Wednesday, September 28, 2005

what snufkina calls a "what i had for lunch" post

For a day that I'd planned to spend in indolence, this one has been action-packed.

Gave away a couple of plants to a cute girl I'd found through Craigslist. I was falling behind on watering duties, and these two were rescues that didn't move me aesthetically, so I figured it was time for them to move on. Several of my plants are rescues; the orchids came from parties where the florist never showed up afterwards to claim them, the two I left at the dojo had been left behind by another tenant, and these two... I'm not even sure where the Christmas cactus came from. Poor thing kept blooming all the time in a desperate bid for attention. Are you sure you don't want anything for these? said the cute girl, with her black hipster hair and little hipster buttons on the strap of her army surplus bag. Just don't let them die, I responded, that's all I want.

After that, market and library. Huge pile of fiction, long and short. I'm very excited. I'm trying to spend less time online and more with my nose in the pages. To that end I also bought a new used copy of Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita to replace the one I left in Berlin. The woman who sold it to me didn't even know she had it. She claims not to read fiction. How the owner of a used bookstore can not read fiction is beyond me, but I digress. Don't worry, I told her as I headed up the stairs to the second level, you'll have it, everyone does.

And I went to my annual yoga class. And two flamenco classes, and the second half of a bellydance class. Went to the bank, went to Walgreen's, picked up a couple of modeling jobs, touched base with a few people, had a very interesting phone conversation with my mom. My god, I am unstoppable.

I keep thinking I should turn Statcounter off, already. Knowing who's reading has largely caused me more grief than it has pleasure, and I hate that I've been seduced into caring how many people come by every day--it's changed my relationship to the writing.

But then something pops up that delights me. Case in point: this morning someone at the House of Representatives came by and read the March post on Maudelle Shirek. So I went back and re-read it myself. I'd forgotten that I slam the House, and now I wish I'd written something slightly more substantive than "she's a neat lady". But I'm still pleased. I've written enough letters and signed enough petitions that I suspect nobody in the government has looked at. It interests me that someone there is taking bloggers seriously enough to hit the link--and that in such a roundabout and small way, my point was heard by the body to whom it was directed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

this man is covered in slime

If you know my mother's voice--or indeed, remember my father's--imagine me saying this in one or the other of those. Because I'm really hearing them speaking through me.

The Beeb, covering the investigation into what happened with Katrina:
[Brown] added that his "biggest mistake" had been not recognising that Louisiana was "dysfunctional".
Stunning. The man begins by blaming Blanco and Nagin, blaming himself for not being able "to get them to sit down, get over their differences, and work together", and explains that he should have held more media briefings. What?

Every line drips. It's all someone else's fault. His "mistakes" all lie in his not understanding that other people couldn't do their jobs. He couldn't control, delegate, and deploy his own people effectively. Management 101. Even I know this, from just a few years of running parties.


Monday, September 26, 2005

what i'm missing

For a while, it looked like I might be spending a couple of weeks in Germany this month or next, running around with Jill, who is teaching workshops. For various reasons, the plan fell through, and I'm here amusing myself as best I can. But now that I know I'm missing the World Beard and Mustache Championships, I am nearly beside myself with distress. Although I like being a girl just fine, the one thing I envy men (some men, I know, not all) is the ability to grow meaningful facial hair, enough to play with.

I grow some, no mistake. But not enough to wax into points! If I could be a guy for a little while, I'd run through all the variations--funky sideburns, full beard, you name it. And then I'd probably settle on a vandyke; I suspect that's the sort of guy I would be. Occasionally I think I should cut off some of my head hair and make a prosthetic.

Getting some Halloween ideas...

