Saturday, September 25, 2004

this is awful purty

Be patient, it takes a little while to load, and doesn't look like anything at first. But it's better than Etch-a-Sketch.

Friday, September 24, 2004


I've been in a really good mood this week. I move through a thick cloud of blessings.

Which makes the sad moments all the more so; they plummet through my bliss haze like rocks. I've had a few in the past few days, and they've all been, I realize, around people moving away. Physically or otherwise. Friends packing up to move, emails unanswered, an awkward silence at lunch, signs of a lover moving on. Stuff adding up.

I wonder if blogging this makes it more real. If naming the sadness takes me away from enjoying all the things that aren't sad. But I have to say that as I walked through a store today, looking for a journal to gussy up for Naiad to take on her Austin adventure, I was having a really hard time of it. I have this whole plan involving collage technology: acrylic gel medium, found papers, image transfers, drawings, and so on.

But I don't want to do it, any more than I wanted to buy anything Monday at Get Lost for MonkeyScientist, who is moving to Europe. I was secretly relieved when nothing there seemed quite right. I ran my fingers over the spines and thought, what could I possibly write on the flyleaf?

I care about my friends, I'm excited for them. I want them to do the things that make them happy. If their destiny is elsewhere, they should find that elsewhere. But that makes it no easier.

At the very least, they should all move to Paris. Paris I can get behind.
own stock in lube?

Of course Paul over at No Milk found this testament to economy and sexual ingenuity; of course I am passing it on. I'm starting to think he and I were seperated at birth. Don't check the site if you're easily squicked, or belong to any organization that promotes the well-being of honeydew melons, socks, or plastic bags of any kind. Do take a look if you just can't think of anything to do with all those leftover balloons, or if you harbor a vendetta against the sofa.

It comes (I'm so sorry) on the heels of an entertaining few minutes perusing Tom Anicar's 70's-era anthology of men's sexual fantasies, apparently assembled in response to Nancy Friday's seminal (I'm sorry again) work on female fantasy, My Secret Garden. I won't mention whose shelf I found it on, only note that I was surprised by the entries. They're so... short... compared to their counterparts in the Friday book, which I of course read avidly as a whippersnapper. I don't know if this is a result of differing interview techniques (Anicar's introduction doesn't suggest that he has a whole lot of journalistic or anthropological experience), or if in fact men's fantasies as they describe them just aren't as elaborate as women's. As heavy on the set dressing.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

hints and tips

Wondering how to preserve your tapes for a little longer?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

kiss the master's feet

Every now and again, I do that dumb thing where you go around looking up all your old loves on the Internet, see what they're up to. Usually when I have something else far more pressing that needs doing. Which is how I discovered tonight that BowlCut and his wife have a new baby girl, Maxine, and J (who I will not blackmail with the details of how we misused his degree advisor's office once upon a time when we were both young and strong) has moved on to yet another completely incomprehensible-to-me job.

I'm obscurely proud of J, even if I can't make heads or tails of what he's been doing with his life, or his blog. Maybe it makes sense to you; there's a short bit near the very end of that interview where he talks about the future of blogs that I did understand (there's also a link to a Clay Shirky piece on how blogs make the world one "vast and diffuse cocktail party" that's interesting, if a bit dated).

I'm also sort of relieved. Had we actually married--and we talked about it--I think it's a safe bet we'd be long divorced by now. At some point, either all this high-tech stuff he talks about so happily would have completely zombified my brain and I would have had a mindless affair with the pool boy (and I imagine there could be a pool boy; a mutual friend passed along word several years ago that J is doing quite well), or he would have realized that I'm really not quite as smart as all that, and left me for a Libertarian librarian. We saw each other once, five years after the breakup, when he was in town for a developer's conference and I was in art school; we barely spoke the same language anymore. We were polite, I made him watch me take an aikido class, we ate dinner, we told each other how good we looked, and that was that. I could not understand most of what he was telling me, and he didn't seem all that curious about issues in post-modern representation. I got home to Oakland and let out my breath. Dodged the bullet there, I told myself. I was footloose and fancy free, a part-time art student and a full-time computer graphics mouse jockey in the most wonderfullest city in America; I was racking up cats and terribly serious art projects and funny if dead-end sexual adventures. Compared to being married to a guy who talked about platform architecture all the time but wouldn't know Corbusier if Le Corb came up and bit him on the nose, I felt like I was doing okay.

