Tuesday, December 19, 2006

richard the third as it was meant to be done

God, do I miss Peter Sellers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

ooh, spooky

Foolosh Owl tagged me, so now I have to reveal what's closest to my bed. How embarrassing. But eerie too, in light of the fact that I had several artist model colleagues in my house last night, and we were talking about nudity. And in my own defense, I own the item in question for research purposes.

Here's the meme, which you may have seen before:

1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog
4. Name of the book and the author
5. Tag three people

Observer: Does this mean that all pornography should be freely available to adults?

Camille Paglia: I am on record as saying that one can reasonably restrict public displays of pornography. The public spaces, the free spaces, and so on belong to both traditions--the Judeo-Christian and the pagan--and therefore a person should not have to have naked ladies overwhelming the eye from a newsstand.

Vamps and Tramps, Camille Paglia

Okay, who's next... hmm. How about Larissa, Bwana, and Kate. Because of course, what with the holidays and everything, y'all have plenty of free time on your hands. Heh heh.

Friday, December 15, 2006

does this guy look like doctor spock to anyone else?

Another reason I'm sometimes proud to be human.

Things are still very busy, and I'm ambivalent about blogging if I can't do it well. Well-ish. But the nutshell is that I'm growing fond of my weird little living situation in Oakland. It feels very good in this space, and I love being able to walk down the street at night without getting panhandled or otherwise solicited.

Doing a lot of catering bar shifts. Just turned 37 on Monday. Thinking about going to Spain in March. Still eating too much raw cookie dough and not enough salad. Got fancy new tires on my bike--"Armadilloes"--lined with Kevlar. So if anyone tries to shoot my bike, I should be able to keep riding.

Too tired to think of anything else to relate... hopefully I'll be more intelligent in January.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

only a lad

I remain unconvinced that this is a good idea.

Back to my silence. I'm up to my neck in alley-gators; been moving back to Oakland, took on some new responsibilities, working my tail off, blah blah. Hope everyone's having a sane holiday weekend.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

some days start out so well!

"Doogie Howser" (Neil Patrick Harris) is gay, and wants to dispel any nasty rumors that he might be straight.

American Episcopelians have their first female leader.

A military paper is calling for Rumsfeld to go.

Some mornings, it's actually a pleasure to read the news, you know?

Monday, October 16, 2006

dendrobium spectabile

this gorgeous photo is copyrighted by Eric Hunt; go check out his nicely-organized site for lots more like it

Y'all know how excited I get when people discover new species of anything. Not just beetles and monkeys and weird fish, though--how about thirty new-to-science orchids in Papua New Guinea?

This is the weekend where the world appeared to go mad. I think the apex of the surreality came for me this afternoon in Berkeley, when just as AX was pointing out a man dressed in a penis costume (complete with inflated testicles at ankle height) who was accosting passers-by and asking them if they were new to Berkeley, a woman in a diamond-patterned sweater vest accosted us to ask if we were members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, presumably because we both have long hair and were nattily dressed (he in his black suit with tie, I in a charcoal turtleneck and straight black skirt).

There'd been other stuff, of course, like my nearly falling off my banquette at brunch because it wasn't fastened down, and more than the usual complement of mumblng, raving strangers, and a person I'd thought was my friend totally going off the deep end Friday and leaving me to hike around in the dark late at night in lovely suburban Lafayette, wondering where the hell the BART station was. A friend we saw at the theater confirmed that everyone she knows seems to be a little stranger than usual. She chalked it up to the seasonal change.

I don't know. I have no answers. Has anyone else felt particularly edgy or unsettled? Or seen it in the people around them?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

mets or cards, it doesn't matter

We're going to the Series! News that made my shift ever so much better. One of the other bartenders found out for me, holding his phone below the level of the bar to check the score.

Part of this is that my dad got to see the game when the Tigers won their last Series, twenty-two years ago. He walked home from Tiger Stadium to 8120 Jefferson, a mile from the UAW headquarters--no small feat--in a delirium as people ripped out the stadium's seats and set cars on fire around him. That night he was so happy. My dad who played softball with a team from work, who taught me how to pitch and catch and hit.

But part of it is this completely atavistic thing, a piece of my theory that we do still hold place-based tribal identities even as we deny it. And our sports teams are the obvious manifestation of our tribal roots, our paid warriors.

Also, Justin Verlander's kind of cute, for 6'5" and 200.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

hello, phoenix!

The wifi's free at Sky Harbor airport, which is pretty cool.

Some of the "Tangy Fruit" Lifesavers Gummies flavors are okay. Besides the one that tastes like licking a urinal cake. Unfortunately, I wasn't looking when I took that one out of the bag, so I'm not sure yet if it's the green or the yellow.

My connection is late, and now they're telling us that because of "weight distribution" issues they've have to rearrange some of the seating arrangements. And could the following passengers please approach the podium? Do you think they want to look over said passengers and try to guess how much they weigh?

The past week has been so intense I can't begin to cover it. But I trust that you are all well, and hopefully I'll be back up and blogging soon. Right now I think they need to weigh me.

Friday, September 22, 2006

way to make things more complicated

Yesterday, crying a little, I wrote out my thirty days' notice. Then I put on my coat and threaded my way through the piles of art supplies and books I'm sorting to pack, and walked over to the management office, up Polk Street, past the Wags dog-washing place where I stopped as always to count how many dogs were waiting for their sudsing. Twelve on the floor, one orange one in the tub closest to the window, wet and watching longingly as the dry ones got tickled by a visitor.

The receptionist made me wait for another woman, S, to take my notice, and S held me for a little while to ask some questions. Apparently D, the manager of my building, disappeared more or less in the middle of the night; "got in his mobile home and drove to another company up north." I'd known something was going on, because I got a call from them the last time I was in LA. They needed to reprogram the front door intercom and they didn't have all the information they needed because D had taken it with him. Along with, it seems, some leases that were in the middle of being processed, and a bunch of other stuff. The office has been in a froth trying to fix things. S wanted to know if there was a special key to the laundry room (the closet next to my apartment, with its one washer/dryer stack and the hot water heater), and if there was anything else I thought she should know. Weird. But we talked a little, I kept it light, and got out as fast as I could; I had an interview to go conduct.

I just got a call from S a few minutes ago. She called the building's owner--the architect who designed it, who lives on the third floor--in Singapore and told him I'd given notice. And he is, she says, very sad to hear it, and wants to know if I would consider staying if the rent increase were lowered. 5% for month-to-month, 2.5% if I sign a new year lease. This is versus the 9% month-to-month in the notice I got in August, or 5% for a year lease. "This was D's idea," S told me. "The owner told me he didn't want to raise the rent that much, but D said go for it."

I can't imagine what either man was thinking when they agreed to that--a concrete-floored ground-floor one-room studio in the Tenderloin, with no closets and no possibility of pet ownership, for more than a thousand dollars a month? What planet are they living on? The unit above me, with carpet and closets, recently stood empty for eight blissfully quiet months.

Maybe that's what the owner is thinking about. Or maybe our friendly little conversations in the hall, the fact that I really do love my place, and my early-adopter status are part of his vision of the home he built for himself here.

I'm torn. I'm supposed to go look at a month-to-month in Oakland this weekend, in a venerable live-work community I've always admired. It would be a share, but it would mean twice the space at less than half the rent, the chance to take one of my mom's cats, and a financial flexibility I haven't had since I moved into the expensive place. I could think about buying a car, for example (and I'd want to; the location's, um, isolated). I'd be around other artists instead of the over-coiffed Gap employees or whatever they are who are my neighbors now. I could work a lot less.

