Saturday, August 31, 2002

Out of the Purdah & Into the Poorhouse

I have been having the most glorious time shopping for jewelry online. And yes, I know it's not quite September yet, but it will be when the goodies arrive, so I figure that's close enough. At any rate, the Great Jewel Fast is quite definitely over with. O, blessed release!

There are pros and cons to my shopping so far... the bracelet I ordered at HSN is not going to happen, apparently. The Home Shopping Network cannot manage to "get authorization from your financial institution"... but I know perfectly well that the problem exists only in HSN's databases. After all, has no trouble accessing my finances, nor does PayPal. But I don't want that bracelet badly enough to call their 800-number and fight over it. So instead, I went over to eBay to run a favorite search and visited some favorite vendors there... and after scanning through quite a lot of jewelry (and so much fun that is, even when so little of it is available in my size... just looking at all that jewelry set my heart a-singin'), I ended up buying three really lovely pieces... these three, to be exact:

The piece on top is the Suzanne Somers Multi CZ bracelet (both multi-color and multi-shape), the bottom left is the Suzanne Somers CZ Star Necklace, and the bottom right is the Suzanne Somers Pink Trilliant Solitaire ring. Have I mentioned that I love Suzanne Somers' jewelry? All from eBay, and all for a grand total (with shipping) of $124.65! Now, when I first discovered Suzanne Sommers at HSN, the bracelet had just sold out, and the necklace and ring are no longer in production, either. And the pink trilliant solitaire is a piece I've been looking for lo these many years, ever since I wrote exactly one such piece of jewelry (except as a real diamond) into my second (as yet unfinished) novel as a significant prop. And the necklace will be my first cubic zirconium necklace (though I've plenty of rhinestones and quite a few faux pearls), which will go very nicely with the many cubic-zirconium bracelets (mostly Suzanne Somers) and rings (none Suzanne Somers) and the one pair of cubic zirconium earrings (also not Suzanne Somers) that I already have.

And with all these Suzanne Somers yummy-goodies available at eBay, HSN can go whistle for my financial institution's authorization. So there! (though I will no doubt continue shopping at HSN, and will eventually get them straightened out about my banking info, but not this month... I figure I'll grab something off my wish-list once a month until I've got everything I want).

So anyway, there's that. I'm glad I went on the Jewel Fast, but I am even more glad that the Fast is broken. It's painful and frustrating to deny one's-self the things that make one happiest. But pain and frustration are good for the soul, you know.

Speaking of which, I spent most of today in bed, watching movies: Cecil B Demented and Titus. The former was not as entertaining the second time around (I saw it in the theatre when it first came out), I suppose because the shock factor was missing. But still, it was a fun watch. Disturbing, but fun... like a John Waters film should be. The latter is one of my favorite films, a visual feast by a truly visionary director, disturbing and breathtaking and gorgeous and fascinating, as a Julie Taymore film should be.

Julie Taymore's work is really quite fascinating. I first encountered her in college, during the course of my Critical Review class, the theme of which was to consider same 'texts' in different media... for example, we read the true story on which Madama Butterfly was based, then saw Puccini's opera, then saw the film M. Butterfly; similarly we read the short story (by de Maupassant, if I remember) upon which Bizet based the opera Carmen; then we read the libretto for the same; then watched a Spanish film which treated of a tango troupe staging an all-dance version of Carmen, with all the attendant chaos and drama that a Spanish tango-troupe can manage. At any rate, we also read Edgar Allen Poe's short story, "Hop-Frog," then watched the Julie Taymore short film based on that work, Fool's Fire. It was one of the most disturbing pieces of film I've ever seen, but utterly fascinating at the same time. Her use of inhuman grotesquerie to underline all-too-human evil and bigotry, her playing of Medieval perspective against Baroque detail, her utterly realistic puppetry alongside two human dwarf actors, was utterly magical.

I later followed Ms. Taymore's other work, which was documented in a PBS special shortly after the stage success of The Lion King. I hope that she comes out with something new soon... I'd love to see what she comes up with next. But really, Titus is the most amazing film. The utter reality of it all, slammed up against the utter unreality of it all, with some of Shakespeare's most turgid texts and stellar performances from Anthony Hopkins (one expects no less), Jessica Lange, Alan Cumming and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (as well as many others whose names do not spring automatically to my lips). It's a super-wowie!

So, that's what my day has been like. Tomorrow I am going to clean the garage. I was going to do it today, but I was too tired from my work-week and too busy with my jewel-hunting and film-absorption (plus finishing my Ngaio Marsh novel). And then on Monday, I'll clean some more... since historically Labor Day has always been a day of great labors for me (ironically enough... or is it really irony?) Well, Power to the People... the Great Unwashed, even.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Out of Purdah

My self-imposed jewelry-fast ends this weekend. I have already splurged out at HSN and ordered a bracelet that I really love and which has the added attraction of having gone on sale at 40% off since I added it to my "wish list" three months ago. But then, I've been having trouble getting HSN and my bank to see eye-to-eye in regard to my card number, they keep turning down payment for no apparent reason. I'll have to look into that.

I want to go on this great jewel-garnering binge, but I know I can't afford to spend money on jewelry... I have to spend it on my teeth and my car. But I figure I deserve this bracelet as a reward for being good for three months. And at least now I feel like I can look at jewelry again, though I must remain prudent about buying any. It's quite a relief, I have to tell you.

So in other news... there is no other news. I've been having a very boring day. And now I'm going to go home and have a very boring weekend. I have to clean up my drag-room in the basement, and then clean out the garage, all in preparation for having some men come out and bolt our house to the foundations (something we'd intended to do shortly after the '89 Loma Prieta quake, but which we never got around to dealing with). I shall also be doing a bit of laundry.

I hope I don't die from the excitement. Or maybe I hope I do. I don't know.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

A Day in the Life

8 am: Hit snooze button. Repeat action every nine minutes for two hours or until actually awake.

10 am: Sit up; read a piece of AA Literature; pray and meditate.

10:30: Wake up again from falling asleep during meditation. Read a few pages of Death of a Fool by Ngaio Marsh.

11 am: Drag tired carcass out of bed. Sneer with disgust at reflection of saggy-baggy naked 34-year-old body in full-length mirror. Drink coffee. Shower. Decide to skip shaving. Eat lime nonfat yogurt and buttered white toast for breakfast. Dress in as becoming a manner as possible. Talk disjointedly to the Grandmother. Walk around in circles trying to remember what you're doing.

12 pm: Leave for the office, where you were supposed to be at 11.

12:30: Answer phones, type a document in which you describe the functions of two fairly useless executive positions in as few words as possible. Wish you had never gotten up.

1 pm: Route faxes to and from boss, discuss Fee-Payers' Notice requirements and materials with boss and bookkeeper, listen to baby fussing. Wish you had never been born.

2 pm: Draft letter, print copy of Fee-Payers' Notice from last year; wrestle with the toner cartridge in the printer to try and get rid of the big white blank stripe on the side of your prints; wish everyone would just drop dead.

3 pm: Get hungry. Realize that you can't get a sandwich at either of the sandwich places because they're both closed now.

3:15: Realize that even if you go to the liquor store for a made-yestrerday-with-no-mayo sandwich, you don't have enough cash in your pocket to pay for it. Eat a can of tuna instead.

4 pm: Write an advice column for the Galaxy Girls website.

5 pm: Post the article. Switch over to Mannersism and try to think of something witty to write about.

5:15: Seek inspiration looking over yummy pix at beautifully designed but oddly coded Japanese beefcake site.

5:30: Start writing about your day in itinerary format. Try to convince yourself that this will be even remotely interesting to anybody anywhere at any time. Decide you don't care if anyone is interested.

5:45: Start worrying about reading your own work out loud at a salon to which you've already accepted the invitation.

6 pm: Post your idiotic drivel to Blogger.

6:30: Get in the goddamned car and wrestle your way through the goddamned traffic.

7 pm: Eat dinner, do laundry, watch television.

12 am: Start thinking about going to bed.

1 am: Actually get in bed, watch some porn (etc.), read some more of my book.

2 am: Actually go to sleep, and wonder tomorrow why I can't wake up at 8 am.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

"- - - - -"

I'm drawing a total blank. This is like the fifth time I've logged into Blogger in the last two days, and I just never can think of anything to say. It's really awful!

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let's see what we can get out of this:

Nope...all I get is two words: hubba hubba! I'm going to go eat Nestlé Tollhouse cookies now. And then pray this dry spell lets up soon. Geez.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Another Hundred

Well, wandering around the web today, I took note of this interesting meme or project or whatever it is... and my regular readers will now be braced for yet more superfluous information about ever-so-fascinating Me.

100 Things about Me

(formulated randomly, then placed in alphabetical order by third word)

1) I've attended 17 different schools.

2) I'm not afraid of death.

3) I am an ardent Anglophile.

4) Nipples fascinate and sometimes horrify me.

5) Baroque art, architecture, décor, and music make me horny.

6) I'm not as much of a bitch as I like to pretend.

7) I was attacked by spiders when I was four.

8) Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty's Waltz" is my favorite piece of music.

9) I have been fascinated by pornography since I was three.