Anyway. This years' WBMC can't possibly top last year's in Carson City, where SF's own $teven Ra$pa made an appearance. I don't know how they handled his inherent fabulousness; none of the competitor photos show anyone else willing to weave wire and flowers into their beard.
no rest for the wicked

Sunday, September 25, 2005

getting your nose out of shape

Intense weekend here, in the good way; the universe has been dropping lovely surprises all over me this week. I will give you one image. No, two. Here's the first: a major anti-war protest and San Francisco's first Love Parade (a Berlin import) scheduled for the same day (that day being the one before the Folsom Street Fair, as it happens). Two groups of people--one sensibly-shod and bristling with signs saying things like, "Clinton: One BJ. Bush: Screws the Whole World". The other decked out as for Burning Man, with holographic pants and cowboy hats, riding around on day-glo fake fur-covered flatbed trucks pumping house music.

And the inevitable confused souls trying to find the right group. Priceless.

Here's the second.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

stumbled across great einstein quotes

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

Friday, September 23, 2005

well, i didn't want it to be woody

Hat tip to Daryl.

Roger Corman
Your film will be 42% romantic, 15% comedy, 44% complex plot, and a $ 32 million budget.

An action-complex tale about a complex character that is you. Corman
was responsible for Jack Nicholson's film debut in 1963's The Terror.
The actor who plays you will emote complexity like Jack ... maybe
Christian Slater or Gwyneth Paltrow. Also, Roger filmed the original
Little Shop of Horrors film -- which in the 1980s was the basis for a
hit Broadway musical and another film. All his films were shot for mere
thousands of dollars. Roger knows talent, and knows how to keep costs
down with complex stories such as your life story. His versions of
Edgar Allen Poe stories are considered classics (The Raven, The Pit and
the Pendulum), and also directed Deathsport and Bloody Mama in the
1970s. Oh, yeah, man, this guy will make your film a cult classic!

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 10% on action-romance
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on humor
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 61% on complexity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on budget
Link: The Director Who Films Your Life Test written by bingomosquito on Ok Cupid

Thursday, September 22, 2005

the more i cater

The more attractive Socialism becomes.

I'm not going to name the company that put on today's lunch; I don't want a search homing back in on me here. Not ready to quit catering yet. Well, not true, I'm very ready. My bank account, however, is not.

This was a "Partners of Partners" luncheon--forty-four women and one man, the spouses of this company's big dogs--at the Ferry Building, which has been converted into a fancy indoor-outdoor marketplace specializing in all the fanciest foodstuffs available from local growers and artisans--oils, cheeses, chocolates, wine, charcuterie, fruit preserves, wildflower honey, bread, and so on. So of course the conversation focussed on how wonderful organic food is, and how darling the market stalls are (and they are, even if the big wooden fish hanging over one seriously needs dusting, meow), and how it's so much better to eat the very best free-range organic non-irradiated artisan oils and cheeses and chocolates and so on. It's good for the soul. Nourishes the spirit and frees the heart, whatever.

The best moment, if you like watching a waitress grit her teeth so hard she nearly loses her veneers, was when the women at one of my tables were bemoaning the poor state of children's eating when McDonald's is allowed to sell their crap in the schools. The kids just love it, said one to the table, and they all nodded knowingly as they ever-so-slowly sipped their chilled tomato soup, completely oblivious to the fact that we had two more courses to get down their throats, and half an hour in which to do so.

And here I am, right back at my point about the Governator telling the schools they can't sell high-sugar, high-fat crap anymore. I mean, bravo! Now show us the money. The schools make these deals with the Devil's food because it's the only way they can afford enough books and pencils.

Maybe these ladies' spouses could take some of the money they're making privatizing water in Bolivia and make a nice little donation, you think? One they could be honest with the Feds about (seriously, I overheard one woman tell her table that her family occasionally fudges their income tax. I nearly dropped my tray.)

Catering is like the petri dish in which I grow my bad attitude. And jobs like today's, man: growth medium.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

first i'm going to start going to the gym

Said the woman walking next to me, away from the Curran Theater tonight. Then I'm going to overcome my fear of heights--

And learn to sing? I broke in. And play the accordion?

Play the violin, she amended.

