Monday, August 30, 2004

i've had enough of this mercury in retrograde nonsense

On hold with DHL, trying to track down my computer. Typing onehanded. Getting crankier with every passing minute. The hold music has a voiceover of a fuzzy-sounding woman talking about things to know while visiting Jamaica, which is sounding like a really, really, good idea right now. Allegedly DHL tried to deliver at 11 and the driver couldn't find my name in the directory, so noted it as a bad address and did not leave a notice.

I was home, mind you, waiting. This is after a whole bunch of bullshit last week with HP that I did not blog because I did not want to whine any more than I already was.

Why are there so many people in the world who can't find their ass with both hands?

I am having a hard time extending love and compassion right now.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

flirting with the greatest man of the twentieth century

I asked, as soon as I knew who the guest of honor was, if I would be the captain who had his table. Do you want to be? asked D, who was managing the party. Oh yes, I said. Very much so. So she let me; not surprising, since as a manager myself I tend to get the head table anyway. And I was also the only member of the floor staff who knew who he was. I went back to opening bottles of wine and getting ready for the guests to troop in after the pre-dinner presentation. I was excited in a way I haven't been, catering, in a long time.

The courtyard of the Cantor Art Center on the Stanford University campus now features a scupture of which I am especially fond, Oldenburg and van Bruggen's Floating Peel. It's a 900-pound, 14-foot-tall banana peel. From one angle it looks like a flower blooming; from another a guest thought it was some kind of propeller. I think it's beautiful, and will be sad to see it go when the two-year loan is up. Here's video of it being installed. Anyway, the challenge of having a 900-pound, 14-foot-tall banana peel in your courtyard is that you really need to think about how you're going to decorate your rental tables. The designer on this party had accepted the inevitable and covered the tables with bright yellow linens, centered by small faux Rodin sculptures wreathed in fresh vines. Pretty simple, but effective.

I'm digressing, but I really want to give you an idea of what the event looked like. About a hundred elegantly-dressed guests sitting around yellow-draped tables as night fell, little votives lighting their faces. Waiters in full tux. Bottles of wine, plates with exquisitely arranged portions of salmon and vegetables, postcards of Djerassi Foundation-sponsored artworks propped up in the table number stands.

And a 14-foot-tall steel banana.

The erotic subtext wasn't lost on the guests, some of whom were cracking jokes about the sculpture. Although sexual jokes seem to come easily when you're at a party honoring the man who developed the birth control pill. Even if nobody is talking about how, exactly, he made the money to endow a foundation that supports the arts, in a time where there is almost no money in the state for artists. It's gauche, somehow. Heaven knows how many of the other people present had swallowed an Ortho-Novum 777, or a Tricyclen, sometime during the day. I know I wasn't the only one. But we were not talking about that.

It's easy, if you're socially/morally conservative, to dismiss Djerassi's work because it makes casual sex much less dangerous. There are some people who believe casual sex should be dangerous, that the risk will make people stop and think before they strip down, that somehow the Pill is responsible for the breakdown of the healthy, wholesome society we had back in the Fifties.


And there are people, such as Barbara Seaman, who worry that oral contraceptives are just one small part of a larger, uncontrolled experiment in which women are the guinea pigs. I have much more sympathy for this idea, in part because I am a DES daughter and thus very sensitive about most things related to nonsteroidal estrogens. I do sometimes worry about all the synthetic estrogen I've been shovelling into my system for the past gazillion years, on top of the existing damage; I take some comfort from my doctor's insistence that the dosage I'm taking is miniscule compared to the early Pill, and that regular Pill use also seems to protect against some kinds of cancer. But it's still a little scary.

But I think about what this man has done to extend the average human female lifespan, and I'm just awed. Forget the sexual revolution. Forget about the religious right and the Catholic Church. Think instead about every woman who has not died in childbirth, or of a botched abortion, or of a general physical breakdown from having too many children, because she had access to the Pill. Think of every woman who, because she can now control when she gets pregnant, has been able to decide that she wants a degree first, or a gallery show, or a book-signing tour--and has been able to have it.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of playing it cool, but he busted me. He noticed that I was serving him first, and being eighty years old (a very well-kept eighty years, let me say) had been to enough formal dinners to know that I should have been starting with the woman to his right. You're serving me first, he asked, with traces of his Viennese accent still audible. Why is that?