But I love my place. And find the neighborhood soul-crushingly sad. And like being four blocks from the library and the BART station and the farmer's market in one direction, AX and Indian food and Dottie's True Blue Cafe in the other. The Arab guy at one corner store calls me "cousin" and hugs me when I go in for sparkling water, a can of chili, a Haagen-Dazs ice cream bar. The one at the other corner store knows me by name and used to run out to yell hello to me until I asked him to stop because it's weird enough at night for me to be walking through all the other people trying to get my attention to give them some money or booty or whatever before having to ask the people smoking crack in my doorway to please let me through.

And then there are the dogs waiting to be counted and washed.

There are very few places I've lived, as an adult, that have felt like home. Everything's been so temporary. Even my last bout of Oakland--five years in one house--was never meant to last that long. For a while I was moving once a year--I learned to get itchy once the initial lease had run out. When I moved in here that was all supposed to change. I was going to make a place for myself. Everything was going to come out of the boxes. I would paint if I wanted to, hang things, accumulate plants, have mail sent to my home and not a post office box.

It's really a very Jewish dream, now that I think about it. Put down roots. Not live as if you're going to have to leave in the middle of the night, the family silver sewn into the lining of your coat, prepared to sell the gold out of your ears to buy passage if that's what it takes (and how many women learn, when they get their ears pierced as children, that this is the reason it is done, as much as adornment?) And do I have to point out that Jews and ghettos go together like pickled and herring? I mean, they made the word up for places where we live.

As I said, torn. We'll see what happens in Oakland.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

the things they carried

I can rip off Tim O'Brien, we went to the same school at different times.

I have a lot of art supplies, for a writer.

I've got a day mostly to myself here, no paid nudity or tux-wearing to do, so I'm pulling stuff together to sort, purge, and pack.

I don't often look at all my art supplies together--they're usually spread out throughout my living space, in plastic shoeboxes and fishing tackle cabinets and cigar boxes and so forth--so I'm really not aware of how much of the total volume of my stuff is comprised of paint, clay, fabric, glitter, resin, beads, yarn, paste wax, plaster bandages, varnish, decorative paper, colored inks, gluesticks, wire, ribbon, sandpaper, resin, latex, fabric dye, shiny things, sketchbooks, some strange medical-looking negatives I found lying in the street in Paris... but hay-zoos. I've been piling it up in the middle of the room so I can figure out what kind of boxes I need for it, and I'm starting to understand why my back has always given me problems. Some of this stuff I bought in high school, and I recognize much of it from my art school days. A decade ago.

What I have is too much stuff, and not enough focus. Several years ago, Slice and I spent a weekend at a retreat center up near Santa Rosa. There was a little art studio, and one night when I couldn't sleep, I went in there and mucked around with crayons and magazine pages and construction paper. I had a wonderful time, and was pleased with the results. And the whole time, I was thinking about how the limitation of the supplies was actually helping me. I made a mental note to remember that when I got home, and then of course promptly forgot.


Am I trying to reach some critical mass where it all just makes itself into something grand?

I think a moratorium on visits to Blick and Pearl Paint are in order. No matter how tempting the on-line coupons they send me, no matter how hot my discount card burns in my wallet. And no matter how comforting I find those places.
support pete panse

Just quick. This high school teacher is being punished for suggesting that his students learn to draw from the figure on their own time. This is completely absurd. One warning: if you sign the petition, you'll get a screen hitting you for a donation--I just navigated away from it myself.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

what WAS i thinking?

Some of you may be familiar with the term "mental core dump." I don't remember which efficiency expert I was reading when I first heard it back sometime in the last century, but it's a useful tool. Essentially, you write down absolutely everything that's pressing on you, from trying to remember to do the laundry to noting that your fear of global warming is harshing your mellow. At least, that's how I understood it to work. The idea is that by writing everything down, you're making mental space so you can actually get something done.

I haven't deliberately done one of these in years. Don't know why, guess I just fell out of the habit. But because I'm packing to move (they're raising the rent on the Spaceship, and my feelings about that are another story), I've been looking through old journals to see what can be saved and what recycled.

Which is how I found this MCD from June '91. I'll just share the section I found most interesting as a commentary on where I was at the time. I was about to move from Minnesota to California, so there's a bunch of dull stuff about shutting off the utilities, asking people to write me letters of reccommendation, getting my interview suit drycleaned, and so on. And then:
clean and clear all 5" discs [remember those?]
only so much I can help Julie learn her job
spending $ carelessly
VAXmania [my god, that's right, green print on a black screen]
read Five Days to an Organized Life [yeah, looks like THAT stuck]
eat regularly, take multivitamins [ha!]
do I want a unified style for new place? [double ha!]
throw away unnecessary keys [still have a problem with this]
I want to have an affair [I was, at the time, engaged, sort of]
take apart fan?
teeth cleaning

The more things change, man.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

eleven-hour bar shift

Catering really is a lot better when I'm not handling food.

Tonight's event was a wedding--between two people who had grandkids. Pretty cool. It's nice to be reminded that people can still fall in love after they've passed the age our society considers passion-worthy.

I invented a new drink! Well, I've never heard of anyone else making it. It is sweet (but not very) and limealicious. I made one for a lady who was dithering about what she wanted, and she came back with a friend for more. And while I was looking away to get someone else a beer, I saw from the corner of my eye that she was refilling her glass from what was left in the shaker. Made myself a virgin one, and while I need to tweak the proportions, it's promising. I'll tell you about it later after more time in the lab and you can help me name it.

Kenny Loggins was the after-dinner entertainment. Which was bizarre but amusing--he's looking a lot better than David Lee Roth, I'll tell you that, and he had 'em up and grooving for "Footloose". So I had all these people around my bar trying to dance and drink at the same time, as I tried to dance and make drinks at the same time. One stately white-haired gentleman was half-behind the (curved) bar, keeping time loudly by pounding his hands against it and making it shake. One lady in classic "mother of the bride" regalia lost her balance and nearly took the bar down with her. My hands were sticky with tequila and sweetened lime juice and triple sec, and suddenly I was surrounded by people who needed eight of everything and a couple of people being "mouse pirates" as they took teeny-tiny shots of rum, but that's so much better than standing around listening to the carbonation go out of my Pellegrino, you know?

But I was a fool when I told my passenger back from Napa that the mocha frapp from the cold case at 7-11 wasn't going to keep me up when I got home. Ahem.

Monday, September 04, 2006

worst. burn. ever.

But I'm home.

My lips only feel like they're going to fall off.

If you need to replace a tire because you've driven over a stray piece of rebar, may I suggest the Firestone dealer in Reno? Nice people, they have everything, the guys behind the counter are happy to flirt with women who smell funny and have playa-styled hair, and they are--and this is important--Open On Labor Day.

The one of my two original passengers who actually made the trip back with me bought me some dim sum for dinner, which I am taking to bed momentarily. The other, I did not kill. Although it was a close thing.

Sweet, sweet bed.

Not an air mattress that slowly, diabolically, deflates over the course of the night.

Some Burns are fun. Some are learning experiences. This year I learned that next year, I spend Labor Day weekend in, oh, Italy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

just to clarify

While it is now okay to take a very small quantity of eye drop solution in your carry-on baggage, cattle prods, sabers, pressurized cheese, and gel-filled shoe inserts are still verboten.

This is actually a very handy list, if unintentionally hilarious. Although heaven knows, it could all be different tomorrow.

Monday, August 21, 2006

put the cheeseburger down, karen!

They still haven't opened "my" museum, but they're close. Real close. Enough so that this poorly-written article came out last week about it.