It's so weird, though. J was the first man with whom I, you know, an event I still remember with immense happiness and gratitude thirteen years later. We had these astonishingly sticky pet names for each other, which are probably what J holds over my head. He was really into Meat Beat Manifesto and Consolidated (I still have a tape of this he made me, actually) and enthused about how the digital revolution was going to make everyone who wanted to be one into a musician. He was sweet and blond and earnest and made my mother nuts; he was the first guy I met after Fig who I really felt was crazy about me, and not just crazy.

I look at the photos of this smiling, balding guy and I wonder where the impetuous, let's-take-the-21A-bus-to-Minneapolis, buy-weed-and-make-out-on-the-bridge kid went. If we'd stuck it out, would he still be saying hey listen to this as he fit headphones pulsing with Skinny Puppy over my ears before pulling off my panties? Would we still be talking about Noam Chomsky and how to save the world?

That kid's gone. Which leads me to wonder if the same could be said of Indri-who-was.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


First, a piece of advice: never, ever, dismiss something by saying oh, it's just semantic to a woman with a linguistics degree. Okay? Do we have that out of the way?

Second, I've had a couple of weird moments lately, thinking about how to talk about my father.

Have you noticed how we say about someone, they lost their father? I've been trying that out for myself, and it fits awkwardly in my mouth. I lost my father in April. I tried saying it out loud on my way to my hair stylist this morning, in preparation for the lecture I knew I was in for on the terrible condition of my hair (hasn't been cut or even trimmed once this calendar year, unless you count the night at work a fly strip got stuck in my ponytail and a lighting guy had to cut it out with his Leatherman). I lost my father in April, I've been flying back and forth a lot, I've been in mourning, I haven't had the money for both cut and color, I haven't had the emotional space to do something so self-pleasuring, I wasn't sure if it was religiously appropriate, I couldn't figure out which salon you were at, etcetera.

And the formulation doesn't work. I mean, saying I lost him makes it sound like I misplaced him, and I didn't.

I know exactly where he is.

Saying that you've lost something also suggests that you might find it again, and I'm reasonably sure I'm not going to see my father again, unless we do catch up with everyone after we die. This is the piece that I'm still having a hard time with, and know I will for years: really connecting to the gone-ness of the deceased.

The other weird thing happened yesterday, talking to Mike. I'm trying to get my mother to come visit the weekend of my father's birthday, I told him, and immediately felt like I had one foot in the elevator and one out. What do I call that day now? I asked him. He seemed to understand; Mike's been a member of the deceased dad club a lot longer than I have, and was one of the first people I really felt got what I was going through. His anniversary? suggested Mike. It's still his birthday. I waved my hands around in the air; I was getting a little wound-up. But I figured he was right. We still say Washington's Birthday, Mike added. And he's been dead a lot longer than my father, I responded.

But it's still a little strange.

In answer to the other question, it's darker now, and has a reddish cast. My stylist went fifty-fifty "mocha java" and "red violet". Unfortunately I can't convince him to pull out a chunk of hair in the area that's coming in silver so I would have a streak, so the white hair certain persons found sexy is gone.

For now.

And yes, it looks great. I am going to go out and cause some trouble in this hair.
fourth wedding

Mom sent this. It's making an already quite fine day that much better.

There was a much married woman who walked into a bridal shop one day and told the sales clerk that she was looking for a wedding gown for her fourth wedding.

"Well", replied the sales clerk, "exactly what type of dress are you looking for?"

The bride to be said:, "A long frilly white dress with a veil."

The sales clerk didn't know quite what to say but she finally said, "Frankly, madam, gowns of that nature are considered more appropriate for brides who are being married the first time - for those who are a bit more innocent, if you know what I mean?"

"Well" replied the customer, more than a little put out. "I can assure you that I am as innocent as the rest of them.  Believe it or not, despite all my marriages, I remain as innocent as any first time bride."

"You see, my first husband was so excited about our wedding he died as we were checking into our hotel.

