Thursday, October 31, 2002

Ahem (kaff, kaff) ahem..."BOO!"

Twice in a twenty-four hour period. Aren't you lucky? Just a couple of things I have to share:

I am finally amused by Halloween. This morning as I was performing my daily Snooze-Button Gavotte (in which I leap out of bed, nimbly dance across the room, push the snooze button, then pirouette back under the covers, and repeat every nine minutes for two hours... the most work my abs ever get), I decided that instead of reading a book, I'd turn on the TV. Now, I only keep a TV in my room to watch movies, so it doesn't have cable or even an aerial... and so it only gets stations in the first twelve channels (which you old folks will remember used to be referred to as VHF). So the only things I had to choose from for morning fare were Ricki Lake (love her, hate her show), Dr. Phil (whom my Grandmother thinks is a Holy Prophet and she keeps trying to get me to watch his idiotic show), Martha Stewart (she creeps me out somethin' fierce!), Live! with Regis Philbin and Kelly Rippa, and Reading Rainbow with Lieutenant Geordi LaForge (I know he has a real name, but damned if I can remember it).

Okay, so obviously I would settle on Regis and Kelly, being the lesser of five evils, and it was the funniest thing I've seen in forever! It was a cross-dressing Halloween show, with Kelly dressed up and impersonating Regis (with a devlish cunning... for a minute I thought she was him) and Regis impersonating Kelly (not as convincingly but with a more wicked lampoon), with the elderly portly director dressed as Wonder Woman and the much put-upon producer Gilman dressed as Britney Spears with an albino boa constrictor around his neck. It was so gay!

Anyway, I watched about half of the show and enjoyed every minute of it, and it seems to have put me in the Halloween spirit. So I wore the only two articles of orange clothing I own (a sweater and t-shirt, which are actually Papaya and Tangerine, respectively, but close enough) and my new rhinestone spider choker (which I finally figured out how to wear without the legs touching me... it took some intricate knot-tying and I can only hope I'll be able to get it off without scissors).

Then I got to the office, and this was waiting in my email:
    Subj: FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION: Your word of the day from

    Date: 10/31/02 9:42:12 AM Pacific Standard Time



    Today's Word: Floccinaucinihilipilification (Noun)

    Pronunciation: [flak-si-na(w)-si-ni-hi-li-pi-li-fi-'key-shên]

    Definition 1: Holding or judging something to be worthless.

    Usage 1: The word's main function is to be exhibited as an example of a long English word, longer by a letter than the word most people think is the longest, "antidisestablishmentarianism," but no match for "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis." There is also a widely underused verb, "floccinaucinihilipilificate." (A more useful noun with the same meaning is "floccinaucity" ['fla-si-'na(w)-si-tee].)

    Suggested Usage: The word was first recorded in a letter by William Shenstone written in 1741 and published in 1777: "I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money". Don't forget that the verb is just as useless as the noun: "It is difficult for Flossie to avoid floccinaucinihilipilificating her nearly otiose husband, Otis."

    Etymology: Back in the eighteenth century, the Eton Latin Grammar contained a rule that mentioned a set of words all of which meant "of little or no value": flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili. Someone, obviously, had to combine them and add the suffixes -ation to the result. Flocci is the plural of floccus "a tuft of wool" and pili, that of pilus "a hair." "Nihili" is from nihil "nothing," while "nauci" just means "worthless."

    —Dr. Language,
Isn't that just about the best word you've ever seen? I'm going to spend the rest of the day learning how to pronounce it, and then finding a way of working it into a conversation. It's little things like this that make my life suddenly seem worthwhile.

And finally, here is a Trick or Treat for you:

Why does it have to be Trick OR Treat? Can't I do both?

In Which We Ponder the "Why?" of Things

Why do people work so hard to try to gain influence? I mean, I understand the lure of getting people to do what you want... but why would you bother when all you want is something that is not worth the effort you expend in getting other people to do it? In my work, I see all these people going through untold trips and travails just to get some stupid little concession or privelege that simply isn't worth a drop of spit.

I have shared in this space about the department-chair elections that have been a thorn in my side this last summer... the thorn is growing and becoming sharper by the day. And the people who are vying for and fighting over this position get absolutely nothing but a tiny shred of faux influence and a half-hour weekly of released time (about a fifty dollar value). If they took just half of the energies they've wasted on gaining inlfuence over their department and applied it to actually teaching their students, the world would be a much nicer place.

I have also shared here about our own little Napoleon on the executive council, a man of small stature and vast ego, who is whipping up this department chair problem and attacking my coworker's maternity leave simultaneously, and we don't know exactly what he is trying to accomplish... though I am absolutely certain that he's after something stupid and worthless, either some degree of influence or some shred of released time (he seems to have an unusual dread of having to actually teach classes, and spends much of his time jockeying for releases and leaves). And in the meantime, he is forcing our office into all these contortions and explanations and defenses, trying to keep our asses covered while he nips at our heels. It's just so wasteful!

I just don't get that sort of thing. I guess my whole life has been about reducing effort of all kinds, and so anything that requires any effort at all is subjected to serious scrutiny for value. I mean, I require a certain amount of cash and prizes just to lure me out of my bed in the morning... so any other activity I undertake had better be loaded with rewards. I therefore have a very strict code about how much effort I spend and how much return on that effort I should receive. And knowing that you can get somebody to do what you want once or twice, all the while they hate you forever and ever, just isn't enough of a value to go to any effort at all.

But whatever. I am grateful that I can see the humor in these situations; these folk are just so damned silly! I am also grateful that in a couple of months I can tell all those department chairs and Napoleons to go fuck themselves with splintery broomsticks, cuz they won't have Miss Robert Manners to kick around anymore. And in the meantime, I get to use all my favorite old passive-aggressive mechanisms on all of them (because I find revenge ever so much more satisfying than influence, and it costs less).

