Thursday, December 30, 2004

see me to talk! i didn't quite understand!

First things first: have you donated yet? There are links all over the place now to relief organizations of every conceivable type, or you can take the easy way out and use one-click at Amazon.

Okay. So you can find my blog if you're looking for "children peeing pictures", which is news. That visitor must have been deeply disappointed to click through and get a post about Brussels. Ah well.

Random thoughts: Yesterday Snufkina and I went on a photo safari--urban this time--and I took something like a hundred pictures of graffitti and construction sites. I also noticed that she is much nicer to strangers than I am. Of course, the people who approach her don't seem to be as inherently odd as those who approach me, but maybe that's just a perceptual thing. I'm happier with these photos than the ones I took the last time we did this, and it's really interesting going with another person. You start to get an idea of what she's going to be drawn to. At some point, we should probably sit down and compare what we get on these expeditions.

The kids upstairs are taking revenge on me for some noise I made the other night and have apparently bought themselves a very large television. One or the other or both of them had better find jobs soon or I shall go mad.

One of the legs of my new bed bends under pressure. I should have known not to trust IKEA. Fortunately the distance to the floor is not great. But I need to get cracking on the platform-building, so I can put the mattress (sans legs) on a sturdier surface.

Finally, the thing referenced in the title. As I was sorting papers last night, I found something my mother had sent. I wish I had a scanner so I could just show it to you, although I may be the only person who can read it. It's a story I wrote in, oh, looks like third grade. The teacher had handed out a mimeograph (kids, that's like a Xerox copy; the ink was blue, and had a distinct smell of ozone) with a stylized drawing of a black sun and a city skyline. Written at the top was the beginning of the story; we were supposed to finish it any way we liked. Here's mine (the teacher-provided opening is in bold, my response in regular type, her notes in italics):

Dawn should have broken that morning at 6:05 a.m. But it was still dark at 8 o'clock. It was almost noon before the panic came. The sun would never shine again. What do you think would happen?

the werewolves came and ate all the people up. They also made a slide out of butter and splashed all around. They took markers and scribbled on the walls and they would decay and bury the bodies. The planes and boats would fall into the Bermuda triangle.

See me to talk! I didn't quite understand! But I'm sure with more practice, you [sic] stories will have meaning!

Dream on, lady. But I get paid for it now.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

pik is safe

And has an amazing, if brief, story of outrunning the surge. Didn't even lose his passport.

Every time I sit down to write, it seems inappropriate in the face of what I've just learned. As I don't own a television, I get my news online, via the BBC, and I usually check that before logging in to Blogger...which is where I see the numbers of dead rising, the photos of communities devastated. And like everyone else, I just can't get my head around it. 77,000 confirmed dead, and they haven't been to all the islands yet. How many people is that? That's a small city. That's the number of Belgian or Italian civilians who died in WWII, or Norwegian soldiers. And the prospect of disease following in the water's wake, taking how many more.

So while I was thinking last night about describing a tango performance I saw, or talking about how good it is to have MonkeyScientist back in town, albeit briefly, or even natter on mindlessly about the clutter-clearing I've been doing (and I need to get a shout out to my mom here, who is doing the same thing at her house, and apparently more effectively), it seems really small compared to what's going on.

So all I can say is that if you have anything to spare, send it on to Asia...I woke up in the middle of the night trying to remember who all owes me money (it's tricky, being so overemployed; stuff falls through the cracks) so I could call them today and suggest they get cracking on paying me. So I can contribute something.

Monday, December 27, 2004

caffeinated soap?

Living far from the cube farms, I guess I haven't been keep track of advanced caffeine delivery technology. Also available: caffeinated lotion, Italian soda syrup, and hot sauce. And a cute baby T.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

10,000 people dead

Jesus. And people ask me if I'm frightened, living in San Francisco, of earthquakes.

Does anyone have any group in particular that they would donate to, for disaster relief?

I have a cousin who is traveling in the area; we haven't heard from her yet. And I know that some of you either live close by, or have traveled there recently and made friends and contacts. Here's hoping that you and yours are all safe.
can't sleep...clowns will eat me

Or mimes will mock my jaywalking. Courtesy of Daryl Sng.Is anyone else starting to wonder why he and I bother keeping separate blogs, considering how often we link to each other's finds? Daryl, will you be my blog husband?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

open the pantry door, hal

This is an older article about the International Space Station food shortage--since 9 December, the Progress has successfully docked at the ISS, with its 2.5 tons of food, water, oxygen, and fuel. But I put it up because it makes an interesting point about how the Russians reacted to the shortage, versus the Americans.

