Sunday, January 30, 2005

just at the corner store

Buying yogurt and getting quarters to finish my laundry. Two in the morning. Guy standing outside with two leashes stretched taut into the store, connected to chihuahuas. I smiled at them--why do we smile at dogs? Do we think they understand smiles?--and then walked into the place, which volumetrically is about equivalent to the second-smallest U-Haul rental truck. And saw someone of indeterminate gender paying for something at the counter, with two more tiny dogs sticking out of her/his bag, their little eyes shiny, their little paws the thickness of pencils. Oh, it was too much.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

the election in iraq

Sean over at Preposterous Universe sums it up nicely:
Nobody knows what Iraq will look like ten years from now, and anyone who claims to is just whistling in the dark. It might be a struggling but maturing democracy, or a repressive dictatorship, or have broken into pieces, or simply be a chaotic mess roiled by perpetual civil war. It may even be an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy, pursuing a vigorous program to develop weapons of mass destruction. That would be kind of ironic. But this is not a case where anyone should hope for the worst just so they can say "I told you so."

Friday, January 28, 2005

berliner rundfunk comes through again

That's right, Peter Schilling's Major Tom was also released in German. Duh. Being that Schilling is German and all. I wonder, if I listen long enough, if they'll play Peter Gabriel's Shock den Affen. Or Nena's 99 Luftballoons?

When I was a kid, back in the fabulous hair eighties, sometimes the radio stations (especially the late lamented WLBS, about which there is another story) would play the German versions of things, to up their New Wave cred. It's to be cool, man.

Hey contemporaries, what are some other ones I'm forgetting?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Where did you go, girl? asked Thread when we talked on the phone earlier today. I was afraid you'd fallen off the face of the earth. She was home sick again--this cold season's been a hard one on her--and punchy. I was glad to talk to her, glad of the distraction.

Because she's right, I kind of have. Fallen off the face of the earth. It's a lot of things that you've heard me whine about a million times...the season, the weather, catering down-time poverty, missing MonkeyScientist a whole big lot. I haven't wanted to go out. "Out" doesn't have much to recommend it right now. And I especially like the current smell of my little Spaceship: burnt teriyaki salmon, chorizo omelette, a candle in one of those weird scents that probably isn't anything like its inspiration, a new watermelony shampoo that is allegedly designed especially for long hair. Allegedly. I go to the post office, I go to the studio for rehearsals, I go out to work. And this weekend, breakfast both mornings. But otherwise, I wrap myself in the smell and turn up the heat.

And make things.

It's what works. Tried going on a date with someone I'd been seeing at about the same time I started up with MonkeyScientist, and that spiraled swiftly into disaster. I don't drink much because it makes my dreams boringly literal. The money writing isn't turning me on right now, and the personal writing, while it helps, doesn't take me out of my pensiveness. But gluing things together? Ooo-kay!

So I thought I would show you some of what I've been doing.

This is a vegan boa, for the feather-phobic fashionista. I was wearing my first one a couple of weeks ago and I had a stranger comment on exactly that--how much she hated feathers, period. They give her the creeps. I should have offered to make her one of these. Anyway. This one is going to a woman I've never met in a craft swap, and I'll be bummed if she doesn't like it, because I broke three sewing machine needles making it, and gathered a few new white hairs on the way. But otherwise I'm pleased. It's four and a half feet long, somewhat Burning Man-safe (unlike feather boas, which shed), composed of at least 50% recycled material, and dramatic.

Unlike me right now. Definitely not dramatic. I'm whatever the opposite of dramatic is. The antimatter to dramatic's matter. If I met dramatic right now, I'd cancel it out in a shower of little grey sparks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

the pleasures of fresh grease

Our party Saturday night lasted all of an hour; it was what we call a trough party--buffets, disposable plates and forks, great huge wads of guests. The last event of a long day for a group of alums from a local university I shall not name. Although everything was done up in red and white, which should be enough of a hint for some of you, the usual big white esses were nowhere in evidence. The tables were covered in red linens, and the risers that held up the platters had been covered in red felt with white felt polka dots stuck on with double-sided tape. Combined with the red and white balloon arches over the bars, the effect was very Seussian, which I'm not sure had been the point.

Anyway. They had an hour to eat their little sandwiches, see how much chicken they could yank off the skewers to wrap up in paper napkins to take home, and pull the design team's apples out of the giant fishbowls in which they were displayed, nearly upsetting lit votives and setting all that red felt ablaze in the process.

I can't fault them; these people will probably still be paying off their student loans when their own children leave for college. But it was kind of funny. We'd been there for hours setting up, and of course we were there for an hour after they left, picking up chickenless skewers from where they'd been dropped (everywhere except the plentiful trashcans, needless to say), and I was struck yet again by the time, money, effort--and waste--that goes into a catered event.