Why is it, do you suppose, that cartoons can be sexy? My buddiette Caroline and I share a most unnatural yearning for Spike on Cowboy Bebop. I used to have a big crush on Disney's Aladdin, too (that skimpy little vest is so cute). And I like cartoon porn better than live porn, in many cases... Tom of Finland, Stephen/Etienne, Zach, Macy, Joe Phillips, Patrick Fillion, the list goes on and on. These images turn my crank way faster than the real live boys in magazines and videos (who, in turn, start my engines better than real live boys in real life). I wonder why that is? Is it the way that cartoon porn stars can have unnaturally vast phalluses, and can shove them in places that nature wouldn't ordinarily allow? Is it because they don't have the usual little flaws that human beings invariably have? Is it because they don't smell or bite or scratch or get hurt? I don't know... but it does give one a sort of creepy feeling to when you catch yourself seriously wondering which Spy Groove character you'd prefer to make out with (that was such a cute show... but I guess it was too odd for most people to hook into, same as most of the short-lived shows I really really liked).

Why am I still awake at this ungodly hour? Why does it take longer for me to look up links than it does to actually write out all of the sentences that contain them? Why do I keep closing my Google search window when I'm not done looking up links? Why am I doing this at home instead of stealing time from my job to write nonsense? Why are you reading it all? Why is this boy smiling?

I guess if I looked like that, and had a nice ripe nectarine to eat, I'd be smiling, too.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

DOS-aster Relief

Here's one of those questions that would be good for one of those survey memes in which I used to participate so frequently (has anyone else noticed that, exactly at the time I included permanent links to those memes in my right sidebar, I stopped using them altogether? Hmmmm):

"Have you ever called tech support for your computer hardware or software?"

Up until a week or so ago, I could quite happily and proudly say that I had never done so. I in fact looked with slight contempt upon those who did. When people complained about how inadequate or snotty their tech support reps were, I just said, "Well, what do you expect?" I mean, if you're too stupid to figure out the problem for yourself, how can you expect someone to not treat you as if you were stupid? I mean, you're the one asking for help, aren't you?

But the thing is, I was working in a computer-teaching environment for the first six years that I ever operated a computer, so I knew all about all the programs, and was a whiz at trouble-shooting... and when I couldn't figure out something for myself, such as a hardware problem, there was the computer-lab's Staff Assistant and the roaming Campus Tech guy in the same office as the teachers I was assisting, and during the course of shooting the shit over a cigarette or a bowl of ramen, I could figure it out through them. But for the last four years, I have been in an office where my training was the only technical support in the whole place, and unfortunately my training is stuck in the year 1997... the year when Pentium II and Windows 98 were the top of the line, the year when most people still only had Windows 3.1 or 95 running on 486-mhz processors and you could still buy CPU towers with 5-inch floppy drives... the time when there was no Celeron, no DHL, no 17-inch flat screens, when the iMac was still a rumour and Apple was still in the Dow Jones toilet, only used by hopeless geeks and digital animators.

So then I went and bought my own computer, from Gateway, which has the Celeron processor and Windows XP and three or four other things I'd never really heard about, since I stopped paying attention to all the new things that come out now that I don't have to teach them to others. It took me a while to figure out all the differences in the XP version and the 98 version I use at work (I seldom even looked at Windows 2000, which is on my boss's computer). The most important thing I discovered was the graphic files system where you can launch slide-shows and what-have-you from the Explorer screen (nice... you can view porn with both hands free).

Then I installed the Sims Deluxe Edition, which runs a little raggedly, taking a long long time to load up and apparently using more system resources than the system wants to give; then I plugged in my external Zip 100 drive and let the computer figure out how to deal with it, which it seemed to do just fine; then I started transferring my files (particularly my Sims files) from my kitchen computer and office computer.

Then I was playing the Sims, and the computer crashed... and wouldn't start up again. It just went into this endlessly repeated Failed Startup routine. I tried to start it in Regular Mode, in Last Known Good Configuration Mode, Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, etc. Then I tried booting from the Operating System CD that came with the machine, and promptly became quite confused. Partitions? Recovery? FAT systems?

In desperation I called the Gateway Tech Support number, waited on the line listening to Muzacked lite-rock, then found myself connected to someone named Donny on the Phoenix Team. I understood very little of what he was saying, because the sound quality on my cordless phone is slightly less perfect than one might desire, and because Donny had the bad habit of mumbling while saying things that a layman would never understand. I tried picturing a person to go with the voice, something I always do on the phone, and conjured up a thin, shortish, sandy-colored boy with one of those unfortunate scraggly goatees and a baggy beige-and-red color-schemed outfit that didn't fit him properly. With my unending requests to repeat what he'd just said, he managed to walk me through the recovery setup system until I got a black screen with a "C:\WINDOWS>" prompt, then told me a bunch of things to type in.

"Dee-Aitch-Kay Pee-Aitch-Kay Space T Forwardslash?" I repeated the command incredulously, typing DHK PHK T/ and getting absolutely nothing back.

"No, Mee-Age-Gay Wee-Age-Gay Space Fee Forwardslash!" he burbled correctively, all of his consonants sounding exactly alike and entirely nonsensical.

We went back and forth with this for a few moments until he told me to type HELP to see a list of commands. I did this, and there it all was, CHKDSK /P, clear as day in the long-forgotten language of DOS... a language from which Windows was supposed to liberate us forever.

"Oh, CheckDisk! I remember this from DOS class. I haven't used DOS in, like, seven or eight years!"

"Type that in and tell me what it says," Donny sighed with admirable patience.

Up came a bunch of incomprehensible information regarding my disks and file systems, concluding with the maddeningly vague statement that "one or more sectors may contain unrecoverable errors."

"Okay, now do Mee-Age-Gay-Wee-Age-Gay Space Arrgh Forwardslash."

"Okay... it's checking, now it's doing something, and it's at 12%..." A few moments pass... "now it's 18%." We discuss the hardware and software that I've installed since I got the computer three days ago. He supposes the Zip drive might be the problem, and says that when I get back into Windows I should download newer driver software from Iomega. "It's at 32% now," I update him. A long time passes, I turn the TV on with the mute button and watch Craig Kilborn's cute mugging and quizzing. He's dreamy, Craig Kilborn, so tall and such big hands.

"Where is it now?" Donny breaks into my Craig-revery from Phoenix.