Because I'm very fond of you, I responded without thinking. Well, not true. I was thinking. I was thinking, there goes my job if management hears about this. We're pretty strictly schooled in not saying goofy things like that to celebrity guests.

What did you say? At this point, he had his hand on my left wrist. I repeated myself, blushing furiously. That's what I thought you said, he answered. Clearly you have excellent taste, but why are you so fond of me?

You have made certain revolutions, I responded, that have improved the lives of many people.

That's what I thought.

I speak, of course, of your science fiction I added.

Of course. I knew that was what you meant, he laughed.

You're a silver-tongued devil, Carl someone at the table said, apparently able to read my blush even in the darkness. And he is quite charming, as is evident from this interview. Djerassi released my perspiring wrist, but for the rest of the dinner service, he never let up on me--insisting that I taste the wine, thanking me every time I did anything for him, smiling smiling smiling.

Right up there with waiting on Noam Chomsky at his son's wedding (he listened lovingly to his little grandson talking about snakes) and Joan Baez at a fundraiser (terrible flirt, if she thinks there's some treat in the kitchen you might know about).

Friday, August 27, 2004

well, that's different

One of my troupemates passed this along. It defies description, so I hope your Quicktime is working... and that the idea of women bellydancing to Ozzy Osbourne amuses you as much as it does me.

I'd put up the link to the troupe's leader dancing a Pharaonic dance to Iron Maiden's "Powerslave", but I haven't been able to watch the whole thing myself yet.
like how nobody mentions that she's right?

Liberal Canadian MP Carolyn Parrish is in the soup for a statement where she called those who support a North American missile shield a "coalition of idiots." There's been quite a bit of clucking, and she's under pressure to retract the comment because it doesn't exactly do a whole lot for US-Canadian relations.

What I haven't seen yet is anyone pointing out that while the words may be colorful, the content is accurate. So far, the missile defense shield is like Anna Nicole Smith--a lot of expensive engineering, but damn slow on the uptake.

For example, Son of Star Wars works great against targets that are carrying GPS units that transmit to the kill vehicle, which is rather a lot to hope for in an enemy warhead, don't you think?

Rummy says that those of us who don't believe in the missile defense shield are living in the past, that we don't understand today's threats. Pardon me? Aren't we supposed to be calling the cops on our swarthy neighbors and expecting a dirty bomb in every briefcase?

Because I am a fair person, I'm including this response to Parrish's comment from the Globe and Mail. While it makes some good points, it also makes some of her arguments for her. Like the whole bit about how, well, it may not work all the time but it works some of the time, so we should keep shovelling billions of tax dollars into Lockheed Martin until they get something that doesn't need its tests rigged.

The system only has to fail once, you know? Once. This isn't horseshoes.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

elektra lives

I took a deliberate pass on the Daredevil movie because thanks to BowlCut and a book he gave me many years ago, I believe too much in the classic Elektra, and the trailers didn't look promising.

It seems I wasn't the only one concerned; as Jennifer Garner says in this little trailer/making-of morsel, I know how important this character is to so many people, and I don't want to screw it up!

More honorable words were never spoken. Elektra may still not be Greek (her ambassador father was slain while she was still an undergrad, and Daredevil's First True Love, and yes it is very weird that I know that), but at least now, she's wearing red, and it looks like she may be training with the sensei who trained Stick (Daredevil's mentor) and/or the Hand (evil ninjas). It's hard to tell from the trailer. But either or both would be appropriate.

Meanwhile, wearing black, we have Christian Bale taking up the Batgauntlet in Batman Begins, which also apparently features Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine! The tone of the trailer is much different from the four Batman films we've had so far; stripped-down, bleak, and utterly lacking in rubber suits with built-in nipples. Which seems about right to me, as this one tells the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman--it requires a little more, ah, gravity, than the first four. Not to mention that the Joel Schumacher Batman films were complete and utter excrement--I literally did not make it past the first ten minutes of Batman and Robin. I could not bear it. Once Tim Burton was out, the whole franchise just went to hell.


Anyway. An interesting lineup, beautiful shots of Tibet, a brooding Bale. I am guardedly optimistic.

What, you thought I went to art films?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


I love writing. But more than that, I love being done with writing.