If the station's supply falls to 45 days' worth or less, the crew must be evacuated. Which is why everyone got their knickers in a twist when Astronaut Michael Foale and Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri revealed they only had enough food left to make it through January, and they're just halfway through a six-month tour of duty. I have to admit that my first mental picture was of two men in a Jules Verne-styled ship, with big rivets around the portholes framing their desperately gaunt faces.

What interests me isn't that the men went through the food so fast, although from what I've heard about how food tastes in space, I'm surprised they ate so much. A friend of mine who used to design menus for an airline explains that at high altitudes, our sense of taste is depressed, so food has to be more strongly flavored to compensate. There are other considerations as well.

But that's not what gets me. What gets me is that the Russians on the ground perceived that there was enough food left that it wasn't a crisis situation. It just wasn't the crew's "favorite meals." Whereas the Americans on the ground were all worked up.

I really think this says something about our respective cultures. My friend Oleg said an interesting thing a few years ago when I asked him what the strangest part of moving to California from Russia in the '80s had been. We were in a supermarket in Los Angeles. Without hesitation, he looked around and said, this. All this food. Could the ground crews' different reactions stem directly from their experience--or lack thereof--of privation?

I mean, there are times when I feel like I don't have any food, and I feel bad for myself. Yet if I look in the cupboard, there's, oh, cornbread mix, cans of soup, cereal, dried fruit, oatmeal...and the fridge has olives, eight kinds of fruit preserves, condiments, half a bag of frozen peas. They may not all be my favorites. I may have picked all the apricots and prunes out of the dried fruit mix and now all I have left are the dried pears and apples, which I don't find as groovy. But I don't need to evacuate my particular Spaceship. I'm just so accustomed to plenty that I'm not seeing clearly.
what's on your list?

Dancing Brave has an interesting idea: make a list of 101 Things To Do In 1001 Days. Set a target date, make the list (trying to keep things pretty specific, "become a better person" doesn't apparently count), and then try to stick to it.

I like this for a few reasons. One, it's not as open-ended as a New Year's resolution. Two, I like seeing her list, and Amanda's (I found DB through Amanda). I don't know either woman, but I have a strong sense now of each one, based on what they dream of doing. Probably totally off-base, but still fun. Three, as you can see from the comments to DB's list, it creates an opportunity for people to help you. Barbara Sher calls this "barn-raising"; breaking your dream down into manageable parts, and then enlisting your friends to help you achieve them. In DB's case, people are offering her professional massages (she's never had one), giving her advice on what to do when she spends that afternoon in the batting cage, and inviting her to go to knitting classes with them. I found myself looking through the list for things I can help her with, and I don't know her from Adam's housecat!

Some of the things, I don't personally see the point. One of these women plans to cut out all chocolate for three months. I can't imagine how that could be construed as a good thing.

But then, clearly my list will be different.

Friday, December 24, 2004

fun with xylene

Yes, I've been playing with the full complement of dwarves this week--Grumpy, Bitchy, Surly, Paranoid, Childish, Easily Distracted, and all the rest. I know. In about a week I'm going to post an entry that will make a great many things make more sense. But not yet. Suffice it to say for now that I don't usually get so funky just because I didn't get a job I wanted (although, come to think of it, I haven't had much experience with not getting a job I want, so I have little basis for comparison) and because I happened to damage a digit (still swollen and painful, thanks for asking, but typing's getting easier, and I can knit again). There's more to it. Trust me, I have cause to be depressive.

BUT I am trying to pull myself out, which is why Wednesday night I decided to sass up my space a little. I am collarbone-deep in decorate your place cheaply books, both purchased and borrowed; while they vary wildly in style and tone (I like it how "Home Cheap Home", for example, talks about buying a Salvation Army couch--and then spending a thousand dollars to have it reupholstered. Nope), they agree on how a little creativity can liven up any dull old place.