I'm pointing you at it because I think you really need to read the comments. Is there something in the water down in Riverside County?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

i know, i know

This is what I'm about to do too.

Monday, August 14, 2006

have you considered looking on eBay?

Hell of a thing to misplace.

Friday, August 11, 2006

hey monkeyscientist

Looks like they hit your truck again. It's much prettier this time, though.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

time to buy that muu muu i've been dreaming of

The news that we're probably not going to be allowed to take anything with us when we fly, while extremely frustrating, has also introduced an image I know I won't be able to shake.

Picture this: airports full of empty-handed people in colorful muu muus and flip-flops. As they approach the security checkpoint for their retinal scan, cavity search, and MMPI administration, each passenger whips off his or her muu muu to reveal their glorious nudity. Planes take longer to board because it's hard to run down the terminal in flip-flops (although that slowdown might be counterbalanced by the fact that people won't be carrying anything), and business people (and, oh, writers) who might have spent the flight actually getting some work done on their laptops are forced to interact with the people sitting around them, as there will be no magazines whose pages might conceal subscription cards with edges capable of inflicting serious paper cuts.

It's a beautiful thing, isn't it? Or how about they just put us all under general anaesthesia the minute we walk in the terminal, and stack us up on the planes like cordwood?

On a barely-related note for you ecologically-savvy shoppers, here are some pretty things made from vintage Hawaiian fabric. On an even less related note, it's that time of year when D's goats have kids and we all go out to admire them, which should explain the photo.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

snakes on a truck!

That will only make sense if you read to the end.

I feel sorry for the penguins, of course, but also for the motorists who hit them--I mean, there you are, sort of on autopilot as you cruise along, and then there's something in the road. Which is startling enough. And then it's not a jackrabbit, or a sofa cushion that's fallen off someone's truck, but a black and white flightless bird...

Monday, August 07, 2006


Via Thumbmonkey, the story of Finnegan the squirrel. Happy Monday!
"one leprous olive"

Another page from that notebook, this one even more mysterious. This is from 3 November 2003. The title is clearly a phrase I thought I'd so something with eventually.

1. an octopus has three hearts
2. the only mammal with four knees is the elephant, which is also the only mammal that can't jump [ed: I must have meant land mammal, as I am not aware of dolphins having any knees at all, and the great whale is not much of a jumper)
3. the human heart beats more than 100,000 times a day
4. a sneeze can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour

Sunday, August 06, 2006

i forgot i had this

Sifting through old notebooks--yes, I'm on deadline, and suddenly purging old paperwork is the most fascinating activity possible--I found this list. I have no idea where it came from--a lecture? The Web? All I know is that I made it on 13 October 2003, apparently before my handwriting became completely illegible. I thought it might be helpful to some of my kind readers. Even if dainty Miss Snufkina gave me the finger Wednesday night when I reminded her that she'll get old someday too. And now I know where it is all the time.

things that support memory:

1. adequate REM sleep
2. oxygen
3. vitamin B1
4. distributed learning--15-45 minute blocks with five-minute breaks in between
5. gingko biloba
6. staying calm
7. hypnosis
8. meditation
9. giving the brain steady challenges, ie crosswords
10. spend fifteen minutes a day--at night--remembering order of day, details
11. believing that memory will stay strong

Saturday, August 05, 2006

my feet are just too old for catering

I know, I said I was done with it. And other than a really fun party I bartended at the deYoung Museum a few weeks ago, I've managed to stay out of my tux all year. But a friend asked if I'd do a private gig with her, and the money was good, and I figured I needed to get out and be around people a little.

Urk. No.

I did get to see some people I like last night, two of them women I haven't seen in at least a year and regret having lost touch with. So we all exchanged contact info and promises of coffee dates; I'm looking forward to spending time with both of them because they're fun. One seems to have softened since I last spoke with her, the other has grown more self-confident. Every chance I had, I was hanging out with one or the other, catching up.

Now if only that silly work thing hadn't gotten in the way... rich people, a private golf course/club lousy with self-congratulation, and food with too much sugar in it. I never even got a good look at the bride and groom, or cared to; the celebrant, like the food, had too much sugar in him. I've never heard the words "before they take these sacred vows", drip so much.

But the moment that told me I couldn't do this any more really came during the cocktail hour, as I was wending my way through the crowd on some errand or another, and was looking at the silly dresses and the silly shoes and the well-fed men and realized there wasn't a single person in the mass that I would approach to talk to, were I a guest and not a waitron. These people are aliens, I said to L.

And that is really not a good way to think about guests. Looks like I stick with bar shifts, the only kind of catering work I like any more.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

trooper is a good bird

This guy lives with Dolce and Guido, those Italian Greyhounds I'm always photographing. Thought I'd give you a break from the dogs (although I did take a few more snaps of them last week; they're hard to resist).

Weird day modeling. I did not actually work for the artist who lives with Trooper and the pups, but at an extension class out at UC Berkeley and then at an art center in Alameda. The day did not start well; I was running late, and frustrated that I would be modeling with furry limbs (the hair needs to be a certain length before it can be waxed, and it's not what I find an attractive length), and feeling sort of bloated and pasty anyway. God forbid I should thus fall into any of these categories.

The room at UCB was one I've never worked in before. It's not often used for figure drawing. So I was struck first by how small the stand was--which limits what I can do on the gesture poses--and then by some really horrid graffitti someone had painstakingly inked onto the canvas surface of the stand with a purple ballpoint, going over every line several times to make sure it would be legible.

I hesitate to reproduce it here, but I suppose I must so you can understand why it really threw me off my feed for pretty much the whole day. Beside a very poorly drawn figure of a voluptuous naked woman, someone had written
I pose Nude--My legs apart... My pussy open & half the artists stare & after class wants maybe to "get together" for a drink--they want to fuck me! and I always fuck a few...
Ew. And again, with feeling: ew. I stood there for a moment, silently absorbing this vile aphorism as the teacher said something to me I didn't catch. Just to its right, padding showed through a six-inch slash in the canvas. Ironically, considering my stress in getting there, the class hadn't started yet, so I went to the department office to talk to M, the office manager.

Who said, Oh yes, I saw that, and made a mental note to deal with it, but then I forgot. We don't often have models in there. Her supervisor, a lovely woman I used to cater with, came out of her office and offered me some coffee cake. They told me that there's been a rash of sexual graffitti in the building--in the stairwells, in the rack room, in the faculty bathroom. Someone's sexed up, said M. They think there's one person behind all the graffitti; the teacher thinks it's a particular guy.

When I get sexed up, I noted, I don't take it out on the walls.

Good point. I'll take care of it. Do you think I can cover it with marker? Or should I repaint the stand?

Take it out and burn it, I wanted to respond, but didn't. The three of us talked briefly about other things, M showed me pictures of her new baby and gave me a striped bedsheet to cover the stand, and I went back to work.

But it's been bothering me all day, for several reasons. For one, that had to be written by someone who can identify a model's stand as something other than a badly-padded table. So, a student in one of the drawing classes. Not a teacher, not a random person who walked in off the street, not a student from another discipline. A drawing student.

When I was first thinking about this, I kept going back to Anais Nin's "Artists and Models", a story I read years before I even dreamed of doing this work. The protagonist is one of Nin's exotic, heavy-lidded creatures; she has assignations with students on the second floor of a cafe near the school. Here to tell you: the real thing's not like that at all. In fifteen years of modeling, I haven't slept with a single artist (made out with one, okay, but that was years ago, and certainly not in the studio where we met or anywhere close to it).