10) I've never been stung by a wasp.

11) I never believed in Santa Claus.

12) I like big cubic zirconium better than little diamonds.

13) Orchestral violins bore me.

14) I was born on an Army base.

15) My favorite card game is Rummy.

16) I hate cats, but all my friends love them.

17) I dislike change, but do not fear it.

18) I need coffee to live, but I'm not very picky about it.

19) My favorite color changes every few months.

20) I do crossword puzzles in ink.

21) I enjoy driving.

22) I am easily entertained.

23) I love egg-shaped things.

24) I love elephants.

25) I don't enjoy dancing in public.

26) I seldom ever celebrate my birthday.

27) I am forever fascinated by my own writing.

28) I'm very forgetful, yet I remember so many irrelevant things.

29) I come from a family of unusually large-headed people.

30) I look good in bright colors but prefer to wear neutrals.

31) I've never had a wet dream.

32) I've never had a pet that died of natural causes.

33) I've never had a passport.

34) I've never had a suntan, only burns and freckles.

35) I haven't had sex in over six years.

36) If I had to choose between my survival or my scruples, I would be dead.

37) I have hairy feet.

38) No one has ever been in love with me.

39) I think I could do a pretty good job as a member of the British Royal Family.

40) I wish I'd done a lot of things differently.

41) I believe in Reason and Scientific Method.

42) Religious people irritate me.

43) My mother is a WASP who aspired to, and succeeded in becoming, White Trash.

44) My father is a natural-born mechanic.

45) Cruella DeVil is my favorite cartoon character.

46) Ella Fitzgerald is my all-time favorite singer.

47) I don't know how to cheat at games.

48) I don't like beaches very much.

49) I don't like being naked unless covered in blankets or water.

50) I only like hot chocolate when it's raining out.

51) I don't like oral sex.

52) I hate Madonna.

53) I buy magazines just for the pictures.

54) Pastel colors make me anxious but I wear them anyway.

55) I think men in suits are sexy.

56) Jewelry is my favorite inanimate object.

57) Chiffon is my favorite fabric, but I own very little of it.

58) All of my life I've had difficulty going to sleep and difficulty waking up.

59) I hate my middle name.

60) Both of my parents live in mobile homes.

61) I can never find a pen when I want one.

62) I did not have more than one friend at a time, and many times had no friends at all, until I was in the eighth grade.

63) I do not look in mirrors when I pass them, though I used to do so compulsively.

64) The first number I ever performed in drag was Alison Moyet's "Midnight Telephone."

65) The sound of dentists' drills makes me cringe.

66) The sight of my own blood nauseates me.

67) I am often envious of beautiful people.

68) I am one-eighth Chinese.

69) I stick out my tongue when I'm concentrating.

70) I love painting my nails.

71) It really pisses me off that I'm not beautiful.

72) I was potty-trained at nine months.

73) I still remember my high-school locker number and combination.

74) I can rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time.

75) My name should have been Charles.

76) I look stupid in hats.

77) I am surprised and excited when I find a word I don't know.

78) My favorite tea is Earl Grey.

79) I can tell the difference between a fact, a belief, and an opinion.

80) I believe that beauty exists on its own terms and is not in the eye of the beholder.

81) I think that blood relation is a stupid reason to love someone.

82) I think that romantic love is a stupid reason to get married.

83) Advertising is the genesis and the bane of the Information Age.

84) People are the most fascinating things on Earth.

85) I love the smell of pipe tobacco.

86) I used to be blond…first naturally and then chemically.

87) I have to force myself to look into people's eyes when I'm talking to them.

88) I love to laugh.

89) I used to think Tom Cruise was hot, but I don't anymore.

90) I've only twice had an orgasm when someone else was there.

91) I don't understand how electronic devices work, but I can operate most of them.

92) I have very sharp but very weak teeth.

93) I hate waiting.

94) I've always wanted to play the piano, but not badly enough to learn.

95) I've always wanted to be a ballet dancer, but now it's too late.

96) I've never watched Casablanca all the way through.

97) I love wearing sweaters.

98) I never wished or said that I wasn't gay.

99) I have worn briefs most of my life.

100) I like to write about myself.

Friday, August 23, 2002

United We Stink

There are days when I really hate working for a Union. Today is one of those days.

The semester just started yesterday, and various part-time faculty members are discovering for the first time that they have absolutely no job security from semester to semester. They get dropped from a class they've been teaching for years: sometimes because the class enrollment was low and was not on the deans' pet-list; sometimes to give the class to a full-time faculty member whose own class got cancelled due to low enrollment and they have to make up a legal workload; sometimes to give the class to another part-timer, just because the dean of that department wants to do a favor for a crony. Naturally, these displaced teachers turn to their Union for help in such matters... and, unfortunately, the Union can do nothing.

Though we have included and fought for seniority rights and fair hiring practices for part-timers in our contract proposals for years... in fact, ever since the Union started representing part-time faculty back in the 80s... the district has never budged on part-time issues. The administration won't even consider hiring rights, paid health benefits, salary-schedule mobility, or job security of any kind for part-time faculty. Why should they? Nobody else does... no other community college district treats its part-timers any better.

The part-time teacher is the migrant farm-worker of Academia: there's this huge pool of cheap labor that is so easily and economically exploitable, trained people who are essentially powerless because there are so many of them that they can be immediately replaced. There is no lack of community college teachers floating around, and once they get started pasting together a full-time job with several part-time jobs in different districts, it is fairly easy to convince them that they're doing okay, no need to storm and burn the castle. Part-timers are legally considered just temps, intended to fill in the gaps created by fluctuating enrollment; but in reality, they do almost the same work as a full-time faculty member for half the cost, and have no rights so you can do whatever you want with them. For the petty-power-playing mind of your average academic administrator, this is too great a temptation to be resisted — if it were up to them, the entire district would be staffed with cowed and terrified part-timers.

Fortunately, there are laws in this state about that sort of thing, laws designed mostly to protect the jobs of tenured full-timers, which state that at least 50% of all instruction must be performed by full-time faculty. But the administrators stick really close to that number, and sometimes fudge just a little bit. It's just so much easier and cheaper to have part-timers.

But still, again quite naturally, these part-timers resent having to pay dues to a Union that doesn't achieve much for them. Though we have been fighting and fighting, and though we spend a huge amount of our time defending part-timers from contract violations, we haven't actually done much for the part-timers as a group. It's rather depressing.

What makes it more depressing is that, with the Professional Staff (my coworkers) out on leaves, I am having to talk to all these upset part-timers when they call. JB and BB are part-time teachers themselves, and so know all the ins and outs of the issues, the history of the part-timer and the soothing words to speak; I only know the bottom line, which is that part-timers are screwed, end of story. And some of these people, when they learn that they've been paying their pennies into a Union that can't do for them what they want done, become rather nasty to the poor schmo who has to answer the phone...namely, me.

Then on the other side of the spectrum, you have the full-timers bitching and moaning about various unfairnesses in their lives. For these people, I have rather less sympathy... I mean, they make fairly good livings (average contract salary: $66,673), they generally have tenure and job-security, and have contract rights all over the place. The usual beefs we get from full-timers have to do with interpersonal conflicts with administrators or fellow faculty-members (that is, college professors acting like big babies). Sometimes we get one where someone was improperly disciplined or incorrectly placed on the salary schedule or simply treated badly by the administration. But quite often we get people who want to have more money and less work, or who want to take revenge on somebody, or who comes crying for defense after doing something unethical or illegal and getting caught at it. These people leave a bad taste in my mouth.

And so here I sit in the middle of it all, the only non-teacher and non-union-member among all these teachers and unionists, the disgust I feel towards our membership exceeded only by the disgust I feel toward the administrators of the public institution from whom we defend them, and it sucks to be me.

So anyway. I've got my newsletter finished, I just need a final OK from Boss-Lady before I can take it to the printers, and then I'm done with this week. Hopefully JB will be back next week, and also hopefully the semester will get busy enough that the faculty won't have time to come crying to us. And maybe the weather will change again... I like cool cloudy weather, but not when I'm in this kind of a mood.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

The Idiot Box

People are often surprised to learn exactly how much time I spend watching television. There's this strange idea that you have to be unintelligent, uncultured, and uneducated in order to sit in front of the TV for several hours at a time. Maybe that's true... and I like to be unintelligent for several hours at a time, to turn off those portions of my brain that have been overexerted in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom and a paycheck. Television is the ultimate passive entertainment, and I find passivity very relaxing. And in the passivity, I can rest my eyes on lots of very pretty people, occasionally hear a good song or funny joke, and keep tabs on the goings-on of popular culture.

But some days, I notice my passive enjoyment marred by a sense of overwhelming disbelief... I might even go so far as to call it incredulity. I will sometimes settle on a TV show encountered during a channel-surf, and can't for the life of me imagine a) that somebody came up with the idea for this show, b) that people are desparate enough for fame and fortune to appear on this show, and c) that people actually sit down and watch this show on purpose, even when there are other things on.