"Fifty percent," I answer, moving back to my desk and watching the numbers ooching up, "now it's 54%. Hey! It just went back to 49!"

"This is probably going to take a while to recover the bad sectors," Donny says... I'm just starting to get used to his strange soft brand of enunciation and understand everything he's saying, "And if this doesn't work you're going to have to format the hard drive and reinstall, and that's going to take even longer. Why don't you call back when it's done?" So he gives me a bunch of numbers, the direct-line 800 number for Phoenix Team and his six-digit badge-number and my twelve-digit order-number.

So then a half-hour later, after Craig has interviewed Susan Sarandon and some sports star I've never heard of before, the computer finishes it's /R operation. I restart the computer... and am right back where I started with the circular restarting thing. Oy! So I call back all the numbers, leave a message on the Phoenix Team voicemail (and the way the voicemail messager pronounces "Phoenix Team," I begin to wonder if they're located in Phoenix, Arizona, or if they specialize in reviving computers from the dead?) with all of the various numbers that Donny gave me. I wait a little while, enjoying my new Bel Ami video, Frisky Summer 4. One of these days I'm going to have to go to Czechoslovakia. Can the country really be totally overrun with these smoothskinned hotties?

Donny doesn't call back. It's long after midnight, Donny probably thinks I've gone to bed by now. But it's Friday so I plan to be up quite a while longer. I decide to just go ahead and reformat and reinstall without Donny's assistance. I mean, now that I understand that I'm dealing with DOS, and that the reformat and reinstall is my only remaining option, I can do it myself. That takes me about two and a half hours.

I get everything back to the way it was when I first plugged the thing in, fresh out of the box, and go to Iomega's website and download a driver that will make my Zip 100 disk compatible with my XP software. Turns out that Windows XP thought my Zip drive was one of the new 250-MG drives that looks like a space-ship, not the old boxy blue 100MG drive that was au courant back in the Windows 95/98 era. But now everyone is straightened out, and everything runs smooth as silk. The Sims Deluxe Edition still gives me a little grief (it takes almost ten minutes to load, and that can't be right), but nothing bad happens.

Until last night. I'm gleefully manipulating my little simulated Robert Manners, getting him all educated and socialized and entertained, and suddenly the computer crashes. I get the circular startup messages again, except that instead of restarting the CPU each time it fails to start Windows, it goes to a blue screen that tells me there has been an error and Windows has been shut down to protect my computer. There are a bunch of numbers and code-words explaining the error, but they mean nothing to me.

I do not want to reformat and reinstall this time... a week and a half have passed, in which time I have downloaded a number of emails and got all of my favorite sites saved and transferred most of my personal files from my work computer to the new Gateway... I still have them on the Zip disks, but I just don't want to deal with losing everything again. Fortunately, I remember my conversations with Donny, and so I boot from the OS disk, go to Recovery, and perform CheckDisk, both /P and /R, then the FixBoot. An hour later, it's done, and I reboot and everything is just fine, all my files and programs right where I left them.

But I'm afraid to play my Sims again. It's obvious to me that it's the Sims that are crashing my computer. If I uninstall and reinstall, I will lose all ten families I just quite laboriously created. While that's more fun, in some cases, than playing the individual Sim, it's still a lot of work and I hate losing my work. Plus there's all the downloaded skins and objects that I would have to reinstall again, too. On the other hand, I could probably copy all of the files to a Zip disk and then reinstall, uploading my families and houses to the Zip drive or my FTP space. But to do that, I'd have to run the game again, and God only knows what will happen then. 'Tis a puzzlement.

And then this raises the question: what's wrong with the Sims Deluxe Edition? Is there a flaw or bug in the software? Or is it simply not compatible with something on my system? Or am I installing it wrong? Or is it the extra objects I downloaded? Or what? If anybody has any insights here, I am all ears. Please don't make me call a Tech Support number again.

So in other, less technical news, the Galaxy Girls Halloween Show went better than I had anticipated. Our favorite showtune connoisseur, Bill, was there, and so was the lovely and effervescent Kristin (and she posted some fabu pix of me and the rest of the girls, if you want to go take a peek), and my friend Caroline was able to come... a good time was had by all. I was rather impressed with myself, if I do say so... the numbers that I didn't think I'd ever figure out came off quite wonderfully, and the costumes that looked so cheap and cheesey when I bought them turned out rather well when put together with my corseted figure and loads of fabulous accessories.

The most fabulous accessory was the rhinestone spider choker that Caroline picked up for me... though the way it was constructed meant that I could only wear it clamped around my trachea, which looked fabulous but was rather uncomfortable... both because the metal spider-legs gouged into my tender throat every time I moved my head, but also because it kept reminding me of the time I was attacked by spiders when I was four. I remember that instance so clearly, because the only reason I didn't completely flip out over the spiders crawling on my neck and chest was because I'd thought I was dreaming... but then when I woke up the next morning and was absolutely covered with insect-bites, proving that it was in fact real, and I totally flipped out after the fact... which is worse, because you can't do anything to relieve the ooglie-willies, you just shiver and freak.

In other other news, last Wednesday I went out with JB and saw 8 Women, which was totally the coolest film I've seen in forever! It was nonsensical, gimmicky, surreal, and subtitled... but it stars Catherine Deneuve and Fanny Ardant (in my opinion two of the most beautiful women currently alive... making a Mature Goddess Triumvirate with Charlotte Rampling), and they wear fabulous clothes and furs, and even make out rather elegantly at one point (there should be a club for Women Who've Kissed Catherine Deneuve). Everybody sings, too. It's all about Style Over Substance, and that's definitely one of the things that the French do better than anyone else. It's not a film in national release, so you'll probably have to wait for the VHS or DVD release... but I recommend that you do get it when it does come to a video store or online media outlet near you.