My second husband and I got into a terrible fight in the limo on our way to the reception and have not spoken since. We had that wedding annulled immediately."

"What about your third husband?" asked the sales clerk:. "Well" said the woman, "he was a Republican and every night for four years he just sat on the edge of the bed and told me how good it was going to be."

Friday, September 17, 2004

the really sexy part of bellydancing

Especially after last night's incredibly hot show at El Rio, where every one of my participating troupemates danced magnificently and looked really hot, I imagine that there is some prurient interest in what our rehearsals are like. A bunch of babes sweating it out in a too-small dance studio, working on their stomach flutters and chest circles--what's not to like?

Don't read this if you want the image shattered, or at least seriously twisted.

So the way it works now is that on Monday night, there's a company class, and then there's a rehearsal period. Everyone is supposed to attend the first, but the second is limited to those dancers who are in something coming up. During the company class, we drill techniques. Over and over and over and over... many of us wear sweats, and our hair is tied up; the room we use really is too small, so we have to navigate around our piles of purses, coats, briefcases, and platform boots.

This Monday, we worked on balancing things on our heads. It was far and away the funniest thing I've seen or done since joining the troupe last year. In performance, we balance things like swords and ornate metal trays or bowls and pots of fire. Last night, there were a few swords, a few trays, and half a dozen bowls balanced on people's heads.

There were also three Nalgene water bottles, two hardcover library books (yes, they were mine--one on the ancient Persians, the other on the ancient Greeks), and one flip-flop sandal.

Jill put on different kinds of music, and we tried out what we could do--sinuous stuff to the slow tempo pieces, more percussive sorts of thing to the uptempo. Hip drops and shimmies. Level changes. Getting to the floor and back up. Spins. Which are, incidentally, a lot easier with a book than a sword. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I'm too groggy to dig for it. The music got faster and we got more daring. People started moving around more, doing more Tunisian-style movement (twisting the hips fast on a horizontal plane), dancing with and playing off each other. Trays and bowls were traded for books and water bottles so everyone would get a chance to try the different items. The clanging of bowls and trays colliding or hitting the floor intensified.

When I faced the mirror, I could see that I had the biggest, silliest grin on my face; I could also see that I wasn't dropping my bowl. That should come as no surprise to Alceste, who encouraged my balancing the groceries we'd bought as we walked back to his house a couple of months ago. Can I just mention as an aside how much I appreciate people who don't find my public antics embarrassing? Add to that number Thread, who did not sidle away Tuesday night when we went dancing at Nikkie's and I balanced a cup of ice on my head for a couple of songs. Anyway.

So there's a lot I can't do yet. Taqsim with shimmy and snake arms. Chest circle into hip drop. A convincing Tunisian Box. Most layered things. But. I might have something going in the balancing department. And I take some comfort from the fact that as goofy as we looked Monday, it looked awesome last night. Which might mean that when I finally get up there in my mirror belt and coin bra and makeup and hair doodads and all the rest of it...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

another question that never occurred to me

DJ/travel writer-turned-urban planner Daryl Sng passes along this fascinating piece from the Boston Globe on why the queen in chess is so powerful. It's sort of about chess, and a lot about Marilyn Yalom, and all interesting.

Daryl's got some other interesting links and thoughts, and the occasional super-cute dog photo. First good reason I've seen for the "next blog" button at the top of the screen. Usually when I hit "next blog" I get some miserable teenager.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

ripped off again

To say that I haven't accomplished anything today would be an understatement; the fact that I even put on clothes and went out (for the twenty minutes it took to go home and pick up some files and come back to AX's, where I am, once again, using his computer because my own is down) is astonishing. I've cancelled a modeling gig next week so I could keep a commitment to the troupe, I've bailed on Rosh Hashanah dinner with my cousins, I've gone back and read the archives of all my friends' blogs and despaired that everyone writes better than I do, I've written, um, 232 of the 1300 words I have due to my editor and a few rather licentious e-mails to someone else, I've eaten most of AX's Triscuits and eyed the tuna, and I've taken a nap.