One such show is called, I think, Dog Eat Dog. When I caught parts of it on NBC last night, it appeared to be a vote-off panel game-show involving pseudo-celebrities; now, I must establish at the onset that this voting-off business leaves me cold, and I find it disturbing that all new gameshows feature this method of elimination (I remember the goode olde days, when contestants were eliminated because they failed to correctly answer a question or guess a mystery). I should also start out stating that the only reason I even paused at channel 13 (Cable Oakland's designation for NBC-3, since HBO is already on channel 3) was because I saw this really hot guy with green eyes wearing a green tanktop over a pair of pumped and perky pecs.

From the few host/contestant comments that filtered through the internal clamor of my Hottie Alarm, I gathered that this hottentot was a former contestant on Temptation Island. It was about halfway through the show, and he was one of three remaining contestants. The other two contestants had voted him off, and so he had to perform a challenge in order to stay in the game (I'm just guessing here, I really didn't stick around long enough to understand how the game worked). The Hottentot's challenge was to make himself cry; he had to produce a tear that had enough volume to clear his eye by at least one inch, within ninety seconds. I lingered, of course, because this challenge required that we focus on Hottentot's face, which was absolutely dreamy.

All the while that Hottentot was trying to produce a tear (by concentrating really hard on unpleasant thoughts, apparently... you could almost see the smoke coming out of his ears), there were these other people trying to distract him by telling idiotic jokes and making fun of him. I gathered, after the Hottentot failed to weep, that these voices were the people who had already been voted off and were now occupying the "Dog Pound." And then I saw who was in the Dog Pound, and I just about plotzed! It was Richard Hatch, that tired evil queen from the first season of Survivor (who, apparently, regained all of his weight), and that strange sub-celeb Kato Kaelin from the OJ Simpson Show Trial (along with some other people I didn't recognize). I was absolutely floored to see two such horrors in one place.

Well, eventually the camera came off Hottentot and his glorious yummitude, then the two remaining contestants (both women, neither attractive) changed into swimwear in order to do the next part of the game (I shudder to think what that might have been), and so I changed channels. By the time I had completed a full 60-channel sweep (when there's nothing on, I just change channels and absorb bits and pieces of everything from KTVU/Fox Channel 2 to the Disney Channel), the end of the game was upon us. The Hottentot was again in the frame, and so I stopped. He was being asked a trivia question about a recent Broadway musical that was loosely based on La Bohème... the answer was Rent, of course (even I knew that), but he didn't know, and so after another few minutes focused on his lovely face and its obviously unaccustomed thought-production, the camera moved back to take in the rest of the contestants, and I got up to go to the bathroom.

It was all very surreal and bizarre. All the water, all the unlikely people, all the strange challenges, all the plain old senselessness of it all! Now having written all of this, I am curious to know more about the show, so I am going to go do some Google-searching to see if I can find out what it's all about. In the meantime, ogle this:

Okay, so the show is in fact called Dog Eat Dog, and is apparently the unholy offspring of Weakest Link (which I like, because of the trivia and Anne Robinson, but dislike because of the voting-off thing) and Fear Factor (which is probably the most juvenile thing I've ever witnessed, relying all too heavily on bungee-jumping and fraternizing with exotic bugs). I still don't understand the rules, though am surprised that I figured out so much of it while only watching one boy (whose name, I discover now, is Kaya Wittenberg).

Wierd. As if there weren't enough wierdness in the world. But then, I often think it is the wierdness that makes this world worthwhile. Wowee!

So anyway, I just wanted to share that with you.

In other news, my teeth are becoming accustomed to the pain, and so I don't feel the hurt so much. My boss has extended the deadline of the newsletter, and also authorized me to go to six pages instead of the usual four (which saves me from having to squeeze the text any smaller). So now all I have to do is come up with an old filler article and format the whole thing while I wait for her edits on one of the extant articles... which I probably won't get any time soon and will probably, when I do get them, totally screw up my spacing and formatting. The phones are ringing off the hook, and both my coworkers are out of the office (one on medical leave and one with a family emergency), and I am just barely managing not to freak out.

The Boss-Lady's Foster Baby is with us again today, as well, and fussing rather more than I think necessary. But then, it's better than when Boss-Lady and Mr. Boss-Lady bring the dogsin (they had two dogs; one of them, a Chesapeake retriever of unbelievable antiquity, died two months ago; they didn't want the second dog, a tiny Sheltie, to pine at home, so they brought her into the office... where she barked every time the phone or doorbell rings, jumped around excitedly every time Boss-Lady moved, and lurked behind my chair with her dogtags jingling with each breath).

Well, off to lunch... today I have Campbell's Select Chicken Vegetable and a banana for lunch. Yummy-ummy-um! And speaking of yummy...

Wednesday, August 21, 2002


The sucky trend continues: I just got back from getting my dental X-rays done, and it appears that the main trouble is a filling, which has come loose from it's moorings because there's a cavity under it; but wait, it gets better... the cavity is touching a nerve, which is why it hurts so damned much; to make it all the more interesting, there is an abscess forming under the cavity; and to put the cherry on the cake of my day, I can't get anything done about it FOR A MONTH!!! The dentist referred me to an endodontist, and the endodontist is booked solid until September 17th. That is four weeks from now, boys and girls. Four weeks of chewing on one side of my mouth, living on lukewarm soup and oatmeal, eating no sweets, swabbing with Orajelled Q-tips, and guzzling ibuprofen (the dentist will give me Vicodin if I need it, but I am going to avoid that route as long as possible).

I just feel like weeping. Or screaming. The desire to put a shotgun in my mouth has never been stronger. Not that I'd ever do such a thing, mind you (sooooo messy... and hell, I don't even know where to get a shotgun), but it just seems like a logical response and remedy to this much dental anguish.

Oh, well, what the fuck. It's still better than a lot of other things that could happen to a person: at least I'm not living in an Islamic fundamentalist nation, nor am I living in the Midwest; I do not have oozing sores or necrotic extremities or suppurating ulcers or prolapsed innards. Whatever is wrong with me today, I can find some satisfaction in the knowledge that things could be worse. Not much satisfaction, but some.

I can even see a trace of silver lining here: imagine what a sugarless liquid diet will do for my figure! This is a perfect opportunity to shed a few pounds, n'est-ce pas?

So anyway... I was in a pretty good mood before I learned about the above. Maybe I can recapture it. I'm going to go do something fun for a while... surf beefcake, perhaps? (Recently discovered fun site: The Boy! Venezuelan fashion-models! It's in Spanish, but you'll figure it out) Maybe play with my Sims? Maybe put on my hat and walk around the lake? Maybe just go home and curl into a fetal position with a pot of tea and a good book (currently reading California Screaming, which is pretty good so far).

Whatever I do, it will not be able to involve shopping or candy. No money, no sugar. Waaaaaah!

Oh, just shoot me, okay?

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Poor, Poor Francine...

All of a sudden, it seems, my life totally suxxx. I had this lovely week last week (alone in the office, no calls, no interruptions, we officially became Beefcake Surfers, Inc), then an absolutely fabulous weekend (I almost got my room clean on Saturday, and then Sunday was the Galaxy of Pride show, at which we wowed them, and myself, with some spectacular performances!)... but then Monday comes along, and the joyride is over. All over!

To start with, the toothache that has been nagging me since I got home from Disneyland has left off simply nagging and begun torturing me in earnest. I have a loose filling on a lower molar, a chip or crack or something on an upper molar, and something is going wrong with an upper canine. The pain is amazing. I am now going around with a Q-tip drenched in Orajel sticking out of my mouth, reduced to eating lukewarm soup and abstaining from sweets. Sob!

Of course, a responsible person would have visited a dentist three weeks ago when the little dental discomforts started... and a really responsible person would have been flossing and brushing twice a day and visiting a dentist annually for cleanings and maintenance. But not me. Though I do brush daily, and sometimes remember to floss, I am so terrified of dentistry that I can't even bring myself to make an appointment until I am in so much pain that the remembered pain of my last dentist's visit seems negligible in comparison to the current pain.

Also, last week I had to try and find which dentist I was supposed to see, in accordance with the dental care package I bought after the last time I had to see a dentist. So once I got that information, I tried to get an appointment, and have to go in for X-rays on Wednesday but can't see the dentist until Friday. So I get to play with Q-tips and Orajel and soup for the next four days. Huzzah.

As if that weren't enough, the Boss-Lady returned to the office on Monday, filled to the brim with assignments and orders and phone-calls, and I've been working like mad. She has this lovely habit of giving me very vague directions until the very last minute, when she then contradicts herself at least once and triples the workload of any given project. Her other cute habit is returning all of her phone calls at once, leaving messages all over the place, and then leaving the office ten minutes before all the messages she left are returned.

She also got hold of another foster-baby, a displaced infant from the county Child Protective Services, for whom she and her husband recently began volunteering (after taking extensive training and enduring a gruelling screening process). The infant she has now has an enlarged heart and kidneys, due to his mother's drug-use during pregnancy, and so Boss-Lady and Mr. Boss-Lady have been spending most of their time at Children's Hospital getting the infant checked over; when not there, they are both here with the baby, who isn't exactly the quietest infant I've ever met.