Well, that's all for today. Thanks for listening to me rave.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

The Ruffle Shirt Blues

Have you ever worn a really ruffledy shirt? You know, those big poufy poet/pirate things you see on the pages of International Male? The overblown satin draperies meant to remind one of more gracious times of male peacockery? You should. It's fun. Shooting your cuffs has so much more panache when there's three inches of white satin hanging to your knuckles; layers and layers of fabric floating around your breastbone draws ever so much attention away from your tummy. And the billowing sleeves, what can I say about the billowing sleeves? All I can say about them is that all sleeves ought to billow. It is now my belief that sleeves which do not billow are responsible for the world being in such a sorry state of affairs.

Interesting, though... almost all gay men have had the International Male catalog and ogled the hunks therein, but wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything that obviously came from that catalog. And when someone does wear something from that catalog (as I did tonight), you wouldn't believe the stares! In fact, once in the past I wore an obviously International Male shirt to the Pride Parade, a champagne satin swashbuckler shirt (as it was called, one of those big billowing things with the lace-up placket and shirred yoke), and people actually stared and tittered at me, making not very subtle or inaudible comments like "I didn't know people actually bought those things!" Ah, children can be so cruel. Even tonight, when other people were arrayed in the very heights of tackiness, I could see and feel people staring amazedly at my shirt... not admiring it, but wondering if I really bought that thing from International Male?!

So I just got back from a Halloween Dance. I did not dance, though I was tempted to do so at times... great music. But my feet hurt. I was wearing my black Bass cap-toes and they are the most uncomfortable shoes I own (but the only ones that go with my black suit and purple vest, which I had to wear to offset the ruffledy shirt, because you can't wear a white satin ruffled shirt with chinos and sneakers, you know)... they would probably be comfortable if I ever had a chance to break them in properly, but since I only wear a suit maybe four times a year, and since those shoes only go with two of my suits, they simply don't get enough air-time to be broken in. Every time I wear them it's like they're brand-new out of the box, they pinch my pinkie-toes and give me blisters on my heel. Each time I wear them I swear I'm going to shove them in the fireplace and burn them, but then I remember I paid $60 for them on sale and I can't bring myself to do it (and I know that $60 isn't a lot to pay for dress shoes, but it's the most I've ever paid for men's shoes... I pay more for my pumps, but I wear them more often).

Of course, I could have danced after I took the shoes off (which I did shortly after returning from my first trip to the bathroom, when my feet hurt so bad I couldn't bear it anymore... another thing I learned in the bathroom is that you have to roll up the sleeves of ruffledy shirts before using the bathroom... the rufflecuffs get very much in the way). But I didn't. I very seldom do dance at dances, and never at clubs. I guess I just don't like dancing very much. This always causes raised eyebrows and nonplussed gasps when I divulge that item to my gay brethren and sistren. Even more befuddling to them is that I don't like oral sex, either giving or receiving. Apparently I'm the only man on the face of the planet who doesn't like getting head.

There are a number of other things about me which seem to be setting me apart from my fellow queens. On top of the no dancing and the no cocksucking, I don't much care for Cher, I loathe (and I do mean loathe) Madonna, I wish Mariah Carey would drop dead along with the entire Techno/House/Trance movement (totally unrelated phenomena, but I dislike them for the same reasons)... I also don't like sushi or Thai food, hate cutting my hair shorter than two inches in length, the only lycra I own is in my control-top panty-hose, and the only leather I own is contained in the usual belts (which I almost never wear) and some of my shoes. I hate scented candles, faux modern design, Billy dolls, anything made out of soy, and Fiestaware. And I don't really care much about Halloween. As holidays go, I much prefer Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, I do love Judy Garland, opera, small dogs, table-setting, and ruffledy shirts. I guess I was just born in the wrong generation of gay. Or the wrong generation of humanity. I am an anachronism. Which is better than being an anarchist or an anabaptist, I guess. What are anabaptists, anyway? I've always wondered.

So, anyway, despite the painful shoes and the no dancing, I did enjoy the dance. Not very many people there (in fact, the entire Castro was pretty dead, even for just a Saturday, much less the Saturday before Halloween... I guess everyone was worn out from baseball and peace marches and what-have-you), but I got to talk with some good friends and new acquaintances, drank some Coke and ate some Smarties (my favorite!) and sang along to "The Time Warp," ogled some cuties and dished some tragedies and learned about the oversized member of someone I already thought was attractive but now consider absolutely fascinating, fluffed my breast ruffles and fluttered my rufflecuffs, and all-in-all had a very good time.

So now I shall check on some other blogs and get into bed. I have a show tomorrow, and I don't really feel very prepared. Aside from wanting to change one of my numbers but not knowing what to change it to, I still have to get a glittering pitchfork and try to find some silver spiders. This costume business is a lot harder than just doing drag. I mean, I bought three female Halloween costumes (at first I bought two, then found a third that was better than the second, but I can't return the second, so I am stuck with three costumes...She-Devil, Witch, and Spider Woman), and I spent more on each costume than I generally do on any one dress, and none of these things are pieces that I can use again, except as future Halloween costumes. It's like this fun and lovely ruffledy shirt, I bought it last year for a Halloween costume (I'd planned to be an 80s glam rocker, with vinyl pants and ruffledy shirt and opulent cummerbund and spike-heeled boots and a big red wig, but the shirt and pants didn't arrive in the mail until the day after Halloween, so I ended up going to the dance in my pajamas)... and aside from Halloween, I can't think of a single other opportunity to wear this shirt.

But maybe I should make occasions. I really can't tell you enough how much fun this shirt has been, even with the disapproving stares. But now I'm going to take it off and get into bed and go to sleep. XOXO!

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Poor Neville

This is my favorite page from the fabulous Edward Gorey picture-book, The Gashlycrumb Tinies; or After the Outing... which you can read in its entirety here. I guess I love it so because ennui is one of the few dangers in this book that I have experienced myself (except for Zillah's doom, which could have been my own)... and I've often wondered if it were possible to die of ennui. It certainly seems so, at times.

In other comic/pen-and-ink news, Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau has turned to portraying the activities of a college-age blogger — making fun of plagiarism, poor punctuation, and banality — and my coworker has been keeping me supplied with clippings. I worry about my life when I find myself identifying with Doonesbury. It's even worse when you realize that you've finally hit the stage of life where Doonesbury seems actually funny, rather than just a mystifying left-wing political tract. Neville's fate creeps closer to me.

