Thursday, March 31, 2005

it's a good thing i have a lot of hair

So when I start pulling it out in frustration, it will take a while before any serious deforestation becomes evident.

Too much to do, not enough time to do it; it looks like Swing did in fact give me his cold (last time I tango with a sick man); and the new deodorant I'm using is giving me a Fitness Fresh headache. Seriously, it's stronger than my cologne. I can feel it in my molars.

Speaking of deodorant creepiness, looking at men's products yesterday, I noticed that between Powder Fresh and Unscented, Arm and Hammer makes one called Victory. What is up with that? That frightens me. It's like fascist antiperspirant; it's what you want under your arms to keep from getting those unsightly stains on your uniform that might show when you salute your Fuhrer.

This is what I get for reading a poorly-written-yet-gripping novel about Hungarian collaborators selling uranium to Hitler, reading about AX and Thorn's responses to Downfall, and dozing gently through a lecture tonight on what happened when the wall came down in Berlin. That and having written a paper once, back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the college campuses, about gender differentiation in the marketing of scent products and what it implied about the roles of men and women. Totally simplistic, I see now, but not bad considering that it was a "group" project where the rest of my group (one guy) totally crapped out on me and I did all the research and writing myself.

Speaking of writing. That is what I'm supposed to be doing right now. I have a proposal to get done before I leave. Stay on task, Indri.

I may have to go scrub off this deodorant, though. It's making it hard to think straight.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

seeing red

In one of those odd coincidences, the editor over at Radio Free Mike just blogged about the El Segundo city council's decision not to name a library room after writer Jack London. The council attributes their decision to their belief that the outspoken London was a Communist, a charge vigorously contradicted by journalist Rodger Jacobs.

It's odd because just yesterday I heard on the radio that congressional Republicans--yes, the U.S. House--are now blocking a bill that would name Berkeley's main post office after Maudelle Shirek. One of my favorite politicians, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, introduced the bill as an homage to her mentor, and it looked like a slam dunk, as these ceremonial bills tend to be. Naming post offices happens all the time, and hurts nobody; essentially it boils down to a $300 plaque on the post office wall.

The word going around is that Shirek, who served eight terms on Berkeley's city council and then as vice mayor was the state's oldest elected official, is believed by some congresspersons to be "a socialist or a communist."

I don't know if that's true. But I do know that Maudelle Shirek is a grand 93-year-old lady people around here call "the mother of progressive politics"; she's been active in community and civil rights politics, she's fought for fair housing practices, she's started two senior housing centers. When they came to ask her to run for the council the first time, she was scrubbing a senior resident's floor. I can't come right now, I need to finish these floors, she insisted.

Putting aside for a moment what a dubious honor I believe having a California post office named after one to be, considering how dang long one must stand in line in such a place, I don't understand the problem here. If London and Shirek were/are in fact Communists, what the hell difference does it make? Is all the good Shirek has done in her community, all the inspiration she's been to other people (both Ron Dellums and Barbara Lee credit Shirek with moving them to run for office), somehow lessened by the fact she dined with Fidel Castro twenty years ago, or chained herself to the fence around the factory that made the tear gas used on Palestinians?

Give me a break. She's a neat lady. And London was a fantastic writer. Both bigger not only than their assumed politics, but the tiny, tiny people who resist honoring them.

Monday, March 28, 2005

something for everyone

Just cheerful tackiness.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


So I'm working on a nonfiction book proposal, at the request of an acquisitions editor who came to one of the readings for the anthology. We had our first meeting Monday morning, very informal, very "let's see if we're on the same page about this project", and there are no guarantees that this is going to turn into anything. She helps me put together the proposal--steers, essentially--and maybe her editorial board wants the book, and maybe they don't.

There's another book, by a professor, that I can see referencing because she touches on some of the same issues. So I wrote to her, asking if I could pick her brain now and again, and not only did she respond in the affirmative, but she asked if I'd be willing to look at a manuscript she's about to send to her publisher. I'm completely flattened. Yes, flattened, not flattered (although I am that too). The idea that Someone Published thinks I have something to contribute to their process always makes me swoony--it's happened recently with someone else, and I was so pleased to be able to help, even if I suggested that the author cut something they really didn't want to cut.

So I just wrote back to her that I would be thrilled to look at her manuscript, and talked a little about what I'm trying to do, and just the act of explaining made my head open up and all the little sardines are jumping around trying to get out. So I'm going to go sit on the bed and eat the cookies I purloined from the UG Volunteer Appreciation Party (have I mentioned lately that Thread is the bomb? Who needs a mate when she has a friend who remembers Exactly What Kind of cookies to buy?) and make lots and lots of notes.

Last night I pulled the Four of Worlds and Seven of Wands--Commencement and Courage--when I was thinking about this project. Powerful combination, telling me to just jump.

So I'm jumping.
right on maud!

She calls herself "a little woman with a little boat." But France's 27-year-old Maud Fontenoy has just become the first woman to row across the Pacific.

Yes, I said row.

Took her 72 days, a month less than expected. Which must have been a relief; two years ago when she became the first woman to row the Atlantic from west to east (seven have done it going the other way) it took six weeks longer than expected.

Do you remember what you were doing when you were 25? I barely do. But it certainly didn't involve hanging out with whales, or the French Navy sending out ships to protect me as I slipped through busy shipping lanes.

And at 27, I wasn't being carried ashore in Polynesia by guys in leaf skirts.

Better believe that if I owned a company that made muscle ache cream, I'd be sponsoring this woman!
do you like getting your blah blahed?

Just finished watching Bob Fosse's Lenny from 1974. Wow. I knew a little about Lenny Bruce from AX, but not much; mostly I had a vague sense of a trash-talking Jewish guy with a drug problem who ended badly.

