Friday, December 28, 2001

Happy Hundredth, Marlene!

Today is Marlene Dietrich's 100th birthday! It's also my next-door-neighbor Marion's birthday (I think she's ninety-something), and my friend John's birthday. Oh, yeah, it's my birthday too!

Every year in my adult life, I have gone shopping in San Francisco on my birthday. It got started back when my Daddy used to always give me Emporium Capwell gift certificates for Christmas/B-day (remember Emporium?...that's going back a long way), so I would go to San Francisco and shop at the big Emporium on Market at Powell, buy something cute for myself, and treat myself and a friend to a nice lunch somewhere while I was about it. Later on, when I didn't have any money to speak of, I would still go to Union Square (usually with my best friend Fred), and do some extensive window shopping, winding up with Happy Hour martinis at the Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

Well, now that I have a little money and a bit of a shopping addiction, my Birthday Shopathon has taken on a new meaning. It's not my only big shopping expedition of the year, but it's the only one I really plan out. And it's the day I like to make major (or at least special) purchases. Last year I went to the Jessica McClintock outlet first and bought a bunch of dresses (like this one), then went to Burlington Coat Factory and got a really beautiful Nautica microfiber trench-coat (I had always wanted a good trenchcoat and could never really afford one before) as well as a few other odds and ends, then went along to the City Tow to rescue my car (I had parked on a street that turns into a no-parking zone at four p.m., and I got to the street at four-ten, just in time to see my car disappear around the corner...though the City Tow was only two blocks away, it took three hours and about two hundred dollars to get it back). Though I had planned to lunch at my favorite Italian red-and-black cafe in Union Square and absorb a bit of Macy*s, I had to just go on home.

Well, this year was surprisingly similar. I started again at Jessica McClintock, and bought a whole lotta dresses. Really fabulous dresses, too: a gold lamé crossover-bodice gown, a chocolate/mauve taffeta dinner gown with a lapeled bodice and huge circle skirt, a rose/beige irridescent taffeta pleated evening gown with matching scarf, and a deep purple strapless princess-satin sheath with purple rhinestone trim; I also managed to grab a couple of dresses for my little sister, Miss Daisy; not to mention a couple of corset-bodices that make really cute belts and a bag full of 'notions,' bits of jewelry that can be sewn onto dresses or made into earrings and necklaces.

Once thoroughly sated there, I got into the car and headed back to San Francisco proper, and was immediately ensnarled in traffic. I parked myself in my favorite garage on Fourth and Mission, and walked the block and a half to Burlington. I rummaged around for quite a while in the women's departments and only found a couple of dresses, both black, one short velvet cowl-necked thing and a longer chiffon-over-satin evening dress. Then downstairs to shop for a suit! Though I wanted to get the suit while the Grandmother was with me, I figured I'd better strike while the iron was hot (and I had her credit card with me in case I did find the suit I wanted). Well, I found the suit I was looking for (black striped jaquard worsted, three buttons, gorgeous!), and another one that I hadn't even thought to want beforehand but absolutely had to have once I tried it on (taupish-charcoal herringbone worsted/cashmere blend, four buttons, from Italy), both at utterly criminal prices. One downer, though: apparently I have grown a bit since the last time I bought a suit (just this last Summer) waist was all the way up to a 36—and even more embarrassing, the tailor had to let out the seat! I wanted to crawl into a hole and die! I guess it's time to start exercising and dieting again. Of course, maybe I shouldn't, since I (or, rather, Grandmother) just paid $375 for the two suits and alterations that fit me as I am. Hmmmm...something to think about, there.