I am not into Halloween this year. I don't know why, but the very idea of costumery and faux spookiness just strikes me as futile and insipid. Maybe it's because my blood-sugar is too low from not eating candy (I usually buy several bags of Halloween candy in the beginning of October, then go get several more the day before Halloween because I've eaten it all). Maybe it's because I have simply grown out of such frivolity, that there is no room for enjoying Halloween and comprehending Doonesbury comics in the same life-stage. Maybe it's because, as a drag queen, I get enough of costumes and pretending to be someone else during the rest of the year. Maybe it's just burn-out, like how I burned out on Christmas a few years ago. Maybe it's the Ennui. Whatever it is, I'm just not into it, no matter how many Anne Rice novels I read.

My Sims are progressing apace. I just finished the Finocchii family, a pair of Ancient Roman gentlemen who live in an "authentic" white-marble villa of dizzying elegance at #1 Sim Lane. Next I am going to create the von Lichtemann family, who will live in a Gothic castle at #9. Then, once I get someone living in the rather difficult house at #3 (I think I will call him Sebastian Phroute-Keyck), my first neighborhood on the new PC will be complete! And once complete, I will focus on one family (probably my eponymous Sim, Robert Manners, in the lovely U-shaped Cotswold manor I built from the foundations of the tedious clapboard hovel that comes installed at #6 Sim Lane) and trot him through all the little tasks and entertainments that make a Sim happy and productive. I will also upload the new "album" so you can see them for yourself. When that task proves tedious, I will start my second neighborhood. Since the Deluxe Edition comes with five separate neighborhoods, I can even make an all-girl neighborhood, and maybe even a neighborhood of straights with children! I can expand my mind as I expand my Sims!

Well, I guess that's enough for one day. One of my favorite things about blogging is how you don't really have to have anything important to say, or even something I think is important to say. Just coming up with something to say can be fun and enlightening and truthful. And a year from now, when I am feeling this same way, I can see what I did this time, and how it turned out a couple of days down the road. And maybe someone visiting will feel better that s/he is not alone in the Ennui, the Doonesbury Age, the So Over Halloween State, and/or Sims Obsession. And if nothing else, I can at least provide, for your aesthetic edification, the following:

Monday, October 21, 2002

Forbidden Fruit!

So, I skipped a day, making a mockery of the pattern that I had just identified. But I was busy with my new Sims, creating my primary neighborhood of all-male families and singles with homonymic last names (Kweeyer, Faghette, di Fahrei, Gnelleigh, etc) and lots of groovy furnishings. God, how I love this Deluxe Edition! It's ever so cool! The Sims even stand differently (using an elegant fashion-model contraposto instead of just standing about like cigar-store Indians), walk more realistically, and dress more outlandishly (aside from my imported skins, there are all these lovely costumes like Harlequin, Troubador, Emperor, etc.) Of course, at this stage I am building and decorating and socializing only... once I have the neighborhood filled, I will go back and manipulate their lives a little more, educating them and getting them into relationships with each other and sending them off to their little jobs with a hot breakfast in their little bellies.

So yesterday, aside from my Sims, I went to church with the Grandmother. We hadn't been in weeks and weeks, I was starting to get used to not going again, when suddenly Grandmother wakes up early on Sunday morning with enough energy to set her hair and dress herself, so she wakes me up and off we go. When we got there (a little late), the singing was just getting underway, and I got to revel in my intense dislike of the church's musical director. He's one of those people who feel the need to draw attention to themselves by fair means or foul, usually settling for foul since he has very little talent and no looks and pretty much nothing to recommend himself to anyone's attention in the first place. Such people leave a bitter taste in my mouth and an undisguisable sneer on my lips.

I should hold up here, before I get too far in bitching about the church as it is now, and give you some background on what it used to be like. See, my Grandmother has been going to this particular church for about forty years; it is part of a national group called Church of Christ, and describes itself as Nondenominational Reform (not to be confused with the Church of Christ that describes itself as Holiness, which is pretty much a fringe movement). I grew up in this church, and most of what I know of Christianity, both good and bad, comes from this church. But it isn't the only thing I know about Christianity, because all the women in my early life had Religion of some sort, and so I got a sampler of various forms of Christianity (mostly Protestant).

My other (maternal) grandmother was Presbyterian, and went to church dutifully every Sunday and probably prayed dutifully every night, but it was all duty, and one could tell. My stepmother was raised Lutheran, but she and Daddy didn't make too great a habit of churchgoing (Christmas and Easter, pretty much), until at one point they decided to join a Wesleyan church for some reason I don't remember. My Mother, on the other hand, has a mania for finding new churches and being reborn in Christ every few months (I swear she's been baptized at least three times since I've known her), and with her I visited so many different kinds of churches — from Pentecostal to Catholic, Episcopalian to Baptist, pretty much anything with a Christian theme — that I got a pretty fair idea of what the rest of the forms of Christianity are like, as well.

So, returning to the Church of Christ... as I said, I grew up in that church, going every Sunday that I spent with Grandmother in childhood and then all through my teen years; even when attending various churches with other relatives, I considered myself a part of Grandmother's church and remained loyal to what I knew of its tenets (particularly that one does not take communion until one is baptized, and that one is not baptized until one is old enough to know what one is doing and is ready and able to make a lifetime commitment to Christ). When I was really little, we would go to Sunday School, then sit with Grandmother in the Children's Room (a soundproof room in which people with small children could see and hear the sermon without the rest of the congregation having to see and hear their squirming, whining little brats); later, when I moved in with Grandmother, I became active in the Youth Group, going to Bible Camp every summer and First Friday Fellowships every month.