So I bought a vinyl shower curtain for ten bucks, and attacked it with my paint markers. Not as many as I thought I would (many of them turn out not to work on vinyl), and not the actual paint-with-a-brush paint I thought I'd use (ditto) to get nice thick dark lines. Indeed, this is what I got:

Yes, the xylene fumes got to me. Better living through chemistry, indeed: interior decoration with the help of powerful brain cell-mutilating inhalants. But I'm pleased with the result, even if it's completely DIY and not all elegant and so on. It reminds me of the doodling I did as a teenager--on my shoes, on my jeans, on my friend Jeanne's locker door, on anything that was moving too slowly to get away. You probably can't tell from the photo, but I left the original frosted curtain in place behind the new one, with an oval cut out. So you can see into the shower, but only within the "frame"; you can't see the untidy clumps of bodycare products that sit on the edges of the tub.

Took my first shower with it in place yesterday, and giggled the whole time. It really did make me feel better. I recommend the experience highly. Whether that means I think you should come shower at my house, or just send me your shower curtain to draw on, I'm not sure.

Here's another cool thing to do with a plain vinyl shower curtain, and a batch of postcards. Apparently you can also hot-glue things to a shower curtain, although you want to use the low-temperature setting or you'll melt right through. I'm thinking about attaching some shiny plastic cabochons (another thing I'm drowning in), but I'll probably use clear silicone caulk. Mostly because I happen to have some, and there's much less chance of burning oneself that way. My fingers are very sensitive about such things right now.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

gigantic cock-a-roach

Man, it's been a good month for science. First they find a new monkey in India, and now--among a great many other things, including a pure-white millipede nearly three inches long--researchers in Borneo's East Kalimantan have found what they think may be the world's largest cockroach. At 10 cm (about four inches) long, the new bug beats out the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, which runs to 2-3 inches long and an inch wide.

I admit I have a soft spot for the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa, isn't that great?), although I certainly didn't try to bring any back with me in '99. "Hissers" are interesting. They're supposed to make good pets--as one site explains, they're superior to other roaches in this regard because they are "wingless, sanitary, odorless, clean, and slow", all fine traits in an animal companion, unless you want it to run alongside when you bike or jog. Or if you're attached to fur. Or faces. Anyway. You only need to feed hissers every other day--ground up dog chow and some veggie scraps--and leave them a damp sponge for water. If they get mites, you shake your roaches in a bag with some flour, an image I find highly amusing, although I would have to remember not to then fry the poor things in butter.

If you're curious but not ready to make a two- to five-year commitment, you can try out hisser husbandry by renting a roach.

And if you'd sooner eat insects than rent them, here are some tasty recipes. Pound for pound, insects don't provide as much protein as beef or fish, but they're a much better source of iron.

Cock-a-roach is my mother's pronunciation. For a lot of years, I thought it was the correct one. Until I learned to spell the word, and couldn't find that extra "a". I'm sure we all have a word or two like that, right? You're saying it wrong, but you're so cute nobody corrects you. Like a friend who just told me that she thought another word for the private parts was "gentiles", until her mother, laughing, straightened her out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

didn't get the job

I was trying for, and got the news from someone other than the person who should have called with it. Was feeling pretty wretched but a friend came over with papaya juice and made me talk about other things until I'd cheered up a little.

The timing sucks, and I'm clearly going to have to buckle down and find some other lucrative writing work, before I go insane catering and set a guest on fire or something. Oh, and I also closed my fingers in the door--the heavy fire door--to the apartment, and one of my fingernails is half-blue and the fingers all hurt. I ended up having to reschedule an interview by three hours because I was too knocked out by the pain to think about asking questions or trying to use my mysterious little recorder; once I did get there, I miscalculated the distance between the lip of my glass and the lip of my mouth and ended up with ice water in my lap. Fortunately my interviewee was someone I know, a guy who isn't easily fazed by a sodden, throbbing-with-pain journalist.

I would have chosen a less crappy day for myself, given the chance. But, I have some nail polish almost the color of the bruise; maybe I'll just paint all my nails and pretend blue was my intent. Lesson in there somewhere.
hello, flower mound!

Someone who visits my blog fairly regularly lives in Flower Mound, Texas. Or at least they're routed through there, somehow; I'm not entirely clear on how the system works. Statcounter gives me certain information about visitors--city/state/country, IP address, browser, screen resolution, referring site if there is one.