Does it sound like I have a cold? Because I'm working on it, or it's working on me. One of those slow ones at which I seem to excel. Some coughing, some wooziness, some goop, but nothing dramatic. Doesn't help that I was out with Thread, dancing and talking, until 3 am. Today I am a good example of what Darwinism does not favor. If I had to run from a saber-tooth tiger or something like that I'd probably just lie down and let it eat me. Luckily (perhaps) for me there are no saber-tooth tigers in the Tenderloin.

Something that is eating me, however, is the discovery that I've been plaigirized again, this time by the director of a Colorado production of a show I covered here in Walnut Creek. Every now and again I do a vanity search to make sure my name's not being taken in vain, particularly when I have something better I could be doing, and today was one of those days. Which is how I found that this woman has taken something I published, edited it down a little, and is passing it off as her director's notes. She does say that "some of the facts" came from me, but heck, that's not good enough. This is writing she's using to entice people to see her play, and conceivably what's going to be printed in the program.

So I dropped a note. We'll see what happens. I hate being the heavy, but there are certain standards which need to be upheld. I sweat blood over these things, and I really don't appreciate other people just picking them up and using them inappropriately.
be careful what you wish for

Here we have one of those weird new-millenium moments. Mostly thanks to Burning Man, my love life has taken a turn for the pleasantly complicated, but there are so many moms and lovers and friends and friends' moms and moms' friends and lovers' friends and friends' lovers and lovers' friends' moms and would-be lovers and their moms and friends and lovers, all with access to my blog, that discretion--what little I may claim--would seem to be the order of the day. Okay, there aren't really all that many lovers--just enough to make up for any inadequacies I may have felt as a dateless teenager, and then a lot of everybody else. But you catch my point.

It was a bit more than a year ago, Snufkina reminds me, that I sat in her little red car speeding over the Bay Bridge and explained that I really didn't think I could do the poly thing. She likes reminding me of this. It cracks her up. I mean, a lot of things crack her up, which is a small part of her much greater appeal, but that statement in particular I am never going to live down.

So suffice it to say, for now, that I have some really top-flight people in my life, in whatever capacity they serve, and I am grateful for it.

And a tiny bit sore.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

sprechen sie deutsch?

I am supposed to be writing, of all things, about liverwurst. My editor at Kitchen Sink (subscribe! if they sell enough, maybe they'll be able to start paying their writers!) put out the call for featurettes on "foods we miss", and without thinking, I told her I wanted to write about the squishy pink-brown staple of my childhood existence. I'm the one who wrote about the glories of ramen for them, and told the horrible story of rayon whipped into a fat substitute, so of course they said yes.

That's what I do. Write about weird food. Princess, my boon companion and longest-running non-family ally, gets to write about the lovely fancy foods, the crisptender vegetables perfectly cooked, meals at Chez Panisse, the flavors of unspeakably expensive ingredients bursting against the tongue. His last job interview involved tasting wine in front of people who were taking notes on his technique. Even though he had a head cold, he did well enough to get the offer.

I can distinguish between red wine and white. That's pretty good, right? And I know from champagne. I also glory in finding things like this: a salad recipe that mixes liverwurst with chickpeas and mango, and calls itself a great meatless side dish. Huh? My favorite Web haul when I was researching the ramen piece was a recipe for Cat Poop Cookies.

Which is why, I guess, Princess writes about foie gras, and I write about a product that's largely fat and nitrates.

I haven't tasted the food in question in probably thirty years. So I went on an expedition to the grocery store, where I was surprised to learn that liverwurst is really hard to find these days. Where I expected to find it, I found this instead; apparently getting a knife out of the drawer is just too darn difficult for some folks. I ended up at the deli case, feeling oddly self-conscious. Although I eat meat, I rarely buy it, and all those big hunks of salami and what have you kind of creep me out.

And I got a shock. Liverwurst is German. Yes, yes, I know. You all knew that already, smarty-pants people. But I just now figured it out. I am duly embarrassed. Because it wasn't labelled "liverwurst", it was labelled "liver pate"--and above that, it said "braunschweiger". And I remembered knowing, once, that that was one of the kinds of liverwurst. Subsequent research indicates that braunschweiger is a subset--it's different either because it's smoked, or bound with milk and eggs, the 'net is unclear on the issue. Whatever it is, it's German. And my mother has had it in for most things German for as long as I can remember. I guess I always thought it was Polish--there's a huge Polish community in Detroit, so great food to be had; kielbasa and piroshki and so forth.