Since we were out so early, we piled into cars and went to Liverpool Lil's, which is where we always seem to end up after gigs in the Presidio, and ate huge hamburgers at the tiny tables in the bar. B and I sat next to each other and pretended that we could only use the index and middle fingers of our hands, which is a lot funnier than it probably sounds, and Emperor tried to explain to us all what was happening at the Australian Open, which was playing on a massive television above our heads. Sort of a lost cause, considering that none of us care about tennis except Emperor, but B did take a moment to appreciate how much better-looking Andre Agassi has gotten with age. Across the narrow aisle the deeply gay Opera, who'd had so many martinis his eyes were getting slitty, gave Hound, who is male and deeply straight, advice on how to approach women. Which was, like B and I and our claws, much funnier than it probably sounds.

And then, bliss. Emperor drove B and I home, and as always happens when that happens, we stopped at Bob's Donuts for the best and freshest-tasting donuts you will ever find, anywhere. We had to: we'd been talking about it for probably two hours by that time. They use fresh oil! we'd enthused to our co-workers over the hamburgers at Lil's (I ate B's pickle, incidentally, but then he was surreptitiously eating the lettuce off everyone's plates.) They're not too sweet like Krispy Kremes! we said to each other around dripping mouthfuls of meat. They have real character! we said to the waitress, who had completely had it with us by that time but was managing to stay gracious (even when we found she'd made a fifteen-dollar error on our bill). Emperor, who recently gave in and got his first cell phone, called the donut shop to see what they were making just before we left the bar, which seemed decadent to me.

Bob's, Bob's, Bob's. Let me count the ways. B had a crumb donut, Emperor a maple bar, dense and sticky. I had a chocolate-covered raised that was like eating a cloud, if clouds were warm and yeasty and covered with chocolate. The two older couples who were there before us watched the donut maker--who could have been Bob, for all I know, a smallish smiling Asian guy with a little paper hat--dipping cake donuts in chocolate and decided to take some home for their kids. A man with a tangled beard sat at the counter sipping coffee and watching the television news.

Twenty-four hours. If you live in San Francisco, you could go right now. They'll be open. And the donuts will be fresh.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Go Bookslut! Jessica Crispin lays down some science on the asinine conceive magazine. Says everything I'd like to, in a lot fewer words. Sometime soon Bookslut's also supposed to be running a review of the anthology I'm in, so I'm keeping an eye out for that.

Incidentally, a casual search reveals that the anthology is being picked up by colleges and universities for use in social science classes. I just noticed that the University of Vermont has copies in their library. For some reason, seeing that it had a catalog number made it more real for me. And AX has used the word "badassitude" about my essay in particular. Which would be a fine thing to mention in the area Amazon so helpfully provides for guest reviews, hint hint to everyone who has a copy and has read my essay.

I have to admit that I still haven't read the other nineteen. I really should, before I meet the other authors when we sit down to read together next month.
climate change

Time to reread John Barnes' Mother of Storms.

What some of Amazon's guest reviewers say is true--it takes a while to get going, and there are a lot of characters. But neither of those are bad things, and I've thought about the book frequently since the tsunami. Considering that I must have read it at least five or six years ago--and I read a lot--it obviously works well enough as a story and a lesson that I've retained it this long.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

ender's war

I'm sort of ripping off both AX and Spiral here, as one of them has already referenced the Orson Scott Card book and the other has posted relevant photos.

But I didn't know that the new combat robot we're sending to Iraq in the spring is operated remotely by a soldier using (eventually) a Gameboy-style interface--joystick and VR goggles--from up to half a mile away.

Not that I'm some kind of traditionalist or anything. I'm not saying we should go back to waging war using horses, pointed sticks, and Greek Fire. And I'm certainly for anything that keeps our soldiers safe (although my best idea for that involves bringing them home pronto, not a $200,000 toy). But this is really scary, this distancing. Will the VR goggles show accurate images of the insurgents the solider is killing by remote, or just little avatars in an 8-bit colorspace? Considering that two-thirds of the Iraqis dead so far have been noncombatant women and children--people our soldiers could see up-close and in person--what's going to happen when that immediacy, the smell and sound and impact of death, are removed?

This war is not a fucking video game.
we have different ideas about what constitutes the will of god

Considering my DES status, I really can't fault anyone else for going to some lengths to have children if they want. But this 66-year-old woman believes that it was the "will of God" that she get pregnant.

That, and nine years of fertility treatments. Which, for those of you who don't keep up with these things, means nine years of getting regular injections of hormones into your tuchus.

If it's the will of God that I become a crazy cat lady, I hope I'm strong enough to live up to my calling.

Friday, January 21, 2005

intestinal fortitude

Teutonia's got a gift for snagging free movie passes, so yesterday we went to see Hotel Rwanda at the Kabuki. It's sort of a Rwandan Schindler's List; it tells the true story of a Hutu hotel manager who sheltered 1,286 Tutsi and Hutu refugees from the Interahamwe in his five-star hotel, the Mille Colines, in 1994. Don Cheadle gives an absolutely phenomenal performance as Paul Rusesabagina (as do Sophie Okonedo as his wife and Nick Nolte (!) as the head of the UN peacekeeping force in Kigali), and it's definitely a film worth seeing.