Besides the fact that this has to be the first Fosse film I've seen without any dancing (unless you count the introduction of "Hot Honey Harlow" at the beginning, and I'm not sure I do--no disrespect to the wonderful Valerie Perrine, who was in fact a stripper before she was an actress, but when I think Fosse and dancing, I think clump, which was a big thing of his and completely beside the point and mostly a self-aggrandizing digression to show off that I know something about dancing), I was really impressed with this film. Dustin Hoffman was hot in 1974, can I get a witness? Clean-shaven in tight jeans and boots? Girlfriend.

But more than that, everyone's so dimensional. What went wrong between Lenny and Honey wasn't her fault and it wasn't his; they were both flawed and hurting and struggling. There's nothing easy or pat in the portrayal of either character. The beginning of the affair is real and sexy and sweet--there's a moment where he's gone to Miami to see her and left a note for her in her hotel room, and when she realizes that he's there, she says, he's here with a simple, girlish excitement that totally sells the moment. Ditto his monologues--the ones before he found his style (painful to watch), the ones from the period when he was really smoking hot, and finally the ones where he just got up and read the transcripts of his trials, railing against the system and boring his audience.

The title of this post is taken from a monologue he delivers after having been busted for using the word "cocksucking" in a performance. He explains to the audience that he got arrested for a word he's not going to use, a word eleven letters long with a C at the beginning and a G at the end--and then he does this whole great bit where he has members of the audience raising their hands if they've ever had their blah blahed, and whether they liked it. I'm not doing it justice. It's brilliant. Get it and see for yourself.

Now I need to get Switchblade Sisters, one of the two films featuring his daughter Kitty. Which was, coincidentally, re-released in '96 by Quentin Tarantino, who is 42 today.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

berliner rundfunk has competition now

I was thrilled to discover that I could get streaming Ukrainian radio, straight outta Lviv (sort of the capital of Western or "left bank" Ukraine, and thus more likely to broadcast in Ukrainian and not Russian). A chance to listen to spoken Ukrainian without having to go to church! I told myself. Since I'd been bracing myself to attend Catholic Mass at the one place the hottie at the consulate told me I could expect to find big groups of Ukrainians around here.

Note to self: bad pop music knows no boundaries.

Or maybe I'm just doomed to have Cher's Do You Believe in the Power of Love? trail me around to the end of my days. I mean, everywhere I went in Madagascar in '99, that song was on. I am doomed. Doomed, I tell you.
why am i doing this to myself? and everyone else?

One man on the whole damn big ball of rock that I really want, two I'm dating here who are getting less than my undivided attention and I feel bad about that, everyone telling me not to be so jealous and unevolved when I can read about how lovely he is in bed from someone who's had access to him lately when I haven't had that particular pleasure in three months, a pack of concerned mothers and exasperated friends, and maybe-just-maybe I should eat something besides ice cream today and see if that helps my mood at all.

And a partridge in a pear tree. Some days are easier than others. This was not one of them. Three and a half weeks and I'm in Berlin and of course I'm ecstatic about that, but I'm starting to make honest contact with some emotions I've been holding down with a boot to their skinny straining necks, and that is a less-than-ecstatic experience. A friend and I swap the occasional email about jealousy and what it means, and I clearly need to sit quietly with my feelings and tease out what's really going on underneath, but some of it...some of it does not boil down to "fear of abandonment" or "fear of scarcity" or any of the things the Great Thinkers On Polyamory airily dimiss in their books about how to maintain multiple loving partnerships as signs that the monamorous deserve to go the way of the woolly mammoth.

Sometimes I just want something I can't have, and like a slow child I don't understand why I had to let go of a good thing that was going well. Join the crowd, Indri, I hear some of you say. That's just how it is. But I would at least feel better if it seemed like anyone besides my mother and Snufkina and Thread got it and I didn't find myself writing so damn many sniveling, whining emails and blog posts where I beat myself up for feeling something.
admire the buffledog!

Blogger comments is damn slow today, and anyway I'd just be the 23rd to go awwwww. So I'm linking to DampDog's photos of the Buffledog as a Puppy here so that other dog people can have a gooey moment. I've been reading Orcinus on fascism all morning and trying not to pull off my damaged nail and it's worn me out. Two handfuls of puppy is about right.

Friday, March 25, 2005

and five nose running brats in love with batman

I know that I've referenced Gregory Corso here before, but the search button isn't returning any hits, and I'm too lazy--ah, busy--to go looking for it by hand, as it were. Anyway, the title of this post is from my favorite poem of his--perhaps one of my favorite poems of all time--Marriage. Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries, etcetera etcetera.

So this morning I was modeling for a painter I've been working for once a week or so since the beginning of the year, and it turns out he knew Corso. Turp palled around with some of the Beats at Cafe Trieste back in the day, largely to irritate his teachers at the San Francisco Art Institute, who warned their students to stay away from those nasty poets. Turp still hangs around with Lawrence Ferlinghetti (for whom I have also modeled, although it's more accurate to say I've been naked in his studio while he drew other things and people in it), although things are apparently strained between them because of a painting Turp made twenty years ago. I didn't follow the whole story--I was up late last night listening to Mark Growden at the Dark Room in the Mission, and fighting desperately to stay awake this morning so I wouldn't fall off the stand and crack my head open--but it sounded like Allen Ginsberg was in there too somehow, as an instigator maybe. I'm a painter, Turp said rather plaintively at one point in this recital, what business do I have with words anyway? Then we talked for a while about how to create believable characters, which was a very strange question for a client to ask me, but he seemed to appreciate my answers, and the discussion made it easier for me to stay awake.

So what was Corso like? I asked at one point, both genuinely curious and trying to steer the conversation away from having to admit that I can't write plots worth shit.

In your face all the time, Turp responded immediately, dropping a wadded-up paint-soaked paper towel into the mound under his easel and reaching for the white paint.


The first time he saw me in Cafe Trieste, I was wearing nice clothes, because I was going to an Italian class. I was sitting there with my Italian books, and he came in and started yelling at me about middle class people with money...when he was done, he asked me if I knew the difference between snowmen and snowwomen.