All through this period of childhood and youth, I had a secret worry: I didn't really believe in God. I wanted to believe in God, I felt I was expected to believe in God, and I hoped that pretending to believe in God would someday turn in to really believing in God... and in the simplicity of my young mind, I didn't know the difference between belief (i.e., trust and faith) in the Christian version of God and believing that God exists... and so, while actually I believed in God (insofar as I wanted to believe that He existed and wanted to be part of His people, the Church of Christ), I did not really believe that He exists. As I look back, I realize that my ideas of God were mixed up pretty closely with my ideas about Santa Claus (an old man in a white beard who gives you stuff if you're good), and once I discovered that Santa Claus didn't exist, I began to believe that God didn't exist, either. But I went through the motions, anyway (everything short of Baptism, which I knew would require Absolute Faith), hoping that Epiphany would come and I would be Saved.

As I gained adolescence, another problem came up: I discovered my homosexuality, and no sooner had I discovered what that meant than I also discovered that God did not approve of such things and that I was going to go to Hell. Well, as you might imagine, that put an entirely different complexion on things. For I knew that, according to the Bible, to sin in the mind is the same as to sin in the flesh... and that even if I never acted on my "sinful" thoughts, the thoughts and desires (which I knew were not wilful but inborn) would remain and I would be damned.

As one does in the Church of Christ (whose only dogma is that "If it's not in the Bible, it's not part of Christ's Church," whose only creed is the absolute veracity of the Bible and that the Bible is the sole authority of the Church), when confronted with a doubt, you study. And so I studied... I read most of the Bible all the way through (skipping the Psalms and history sections of the Old Testament, the begats and poetry and narratives that had no Law in them), in the King James and the New International Versions. I discovered that the Bible was very clear that homosexuality was a sin, all of it, from sexual relations to social inclinations to the very thoughts in my head and motives in my heart. That even if I were to live a life of complete sexual self-denial, even if I were to pretend to heterosexuality with a wife and children and a put-on butch attitude, I will still be sinful in my very heart and mind and therefore damned.

"That's not fair!" I cried out. The whole concept of sin and damnation struck me suddenly as monstrously unfair, completely wrong... for if God created us, how could He give us desires which would not only lead to sin, but were sinful in and of themselves? Why? Now add that to the unadmitted but still worrisome fact that I didn't believe in the existence of God, and a perfectly natural train of thought presented itself: if I don't believe that God exists, why would I believe that Heaven and Hell exist? Why would I believe that Christ existed? Why would I believe that the Bible is true or even divine? Doesn't the entire shooting-gallery rest on an absolute belief in the existence of God? Which I don't have? And so I left the church when I was 18. I didn't tell Grandmother why I would no longer be accompanying her to church, I just told her that I wasn't going... that I was old enough to make these decisions for myself, and I had decided.

Of course I felt betrayed by Christianity, but more importantly I felt betrayed by God (who I didn't believe existed, mind you...) and so I embarked upon a hatred of God and religion that would last for a long time. But as with anything I hate, and with the habit of studying things that bother me well-learned, I made an extensive investigation of religion in general. I studied the Catholic Church, the charismatic evangelists, the practices and tenets of Islam, the various forms of Buddhism, the inumerable gods of India, the mythologies of dead cultures, and any other form of spirituality that I could find... but I studied them with an eye to disprove, to discount, and to disagree. I spent my efforts in comparative religion seeking to tear it apart, not to understand it. And so I made a grievous error in study: everything I did rested on contradictory theses, 1) that God doesn't exist and 2) that I hate God. You simply cannot hate something that isn't there.

[I seem to be getting in pretty deep here, when all I had intended to do was explicate a little about Grandmother's church so you would understand why I dislike the music director and this week's sermon so much... but it's interesting, so I shall continue]

Mainly, though, in this contradictory and close-minded study, I studied Protestant Christianity for its flaws... and continued delving into the Bible to root through its inconsistencies, its contradictions, and its outright untruths. I now find it rather amusing, the zeal with which I dismantled the Bible, but at the time I was exorcising the demons in my heart, the sense of betrayal which still stung me, and the loss of belief that my Grandmother still enjoyed; but I was also hunting for ammunition against those who use the Bible as ammunition against me and my kind, the Bible-Thumping Moral Majority assholes who were trying to force me and a lot of other people back into our dark and crowded closets at gunpoint. The thrust of my study became to counter all of the passages that were being cited as evidence that homosexuality was evil. But again, in this I was giving credence and power to an object in which I did not believe, and that is futile. On the other hand, it gave me a much better understanding of the book itself and how it came to be the way it is.

So what I'm trying to say here is that I know the Bible... not backwards-and-forwards, not so much as to be able to quote it correctly (as you can see in the comments of the previous post) and at will, or even enough to look up relevant passages quickly (hell, I can't even do that with Wilde or Shakespeare), but enough to know what it does and does not say about various things, what positions it takes and which interpretations can be taken of various contested ideas. I've read it, and I think I understand it fairly well.

When I hit bottom with my drinking and found my way into the rooms of AA, I ran up against a rather common brick wall, a wall which an old-timer of some sagacity and humor always referred to as "God Issssssssues." One of the main things you need to do in order to perform the Twelve Steps correctly is to develop a belief in the existence of God and a faith in the efficacy of God as an influence in one's life. Like many alcoholics and most gay men, I felt I had been betrayed by God and that pretending to believe in something I didn't think existed was folly. But like many who come into AA, I was able to use the group itself as my Higher Power, and eventually I came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

In that new degree of sanity, I did come to believe in the existence of God... I had made a habit of prayer and meditation, praying to Whatever Might Be Out There (on the advice of my sponsor), and one day I was praying and had the distinct sensation that I was being heard, that Something was listening to me and connected to me through the act of prayer. I knew enough about spirituality-versus-religion by this time to know that I should not try to define or even understand this sensation, but to simply trust it. And with that trust, I was able to believe in the existence of God... and then believing that God does exist, I was able to finally see clearly that God had not betrayed me in my youth... Religion had betrayed me, and claimed that it (the religion) was God.