That said, it's pretty violent, and I for one walked out sick with shame and anger. I'm not usually affected this way by movies--years in the industry, first as the child of a worker and then as a worker myself--have inured me to some of the emotional pull celluloid can wield. But I really felt this one. I found myself mouthing the words fucking Hutus over and over again, and welling up with tears through most of the film.

What made it even more intense was that I was sitting next to a German woman in her early fifties, and wondering what she was seeing as she watched this depiction of one group of people systematically slaughtering the members of another group of people. We must exterminate the Tutsi cockroaches was a phrase that kept coming up in the film, in some form or another, and the resonance with the Holocaust was pretty much impossible for me to ignore. We'd agreed that we'd sit and talk afterwards about what we'd seen, and I found myself wondering if we were going to talk about how it felt to be there together, one German and one American Jew.

As it happens, we didn't really. When she said, I don't understand how people can be so cruel, I let it slide. Because I was also thinking about how so many people try to justify the way nobody intervened to stop Hitler from decimating my people by saying, we didn't know what was going on in the camps. Which I think, frankly, is bullshit: sure, maybe at first, but years into it? Clouds of evil-smelling smoke blocking the sun? Give me a break.

But fast forward fifty years. We--you and I and every American who could turn on the news--knew that genocide was going down in Rwanda. And we let it happen. A million corpses.

You understand why I left the theater weak and feeling like I was having an out-of-body experience. Teutonia was pretty shaken up too.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

the future's in citrus

This is very exciting. I wonder if the resulting products will smell like oranges?
not one damn dime day

I'm doing it. How about you?
Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases.

Not one damn dime for nothing for 24 hours. On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target... Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter).

For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down. The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. Now 1,200 brave young Americans and (some estimate) 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians owe our troops a plan - a way to come home.

There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed.

For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind ourreligious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.

Please share this email with as many people as possible. Commercial speech must not be the only free speech in America!

Bill Moyers

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

now seating passengers in rows back of beyond through god's country

I look at this, and all I can think is, shit, that's another hour earlier I'll have to get to the airport.

If I knew they were using some of that space for a gourmet kitchen, now, that would be different. Or a Jacuzzi and steam room. Or at least a small but carefully-stocked library.

edit: Courtesy of Daryl, we see that there are staterooms and a duty-free shop, but no steam room.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

saudi kitties


courtesy of Majikthise
it's got a beat, you can dance to it

I wonder how long it will be before someone has incorporated Titan's winds into a piece of music?

By this weekend, probably. Ain't technology grand? There's something dreamy about sitting at the computer listening to these sounds, culled from so very far away. And with a little bass thrown in, I can totally see ravers dancing to it.
bad science

So a recent study of 5,069 adults suggests that race may affect fitness levels. You can check out the Web site for the American College of Chest Physicians, who covered the study in their journal.

I'm not sure what's bothering me more about this--the fact that the study doesn't appear to touch on social factors at all, or the ugliness of the postings on the message board Yahoo! attached to the article, which I'm afraid you can't see because the link has expired since I started writing this post in December.

A few years ago, I was helping a woman who was working on her nursing school thesis try to get a grip on the writing part. She was studying hypertension in African-Americans, and public health approaches; it was fascinating stuff. And then, a couple of months ago, I was reading Fat Land by Greg Critser about obesity in America, and he raises some of the same points, as well as others.

So while I agree that obesity and hypertension are rampant in the black community--I'm thinking now about my own hometown--being black does not automatically mean that one is just naturally prone to being fatter or less healthy in general. But you're not going to get that much subtlety in this study, which didn't apparently allow for certain factors.

Some of which Critser and my student identified, quite simply:

Fitness correlates with income before it does race. If I remember correctly, Critser quotes studies that suggest that poor whites are just as likely to be obese as poor blacks.

Obesity often begins young, and young black folks are less likely to have consistent exercise--or safe places to do it--than young white folks. Critser points out that programs like AYSO youth soccer tend to start in the suburbs, which are replete with big open safe spaces in which to run.

This my student told me: black folks are less likely to trust doctors, or what doctors say, than white folks. So public health strategists have to take a different tack, but that tack hasn't yet been well-researched. She also pointed out that inner-city families have a harder time getting decent food, and tend to rely on junk and fast foods. My own experience of living in an economically depressed neighborhood full of convenience stores bears that out: I'm completely set for Doritoes here, but have a serious hike ahead of me if I want an organically grown vegetable.

There are a lot of factors, and I'm just touching on them lightly; I highly recommend Critser's book for the full story. What angers me about the article, besides the bad science aspect, is all the knuckleheads who logged onto the Yahoo! message board so they could say stupid things about how black people should be in great shape from running from the police all the time. Or who took the opportunity to post bizarre "Negro Fact Sheets" with masses of numbers that add up to telling us that blacks are sub-human. Ugly, ugly. Research twisted to a bad end.