So yesterday and today I have been trying to cram ten pages of incredibly boring text into a four-page newlsetter, all the while answering the phone and directing calls to and from the Boss-Lady's desk. And now I've been asked to work a bunch of random notes and articles into a speech for Boss-Lady to deliver tomorrow morning. And the campus reps are starting to call in for information they need for their speeches tomorrow. Jesus Christ on a Cracker! I understand that these are the weeks that make up for the weeks of doing blissful nothing, but I really am not up to the challenge right now. I just want to crawl under my desk and cry.

Oh, well, c'est la vie. Such is my lot in life, and I'll just muddle through somehow. But for now, I have to get back to work.

Hugs & Kisses!

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Ain't Satisfactionin' Me

Here's something that's never happened to me before: I have an Elvis song stuck in my head. I heard the remix version of "A Little Less Conversation" on the radio for the first time a few days ago and really liked it; now it's at #1 on the Billboard charts. And now both MTV and VH1 have it on all of their count-down shows (where they condescend to actually play music videos... remember the olden days, when they played music videos all the time? Ah, Ye Goode Olde Days). I liked the remixed song a lot, but I love... ahem, LOVE the video! Dancing in boxes never looked so good! And the editing is amazing. There's this one blond guy in a black Mod suit... so sexy! I want to be that cool when I grow up.

But hey, what's with all the Elvisness going around these days? Did he die again? Or is it an anniversary? (Quick Google search reveals an Elvis Presley official website, which gives me the much-sought answer).

Can it have been 25 years since he took that final crap? I remember so clearly when he died, people went nuts. All the local stations played Elvis movies nonstop for weeks. All the radio stations played Elvis songs nonstop for weeks. People, including my stepmother and her sisters, cried and mourned and carried on for weeks. Back in those days, there wasn't nearly as much merchandising available as there is today, but I distinctly remember seeing commemorative plates and posters all over the place. And all I could think of was, "What's all the fuss?"

And now, twenty-five years later, I still don't know what the fuss is about. I never understood how Elvis became such an icon. I never understood the whole idolization of Marilyn Monroe or James Dean, either. Okay, so Elvis' music was pretty cool, he had his image and persona and whatnot, and for whatever reason he was certainly very popular. But I don't see it. He had a lovely voice and a certain sex appeal, but his music doesn't seem to me all that different from other music of the time. His movies were awful, poorly written and badly acted, trite plots constructed around not-very-convincing musical numbers (such as the Elvis film that's airing today on AMC, A Change of Habit with Mary Tyler Moore... oh, the horror). Unlike Marilyn and James, he outlived what beauty he possessed, becoming a sequined caricature of himself. So what's there to worship? Why is he an icon? Why do people still get all worked up about him? I just don't get it.

But then, I don't understand why so many people watch Survivor, either. I guess I just don't have my finger on the pulse of popular culture.

But still, I just love that video! I mean, a good beat and a great video have been known to rescue the tiredest of old standards (just look at the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, or Shirley Bassey's uber-cool remix album), and DJ JXL's beats are really compelling and fun, beautifully orchestrated to the original music for maximum ooomph.

In other news, I have been rather obsessed this week with adding to my Beefcake collection. Not only have I scanned favorites images from most of my "art" books and my second-hand collection of old Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs, but I've been hunting online beefcake wherever it can be found. I have a pretty good amount of it uploaded already, and several more megs of images to sort through later. So you can look forward to seeing plenty of yummy post-punctuation in the coming weeks and months. Or, if you like browsing, you can look through the new Beefcake archive here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

100 Questions

I just don't believe it's possible for anyone to know too much about me. And I just love answering surveys! Here's a great big long one I found at Bouillabaisse for the Soul, which came from Mindspillage, via Still Life with Woodpecker, apparently originating at Virtual Chicago... because sometimes, size does matter!

1. Are you an innie or an outie? Innie... deeper and deeper 'in' every year.

2. Have you ever worn bell-bottoms? Well, I was a kid in the 70s, and so yes I wore bell-bottoms. As I reached puberty, I changed to flare-legs, since bellbottoms were a little too inconvenient... but I had a hard time giving up flares. I didn't start wearing straight legs until Levi Strauss stopped making flared jeans, and I do believe I bought one of the last pairs ever made.

Nowadays, of course, I wouldn't be caught dead in them.

3. Have you ever written a song? No. I've written poems, though. They stank.

4. Can you make change for a dollar right now? Right now, yes... because I'm in my office. I could also do so in my room. But walking around, I never carry change with me. I leave it in the bowl on my desk or drop it on the floor in my room... sometimes I drop it in the ashtray of my car, but I always end up using that change for parking meters.

5. Have you ever been in the opposite sex's bathroom? I assume one means gender-specific public restrooms? Then yes, I have. When I was little, my grandmother used to take us into the ladies' room if we were misbehaving, and that happened to me once... I remember being quite impressed with the spaciousness and cleanliness. And nowadays, since I am a drag queen, I feel I can use pretty much whatever restroom I want.

6. Have you ever smelled your own feet? Not since I was a child. Not only do my feet never smell (since I learned to keep my socks clean and my shoes ventilated), but if they did smell they're too far away for me to notice them.

7. Do you like ketchup on or beside your french fries? On the side, so I can dip daintily or dredge delicately. Sometimes I don't even use ketchup (or catsup, as one prefers) at all.

8. Can you touch your tongue to your nose? No. And if I could, I don't think I would.

9. Have you ever been a Boy/Girl Scout? I was a Cub Scout for one year, and later on a Boy Scout for two years. I was terrible at both, having no desire whatever to go camping or make handicrafts or be around boys my own age, though I was a sucker for the uniforms. I got merit badges in knot-tying, leathercraft, and first aid... perfect training for a dominatrix, but I haven't ever found a use for any of those skills in daily life.

10. Have you ever broken a mirror? Several times. I have a broken mirror in my purse right now, in the pressed-powder compact that I kept dropping on the ground at the SF Gay Pride Parade.

11. Have you ever put your tongue on a frozen pole? No, I was never that stupid. I also never went on a "snipe hunt." Furthermore, I've always lived in coastal California, where there are no frozen poles. Still, my stepsister Heidi once put her tongue on a metal ice tray, and the drama and blood ensuing from that little episode taught me that frozen metal and wet body-parts don't mix.

12. What is your biggest pet peeve? Rampant stupidity, especially as displayed by politicians, activists, the voting public, and most drivers.

13. Do you slurp your drink after it's gone? Can you slurp a drink after it's gone? Doesn't the absence of liquid preclude the possibility of making a slurping noise? But, yes, I do get every last drop out of there, and even suck on the ice after the beverage is gone. I am an alcoholic, after all.

14. Have you ever blown bubbles in your milk? When I was a kid, we had four plastic eight-ounce drinking cups at Grandmother's house, one for each grandchild, in different colors, which had Disney characters on the side and a straw built right in. Mine was blue, Michael's was green, Suzie's was pink, and Jamie's was lavender. But the straw was built right in! With a built-in straw, you are pretty much contractually obliged to blow bubbles in your milk.

I still do it every now and then, just for fun.

15. Would you rather eat a Big Mac or a Whopper? Is there a difference? Though I do prefer Burger King's greasy health-free hamburgers over McDonald's greasy meat-free hamburgers, the latter has far-and-away the better french fries.

16. Have you ever gone skinny-dipping? Yes, in a very very cold pool with a cute guy I liked. Not a combination I recommend.

17. When you are at the grocery store, do you ask for paper or plastic? I usually don't ask for anything, and they automatically put everything in plastic; but sometimes I have to ask for paper bags... we reuse all the grocery bags, the plastic ones in the trash cans and the paper ones for recycling newspapers and magazines.

18. True or False: You would rather eat steak than pizza. Well, that all depends, doesn't it? Is it a good steak? Is it a good pizza? I'd rather have a Zachary's stuffed pizza with linguica and artichoke-hearts than a Sizzler t-bone with all-u-can-eat shrimp; I'd rather have filet mignon wrapped in bacon from Harris Ranch than a slice of Domino's pepperoni.

Morals may come in black-and-white, but questions about food simply cannot be handled with such flippancy.

19. Did you have a baby blanket? If so, what did you call it? I don't remember one, though I'm sure I must have had some sort of bedding during my infancy. But not one special blanket that I had to have or else.

20. Have you ever tried to cut your own hair? Yes, I've gotten mad at it and went after it with scissors; I also maintained a midlength bob without much difficulty for years. But it's always best to let a professional do it.

21. Have you ever sleepwalked? I used to sleepwalk all the time when I was younger. I would get up and go about my business for hours, talking to people and watching television and even eating, without ever waking up.

22. Have you ever had a birthday party at McDonalds? No! Quel gauche!

23. Can you flip your eye-lids up? No... and again, if I could I don't think I would.

24. Are you double jointed? I'm scarcely even single-jointed.

25. If you could be any age, what would you be?
Nineteen, forever and ever. I was so pretty then.

26. Have you ever gotten gum stuck in your hair? Gum? I don't chew gum. But I have had something that rhymes with "gum" stuck in my hair.

27. Have you ever thrown-up after a roller coaster ride? No, though I have been tempted.

28. What is your dream car? Just one? Oh, I would have to choose between a 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom III, a 1935 Deusenberg Model-J Victoria, or a brand-new Jaguar S-type convertible.

