Sunday, June 27, 2004

not now, but soon

1. Catering on Nyquil
2. Girlfight in drag queen's bedroom, also on Nyquil
3. The advantages to scoring standing room only tickets to Janacek's opera The Cunning Little Vixen
4. Another love letter to the Spaceship
5. How it feels to see rainbow flags flying up and down my town's main street
6. Best friend noticing that I am developing a pronounced streak of white hair

In the meantime, can I just say? I'm as proud of my sexual orientation--if I can be said to point in a particular direction, which is questionable--as the next San Franciscan. But did Civic Center (my 'hood, as it happens) need to get so utterly trashed for Pink Sunday? Seriously, I had to wade through flotsam above my ankles to get to the BART station this afternoon. The ridges of the escalator treads were white and pink with paper, broken plastic cups, and junk mashed beyond recognition. Traipsing home just now, there was still hardcore cleanup action going on. It's really embarrassing, you know? We're out and we're proud and we're complete pigs. I'm having this fantasy about next year; in it, I'm in full dominatrix gear and I'm making a battalion of subs crawl around between the drunken, sunburned people, picking up trash.

You can take the girl out of Burning Man, I see, but you can't take Burning Man out of the girl.

Friday, June 25, 2004

bring on the theraflu

Worst is when you know you've caught a cold, but it hasn't decided yet how much it wants to rough you up. So you spend a few days with a sore throat, maybe there's some sneezing here and there, and I will not share the details about the snot because you know them already. And the whole time you can hear the little virus thinking, now? Hmm, not yet. Give her another couple of days.

Step to me, you little wanker; let's do this thing and get it over with.

But no. It's waiting for the weekend; conscious, I'm sure, that I am working all weekend, seeing plays, waiting on strangers, bustling around hither thither and yon. Wherever yon is, I've never been completely sure. Conscious, in other words, that yesterday would have been a fine day to be really sick, or even today, but that tomorrow through Wednesday are really inconvenient. So that is probably when it works its gooey viral magic.

How delightful.

In other news, look! A picture of the anthology my essay is in! Someday when I'm big and famous, I probably won't even notice what the covers of my books look like, just as I stopped seeing the movies I worked on after a few years in the dream factory. But right now, if I didn't feel so limp, I'd probably do a few circuits around the block.

As it is, a nap's probably a better idea.

The other interesting thing is that last night, I had two seperate people ask me how long I'd been studying belly dance. The first was at a regular class, the second at the mini-class Jill teaches before the monthly El Rio performance. Both women wanted to know how long they should expect to practice before they're "as good" as I am. I found the question bizarre both times; I haven't been blogging too regularly about this, but there's some troupe stuff going on that's frequently left me feeling despondent and as if I will never perform.

Incidentally, AX, I looked it up: "despondent" saw its first use around 1655. It's from the Latin de+spondere, and means "to lose heart"; spondere means something like "to promise in marriage."

So anyway. Two different women. I mean, both beginners; not in a position to see how technically off I am, but still. My troupe may not believe that I'll ever be ready, but these two nice women said the right thing at the right time, and seemed to mean it.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

progress on the art project, after a fashion

Well, I had this lovely post more than half-done. It made fun of Snufkina! It talked about obscure food products! It revealed that I am virtually helpless on the domestic front!

And then I accidentally closed down Safari, while taking a break to do something else. Post gone, potential retaliatory tickling from Snufkina averted, and you can cherish the illusion that I know how to cook, at all.

I'm too demoralized to recreate it just now. So instead, I thought I'd post an update on some of the images I have received for use on the floorcloth that will grace my front hall. Ready?

AX is wondering whether he can draw Spider-Man well enough, and MarcoPolo has sent me, in ascending order of frightfulness, four images. We have Hello Kitty, two kittens with strange animated smiles drawn on, Renee Zellweger in "Cold Mountain" wearing a hat with the Oakland A's logo, and finally, most Lovecraftian of all, a photo of Donald Rumsfeld smiling and showing all his teeth.

This is a good start. A great start! Who doesn't want to walk on Donald Rumsfeld? Who can't use Spider-Man guarding their entryway? But it's not enough, folks. I need more. I'm not going to embarrass anyone by posting your IP addresses (I have mentioned my obsession with Statcounter before, right?), but I know you're out there. Los Angeles? Virginia? New Hampshire? I need more critter images. While I'd be delighted if you drew me some--and things scrawled drunkenly on cocktail napkins absolutely count--I suppose just sending on a pre-existing image is also fine, since I shan't be selling the finished item.