It's a little bit of a puzzle, and sort of fun. There are certain people I can pick out from this information. People I know (my friends here, Kate in D.C.), or people I haven't met who have written to me--Eric in Seattle, Ken in Kansas. Eric's got "tukw" in his address, and Ken "sunflower", which always makes me smile when I see it in the middle of the hash of numbers and letters that make up most of Statcounter's only-sort-of-helpful listings. Sometimes I can figure it out from someone's location and my knowledge of what kind of computer they use; other times I can figure it out by which link they consistently use to get to me.

But Statcounter isn't as interesting now as it used to be, in part because Blogger's "next blog" button means I get a fair number of hits from people who are just surfing through, bored. And I feel bad sometimes when I see the searches that have led people to me; here they were looking for real information on, oh, some kind of animal or something else that I've referenced, and instead they get... this.

But I was talking about Flower Mound. I have no idea who that is, but I love it that there's a place with a name like that. Especially in Texas, which I've never seen and imagine to be kind of dry and hilly. I am so curious that I went ahead and did a search, and learned that the Town of Flower Mound, population roughly 50,000 souls, boasts a wind sculpture that looks like a bunch of giant spoons. It's also conveniently located in the center of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (which sounds very William Gibson BAMA or Sprawl to me), the median age is 33.3 years, and Flower Mound kids do better on every section of the SAT than either other Texan kids or the national average. The rather literal, dry quality of the Web site--and the apparent blinding whiteness of the place (91% of the population as of the 2000 census self-identified as "white") aside, FM actually seems kind of sweet and sane.

But I'm piecing that together. I haven't found any photos of so much as a flowery hillock. One close-up photo of some wildflowers, and a few shots of Lake Grapevine, and a link to another site that exhorts me to check out the shopping. A timeline of the town's history, road by road. And a list of statistics by which I can determine that even on the biggest day as yet recorded, the good people of FM managed to stay 2.5 million gallons below their water system's maximum capacity.

But what is it like? I have no idea. I'm hoping my FM visitor will go out and take some pictures with a little more juice than the official ones on the site (Police Car in Front of City Hall) and send them on to me.

Monday, December 20, 2004

i may just sleep through this week

That, and nest. I'm feeling low and vulnerable, and a few days of gluing things together, eating mac and cheese, and ignoring the phone might be in order. Especially if it--the phone, that is--persists in its irritating tendency of ringing before ten am, with chirping acquaintances on the other end who have forgotten that I work nights.

I am also thinking about painting my shower curtain, and potting the cutting I took from the plant I rescued from MonkeyScientist. Break out the brownie mix. Stay up all night reading science fiction (currently: the excellent time-travel comedy To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis). I might get crazy and do some of the handwash-only delicates. Chills!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

this is utterly chilling

While everyone I've talked to is heartily sick of hearing about the Scott Peterson trial, an interesting thing has been brought forward, backed up by a fourteen-year study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Brace yourself, this is awful.

In the U.S., the leading cause of mortality among pregnant women and new mothers is homicide. And the perpetrator is usually someone the woman knows. Well. Her boyfriend, her husband.

Apparently some men find it easier to kill than to consider paying child support. One kid took a shotgun to his pregnant 16-year-old girlfriend because he was afraid he'd be up on statuatory rape charges if anyone found out he'd impregnated a minor.

Like first-degree murder charges are somehow better?

I'm so horrified by this that I can barely write. I mean, feminists have suspected this for years, but there are finally numbers behind it.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

all kinds of stuff coming

Plenty of stuff in the blog pipeline, but I'm still recovering from my two days' solid writing at the begining of the week, and refilling my word bags. In the meantime, I'm now fascinated with the idea of dying yarn with Kool-Aid--it's cheap, it's safe (the textile dyes I ordinarily use require that I also use a respirator, dedicated saucepots, and things with names like "mordant", which sounds pretty grim), they're washable, and the finished items smell fruity for a while.