We were walking away from Rain, a perfectly lovely show from Cirque Eloize, a Quebec-based "new circus" company. Nostalgic in a non-cloying way, sensual and funny, the show employs a dozen or so amazing performers, all of whom apparently started their circus training before they had all their teeth. It was the sort of event where you walk away feeling like something finer and grander is possible than your daily life would suggest, and the world you actually inhabit feels a little different, a little... sweeter. Of course, you get home and there's yet another piece of Comcast junk mail in the mailbox, and laundry in the basket, and loud neighbor television at midnight.


Gratitude to Wry for taking me to a show for fun, not work; and to Risk, who was in town for a couple of days on work and went for deli with me this afternoon, and to my late-night conversationalist, even if I was getting a little patchy near the end there. Today has felt like a much longer day than it probably was, punctuated by writing and new CDs (Sephardi songs in Ladino, Adam Ant, fado Risk loves), chili-lemon roast almonds and six ounces of raspberries eaten straight from the clamshell container, no rinsing. The next four days are going to be heavy. Lots of writing, an early morning catering gig tomorrow, six hours of model marathon, workworkwork. Between stress about getting everything done and sadness around the Berlin situation, I'm feeling like I just need to put my head down and push, you know? But today's richness should help.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

sorry, can't help you with that

I've been trying not to get too meta, but I can't pass this up: the two most unusual searches that have lately delivered my blog into unsuspecting hands:

Brazilian dog sex and bottlecaps smell like urine

I so don't want to know.

In other news, I've decided to make myself a fancy, colorful vest and hat and walk around the Powell Street BART station and up and down the main drags of my fair city, helping out tourists. Coming back from the Art Institute this afternoon, I helped two batches: an Indian family trying to get to Chinatown, and a severely underdressed Liverpudlian couple trying to get to Union Square... the long way. Nobody warned you about the weather, huh? I asked the woman, shivering in her shorts. It'll be nice here next month. In the meantime, may I suggest either the Mission District, or Sausalito?

In both cases, I even gave accurate directions. Versus my occasional perverse desire to point people in completely the wrong direction. I'm not like that. Really.

At least, not often.

Monday, September 19, 2005

a delicate balance of donuts and dance classes

That's my line whenever someone I'm modeling for catches me snacking. I figure we have enough ultra-skinny, flat-assed women in the Guild, I can get away with having actual hips and a tush. Now it appears that hip fat protects women from certain kinds of disease, rejoice rejoice. Of course, this is counterbalanced by another article, which tells us that waist fat can cause diabetes. What's it going to be, BBC? We're all waiting for the WHR (waist to hip ratio) diet; let's hear it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

for old-timers

Who remember what we used for storage before CD's... important use and care tips for floppies.

Friday, September 16, 2005

go ahead and keep eating while i talk

Said the governor as he took the stage. Because you are all looking very puny. From behind the bar at the other side of the lawn, I tried to flirt with the snipers on the roof, figuring they could see me through their telescopic sights. The assembled lawmakers rustled in the hot Sacramento breeze as they tried to balance plates full of food and glasses of white wine.

Since then Arnold has weighed in on sodas and high-fat foods in school cafeterias. And while I understand that some districts stand to lose money because they have deals with the soda companies, I don't believe they should have signed those agreements in the first place. Now if we just had some proof he was committed financially to these schools, as well as to the shape of their students.

edit: Jamie over at Politic Worms has some choice words about the governor's commitment, or lack thereof, to schools and to teachers. Check it out.
bracing myself

Still picking the mascara crystals off my lids. Soon I'll dig into the new IKEA-sourced linens and ultra-cheap pillows and try to sleep.

I started the day writing an exceedingly painful email, and ended it at an art opening sponsored by "The Exiles", an organization dedicated to the furtherance of good, wholesome girl/girl S&M. Snufkina had a couple of great pieces in the show, her first official appearance as a photographer, and I was glad for the opportunity to throw on some pleather and too much eye makeup. Besides her other friends, who are always fun, I ran into three of my bellydance classmates--kinky bellydancers, surprise surprise--and the FtM model I mentioned about a week ago who we'd auditioned for the Guild.