Three feet by six is a lot of territory.
a river flows through me

I am the Nile!
Which Extremity of the World Are You?
From the towering colossi at Rum and Monkey.

Monday, June 21, 2004

according to a certain celebrity

I'm not going to mention the name of the guest of honor at a party I worked recently; I don't want to get busted. Not that I have anything unkind or scandalous to say. Quite the opposite. I'm just concerned about holding onto my catering gig for a while longer.

But I have to tell you, this guy was just as nice as you might wish. It's rare that a guest notices us, let alone tries to help us out in any way; at one point this fella saw that I was struggling to move a big propane heater closer to his table and he got up and helped me move another table out of the way. Just got up and did it, no big deal. The younger brother of a more-famous comic talent who did himself in with speedballs, back in the day; Our Guest of Honor has lived in a long shadow. He's not funny in the same way. His brother was funny because he always seemed on the verge of combustion. OGOH is funny in that Midwestern shlub-next-door way. Which is appropriate, really; we share a good solid Chicago provenance, and you know only Midwesterners are allowed to make fun of the Midwest.

The rest of you, don't even think about it.

Now, there was another guest with an equally recognizable name. When he was younger and quite a bit skinnier, he was in a movie with OGOH's brother about a couple of white blues musicians. Are you following this? Here's another clue: Feeling slimey? Who you gonna call? Our Guest's Friend was shaped more in the Hollywood mold; he brought along two bodyguards and a dog, all of whom we were expected to feed. Later there was talk about his smoking silly weed and verbally abusing other guests, but I didn't see that for myself, more's the pity.

The cool thing--and there were a few cool things, even if the party went three hours over and I ended up doing an eleven-hour shift--was that these two guys really seem to like each other. Sometimes there are performers who have great chemistry together on stage or screen, and then you find out that they absolutely despise each other, and it's kind of disappointing. Not OGOH and OGF, who got up after dinner to sing with the band and had a jolly old time. I was glad to see it. Too often, when you get close to someone who you know solely through their work, they turn out to be entirely different than you expected them to be, and not necessarily in a positive way.

I was just glad to see that being a Beeg Star hadn't made this guy a Beeg Asshole.
the impending snark shortage

Daily Kos warns that there may not be enough snark to go around; left-wing bloggers may need to investigate finding alternative fuel sources to get through the crisis. So funny I was afraid I'd wake the neighbors. Thanks to Respectful of Otters for pointing it out.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

thank you peter himmelman

when no one is forgotten and nothing goes to waste
when sadness turns to laughter when anger's defaced
you'll start to know the way I feel about you

when weakness turns to power when evil turns to good
when the helpless are remembered by those who never would
you start to know the way I feel about you

and if I could, I'd run out into the street and I'd scream to everyone I'd meet
that I loved you more than words could say
and that I loved you more than life this father's day

when caring is exalted when kindness knows no bounds
when integrity comes easy when love is all around
you'll start to know the way I feel about you

and if I could, I'd run out into the world and tell every boy and girl to love
before love takes itself away
just like I'm lovin you this father's day

This Father's Day, off the 1986 album of the same name.

Friday, June 18, 2004


Walking up Hyde this morning, I paused to lean against a building and focus on a rather complicated text message I was trying to send with my incredibly low-tech phone. So I was looking down when someone walked by carrying a boombox pumping out some loud gangsta rap, all where my niggaz at and so on. I'm going to set aside for a moment how much the "where [blank] at?" construction makes me crazy. The rant I can feel foaming up in my throat is just going to have to wait. The point is that I looked up, expecting to see some big threatening African-American guy swaggering by.

I was dead wrong. It was a big guy, all right, or more accurately a wide guy, but he was about as physically white as it's possible to get. We're talking Nordic here. My eyes followed him up the block, and locked on an African-American couple coming down towards me, pushing a stroller with a little girl in it. They're looking at him with barely concealed amusement, and then they face forward and see me looking at them looking at him, and I can't help smiling. And we have a moment where all three of us know what exactly is going on--who does this guy think he is? They're laughing, I'm laughing. They're even with me now and I can see that their little girl, with her hair pulled up in a puff on top of her head, is incredibly beautiful. I wave at her. Say hi! her mom tells her, and we say hi to each other as she rolls past, turning in her stroller to watch me.