And? I shifted a little to ease the pressure on my back. I could see cars streaming along the freeway on-ramp.

Snowballs! He was always saying things like that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

a mathematical yarn

Via Grammar Police via Preposterous Universe, an interview in Cabinet with geometers David Henderson and Daina Taimina, who have turned to crochet to describe hyperbolic surfaces. This is deeply wonderful for more reasons than I can count.
there's so much i want to tell you

What it was like Saturday night, the moment before I went on stage, or the taste of risotto made especially for me last night by a friend who was concerned that I'm not eating enough vegetables, or going undercover Monday with Princess, dear friend and food writer, to check out an underground dining experience where we sat on sofa cushions on the floor of someone's house and the "waiter" had a cigarette hanging precariously over the cheese plate...even what it was like this morning, bleary and cold, modeling for gracious new people and loving the fact that they all drew my thighs like tree trunks...

But. The most exciting news, that I have had two amazing potential writing projects drop into my lap in as many days, also means that I probably won't be blogging as extensively as I would like for the next few months. I haven't got a contract in hand for either piece yet, and I need to buckle down and put my energy towards generating copy. Good copy. So that some nice people I've never met will believe I'm the one for the job. I believe I'm the one for the job, and that's a good start, but there's all that actual work involved.

More deets when I have agreements. In the meantime, shorter posts. Doesn't mean I don't love ya.

Monday, March 21, 2005

undulation, friday night

What it looked like.

I'm the one with the big ink on her left shoulder.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

a bad haiku about a great weekend

two years of training
and waiting to get the nod
I've Undulated

Thursday, March 17, 2005

am i nervous yet?

As I explained to Snufkina as I stuck my head in the grocery freezer case, yes and no. I'm not nervous about the actual dancing part of tomorrow night or Saturday. I am nervous about the events themselves, whether they come off as planned (if planned is quite the word; I'm not sure. "Aggregated" might be better), whether we'll make back our investment. A two-night stand is a big commitment. We need lots of people to come through the door, and I have so much more ownership of the event this year than I did last year that if they don't, I'll be disappointed.

Earring sent out a list of things we needed to know about tomorrow, like, don't forget your ID and remember that once you're in, you're not leaving until the end of the night. I don't remember this, but last year a member of the troupe forgot her ID, and had to run home to get it.

Home to Oakland, that is. So Earring's taking no chances on absent dancers this year.

She also sent a handy printable checklist of things to remember to bring--costume pieces, makeup, and "Acoutramonts"--took me a moment to figure out what those last might be.

But the part that I liked best, besides the chance to mock her spelling (I never said I was a nice person) was her suggestion that we bring something to ground ourselves, like a teddy bear if we had one. And I thought that was so sweet! Sweet of her (and completely counter to her tough-girl persona), and a sweet image; a dozen bare-bellied babes in sexy-gritty costumes, makeup, and tattoos. Each clutching a bedraggled stuffed animal of indeterminate color, maybe with an eye or an ear or a nose loved off, stuffing poking out of a worn spot. I mean, come ON, we're Ultra Gypsy! We're tough and urban and dark! Grrrrrrr!

No, I'm not bringing my bear. He's too large. And shy.

But I am debating a little collection of items that either remind me of, or were given to me by, people I care about. Some Entenman's chocolate chip cookies. A black-and-red carved Chinese bracelet. A handkerchief. A teensy tarot card. My costume pants, which I conveniently need to bring anyway. A can of papaya juice and a battered copy of Portnoy's Complaint to read during the slow moments.

I am all set.
i thought i was going overboard

When I got dressed tonight to go flyering. But the event listing said that people in costume would pay five bucks less, so I thought, well, why not. Also, when you go out as a Gypsy in an official capacity (i.e. distributing flyers) you're supposed to dress up.

So I put on essentially the same outfit I wore the night we danced at the Odeon, except that I threw on a short black crinoline over the red sequinned hotpants. Because I am demure and all. Also no doorway-brushing false eyelashes. But everything else--large-gauge fishnets, black-and-red striped stockings over the fishnets, platform boots over the stockings, etcetera, all the way up to the feather hair doodads, I put on.

It's a big look. It's a stand-up-straight look, especially since the combination of boots and feathers just highlights that I'm the tallest member of the troupe. Can't slouch in it, can't pick my nose, can't not be on.

Also can't walk through my neighborhood, so Lujah and Sage picked me up and we drove a ridiculously short distance.

Which is why it wasn't until we all got out of the car that I realized I was fine.
They were both wearing chunky high-heeled boots and short skirts.

They were both wearing garter belts and fishnets; Lujah's were exactly the same kind as mine.

Sage was wearing striped stockings over her fishnets.

They were both wearing bustiers.

Lujah was wearing a kitty-ears hat.

I am trying to remember a time in my life when I was dressed essentially the same way as other women outside of a uniform/costume context, and failing. I was always the one who was just a little bit off. My pants were flooding or the wrong brand, I was wearing the wrong color, I looked like "an upper-class bag lady" (no, I never went out with him again, thanks for asking), the stuff I still liked was hopelessly eighties, whatever.

I believe I have found my people.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

hee hee hee hee

I am, of course, the "nice lady" referenced in this piece. Which I think is hysterical. But this woman is my new favorite funny writer (she's much funnier than I am), and I love that I am now a member of a "banshee band".
this is gross

But I think I'm going to lose the nail I closed in the door back in December. Right after it happened, one of my co-workers told me I should drill a hole in the nail to release the pressure, but the thought bothered me too much. Knowing me, I'd drill through the whole damn finger. So I did nothing.

It takes 4-9 months for the nail at the cuticle to grow all the way out. Does that seem like a really long time to anyone else? Anyway, about 75% of the nail is black now, with a pure white lumpy horizontal streak about 4 mm from the cuticle. And there's a definite broken-looking ridgey sort of thing that has just emerged from the cuticle.