Monday, January 17, 2005

on my end, i'll keep it down on the bellydance music

The kids in Unit One are apparently the sort that kiss and make up, and then some, after they fight. I was hoping they were the go-to-bed-mad kind who could be counted on to stew silently all night, but I guess they got all their processing done over the three hours they were fighting (with, of course, the television on). The moaning started just as I was going to bed, where I'd had big plans to comfort myself in the age-old fashion, and lasted for about twenty minutes. So I laid there with my hands chastely behind my head and just cried myself to sleep instead. I haven't cried in a few days, and it felt strange, although that might have been the sensation of the tears pooling around my (useless) orange foam ear plugs.

And I had to wake up early, to go model for this kind of strange but nice enough man with a big old warehouse studio space South of Market. When I'm up on the stand--in this case, an ancient kitchen table--I can see into the cars driving up the ramp that leads to the Bay Bridge. I try not to think about the corollary; I'm sure if there had been any accidents from drivers realizing they were seeing nekkid women, somebody would have said something to this guy. He's doing a whole series of me, trying to capture different emotional states: joy, paranoia. Today was sorrow, which I managed to fake for him somehow. Buried my head in the sleeping bag and cushion softening the box I was leaning against and went pretty much straight to sleep.

Here's an excerpt from the note I wrote when I got home. I'd gone up and knocked, hoping to talk to them in person, but I guess either they couldn't hear me over the television, or they just weren't feeling sociable.
...I have a problem I hope you can help me with. When they built this place, they obviously didn't think about sound. I can hear everything that happens up here. Everything. And while certain things, like fighting and fucking, obviously need to happen at their appropriate volumes, I wonder if I can ask you to keep it down on the other stuff? Loud television, walking around heavily late at night, the may be young and energetic, but I am old and tired, and need to get some sleep.
I could have been less snarky, I could have brought them some cookies or something and tried to make nice-nice, but I'm simply too tired. And I've been up there before, they know there's a problem.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

thanks for clarifying that for us

Where to start? Near the end is as good a place as any; that's the point in this article from the BBC where George Bush answers a troubling question. This after sidestepping another question about why nobody in his administration is being held responsible for the various dramatic missteps in the war on Iraq.
When asked why the administration had so far failed to locate Osama Bin Laden, more than three years after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, the president responded, "Because he's hiding."

Thursday, January 13, 2005

this was bound to happen someday

But I am still very distressed to see that you can now buy pre-made duct tape wallets. The whole point of the exercise was that you could make your own wallet with something you had lying around the house. And if you were vegan, you could still carry a stylish wallet without something having died for it. You could customize it, use different colors of duct tape, make prom dresses and alien costumes using the same techniques. It was cheap, it was funky, it was transgressive.

Now geeks who need a place to store their "bling" but don't want to get their hands sticky can just buy a wallet. They've even come up with a special kind of duct tape that's better than the old kind because it won't stick to all the "dog hair and lint" to be found in geek pockets. Is Monsanto behind this? The Ducti wallet is the Roundup-Ready of duct tape wallets

This is just wrong.
do not stick hands in cage

When I worked at ILM, I had a sign that said that hanging on the wall behind my desk. I have no idea where the sign went. I should find it, and hang it around my neck.

I am having one of those mornings.

Stepping away for a moment from the obvious--that exactly a week ago at this time I was wandering numbly around my apartment thinking about MonkeyScientist tightening his seatbelt on the airplane and wondering if he dared pinch the flight attendant, and that I have moments of intense sadness at his absence that no amount of streaming German radio can ease--the attentive reader will note that I am awake before noon. Awake, indeed, before 10 am, which usually only happens if I'm going to fly or vomit or some combination thereof.

I've actually been awake since 6:47. The same attentive reader can guess why; I'm not going to belabor the point, except to say that I just left a voicemail for the property manager to talk about noise abatement measures and the possible implementation thereof. Anyway, I've had three and a half hours of sleep, and have that sort of undercooked feeling as a result. You know the one? Less sleep, and at least I would be in a useful fight-or-flight hyperactive mode. More sleep, and I would be human. But neither is true. I'm just raw and groggy.

And there's this thing going's part of the reason I didn't just go back to bed when Tarzan and Jane finally finished upstairs. You see, I am trying to have a copy of my show reel made. This should be an easy process. But it's turned into, in my mother's words, a clusterfuck. Explaining the whole thing would be boring, so I'll break it down into key words: bad dubs, missing one-inch master, lab screwup, expensive transfer of the wrong master to DVD, expensive shipment of said DVD from Detroit to SF, howling in Snufkina's living room, late-night chorizo sandwich, vivid dreams, news that original master did in fact occupy space at facility where the reel was assembled...and then was sent last April, for some inexplicable reason, to an advertising agency (excuse me, they're marketing consultants now) with whom I have no relationship, where there's an excellent chance it was destroyed.