Sometimes, often, the whole question of what we (and by we, I mean WE, all of us) are going to do to end racism in this country just overwhelms me. Especially when I can see that despite my best efforts and those of my parents (who moved us to inner-city Detroit when I was six, very deliberately) and my teachers (I knew all the countries of Africa on a map before I mastered Europe), I'm still carrying all sorts of soul-deadening junk around. Beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, totally wrong-headed ideas I'm ashamed to admit to. If I, with all my training and hypersensitivity and Detroit upbringing, still make snap judgements, still think that people are less capable of or interested in certain things solely because they're of African descent, if I still hold my breath a little when a black man walks past me and think please don't hurt me, how can I expect anyone else to get their act together and stand up and say, no more?

This is something Mom and I talked about when I was in Michigan last, and AX and I talk about it occasionally on a more theoretical level. My essay in the Seal Press anthology Under Her Skin, which comes out in the fall (and yes, brace yourself: when I have a release date and an ISBN I'm going to make you all buy a copy) consists of me fumbling around with this issue. I start writing about race in America over and over; I stop in frustration over and over.

The only thing I can suggest is that we need to talk about this more. Air it out. Too much damage has been done by our pretending that there isn't an issue, or that the issue is no longer meaningful because there are African-Americans at every level of government and excelling in every field of endeavor. We need to talk about what happens inside us, and we have to live with the possibility that we're going to say horrible, off, things even though we have no intention of being hurtful. Something I just read in a completely different context floats back to me: Dr. Deborah Anapol writes, This is a process of trial and error. There will be trials, you will make errors. Too often I say nothing because I fear making an error. Is it possible that there are opportunities I've lost as a result? What opportunities have we as a society lost because we haven't been brave enough to be truthful, vulnerable, compassionate?

For the moment, I'm just glad I had that moment on the street, that brief flash of being completely present and at ease, of laughing with other people. The past few days have been pretty rocky, for a host of reasons; I badly needed the respite.
a walk in the woods

While I'm here, wallowing around with love and money stuff that seems incredibly petty, my friend Paz is out with Greenpeace in southern Oregon trying to stop the logging of the Klamath-Siskiyou region. These are BLM lands, public lands: 90% of the people polled said they should remain uncut, but the bulldozers are rolling. There are two weblogs maintained by Greenpeace that tell the story better than I: In the Forest and Stop the Sales. Go take a look: you can almost smell the fresh damp air, and there's video of the police breaking into the big 20' locked container Paz and his crew dropped in the middle of the road.

Better yet, if you have a few days to spare, you could go visit the Forest Rescue Station they've got set up. I talked to Paz a couple of times while this action was being planned, and each time he was glowing with excitement; he admitted to feeling sort of geeky about it, but they've got Army cots and big tents and infrastructure. The pictures on In the Forest give you an idea--a clean, orderly campsite, very organized. There's a regular schedule of hikes and talks; families and other groups are encouraged to come out.

I worry about Paz, but I'm incredibly proud of him. My friends all impress the hell out of me.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

yes virginia, tattooed people do go to the opera

Talked to my mother yesterday, and she mentioned that I need to make sure I catch an opera in August in which a friend's daughter will be singing. Said friend was apparently astounded to hear that I in fact go to the opera; I don't know if the friend was responding to the fact that I'm an (occasional) habitue, or that anyone she knows goes. Maybe she's bought into the fiction that youngsters (read: people under 60) aren't down with opera. Mais oui! Loud music, bright colors, sex, passion, feuding, death: what's not to like? AND you get a handy synopsis of what you're going to see on your way in, so there's none of the uncertainty of the non-opera stage. You don't ever have to lean over to your date and admit that you don't know what's going on: You've got the synopsis, there are subtitles, and the performers are explaining everything very thoroughly.

A couple years ago, Princess and I decided we were going to hike up our cultural quotient, so we bought the cheapest season tickets we could afford. Doing so involved the kind of planning one associates with shuttle launches. Should we take the four-show season with three operas he wanted to see and sell the tickets for the fourth? Should we take the five-show season with four operas I wanted to see and he could bring a guest to the one I didn't care for? Mozart or Verdi? I was drawn to the lighter opera, he to the Czechoslovakian; I wanted to see The Abduction from the Seraglio, he Kat'a Kabanova. And our schedules barely meshed. It's a wonder we pulled it off at all. But we're hip kids, we made it happen; I ate ramen for a couple of weeks and he kept his face averted when he passed shoe stores.

Our first outing was Turandot, and our seats were so far from the stage that the soprano was a bright speck against a great sweep of red scenery. In the second or third or fourth act (I'd lost track by then) a line of people came out bearing these cool lanterns on sticks, and I could see that okay.