But it doesn't even matter. What matters is that someone who has very possibly drawn from me--who has seen me naked--took the time to scratch out something truly hateful where I or my colleagues can't help but see it. It wasn't on one of the tables, or the wall over the sink where the students rinse out their brushes, or in a notebook. It was left as a message to us, letting us know in exactly what esteem the writer holds us. The more I think about it, the more it bothers me. Not so much in the "is that what people think we are? Glorified whores?" sense--although I did have a moment of that, and was able to shake it off. No, my reaction is more visceral. I go into every gig thinking, I am here to share something precious, I am here to help and inspire, I will stand on my head if that's what it takes, and some pissant kid whose fancy-dancy schooling is paid for in part by the (hefty) freelance-rate taxes I pay thinks he's being funny? I feel disrespected, and a little unsafe. Biking back to the BART station after class, every kid I passed was suspect. I was sort of hoping I'd see someone, some poxy boy, with purple ballpoint ink on his fingers, so I could run him over with Salome. But no such.

This isn't the first time I've considered dropping or thinning out the university gigs; I prefer working for professional artists for several reasons, most of them tangential to this story. Right now I can't afford not to work in the schools, though, and sometimes I have a really good time working with students. I dunno. Today was sobering.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

too bad for katherine harris...

..that Diebold doesn't run the Post Office, too. Or this letter might have conveniently disappeared.

Love the bit where she's suggesting a conspiracy against her. You just go with that, Kath.
a news item rich in possibilities

Guess they didn't have the right clothes for Carnaval. Dressed too formal, you might say.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

we've lost track of "never again"

Jessie at Speermint has posted an editorial from Ha'aretz that does a much better job of articulating why Israel's war on Lebanon is a travesty than I can.

I can't argue that the conflict is too abstract for me to get a handle on. I'm having exactly the opposite problem, really: even if I don't understand or accept Israel's rationale, on a visceral level I know exactly what's going on. We're seeing sixty-plus years of paranoia and frustration boiling over. And I get that. But bombing civilians won't bring back all the family we lost in the old country, and it won't make us safer in the new--whether the new is Israel or the U.S.

I have a slightly different relationship to the phrase never again than I think many Jews do. For many, the phrase means, never again will we let ourselves be taken off to the camps. For me, it means that we have a sacred obligation, now that we have as a people seen the face of true horror, to not let it happen to anyone else if there is any way we can stop it. How wretched then that not only are we not standing in the way of indiscriminate murder, but it is our hands on the levers.

I doubt I'm the only American Jew who is filled with shame by this whole thing. Neither am I the only one who has kept quiet for an unconscionably long time. I'm finding that it's easy and seductive to say, well, I don't know everything that's going on, surely there's a side to this I'm not seeing, and that side makes all the difference.

But it doesn't. What side can there be that justifies these casualties? Even before Israel apparently targeted UN observers? And then hit those poor people in Qana by mistake? The airport, the banks, hospitals--it's like trying to flush out a rat by destroying the whole house. I understand that Israel doesn't have the classic hard targets to aim for, bunkers, military airstrips, and so on, but surely there is another way!

I want to believe the loss of our six million taught us better than this.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

i swear that this is not me

But I suspect this woman and I would have a lot to talk about. We could visit this museum together, for example.

Monday, July 24, 2006

would this be like swallowing your plate? or the dinner table?

I'm sure this has been all over the television news, but I just read about Houdini, the python who swallowed his electric blanket. His owner thinks somehow the blanket got tangled up with Houdini's dinner and the snake just kept swallowing. Because you know, that's what snakes do; they're not really built to puke.

Poor dear. If surgery photos don't squick you out, it's sort of fascinating to see how the vets set up their operating table and draped the patient. The x-rays are pretty cool too.

My question--after, of course, how is he doing?--is about the site of the incision. All 18 inches of it. I had a knee surgery in 1998 that left me with a three-inch-long scar, and I still have a little numbness along one side of it. Is Houdini going to be numb along his scar? Are snake nerves like ours, sort of a ramen-like tangle just under the skin?

edit I went looking for "snake nerves" and ended up going down the Internet rabbit hole; now I'm fixated on a Sephardic Italian lady who won a Nobel Prize in medicine for work she did in a clandestine lab. Which is obviously something else altogether. So let's just stick with Houdini for this post.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

anyone who doesn't believe al gore now can kiss my sweaty...

California's roasting. Record high temps all over the place. My favorite part of this article is the 87-year-old man "mad as a hatter" at a power outage because he is "too weak now to even check on my lady neighbors." Isn't that dear?

At least my unit is on the side away from the sun, and I have this awesome concrete floor under my hot tootsies.

Monday, July 17, 2006

things i wish my dad could see

Two years on, I still think of my dad when I read certain news items, usually about music or archaeology, two of his favorite things. But he would definitely appreciate this, if my geeky fawning is any indication. Unfortunately I'm on deadline just at the moment so I can't fantasize about all the uses to which this little tiny chip could be put, but it's so nifty! What do you think it could be used for?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

what i would look like if i were 9 feet tall. and asian. and made of concrete

One of those multimodal transportation days; I took BART to the Ferry Terminal this morning so I could take a ferry to Vallejo to meet Java, who was just finishing up a modeling gig. Then we drove for what felt like several hours (it was 105 degrees inland, and you former and current Californians know what I-5 is like anyway) to Stockton to see this sculpture next to the new sports arena.

The artist calls it "Stockton Rising" to celebrate how a "muddy-street gold-rush camp" that went through a bad period (one of the first school shootings, gang violence, the dubious distinction of being the "Napa Valley" of meth production) is pulling itself together through the building of large things. Like a new sports arena (with a fancy hotel set for completion next door in 2007), and this one-and-one-half-times life-size sculpture of six happy active people posed Godzilla-like over the houses, fields, and parking lots of Stockton. Isn't it cool?

On the left, Java. On the right, me. But because we are both--what is the term now? European-American--and Scott needed more variety, he put other people's heads on our bodies. Java sports the head of Scott's assistant's boyfriend, and I the head of another model from the Guild.

Java's legs. The sun was in a bad position to get a good shot of the whole body, but the detail is accurate. I can't believe I'm telling the world this, but my thighs--my real flesh thighs--are each a full two feet in diameter. Which, scaled up 150 percent and rendered in concrete, is pretty impressive. Or maybe daunting.

This makes up, I told the widely-grinning Java, who was at the moment poking at the stony abs of his image, for all those drawings beginners make of us and throw away.

The prospect of beer-fueled sports fans climbing all over us in absentia is also pretty amusing.

Friday, July 14, 2006

hey, women?

Anyone out there been able to identify changes in mood that appear to be linked to their use of birth control pills or other synthesized hormones?

And guys, smart-ass comments will be summarily deleted. So please don't waste your time composing them.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

gore's wager

First. On the Emery-Go-Round today, which is a free shuttle that runs around Emeryville taking people to the shopping centers, IKEA, and BART, I yielded my seat to a very pregnant, fashionably dressed young woman sporting a Hello Kitty watch and tight jeans. Her friend was spilling out of a grey tank top in the way that makes me wonder how there could be anyone who doesn't like women's bodies, a triangular pendant lined with diamonds poking one happy corner into her impressive cleavage. I pretended that my iPod was turned up too high to overhear their conversation, which floated around retail jobs, saving money for a car, and someone they knew who had been foolish enough to pay a month in advance on his cell phone just before going to jail, where he couldn't use it.

"Why does the price of gas have to go up just when we're wanting cars?" asked the one without a bun in the oven. "It's scandalous. It's because we're running out of oil."

"Isn't gas made by men?" asked the other. "Isn't it artificial?"