It was great hanging out with everyone and surreptitiously eating all the cherry tomatoes off the deli trays. One woman that I've been studying dance with for two and a half years didn't recognize me in makeup and with my hair down; we were too far apart to hear each other, so I did a couple of stomach rolls and then she figured it out. She has a diorama in the show called "When the Dog's Away"; all little polymer clay cats with little whips and little strap-ons and little ballgags partying down in a living room. I watched her girlfriend showing it off to some people. This is what J does in her free time, said the girlfriend, and laughed like she didn't believe it either. The people looked like washed-up rock stars. J and I talked about feeling like we weren't getting what was going on in our classes. She, a different J, and I talked about how Nancy Drew and various cartoon characters had shaped our adult lives. The tomatoes gone, I started on the brie.

A good night. A lot of people hugged me. I carefully avoided the bar. A group of us went out to Cafe Baghdad afterwards and made a merry scene. I'm probably going to wake up sad, in that morning-after-you've-said-the-hard-thing way, where for a minute you don't remember that something has ended, and then it comes back and you feel like the cat's little polymer clay breakfast. But at least the evening went well, and I was reminded that I have a circle here, a good one; smart, decent, funny people. And I'm glad of it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

making the magic happen

I've never seen the show "Cribs", but I understand that there is a virtually de rigueur shot of the featured celebrity homeowner leading the camera crew to the bedroom and saying, this is where the magic happens. Yeah, uh-huh. But I love the phrase, and use it whenever possible, regardless of its true applicability.

Which brings us to a little experiment in art-making. I've drawn a monster over at I think, if I understand this right, that you can go look at her, and then add to the drawing if you like. Which I think would be a hoot, if it works.

The function where you can replay how the drawing was made (hint: turn the speed all the way up, or you'll hate me forever) reminds me of 1956's The Mystery of Picasso. I haven't seen it yet, but I've been hearing about it for years, and should probably throw it on the Netflix queue. Henri-Georges Clouzot filmed Picasso as he worked, placing the camera on the other side of a transparent canvas so what we see is not the artist, but the paint going down, the image being born. I have mixed feelings about Picasso--who doesn't?--but I'm still intensely curious about this film, and look forward to seeing it.

A cool Picasso story I heard somewhere, or read maybe in the process of researching Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile a couple years back. He and Matisse were rivals, yes, but it was the sort of rivalry where two people prod each other toward greatness. They were also friends. And if you look at their pieces side by side, in chronological order, you can see how they fed off of each other's ideas.

So the war came, and Matisse was unwell; out in the country trying to recuperate. And the Nazis were going around cataloging the work of Paris' artists against its potential commandeering and sale. Picasso and Matisse stored their paintings in the same facility, which I believe was underground. So Picasso offered to take the Nazi auditors around Matisse's storage space, help them with the inventory. He was selling out his friend, I can hear you say. But no. Instead he got the Nazis totally disoriented in the maze-like facility (this may be an elaboration that reflects his fascination with minotaurs and labyrinths), showed them some of Matisse's pieces multiple times (playing them off as different each time), underestimated the value of the best pieces and dismissed some completely as worthless trash, kept the auditors moving too fast to really see and note everything, and generally circumvented the whole process without their being aware that they had been utterly had. He could have been shot for this, but he took the risk, and there's a lot of Matisse's work out where we can see it now as a result.

That's a good friend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

some people say it with flowers. i say it with monsters

Monday, September 12, 2005

i know we've all heard some horrible stories about animals in nola

So I offer this post off Craisglist: New Orleans. The subject line was "Military IS rescuing pets":

Reply to:
Date: 2005-09-12, 12:29PM CDT

I got a call from my brother who is a National Guardsman deployed in New Orleans. He's near Elisian Fields Street. He told me of a rescue yesterday I thought someone somewhere may be interested to know. The guys found a Rottwieler and a Husky puppy, which they promptly rescued. The dogs apparently wouldn't go anywhere without the other. They also rescued a Pug who was floating along atop a dresser.

Also, there is a dog in someone's backyard. One of the First Sargents has taken to going by the house regularly with dog food, and water. They don't want to remove the animal, since the fence is intact, and the owner may yet return. But until you do, there is a kind man looking after your animal!