One of the best moments, though, was during an intermission. We were standing at one of the bars, sipping sparkling water and stuffing chocolate-covered espresso beans down our maws, when Princess said, don't look now, but you're getting some attention. So of course I looked; isn't that what you're supposed to do? Across the narrow hall, a gaggle of blue-rinse ladies were staring quite openly at my left arm, poking out of what I'd thought was an opera-appropriate black velvet tank top.

Have I mentioned that I have a sizable tattoo of bugs and leaves that covers my left shoulder and extends halfway to the elbow?

Since then, I've understood the special role the gods have sent me to play. I always go sleeveless to the opera. Someday Princess and I are going to be the old people nattering on about whether putting Mephistopheles' evil minions in bondage gear in the scene where he tempts Faust makes sense from a production standpoint. The current crop of old opera biddies are just going to have to get used to the idea.
little happy clouds

Christopher Rhoads writes in the Wall Street Journal that

Mr. Ross also presents a very different image of America, at a time when U.S. foreign policy remains unpopular in many countries. "On the one side, there is war," says Muhammet Koymen, who in January began organizing Bob Ross painting courses in five cities in Turkey. "And on the other side, there is this sweet man who plays with nature." Mr. Ross often comments during the show about the squirrels and other "little critters" that he's nursing back from injuries.

Courtesy of Matt at Scrubbles.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

adorable bento

Suspension of Disbelief comes through again with these delightful photos of Japanese kid's lunches, sent to me in turn by Snufkina. Completely work-safe, but only if you're not hungry.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

father's day

You know how when you break up with someone you were really attached to, there are a series of dates that are just hard to take? The first Christmas after the breakup, say, if you did Christmas together. Valentine's Day, or a birthday, or New Year's. In my case, one of the worst of these was a Halloween, but that story involves a clown and some liquid latex and I'll tell it later.

I hadn't realized that I had one of these coming up... a day that would remind me of someone I'd lost.


There are signs in all the shop windows now; it seems like everyone thinks your Dads and Grads want whatever it is they have to sell, from overpriced furniture to cell phones. I was in Hayes Valley today and had to speed up, walking past one store with a big sign saying Destination: Dad. I wasn't prepared and it got me in the stomach.

It's not like we ever made a big deal of Father's Day. And maybe that's why this is starting to hurt so much. Maybe we should have. Maybe I should have. Dad didn't seem to care one way or another, but I feel badly that I didn't do more. A phone call, those years I remembered. We'd talk for a little while, and then he'd say, hold on, I'll get your mom. He rarely wore ties, so I wasn't going that route, although I may have given him one once as a child. I'm not sure. Was there a soap on a rope? Did I ever buy a card? I made one, one year, but it wasn't specifically a Father's Day card.

We all know that these things are totally overcommercialized. I mean, good lord, they start advertising the Valentine's Day stuff right after New Year's. And I know that some of us downplay the holidays as a result. But there is a little kernel in the middle, an important bit, a bit about taking time to let the people we love know it. I'm sorry this isn't more articulate, but truthfully, I had to step away from the computer for a minute to grab some Kleenex.

If I may make a suggestion, it's Tuesday night now. You don't need to go look for a tie; you don't need to call for reservations. But if there's someone dad-like in your life, you could take the next few days to think about what and who he's been to you. Did he teach you something? Cheer you up when you felt inconsolable? Open a door for you? And if there's any part of you that feels good doing that, for god's sake, make the call. And if--like my friend who is estranged from her father but thinking she wants to fix it--you have an awkward or painful situation with your dad that might be salvageable, make the call. Or write it down. Do something.

Because this year, I can't.
it must be a Gaugin, it's got mango in it

Today I had lunch with Spirit. It was the first time we'd actually met in person, and as delightful as it was, it was also quite strange for both of us. Brave new world and all that. You see, he'd noticed me on Friendster, but I was all booked up with my wacky life and wasn't doing a good job of responding. Finally, in what I admit was probably a bid to frighten him, I sent him here.

I guess he doesn't frighten easy. He read, and kept reading; and still wanted to meet me in all my flesh-and-blood glory. So today we found ourselves in a situation where we're meeting in person, over crepes inexplicably named after artists, and he knows a great deal about me, and I next to nothing about him.