30. Would you go swimming in shallow waters where, one year earlier, a shark had attacked a child? I don't generally swim in salt water. But the onetime presence of child-eating sharks would not deter me.

31. How many cavities do you have? God knows. My remaining molars are all riddled with fillings, and I have a cavity coming in on my upper incisor. My teeth are a mess.

32. Have you ever eaten a dog biscuit? Yes. It tasted pretty good, too, but a bit grainy. It in fact tasted a lot like the marrow of a chicken bone.

33. If you were in a car sinking in a lake, which would you do first: unbuckle your seat belt or open your window? You'd have to unbuckle the belt first, or opening the window would be pretty pointless. You only have so much time after opening the window before you are deluged. But this begs the question... what the hell am I doing sinking in a lake?

34. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance? No, and I hope never to do so.

35. Can you pick something up with your toes? Yes. But I prefer to pick things up with my hands... it's just ever so much easier.

36. How many remote controls do you have in your house? Five that work (Grandmother's bedroom TV, my bedroom TV and VCR, the living-room TV and VCR), and maybe 20 that don't (we never throw anything away... we still have the "clickers" from the TVs we had in the 60s and 70s).

37. Have you ever fallen asleep in school? Once in the library I managed to doze off in an armchair. But I have never been able to get to sleep in a seated position.

38. How many times have you flown in an airplane in the last year? Just twice, last week, to and from Disneyland.

39. How many foreign countries have you visited? I've been in Canada rather briefly. That's all.

40. If you were out of shape, would you compete in a triathlon if you were somehow guaranteed to win a big, gaudy medal? If I was out of shape? But no, I wouldn't want to win something I didn't deserve... even if I was competing against people I could legitimately beat, I wouldn't want to have to swim, then ride a bike, then run. I can barely swim, I don't ride bikes, and I almost never run.

41. Would you rather be rich and unhappy, or poor and happy? If I could be happy with poverty, I'd jump at it. But I'd really rather be rich and happy.

42. If you fell into quicksand, would you try to swim or try to float? Everyone knows that you can't swim in quicksand. You have to be very still and try to keep afloat.

44. Do you ask for directions when you are lost? I'll ask directions when I get to a border crossing, but not before. But I don't get lost... slightly off-course, perhaps... unsure as to my exact whereabouts, but never ever lost.

45. Have you ever had a Mexican jumping bean? Someone once gave me a little plastic bag of jumping beans, but they didn't jump. The little worms inside must have been dead.

46. Are you more like Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland? I always thought Cinderella was a sap. Why the hell did she work as a servant for the Wicked Steps? A little arsenic in the morning tea would have done them a world of good. At least Alice called people on their bullshit and told them they were silly. On the other hand, Cinderella did marry a prince, while Alice just went home...

47. Would you rather have an ant farm with no ants or a box of crayons with broken points? An ant farm without ants is just a box of dirt. In fact, an ant farm with ants is just a box of dirt, but with bugs in it. Broken crayons, however, can be used just fine.

48. Do you prefer light or dark bread? I love white breads, especially sliced sourdough.

49. Do you prefer scrambled or fried eggs? Scrambled eggs are fried. Geez! Poached eggs, boiled eggs, shirred eggs and the like aren't fried. But like I said, food questions always require more thought than moral questions... in iffy restaurants I usually get scrambled eggs because they're safer; when I cook, I usually make scrambled eggs or omelettes because they're easier. But I really like my eggs done over-medium, the way Grandmother makes them, and will order them that way in better restaurants.

50. Have you ever been in a car that ran out of gas? Miss Marjorie ran out of gas, once, and was I ever embarrassed! But it was her fault... the gas gauge doesn't work. At least she didn't poop out on the road, she just wouldn't start up again after I parked. I had to call my sister to bring me a can of gas. Now I keep a gas can in the car.

Here we are at the halfway point... time for a Beefcake Break...

51. Do you talk in your sleep? Probably, but it's like that proverbial tree falling in the uninhabited forest... there's nobody there to hear it. When Caroline and I were sharing a motel room on our recent trip, she told me that I squeaked in my sleep on the first night, but I didn't say anything cogent. I used to do it all the time when I was a child, as well as later in life if I had been drinking.

52. Would you rather shovel snow or mow the lawn? Isn't that what hired men are for? But if I had to make a choice, I'd say lawn-mowing. Grass isn't as heavy or cold as snow.

53. Would you rather be bitten by a poisonous snake or constricted by a python? Like Indiana Jones says, "Why does it have to be snakes?" But poison sounds tidier than constriction.

54. Have you ever played in the rain? Only when it's warm. But come to think of it, I haven't played outside in years.

55. Which do you think is more dangerous: an angry bear or a hungry white shark? I would guess they are equally dangerous. I really wouldn't know, and there is no earthly reason to believe that I would ever encounter either.

56. Would you climb a very high tree to save a kitten? A kitten, maybe... but not a full-grown cat. I hate cats. But I like climbing trees, so I guess I would.

57. Can you tell the difference between a crocodile and an alligator? No. I used to know the difference, something about the eyes or the shape of the snout, but I've forgotten (so I asked Jeeves...crocodiles have longer, narrower heads)

58. Do you drink Pepsi or Coke? I'm a Coca-Cola Classic kind of queen (who loves alliteration, even if only phonetic).

59. Whats your favorite number? Seven, or else two hundred and fifty million.

60. If you were a car, would you be an SUV or a sports car? God, I hate SUVs. So I would probably end up being one.

61. Have you ever accidentally taken something from a hotel? I can't even imagine such an accident. "Ooops, I thought that was my bedside lamp!" But I've never taken anything whatever from a hotel, not even complimentary stationery or giveaway toiletries.

62. Would you blow your nose at the dinner table? Oh, HELL no! That's disgusting!

63. Have you ever slipped in the bathtub? Slipped, yes, but not fallen.

64. Do you use regular or deodorant soap? Neither... I use moisturizing soap, Dove white bath-bar to be exact.

65. Have you ever locked yourself out of the house? Yes, several times... and out of the office, and out of my car. Keys aren't my specialty.

66. Would you rather make your living as a singing cowboy or as one of The Simpsons voices? A Simpson's voice. I love The Simpsons, and voice-over work wouldn't require me to have a public persona, or even have to dress nice for work. Furthermore, a singing cowbow would probably have to sing Country & Western music, which I loathe.

67. If you could invite any movie star to your home for dinner, who would it be? I would love to meet Sir Ian McKellan over a meal. That would pretty much make my life. But I'd rather have Brad Pitt, or better yet Vince Vaughn, but only if there was a sleepover included.

68. Have you ever made a semi truck honk? Yes, when I was a kid on road trips... most truck-drivers are very obliging about that sort of thing.

69. Which would you rather live with: a huge nose or crossed eyes? Oh, but I like big noses.

70. Would you hang out with someone your best friend didn't like? Yes. Many of my friends don't like each other.

71. Would you hang out with someone your best friend liked, but you didnt like? Only if the best-friend were there. And usually, only if the best-friend is dating the person I don't like.

72. Have you ever returned a gift? No, no, no. That is the height of rude! I once exchanged a gift for a larger size, but I made sure to get the exact same thing and never mentioned it to the giver.

73. Would you give someone else a gift that had been given to you? Again, no. I think of gifts as sacred. I still have every gift that has been given to me in adult life (except for flowers and candy, of course, as well as anything that I actually wore out with use).

74. If you could attend an Olympic Event, what would it be? Diving? Gymanstics? Wrestling? I don't know... I find most sports rather dull after a few minutes.

75. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Uhm... I hate doing higher math in my head... let's see... the grey Polo Sport sneakers I'm wearing right now, the red-denim Bass sneakers I bought at the same time but haven't worn yet, the tan leather Rockports I bought and plan to exchange for something less old-man-ish, tan Bass sneakers, navy-blue Bass deck shoes, cream-and-brown Florsheim nubuck saddle-shoes, khaki nubuck Airwalks, white K-Swiss sneakers, black patent-leather Bass cap-toe oxfords, luggage-brown distressed leather clogs that I wore for a week and absolutely hate but haven't the heart to throw away so they live in the trunk of my car, caramel glove-leather Hush-Puppy kiltie-mocs, burgundy Giorgio Brutini kiltie-mocs, filthy old white Vans deck shoes, surprisingly uncomfortable British Navy sneakers from International Male, black-and-white canvas sneakers from Payless, used-to-be-white Payless canvas sneakers... that makes sixteen pairs of men's shoes. Then add in the ten pairs of women's shoes I own for drag, the black mesh pumps, gold lace pumps, silver lace pumps, cream strappy pumps, black-and-white spectator pumps, blue satin skimmers, blue leather pumps, gold lame stilletoes, white pigskin thigh-high boots, and black suede granny-boots... that makes 26 pairs of shoes.

76. If your grandmother gave you a gift that you already have, would you tell her? No. I'd just have two of it. I can't think of anything you could recieve as a gift that you could never use two of.