Well, after all that, I wasn't really up to any more shopping, so I got back in the car to head home...but I couldn't even get out of the garage! It was of course just around six o'clock; five movies had just let out of the Metreon across the street, all the offices and shopping venues were emptying out, it was raining and traffic was a nightmare! After sitting in line in the car for twenty minutes without moving more than fifteen feet from my original parking space, I gave up and parked Miss Marjorie (and her new tires) right back in the same slot and went to wait somewhere more fun. I went to San Francisco Centre and wandered around Nordstrom's and all the little shops in the mall, where I found nothing I could afford; then down to the Virgin Megastore, where I found nothing I even remotely wanted; then over to Macy*s, where I found nothing that was worth standing in line to buy. I guess the shopping mood had left me. But I managed to kill a couple of hours, and when I got back to the garage, there was nobody else there and I sailed right out onto Fifth, thence to the depopulated Bay Bridge, and home again home again jiggety-jig in less than fifteen minutes.

And so here I sit, surrounded by my spoils (except for the suits...they won't be ready 'til Saturday) and massaging my poor aching feet, telling you all about it. It was a birthday to remember! And very very happy.


Wednesday, December 26, 2001

I laughed, I cried, I ate pie...

Happy Boxing Day, my darlings! Today is the day observed in the British Commonwealth for giving gifts to retainers and employees and the local poorfolk (preferably in boxes, hence the name)...I have no retainers or employees, and there are no poorfolk anywhere nearby (the geographic stratifications of real estate being what they are), so I had to do the American thing and lounge around in my PJs, eat pie for breakfast, snack on leftover turkey, and gloat over my unwrapped presents beside my now-anachronistic tree.

Actually, I didn't get many packages from la famille at last night's wrapping-paper orgy. My sister gave me a beautiful vintage overcoat, my aunt bestowed upon me an electric coffee grinder (something I've always wanted but for some reason never bought myself) and a pound of Starbuck's, my other aunt gifted me with a pair of hand-painted Bakelite bracelets (that unfortunately don't fit over my big hammy hands, so they'll have to go in the Display Collection), and my cousin & her hubby gave me a mulberry turtleneck sweater that was so perfect for me that the only reason I didn't already have one exactly like it is because the line at Old Navy was so long when I saw said sweater there that I didn't get it. Also, my mother sent me a fabulous white beaded cocktail dress, though I couldn't open that one in front of the Grandmother.

But still, the output of presents far outweighed the intake. Of course, the kids don't generally give gifts, though they get them, and Daddy didn't have an opportunity to get out shopping this year. Then my grandmother and my uncle gave me things that can't be wrapped, presenting verbs rather than nouns: my uncle is taking me to get new tires for Miss Marjorie, which she sorely needs (Uncle tells me I'm taking my life in my hands every time I drive on those tires, but "taking one's life in one's hands" seems a bit dramatic for a Volvo, so I tend not to believe him); and then Grandmother is going to take me to buy a new suit later in the week.

These rather generous gifts encompass both Christmas and my Birthday (which is tomorrow), which is one of the small benefits of having these two so close together...when people do give me combination gifts, they're really nice.

All gifting aside, the Christmas day gathering went very well. Dinner was great, most of it was even served hot (very rare around here), and a good time was had by all. This year's turkey was probably the best yet (I wish the carcass was still around for picking at, but my aunt took it home with her...only fair, since she brought it). Grandmother's stuffing was also exemplary this year, and I gathered kudos for my candied yams. The pies all turned out rather well, the apple being especially tasty. And then, wonder upon wonders, my cousin and her husband washed all the dishes! The kitchen is cleaner now than it was before we started!

Well, now I'm resting up for my Annual Birthday Shopathon tomorrow. I plan to start at the Gunne Sax Outlet (Jessica McClintock Company Store) in South San Francisco, my favorite place for getting fabulous formals at shockingly cheap prices; then on to the Burlington Coat Factory in SoMa (and this time I won't park in a tow-away zone like I did last year, which curtailed my shopping by dipping into my time and bank account in a most egregious manner), and then perhaps to (C)Ross Dress for Less to see what they have, and then the Union Square circuit from Nordstrom to Virgin Megastore to Macy*s to Saks to Britex to Rizzoli, and then back across the bridge to pick up a few staples at Sears (they make the best Queen-sized opaque tights), indulge in a few favorite local consignment shops, and finally home again, replete with pleasure, burdened with bags, and notably poorer.