Which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

Anyway, it's also a new project on the "things I could do with kids" list, which grows ever longer; someday I will accede to the inevitable and become a grade-school art teacher. I'm just not ready for that bobbed haircut and the denim smock, you feel me?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

a new monkey

Wow. In case you were convinced there was nothing new under the sun, this should cheer you right up. Researchers have discovered a monkey heretofore unknown to science running around in India. It's a type of macaque. The last new macaque was discovered a hundred years ago. Cool.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

staying on track

I read somewhere yesterday that the way to make your blog popular is to post frequently--really frequently--the suggestion was, as often as you eat, so three times a day, plus snacks.

Putting aside for the moment that most of the time I don't eat three meals a day--yesterday, I took my first (and only) honest meal at 11:45 pm, and the friend who watched would probably disagree whether a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of Cheerios constitute an honest meal--this seems like an awful lot of posting. Although I guess it depends on how long the individual posts are. For example, I would love to see more from Snufkina, and not just because she said a very nice thing about my tush recently, but not if it meant her posts weren't as thought-out and well-illustrated with her photos. Same for Jake, who goes silent for weeks and then comes out with something that invariably manages to be funny and poignant without getting maudlin. Meanwhile the guys I check regularly are pretty consistent about a post a day or every other day, but they're generally shorter and more quickly digested.

I'm not sure what I'm getting at here. I should really turn off the radio; I never said I could write to dance music. Am I saying that my female friends write meals and my male friends snacks? No. Am I saying that Marc blogs like a girl because his posts are (sometimes) as long as mine, or those of the other women I read? No, well. No. Anyway, I'm in serious danger of getting all meta about blogging, which wasn't the point when I sat down. I guess the question I sat down to ask was, how often should a blogger post to hold their readers' interest? Where's the cutoff point? Where's the moment when, since they've been quiet so long, you stop checking?

Actually, and that whole discursion is completely typical, what I sat down to write was that I am feeling completely loose right now, and incapable of holding onto a thought for longer than one rumble from my neglected stomach. Yesterday was incredibly intense--I wrote for about 18 hours straight, eating nothing but dried fruit and a little leftover Thai food--to finish up two pieces of writing that could mean major changes in my life. One was a thousand-word essay that, if the editor buys it, will net me the single largest writing check I've received to date, and possibly signal the beginning of a relationship that will free me to do more writing and less catering. The other piece is just as meaningful: an 800-word sample that will help a different editor decide between three or four applicants for the same weekly column. A column which would mean a larger beat, a larger readership, and a better-looking resume.

Which is a lot more intense than I realized, especially now that both pieces have hit their e-mail targets and both women have told me they'll get back to me by next week. And I don't know what to do in the meantime. I mean, I have a lot that needs doing, like laundry, and a lot that I want to do, like knit and paint. But the big-picture thinking I meant to do this week, I need to put on hold until I know about the column. So I'm lolling around, basically, trying not to think about it. Yes it's noon on a Wednesday and I'm postcoital and still in my robe and trying to decide whether to clean house this afternoon or just go to the zoo, and I know how some of you dayjob folks feel about that, but then you probably have health insurance and know when you're getting your next paycheck, so we're even. Well...

Something I didn't think about when I left ILM in a huff to be a writer was how much of a shark it would mean becoming. You know, the whole keep moving thing. I was thinking about this last night, how once a week for seven years, someone walked into my office with a check with my name on it. Wow, was that luxurious.

Of course, I hated my life.

I just need to learn better focus if I'm to keep going like this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

a meditation for the working writer faced with a new editor

I sent this to MonkeyScientist, and then I realized I liked it so much I'll expand it and share it with you too. I am really, really loopy this morning. I've had a two-hour nap and half a pound of dried nectarines; my viscera are making all kinds of fascinating noises. I have one more article to finish and then I'm going back to bed.

breathe in:
the Universe loves me so much that it has sent me this particular editor so I can become a better writer, and a more patient person.

breathe out:
S/he's going to want me to change the piece I just e-mailed. Possibly quite a bit. I am not the piece; the piece is not me. I can change the piece. I want to change the piece. The thought of changing the piece to her/his specifications fills me with radiant joy and love.

breathe in:
Money is ephemeral, art eternal.

breathe out:
Double Chocolate Milanos are fleeting, but their crumbs live forever in my keyboard.

breathe in:
I gaze benevolently upon myself from slightly above, and to the left. I observe my breathing, the flow of my thoughts, and the way that one fingernail that is longer than the others keeps accidentally snagging the CAPS LOCK key and making me go back and fix shit.