So I need to take my bad VHS copies to Monaco Lab this morning, and try to talk them into giving me a credit, and then putting that credit towards making a DVD master from the one sort-of-okay VHS I have. Then I need to come home and write the resume and cover letter to go with it, which terrifies me; I hate doing those things. Yes, yes, I'm a writer, yes, I know. It's not any easier for us, I think, than it is for anyone else. Maybe it's worse.

This is a means, I keep telling myself, to an end. Get dressed and get out there and do it already. But I just want to go back to bed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

the sweat of my brow

Spent much of yesterday and today wrestling a big article into shape; finally, at 4:30 this afternoon, I was done and headed out to check my post office box and do a celebratory lap through the art supply store on Van Ness.

Which is where I was headed when some little pair of naked wires crossed in my brain and I remembered that I was scheduled to cater this afternoon. Or was I? I couldn't remember what my call time was, or where I was supposed to be, but I was sure that I was late. Probably real late. Captains usually come in between 1 and 4:30 for dinner events, and my cell said it was 4:54 and I was completely unshowered, meaning that I was at least an hour away from showing up to the job clean and tuxedoed. So I called the recorded message to get the job's location as I loped through the Tenderloin, sweating and cursing myself and trying to figure out what I was going to say when I did finally get to work. While I've been late to jobs in the past, never by this much. And I have never pulled a no-call no-show on a catering job.

What is going ON with me? I thought as I listened to my supervisor's recorded voice droning out the directions to the site, which turned out to be the Ferry Building. Not a difficult place to get to, at least. But still. How did I let this slip? Am I hating the work that much? Or am I that sad? And more insidious yet, even if I can make it, why bother? Call in with a faked injury. Say the graft in your knee just gave out. Say you were hit by a car. Just lie; they can do without you. Meanwhile a car trying to make the light on Geary nearly made it unnecessary for me to lie about an accident, and people made disgruntled noises as I streamed past.

Burst into my apartment, throwing off my purse, scarf, jacket, and sweatshirt in pretty much one motion in preparation to shower. Grabbed my datebook off the floor and saw


this is the date I got taken off of last week.

So I put my clothes back on, switching out the completely sodden sweatshirt for something else, and went to the library to look for travel guides. And as I walked down Market Street to see if there was anything good playing at the Castro Theater's Berlin and Beyond, I thought long and hard about how worked up I'd gotten. For a job that gives me so little pleasure these days.

I think it's time I did something rash. I haven't done anything really rash in a while; people are going to start calling me "grounded" and shit.

I think it's time to look for a day job.

Monday, January 10, 2005

the brats upstairs

Must know, somehow, that I've just lost my playmate; they've bumped up their frequency to twice a day. I think they wait until they're sure I'm home before they start screwing. I heard her door open and close, one says. That's the sound of her bootheels, says the other, you wanna get it on?

But I have a new secret weapon. Streaming Berliner Rundfunk 91.4! With all the charming randomness of European radio stations, plus people talking fast in German. It's perfect for my purposes. Right now it's the morning drive-time show; Elton John singing "Nikita". Before this I got some ABBA, some Paul Young, Tight Fit doing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," yesterday it was the Traveling Wilburys and Alphaville jumbled up together. Bee Gees! Credence Clearwater! I've been listening on headphones, but I'm about to pull out the jack and turn it up.

Take that, you wretched children!
one difference between men and women

This is really interesting. I don't like making broad generalizations about "men do this and women do that" (although I often can't stop myself); I really do believe that many of the differences between us are socially constructed, and hence not worth setting in stone by nattering on about either sex being constitutionally incapable of a thing, or more naturally skilled at another thing, or whatever.

But I've noticed something small yet telling that I want to bring forward, and I think it has something to do with who feels more secure in the world.

Just got home from rehearsal--the first one I've felt really good about in a while; we were learning a new choreography, and I was getting it, quickly. There were even parts that I was grasping before some of the more experienced members of the troupe. I'm not necessarily doing it well, mind, but I'm turning in the right direction at the right time, etcetera.

Anyway. Although I was feeling all charged up and perfectly capable of walking the seven blocks home, I accepted a ride from Yvette, possibly the kindest person I have ever met. And hot, too, but firmly married, if you were even thinking about it. Firmly. So she drove me all the way home, taking all the one-way streets instead of just dropping me at a convenient corner and speeding off; she pulled up in front on my building, and waited until she'd seen me go through the front door before she drove away.

This is such a small thing, but I cannot think of a single time I have ever gotten a ride home from a woman who hasn't waited to make sure I made it into the building before leaving. While quite a few men have essentially slowed to twenty and put a boot to my butt; unless they're hoping for a little tonsil massage, many of my male acquaintances seem to be more concerned about getting on with their journey than making sure I'm safely home (AX being, as he so often is in any discussion of "what men do", a notable exception). Although, come to think of it, even some of the ones I've kissed goodbye haven't then watched to make sure I get that door unlocked without interference. And interference is always on tap in this neighborhood.