I'll let you know how it turns out, darlings!

Monday, December 24, 2001

My Grown-Up Christmas Wish

All I want for Christmas is a full-length silver fox opera cape, something big and heavy from Harry Winston, a silver Jaguar S-Type, a townhouse on Presidio Heights, a weekend cottage on Maui, a fawn-and-white shih-tzu, a hot-n-pretty twenty-year-old houseboy/sex-slave, and a trust fund in the high nine figures. Is that so much to ask? It's not like I'm asking for world peace or anything frivolous like that. C'mon, Santa, throw me a bone!

Well, they say it's better to give than receive (whoever they are, and I'd be interested in knowing what, exactly, their credentials are that allow them to make such idiotic pronouncements), and I do love to give Christmas gifts. I managed most of my shopping in one day, but today I found that perfect gift for my Grandmother, and I'm really excited about it. I had planned to buy Raiders tickets for her and my uncle (they're both football fans), but I discovered to my great chagrin that the Coliseum box office was closed today. There were a lot of other people there, too, hoping to gift their loved-ones with tickets to the last game of the Season...and they were all as pissed off as I was that we couldn't have them. While standing in a parking lot and cursing Al Davis and the Raiders is a lot of fun, it isn't very productive. So my high-school chum Caroline and I went down to Piedmont Avenue to get some cheese and pâté from the Piedmont Grocery (she works near there, and stops by daily to graze the freebies, and while treating their sample table as her personal luncheon buffet, she got addicted to their inhouse pâté, Goose Mousse...which, by the way, is delicious, but not as delicious as the bag-boy whom I would like to interview for Item 7 on my Wish List); on our way there, we stopped in a few of the ateliers and boutiques that line that particular thoroughfare. In Bansuri (a cute little shop that recently relocated to Oakland from Larkspur), I found a gorgeous scarlet enamel pen for my uncle while Caroline availed herself of the free Chai tea; in my favorite consignment shop, Classy Lady, I found the perfect gift for my Grandmother, a gorgeous opal was rather more expensive than I like to spend on Xmas gifts, but for five perfect beautiful white opals in 14kt gold it was an absolute steal.

So now all I have to do is wrap everything, shove it under the tree (which I decorated Saturday, with as much taste as could be managed with the garish multihued materials I was forced to work with), and wait for the relatives to show up tomorrow. But I still don't really feel Christmassy. The stockings are hung by the chimney, but I just can't bring myself to care.

Even after last night's show (which was amazingly spectacular), I'm in a Bah-humbug frame of mind. That brimming, mushy, glowing, caroling sensation that I have always assumed to be The Christmas Spirit has yet to manifest itself in my bosom. The tree looks good, the dinner will be great, the house is clean, everything looks to go off without a hitch. The gifts that make up the high focal point of my Christmas are fine, too—I'm fairly happy with the gifts I got for others, and look forward to seeing what sorts of things my family will bestow upon me tomorrow; the gifts I've already exchanged with my friends have been universally satisfactory...a 2002 Harry Potter desk calendar, Judith Martin's latest opus Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millenium (by the way, I am not related to that Miss Manners, as many people think; Miss Marlénè springs from the Dukes-of-Rutland Mannerses), a triple-strand Hattie Carnegie pearl-and-cranberry-crystal necklace with matching earrings, a beautiful makeup kit in a gorgeous faux-suede carrying case, a bamboo fortune plant, and a still-in-the-box 50's-vintage L'Amour de Paris parure...a fairly tidy haul so far. But still, no chestnuts roasting on the open fire of my heart.

Oh, well. I'm enough of an actress to go through the motions. In the meantime, if your reading along Mr. Claus, If you would care to fill in some of the blanks in my life (as indicated in the above list), it would go a long way to making a bitter old queen Believe Again.