"Well, they make it with oil somehow. And I was watching Bill Nye the science guy in a show at school a couple years ago, and they showed how much oil there is left. They showed it in a barrel. This is how much we're supposed to have," and here she indicated with a carefully-manicured hand, this much. "And this is how much we really have," with her fingers closer together, like she was squishing a marshmallow. "I was hecka scared when I saw that. It's not just cars, it's everything, airplanes, trucks."

"Is that how much there is in the world, or America?"

"I don't know. Not just America, I think. But maybe not the world."

"The Middle East?"

"I want to say the West Indies, but I don't think that's right. The Middle East."

"Because they're drilling everywhere."

Needless to say, I was dying to yank out my earbuds and clarify some points, but just then we got to the MacArthur BART station, and there was the general crush of people trying to get out of the too-small bus, and their conversation turned to ill-concealed mutterings about people who don't give pregnant women a seat. But I was so struck by the whole thing. Here are these teenagers, dressed to the hoochie-mama nines, talking about peak oil--something I've only heard, well, bearded white people talking about. It was so exciting, but at the same time frustrating as hell: the message is getting out, but the details are not being transmitted well. It's not just the cars and planes and trucks, I wanted to tell them. It's every single thing made out of plastic, unless they get it together with the "plastic from oranges" science soon. It's the potential for serious economic and social collapse. It's freaking Mad Max.

Hours later at home, I read this, about what happened today when an insurance company gave away free gas in Wisconsin. People lined up for hours, four people were arrested for getting into fights. I'm old enough to remember gas rationing in the seventies. We should get used to what this looks like.

Second. In June, I was modeling for three very nice ladies I work for in Marin every couple of months. Marin County, for those of you who haven't had the pleasure, is a very wealthy area north of San Francisco. It's where all those car commercials with cars driving around pictureseque cliffs by the ocean are shot, and it is lousy with health food stores and crystal-clutching rich hippies. These artists are my mother's age, mostly; one is a little older. They talk as they work and don't mind if I do too. They give me advice. I ask after their ailments.

So a few weeks ago, I was talking about having just seen An Inconvenient Truth, and how affected I was by it; that although I knew a lot of the parts already, seeing them pulled together the way Gore does has really changed my perspective. I'm babbling on about how glad I am now that I don't have a car and get to use my bike, how we have to keep the polar bears from drowning, and so on. These ladies have always struck me as softly lefty in that way of a) Marin women and b) Marin women who went to women's colleges and c) California artists of any gender or alma mater. I figured I wasn't saying anything that would offend anyone.

Until the oldest spoke up. "I don't believe that global warming is that big a deal," she said, rather frostily. "I am not convinced, and I don't see why we should have to change our way of life."

Third. The single solitary thing I remember from a humanities class I took in college where we were brushed ever so lightly with the Great Thinkers is Pascal's Wager. I'm sure you all know about this, especially folks like Larissa and Odious and Peculiar, who had that fabulous St. John's education. But I'll recap: Blaise Pascal argued that it was safer to believe in the existence of God than his/her absence. If there's not a God and you believe, the gambit goes, you've lost nothing by believing. If there is a God and you don't believe, boy are you in trouble after you die.

I'm not going to touch Pascal's Flaw, or my own beliefs on the God question, or how I think believing in God the way too many of us are taught to leads to rigid and inhumane behavior. Not my point, although I know some of you might like to muck around in decision theory for a while. But here's what strikes me about Pascal's construction: if we behave as if global warming really is a serious problem worth our attention and it turns out not to be, what have we lost? Besides our inefficient vehicles, our outmoded and resource-intensive technology, and our arrogance? Will it kill us to take a moment away from our other pursuits to demand more fuel efficiency, more bike paths, more personal, corporate, and political accountability?

Whereas if global warming is even half the problem Al Gore and his scientist buddies think it is, and we do not behave accordingly, boy are we in trouble while we--you and I, my clients' grandkids, that teenager's unborn son--live.

We are making the wager not only for ourselves, but other beings to whom we are responsible--people and creatures who cannot choose, as we can, to leave the car in the garage more often, or change out the lightbulbs, or vote for candidates who will protect what remains of the wilderness.

Are we choosing wisely?

Monday, July 10, 2006

a moment of silence

The West African black rhino appears to be gone. Poached to extinction.

Sometimes I'm ashamed to be a primate.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

weed, california

In one direction: Shasta, said to be one of the most magical mountains in the world. I've been about halfway up, a trip where I learned a useful thing--I am not terribly prone to altitude sickness. Home to snow, pine martens (remind me to tell that story sometime), and Lemurians!

In the other: The Hi-Lo Cafe. Been all the way inside that one. Home to fresh-made baked goods, biscuits and gravy, and Hashbrownians!

Friday, July 07, 2006

keeping my head down

As Miniver so helpfully reminds us, Mercury is retrograde right now. A fact which became clear to me the other day when I accidentally sent a private email to a group, or at least thought I had, and had a bit of a sweat until I figured out that I hadn't.

So I'm going to stick with photos a while longer. Safer! And by the way, I'm back in the yay area; I was only in Seattle for the weekend.

This pretty girl is Daisy, companion dog to Princess' sister and her family. They're out of town for a couple of weeks, and when we showed up Saturday night, sweaty, sunburned, and snippy, she wasn't too sure about us.But we won her over.

We couldn't find where the dogsitter had hidden her ball, so we bought a new one (Seattle is a very good place to buy things for dogs, if you're wondering) and discovered that the rumor was true: this girl is indefatigable.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Hmm. Looks like a brother to this fella. For some reason I find the boots unnerving. But not as much as the fact that he's, well, apparently stoned and partaking of his own flesh.

It is too easy, when choosing Seattle images, to involve fish, eagles, or coffee. So I'm trying to skip all those.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

losing a piece

Princess is moving to Seattle this weekend; he's trying to improve his quality of life and see more of his sister and her family by transferring to a different paper. I'm helping him drive up, which should be interesting. Because I haven't driven stick in years, and because he's sort of a scary driver himself--being the well-bred gentleman he is, he likes to make eye contact with the person he's talking to. Which is fine when you're sitting across the table with him, of course. Nervewracking when he's behind the wheel.

Anyway. After weeks of relative sloth, suddenly I have several pieces of writing due all at once. Not even laziness on my part, but other people's schedules, blah blah. A lot to write, not much time, and we leave Friday morning, and I try to think about this as a fun road trip to Seattle, not my handing my closest confidante and boon companion over to a new city. We were friends in college, and he moved out here soon after I did. I've known him for fifteen years, and boy do we have dirt on each other.

At his going-away party at the Lone Palm tonight, he hugged me as I was leaving and said, I'm glad I don't have to say good-bye to you yet, and I nearly lost my shit right there. I had risked a margarita, knowing that alcohol could make me maudlin, but I'd been doing fine up until that point talking to people I hadn't seen in a long time and others I'd heard about but never met. Catching up. E is pregnant with her third child. I finally met D's husband and their baby, and what a delight that was. Didn't realize that S is apparently seeing C's sister. Met D and V, both of whom I know solely through email, and liked them in person very much. The two of his ex-boyfriends with whom he'd had the longest relationships were there, and I was glad to see them. It was a very nice party as long as I didn't tell people how I really felt.

I feel safe saying this here because I know he doesn't read my blog, but I'm actually rather a wreck about this, when I let myself think about it. Which I've managed not to do for the past few weeks. That flight home Monday night, though, I suspect is going to suck.

Friday, June 23, 2006

another proof of the natural superiority of dark chocolate

It's safer.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

ah, george?