Well, this opened up an entirely new line of thinking. I began seeing the Bible for what it really is: a collection of disparate writings almost arbitrarily assembled by people bent on social control; but also a book filled with wisdom on the human condition. I don't know whether or not I believe that Christ existed or was divine, but I do know that Paul (who wrote the Acts and Epistles) was concerned not with humanity's relationship with God (as Christ was) but with creating a Religion; and further that the various Popes and Kings who decreed that one book should be included while another was discarded, or who decided that this interpretation of Ancient Greek was correct while that one was apocryphal, had not been spiritual men but rather political operators. Remember that the lion's share of the Bible's injunctions against homosexuality are contained in the books of Leviticus (the laws of a nomadic tribe living in the desert, which were necessary for control and survival) and Corinthians I & II (letters from a former Hebrew to newly-converted Christians living in a Greek city dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite and world-famous for its sexual licentiousness). So if you can look at the contents of the Bible outside of the Epistles and the Laws (the portions concerned with social control), and if you compare the teachings of Christ and the stories of the Old Testament to the teachings of other wise men and the histories of other ancient cultures, you can see the wisdom and folly of the Human Race spelled out for your edification.

And seeing it thus, I was able to forgive Christianity for its betrayal of my spiritual needs, being merely one path of many, though a particularly thorny and winding path. And so I offered to start escorting Grandmother to church on Sundays (since she could no longer drive by herself, and hadn't been to church in over a year because of this). I felt that she needed the spiritual solace of her church the same way I needed the spiritual solace of AA and its fellowship, and that to deprive her of the opportunity to have a relationsip with God, in the only way that she can understand, would be wrong of me.

[And now we return to the Church of Christ, Grandmother, the music director, and this Sunday's sermon...]

One of the main problems in my dealings with my Grandmother is that hers is a mind of Faith while mine is a mind of Reason. She believes things, without question, so long as they come from a reputable (in her opinion) source; I prefer to neither believe nor disbelieve things, but rather to try and understand them, to investigate them until I am pretty sure one way or another. And this sort of Belief is what holds certain forms of Christianity together (according to my rather limited research). And, with this kind of Belief mindset, Grandmother is of course attracted to a form of worship that requires one to believe the most extraordinarily stupid things. Like the literal historical veracity of the Book of Genesis. Despite all that science (reason) has discovered about the creation of the Universe, the members of the Church of Christ believe that the World was created in exactly seven days, that the human race started from two people, one of whom was created from the bone of another who had been created from dust, and that everything really happened exactly as the Writer of Genesis says it did.

When I was growing up, the minister of our congregation was a very learned man, a man who had studied languages and history to the extent that he could discourse quite clearly on the various possible interpretations possible in the Bible, which is a document that was written originally in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek, then translated into Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Late Latin, archaic English, and then modern English, before it got to us... though he was of the stated belief that the Bible was a divinely inspired and infallible document, he understood that humans were secular and fallible readers. He was able to argue it all in a scholarly fashion and present various possiblities of interpretation, which we should take up in our own studies and in our prayers and meditations with God in order to find the right Way; but for those who wished to be told what to believe (like my Grandmother), he would subtly give us his opinion of the most-likely-correct reading. He also pointed out, in the question of Genesis, that the idea that man descended from apes takes as great a leap of faith (a leap that Darwin and his followers made, long before any real evidence was available) as to believe that God created the human race from a single progenitor.

But that minister retired and moved to Washington about ten years ago, and the congregation has been falling to pieces ever since then. And I think what happened is that a cadre of people, like the current music minister (who is the son of the then-youth-minister), chose to take that opportunity to put themselves in the forefront of the congregation, to draw attention to themselves with noise and hullaballoo instead of by doing anything attention-worthy. These people fought for a complete change of leadership, they wanted a young and progressive minister rather than an older, tried-and-true shepherd. And so they hired this boy from Texas (whence the Church of Christ originates, I believe), practically wet behind the ears, with only two years of assistant-minister experience after taking his seminarian degree. And then this cadre of progressives started making changes in the liturgy (though they don't call it "liturgy," which smacks of decadent Catholicism), little things like conducting the Children's Sermon at the altar instead of in another room, like having four voices plus a music minister leading the songs with microphones and overhead projectors instead of just one conductor with a hymnal, like hanging devotional banners on the walls, like insisting on greater participation of women in the worship service, etc.

All hell broke loose, of course, with many elderly congregants simply leaving the congregation for the next nearest Church of Christ which held to the old ways. What they didn't understand is that you cannot have a congregation of human beings without some sort of dogma growing out of it... and old-timers believed very strongly that all this pageantry and entertainment in the worship service detracted one's attention from the purpose of being there: to worship God. They saw all this business of decoration and performance to be a move back towards the decadent and unbiblical denominational practices that the Church of Christ was meant to reform.

So now Grandmother's congregation is about a third the size it was under the former minister; it's now on the third new minister since the great one left, being unable to find someone who could return the congregation to its former size and devotion under the new bells-and-whistles leadership; and that little cadre of stupid attention-seekers are driving what's left of the congregation right into the ground.

This last Sunday (yesterday), the music minister (hereinafter "mm") got on my last gay nerve. First of all, most of the women in the congregation were gone on a women's retreat at the mountain camp that the church (by some strange miracle of finance) still owns; yet "mm" went on nevertheless with his favorite overly-complex hymns with four-range harmonies, despite the fact that there were maybe two sopranos and three altos in the entire room. What makes it worse is that he does not provide musical notation for the congregation to follow, only lyrics. And since the Church of Christ is still quite dogmatic in its refusal to use musical instruments other than the voice, one has absolutely no idea what note one is supposed to hit, or which rhythm one is supposed to adopt, until about the third verse (leaving, as I suspect "mm" designs, the four-piece "choir" and himself the only audible voices in the building). But before he got started on that piece of idiocy, he took time out to deliver a long and emotional yet shockingly dull homily about the grace of God and how lucky we all are that Christ died for our sins. Now, this man created this idiotic and unnecessary position of Music Minister out of the old service post of song-leader (who, in the past, chose hymns that complemented the sermon, directed the congregation as to which page that hymn occupied, then sounded the keynote on a pitch-pipe and conducted the rhythm, all very self-effacingly and with great dignity), and is now using it as a further platform to preach, an activity for which he is unqualified by either education or ability.

My eyes were rolling so hard I thought they'd fall right out of my head. Grandmother just grunted and ignored him. But I think that both of us agree that "mm" is one of the key players in the destruction of that congregation.