Oddly fascinating. And yucky at the same time. I see a lot of that finger--it handles D, E, S, and X, so obviously it's a hard worker. That's also my serving hand, and I've had to sort of adjust how I put down plates so I don't squick the wealthy people upon whom I wait.

Maybe I'll need a prosthetic nail! Wouldn't it be cool if I got something all chrome and rivets and hydraulics?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

ripping off sei shonagon

Things That Are Lovely in San Francisco in Mid-March
1. bending for a penny, and finding that it is actually a shiny Swedish 50-ore coin

2. women with fresh flowers in their hair

3. a babushka with a truly monolithic bosom wrapped in a mustard cardigan at the Ukrainian consulate

4. hot Chantico "drinking chocolate" from an otherwise-evil coffee conglomerate one shall not name

5. Washing eight different forms of glue out of one's hair and letting it rest for just one day between dress rehearsals

6. Learning that the guy who owns the closest convenience store to one's apartment is a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian, and who agrees that visiting Detroit is like going home to the Middle East

7. finding a newly-opened restaurant that makes chicken fesenjoon, even if one is moving too fast to stop and try it

8. testing every single glitter-containing product at Sephora, so that one walks out shining and reeking of flowers (although it's a good thing one did not see these as one is trying to save money to go to Berlin and besides one does not want to spend her days licking her own arms)

9. finding the letters and diaries of Mikhail Bulgakov collected into one intriguing book at the library

10. disco-napping before joining one's troupemates at Nikkie's to dance and pass out Undulation flyers
this may break your heart, but maybe we can stop it

Almeida sent me a link about aerial gunning of Alaska's wolves that I'd appreciate everyone taking a look don't need to watch the video if you don't want to, but please consider signing the petition and making a donation if you can. This is awful.

Monday, March 14, 2005

antmusic for sexpeople!

I'm always hesitant to join in when people start bashing boy bands and their obsessive followers; I think young male performers serve a very important role in the psychosexual development of teenaged women.

I mention this because I was just at Thread's, using the largest pair of scissors I have ever seen in my life that weren't ornamental to cut costume pieces for Undulation, and we were nattering on about this thing and that, and she admitted that AX had had some fun at her expense. Occasionally there's something she doesn't know that he or I do because we're so much more ancient than she; music that we grew up with, things that happened in politics or pop culture when we were old enough to notice and she was embryonic, and so on.

They'd been listening to Cake doing Rock and Roll Lifestyle, which she thought was a Cake song, and he told her that it was actually Adam Ant's. And she didn't know who Adam Ant was.

Didn't know who Adam Ant was. My god. What are they teaching youngsters in school these days? What kind of crap are they passing off as Punk History 101? Tell me it isn't all Sex Pistols and Black Flag, tell me that someone, somewhere, remembers that Adam and his Ants were influential on not only the development of punk music, but New Wave and beyond (one reviewer hears Ant influence in Franz Ferdinand's music). Go back and listen to Dirk Wears White Socks and you'll hear it: pure raggedy punk goodness in tracks like "Physical (You're So)" and "Never Trust a Man With Egg on His Face".

But I wasn't there for the Dirk days. I came in around Friend or Foe, after Malcolm McLaren had poached Adam's band to form Bow Wow Wow and Adam had rebounded by joining forces with Marco Pirroni and two drummers pounding out infectious Burundi-influenced beats. They were at the forefront of the "New Romantics" craze, dressing up as an amalgamation of pirates and American Indians and producing silly-but-driving songs like "Goody Two Shoes". They dropped the BDSM imagery in favor of ruffles and eyeliner (another reason I think Thread should know their ouevre); Adam sang the panty-melting "Friend or Foe" in a video on Friday Night Videos one fateful night that I had the VCR running, and that was it for me. I was a latchkey kid, which meant I had an hour or so a day to jump around in front of the television in my parent's room to that video.

And then it was the white stripe across my nose for special occasions (and on my student ID). And the little ribbons in my hair. And every single T-shirt, B-side, magazine photo, poster, "Property of Adam" stickers (those from Mom), and, well...

I know I said I wasn't going to talk about masturbation, but it's kind of hard to talk about Adam Ant without mentioning I present the object of many a silently feverish evening back in the mid-80's? Back when I thought that thinking hard enough about a man might make him sense your presence somehow, and long for you without knowing it was you for whom he longed?

One year for my birthday, my folks sent me to spend a weekend in New York with our friend Marjorie, who took me to see Adam play at Radio City Music Hall. By the time he came on stage I was completely hyperventilating. I couldn't look at him at first. I had to look at the shadow he was casting against the back wall. That's Adam's shadow, I told myself. In a moment, I will be able to follow it up to him.

And when I did, oh lord, he wasn't wearing a shirt.

Of course, that kind of passion couldn't last. He started dating Vanity of Vanity 6 and I realized that he probably wasn't going to wait for me to grow up so I could be his nasty girl. And his music started to suffer--don't even start with me about Strip; I know it sucked, and sucked hard. I started fixating on Peter Gabriel, who sang about things that meant something, even if I didn't know what that something was.

I moved on. I graduated and went on to college, Adam made some forgettable albums and a bunch of movies. I forgot the names of every musician who'd ever been an Ant, had actual sex with real boys, stopped dreaming about the dandy highwayman who was going to make me stand and deliver.

And then Thread made an innocent comment, and it all came back. So I went and looked him up and discovered, to my complete shock, that he turned fifty last year.