The article that has been eating my brain for the past week is filed; I don't know if it's what my editor was thinking he would get, and I didn't talk to nearly as many people as I would have liked, and I can now spend days in leisurely self-torture about how incredibly much I'm sure it sucks, but




Which means I'm getting through the things on the "must accomplish before Burning Man" list, and that I might actually get to relax once I'm there and not be all stressed out about things left hanging.

Speaking of which, I'm camping with CrashLand Inn, at Venus and 4:00. If you're out on the playa, come by and say hi! We'll have alcohol, and Black Rock City's sexiest mailbox!
one will look at curves, diagrams and cheeses rotted under powerpoint

Not long after translating a page of my blog into French, I found a French blog called "Oh! Ma femme blogue! [Oh! My wife is blogging!]" about which I was curious. So I ran it through Google's translate tool, and got this.

It makes little to no sense, but is very beautiful in its own way. Which leads me to wonder how often this happens: something really isn't all that poetic in its own language, but translated... it gains something. Some sparkle.

AX, during a recent discussion where we were figuring out which country we and all our friends will have to move to if Kerry loses the election, noted that he doesn't want to have to learn a new language because I don't want to be stupid. Speaking haltingly in some other idiom we can sound cloddish, lumpy, slow.

Or shimmeringly, intoxicatingly, mysterious.
so feign niceness and act like you care

This young woman (she's 24) has some advice for the lovelorn. Being, much of the time, lovelorn, I thought I'd check it out.

Some of it is very funny. Some of it makes me want to break something. Especially the part about how you should avoid men who like anal sex, unless of course you yourself do as well--in which case, "you are also a freak and deserve to remain dateless." Also, I've dated a few men with motorcycles, and there was nothing loathsome about any of them, unless an excess of charm, creativity, or intelligence became a crime as I slept last night.

And women wonder why men despair.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

have you a digicam?

You must try this and let me know how it works out. Engadget teaches us how to make 3-D images (the red/blue glasses kind) using free shareware or Photoshop. Via boingboing.

Monday, August 23, 2004

shouts out

Up to my neck, and while I really want to tell you all about flirting with Carl Djerassi and yesterday's Ultra Gypsy photo shoot (and I eventually will, probably after the sunburn has faded), right now I want to point you at other people.

AX told me about this woman on the phone, but I still don't believe it. That someone can making a living as a competitive eater is beyond my comprehension. That there is an organization is even worse, and an official newsletter called 'The Gurgitator'... boggles the mind.

Robyn's struggling with the Eighth Grade Test, but passes along this comforting post from Moveable Type about creativity; she says it'll make you feel better, and it certainly works for me. Also, Robyn's site itself is pretty funny right now. Where do I get a job making raincoats for cats?

Friday, August 20, 2004

quoting james thurber

He's having his work translated into French; it loses something in the original.

I just noticed that someone in Switzerland translated a page of my blog into German to read it; I didn't know Google could do that for you. Yes, yes, I'm sure you all knew that, but I'm sort of behind on these things. After I'd had a chance to think about how funny my stuff looks in German, I went ahead and translated a page into French.

It looks really cool in French. The translation's not perfect, but it's not bad for what it is. And some of my constructions would give a human translator conniptions...

Speaking of humans, part of last night's Adventure in Tech Support involved an alleged live chat with someone over at Earthlink that I suspect was not real. Some of the phrases this "person" was using were oddly formal. I kept wanting to ask, are you a real person? but then again, I kind of did not want to know.

I am heartily sick and tired of turning to automated systems for help. Although actual real live people are not really doing it for me either... but if I tell that story right now, I'll cry. And you really don't want that.

Better that I go to sleep and pretend this whole day happened to someone else.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

don't mess with mercury

The whole story of how it has come to pass that I am trapped in AX's apartment until 5 pm today, trying to make a meal of Nutella and that white Mexican cheese with the spicy red rind, when I should be over at my old place clearing out the last of my stuff, is probably a very funny one.

I'm not exactly seeing it that way right now, however.

And when I write it down, it's not any better. So just trust me: there's lions and tigers and bears and tech support and a disappearing bed in my story; shoes and ships and sealing wax and all the rest. If you know me and feel like writing an encouraging note, now would be an excellent time.
of what use is the ocean?

Mom forwarded this. It's really... humiliating. Yes, that's the word I want. I hope you know more of this stuff than I do, because I think I would have failed this test miserably.

8th GRADE TEST IN 1895

Remember when our grandparents, great-grandparents, and such stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out.

Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, KS, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.


Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no Modifications.

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.

7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per meter?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U. S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U. S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of North America.

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

it gets worse

Speaking of people who are the same, the woman I call Spiral goes by Thorn everywhere else. She's a very lucid and incisive writer, which is why I'm pointing you to her coverage of newly-uncovered atrocities at Abu Ghraib that are not getting the requisite media attention. This is sickening stuff; we're talking imprisoned children being raped by soldiers.

The word is horible, but it needs to get out.
by itself, this is not benevolence

So I was putzing around here a couple of weeks ago, stalling a little on getting dressed and out into the world, and I came across one of those free personality tests that is supposed to tell you what you should be when you grow up. It's only sort of free; after you've answered about a zillion questions (choosing the least distasteful of several unappetizing choices for each), the site spits out a report with a bunch of stuff redacted. You have to pay to see the ends of paragraphs, and the ones that tell you what you should do with your life are a mass of red dashes--no words at all. Anyway, some of it actually seemed pretty accurate, although I'm still looking for my lucky colors, numbers, and the body parts associated with my sign--I mean, my Personal Potential.

Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential (MAPP)

'Interest in Job Content'
Indri is conscious of existence, meaning, purpose, potential and destiny of humankind, people, and self. Indri is motivated by a self-felt, self-accepted calling to the cause of good, growth, and gain in the lives of others. Influential communication of ideas is a primary way of achieving those objectives. Perception and thinking tend to be holistic and conceptual; i.e., seeing the big picture. It is important to see which of the other traits are interactive with this trait because there can be many interesting combinations. This is a major trait in cultural, intellectual, academic, and creative activities. It includes ideas, concepts, theory, ethics, and values.

Here's what it says about how I relate to people:

"Mentor: a trusted counselor or guide." Indri is interested in and consciously prefers to consider the existence, meaning, purpose, potential, and destiny of mankind, people, persons, and self; with self-felt, self-accepted responsibility to influence and/or cause good, growth, and gain in the lives of all concerned. Indri has intuition and philosophical curiosity that causes an awareness of personality, intentions, emotions, ethics, values, and moods of other persons, and of self. By itself, this is not benevolence. If Indri is highly motivated for benevolent activities, this trait is compulsively central to personal and vocational activities. If there is a lack of personal motivation, then the preference for consideration tends to be more philosophical or academic in nature, but still service oriented.

In other words, I could very easily be turned to the Dark Side, if you were persuasive enough.

Totally contradicting the fact that I can and like to fix things, under 'Things' we have the shortest bit yet:

Engineering activities, regarding mechanics, systems, etc., do not fit Indri's vocational interests.

Clearly they are unaware that I recently installed a new foot peg on AX's motorcycle, and am usually the person in any setting who ends up fixing the toilet.

This is the truest part:
Indri prefers and needs change and variety. Change is motivating, stimulating, and energizing. Indri looks for new options, challenges, assignments, acquaintances, relationships, and even new careers in new places. Indri tires of sameness, repetition, and routine even in activities that were interesting at the start. Once things become routine for Indri, this becomes a motivation to move on to more interesting things.

Read: Jumps ship easily. This is completely accurate; during my twenties my resume was littered with 3-4 month stints here and there between longer stints at the dream factory. But then I don't think that's unusual.

Finally, in the tell me something I didn't know category, under 'Language Capacity' we have:

Indri is highly motivated to consider creative writing and communicating at professional levels. Preferences are holistic, conceptual, imaginative, and creative. "Ideas trigger more ideas" can probably be said about Indri. High motivational levels for this worker trait indicate an interactive combination of literary and philosophical traits. As Dean W. R. Inge said, "Literature flourishes best when it is half a trade and half an art." That probably makes a great deal of sense to Indri. Motivation at this level indicate preferences that probably include writing fiction, poetry, scripts for movies or television, advertising copy, marketing copy, teaching creative writing, etc.

Advertising copy? Ewwwww.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

the igor manual

Courtesy of headlouse, here are the instructions you've been looking for on how to pack human brains for shipment. In my current lessened state, this really speaks to me, but it might speak to you too strongly if you are just sitting down to dinner.