Are you sure you're getting across the right message when you say Iraq should take courage from Hungary's history? Because Hungary is finally free after being under the Soviet Union's thumb for so long? At least from the twisted way I see things, it's easier to equate Soviet Union (large external power) with the US (large external power) than with one internal dictator, which I think is the comparison you're trying to draw.

Or are you simply so determined to bring everything back to your precious stupid war that you will take any opportunity to reference it, no matter how inappropriate or ungermane doing so is?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sunday, June 18, 2006

someone else with ranids in the freezer

I can't begin to comment on this.
once a year, whether you need it or not

when no one is forgotten and nothing goes to waste
when sadness turns to laughter when anger's defaced
you'll start to know the way I feel about you

when weakness turns to power when evil turns to good
when the helpless are remembered by those who never would
you start to know the way I feel about you

and if I could, I'd run out into the street and I'd scream to everyone I'd meet
that I loved you more than words could say
and that I loved you more than life this father's day

when caring is exalted when kindness knows no bounds
when integrity comes easy when love is all around
you'll start to know the way I feel about you

and if I could, I'd run out into the world and tell every boy and girl to love
before love takes itself away
just like I'm loving you this father's day

Peter Himmelman, This Father's Day, off the 1986 album of the same name.

It is getting a little easier. This is my third. Not easy, but easier.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

any smack i've talked about the guild's booking agent?

Just forget it. I was an idiot. A fact that is coming vividly to life as I cover for her this month while she lollygags around at her ancestral home in the Phillipines, eating mangoes that have been lovingly wrapped in newspaper as they grew so their skins would be thin and tender.

This stuff is hard. I'm "on" for three hours, twice a week; the Guild's phone line has been forwarded to mine, and I hang out from three to six pm Tuesdays and Thursdays waiting for clients to call in with work, and models to call in to ask for work. There are quite a few more of the latter than the former right now, so it's kind of heart-breaking. So there's the time on the phone, which is non-stop, and then a couple hours afterwards where I call people back and wrangle the details. Oh, and some of this: I don't think we're the sort of modeling agency that can help you, ma'am, no matter how many people have told you your little son is cute enough to be in pictures. I really don't think these are the kind of pictures they mean.

Also, there are artists who don't want to work with specific models, and vice-versa, and a great deal of fancy-pants dancing around the subject when it comes up. No, Mister Client, I'm afraid Jane Model's not available. She's, ah, got another commitment. Ah yes, every week you're hoping to book. Yep.

One of the weirder challenges, though, played out today. I had a last-minute call from a guy who needed a female model for some photo work. Which is very expensive with us, prohibitively so, for various reasons that are not interesting. But this guy needed to shoot reference, and he had a fairly specific idea of body type, so I tried to find someone who was not me to do it.


So yesterday afternoon I had to call him and say, well, I'm tattooed, and I know that's not what you're looking for, but I can't find anyone who's available on this short notice who is also the kind of round you're looking for, and comfortable with photo work. He agreed that that was all fine, he was sure it would work, but then he woke me at nine freakin' ay am today to ask me what color I am, and if I can talk about my body type a little more because his wife had been explaining what various height/weight combinations should look like (there's a list of us on the Web site with just that info, and not much more), and here I was totally groggy and trying to explain that in my case 5'6" and 150 may sound a little heavy, but most of my junk's in the trunk, and I'm muscular but no longer cut (RIP aikido practice), and since I just got done with my period my breasts are about yay big, and there was a little part of my mind floating above the rest of the operation saying what in the name of Sam Hill is going on here? Shouldn't I be talking about what I can do, my skills and accomplishments, not my water retention?

But the checks clear. So I finished with him, and then went and shaved some things I don't usually (not those things) shave, cursing every artist everywhere, and went off to the Sunset to work. He seemed happy enough, if not ecstatic, but then it's hard to tell with artists, and it was a pleasant session. I drank honey-ginger tea and we talked about his kids.

Weird work, though. And I'm starting to see from how many sides it's weird.

Friday, June 16, 2006

no more red-eye flights for me

Looking for other ways to fight global warming besides using your bike and laying in a stock of energy-efficient lightbulbs? Here's a new thing to think about.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

so she accepts the process

Sunday night, I went out to a bar to hear a friend spinning obscure 80's music. I'm not sure which was more unnerving--realizing that I remembered at least 75% of the lyrics, or that nobody else in the bar recognized any of it. One woman came up and asked for the Rolling Stones. Another explained that she was from France, only planned to stay in the bar for another hour, and she'd better be hearing something she recognized in that time, like, oh, U2. Well, I'm afraid you're going to have to learn to live with disappointment, my friend more or less said. One guy won my undying admiration when he came up and asked for Gang of Four's At Home He's a Tourist; admiration only slightly dimmed by the fact that the guy then went on to describe how he just moved to SF from Florida and found an apartment and a $45k/year job in less than a week. In other words, he was really altogether too chipper for Go4, but I let it slide.

I kept thinking I should leave--Sunday is the night I write the stuff I get paid for, and I was pretty groggy anyway--but he kept putting on songs I liked and hadn't heard in years, so I kept not leaving. Content to sit in the dark nursing a pear cider and trying to remember what it was like, being sixteen, and hearing this stuff for the first time. Especially the Go4, to which Fig first introduced me, he of the poetry and clove cigarettes, but all of it: the English Beat, Ultravox, my beloved Adam, Siouxsie and the Banshees. The music I listened to as a disaffected teenager going to school in a wealthy suburb of Detroit, trying to make sense of the dominant teen culture and failing.

We'd talked about how there were songs we didn't like the first time that we do now. For me, some of that has to do with finally understanding what the lyrics are really about. It's easy enough at sixteen to know what a broken heart feels like, but it's entirely different at thirty-six, and doubtless forty-six and sixty-six and so on. The way everything becomes so subtle and complex, where it used to be so simple--and awful. We thought we knew from pain, I told him, but we didn't.

Or know that the pain that seems so terrible you can't bear it does eventually ease. It may not go away completely; your heart starts to feel like a room full of shadows, and it gets harder to approach any new situation with the same openness you once did. The losses start to feel different--am I feeling just this loss, or all of the ones that came before that I never fully metabolized? Which bruise am I poking here, exactly? Something promising evaporated not too long ago because the shadow in someone else's heart looked like me; I am all too aware that the losses I face now come with an aftertaste of my father's death, not yet fully absorbed.

But I'm getting there.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

the sort of thing you'll like, if you like this sort of thing

I may have to write a whole book about newly-discovered or re-discovered animals. You think? Because I love this stuff so much. Today, the Laotian rock rat, which was thought extinct, and waddles like a duck.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

my god, it's so big

I keep looking at this photo and thinking it's a fake, like this one. But it's not. The Beeb wouldn't lie to us, would it?

I'm too exhausted to make any sense today (one hour of sleep is just, well, dumb, no matter how fun the party was), but I want to mention that I got to spend the morning keeping a friend company as she got her very first tattoo, and Princess is upping stakes and moving to Seattle, and I have just learned that the next most important commodity worldwide after oil is coffee. Yes indeed! The author of the history I'm reading on the subject of coffee goes so far as to suggest we evolved into homo sapiens sapiens back in what is now Ethiopia because we were eating coffee beans off the trees and that made our brains faster.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

armchair budgeting

In the "so you think you can do better?" category comes this brilliant idea; I'd love to play an American version.

Friday, June 02, 2006

single girl pet peeve

from deep in the drafts folder

At the risk of sounding like I've been reading too much Chick Lit, I have to vent this--it's been bothering me for months now.