This is embarrassing. How did I miss my first lover's fiftieth birthday? I'm reasonably certain that Adam hasn't noticed that I didn't so much as send a Blue Mountain eCard, but surely he must have felt some lack...I almost can't see him in this picture:

If you're out there, Adam, happy birthday. Sorry I missed it in November. Perhaps tonight, for old time's sake, I will send you the old tribute.

and even though you fool your souls
your conscience will be mine
all mine

We're the dandy highwaymen so tired of excuses
of deep meaning philosophies where only showbiz loses
we're the dandy highwaymen and here's our invitation
throw your safety overboard and join our insect nation

Incidentally, AX was wrong. Rock and Roll Lifestyle is in fact original to Cake.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

i have stumbled weakly home

1. The return flight was a lot easier than the flight out, even if I only had twelve minutes in Chicago to pee, buy overpriced cheese popcorn, and drag my bumpity-bumpity rolly with its cargo of laptop and freshly purchased get-your-shit-together books and maps of Budapest from one terminal to another. Bastards. And they were showing The Incredibles on the second leg of the trip; how cool is that?

2. In the Disney film Atlantis, if you watch carefully near the beginning when Milo is talking to his mysterious benefactor in the latter's palatial mansion, you will note that there are two coelecanths in the aquarium behind the two men.

What's weird about this--well, where do I start?--is that coelecanths can't survive at sea level. They're deep-water. So either that's one special darn tank, or someone at the dream factory was having a little fun. They're also swimming pretty actively back and forth past each other, which is inconsistent with the behavior submariners have noted. Namely that coelecanths don't do much of anything except hang pretty still in their little caves.

But it's pretty neat nonetheless.

3. The whole Boston trip, while it had some up moments (a riotous dinner with family and friends that led someone at another table to come over and ask how we knew each other) and probably did me some good professionally (the reading was recorded for posterity and will be available as streaming video on WGBH's site; I'll post when that goes up), feels like it may have been more frustrating than it was worth. I got off to a bad start before I even got there, and once I was there it was just one damn thing after another. Awkwardness, technical difficulties, a ghost tour that failed to materialize (sorry, couldn't stop myself) even after I'd bought the tickets online, blah blah blah. I'm glad I got to see the people I went to see, and meet some interesting new ones, but I've come out of the experience feeling no more rested than I did going in, and that had been the point.

I think from here on out I stick to spring-summer-fall in Boston. Because it was bitterly cold, which helped nothing. Fourteen years away from my Midwestern roots have left me mewling and soft on the matter of warmth.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

terra firma

Thank god, thank god, thank god.

And ZipCar. And the fine man at HiFi Pizza. And Placebo. And of course Alceste, who is still perky and coherent after his own harrowing experience and has kindly not commented on what a husk I am, after one of the the more astonishing air travel clusterfucks I have survived--and I've been through a few. At least I was having a Perfect Hair Day.

Now I am going to pass out. As Thomas Dolby said in "The Keys to Her Ferrari", little rivers of anticipation are running down my inseam. No, wait, that's something else.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

thank you for flying air surrealia

After spending a night awake (old collge habit; I never sleep before I fly. I'll tell the story of why some other time) and emotional, mostly writing the sort of ill-tempered emails one regrets almost immediately and cramming starches into my maw, I just took a nice shower and put goop in my hair and started preparing for the odyssey to the airport. In November 2001 I flew out of San Jose to Japan in a black GAP turtleneck Slice had liberated from a catering job, the pajama bottoms with the dogs dancing around fire hydrants, and boots. Completely loopy. Surrounded by venture capital types in their suits, staring at my fire hydrants. Things take on that star filter quality, do you know what I mean? Like you're looking at everything through your eyelashes, and it's brighter somehow? Everything gets looser and sillier and then you're on the plane and you just pass out before takeoff, which is how I prefer to fly.

I had a similar plan for today--an even more effective one, as I only got four and a half hours of sleep the night before last, and am truly weird right now--but I just got a phone call from the airline--it is very weird, having the phone ring at five in the morning--telling me that my flight has been cancelled due to high winds, but they can put me on an afternoon flight.

So I said yes. What else? This whole adventure has been getting ever more complicated; at one point on Monday my mother suggested I just bail on the whole enterprise, stay home, get things done, stop being such a stress monkey. But I have made such a tremendous fuss now about everything, I've irritated a great many people, and I really want to see Alceste and his big shiny puffball cats.

Even if it means I may have to take a little nap now before I lose my language capacity altogether.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


My father and I tried to take conversational Hebrew together once, when I was a kid. A group of people from our shul (congregation) met once a week in the Gurewitzs' living room, and we worked from the State Department's incredibly thick and dull materials. We didn't get very far, either of us. I'm actually better at learning languages now than I was then--more motivated, with a better ear--and I think that language acquisition may have been one of the few things my father couldn't do easily. That and think up puns, my mother's specialty.

One night after I'd finished my regular school homework, he wanted us to sit down and study together. And I was so tired of studying, and feeling really old and as if I was missing out on my childhood. We were in the dining room of the Seyburn Street house, so I couldn't have been more than eleven or twelve.

So I guilted him. It's entirely possible I whined. I told him that I felt like all I did was work and study and be adult, and that I wanted to play a little. He looked surprised by that, but agreed that we could put aside the Hebrew for a night.

So we played a board game about saving endangered animals (other than a fairly standard Monopoly set, all of our board games had an educational or political slant, such as the colorful Screw The IRS!) It was the first time the box had come out, and I don't honestly remember if it ever did again after that.

I don't remember who won. It's not important. What I remember is that I felt guilty for manipulating him, yet incredibly grateful that he acceded. And look at this: I remember that game, and only one word of Hebrew.

He would come into the living room at night when I was dancing around to Adam Ant, and tell me how beautifully I moved. Yet he isn't going to see me on stage in front of five hundred people, dancing with my troupe. He loved my writing, but I never read him the essay because I wanted to wait until it was in print, to show it to him. But he couldn't wait that long. Thursday I read it for possibly the last time in public, and hope that some part of him, his nefesh, is still around to hear it, and to appreciate that it opens with a story about him.

We get so few people in our lives who love us without hesitation, consultation, negotiation. Besides some very sweet new arrivals in the past few years, I had two big ones from way back, and now I'm down to one just as things are starting to happen. Just as all the things he believed about me that I didn't are starting to seem real.

I miss my dad so much I can't touch it all.

