves. We'll be able to snap together the fundamental building blocks of nature easily, inexpensively and in most of the ways permitted by the laws of physics. This will be essential if we are to continue the revolution in computer hardware beyond about the next decade, and will also let us fabricate an entire new generation of products that are cleaner, stronger, lighter, and more precise.

And we'll be able to make really, really tiny dollhouse accessories.
not as well known as Erte, but influential nonetheless

A teacher I work for occasionally turned me on to Leon Bakst last year. Bakst (nee Rosenberg) was a Russian Jew from Belarus who is known for pretty much two things: one, he designed things for Les Ballets Russes that they'd never seen the likes of before and two, he taught Marc Chagall. He was part of the Art Deco movement, and my source feels that Bakst's designs were much warmer, and perhaps more generous, than Erte's. Now I like Erte, but once I looked at the book I understood; there is a certain sterility to Erte's drawings, a coolness that comes through in the quality of his line. Meanwhile Bakst's lines--and people--are wavy, exhilarated, airborne.

Once a term this teacher takes a group of students to the Legion of Honor to draw from models who are dressed in themed costume. I think the models stand on boxes or something so they look like sculptures. We had talked about my doing this job for him, and I got the call today from the Guild's booking agent that I had been requested. This term the theme is the Art Deco period. I will be posing with one of two gentlemen; either the Greek-Nordic ballet dancer in top hat and tails (and stuff in between, this is a fully clothed job!) or the incredibly stately African-American gent with whom I had the pleasure of sharing the short poses stand at the model marathon last weekend, dressed this time in Beduoin garb.

The problem is that I've been asked to bring my belly dance outfit. Putting aside for the moment that I don't have it yet--I don't even have the coins to sew onto my bra, let alone the bra, the covering fabric, the special pants, the jewelry, anything--it wouldn't work for this job. For one thing, the ensemble is way too modern. For another, I don't think my teacher would be cool with it being used this way; I believe the contract I signed when I joined the troupe said something to that effect.

The solution's obvious to a girl with a fancy sewing machine and some spare time. I'll build a costume for the event. It doesn't need to be danceworthy, as I will be standing still; so no re-engineering derring-do on hapless bra straps. This instructor likes Bakst, sees Bakstian images when he looks at me, okay, I'll give him Bakst. I got the call as I was headed out to a theater, so I drew some ideas on the back of a program while I waited for the curtain to rise. Hmm, Art Deco. Hmm, what were beledi dancers wearing in those days. Scratch scratch. Bits of mirror, I think; stripes, saturated colors. Did Bakst like tassels? Erte sure did. I'll nail a few on, at the points of the fabric. Scratch scratch. Something like a long Ghawazee coat cut out under the breasts? Sheer printed fabrics? A veil?

And then when I was back online I did a Web search on Bakst and got the following, which is amazing because it is very close to my drawing in some of the details, particularly in the tassels and the pants. But even more so because the drawings I'd seen before of his designs were for Afternoon of a Faun and so forth; they weren't remotely "Oriental." And then this was the first image I found. My Kabbalah mentor tells me that this sort of resonance is to be expected once one begins to study; he's joking, but not really.

courtesy of

There's some other beautiful stuff of his online, if you like this sort of thing.
oddtodd is the man of my hour

This animation hits a bit close to home. Even if, despite what certain persons think, I do actually get out of bed before noon and try to get some work done on a fairly regular basis. The whole cookies-for-breakfast thing, for example.

It takes a while to load. Time enough to go to the freezer and see if there are any Girl Scout Thin Mints laying about unguarded. Which reminds me of another story, about Almeida and lesbian undertones and my tattoo, but I'll tell it another time. Another thing you can do while you wait for the animation to load (press the hand-scrawled 'start' button) is open another window and check out the daily fact he learns from tv. Or you could go through that page to Ebola Monkey Man, who pulled this absolutely beautiful scam on a Nigerian 419 scammer. Not for the faint of stomach.

It's okay, everyone knows that you read all those smartypants blogs. A little Odd Todd won't kill you.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

things to which I aspire

1. Tough chickhood, as defined by coldfury. Although I'm really going to have to work on my drinking to get anywhere close; right now I'm a lightweight sissy-girl on the alcohol front. As last night's adventure getting home after flyering at 111 Minna amply proves; half a glass of Blackthorn cider (sissy drink that looks like beer) and I was wobbling alarmingly down Market Street. Shout out to the fellow at 7-11 who sold me a packet of cookies to absorb the alcohol, all the while telling me about his lack of luck with women.

Although I would like to think chasing a speed-addled burglar out of my place with nothing in my hand but a cordless telephone should gain me some points, yes?