Monday, August 16, 2004


In a few days, I should have my DSL set up and suddenly there will be a veritable flood of blogging...I've been relying on AX's computer for too long now, and it has led to some rather awkward if amusing-in-retrospect moments. I'm also up to my neck in getting my troupe costume together, a tale full of yarn, mirrors, frantic trips to fabric stores, and my repeatedly stabbing myself with a needle as I attempt to embroider while utilizing public transit.

In brief:

1. I appear to be befriending one of my partners' other partners. It's a surprise to everyone concerned, but I genuinely enjoy her company and she's helping me out with aforementioned costume (she's saving my ass, actually), so we've hung out a little in the past week. Let's call her Thread. I'm feeling pretty good about getting past my initial jealousy so that this could become possible.

2. Not enough sleep, and feeling dumb and sluggish as a result.

3. Still not entirely moved out of the old studio, although Snufkina and AX diligently showed up last night to make a run of all the things I can't haul the eleven blocks on my handtruck. Looks like I'll have to pay another week's rent on the studio, which doesn't thrill me--I hate having this hanging--but that's better than frantically throwing everything into trash bags, and then hauling it to the new place and not being to move at all there.

4. The aquarium supply place near my house recently had some containers out in the street, blocking off a couple of parking spaces. I guess to make room for a truck or something. The styrofoam containers with "exotic tropical fish" printed on the sides, I get. The one that said "soy sauce" concerns me.

Okay everyone, let's be careful out there.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

flamenco brutality

I did in fact make it to two dance classes yesterday, as I'd hoped. I don't often make it to flamenco--it starts at six, and I'm usually still frantically writing, trying to make my deadline--but now that I have been to Writer Boot Camp I am really trying to be more disciplined and get my stuff done in time.

Two weeks in a row now! Really, I'm just trying to lull my editor into a false sense of security. But I digress.

This was the fourth flamenco class I'd taken, ever. It's insanely difficult for me because I'm hung up about getting footwork, but there are little mental tricks I can start doing on myself to convince myself otherwise. And since this isn't my primary form, it doesn't matter so much whether I "get" it or not, or whether I look like I'm getting it to my teacher/troupe leader. There is more of a play aspect. I know, things would be emotionally easier if I felt that way about my bellydance classes too, but right now I'm really focussed on technical aspects, and belly is work.

Whereas in flamenco, I get to make a lot of noise with my feet! And there's jumping!

We worked on a sequence where you kind of jump so that your legs are shoulders-width apart (which is really weird, after so many months of keeping my knees close together for belly), clap your hands together, and then slap out a pattern on your thighs. Then there's a kick, and some stomping around, and another thing I can't begin to describe because I wasn't understanding it at all last night. So I focussed on swishing my skirt, and looking haughty and passionate. Yep. Yep. That's me, the disdainful gypsy. Perhaps I will allow you to kiss the dirt upon which I dance. Jump, clap, slapslapslapslap, stomp around. Jump, clap, slapslapslapslap, stomp around. Haughty, haughty. Passionate, passionate. Swish, swish.

Woke up this morning to discover that my upper thighs are specked with little purple bruises.

Ahem. Maybe not quite so haughty the next time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

a moment to resolve confusions

Varla and Snufkina are the same person.
AX and Miniver are the same person. Not the same person as Varla/Snufkina, a different same person.
Jake is 3Jake.
Mike is Mike.
And Elvis has left the building.
i wish you could see my beautiful tie

This morning I had agreed to sub for a guy I work for occasionally. He runs the catering for the conference rooms at a large financial services firm downtown; people come through with presentations, they sit and watch PowerPoint, I wear a white waiter's jacket that's too large for me and serve lunch as quietly as possible. No, Varla, I wear things besides the jacket, don't even go there. White button-down shirt, black pants, a necktie. Black shoes, black socks.

Anyway, Templar called me in because he needed the day off for a little surgery his daughter is having. So I woke up far earlier than was remotely humane, got myself together, and huffed on over to the Financial District. Yes, I was late. I still haven't gotten the hang of calculating distance from my new place. Which meant I was tying my new subtly floral one-buck-from-Goodwill tie on the move, without a mirror, a purse slung over my left shoulder, and it still came out really nicely.

It's a silly thing to be proud of. But my dad taught me how to do it (I was after all a teenager in the eighties when girls in ties and suit jackets were cute) and it always makes me happy to think of him as I do it. It is a very helpful thing for a waitress to know. While most of the parties I work are tuxedo, we'll sometimes get sent on the floor in the combination known as "bistro" (especially during the summer, especially in the wine country). Bistro is essentially what I just described up top, sans the silly jacket. Which means that there's a flurry of activity in the staff room just before the guest ready mark. A flurry of women struggling to get their ties on.