I don't think it's that men don't care about their female friends. I think they just don't think about it. The same way a lot of men don't give the same kind of thought to which streets they use to get home after dark that women do, or hesitate before going into certain bars, or a whole host of little decisions that pattern a woman's day.
so you think you know kung-fu, eh?

Not sure what compelled me to seek out an online typing speed test. I'm not going to embarrass myself here by mentioning exactly how poorly I did; I'm just going to muse that for someone who types all the time--so much so that her handwriting is now pretty much completely impenetrable--I'm surprised I didn't do better.

Go ahead, I dare you.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

major life change

It may be the antihistamine speaking, or the astonishingly complete headache I've had since I woke up (more fool me, thinking I was going to miss out on getting a cold this season just because everyone around me had been sick and I hadn't). It may be the previously-detailed sadness. But I have spent some time thinking, and realized that I need to shake things up, try something new, branch out.

Which is why I have decided to go into the dog sweater business.

The upper end of Polk Street, where I was flailing along, trying not to jostle my head too much or dribble too obviously, is rife with stores and businesses catering to dogs. Heading north, first you hit Wags, which bills itself as a "Pet Wash and Boutique". Along the south wall there are four raised, tiled enclosures for pup-washing. But it seems that every time I walk by, there are a lot more dogs just chilling on the floor around the "tubs", chewing on things and wrestling with each other.

Farther up is Bow Wow Meow, the first place I have ever seen Judaica for dogs; little white dog yarmulkes (and here is another interesting use for the little skullcaps you usually seen on Jewish men's heads) with blue Stars of David and elastic straps to go around the dog's ears. They sell other things as well, but I couldn't tell you what; I was too floored by the window display and I am, as I have mentioned, on drugs.

There's one more place, but I can't remember the name right off. Suffice it to say, upper Polk is a bastion of canine delights, which makes sense when you see how many people wandering around up there have put clothes on their dogs.

I was walking behind a woman with a chihuahua just now. The dog was wearing a blue and red hoodie with a clever pocket on the back, just the right size for a driver's license or a Milk-Bone. The hood, though, puzzled me. What possible use could a dog have for a hood? In my experience, dogs really don't like having their ears covered.

Anyway, that's why I had the idea. It solves so many problems. First of all, especially if I focus on small sweaters for small dogs (for which I have already admitted an embarrassing affinity), I'll be able to work quickly. This also uses up yarn, which is good, because then I can justify buying more yarn at the store where Thread works.

It's also exactly the sort of thing that, if you mention it at a party, sorts out the truly interesting people from the ones you don't really want to talk to. You know?

Saturday, January 08, 2005


This from local performer and sage Nina Wise, copied into a journal of mine in April '03. Obviously I felt I needed the reminder then; it still speaks to me now.
We can only end the epidemic of isolation if we make contact. We cannot wait for our culture to change by some act of universal grace. It is we who are the instruments of grace; we who through our words and our actions acknowledge that we are not alone on this earth, but together.

Friday, January 07, 2005

butter, milk. butter, milk.

It's a trick for people who, according to one gentle writer, are too creative to stay on task. Because we get so easily distracted. So you're putting something away, and you keep saying, out loud, oh, I'm taking this tube of paint and putting it with the others, until you've done it. So you don't get confused and start doing something else, while you still have the tube of paint in your hand.

In my case last night, it was a completely delirious trip to the Cala up on California and Hyde, which is happily open 24 hours, so the fact that I couldn't get out of the house to grocery shop until 9 didn't make a difference. I'd made myself eat something before I left so that I wouldn't be completely stupid, but the contents of my basket still leaned to the fanciful...several kinds of spreadable cheese (I have no crackers or other substrate), a bottle of tangerine juice (actually intelligent), two packets of Le Petit Ecolier cookies, the ones with dark chocolate tops. I wanted Deluxe Grahams, I wanted to regress that much, but couldn't find any, and stood there with my mouth open looking again and again at the Spongebob-emblazoned packages of Fudge Stripes and Grasshoppers, hoping perhaps that maybe one of them would magically turn into a packet of Deluxe Grahams.

If I stood there long enough.

Didn't happen. So I trudged off to find chorizo, which should be easy in a city with such a large Latino population, but for some odd reason, Cala has their sausage products spread out over at least four locations. Seriously. I thought about cheese dogs, the kind with the cheese piped into the middle, I was feeling that small and sad and eight-years-old, but didn't buy any.

So eventually it came down to the last five or six items on the mental list, and I just couldn't be in the store any more. Too many couples shopping together, too much cheerful music, too much potential of spending all the money I had on raw cookie dough. So I started mumbling butter, milk, butter, milk to myself. Just to remember. Just to stay on track.