2. Mastery of something on the level of the incredible stuntpeople profiled in the gloriously built Robin Shou's new film Red Trousers (down girl, down; thought I'd played out the Asian fetish but apparently I haven't.) Even if you would not willingly sit through Mortal Kombat just to watch Shou kicking snakey bad guy tuchuses, you need to see his movie. He combines talking head footage, clips from a totally overblown, apparently made-up movie meant to showcase different stunts, and shots of HK stuntfolk falling three stories, falling off bridges onto moving trucks, getting thrown off motorcycles hit by cars, getting the tar kicked out of them, etc. Oh, and plenty of adorable footage of little tiny kids learning the performing arts the way they do it in China; think 'doing twenty flips in a row' and 'spinning on your head' and you start to get the idea. I realized that my own students have it incredibly easy, and I wish they could all see this film. Then I could point out, when they complain, that in our dojo they don't get beaten if they can't stand on their hands for an hour and a half before breakfast.

There's this one old-school Beijing Opera-trained stuntguy, in jeans and gold chain and Mao jacket, who explains that today's stuntfolk have it easy. At the birth of HK cinema, he tells us, asking for pads was unheard of, and was a sure sign that you couldn't cut it. In those days, the stunt men were tough and strong. My companion and I were howling; he leaned over and whispered and we had to climb uphill five miles. We watch one guy, perhaps an Aussie, get slammed into a wall by Shou; when he comes up he says how can you work in an office when you can do this? The esteemed Sammo Hung notes that American actors are wusses; you can't slap them around. And I loved the stunt man who shares his trick for sussing out what will be expected of him when he gets to the set: if there's a two or three storey building, I'm going to fall. If it's set in a remote location, there will be an explosion.

Just go. It's a tad long, but simply fucking amazing.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

okay, one more

J. Robert Oppenheimer was stripped naked at summer camp, beaten up, painted green, and then locked in the icehouse overnight.

Well now, that explains the Manhattan Project.
feeling like you just can't pull it together?

I am, sort of. I won't tell the whole story now because I have to make myself all sassy and shit and go hand out flyers for the big troupe shindig fundraiser thingbob, but three words will sum it up: sucky class today.

So I went to the library to cheer myself up (AX quote again: So many of my conversations with you begin with 'I was just reading...') and found something almost as wonderful as my new favorite movie, But I'm A Cheerleader! (thanks, Snufkina!)

Joey Green's The Road to Success is Paved With Failure (Little, Brown and Company, 2001) reassures us that:

Ozzy Osbourne served two months in Winson Green prison for burglary at age seventeen and was fired from a job at a slaughterhouse.

Boris Karloff, unable to support himself as an actor, worked as a truck driver.

Mary Leakey was expelled from a convent school in England for refusing to recite poetry. She was expelled from a second convent school for deliberately setting off an explosion in chemistry class.

John Denver threw a party to celebrate the publication of his high school yearbook and no one showed up.

Steve McQueen worked as towel boy in a brothel in the Dominican Republic, got fired from a job selling pencils in a traveling carnival, and was thrown in the brig for forty-one days for going AWOL from the Marines to visit his girlfriend.

Joan Crawford worked as a laundress, waitress, and shopgirl.

I don't know about you, but I feel much better already.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

well, I feel better now

Quizilla has cleared up one of my lingering questions.

Oooh, easy does it on the metal food group
You will swallow some tacks. You are a little
weird, maybe not so much in a good way. Buy a
yellow tie and wear it on your head.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla
F.ollow C.ourse U.ntil S.uccessful

Or so say Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping, the gentlehearted authors of Organizing for the Creative Person, one of the many, many books I have purchased in my lifetime geared towards whipping my little monkey brain into some kind of cohesive order.

I dated--hell, lived with--a guy many years ago who liked to make fun of how many self-help books I had. To hear him tell it, you would think a person couldn't navigate our apartment without veering into a stack of the damn things. While I admit that there might be a tiny seed of truth to that, his comic books far outnumbered my books on finding a job, a life, a soul. And this isn't related at all, but last I heard, he was still making big money drawing pictures of women with large breasts and larger guns for video game companies.


My challenge right now is two-fold. Well, I'm trying to focus on two folds. One is getting my space in order, the other is clearing my head, which has been definitely murky the past week. Definite vigorously-stirred vinaigrette quality to my head lately. While I know that the latter has many causes--I'm stressed out, I have a head cold, I just got back to SF and suddenly there's a lot I need to do to uphold my various commitments to work, troupe, dojo, relationships, and so on. And did I mention the weird rash on my shoulder and torso? At least I think it's kind of funny the way I'm falling apart--I can't help but think that if my studio were just clean and orderly, somehow everything else would fall into place.