If I bring a date home, here are the photos they'll see: me, my parents, my grandparents, my friend Princess, Snufkina laughing with her hands over her mouth, and some guy's hands holding two mouse lemurs. But that's it. While I have some decent shots of old boyfriends, or of myself with old boyfriends, those photos are all in albums, or shoeboxes, or cleverly hidden in an envelope labelled "nudes" in inch-high black letters.

The point is, a man sleeping in my bed is not going to wake up to find himself staring into another man's eyes watching from the nightstand. You feel me? Who needs the aggravation? Yet I seem to be getting the aggravation myself a lot; over the past couple years, I've slept with men who had anywhere from one to a dozen photographs of other lovers, past or present, in various stages of dress or undress, prominently displayed in the bedroom. What's up with that? Do guys not understand how profoundly uncomfortable that can make a girl?

I think about all the nights and mornings I've spent wandering around strange bedrooms while the gentleman has been off brushing his teeth or whatever. I look at the photos, try to figure out when they were taken, whether the woman is a friend or sister or girlfriend or ex-wife or what. What really gets me are the four-photo strips you get in those booths at the mall. Sometimes those can break my heart.

Word to the wise.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

a joke overheard from another room

I'm sorry, I missed the beginning. Here's where I came in:

"...a terrorist has kidnapped Dubya and is asking for a million dollar ransom, or he'll douse the president with gasoline and set him on fire. So I'm taking up a collection."

"How much are people giving?"

"Oh, a gallon here, a gallon there."

Oh, here's another. This is rare; I'm usually never able to remember two jokes at once. It's like I only have space in my head for one at a time.

"George Bush is listening to your phone conversations. Use big words."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

another thing i wouldn't want to have to explain to my boss

And another reason I'm not trusting robots to get me places any time soon.

Monday, May 08, 2006

dolphins have names!

Wow. Wow wow wow.

Friday, May 05, 2006

are your snacks just too small?

Pimp My Snack can fix that. Giving the lie to the notion that only in the US do people go to sugary excess. It may be a little hard to understand for my American readers, being as it is written in British. But it's worth checking out, if only to put you off sweets for a few days.

Friday, April 28, 2006

heading to los angeles for the weekend

...and still really torn about whether to continue blogging. But I wanted to share this tidbit on a fresh facet of Islam that I think deserves more attention. Also, check out this wild and crazy Hungarian Jew. Don't think we're related, but I'd be okay with it if we were.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

there is no way this won't improve your day

Just trust me. Or rather, trust Kirsten, who saw it first.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

my first sketchcrawl

People drawing in groups. How novel to be one of them! A good day, even if the friend who invited me got the last chocolate croissant at the cafe where we met up, and I had to content myself with a plain one (quite dry) and a hot chocolate (sub-par).

Friday, April 21, 2006

easter with the sisters of perpetual indulgence

"Jesus in Bloom"--she did not win the Hunky Jesus contest, narrowly losing to Rocky Roulette (the pogo-stick stripper) as "Jumpin' Jesus." But she should have. My photos don't catch how radiantly gorgeous she was.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

si se puede

From the San Francisco march for immigration rights.

Monday, April 03, 2006

baby tamandua

I'd never even heard of this creature before Kirsten posted this great photo. I am falling behind in my zoological study!

Expect a blogging lull; I've met someone I like rather a lot and I don't want to jinx it by talking about it. In a few days I may have some thoughts on how drawing is taught, if you want to check back. Also, here are some more photos from Undulation.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


I'm in the last four. You can tell which one I am by looking for the dancer doing something different from the others. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

kristy from colorado solves anna k's problem

I love the book reviews on sites like Amazon. Here's one from Barnes and Noble:
This is a decent book, though very long, and could be shortened a bit. Some pieces seemed to really have no purpose. You have to be a fan of the classics to get thru this book, but all in all it is a good read. Trying to imagine this as it was written, over a hundred years ago, and experience life as it really was back then is thrilling. My only comment is that Anna Karenina was a spoiled brat as were the other women in that high society. Had they had jobs, or had they done something to occupy themselves, I think they all would have been happier.

Thanks everyone for checking in on me, post-Undulation. It went well enough, but raised a lot of issues for me. Still processing. And sleeping!

Friday, March 24, 2006

the model strikes back

I love drawing the artists when they're not drawing me.

Now I have to go paint those toenails black, and do a couple more backbends. At this time tomorrow... I should be coming off stage. Who's buying my first drink?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

t-minus forty-nine hours and counting

I really appreciate that nobody has called me on the fact that a couple of months ago, I was whining about leaving the company, and yet I'm still locked in pretty tight.

I am consistent in my inconsistency, I suppose; it is hard for me to leave things even when I've said that I'm going to. But more accurately in this case, I missed the point where it would have been graceful to leave, and decided to stay on to see this show through. Still ambivalent about what happens after the show's over, but really don't have the bandwidth (as we've been saying, all of us) to think that far ahead (ie, next week). It's a big deal that I managed to get a load of laundry done before I had to resort to wearing my prom dress (which would have been a problem, since I haven't got one, my school didn't do prom, much as a certain reader and I fantasized about dating boys from other schools and doing their homework in return for going to their proms. But I digress)

Anyway. How to put this delicately? We're behind. Unlike last year's set, which was one new piece and four older ones, this year the whole set is new, and several of the pieces include movements new to our vocabulary, Modern and Turkish Gypsy and Kalibeliya (Rom from Rajasthan). There are a lot of us to coordinate; there have been very few rehearsals with every dancer present. We're dancing choreographed pieces to live music, which we do rarely, and the whole band has yet to play together. We haven't been able to take a whole day to rehearse, instead eking out two hours here and two hours there at studios all over the area.

But it's beautiful. Last night we were at Shawl-Anderson over in Rockridge, with six of the seven musicians, and while I was waiting for my entrance cue, I kept seeing students from the regular classes peeking in the window from the hall, hanging over the banister of the stairs that lead to the second floor, clumping up in the space between our studio and the women's changing room. So I started going out to press flyers into sweaty hands. The whole thing, with costumes, Friday night, I kept saying. And dj's so you can dance too! S-A mostly offers ballet and modern, so I can't imagine what these folks were thinking as they watched us stir our masala, but they sure looked hungry.

At one point Earring and I are back to back, and do deep kneeling backbends at the same time. It's the one time I'll really be visible, truthfully. A) I'm still one of the taller dancers, so I'm in the back mostly and b) I'm still an apprentice, so I'm in the back mostly and c) the stage is narrow and deep, so I'm, well, you get it. Anyway, Earring's been concerned that I'm not ready for this backbend. So last night, somewhere between the third and eighth run-through, she said, the music's a lot slower live than the CD we've been practicing to. Our heads need to touch the ground on the four, shoulders on the five, and then come up. I've been saving it, I said, feeling a little uneasy that maybe I couldn't really do it. And I'm afraid we'll bonk heads again (this has happened a couple of times.) Well, don't save it this time, she responded. I can see you (and here she demonstrated the thing you're supposed to do with your head that I didn't previously understand) so I can go on the other side.

Okay then!

So on the next pass, I did the right thing with my head, so I could see her. And stuck my tongue out and made rude noises. Which I enjoyed much more than she did; she's pretty stressed out about, well, everything. But the move made more sense, I feel like I've got it, and now all I have to do is not fuck up my back between now and Friday night.