Bevakasha. Please.
oh for fuck's sake

I thought I was all set on having someone sublet my place while I was gone, a woman who'd seen it listed on Craig's List London. And then I just now came home to an email from her, IN ALL CAPS, flipping out because she hadn't understood that the price I was quoting was in pounds (I was very, very careful about that), not dollars, and she's so sorry but she sure can't afford that, and she wishes me good luck in finding someone else.

I leave in a month and a half. I have not got time to go through the rigmarole, calling references, etcetera in that time. So I wrote her back with a reduced rate, even though I was livid.

My mother has a challenge with a good friend of hers who doesn't read things carefully. I'm starting to know how she feels. And this I so don't need on top of yesterday's surprises. Fuck.

Would anyone else like to climb on my back today? Apparently there's still room.

edit: It gets better! I just opened a phone bill to discover that SBC is charging a lot more per minute for international calls than I was told they did.

I'm afraid to open any more email. I'm afraid of what else might pop out. Bleah!

Monday, March 07, 2005

the fact that i keep poaching from my own email for the blog

Really isn't a sign of laziness, or even an indication that there's nothing happening between my ears. I am just too damn busy, and every hour there's something else. As I wrote to Thread after rehearsal tonight (keep in mind that she was there too, diligently sewing costumes in poor light, her body hunched into a position that would doubtless make her mother--or anyone's--completely nuts):

My head doesn't hurt, exactly, but it feels pretty damn full. Like I might slosh if I move too fast. Earring handed me another task on my way out tonight, and I'm trying not to think about how much I need to get done...if I think about it, I'll just shut down.

None of which is helped by the fact that I fly to Boston Wednesday morning to do a reading. I'd been looking forward to having a few days away from SF and seeing some people, but I learned today that unavoidable work commitments (my brother's having dinner with some ambassador or other, and I'm still feeling petulant) have made it impossible for two of those people to make the reading proper, and I'm really starting to wonder why I decided to invest this time and money in the first place. My mother will be there, and my brother's wife, which is great, but the rest of the crowd will be complete strangers, and I'm not thrilled about that. It's also eating me that I got the news about both of my no-shows on the same day, when I was already feeling stretched a little thin for a whole host of reasons, and when this has been in the works for three months.

I just have to remember that as stressed out as I'm feeling right now, this is all about leading an interesting life. And I'm going to feel great when I see how some of these things come together--talking to people after the reading, being onstage with the troupe next weekend (eeek!), and running the black ancestral soil through my fingers in May.

First the laundry, then the ecstasy. See, now I'm ripping off my own posts too.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

in most civilized parts of the world

Vacuuming at midnight gets you a day in the stocks. Doesn't it?

This is new from them. I'm not sure whether to be angry at the noise and the complete lack of consideration, or sad that their new electric toy isn't part of their vigorous and extensive sex life. Which hasn't been as extensive lately, come to think of it; they're down from every twelve hours. No, I am not exaggerating. Twice a day for a while.

As the Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfeld says, After the ecstasy, the laundry.

Or apparently the vacuuming.
scoring bust points

Him: What are you doing right now?

Me: I'm at my friend's house, with my troupe. We're having a bra-covering party, so we're all sitting around in black bras and jeans and comparing the size of our breasts.

Him: So pretty much a usual day for you.

Me: Yep, I guess so.
appropos of nothing

Crunching my Cheerios, I find myself wondering this morning whether having Roderigo die at the point that he does in Othello is the most dramatically effective choice. Or if indeed having him die at all is completely necessary to the story. And as I'm thinking this, some tiny leather-wing'd harpy in the back of my head is hissing, how dare you second-guess the Immortal Bard? I feel like I'm committing a serious transgression just by thinking that maybe, maybe, old Willy could have handled that whole subplot differently.

Here's what I'm thinking. It's dramatically effective to have Roderigo die because he does it, essentially, at Iago's hand. And that betrayal is powerful. Because Iago has spent the whole play seducing Roderigo (look to your purse!) with promises of the lovely Desdemona. Do this Roderigo, do that; sell all your property, go to Cyprus, attack Cassio in the bar. Hey, why don't you just kill Cassio? That will get you the girl. And then after Roderigo's been wounded by his would-be victim, Iago comes along and finishes him off. That's good stuff. And of course, Shakepeare was all about body count in the tragedies--it has always surprised me, actually, that Cassio survives Roderigo's second attack. I would have expected Shakespeare to have killed Cassio as well, bringing the casualty report up to five.

But. Body count's not nearly as impressive these days as it was even twenty years ago. And I like the idea of Roderigo being allowed to live, so he can be faced with the full horror of the carnage to which he has contributed--his crush object and her friend dead, her husband a suicide, Iago revealed in all his lies and cruelty.

I'm not suggesting that the work be drastically changed to accommodate modern tastes--at least not in this way. Some changes are very useful and interesting, such as Impact Theatre's current adaptation (warning: serious female hotness ahead) where Othello is a lesbian. And I didn't see the movie O with Mekhi Phifer and Josh Hartnett, which is set in a modern-day high school and presents a star basketball player as "that sooty thing", but it got good reviews. But in both cases, the story's outline hasn't been changed. I'm not even saying that were I to stage a version, I'd let Roderigo live. It's entirely possible that I just haven't seen Roderigo done really well; the last two productions of Othello I've caught have both sported rather weak Roderigos. Which is odd in itself, as both actors have been much better in other shows--maybe that's just a hard role to get right? Maybe because Roderigo is so much Iago's creature that he never gets to be interesting in his own right?

I guess what I'm questioning is the original planning. I've been very sensitive to other people's writing lately, their choices of words, phrases, situations. It's both fun and a little annoying. I am starting to look at writing the way I used to watch animation or visual effects--I'm not abandoning myself to the experience so much anymore. Why does this phrase stir me, or this one leave me feeling dry and chalky? And now that I've started going there, it's like...looking at the scaffolding holding a thing up. I still appreciate Othello, but I'm looking at it from underneath, or the side, and I'm seeing the joins.