The first rule of clutter clearing should probably be, get rid of all your books about clutter clearing. That right there would open up more bookshelf space than I care to admit. But I'm not getting rid of the Lehmkuhl/Lamping book just yet because it's different and special.

It's written for right-brainers.

We're different! We think differently! We're divergent instead of convergent! We have special organizing needs! Seriously, you'd think, after reading a couple of chapters, that "Arbies" deserve our own support group. I'm an Arbie, someone would come sobbing to the front to say, and I admit that I am powerless over my urge to read every scrap, instead of ruthlessly recycling like my neighbor in the next cube over, the one with the riding crop and the gleaming keyboard. Heck, we could use our own country. In one chapter, they describe how an Arbie who didn't need to worry about public ridicule might design a bedroom with no closets--just a row of doorknobs and chairs to drape their clothes over, and tuck their shoes underneath. Closets and bureaus are so, you know, left-brain.

I'm loving this. I look around and see a sock monkey that needs its feet sewn up and its second ear attached. A painting I started in October and haven't touched since. On my desk alone there's a Burning Man volunteer application without so much as my name written on it, a list of people I'm supposed to hit up for donations to the troupe's fundraising party, boarding pass stubs, a clothespin, a pencil sharpener shaped like a polar bear, a stack of empty CD jewel cases, two lino cutting knives, two cell phone chargers, pens pointing in every direction, a Post-It with a list of the things I'm supposed to be looking for so I can do my taxes, if I can find all the boxes with papers hastily shoved into them during frantic cleanings over the course of 2003. I daren't turn my chair and look at the floor behind me, where the unpacking proceeds at a pace not unlike the steady gait of the mountains into the sea. It could be chaos, or it could be, as the nice ladies who wrote the book say, a sign of what a lovely compassionate creative individual I am.

I've gotten a lot farther with this book, too, than I usually do. Maybe because I've made sure it's the only thing in my bag to read on the train. I am learning so much about all the ways Arbies sabotage ourselves! It's fascinating. Now if I could just start putting all their helpful hints into practice. Like asking myself the question: Is this Urgent, Important, Both, or Neither? Or Learning to Divide My Work Into My Time. And of course, Avoiding Busywork.

I'm thinking about all this as I jump up to put in a CD. And then I notice that the CD player and everything around it are dusty. So I head out to the closet to look for the duster, but the closet is locked. Coming back for the key, I decide to check my email again. And look, there's something that needs a response. Duster in hand, finally, I stop in the kitchen to see if there's any lox left, and I start to think that maybe the fridge could stand to be cleaned out. Back in my studio I walk over to dust the CD player and realized that my tempera paint is settling out; maybe it needs to be donated to a worthy cause, I'll just check Craig's List real quick like.

And I wonder why I'm so tired at the end of the day, and feel like I've accomplished so little. And I still haven't listened to the CD. Maybe I need a nap?

Or to run screaming from my studio and take refuge in a coffeeshop where I can safely make lists--at a distance?

Monday, March 01, 2004

too much fun

Mike said today, over small allegedly hot sandwiches at the Java Beach Cafe, that I have wasted no time now that I'm back in SF. I've been to an erotic art show/fundraiser for Carol Queen's new Center for Sex and Culture, eaten Ethiopian, Chinese, AND Indian food, been to a dance class, crashed a party my friends were working, run amok in the Mission with Patience and Rig, gone to a burlesque show, withstood the Mel Gibson movie in San Leandro (AX wanted to be surrounded by believers, a supposedly fun thing he'll never do again), watched the Oscars with the recuperating Snufkina, Princess of Vicodinia, and taught a kids' class. All in about 72 hours.

Which is probably why I have a head cold now. I'm no longer used to so much stimulation! I should be working my way back up!

But the really exciting news is that an essay I wrote last year has been chosen for publication in an anthology of writing by women on race and childhood. I had no idea if the editor even got it, as she never sent any sort of notice of receipt, but apparently she did, and liked it very much. So I have a week to do some tightening, write a bio, and ship it back.

I'm very stoked about this. This will be my first publication in something remotely booklike; I have been fantasizing for some time about having my work in a form that isn't stale after a week, or used to keep bus benches dry. It's also the most intimate thing I've sent out so far. It's not a critique of someone else's work or a profile of someone else's genius. It's not straight news, a cleanup of someone else's work, or a cutesy food thing. It's personal, it's vulnerable, and it's not especially slick. It will have an Amazon rank that I can obsess over.

I'm ready. I think.