Go in peace.

Monday, December 13, 2004

equal time

Snufkina passed on this Hanukkah song with a little OutKast stylee; the animation's pretty basic, but the concept's funny.
it's a bunderful life

Okay, I admit it: I haven't actually seen the Capra version of this holiday classic. But now I feel like I have, and in just thirty seconds!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

the advantage of advanced age

There are enough spankings to go around. So every hot lesbian at Fairy Butch's Hanukkah Ho-Down! could get in a few whacks, and there was still some spankage left for my dear friends. That one very genteel butch in the vest and tie, man, she thought I was a lot older than I am. I can tell just by looking this morning. Fortunately I'm not modeling this week.

Thanks guys. It was the most loveliest birthday ever.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Well, so far I've danced with an absolutely luscious Hawaiian girl, watched Snufkina body-check a man several times her size because he was using his cellphone to take pictures of a go-go dancer's barely-covered quim, eaten tepid biscuits and gravy in my father's memory in an all-night place that usually does better. I'm a wee bit drunk, and I am anticipating with extreme pleasure crawling into my nice wide new bed and sleeping for as long as I damn well want before I wake up to buy myself a book I've been coveting and have birthday dinner with my friends.

So far, so good.

Friday, December 10, 2004

proud to be a fruit beer swillin' smelly ol' liberal bongo-slapping hippie

Poor AX. In his endless quest to bring rootin' tootin' bloggy goodness to the masses, he occasionally finds gems like this site, where you can buy all sorts of things like T-shirts that show you believe we should "nuke 'em all and let Allah sort it out." I just hope he hadn't finished a nice big meal when he rolled into MetroSpy. I've had an apple and some chorizo, myself, and am feeling queasy. I'm also tempted to disinfect my keyboard, or my eyes, or something.

Is it snarky for me to point out that these people can't even freaking spell? "Dispite"? "Site" for "sight"? Is it their patriotic, God-loving fervor that makes them type so fast and ignore spellcheck so thoroughly? Or is that the "fukkin liberals" mentioned on their Frogweenies bulletin board have taken over our educational system and rendered everyone illiterate?

And we're supposed to reach out and make nice-nice with these people because their man's in office for another interminable four years? I'm not feeling the love, here.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

indri are a kind of lemur

The biggest surviving species, actually. There used to be bigger, slower ones, the size of small cows, but you know what happens to big, slow, small-cow-sized things with no natural predators when humans finally make their appearance. Indri are black and white, and weigh about thirty pounds apiece. They are the only lemur species that can't be bred in captivity, and also the only ones without tails.

Anyway. Here's another sort of lemur of which I am now enamored. Check them out.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

in the big house

So last night, before I came home and had my marital fantasy meltdown, I was of course working a swanky party at the Cantor Art Center, the courtyard of which I have described here in the past.

Although I was originally tapped to pass hors d'ouevres, about an hour into the party, Sleek moved me onto door duty. Apparently last year when we did this party, the guests complained afterwards that they hadn't been told where anything was. So this year our salesperson budgeted to have one person who just opened the door between the main hall of the museum and the courtyard, and told people going through the door where they could find the seafood buffet, the coffee station, the dessert display, their ass with both hands, etcetera. Whoops, did I write that out loud? Anyway. Red was on the job, and got bored, so I was sent to take over.

And I have no idea how Red had managed to do it for a whole hour. Oh my god, was it ever boring. And made worse by the fact that every person who came through the door had to say something witty like, is this your whole job tonight? and you should get a doorstop (the site forbids it) and you got the easy job! and I had to nod and grin like, like, one of those robot dogs.

As it happens, it wasn't really that easy. The reflected light from the hall made it difficult to see through the door, and it was kind of tricky telling whether the people I was seeing were on my side of the door or the other. And the place was so packed that I couldn't really open the door all the way, I had to keep it sort of half-open, sort of Schroedinger's Cat-like. Is the cat alive? Is the cat dead? Is the courtyard full of poison from a capsule broken by a decaying electron?

But I digress.