I hope this brings some comfort to those of you that are so worried. Oh, and my brother said that all the guys in his area of operations are "dog people". If they find your animal, they will be well looked after.

While we're at it, here's one of those sites where you click and they donate money to feed animals in shelters. Takes like one second.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

so i'm not deployed yet

Which is interesting in and of itself, if you've seen this article about the Red Cross mounting a massive recruiting drive. Because in the "Overview of Mass Care" class yesterday morning, we were told that there was a hold on deployments because there are so many volunteers now, and not enough work to send us all to do.

Although the picture that emerges is that there will be plenty of work--it's just going to be spread out over the next few months. The people who are out in the field now will be rotated out, and even though there will be fewer shelters as people find new housing, the shelters won't all go away any time soon.

As my notes say--from when I was still taking notes, nice orderly legible notes that would make my Virgo friends very pleased with me, before I devolved into drawing monsters as I tend to do, before I started whispering with the two other women at my table, both of whom were as bored as I was, before I started falling asleep sitting up because I'd been up very late Friday night working and then out at the beach, getting my work shoes wet and sandy--the Red Cross is always full of surprises. Yes, the worst of this disaster has passed, but there are still shelters to staff. And things may change again very suddenly when/if Ophelia makes landfall in the Carolinas, which now looks like Monday; as of this morning, Ophelia had been upgraded to Cat 1 from a tropical storm. Which is much smaller than Katrina, of course, but the area's going to be a lot less resilient.

What the day really brought home is that this disaster is overwhelming even the Red Cross's usual capacity to deal calmly and logically with things. And that's meaningful, because once you've sat through all the videos with names like "Facing the Fire", it starts to become clear that the Red Cross/Red Crescent is a heavy-duty organization, or rather federation of organizations. Most of us have probably heard by now that FEMA kept the RC out of New Orleans; what I hadn't known is that the RC had the Houston command center in place five days before Katrina hit. Did FEMA have something ready five days before? asked another volunteer, and the group laughed. I think the rest of the class just answered that, said our trainer, who reminded my table mate of Bob Ross, the happy little clouds painting guy.

The whole command center thing is amazing. They put a container packed with everything the RC will need to support their staff for a month: food, computers, even tables and chairs on a truck and roll it out. And the disaster pre-planning, wow. I didn't know that the RC makes arrangements with sites (schools, churches, community centers) long before anything happens so when there's a disaster, they can just choose the site that best meets their sheltering needs and activate it. It seems obvious now, but I'd never thought about it before. ARCBA--the American Red Cross of the Bay Area, the chapter of which I am now a member--is the fourth largest chapter in the country. It's also apparently a model chapter, in part because the kinds of disaster we prepare for are the kind for which there is little or no advance warning. Namely earthquakes and forest fires. Unlike the chapters that have to worry about tornados (which have a season), say, or hurricanes. So we're fast on the draw.

But even though the RC was ready for Katrina, I get the distinct impression they weren't ready for the volume of volunteers who would materialize. The class I just did usually has about twenty people in it; today's group numbered 185. They've waived a thing or two they would ordinarily require of applicants (although possession of a valid driver's license and the ability to lift fifty pounds are set in stone), they've consolidated two classes into one so they can get more people trained, they've got sixth-graders helping them collate the packets of xeroxes (with all the little surprises you would expect from such a set-up.)

The class was fascinating, more for watching other people than for what we learned, which could have been conveyed in half the time. I know I'm being petty and ultra-snarky. But there are some things that are obvious to me that I guess are not to other people. And maybe some of these folks hadn't been through the pre-deployment orientation, where a lot of the same questions were dealt with. Or maybe people just aren't paying attention. Like the guy who, after we'd been handed a list of things we'll need to PACK, to PURCHASE HERE AND BRING WITH US, asked if in the interest of packing light, we could buy any of the things on the list when we got to our destination. I mean, we'd gone over and over this in the PDO, where we were told that we won't even know where we're going until we get to Houston, and then we'd done that thing where the trainer reads a handout out loud to reinforce the message, and right there in the handout it explains very clearly that we could be going into a place where there is nothing, what with a Cat 4 hurricane coming through and all.