To the brave folk who called or wrote yesterday and got this from me--oh, other than feeling like I'm being eviscerated, I'm fine, thanks--I'm sorry. And thanks to everyone who commented, directly or through other people, on the last post; your kindness means so much to me. More than I can articulate. I'm a little better today (he wrote! from the plane!) and might actually get some work done.

And I have dairy products.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

dancing with tears in my eyes

All becomes clear.


In the first short story he ever published, 1939's Life Line, Robert Heinlein invented a machine that can predict when a person will die, and introduced an image that has stuck with me and informed my thinking since I was a teenager. The idea is that our lives extend forward and back from the present like the ends of a worm, and we only see the cross section that is the moment we're in. But that doesn't mean there isn't more worm. Dr. Pinero's machine can see the whole worm, from birth to death. I'm not explaining this well. Old Bob, crusty misogynist reactionary that he was, did a much more graceful job.

Anyway. I've taken to seeing our lives--maybe not my own so much, since I don't really plan for the part of the worm more than a few months away--but those of my friends in this way. It's really obvious when I get close to someone; I become fascinated with photos from their childhood. I'm a nut for baby pictures. I want to wrap myself around their whole life, pour the affection I feel for them now on the child they were, hold them as a baby, reassure their teenage self that things don't suck nearly as badly as they seem to. AX in a fedora and suspenders and the exact same bushy hopeless hair I had that year, glaring at the camera from among the ranks of the chess club (sorry, babe, it's important to the story). Snufkina in her cheerleader garb and feathered hair (ditto). Almeida in Damascus, and then as a muscled twenty-something showing off for her boyfriend. MonkeyScientist as a tiny towhead, surrounded by German relatives, dour and unsmiling as trees. My mother with her father and his bird, her eyes huge and dark, her face shy. My father--no more than three feet tall--dressed in a heavy coat and a hat with flaps, holding his father's hand on a Chicago street.

There is a yogic partner meditation where you gaze into your partner's eyes and imagine them in the moment after their birth, and then as an incredibly ancient person. It's a similar idea. When I've done it, I've been thinking I hold and cherish your whole life. I am here, and I am there and there, and everywhere in between. Although you didn't know it then, and may not remember in the future, let what I have to give you now flow out in both directions.


My friend was still wearing his wedding ring the first time I took him home. Which should explain why I haven't talked much about the situation, which should shed some light on the past few months. I am not the reason he's divorcing: it's really the other way around. I took up with him because his wife was leaving him, and it was the best thing, as a friend, I could offer him in the way of support and distraction. You took him because you wanted him, interrupted my mother's cousin C when I was telling her this story. C's just shy of eighty, beautifully preserved, wearing her third wedding ring. She's sharp. And she was right, that's also true. But it was not something I'd ever planned to act on.

Because although I was attracted to him from the first time I saw him, and although our subsequent friendship was occasionally a strain as I struggled with my own impulses, I honored his marriage. I believe in the part of the wedding where the officiant asks everyone present to help the couple honor the bond; as Naiad once pointed out to me, that's a heavy part of the ceremony that not everyone realizes is the heavy part. Also, raised as a feminist, I do my best to honor my sisters. I try not to compete with other women for male attention. I fail a lot, but I do try.

Point being. I took him home because he was realizing that his marriage was over, and he was in pain, and I wanted to ease that. Yes, I wanted him. Terribly. But that wasn't what was in my head the night he almost beat me at pool, and then scratched on the eight. I'm not offering sex, I said as we stood on Geary shuffling our feet with the traffic and the homeless people winding by, but if you want to come home with me, maybe I could offer some comfort.

I've offered a lot of comfort over the past few months. And he's reciprocated, despite his own pain. Remember that with the loss of my father, I have not been whole myself lately. I have needed something my friend was in a position to give. It wasn't just the obvious, though; he's cooked eggs for me, I helped him ship some boxes, we made sock puppets. I made him laugh, he made me feel like I knew what I was doing. He cheered me on when I needed it, and I tried to do the same for him.

And I have became attached to him, more than I expected. He turns out not to be as square as I'd thought; I think I turned out to be slightly less crazy than he thought. We've known each other long enough to be relaxed with each other. He keeps saying, We should stop before this gets heavy. And I respond, I understand if you need some time to yourself. But I feel better being with him than without, and remind myself that knowing something will end doesn't mean we can't enjoy it while we have it. Because everything ends, in parting or in death; I have had the rare good fortune of having a slightly better idea than most folks of how and when, exactly, I would lose my lover.

Thursday morning, the particular worm that is his life is about to stretch out in a very different direction. He's leaving the country for an undetermined length of time, possibly years. He is going to make a new life for himself in a cold place whose language I was raised to hate, words that feel like betrayal of my family and my history when I turn them in my mouth. And unless someone offers me a job and a work permit in Berlin, there's a very real possibility that I will never get to spend this kind of time with him again. As the lover and not the soon-to-be-ex-wife, I don't even get to see him off at the airport, and I can't begin to express how painful that is.