Afterwards, I went home with her to help make costumes. It wasn't like last year's trip to the Barn to build stuff. She was really quiet, we didn't have to push her gasless car out of an intersection, and mostly I stood there while she tried not to stick pins in me as she assembled skirts. Then I spent the night on her short couch, too congested to smell the puppy pee she'd warned me I'd find there, and surreptitiously sneaking candy eggs from a bag on the desk. This morning: banana pancakes and coffee with brown sugar from Cowboy, more pins narrowly avoiding the giant pincushion that is my tuchus, a spot of sewing on a beautiful old Singer I wanted to draw, and then home to the Spaceship to get ready to model in the afternoon. Which I did in the costume from last year's Undulation, yarn belt, and fishnet gauntlets, much to the delight and dismay of my artists (who had, I must mention, asked for it).

Point being. I've got one nerve left, my life is piling up around me, everyone who loves me knows not to ask anything of me right now, and there's a good chance I'll be up all night tomorrow doing one thing or another to help get us ready for this show, which is as stressful and pell-mell as anything I've seen the company do. I'll be onstage for probably a grand total of five minutes, after spending an hour getting my face on. I may spend the next two weeks in traction.

But it's beautiful. And that is what I tend to forget, when I think about leaving. There is something that happens here that isn't possible with one dancer, or even with a group of dancers with a different intent, composition, or artistic director. Whether I stay or go, I will have been part of something gorgeous; I will have helped make something instead of just commenting on whether someone else's something is worthwhile.

Which means a lot.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

i am the cheese

Friday, March 17, 2006

Thursday, March 16, 2006

waiting for the music to start

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

new sketchbook

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

pat robertson needs a pet scan

Or an MRI, or whatever it is you use to look for brain tumors. What in tarnation is he thinking? I am totally serious here. His pattern of saying bizarrely irresponsible things is starting to seem ever more suspect to me.

And don't anyone get on me about being insensitive to people with brain tumors. I have some experience in the matter.

Any time UPS feels like showing up with my package would be great. They're only two hours late now for their own deadline. And I'd be climbing the walls if they weren't so cold.
san francisco from marin, saturday march 11

The other side of the morning this happened; because the Waldo Tunnel was closed, northbound Golden Gate Transit busses had to go through Sausalito to get to Marin City. I ended up missing my connection and my client had to come pick me up in the oceanic parking lot of the Marin City mall, but some of the views from the diversion were moodily gorgeous. More so than this photo suggests.

Friday, March 10, 2006

my life

A woman in my travel writing class says that since she has no time to blog properly, she's been putting up photos with captions. Hmm. Let's see.



out drinking with Snufkina

Thursday, March 09, 2006


This is interesting. I've mentioned that in '95 I went to the NGO Forum that was an adjunct to the UN's Conference on Women as part of the Michigan delegation. It was an intense and educational week; eleven years later I'm still thinking about what I learned and saw.

When I got home, I was stunned to hear an American newscaster demeaning the conference because it "only" dealt with "women's issues" like clean water. As if getting clean water for one's family was on par, importance-wise, with making sure that their shoes and belts matched. Put a bunch of women together and they're not going to talk about the really important stuff, like wars and trade (although we did); they're going to worry about the health of their families and communities.

Well. Looks like clean water is actually important.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

boys in bikinis, girls on surfboards

My god, ain't science grand? I'm starting to wonder if some of these previously-undiscovered creatures that keep popping up haven't been seen before because they're recent evolutions of older designs. Not in this particular case, but some of the others. Too tired to speculate right now, but maybe after Undulation is over and I can think about anything besides choreography, carrots, and laundry, I'll do some research.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

yes, but i don't get sent to walter reed for my skinned knees

An alert reader points us to this story that reveals I am not alone in my inability to ride my bike one-handed. While not nearly as scary as the Cheney Buckshot Hoedown, it's yet more proof that we just shouldn't let these guys out. What's next, puking at fancy state dinners? Oh, wait, we've seen that already.

thanks to Tamburas

Saturday, March 04, 2006

charlie the lab

Has been with his person for nine years. As a puppy, he was about as big as his head is now. When he lays on the floor of the Dane's studio, Dolce and Guido come out from under their blanket mound to sniff at him, which looks a lot like any science fiction movie where there are shuttles or fighters docking on a much, much larger spaceship. Yesterday I noticed that Charlie's tail was as long as Dolce's whole body.

One of the reasons I've been so busy the past few weeks is that modeling has become eerily similar to a full-time job. I modeled every day this week, and four mornings out of five I started at 9 am. One of those days I spent at a high school in Oakland, working on a stand made of four desks pushed together, and the students arrived in waves, every ninety minutes. I wore a leotard, which was a strange experience. I felt more exposed than if I had been nude. Is it riding up on my butt? How's the bikini line? Can they see down the front if I lean forward? Not that I needed to worry about that last, as I had less bustage than most of the girl students, which I tried not to think about.

The whole thing was really weird, actually; I kept thinking about that Drew Barrymore movie where she's an adult who goes back to high school undercover for her newspaper, and has to deal with all the insecurities of being a teenager again. I found myself caring entirely too much about what these kids thought of me and what I was doing. I wondered if my clothes seemed hopelessly square. I imagined that I seemed impossibly old to them, and wished that my legs weren't covered in "need to let the hair grow out long enough to wax" stubble. When two girls sitting directly in front of me didn't understand an exercise they'd been assigned and gave up three minutes into a ten-minute pose, choosing instead to giggle and whisper and write notes to each other after staring at me, I wanted to grab my dorky clothes (jeans and hoodie, mind, same as everyone else there except the teacher) and flee the room.

Excuse me ladies, please, I tried instead. That's very distracting, and makes me feel like I'm not doing my job. They looked shocked. I fervently prayed for the class to end. Somewhere to my right, a faint whiff of bass rose from someone's iPod. To my left, a dark-eyed boy in long shorts and the ubiquitous hoodie, a boy who had asked as he sat down but what if you can't draw?, softly swore.

They don't understand that it doesn't come easy, any of it. They get upset with themselves when they don't get it "right". They think they should be able to get it the first time, and lose focus when it doesn't happen that way. Which makes them no different from adults, I suppose; the big difference seems to be that as you get older, you get better at concealing your distress.

I was glad when that day was over, even if it turned over some compost for me and gave me interesting stuff to meditate on. Modeling is some of the most vulnerable work I've done. True to the writer stereotype, I've held a lot of different jobs, but I never felt like I was offering myself in quite the same way when I held down a desk. Not because of the nudity, really. That's almost secondary. But the essence of what I do: try to help other people access their own creative core, with all the feelings that can stir up.

Feelings that adult artists are much better at masking.

Friday, March 03, 2006

eight hours in a row...

I plan to sleep tonight. Man is it going to be great, especially after a long day of griping with artist clients about the latest White House hijinks and then waiting on economists at a conference sponsored in part by the Carlyle Group. Cognitive dissonance? Indeed, indeed. But nothing that a good night tangled in flannel and down won't fix.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

playing hooky

Overwhelmed by rehearsing, modeling, being ill, and generally rushing headlong from place to place, I bailed on my travel writing class tonight and stayed home. And did nothing on the Super Critical Urgent list. Instead I moved furniture, made and ate a salad, and scribbled this picture based on something I saw done in one of the classes I worked for today.

First the students did a minute-long gesture drawing using colored chalk, then they spent five or ten more minutes doing a contour drawing over the first image. The end result was charming--simple wrinkly-lined drawings with a little color and motion--so I resolved to try it myself at the first opportunity. Which was looking like April, until I decided to stay in tonight.

I think this took about ten minutes, and while it's not exactly deathless art, I felt a lot better after I'd finished it. Rested. I don't understand why I don't draw more frequently. I always enjoy it, even when the finished image disappoints--and that's ten minutes I didn't spend French-kissing the vodka bottle, hm?