And the first thing we talk about is blogging, and why someone blogs, and whether my motivation is changing over time. He's raising all these interesting questions that I want to talk about here, and suddenly the whole situation has gone so meta that I just want to lie down on the floor until the dizziness passes. I seriously consider it, but I might get run over by a waiter, and how would that look? Bad enough I once showed up for a first date in a police car. I don't want to be like the fork-in-the-head woman. So I keep my head up and we keep talking and make lists of movies the other Needs To See, admire another diner's nicely-done purple hair, and discuss the wisdom of showing children how to make big explosions.

On and off, I'm thinking, is he wondering if/how this is going to show up in my blog?

I'm also thinking, do I seem smaller in person?

Monday, June 14, 2004

but mama... that's where the fun is

A dispatch from the female froth frontier: Snufkina and I went to Nordstrom's yesterday, so she could purchase wildly expensive foundation and I could browse muddle-headedly through a selection of odd little things that one wears on one's feet. Not shoes, no. Foot thongs. Ah, before you buttock afficionadoes get all excited, no. These thongs aren't worn anywhere near one's nether regions. They're triangles about the size of a mutant Dorito, with two loops. A little one comes off one point and goes around the middle toe, and the larger loop comes off the other two points and goes around the ankle. The fabric itself is crocheted, or covered in little beads or shells or sequins. Some horrid examples were denim with little flowers on them. Thank god I'm a country girl, etc.

Anyway. I bought two sets--a red/orange beaded pair, for modeling (what the hell) and a plain black pair, to which I plan to sew coins and cowries and all the other oddments that festoon my troupe's dance belts and jewelry. While I really wish I could dance in little shoes, now that I've discovered it's a lot easier to do spins in shoes than barefoot, that's not always appropriate. But these little foot thongs could be cute. We'll see. Just one more completely uncharacteristic thing I do for bellydance. That is, if certain intra-troupe issues are ever resolved and I ever get to perform, in front of other people, in costume.

But that is another story.

The big news from our expedition, besides the fact that I should really stay out of malls, is that I let a cosmetic-counter guy take a Polaroid of my face. The camera used some arcane technology that records not the appearance of your actual visible skin, but the layer underneath. It's supposed to show you what real sun damage you have through carelessness allowed yourself to sustain. This isn't the top layer of your skin, he said importantly, it's the skin that's coming through. The things that look like reckles are actually what people call age spots. I plunked my chin onto the chin rest and closed my eyes. Flash, a moment of waiting, and then I saw it.

Snufkina, Snukina, look! I howled, running over to where she was chatting up a stunningly beautiful African-American clerk in vintage '70's dress and septum pierce, I'm damaged! Look, I'm going to be all spotty!

You're not damaged, she tried to reassure me.

No, no, look! I have to start wearing sunscreen! I'm completely damaged! It may be too late!

Rotten to the core, maybe, she said kindly. But not damaged.

Huh. Well, I calmed down enough to stop myself from purchasing the whole 125-clam Radiant regime right there on the spot; I took some promotional literature and my ghostly Polaroid and we got our sun-damaged asses out of there. But once on the street, I couldn't quiet myself down. I should note here that Snukina is much fairer than I, yet apparently unconcerned that she is about to turn into a monster-movie extra. Maybe it's because she's a young squirt, compared to my leathery old self. She thought it was amusing that I spent the rest of the day, as we walked around downtown, holding my shopping bag of beaded foot thongs over my face.

I nearly didn't go out this morning. I woke up at AX's, where there is no sunblock, and went home (ditto) for a while to the Spaceship, sticking to the shaded side of the street. Finally I made it to my disaster area of a studio, where a little rooting produced the 45 SPF stuff I bought last year for Burning Man. Ah, safe to brave the outdoors once again!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

would you care for some chardonnay, madam?

Last night I captained* at my first sit-down dinner in six months, and it wasn't all that bad. It wasn't even half-Brad (sorry, sorry: I can't be the only one whose idea of good clean fun in bed came from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, can I?) Although I've been in and out of town since December, I avoided catering work because I felt too volatile to risk facing guests or managing staff. Now that my father has passed, and I'm trying to get my feet under me again (and now that my rent has jumped, of course), it's back to catering. Something I was pretty determined I wasn't going to do if I could help it.