Friday, December 21, 2001

Emptor Victoria!

I win! I've beaten the impotence! Oh, my darlings, I feel so much better!

Yesterday I was sitting in the office, surfing porn all undisturbed and remarking to myself on how quiet the phones were, when the lyrics to a song occurred to me: "God is tryin' to tell you something!" Why was I wasting my time in the office when there was SHOPPING to be done?!? Perhaps God gave me this lacuna in my working day so that I could fill it as my destiny requires. So, I turned off the computer and the portable heater and the coffee pot, flung my cream lambswool scarf (hand-knitted by Chinese sweatshop workers) around my neck with purpose, and set out to reclaim my title as The Queen of Shopping.

It all unfolded in a rather amusing manner. I stopped off at Home Depot on Davis Street in San Leandro first, to buy a showerhead (see my blog below), and then wandered in to the See's Candy store adjacent and picked up several boxes of mixed variety for extra gifts (the office cleaning lady and landlord, the wonderful Julie and cutie-pie Jeff at the sammich-shop). Well, that little bit inspired me, and I wandered southward to Marina Boulevard where the Marina Outlet Stores huddle beside the Nimitz Freeway, glowing like Paradise in the rain. The Mikasa outlet was my first stop, and yielded two gifts: a candy dish and a crystal pie-server (see previous blogs for my family's feeling about pie). Then on to Nordstrom Rack, where I found many things! Well, I didn't really see anything that jumped out at me, even at outlet prices most of the merchandise was a little out of my range, and the line was of unbelievable length. But just before I left, I wandered through the accessory aisles and found a ring that I just had to have (a cubic zirconium of dazzling vastness, in a starburst setting). Well, I couldn't stand in that epic line for just one ring, but I had to have the I made a second circuit of the store and snatched up gifts for my father, both my aunts, my sister, and Shiloh. O blessed catharsis!

Well, now I was on a roll! I got back on the freeway and thought about the last few gifts I needed to get...and thought of what to get for my Grandmother and my Uncle (as I was passing the Coliseum...'nuff said); then headed towards one of my favorite emporia, Barnes & Noble, where I picked up a bunch more gifts...mostly filling out the many-items-in-one-gift things I'd started for some of my friends...I even managed to pick up a copy of Lord of the Rings so that I will be prepared to see the movie over the Winter Vacation...and then jaunted a block and a half to the Jack London Cinema for a gift certificate. And with that, I AM FINISHED! My Christmas Shopping is complete!

Oh, what a load off! Literally! It feels just like I hadn't had an orgasm in weeks, and now I'm reeling in the afterglow of consummation!

Now all I have to do is decorate the tree, clean the house, decorate the house, do some laundry, wrap all of my and Grandmother's presents, prepare for and perform in a show, exchange presents with certain of my friends, bake yams, help Grandmother make pies, set the table, and do all the other little Christmassy things that have to be done before 2 pm on Tuesday. Piece of cake!

Xmas XOs,

Thursday, December 20, 2001

Shopping Impotence!

Help! I am suffering from Retail Dysfunction! Somebody invent Visa Viagra!

Last evening I spent four hours at Southland Mall, investigating every shop, considering every kiosk, scouring every shelf...and I came away with only one present! Sob! I'm so ashamed!

But I will not be conquered. I am a Shopper! I Shop! I will not let the complete lack of taste displayed by department stores and boutiques get me down! I will not let the rain, the crowds, the screaming children, or restrained finances keep me from maintaining my reputation as acheteur par excellence. I have seven presents to buy and I will buy them before this week is out! And they will be fabulous! I will reap accolades from my family..."Oh, it's exactly what I've always wanted" they'll say, tears of gratitude leaping from their eyes..."Why, it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," they'll exclaim, galvanized with joy..."How did you ever guess I needed this?" they'll ask incredulously as their deepest desires are unwrapped for all to see.