It was like watching people react to the news that they might have to wash out their clothing in the sink--what, there's no laundry service at the swanky hotel we're staying in? Hello? We're being told to prepare to sleep on the floor because there might not be enough cots for clients and volunteers, and people are not hearing the words "extreme hardship" that the trainer keeps using about this assigment?

I wanted to beat my head against the table. Instead, I drew monsters, and carefully laid out my assortment of colored pens where the woman on my right, who was making an elaborate cartouche of her name, could get at them.

I remember now why I can't stand meetings. I'm too kinetic, and everything takes too long. And I do understand that these were big-hearted people around me, every last one, even the guy who was both a dead ringer for Sideshow Bob and extremely frustrated that he wasn't going to be deployed right away:

What if we've moved heaven and earth to get our work schedule rearranged?

We told you not to do that.

What if we were badly disobedient? Do we get priority?

The ways of the computer that chooses who goes are mysterious. So, no.

So I wait.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


What are the chances? I was just looking for a fun Bob Ross link to stick in another post, and I found Davezilla, and a randomly chosen link of the day off his site brought me to Patricia Waller, whose work I saw in a Mitte gallery when I was in Berlin in the spring.

It's the part about my having been in the same physical space as these crocheted nightmares, and then stumbling across them online, that's tripping me out here.

Friday, September 09, 2005

my mother makes an important point

No, I have no shame; I'm ripping off a thought from my own mother. But she sent this email yesterday and I've been thinking about it, and wanted to share.
I think I mentioned to you that when S was at [a social service organization] they had a real problem after 9/11 because everyone was sending money to New York, and nothing was left for the folks here. Well, I know that the Tsunami did the same thing because the last time I brought stuff to [a homeless shelter] I talked about it with the woman in charge of donations.

Today I called [a shelter for battered women and their kids] because I needed to make arrangements to drop stuff off. She was so excited because I "wasn't abandoning them like so many other folks were". So I started really thinking it through. These women and their children, are in some way, in the same position as the Katrina evacuees. They are living in a shelter, under someone else's rules and regs; they have nowhere else to go (except possibly back to an abusive relationship); they can't stay in these shelters forever, and some are now out in the street; and they have no resources.

The difference, as I see it, is that the Katrina folks are going to be getting a lot of help and money from the government, from private donations, from, from, from...they are very visible. The women and kids at [aforementioned shelter] are totally invisible, and aren't getting much from anyone. So, I will continue to do what I do here. Going through our stuff, and collecting from other people, and bringing it to the people that need it in this community. And making sure that they understand that they are just as important.

I know that a lot of people are feeling pretty helpless right now in the face of the disaster, and like they can't do what they would want to do because of their other commitments--family, school, work. But there are other things we can do that also serve; the work we do within our own communities is just as crucial now as at any other time, or even more so.

Thanks Mom. Now step away from CNN already.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

one of those lovely little journalistic missteps

Or is it?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

maybe that alligator's going to go eat itself an anchorperson

The New Orleans Zoo, some of you will be relieved to know, is on some of the highest ground in the city. Two otters died, and an alligator has gone missing, but otherwise everyone there is fine.
pre-deployment orientation

First, I should introduce myself, said the slender man in well-polished shoes and dark slacks with a faint, narrow pinstripe. I'm a Saggitarius, I don't smoke or drink, and I'm single. Okay, fun and games are over, now I'm going to tell you what it's really like down there. He leaned back against the folding table. He'd given this speech a thousand times, you could tell; they're doing these volunteer sessions for eight hours a day on weekdays and Saturdays, five on Sundays. You don't sign up, you don't get the info on-line, you just come in and join the masses milling around hoping to do something useful. Eventually you end up in a room, seemingly any room, with a bunch of other people clutching application forms, not sure whether you're going to be answering phones for four hours or pulling corpses out of mud for two weeks.