I still don't want to get too involved. As Slice pointed out when he tried to discourage me from starting in the first place, it takes a tremendous amount of energy that one could be using towards one's real work, whatever that is. But I think I can stand working one or two days a week, at least for a while. I am still planning to seek out new writing markets, and possibly a part-time Day Job (shiver!), ideally one where I get a discount on books or art supplies (yes, I'm thinking about retail) since that's where all the money goes anyway. But I had a good time last night--I saw a lot of people I hadn't seen in a while who seemed genuinely glad to have me back, I liked the guests at my tables, and I managed to get cut before the breakdown and all the really messy bits of the evening. Didn't get to try the filet stuffed with shortribs, but hey, can't have everything. I have decided that I'm not going to be a bitch tonight, I told one of my waiters, and I need you to help me stick to that. He thought that was funny, bless him; apparently he wasn't one of the people I've totally terrorized in the past. But I managed to make it through the evening without getting huffy or overheated, which can be a real problem when I captain, and the guests commented on what a good job we were doing. In light of the fact that they were all professional party planners in town for a convention, that meant something.

We also got sent home with the extra wine, which is unusual. I got home and drew a bath in my brand-new haven't-had-one-of-these-in-years bathtub, drank chardonnay, and tried not to get maudlin thinking about baths drawn for me by people I've loved in the past. But that is another story. The point is that I made it through a night of catering secure that I'd lived up to my catering motto "everybody gets fed, nobody gets hurt" and I got to sleep in this morning, so things are pretty good.

* If you haven't worked food, this may be unclear. Some catering companies break out staff on sit-down meals into teams. Each team is composed of one captain and a certain number of waiters--usually, but not always, two. A team is responsible for a station, or a set number of tables. For us, there are usually three ten-tops in a section, which means one captain, two waiters, and thirty guests. The captain takes her cues and instruction from the floor manager, and the waiters look in turn to their captain. So the captain has some authority, and a higher level of responsibility, but she's not the alpha dog.

I, ah, occasionally have some trouble not being the alpha dog.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

throbbing gristle

Every now and again I check in on PRobot's blog, and it seems that every damn time, he's hurt himself, again. Don't click either link if you're faint of heart or stomach. The boy just has a knack for unintentional self-mutilation.

I debated (for at least a minute, maybe two) about whether to point this out. Does it make me look like a spurned love? Oh, probably. But he's just so funny; I don't know many men who will document a trip to the ER so lovingly, or wish an excised bit of tendon well on its journey to start a new family. I can also hear my mother's sigh of relief, thousands of miles away, that I'm no longer dating a man who spends so much time at SF General. She still worries about who's going to parent my children, after all. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Keep looking around his blog and you'll see pictures of a project he'll be unleashing soon. And you'll be all hip and in the know; you'll seem him out in the Mish doing his thing, and you'll be able to turn to your friends and casually detail how the suit was built. And I might as well throw in a shameless plug for his book. It's not published or anything yet, but you'll want a copy when it is.

Maybe he can sign it in blood for you.

Monday, June 07, 2004

why did he give both brothers the same name?

Saw a really charming production of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors yesterday. It was a matinee out at CalShakes, and it was a beautiful, sunny day in Orinda, so the bright colors of the costumes were particularly clear against the amorphous white set blobs. More than half of the characters were played by actors steering larger-than-life puppets. The two sets of twins were played by two men and their identically-costumed puppets, which was an interesting way of handling the challenge of casting two sets of matching actors. I took AX, who had never been to CalShakes and thought he'd be sitting through Henry the Fourth, so the day was a pleasant surprise for both of us.

Most of the shows I see are not really suited to all age groups. I mean, the community theater stuff is usually okay--especially if we're talking about Contra Costa Civic and the Willows, both of which are relentlessly family-friendly. But the more professional theaters are either putting up pieces with very "mature" themes, or pieces that kids would probably just find boring. So it's nice to see a high-quality show that I can recommend wholeheartedly to people with kids. Something that hasn't been dumbed-down; I think kids can handle Shakespeare better than adults realize.

At intermission, we overheard a girl asking her father asking the question that titles the post. AX started laughing. Because there would be no plot otherwise. We headed for the concession stand so I could boost my blood chocolate level, and I thought, that kid's going to be an accountant.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

time to lay in the canned food

Robert Stribley of Hitched to Everything found it on Boing Boing; now I pass it on to you: the Post-Rapture Survival Guide. Sounds suspiciously like the usual 'end is nigh' discussion so beloved of religious fanatics through the ages, but now with a high-tech twist.

If you navigate around the site, you'll also find a button you can push to order an eight-dollar booklet that answers the question, do pets go to heaven when they die? Eight dollars (said to cover printing and postage costs; as if) seems like a lot of clams to answer what I imagine as a yes or no question.