In the meantime, I still have to go to the Home Depot for the new shower head. The tree stand is already in place, as is the I have to decorate it. And I have to clean the house. And wrap Grandmother's presents for her. And help cook pies and yams. And pretend to be enjoying myself. And hide my disgust at the effusion of Christian festival. And get over this cold that won't leave me alone. And get some rest. Oy gevalt.

Someday, I will act out my own Christmas Fantasy: I will go away to an islamic country, someplace warm and scenic and historical...Egypt, I think, the Land Before Time (ahh, winter on the Nile); I will avoid all Europeans and Americans and South Americans and anybody else who would be so gauche as to cart their idiotic Christmas rituals with them to the oldest nation on earth; I will sit on a veranda with a view of the Temples of Luxor, and I will IGNORE CHRISTMAS. Oh, what bliss it will be! Of course, knowing my own perverse heart, I will probably be lonely and homesick spending Christmas in Luxor. But then, I will later appreciate family traditions more, if I ever had the chance to miss them.

Well, whatever. No use struggling against the inevitable. Christmas is. And I have to deal with it. And I will! I will!

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

The Tree

There is a seven-foot Douglas fir in a bucket on my front porch. I have to go to the Home Depot and buy a stand before I can put it in the house. While I'm there, I have to buy a new shower head to replace the one that rocketed off the spigot earlier in the week, spraying me with hot water and chagrin. I hate the Home Depot. In fact, I hate all hardware stores and all warehouse a warehouse hardware store is really really low on my list of places to go.

The only presents I've bought so far are for myself, as well as my coworkers and one of my friends; that leaves nine relative who will be at the house on Christmas and four friends with whom I exchange gifts (fortunately, several of my relatives won't be with us on Xmas, and don't deserve anything anyway). I have not sent my Christmas cards, I can't find the ones I bought on sale last year and don't have the energy to look for new ones...I guess I'll be doing New Year's cards again. Nor have I sent any of the mail-away presents for the out-of-town people in my life (except my Mother...she always gets a pound of Godiva, which I remembered to buy online today, but had to pay $16 in postage to get it there before Christmas). I have to buy insurance for my car and send in the proof of it to the DMV before my registration expires on my birthday...two days after Christmas, I will turn 34 (and Marlene Dietrich will have been 100). I have one week to do absolutely everything...

Somebody please shoot me.

Fremde, Etranger, Stranger...

Hello, stranger!

Okay, entry number two. I'm still at the stage of feeling very self-conscious of my blog, not quite comfortable enough to really get down to the nitty gritty and write something useful. I've spent most of today playing around with the HTML, learning all sorts of fascinating things as I go along. I'm working on getting this page to look the way I want, and am playing and tweaking and fine-tuning all over the place. I hope you like it!

The main thing I've been trying to do is get comments. Unfortunately, the whole comment thing is a big problem right now...Reblogger and Snorland are apparently not stable, and BlogBack isn't taking new clients. I guess the world hasn't caught up with the popularity of blogging yet! In the meantime, if you have something you want to say, just drop me an email. I answer most of them!

Monday, December 17, 2001

Wilkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!

My first very own blog entry. Here I go, ready to crack a bottle of Veuve Clicquot over my prow. Crash! Tinkle! The brass band strikes up a rousing march, "Ritorna vincitor" from Aïda. A multitude of ribanded dignitaries shake my hand as I make my way to the plank. A hunky Greek in a tight, starched, very brief white uniform manhandles me on board. I wave from the deck, blowing kisses and strewing Leonidas roses. Then the ship hits an iceberg, and we all go down. Of course, the iceberg is only about an inch square, the bay is the depth of a 12-ounce glass, and "going down" means different things to different people (especially hunky Greeks).

Well, that wasn't so hard, was it?! I promise it will get better as I figure out what I am doing. All I know is that I love to blog, and I had to have my own blog spot, and so here we all are. Enjoy!