77. Do you sing in the car? All the time. Even when I have passengers. If they don't like it, they can get out and walk.

78. Would you rather jump into a dumpster or into a vat of honey? How deep is the honey vat? Is the dumpster in an apartment complex or a nuclear power plant? But assuming the same amount of safety was involved, I'd go for the honey because it smells nicer.

79. What is your favorite breed of dog? Pug.

80. Would you donate money to feed starving animals in the winter? No. I never donate money.

81. If you were a bicycle, would you be a stingray or a mountain bike? Huh? I'd certainly never be a mountain bike, but I don't really know what a stingray is.

82. What is your least favorite fruit? Avocado is a fruit, isn't it? I hate avocadoes.

83. What kind of fruit have you never had? I have never eaten starfruit, breadfruit, or ugli fruit. There are probably thousands of varieties of fruits that I've never even heard of, though.

84. If you won a $5,000 shopping spree to any store, which store would you pick? Five grand wouldn't go very far at Nieman's or Saks, so I think I would pick either Virgin Megastore or Borders or MediaPlay, something with lots of different kinds of entertainment. Actually, now that I think of it, a spree at Macy's would be the most useful... boy clothes, girl clothes, silver, jewelry...

Have you noticed that there are certain things about which I cannot make up my mind, and certain things that I will swear to without hesitation?

85. What brand sports apparel do you wear the most? Sports apparel? Surely you jest.

86. How many letters will/did I earn in my high school career? Letters? Whatever can you mean? You mean like sports letters to put on a letterman's jacket? No, honey, I just earned my diploma and got the hell out of there.

87. Among your friends, who could you arm wrestle and beat? Caroline...she's got little girlie-arms. But she's the only person I know I could even hope to beat.

88. If you had to choose, what branch of the military would you be in? The Navy, I guess. It's always been the gay branch ("'Naval tradition' is nothing but buggery and the lash..." - Winston Churchill), and the uniforms are very cute. I don't like being at sea, though, and I disapprove of the military so strongly... if I had to choose, I'd really have to be a Conscientious Objector.

89. Would you ever parachute out of a plane? Maybe... if it was on fire.

90. What do you think is your best feature? I like my eyes. I also rather like my hands. And I think I have a cute butt. Unfortunately, these aren't enough to forgive my hair, my forehead, my teeth, my chin, my midriff, or any of the other major flaws in my appearance.

91. If you were to win a Grammy, what kind of music would it be for? Do they have a category for "Best Male Crow-Frightening Vocalist"?

92. What is your favorite season? Autumn. Love the colors (russet, gold, vermillion, moss), love the holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving), love the weather (Indian Summer, crisp sunny days, cold rain, chilly overcasts, we get them all here in NorCal).

93. How many members do you have in your immediate family? If immediate family means those one lives with, just one, Grandmother. But if you mean immediate-by-blood nuclear family, I have one father, one mother, and one sister. I also have a stepfather, a half-sister, two half-brothers, two stepsisters, a niece, a nephew, a half-niece and half-nephew, three step-nephews and a stepniece, two grandmothers, one uncle, three aunts, one great-uncle and two great-aunts, five first-cousins, uncounted step-aunts and -uncles and -cousins, and over two hundred once- and twice-removed cousins whom I know and several hundred more whom I do not know.

94. Which of the five senses is most important to you? Sight. I use it to read, watch televsion, and ogle boys. But I would hate to lose any of my senses. I'm a very sensual person.

95. Would you be a more successful painter or singer? I don't sing very well, but a complete lack of talent never stopped anybody from winning a Grammy. Yet there aren't many painters who are successful during their own lives, so odds are that an untalented hack would be more successful in music than in art. Besides, bad art hurts my sensibilities more than bad singing.

96. Have you ever ridden a tortoise? Oh, my God, yes! I had completely forgotten about that! They used to have a Galapagos tortoise at the petting-zoo in Tilden Park, and you could ride on it. After I did so, I felt very sorry for the tortoise, condemned to spend it's life being weighed down and prodded by noisy awful children.

97. How many years will/did you end up going to college? I spent an aggregate eight years in college, five in community college and three in university, and only managed a Bachelor's degree. I plan to get a Masters someday, but I'm in no hurry.

98. Have you ever had surgery? Yes... in infancy, a testicular duct cyst was removed; in childhood, two spare canine teeth were removed from the roof of my mouth; in adolescence an infected lymph node was removed from under my chin; in adulthood, my wisdom teeth were removed. And that's all, so far. I'll probably have some plastic work done someday, and God knows my innards aren't going to remain in working order for the rest of my life.

99. Would you rather be a professional figure skater or professional football player? Definitely a figure-skater. Oh, to have a sexy ice-skater butt! Oh, and I want to look just like John Zimmerman! Or maybe pretty young Fedor Andreev! Oooh! Yummy figure-skaters!

100. What do you like to collect? I collect costume jewelry, books, videos, clothes, and beefcake/porn pictures. I would prefer to collect estate jewelry, classic cars, antiques, furs, and beefcake/porn models... but c'est la vie.

Aything else you want to know? You have but to ask!

Monday, August 12, 2002

Da Bitch is Back!

Hellooooo, my darlings! Didja miss me? I sure missed you!

I'm a little torn as to how to catch up, here... part of me is leaning toward a blow-by-blow travelogue; another part is leaning toward a vignette style, in which I expound on random observations made and ideas formulated over the last week.

Look this over while I make up my mind:

Okay, vignettes it is!


This story is going to be mostly about Caroline... not just because she was my travelling companion, but because she tends to be the center of any group she finds herself in. She's just built that way.

Caroline is a gay man trapped in a woman's body. Or to be more specific, she's a tall blond circuit boy and agressive top with pederastic tendencies impolitely crammed into the form of a medium-sized Asian girl. She's a performer, always drawing attention to herself; she tends to be a little more self-centered than may be desired, but balances this with a sincere desire to be likeable; she's massively insecure, but covers it with a lot of quite convincing bravado; she desperately seeks men with traits that are mutually exclusive (ie, very young and yet emotionally mature, extremely vain but not self-centered, generous with their time and also with money), and so wastes a lot of time in delusional relationships... but she has a lot of fun with them and shares her experiences broadcast with her friends. And she is trying to grow, which is the most important thing anybody can do.

Caroline is, in many ways, the yin to my yang... or is it the other way around? Where I am introverted, she is extroverted; where I am cautious, she is heedless; where I am hesitant, she is impulsive; where I am serene, she is manic; where I am fearful, she is brave; where I am lazy, she is obsessive; where I am thoughtful, she is talkative; where I am oblivious, she is intent. We sort of fit together with our opposite traits. We also have certain things in common, of course, generational references and language skills and intellectual depths which allow us to communicate with each other, but the real interest and catalyst of our relationship lies in how un-alike we are.

Ours is an interesting relationship, the longest-standing friendship I have. I give her a shoulder to lean on, someone to depend on and a place of quiet when the going gets rough, and absolute mountains of advice. She allows me to be a mentor, to impart my 'widsom' to someone, to get out of my own petty troubles by helping to solve someone else's; and she gives me a view into a life very much unlike my own (a life of clubs and dating and straight boys and looks and ambition), which is unbelievably valuable to a writer.

I met Caroline in sophomore year in high school. She was dating Stephen, an old acquaintance of mine from junior high (who, in an interesting turn of fate, I later introduced to my best girlfriend, Eva... and now they're married to each other, and have two children and live in San Leandro). We met on the steps into the Student Common at Oakland High; Stephen introduced us; I commented on her single fringed-and-studded black leather glove (a Prince-ly affectation, from before he was Formerly), she commented on my Diet 7-Up (I was terrifically thin already, but I liked the taste of saccharine...this was pre-Nutrasweet-era). She started complaining about not having a locker, and I said I'd had a locker assigned to me when I registered, which I had thought was the norm (apparently not... but I had connections in the administration, my cousin Ella was the Attendance Secretary). I offered to share my locker with her, and that was the beginning of a nineteen-year friendship.

We haven't been constant companions all that time, of course, as we both grew at different speeds and in different directions, but for the last seven or eight years we've been very close. But in all the years we've known each other, we've never travelled together. At the end of sophomore year, we went to Santa Cruz for our class trip (and "scoped' a lot of boys, as we used to say)... but other than that, we've never gone anywhere together. So we decided that we'd do something with my vacation... and that something was a trip to Disneyland!

Scopin' the Boys

When Caroline and I aren't talking about Caroline or me, we people-watch: this is the main and most important thing we have in common. We make disparaging remarks (which we think are terribly witty) about ugly or badly-dressed or simply amusing people, we discuss the styles and fashions displayed by passers-by... and most importantly, we ogle young men. Any trip away from home features lots and lots of new faces and physiques to peruse, and Caroline and I had a great time on this trip watching the boys go by.