Maybe I'm just jealous because I didn't think of such a phenomenal, and absurd, money-making scheme. Send me eight dollars and I'll answer any question you like.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

trapped in a self-made deadline hell

I'm writing about a woman who may or may not have been a monster, and am thus not nearly as funny this morning as either Robyn, who dishes on what really happens at fashion shows (scroll to April 1), or 3Jake reminiscing hilariously about her favorite apartment. So I'll point you at them and get back to the grind.

Thanks to Suspension of Disbelief for sharing Robyn.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

the captain is on the bridge

Last night after my troupe rehearsal, I stopped in at the Spaceship to, well, gloat. It's going to take me a little while to move in (for example, I no longer own any sort of bed and will need to find some reasonable facsimile) and I have the luxury of a month of a half before I need to be fully clear of the dojo space. So my plan is to move things as conscientiously as I can, instead of just packing everything in a frenzy, only to find that I've transported trash from old place to new. There's a funny family story about that, incidentally, which I may tell later. But last night, I mostly wanted to finish up taking measurements, gauging how much space in the hall I can use for bookshelves, and cracking everything that could be cracked to let the smell of new paint, plastic, and melamine escape into the night.

So I wasn't expecting a knock (!) at the door at 10:45. It was a little creepy! Through the fish-eye I could see a couple of harmless-looking gents, one tall and Asian, the other--rumpled. They turned out to be the architects who designed the building; they live in units ten and eleven. They had come into the building through the garage and noticed that some things that had been in my unit were now in the garage, and they were wondering what was going on.

It was really pretty funny. They weren't expecting a tenant so soon; there are a couple of things that still need to happen in my unit (the shower tiles need to be sealed, a wardrobe needs to be installed) and the back patio slab (to which only I, of all the tenants, will have direct access) still needs to be poured. So the presence of an actual tenant, a sweaty tape-measure-wielding post-dance-class tenant, was as much a surprise to them as their knock had been to me. But I invited them in, and we talked for a little while, and they asked if I had any feelings about what kind of wardrobe/storage thingie should be procured and where it should be placed; if I had any ideas about how the back should be landscaped, and it was just cool. They seem like nice guys, they're happy that I'm happy with the thing they made, and I now know two of my neighbors!

It's a weird thing, having all the neighbors in a place be new at the same time. By the middle of this week the property manager expects to have the building half-rented. He told me that he's trying to choose people he can talk to easily. Not just because we'll need to be able to communicate with him about maintenance issues and so forth, but because he understands that he's building a community, and it's in his best interests if we all get along. So I'm the writer/dancer in the basement; there's also a chef, the architects, an interior designer, and an accountant so far.

I have a lot to get done today--I was so excited yesterday that I didn't get anywhere with my article, and my deadline is this afternoon, and I'll probably break down and go haul some more things from place to place or waste too much time dreaming about bookshelves. So I'll leave you with this rogue's gallery of angry felines, drawing your attention in particular to the apoplectic Katt.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

how it feels when things start to go right

So the big news is that I got the Spaceship after all; the property manager emailed me this afternoon, and I'm good to go. I have to run out and get a cashier's check for the deposit and first month's rent, and then I will have keys...and have my own real space again for the first time in a long time. Even though I had the studio in the dojo, that was always a stopgap measure. There were certain concessions I had to make to live there, and it felt distressingly temporary. But then, so have so many of the places I've lived.

Talked about this with a new acquaintance, Spiral, over dinner last night. She's a neat lady; although her nieces and nephews "behind the Orange Curtain" apparently don't understand that having a witch aunt who lives in San Francisco is very, very cool. I told her that for years, I had it in the back of my head that any place I lived was sort of a way station until I met the person with whom I was going to form the Big Pair Bond. How I didn't necessarily hold out for places I really liked, and settled for places that were almost but not quite right, because in my heart I expected that when I met my soulmate, we'd be moving in together somewhere else anyway. I thought I was the only one who did this, but a conversation with a family friend last month in Detroit disabused me of the notion, and so I don't feel as strange admitting to it. I'm not proud of it, but there it is: as much as I disdain the idea that single people are somehow incomplete, I was manifesting it myself.

Well, no mas. I found a place that I like a lot, a little place just right for me, and this week I get to start moving my plants and books and artifacts into it and make it mine. I'm especially interested in the fact that I will be the first person to live there--the building is so new it doesn't have all its stickers peeled off--so there's no karma, good or bad, in the walls or appliances. Offgassing chemicals, oh yes, probably. But no mail for former occupants, no need to cross someone else's name off the door buzzer, no nicotine oozing through the paint in the bathroom like Son of Blob out for flesh. No echoes of screaming matches, or odd smells of burnt food. I get to fill it with enthusiasm and creative spirit.