He had it down. Even if the two teenaged girls I'd seen downstairs threw him for a minute, one with shiny dark hair in a stylish short cut, the other with bright fuschia hair. Downstairs, another man had patiently been trying to explain that the Red Cross can't shoulder the liability of sending young people into what they're calling an "extreme hardship" posting, and I'd been agreeing with him with half an ear. Bless their big hearts and belief in their own immortality, but no. And I had felt incalculably old. Upstairs, they were holding up the group by trying to convince this man that they were legally emancipated, and thus could agree to the Red Cross sending them across state lines. I can't even send you to Florida, I heard him say.

I looked around at the crowd. About one-third black, two-thirds female. Lots of nurses. You notice these things when you're wondering who's prepared to drop everything for three weeks to get flown to who knows where (don't ask your instructor, they don't know. Don't ask the pilot, he doesn't know. You find out when you hit the tarmac in Houston) to do who knows what (West Nile is coming, you'll need DEET. You get floodwater in even a little cut, you tell us right away. There are dead bodies in that water. Women go everywhere in pairs. Always keep a line of sight with your buddy. If you give a child a drink of water from your bottle, don't take the bottle back; you don't want to risk a staph infection) with no clear line of communication with the outside world (there is one working cellular tower in three states. I made a three-minute phone call for $275. They'll get you on the roaming charges) besides the Red Cross knowing how to find you if someone is trying to reach you.

From my notes, and things I thought of afterwards as I tottered off to model as though I hadn't just agreed to come back for a day's training in "Mass Care" on Saturday; as if I hadn't just left a message on Slice's cell about needing my damn mosquito net back for real this time, four years after the breakup; as if I wasn't mentally bracing for the sight of dead children, pieces of dead children, family dogs gone feral (animal lovers, I hate to tell you this, but you have to leave Bambi alone, you should not pet any dogs you see), all the wreckage left by a Cat 4 storm:
check to see if need rabies booster or if '99 series is adequate

bathing suit and flip-flops for showering in communal shower area

hit up fellow Burners for unused Handi-Wipes

bring novels I can leave behind

talk to Princess about being my executor/having spare keys

cut down fingernails

4.3 million people left homeless in the Carolinas

RC needs to open 483 new shelters

might get sent to location in one of eighteen states

twelve hours on, twelve hours off

The extraordinary thing is, I may actually have a useful skill, from the one facet of my life I thought was not growing me useful skills beyond pouring wine and saying "sir" without giggling.

Because after he'd had all the nurses and EMT's and phlebotomists raise their hands, and after I was feeling like I knew nothing helpful, he asked if anyone had management experience. If anyone thought that, given half a dozen people and an empty space, they could get it set up with equipment, staff assignments, and a meal schedule.

Well well.

I can be guest-ready in an hour and a half. Less, if I don't have to teach people how to set a table. I can do this.

Honestly, I'm scared. But I'm also heartened by the chance to do something useful. And that holds a lot more weight.

Monday, September 05, 2005

someone pry my hands off the photoshop button

I know, I know, the edges are bad and the lighting's wrong. You wouldn't know that I used to do this for a living (not with this software, but nevermindallthat). I'm just amusing myself between edits. Maybe I can get this baby into a little mano a mano with the frog of a few days ago.

Today I run by the Red Cross office in Oakland. Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

jabbor gibson for president

Boing Boing links to this story about Jabbor Gibson, an 18-year-old who commandeered an abandoned bus, stuffed a hundred people onto it, and drove seven hours straight from New Orleans to the Houston Astrodome. He'd never driven a bus before.

Kid might get in trouble for "stealing" the bus. He says "I don't care if I get blamed for it as long as I saved my people." One of the passengers said of Gibson's courageous act, "If it weren't for him right there, we'd still be in New Orleans underwater."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

what else we can do

The Red Cross isn't just taking money, they're taking volunteers. Around here, the Oakland call center needs people to staff the phones. On the ground, they're training people to work with Katrina victims, passing out food and so on. I'm looking into both; if you're feeling so inspired, you can hit the link, enter your zip code, and see what kind of help you can give.