I know that some writers love to do that thing where you look at strangers, and try to imagine what their stories might be. Apaprently that's very big among fiction writers, or at least among people who teach fiction writing. So I thought, okay, I'll try it: after all, I'm using about a half of one percent of my brain capacity here. This could give me ideas for stories I could write when I get home, and sell for lots of money, and never have to open this damn door for another person again.

But I couldn't seem to look at these people and come up with any narrative.

Until I started imagining that every last one of them was a criminal of some kind, and I had to figure out what kind as they walked past. And then, wow, I was on a roll. Insider trading was a little old man with a much younger woman trailing behind him. A woman with big teased hair was mail fraud. I saw at least two pedophiles. I am a bad person, but it was hilarious, and nobody knew why I was smiling so much as they walked through my half-open door.

At least, until I got so bored that I nearly fell asleep and clocked an Assistant Vice President sporting teeth like big planks of IKEA melamine-covered fibreboard with my door. Please tell Sleek that I'm about to pass out here, I asked a passing FP (Fellow Penguin--cf. WIT, Worker In Tux), and thirty-five minutes after I'd assumed door duty, I was back out with the hors d'ouevre tray.

Slinging snacks to imaginary felons.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

any minute now, i'm going to start feeling this

E has managed to fuck another birthday for me.

The man has an instinct, I must say. And the fact that he has just proved me right in something MonkeyScientist had almost talked me out of doesn't help.

But I'm not being clear.

I just got home from a holiday party for some bank, down in Palo Alto. It wasn't great, it wasn't painful; there's a cook who regularly flirts with me who was being a 'performance chef', which means that he was out on the floor carving lamb where I could see him as I was bussing and passing hors d'ouevres and so on, and that was nice. I wouldn't date this man--we want very different things, as he's made clear from our conversations in the past--but he makes me feel sexy, no small feat when I'm wearing a tux and feeling about eight feet around at the hips. The guests were no worse than usual, and I ate quite a few handmade truffles, washed down with a heart-stopping quantity of dairy products loosely bound with potato. My ride and I regaled each other on the way back with stories of what we'd like to do to Dubya and his pack of thieves, and I'm home before ten, which should mean that I get an article done and a shower before I go to bed.

Except that there's an email in my box, and as soon as I saw the subject line, I knew.

Bit o' news, E begins. All good here, in Vancouver at present...being a husband. Yup. Married at City Hall, San Francisco, 2 weeks ago. And then he names her, as if I didn't know her name, as if I didn't know that he met her no more than four days after dumping my ass because he thought he "should be alone for a while", as if he hadn't put me on the e-mail list of people who got the updates from their trip to Israel, about eating melon in the afternooon in their hotel room in Tel Aviv and napping with her in the sweltering heat.

How do I know it's not me, I asked MonkeyScientist Sunday, after we'd already had an awkward conversation about this delicate thing we've been doing, this very limited engagement before he expatriates, how do I know it's not me when every man I've ever really loved, really thought I might have a future with, has married the next woman he dated? And I counted off on my fingers: Jer, BowlCut, Slice, E. MonkeyScientist folded down two of my fingers because there was actually someone between me and the woman BowlCut married, and because E wasn't married. That's not true, he said. Fifty percent.

Seventy-five percent now. And the fact is, they're all married, some of them quite gloatingly (I've been to BowlCut's wife's Web site. The self-congratulatoriness ain't pretty, let me tell you)--and I'm not. And I know it shouldn't matter; that I'm a fine person all by myself, with my own interesting life, blah blah fucking blah, but where is the man who has MY back? Who will love me, and travel with me, and think about building a family with me while I still have a fresh egg or two left, before the DES damage means I need to have my damn misshapen precancerous cervix taken out, and be there to come home to when I've had a night like tonight and just really want my shoulders rubbed and my hair stroked? Who is interested to see what kind of adventure we can have together?

And the knowledge that I would be miserable now if I'd stayed with some of these guys isn't helpful. I mean, it will be later. But the burning that is rising in me now is making that clear, smooth truth hard to hold onto.

So I write it here, knowing that I'm going to distress some people, that some of you are going to worry about me, and some others wonder about my stability. Whatever. I have to say it here because I CAN NOT write the e-mail back to E that I so deeply, desperately want to write. I will be okay in the morning. I may even be okay after my shower, especially if I take a beer in there with me. But this part right now, this part sucks.