I don't really have a theory worked out here. It's just an odd thing to have this be my first really coherent thought this morning, especially the part about worrying that the Shakespeare Police are going to come and take me away. Last night's play had a bit of a body count thing going on, and much anguish over whether love or justice was more important, but I'm not sure that's why I'm thinking about Othello this morning. Which makes me wonder if I was dreaming about the play, and didn't remember that I was doing so when I woke up, two hours earlier than planned, to relieve the pressure on my walnut-sized bladder.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

turn left after the giant headless rocking horse

Today I went over to the Barn, which is a workspace in Hunter's Point and home of the Giant Mousetrap, to help build the set for Undulation. Earring had emailed the troupe that we would be starting at noon, so I was there at noon.

Alone. No Earring, no other troupemates, and no sign that we had a work party/barbecue going on.

One of the other people who uses the space (Earring's boyfriend is doing our set, and he lives there) took pity on me and let me hang out while she got together some paintings for a show, introducing me to her little white three-legged dog (two in back, one in front, congenital not accidental) named, not surprisingly, Tripod.

I was telling AX all this as we took BART to see yet another play about the Russian Revolution, and when I got to this part he said you're making this all up, aren't you? and I had to protest that no, in fact I was not. I didn't even get to the part about what happens when Tripod, who weighs all of four pounds (not that having a fourth leg would make him much heavier, I wager), gets into it with Delco, Earring and Cowboy's much-larger puppy. Which I saw when Earring and Cowboy finally showed up, bearing raw chicken and Miller Genuine Draft. Tripod can run right underneath Delco without their pelts touching. But he doesn't; he prefer to jump up at Delco, yapping and snapping away at top speed and putting on a great show of small-dog machismo. He's going to snap his back one of these days, doing that, grumbled Samba, scooping him up from under Delco's broad, inquisitive paw. Tripod, stop it!

So I sat on a swing hanging from the rafters playing with Tripod while Samba and I talked about whether or not all Brazilian women get boob jobs when they turn 16. And then Earring and Cowboy showed up, and we sat in Cowboy's room talking about what needed to be done. First, he said, we need to smoke some dope. I declined, figuring it for a bad match with power tool usage. Cowboy used a half-dry blue kid's marker and sketched out a plan of attack on the back of a piece of junk mail.

We spent the next few hours not working especially hard. Earring and I painted some little areas, drank beer, and razzed Cowboy and his friend, who got a pie (lemon meringue) in the face last night in a bar. Apparently in celebration of his birthday, although that wasn't entirely clear. The most exciting moment had to be when Earring and I went over to Scrap to see if we could find anything to make some embellishments for the set, and as we were driving back in Cowboy's 1964 Dart, it ran out of gas and we had to push it out of an intersection.

It was fun because Earring intimidates the shit out of me, and I'd never really hung out with her before. It was nice to spend relaxed time with her in a different context than a class or a rehearsal, even if that context was sitting in a land yacht in a questionable part of town waiting for Cowboy to show up with a can of gas, listening to Earring curse his habit of only putting a dollar of gas in the car at a time. The sun was brilliant, and there was no traffic on the street we were on, so we stretched out on the bench seat (can I just mention how much I miss bench seats in cars?) and talked about how great it was to do something you liked with your time. Once we were juiced up, we returned to the Barn to find that Snufkina had made it over with her two shar-peis, who were busy wiping their snot all over Delco, so she painted some little spots too and then we left.

I still have some black paint under my nails. And I'm loathe to scrub it out. Today was the kind of day I quit my safe job to have, and I like having the reminder in dark filigree at the tips of my fingers.

Friday, March 04, 2005

forty-eight days

Thank god for Snufkina, who swears she isn't counting in her head every time I mention him. She certainly manages to keep the eye-rolling to a minimum. A glance around stirs up all my usual fears, but I will get over myself and it will pass. Overtired. Troupe stuff is kicking my ass; somehow I took on another project for the fundraiser that involves handling money, which is not my strong suit, but whatever: someone had to step up and do it. Modelling a double tomorrow--later today--now's not a good time for it, but I'd scheduled these jobs, both with people I like, before I realized that I would be behind this week.

Trying to sort books into orderly piles. Trying to make my place look not quite so chaotic, in case I have company later. A caller who might not see the artistic potential in clutter.

A friend blogged a fantasy recently, one that impressed me with how far-reaching and world-changing it could be if it came true. Beautiful, killer phrases: communist afro-puff babies pouting around our ankles. Compared to which my new fantasy this week seems neither as poetic nor as well-written, but here it is: a sandwich.

A kiss on the head, a word of encouragement, a look at text on the screen. Talk of editors, of agents, of how to solve a particular linguistic snarl. And then I put the sandwich and its mismatched plate down, maybe on a stack of papers, and retreat to my own screen, my own text, my own precarious stacks of books, notebooks, sketchbooks, illegible scrawls on placemats that have been folded up in my messenger bag for a day or two too long. My own sandwich (this one without onions) on its own mismatched plate.

Yes, I think about sex. Pretty much all the time I'm not thinking about where I need to be next, or whether I need to burn a tux shirt in the guise of ironing, or whether I'll make it to the library before it closes. But some of my fantasies--reading together, watching him take out his contacts, shopping for groceries--seem so much more dangerous because they are so prosaic, and have so much more to do with the fabric of a life than a couple of hours in bed.

A big love expressed through small gestures. That is what I want to make. So mundane. I don't miss the fantasy of a big love made of big gestures, of artsy desperation, angst-ridden walks along damp grey-sky beaches where we try to Know Each Other as though the earth will split if we don't Figure It All Out. I mean, I like those things, but I no longer trust them as indicators of solidity or a true and lasting connection. I've had all that.