We even came up with a classification system to alert each other to objects of desire without being too obvious, which is based on the stages of frog life, dedicated to Oleander, Caroline's new and very expensive enameled bronze frog that she spent over an hour buying at Downtown Disney while I was complaining and bitching and sulking outside like a straight boy. The system is thus:

Tadpole: a young boy who is awfully pretty, but way too young... and for Caroline, "too young" means prepubescent. I also find such children pleasing to look at, although the notion of having sex with such tender creatures is repellent to me. Caroline isn't sure if the feelings she has when viewing such boys is sexual or if it's an inverted maternal instinct, but also refrains from acting on those feelings... hence we needed a name for them. Many youngsters might appear to be older than they are, and so we would often argue whether or not they are Tadpoles or the next class,
Pollywogs: the fourteen-to-eighteen crowd... these are the boys who stir our pederastic urges (yes, a taste for teenage boys is another thing Caroline and I have in common), and far-and-away Caroline's favorite flavor. Again, I wouldn't touch one with a fork... aside from the legal complications, children tend not to talk intelligently nor have generous dispositions, two things I require from even casual sex-partners. But they're so damned pretty, with their smooth faces and roiling brand-new sexuality, their vulnerable eyes and endearing attempts at tough sophistication. Such creatures abound in the Disneyland Resort, especially in the vicinity of the better rollercoasters (which always have the longest lines, giving us plenty of time to ogle), and so there were many Pollywog sightings. Caroline even struck up conversations with several such, though I had to knock her on the head a couple of times to remind her that overtly flirting with a fourteen-year-old in front of his parents is a really really bad idea.
Jumping Frogs: These are the eighteen-to-twenty-five types, generally pretty and slender, but nevertheless full-grown. These are the ones that Caroline dates, being in the cross-over period where it is legal to date them and yet they still retain many Pollywog qualities, so Jumping-Frog sightings sometimes resulted in Caroline wandering away for a flirt and exchange of cell-phone numbers and email addresses. This category is also my favorite flavor, just about my favorite sort of thing to look at... though still, I find men in this age category tend to be difficult to speak with, and therefore of little use to me except as masturbatory images.
Bull-Frogs: This is the full-grown male of the species, particularly the muscular type. These are the men I find most directly sexually stimulating... but Caroline doesn't care for this type, unless it is the waxed Physique Model variety of man, as she has a huge and unwavering prejudice against body hair. While I'm not a big fan of excess body hair, and really don't like it on my body, I don't mind a bit of manly hirsuteness... so long as it goes with the man's "look" and isn't too coarse and doesn't stray too far into the regions of back and flank. There weren't a great many of this type in the world of Disney, and those as did turn up tended to be someone's father (which is a different kind of turn-on), but I still found my share to ogle.

Something interesting that we learned on this trip: when Caroline (and most other people, I think) sees someone hot, she fantasizes about having sex with him; I, on the other hand, do not. I have sensual fantasies about touching and tasting, and am usually sexually aroused by the sight of them, but I very seldom actually think about sex when I see these boys. The Bull-Frogs are pretty much the only ones I have actual sexual fantasies about, although in these fantasies I am usually a Pollywog (hey, it's my fantasy, I can be anyone I want to).

The Airport

This was my first time flying since the 9/11 Tragedy and its concomitant security scare, and I was somewhat concerned about the heightened security measures. I was, however, prepared for them. I knew to not bring certain things with me, such as pen-knives or nail-scissors or letter-openers; also to not wear hard-soled shoes or excess jewelry or whatever else might set off a metal-detector. I also took the precaution of dressing in red, white, and blue (okay, I didn't really do that on purpose to thwart any profilers in the airport, but simply because I had these new white jeans and a new red sweater, and the blue t-shirt seemed to be the best thing to go with them). Whatever I did, it seemed the right thing... I sailed right through security without getting wanded or having to remove my shoes or doing anything one hadn't always done at the security check.

Of course, we had scheduled our arrival early enough on a weekday that we'd have plenty of time to get through any security snags, arriving at the airport at 8:45 for a 12:30 flight. So we spent the rest of the morning people-watching... and I do believe that airports are the best people-watching places. Most people in airports are intent on their own business, and so they don't notice the odd couple in the lounge watching their every move. Plus, aiports are noisy, so you don't have to speak conspiratorially or even quietly when vocally admiring or disparaging the passing show.

It was our considered opinion, after three solid hours of seeing women whose pants didn't hang right, that not enough people take the time to see what they look like from behind. I don't know how many women we saw, young and old and in-between, who were otherwise quite well-dressed but whose butts were flat and/or saggy and their clothes did nothing but accentuate the flatness and sagginess. It was very sad.

So here's our advice, free of charge: always bring a compact mirror with you when clothes-shopping, and check the rear view before you buy the pants. You owe it to yourself, as well as to any bored onlookers you might walk past in an aiport.

Of course, the return trip was different: John Wayne Airport in Orange County is a very different proposition from the Oakland International Airport. It's bigger, and beige-er... Oakland's terminal is all dark grey and purple and industrial-looking, but Orange County's looks like a shopping mall with barrel-vaulted ceilings and stone tiles and sand-colored carpets.

Also, on the return trip, we had to check some luggage (we'd shopped a good deal), and that took bloody forever (though the baggage clerk was cute enough to make up for the wait, and the guy in front of us in line was a certified A-number-one hottie). Then we went through security, and once again I sailed right through in a red-white-and-blue outfit (actually, to be terribly specific, it was brick-cement-and-slate — menswear tends to come in colors that all sound so butch, like building materials). Unfortunately, Caroline clogged up the works with her bronze frog Oleander and her end-of-vacation grumpiness. The security people quite rightly stopped and searched her purse when the x-ray showed a large oddly-shaped chunk of metal encased in bubble-wrap, and her snippy attitude made it worse (security people given attitude, like CHiPs who pull you over for speeding, delight in delay).

Adding this security delay to the time I spent waiting for her to make up her bloody mind about buying the frog in the first place, and then the amount of time out of the way when we had to go back to the gallery because the Certificate of Authenticity hadn't been signed, that frog was rather more trouble than I thought it was worth... though in all fairness, if we hadn't gone back for the Certificate, we wouldn't have seen those four amazingly hot Italian sailors when we stopped for coffee and beignets immediately afterward at the Jazz Cafe Bakery, and then we were so early to the airport that we had more than too much time to kill.

At any rate, we got through the whole thing. The flights themselves were painless, being rather short. And I still love hanging out in aiports... it's too bad you can't hang out there without being a ticketed passenger. Not that I ever did, but it's something I could see doing as a retirement hobby. Oh, well. I guess I'll just have to resort to plan B... hanging out at the Baths.

The Disneyland Resort

Remember when there used to just be Disneyland? Then there was Disney World, which grew and grew until it became Epcot Center, and EuroDisney came and tanked and went, and then there was Disneyland in Japan (which seems to be going well). But through all that, the old original Disneyland just sat there, the same as ever, a new attraction every now and again but pretty much an unchanging institution. In the deathly-dull city of Anaheim, there was Disneyland, the Disneyland Hotel, a bunch of motels around Disneyland, some Denny's, and absolutely nothing else.

But now that's different. Anaheim is still a vast nothing of urban sprawl, but Disneyland itself has morphed and grown into the vast and lavish Disneyland Resort, containing not only Disneyland (the classic, largely unchanged since my last visit seven years ago) and the expanded three-tower Disneyland Hotel, but also Disney's California Adventure (a more self-conscious attempt at an Amusement Park), the Disney Grand California Hotel (a larger and more luxurious model), Downtown Disney (a lavish open-air mall of theme restaurants and posh shops), off-site parking connected by trams, a bus service that connects to all of the area hotels, and what appeared to be a Disney-owned power system that runs the whole thing in spite of California's energy shortage.

It was pretty damned amazing. I'll go into more detail about this when I get the pictures back, perhaps I'll post a new page as an album in my domain. But in general, the Disney California Adventure was okay, it had some great rides, but it was a trifle boring. It lacked that strange magic that Disneyland possesses, where you completely exit the real world and find yourself in this strange alternate reality of clean bathrooms and spotless sidewalks and story-book fantasy and amazing detail and incredibly hokey but nevertheless exciting amusements. The California Adventure had more and cleaner bathrooms, and most of the rides had that trademark Disney not-too-scary-ness about them, but you never had that sensation of being outside of the real world. Perhaps it's because I grew up in California, and so it's all too real for me? I don't know. But the main rollercoaster, California Screamin', was absolutely fantastic, while the rest of the rides were kind of lame; and the whole place is riddled with the most groan-making puns in the names of the rides and the shops and the food concessions. Let's put it this way: the highlight of California Adventure was meeting the chicest young Cruella DeVil ever; the highlight of Disneyland was the entire place.

Final analysis: I had a great time. Total value for money. I recommend it to all my friends. It's better than Soylent Green!

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

I'm so glad to be home! I had a great time, but having a great time is so utterly exhausting! When I got back Friday, I was so done in I could barely summon the energy to blink. I've been lounging on the sofa ever since, essentially unable to move or to manage any mental stimulation more exciting than HBO. I was drained.

What struck me as odd, though, is how SAME everything was when I got back. Everything was in exactly the same place as I had left it four days earlier. Even Grandmother was sitting in the same chair in the same robe, watching the same TV station. It was sort of startling. Like the opposite of that feeling when you wake up in a strange place and can't figure out where you are... instead you wake up in the same place and wonder why nothing is different. Even here at work, with the exception of all the massive blog-reading I had to do to catch up with everyone's doings and writings, it's been pretty much the same old grind. Since the office has been closed all the time I was gone, everything is exactly as I left it Friday before last (with the exception of the large stack of mail, huge volume of emails, and vast number of phone messages...none of which I have to do anything about until Boss-Lady returns on Friday).