If anyone out there of the ritual-minded persuasion has suggestions for ways to mark this occasion/sanctify the space, I'm open.

The other big news (it's been a pretty exciting couple of days for news) is pretty quirky. Last summer I applied to a program in Connecticut for theatre critics, a sort of critic boot camp. It turned out that I wouldn't be able to go because of a change in the program's schedule that conflicted with my previous commitment to teaching aikido summer camp. I was bummed, but the director told me he'd hold onto my application and I could try again this year.

So this year, the application deadline came and went while I was occupied with my father; I made my peace with the fact that I wouldn't be going to boot camp this year either.


Yesterday there was a voicemail for me that I'd been accepted to the session, and that a New York Times-funded foundation would be covering the cost (as they do for all working journalists who attend; only non-journalists pay their own way). All I needed to do was buy plane tickets.

I went nuts. I'm committed to aikido camp already, I don't want to screw up the dojo, but I didn't even apply and they want me. Both AX and my mother gave me stern talkings-to, and then Spiral a slightly more gentle one; there was much talk of divine intervention and not turning away from a thing I'm apparently really supposed to do. So I'm thrilled witless, and have to have a serious talk with LabRat and my sensei about professional opportunities versus screaming children who constantly need their noses wiped and little belts retied. There's got to be a way to make this work.

It's just so nice, too; ever since the summer of '01, it's felt like one painful or difficult thing after another. Breaking up with Slice, moving out of the Oakland house, my dad's first diagnosis, and then 9/11 (all of which happened in a three-month span)... while there have been some great things since then (belly dance, dear new friends, belly dance, new writing markets, belly dance), I still really appreciate having a couple of really cool things happening so close together. It makes me feel like I'm not just pointed in the right direction, I'm actually in motion again.

I wish of course that I could tell my dad about all this. He would have been so pleased for me. Maybe I'll write a letter and burn it.
where did the weekend go?

Memorial Day weekend caught me, as usual, unawares. Funny thing about most non-Jewish holidays: I don't anticipate them in time to make any sort of plans. This was a real problem when I had a day job--suddenly, I'd have a three-day weekend to play with, but no time to make plans because everything had been booked up already.

I specify "non-Jewish" because I really think that's part of the issue. Although I was born here, as were both of my parents, as a kid I still felt something like an immigrant. So the really US-oriented holidays I tend to ignore because I feel like, hey, we weren't here yet, and the ones with religious overtones, I tend to ignore because they're not my faith. Which knocks out, I gotta tell you, most American holidays for me. Halloween's the only one I ever really see coming, Halloween and New Year's, and it helps that they're on very easy days to remember.

So what did happen this weekend? I worked my first catering job in approximately six months on Saturday, and it didn't suck. All my protestations to the contrary, I might be able to continue doing that work for a while longer, although I don't plan to take more than two jobs a week if I can help it. More than that and it starts to eat my brain. But Saturday was nice. I wasn't managing, so I could just be helpful and cheerful and pass hors d'ouevres and not worry about the shape of the whole event. A chef who had been out with something like throat cancer when I left was back and seemed to be in pretty good shape; I was very glad to see him and made sure he knew it. Sometimes he and I dance in the kitchen, when things are slow. I'm glad not to have lost my dance partner, I told him, and then sailed back out with a tray of tiny barbecued pork-and-spicy-cole-slaw sandwiches. It was a heavily Atkinsized crowd, which sometimes works my last nerve--all those people refusing appetizers because of the itty-bitty bread bases--but this time, I just said things like, I won't tell anyone if you eat the top and leave the bottom and kept going.

So, not awful. Not as much fun as writing or modeling, but tolerable and sometimes funny. And the checks clear.

The rest of the weekend, I slept, read, and ate. I think. Somehow it's Tuesday now. I still haven't heard whether I got the Spaceship, which I think is a bad sign; I left an email for the property manager but I'm not too hopeful. An exciting thing happened around writing that I'll blog separately. I did laundry. I spent a pleasant evening at Pavlova's drinking red wine and listening to Miniver and 3Jake arguing over who could take Superman; Pavlova was making a face suggesting that she'd like to throw them out, but no such. I took LabRat out for a belated fortieth-birthday dinner and we discussed the future of the dojo.

Big weekend.