Just, you know. Some meat, some mustard, two slices of bread. Lettuce if there's any in the fridge that isn't antediluvian.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

another thing we're not eating in ukraine

I read today that we should be avoiding mushrooms, because for some reason, mushrooms absorb a lot more radiation than other plant foods. Chernobyl still looms. What an odd thing to have to keep in mind. Mad Mushroom Disease.

This hurts more than the chocolate-covered salo. A lot more.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

me and carl, we're like this

I waited on Carl Djerassi again tonight. And while this post won't be nearly as carefully built as the one I wrote after the first time--mainly because I'm drained and need to get to bed--I had to update you.

The original excitement of the evening was that I was going to be waiting on Wayne Thiebaud, who you probably know for his pictures of sweets. Or possibly his fanciful cityscapes. He was, after all, the guest of honor. And we were at SF MoMA, surrounded by the Sol Lewitt wall paintings and two-hundred some of the biggest donors to the museum, all of whom were gearing up for ahi tuna and mango tartare and grilled lamb and peppers stuffed with goat cheese. Thiebaud's table was identified as my Number One Priority, and I duly noted that SF Chronicle publisher Phil Bronstein was also going to be sitting there. Don't spill coffee on him, fer chrissakes, I thought to myself. If you ever want to work for his paper. None of the other names at the table, even though they were attached to big fancy multiglomerations, impressed me.

And then I was circling table 21, pouring water before the guests came in and looking at the namecards, and my heart started beating a little faster. It's him again! And indeed Dr. Djerassi and his companion were the first two people to take their seats, so I could pay a lot of attention to them until things picked up.

Do you always remember the names of the people you wait on? he asked when I asked him by name if he wanted more wine. So I explained that no, I didn't, but that I'd waited on him at Stanford several months back, and I remembered that. I'm sorry, I wish I could lie and say I remember you, he said, but I can't. But the next time, I will remember you.

And THEN he spent the whole meal flirting with me again! Seriously, the man is impossible! How is a girl supposed to get any work done when her guest, with his wavy pure white hair and black velvet jacket, is complimenting her on every plate transfer? About to pour champagne for the toast, I noticed there was a chip in his glass (our regular rental company's gone down the drain since they bought up all the other ones; they've been getting sloppy) and switched it out for a new one. And he had to comment on how well I'd done it. If I'd really done it well, I pointed out, you wouldn't even have seen me do it. And there was a whole thing with the dessert--good lord--he told me he thought that when I put it down, I would adjust the little cookie thingum sticking out of it just so, and that he was disappointed that I hadn't. So I picked up the plate, made a full circuit of the table, and delivered it again.

With the cookie thingum adjustment.

And that pleased him. Almost as much as being offered coffee did. I can't say no to you he bedroom voiced at me.

I understand why this man had to invent the birth control pill. Or at least, I can guess at how other people have expressed their gratitude for his having done so, over the years. He's got that complete silver fox thing going on. And when everyone left after coffee, he made a point of coming over and thanking me for treating him well, and we had this sort of weird one-half hug and promised to keep an eye out for each other at formal events.

Very strange, and endearing.

By the way, Thiebaud is also just as nice as these people say he is. We have a new pastry chef who had designed the dessert to look like something out of a Thiebaud painting, all pastelly and squared off (she even chose raspberry and passionfruit coulis to decorate the plate instead of chocolate, to keep the colors right) and so I mentioned that to him, and he seemed quite touched by the gesture.

He was a flirt too, come to think of it. What is it with me and men in their eighties?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

evolving notions of decency

A piece of good news on the death penalty front.

This is why we need to watch who Dubya tries to get in there. Or another good reason. This decision was too close.
um, no--but thanks for thinking of me

Something we probably won't be eating in Ukraine.
don't dare me, thread

Blog this, baby Thread growled as she ran a tape measure from my right nipple to my left. I snickered a little and tried not to be ticklish. Around us, some of my troupemates were eating chocolates and carrots as others were showing the choreographies they're going to be doing for Undulation. Thread finished taking my measurements--eleven and a half inch bicep, flexed; the diameter of my hips and ribcage. I took off the mockup of the top she's designing for us, returned her bra, put my own top on and sat down to watch Andrea and Holly do the tray piece as Thread moved on to Deb. Yvette handed me a plastic cup of red wine.

I know that my troupemates keep saying that things get harder as we get close to a big show, more tense, more stressful, but so far I'm having a great time. Other than the challenge that was getting the press release together, of course. What I'm seeing is a group of people trying to build a beautiful, intense thing, and if we get a little snappish with each other, a little heated, it's just because we all care so strongly about making it work. And with Thread making our costumes, I'm so pleased to have an ally from the outside who is going to make us look great (the top looked awesome on everyone who tried it on).

The finale choreography is coming together. And although I was off on the chest circles the first time we ran through it and Jill called me on it, she did single me out later during a part my group is still sorting out as having done something visually strong and "sculptural". Now if only I knew what it was...I suspect it was a bit where I interact with Yvette. Wish I could describe it more, but hey, you'll just have to come see for yourself, if you're not in Japan or Germany or Singapore or someplace like that. The point is, I'm still feeling like I'm contributing something, and I'm having fun with the women in the grouping I'm in (I almost wrote groping, which is also accurate) as we play with the shifting moods of the music. It still feels great.

Unlike my knees, which are protesting a drop halfway through the song (keep forgetting that I mean to buy thin kneepads, dangnabit), and my neck, which still hurts, and indeed my whole body, which is protesting. I'm going to try to get to bed early tonight and hit a yoga class tomorrow; I think it would also make sense for me to cut down on my sugar-and-trash consumption for the next few weeks and try to keep it clean, diet-wise. No point in stressing my system any more than is necessary. Not sure how I'm going to write this week's article without a bag of cookies by my side. Maybe I'll replace them with a tasty green-goo drink (warning: link is to story that involves cancer) full of barley grass and spirulina masked by mango and pineapple. Maybe instead of "warming up to write" by playing a few rounds of solitaire I'll lie on my grandmother's rag rug and do a couple dozen crunches.