I end up tying a lot of ties. It's--I'll admit--kind of arousing; some of my coworkers are very hot, and doing this little personal thing flusters me. Adjusting the knot, smoothing the collar down, buttoning the little buttons on the tabs. I can see the little tendrils of hair that have escaped the ponytail or the bun, the sweat from having been out in the sun setting tables while the florists and account executives and lighting guys run around panicking. I can smell cologne, soap, hair gel. I find that I pitch my voice a little lower. Could you lift your hair for me? Excuse me, I'm going to touch your neck for a minute to fix your collar. There. Is that too tight? I finish my fixing and go back to eating staff meal off a styrofoam plate and trying to act blase.

Anyway. I got to the job this morning, and literally three minutes later found out that the lunch I was supposed to be working had been cancelled. The company was going to go ahead and take delivery of the food (feeding it to the analysts, who apparently never leave the building), but there was very little for me to do besides cleaning up after a couple of breakfast meetings. And they have to pay me for five hours. So I'm about to get paid for five hours of work, when I spent one hour clearing tables, running the dishes through the big industrial dishwasher, and neatening up. Oh, and eating one of their scones.

Sometimes there is some mercy in the world. This must be my reward for the hellacious set-up I managed on Saturday, where the tables had been covered with big mirrors so the sun could blind us as we put down silverware and one of my staff nearly collapsed of heat exhaustion (I feel like I'm going to throw up being the operative phrase here). I have the afternoon to get stuff done for my editor, I might make it to two dance classes tonight, and I am not emotionally drained from having to make nice-nice with people who think I'm part of the furniture.

BUT, nobody got a chance to admire my beautiful tie!

Maybe I'll just keep it on for the rest of the day. Sit in my apartment writing in starched shirt and tie.

And socks.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

dreamt about my dad last night

We were staying in a hotel or something, and I was waking him up to take me to school. He woke up and said it was too early, and asked me how long it usually took my mother to get from where we were to school. He had all his hair and beard and mustache and everything. He was smiling in that muzzy not-awake way. He had all his hair. He was well, and young.

I've been waiting for the visit. Isn't that what the dead do? Mom dreamt that he asked her why his boots were still on the kitchen table (she's been cleaning and polishing them). If I've dreamt about him since April, I don't remember. This is the first.

Somehow I thought it would be more, you know. Profound. Don't worry, I'm okay. Or some advice or something.

Mom's friends are starting to make the get-over-it noises at her, and I'm furious on her behalf. They all gave their husbands up willingly. They don't get it that seperation through divorce and seperation through death are completely different things. And because her persona is so tough and no-nonsense (she calls herself the junkyard dog) they're not understanding why she's so adrift right now.

What they don't understand is that a big part of what made it possible for her to be so strong and so tough was the support she got from him. She could go out and fight the good fight, and know that even if he wasn't out defending the clinic with her, or marching on Washington in her delegation, he had her back. He was waiting at home to tell her she was doing the right thing. He was there with the bandages.

I'm pretty sad this morning, and I have four strenuous and very public days in a row coming up--catering a couple of jobs, modeling in Berkeley, doing the yearly skills assessment with my troupe director, lunching with my editor, and moderating a panel on radical comedy as part of a theater symposium. I wish I had a clone or two I could send out to do all that, leaving my original self free to head down to Half Moon Bay and stare at the ocean.

But this is how it is. The world does not stop. You get your little chunk of time, but then everyone expects you to get on with it. And the reality of the loss--the permanence of the loss--starts to really sink in.

Monday, August 02, 2004

my new porn name is malassezia furfur

warning: skin flakes, blood, and People Magazine ahead

For a few years now, I've had some odd discolorations on my torso. One is centered on my navel, and looks like a map of Australia, if you were to tilt Australia on end. And of course if Australia had a deep depression on one side that was wrinkled and linty at the bottom. Two others run along both sides of my bikini line and are also vaguely coastal; a fourth under my left arm might be an inverted Wales, complete with Anglesey.