Monday, December 06, 2004

hitting my marks

Well, for one thing, I have finally finished my sock monkey.

You see, I started him, oh, I dunno, nine months or a year ago? I threw a party, when I still rented a studio in the dojo and had the space to craft with other people; a guy I'd met online came over and taught half a dozen of us how to make sock animals. We sat at two long tables pushed together, covered in socks, embroidery floss, polyester stuffing, and buttons. We ate snacks. I got everything done but one ear, and sewing closed the feet. And then we had to clean up and get out; I was going to a show, Snufkina had to get home, our sock monkey maestro had evening plans. I had the second ear all cut out. I told myself I would sew it on when I got home that night from the theater.

I'm not sure I made it home that night. It's entirely possible I slept in AX's nice warm apartment, or in the grotty child-infested Mission flat I inhabited for a mere three months, I don't remember. What is certain is that when I consolidated my life into one space, the wonderful Spaceship (which now, finally, boasts an honest bed, but that's another story), my monkey made the trip with just one ear, and the real danger of losing the fine muscular definition in his legs as a result of polyester batting attrition. He's been sitting on one of my bookcases ever since, a mute testimony to my congenital disability to finish the things I start.

For a while, I made things even worse on myself: I have a somewhat Thelemic affirmation that I painted on a sheet of paper and tried to tape to the door. Every single THING is a manifestation of will, it reads, What is your WILL? I was trying, when I wrote it out, to remind myself that I am the only one around here responsible for kicking myself in the butt and making things happen. But in my usual fashion, I didn't stretch the paper before I painted it, and the warping from the water made the paper buckle and ripple and become generally unstickable using the advanced adhesive technology I was trying to employ (Blu-Tak) and I ended up propping the sad, wrinkly thing up on the bookshelf, against the monaural sock monkey.

You see the problem. A half-baked sock monkey next to an ineffective sign about getting stuff done. Sitting directly across the narrow hallway from the bathroom, the door of which I usually leave open if I'm alone in the Spaceship when I'm, you know.

One of my many, many self-help books--probably about not being a helpless clutterbug (first rule: stop accumulating books about how not to clutter)--suggests that if you have even a little project hanging fire, it's going to add to your overall sense of helplessness. Finish that one little project, the helpful author (who is probably one of those folks who gets all the laundry folded straight out of the dryer, and sends thank-you notes the same year they receive a gift, and never runs out of toilet paper, stamps, jam, safety pins, or wholesome goodwill towards all people) tells us, and you'll start to feel like you've got a grip.

So the other day, feeling sad and sore and a little overwhelmed, I got out a needle and sewed the ear on. With the red embroidery floss still in the needle from when I was working on my bellydance belt because I was afraid if I stopped to look around for lavender thread, I'd forget what I was doing and end up taking a nap instead. You can't see the red thread in the photo because I have cunningly placed the sock monkey with the new ear away from the camera, but I assure you, it's there. The whole ear is, in fact, significantly lower than the first ear, and the stitching on the feet looks like a four-year-old did it, but come on. This is not haute couture.

What it is, is finished. And I am feeling a little better, really.

Even if the ear is on backwards.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

emancipated elephants!

The Freep's URL for this article says it all; Winky and Wanda will not be going to Columbus after all, but PAWS down in Southern California. Instead of being cold and cramped and surrounded by younger, rowdier elephants, "the girls" will share one hundred sunny, warm acres with a few other elephants, including two from San Francisco.

It's not indicated whether the petition I asked y'all to sign (and thank you, everyone who did) made any difference--the paper cites the discovery that Wanda might have herpes as the reason that the Columbus Zoo decided not to take the girls--but I like to think the pressure we brought to bear might have had something to do with the decision.

Whatever the case, it's good news.

Friday, December 03, 2004

i know you want my job now

Spent the afternoon in a very warm room naked and pressed lightly back to back to back against the little Rastafied Indian temple goddess and a young woman of Sicilian origin with fascinating tattoos, our arms intertwined. We listened to Ella Fitzgerald and talked about everything from Farsi funerary rites to "Lost in Translation" as an artist who's trying to burn off a generous grant by the end of the year sculpted us in wax. I had my fingertips resting against the Sicilian's hip; the temple goddess' dreds brushed against my butt every time she laughed.

And I got paid for it, too.