Talk about being in a rut. But I got out of my rut for a few days, and that's all I needed to learn to appreciate my own little rut just that much more. Ruts are so comfortable and soothing, after all.

More later... I am tired and hungry and have to go home. Talk to you soon!


Monday, August 5, 2002


Well, hello, my darlings! Sorry to leave you all hanging there with the pillow-clutching blond and the bleah, but I've been out of town all weekend and will be leaving town again tomorrow morning (at a most ungodly hour), so I thought I'd better check in and catch everyone up on my doings.

So, to recap, Wednesday I felt shitty. I was tired and frustrated and tired and depressed and tired. Thursday I felt a little better, but was busy getting things tied up at work so we could close the office for a week while we were all on vacation; then after work I spent some time with my friend and coworker JB, who I won't see for almost three weeks (we had dinner at Mel's, I bought a faux-neoclassical wrought-iron plant stand, and we looked for shoes). On Friday, in the middle of manipulating my Sims, I remembered this one large task that I had neglected earlier in the week, so I was busily scurrying around doing all the payroll and banking and what-have-you so the office wouldn't go bankrupt over vacation.

After that, I went shoe-shopping. I wanted to get a new pair of shoes that could withstand a lot of walking and standing, which I going to be doing all this week (more later). So I ran out to Shoe Pavilion in Emeryville to grab a new pair of Airwalks, preferably suede or nubuck in the tan/taupe range, if they had them. "Ran" is of course a euphemism...I in fact crawled, being that I hit the road right around 3:30 on a summer Friday afternoon.

Shoe Pavillion in Emeryville did not have them, of course, as retailers and wholesalers are all equipped with highly sensitive evil computer programs that can sense when I am looking for something specific and particular, so they can then endeavor to not have it in stock, or at least not have it in my size. Well, I would not be defeated, so after glancing around a bit at Ross, I got back in my car and headed for the next nearest known Shoe Pavillion, which is in the Marina Shopping Center in San Leandro.

They didn't have them either...they did have a pair of suede Airwalks in my size, but they were bright swimming-pool blue with off-white trim, a little loud for me. So I tried on about seventeen pairs of shoes, and finally settled for a pair of tan leather Rockports. They are old-man shoes, but I had to have something to walk in. Then I went over to the Nordstrom Rack across the way and bought a new hockey sweater and Ralph Lauren painter's-pants (the exact same shade as the Rockports) at deep discounts, which made me feel a little better.

When I got home, I had to do a quick change and brush-up, then bundle Grandmother and my father into the car... we were all meeting at The Gingerbread House to celebrate Grandmother's 84th birthday. We got there exactly on time, which is an absolute miracle in my family, but there's something about iron-clad reservations that somehow stimulates punctuality in my clan. The food was excellent, if a bit on the spicy side... I had the un-spiciest thing they served, cherry duck, and my only problem with it was that the cherries had been soaked in brandy, cooked so they were non-alcoholic but tasting a little too distinctly of cooked alcohol for my comfort.

Anyway, a good time was had by all; afterward, we went out for ice-cream at Alameda's only and greatest premium ice-creamery, Tucker's... where my nephew happens to be working for the summer. It irritates me that a nephew of mine is old enough to have a job. And drive. And, in some states, get married. I have to pretend that his mother is actually older than me instead of younger, and that I was a mere slip of a child when he was born (when in fact I was just about to graduate from high-school). I'm too young to be eighteen years older than a sixteen-year-old! It's not fair!

So then on Saturday, I had another load of things to do, all of which precluded writing to you, my beloved blogsters! I had to get up and schlepp myself and my Grandmother down to the Hertz Local Edition and pick up the rental car we'd reserved for the weekend... we were driving up to Folsom and Pollock Pines to visit Grandmother's nieces, and my car doesn't have air-conditioning (plus it's an eyesore), so we rented a lovely beige Mitsubishi Galant for the trip.

Before we could do that, though, we had to jet back home, pack up our overnighties, and then get dressed to go to a wedding in Pinole. Our neighbors' middle daughter got married to a lovely young man in a long and rather tedious Catholic ceremony, and then followed the rite with a long and rather tedious reception. Actually, the whole thing was very nice... as weddings go... but I am so sick of weddings I could just puke. I have very little patience with other people's more sentimental activities, especially when they are straight, or religious, or familial activities... so weddings tend to get on my nerves a trifle. In this case, the guests were not very cute, the groomsmen were not very cute (with the exception of the tall, large-handed, puppy-dog-awkward blond Best Man), the caterers were iffy at best (the best-looking but worst-tasting babaganoush in the history of the world), and the dj sucked harder than a Bissel.

Well, all such things come to an end, and the Grandmother and I ducked out as soon as the (embarrassing and idiotic) toasts were complete and before the dancing started. We promptly got lost when I forgot to turn left on Tennant instead of right, and so Grandmother and I had these long geographical arguments as I drove around randomly trying to figure out where I was. I finally turned up on San Pablo Dam Road, having no idea how I got there, and we boarded I-80 toward's Cousin Clarice's place in Folsom.

We arrived in due course, then immediately fell into that singular pastime which Grandmother's relatives all enjoy, Sitting Around the Kitchen Table and Talking. Yakkety-yak for hours! Now, I enjoy a good chat, and I really love the yakkety-yak, but it always amazes me how much time we can spend just sitting and talking. I finally went to sleep on the couch watching television. The next morning we woke up and yakkety-yakked some more, and then drove up to Pollock Pines to Cousin Bob-n-Shirley's (some people have been married so long, and the marrier-in become so assimilated, they become a single relative), where we sat and visited with Cousins Diane and Jessica (the former was visiting from Issaquah WA, the latter lives with Bob-n-Shirley... Grandmother's next-older sister, Dixie, had five children, Lee, Shirley, Joanne, Jessica, and Diane... Lee lives in Ivanhoe, CA, and Joanne [or, more precisely, Joanne-n-Nolan] lives in Redding).

Yakkety yakkety yak. That lasted all day long, then we went back to Clarice's (her husband, Bill, has not been entirely assimilated... Clarice is the daughter of Grandmother's oldest brother) and talked some more while I lay on the sofa popping allergy pills and hoping that I would live long enough to get back into the city and its nice clean non-allergenic smog.

So then today we drove back home. On arrival, Grandmother went straight to bed and hasn't moved much since then... all that yakkety-yak is tiring for a woman of 84. I went and returned the car, and Shiloh picked me up from there... then he and I and his boyfriend Zach went out to the Great Mall to do some shoe-shopping.

You realize of course that I could not be happy with those tan Rockport old-man shoes. I have to have something comfortable, youngish but not outlandish, to wear this week. And Shiloh needed some new shoes, too, having worn out the ones he had to the point that he was actually embarrassed to put them on. So off we all went.

Well, Shoe Pavilion redeemed itself at last... they had the Polo Sport hypersupportive classic sneakers in titanium suede, exactly what I was looking for, and only $29.99! So elated was I that I bought a pair of jeans and three shirts at Burlington, a pair of red sneakers at Bass, and a videotape (Billy Elliot) and CD (the new cast album of Kiss Me, Kate) at Media Play. Shiloh also got a new pair of shoes... really cute Vans, tan suede, also pretty much what I had been looking for but not as well-padded; and they had the added bonus of being in his somewhat hard-to-find size (he takes a 13).

Then when I got home, I had to jet right back out again to make a handprint on a piece of cloth for my sister, who is making a quilt of children's and grandchildren's handprints for our mother's birthday (which is this coming Thursday... she'll be 55). My sister Suzie lives in Alameda, and my usual route to get to and from her place is through the Webster/Posey tunnels. Of course these tunnels are closed on weeknights while CalTrans works on retrofitting and retiling them... but I never can remember that fact. I drove all the way downtown before I remembered that the tunnel was closed and I'd have to go all the way back to the Park Street Bridge... and then after visiting with Suzie, I went and did the exact same thing, completely forgetting in a few minutes that the tunnels were closed. Da-hoy!

And now here I am, all caught up. I ran to Long's to get some travel-sized shampoos and whatnots, I checked my (pitiful lack of) email, sent my mother a pound of Godiva (having to pay extra shipping so it arrives on Thursday), and wrote the above. Phew!

So what are you going to do now?


Yes, Caroline and I are taking our first trip together ever... in all the years we've known each other, we've never gone on a trip together, not even a road-trip. So we're flying down to Orange County tomorrow morning, checking into our motel and picking up our three-day Disneyland and California Adventure passes, and we aren't coming back until Friday... in the meantime, we'll have time to do everything twice (and everything at Disneyland requires walking and then standing in long long long lines... hence the need for the shoes), eat a lot, buy some neat stuff, and hopefully get some rest and relaxation (which we both sorely need).

I doubt I'll have any computer access in the motel, and I'll probably be too busy having fun, anyway, so I'll let you know how it turns out when I get back.

Hugs and Kisses!