I haven't done anything about these splotches, for no good reason. I'd like to say I thought they were maps to buried treasure, or perhaps to the new secret homeland to which my people will flee after the Archons take over, but the truth is, nobody has made any concerted effort to kidnap and flay me. No pirates, no space aliens, no mirror-lensed government agents in gray suits. Nobody. Other than my gynecologist, my mother and one lover, nobody's even said anything about it, and a lot of people see me naked. So I guess if they're really maps, they're old ones. Obsolete. The treaure's been found and squandered on bad real estate deals, and the Archons have discovered the secret planet and turned it into an amusement park.

One real not-good reason I haven't dealt with this is that I am one of the forty million Americans without health insurance, and I am resisting the urge to rail about that right now, about what happens when the COBRA from your fancy job runs out and you start seeing what the so-called indigent have to face to get health care, how it feels the first time you see 'indigent' on a form you're filling out so that you can sit in a musty waiting room full of dead plants and a too-loud television for six hours to see a harried doctor who can't tell you why you've had a cold for five or six weeks, how it feels to take two busses out to a hospital that looks suspiciously like Arkham Asylum and waste an entire day that you could have been working for the chance to spend ten minutes getting a prescription for what's going to turn out to be Tylenol.

I'm not going there. While I'm voting for Kerry in part because I believe he, or more accurately Teresa Heinz Kerry, will go there, it's not the point of this post. Suffice it to say that when I have to, I bite the bullet and go to a private doctor and pay for my care myself. But I really, really have to feel like I have to. Something virtually has to be falling off.

The second not-good reason is so boneheaded I cringe writing it. Although not as much as I'm sure my mother is cringing right now, and very possibly my companion's mother (Marry that girl! So she has health insurance!), and everyone who generally believes I have my head on straight.

The second not-good reason is that I am afraid of cancer.

Say it along with me: do not start your research into health issues with the Internet. On the Web, everything is terminal, or will at least lead to something falling off. In a moment of perversity a few weeks ago, I downloaded a pdf Color Atlas of Skin Diseases onto AX's desktop, and pored over it with hypochondriac glee. I see it's still here, and still totally gross; it's got some pretty graphic photos of advanced cases of things with names like Molluscum Contagiosum and Granuloma Pyogenicum and Condyloma Acuminatum. With boils on her fingers and scales on her toes, she shall have ointments wherever she goes.

And I'm trying to talk about (or avoid, more like) how afraid I am that what got two grandparents and my dad, is going to get me. Probably not my lungs, since I don't smoke, and hopefully not my colon, which I don't abuse as much as my grandfather did (onions fried in chicken fat until black, anyone?) But possibly my skin? I know already that I'm at risk for some rather exotic cancers thanks to the fine folks at Lilly Pharmaceuticals (you didn't miss anything, I haven't had the guts to write that post yet), and I do what I have to do once a year with the speculum and the swab and the slide and all the rest of it. But the possibility of skin cancer is one I hadn't really absorbed, even if my mother's had some bits removed. I think my Nordstrom's experience of June 14 has sensitized me to the dangers of the sun; although I've never been the hardcore sun-worshipper that my mother was for a few years, I've had my share of the childhood sunburns they're now telling us can lead to problems later.

So you see what kind of suitcase I was carrying when I walked into Dr. Lucia Tuffanelli's office last week (the product placement's deliberate; I recommend her highly), checkbook in hand, braced to learn that I would never play the violin again. Skin cancer? Flesh-eating bacteria? The first sign of alien colonization that will eventually lead to my being controlled from a spaceship cunningly disguised as a phone-company satellite? I put on the paper thing (I refuse to call those gowns) in exactly the opposite way from what I was told (I didn't need to show the doctor my back, for heaven's sake) and waited, twitching, on the table. Withstood being scraped with a disposable scalpel (had to steal my own bandage). Waited some more while the doctor took the scrapings away to shine special lights on them. Prayed that the aliens wouldn't get upset at being disturbed and eat the doctor, flowers in her hair and all.

And the word is: tinea versicolor. Resulting from the action of m. furfur.

At home, furfur's a fungus. A yeast, to be exact, that lives on everyone's skin but really thrives only on special people like me. Perfectly harmless. I have drugs in hand (or intestine, now) and I have been instructed not to shower for 48 hours so the goop can express through my skin. Lovely.

I am duly embarrassed about having worried so much, and having waited so long. Now I just figure out how not to get within sniff distance of anyone I want to impress for another day and a half.