In the past when I've written here about friends leaving, this is who and what I've been talking about, this parting: the fact that no matter what I do or say or want, I have to watch him go. Even if I feel as though he's jumping out of a perfectly good airplane when it comes to the time we spend together, to the warm space we create between us, the laughter and the affection, the admiration I have for his strong mind and spirit.

This is what we do for our friends, if we love them. We let them go when they need to go, no matter how much it hurts. I learned this the hard way last year with my father; I have been learning it again since the moment my friend tentatively put his hand on my leg and asked if I was wearing my work pants, and I kissed him.

I can hold his past lightly in my hands, and the past few months that he has shared with me more firmly. But his future is very likely closed to me. Had he stayed married, maybe at least we could have continued as we were before, lunching and laughing with each other. But for a little while we got more than that, and now I will have less.

I knew this would happen. And I put myself forward anyway because I saw that there was something beautiful and good shining in the rubble, and greedy magpie that I am, I wanted it.

And I am not sorry.

Goodbye MonkeyScientist. Auf wiedersehen und viel Gluck, liebchen.

Monday, January 03, 2005

three by three rib

It's very strange typing with earplugs in; I'm used to being able to hear the keys a little better than I can feel them. And every time I scratch my nose, there's a weird sort of echo chamber thing going on.

Yes, the sonic warfare with the kids in Unit 1 has escalated. Not only do they have sex pretty much all the time, not only are they still walking around at night in their heavy shoes, not only can I make out every exquisite detail of his plentiful expectorations, but last night the people in the apartment above them, Unit 5, had a loud party. So the boy from Unit 1 apparently went up to talk to them, and when it didn't quiet down, started yelling shut the fuck up.


So I went upstairs to Unit 5 to ask them nicely to turn it down (I could also hear them), and then I went up again at the same time Unit 1 was there complaining, and I explained to both of them that I had had it. I believe I used the words efuckingnough already. No, I'm not pleased with how I handled it, but I was a little fragile. Unit 5 looked at me and apologized, Unit 1 looked at me like he was planning to slit my throat as I slept.

Not, of course, that I've been able to sleep, with all the noise.

So anyway, I came back downstairs, and twenty minutes later this terrific thumping started on my ceiling. No, it's not the bed, I know what that sounds like. Someone up there was banging something very deliberately against the floor, at irregular intervals, apparently until they passed out from exhaustion. This afternoon, it's just really loud talking.

Hence the plugs. The orange foam kind. At some point, I'm going to go up and try to talk nicely with those people, but I'm not in the mood for it yet.

The good news is that I've finished one of my knitting projects. This is a huge deal, as you all may remember from the sock monkey story; not only did I finish something I started, but it's a knit thing. The first knit thing I've seen through to the end. There's all kind of symbolism to this, but I just want to say that I was very pleased last night, putting it on and admiring it in the mirror. It's a scarf, knit in 3x3 rib, and I couldn't believe looked. I stood there, turning this way and that, and said, wow, it's really a scarf.

I'm having a hard time getting across how cool this is. Trust me, it is.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

he'll get to sleep on the bed now

If you need a happy story from the tsunami tragedy, here's one about a dog who saved his boy. I'm off to go cry now.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

drink more water, get more sleep, and floss occasionally

I'm actually sort of making resolutions this year. Or maybe it's more like the Pirate's Code; a set of guidelines, savvy? Anyway. A list of marks I'm going to not try to hit so much as try to sneak up on and take unawares.

NYE was fairly quiet, and involved my drinking about one glass of champagne too many, spilling me into maudlin-land. Fortunately nobody noticed. But New Year's Day was more like it; spent much of the day on MonkeyScientist's couch drinking beer and knitting to the sounds of Miles Davis and flamenco guitar. I like the butch/femme tension of that. Although I don't need to see any more Tostitos, or ranch dip, or even leftover Christmas candy.

All of which I have had in profusion today.

Last year at this time I had just learned that my father's cancer had metastasized. I spent New Year's Day 2004 wandering around the deep Mission, down Mission Street past Cesar Chavez and El Rio, making a mental list of what I needed to do before I left for Detroit to be with my folks. A hardware store was open and I went in and bought, without really thinking about it, a packet of fake snow and some Christmas lights (all on sale, post Yule) and looked without really seeing at some packets of crayons. The weather was bright and cold, I had just been evicted from my flat by the master tenant so she could move her boyfriend in, and I felt completely silent and weightless. Sort of like the Hindenburg.

It's hard to believe it's been a year. Sometimes it feels like ten. Sometimes it feels like a month.

I could do with 2005 not being like 2004. I really could. If this year is as much better than last year as today was in comparison to NYD04, I'll be in good shape.

In honor of both pirates and Thread, here are Ten Things to Do in Ocracoke. Not, I'm sure, that she's actually doing any of those things (crab beignets?), but she could if she wanted to, and you can too.