Friday, September 02, 2005

one possible reason i remain unmarried

Some men--I know this is hard to believe--might find it distressing to find a dead frog in the freezer. Dead, dessicated, and flat.

But when I saw Frogzilla here, on the Pacific Crest Trail heading up to the Mount Judah Loop, I just had to pick him up. My aunt was mortified--are you really picking that up? Are you really going to take it home? What do you mean, you want the Tupperware the salad was in? Do you want to put it on a bed of lettuce? Why don't you put it in your own sandwich bag?

Which is very strange, coming from her, and I'll tell you why.

I like to say that J is my "cool" aunt. It's redundant of course, seeing as how she is my only aunt. But I bet even if there were others, J would be the interesting, Bohemian one.

She never married, preferring a string of disreputable and charming lovers. I have a letter she wrote me when I was seven or eight years old, where she mentioned that the police had come by, looking for her latest swain, who she'd met when he came to do some work on her house. I told them I didn't know where he was, she wrote, but that if they found him, I really wanted my tools back. She smoked dope and had a mirror over her bed long before I knew what that meant. She liked puppets and toys and modern music, versus the folk music and King Crimson and Bob Seeger swirling endlessly around my house. One year when we went to visit her in Chicago, she had found these eensy-beensy toy cigarettes, and a little plastic dog with a hole in its mouth to stick them in. Once lit, the cigarettes looked like they were being smoked. J poked a hole in George Washington's mouth on a dollar bill and made him smoke, which delighted me. Although she was a little awkward with adult gifts (her wedding gift to my parents was a sculpture she'd made, my mother says, by turning a blowtorch on some plastic grapes), she was really good at kid gifts; I still have and treasure a "fantasy" cookbook she gave me many years ago, with explanations of why fairies eat this and dwarves that.

But the thing that stands out is a paperweight.

My aunt went to medical school to become a medical illustrator. One of her assignments there required that she dissect a frog. When she was done, she reassembled it, made it into a sandwich with bread, cheese, an olive on a frilled toothpick, the whole nine yards.

Then she encased the whole thing in resin, and made a paperweight out of it.

I loved that paperweight. Every single time we visited her, I had to look at it. It was better even than the penguin nailbrush, the cartoonish drawing of a hippo with a bunch of little hippos floating inside it, the sheets printed with the night sky. It summed up everything that was unusual and desirable about the way my aunt lived. I wanted to be just like my aunt when I grew up (except not quite so spacy), a hip artist type who wasn't all square and tied down, who made things and laughed a lot.

Fast forward nearly thirty years and the deaths of my aunt's complete nuclear family; both parents and her beloved protector, my father. She's faced down cancer herself and won, been through countless unsatisfying jobs, become a Buddhist. In trying to forge an adult relationship with her I'm realizing that I'm seeing her as she was twenty and thirty years ago, and that's not fair. Although she'll still go drinking and dancing at the age of sixty (and took me along last year to do it), she's not quite as wacky as she was, not quite as open as I remember her being (J on California cuisine: I hate it. I ate a sundried tomato once and it was like chewing on an ear.)

In other words, I was kind of hoping she'd wait for me so we could be crazy wild adult artist ladies together, but she had her own changes to face.

And when she recoiled from Frogzilla, I didn't have the heart to remind her of the frog sandwich.

She eased up during the Bataan Death March back to the lodge, which consisted of our going down the wrong road for quite some way, and having to retrace our steps, and nearly passing out from altitude and heat exhaustion by the side of the road while whooping fellas in pickups roared past. We debated the fate of my find. Would I use it to do gyotaku? Could I put it on my scanner and make up some Frogzilla stationery? If properly sealed, could it be jewelery? What about making a mold from it, and casting a series of plaster replicas? She suggested that I could make a bunch of Christmas tree ornaments that way, if I added a little Santa hat and appropriate paint job.

So if that's what you get from me, you know who to blame.