I also discovered something else that nearly took off the top of my head: liverwurst is made with onions.

You have no idea what a big deal this is.

I hate onions. And have done so since I was a wee tyke, picking the meatloaf Kristin's granny made into its component parts just so I could avoid the slimy things.

How did this food even get into the house?

So I bought a quarter-pound slice, and a loaf of bread. I'm a big girl now, I can handle it. I can eat liverwurst with my eyes open. Onions, nitrates, and all.

Friday, September 10, 2004

here's an interesting perspective on the convention

I have to give Alexa credit for making the most of the RNC. Although I don't know how she managed to do her job with a, uh, straight face; I found just waiting on the guests at a Bush fundraiser in 2000 the most impressive acting job of my career. I like this entry because her client is such a classic example of hypocrisy.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Still recuperating from Burning Man, sitting around naked and mildly sweaty in my disastrous apartment bolstered by They Might Be Giants and a bag of Double Chocolate Milanos. I didn't have a chance to put things in order before I left, other than scrubbing the tub and making sure nothing in the fridge was going to go off while I was gone, and I've clearly got my work cut out for me here. Like, I really need a bed. That's kind of a priority. I need to do laundry in a major way, get the alkali dust out of everything. Go through the three large boxes of papers and receipts. Get back on the treadmill of finding people to write for, and then writing for them.

As Zen practitioner Jack Kornfeld titled his book, after the ecstasy, the laundry.

I have been thinking a lot about generosity, lately. It was really the theme for Burning Man for me this year--not that silly Vault of Heaven thing Larry Harvey proposed. But then how do you decorate an art car or a theme camp to reflect such an intangible? It began when Snufkina, determined that I go even if I couldn't afford it, pulled together some Mystery Benefactors to chip in for my ticket--and then made sure I would be up to my ears in dried fruit and turkey jerky once we hit the playa. It continued with all the people I saw once we were there, both strangers and previous acquaintances.

The seven-year-old boy who played Jedi versus Sith me for hours (and you can probably guess who I was; have you noticed that children don't like playing villians? You have to get a little older before that starts to seem like fun). The stiltwalker who, after I had passed him up some cheese and crackers and wiped his sweaty brow with a Wet Nap from my endless collection, gave me a lovely pair of crocheted white foot thongs--without even being aware that I was a dancer, and thus more inclined to wear such things. The girl in pink fake eyelashes and matching chaps who shared some cool cut melon with me at the hottest part of a day. The exceptionally hunky man who taught me the basics of funambulism on a hemp slack-rope tied between two pillars in the Cafe, one of my hands resting on his exceptionally beautiful shoulder. All the people who affirmed in their various ways some of the things I don't always believe about myself. The people who played with me. Burning Man is a laboratory for the idea of a gift economy, and that manifests in dozens of subtle ways beyond whether we give stranger drinks when they come to our camp, or give away things we've made with the Man and the year printed on them.

The deal is, now I need to find a way to continue manifesting that energy in the so-called real world outside Black Rock City. Even when it is not easy. Even when it would be easier to curl back up into the dessicated, fearful, stiff-muscled ball I so often feel I am.

Because generosity requires bravery. The two things are inextricably linked in ways I did not see before. You have to let go of your fear--apparently, if the comment cards from one of the installations are any indicator, a huge concern for people--to extend yourself to other people. Often, it seems to me, generous people are perceived by others as being naive or perhaps not too bright. But I don't think that's it at all. They are, for some reason, either less fearful--or they have learned how to manage their fear. Which bespeaks intelligence to me.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

back from the burn

And clearly still not able to use urban-type machines properly; I just lost this post and AX is trying and failing to reach me on the mobile phone. Argh. I have so much to say about Burning Man, but every time I scratch anything, I get these huge vile clumps of sunburn, alkali dust, and the residue of a thousand Wet Naps under my circus-painted nails. It is also almost unbearably humid in my apartment, but that might have something to do with the fact that I just spent a week in the high desert.


Anyway. Off to take a nap in the shower. But do check back tomorrow, by which time I should be able to put some of my thoughts, such as they are, in order.