Well, after that was over and we sat through the communion (Grandmother takes communion with great seriousness, and also makes me sit on the aisle so I have to pass the plate and tray to her while the usher or deacon almost palpably notes that I do not partake), and then the Children's Sermon... which was actually kind of interesting. The Youth Minister (formerly the person who looked after the teens; but there aren't any teens in the congregation any more, so he now looks after the children, which used to be the sole province of the women of the congregation) was expounding, in the simplified and rather patronizing manner of a pre-school volunteer, on the human-nature tendency to desire forbidden fruit. He used for his example the common maternal injunction that one can play in the front yard but cannot go out into the street. Any child worth the name will of course desire nothing more than to step out into the street at the first opportunity: for if it has been forbidden, it must be good fun. But then, once out in the street, one usually discovers that the street isn't fun at all — there are no toys there, no grass, no trees — it's only dangerous and dirty. I thought that was a fairly good point, though it neglected to mention the fact that one does, eventually, have to go out in the street.

So then we get into the sermon, which contemplates the desire and consequences of forbidden fruit, using for example the (true and exactly literal) story of Adam & Eve and the Serpent. The minister (who is not very attractive and also has the worst haircut I've ever seen) expanded on the text of Genesis, using this little trick that he must have learned in Seminary in order to cement things in the minds of his (by implication learning-disabled) congregants: he projects his outline items in huge yellow letters on a blue ground over his head, and then repeats the words in that item twice. If I had a professor who did that, I would have thrown my books at him. But in church, I have to just sit there and take it. Usually I can place my mind elsewhere, far away in a happier and smarter place, but this Sunday I just couldn't take that mental walkaway, and so listened to the entire idiotic sermon which said nothing original and made the most trite and damaging possible conclusions: that human beings are bad by nature, and we have to be forever vigilant against temptation lest we offend the majesty of God (who put those temptations there in the first place).

So then, once the sermon is over, there is another hymn (this one so complex in its harmonies that even the choir can barely manage it... remember that "mm" has absolutely no musical talent, just overweening ambition and a little training), during which time people with prayer requests may talk to one of the deacons. Then came the part of the service that always pisses me off, no matter how tolerant of other people's beliefs I try to be: the Community Prayer, in which the minister will inform us of a particular single prayer request, and then we are meant to silently pray on that item for one minute; then the next, and the next. When you get up to six or seven prayer requests, this exercise become exceptionally tedious. But what makes me angry is the nature of these requests: almost invariably, the prayers request a very specific outcome of continued life and health for some loved one, or specific material blessings for oneself or one's friends.

To me, when you ask God for a specific outcome, you are telling God what to do. What kind of nerve does that take? Are we supposed to think that God, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, gives a rat's twat which outcome we prefer? Does one believe that one can alter God's will, which knows no time and no force, to match our own wills? Does one ask God to make someone, inluding oneself, do or not do a specific thing, even though He in His infinite wisdom granted all of us free will? No wonder I always got God and Santa Claus mixed up in my childish mind, if I'm supposed to go sit in God's lap and tell Him what I want.

Why not just shut the fuck up and ask what God's will for me is? Which is what I do, and that is my belief so I try not to expect it of people who believe differently. And God does not require my indignation on His behalf. It just seems to me a great disservice to God to expect Him to do things contrary to His own will, just because that's what we want. God created us as mortal, and so to ask Him that this or that person not be sick or die is ridiculous... and it leads to crises of faith when God doesn't deliver that which we want, or when God allows evil to exist because He made us free to choose good or evil of our own accord.

So when I got home from church, I changed into comfortable clothes and turned on the computer and played with my Sims, for whom I am God. And they are always telling me what to do... but then, I can smite them at will, which can be fun (though I usually feel guilty afterward).

Who sings that song that goes "tell me all your thoughts on God"? I'm pretty sure it wasn't you... in fact, I am surprised you're still with me after that lengthy of a diatribe. So for all your perserverence, here is a little reward, my own idea of Heaven. XOXO!

Friday, October 18, 2002

I don't know what to tell you...

I seem to have developed a pattern of blogging every other day. I guess that's okay, it's nice to have patterns (so long as you don't try to mix them indiscriminately... no matter what Vogue tells you, plaid and polka-dots cannot exist in proximity). On the other hand, predictability is often considered a bad trait. I guess the key to being seen as spontaneaous rather than predictable is to surround oneself with people who are endlessly surprised by the same thing (like my Grandmother, and Caroline). It works on the same principle as hanging around obese people in order to look thinner, or surrounding yourself with elderly people in order to look younger.

I've often pondered the trait that several people I know display... the trait of surrounding oneself with fuckups and morons in order to feel or appear more together and smart. Now, in some people this trait is peculiarly advanced, to the extent that the person is so surrounded by idiots that he or she has no idea that s/he is an idiot as well, being merely the least idiotic of a large circle of idiots but a complete and utter idiot nonetheless. In these extremes, one practically creates a new subculture, in which one becomes the King of the Idiots (wait, that's a quote I remember..."In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king"... who said it?)

But in a lesser sense, there are those who take comfort in the fact that they are not nearly as screwed-up as other people — people, for example, like Jerry Springer's guests. This is in fact the key demographic of Jerry Springer's audience: people who draw comfort from the fact that, as screwed up as their own lives are, at least their husbands aren't leaving them for transsexual hookers. This is a form of schadenfreude, taking delight in the misfortunes of others, but is also the indicator of a rather arrogant worldview that leads one to ignore one's own faults and shortcomings, allowing them to fester and grow. If you cried because you had no shoes, but then saw a man who had no feet, should you then feel happy that you still have no shoes?

Chalk another one up to "Things That Marlene Just Doesn't Get," but I never understood this drive to be on top of anything, even a pile of crap, settling for being the Biggest Crap instead of being the Smallest (what's the opposite of crap? Gold? Chocolate?)

I've always preferred to surround myself with people who I see as superior, from whom I can learn and with whose help I can improve myself. But even among these, I try only to see them as superior in one particular way or another. Some of my friends are more kind than I, more literate, more attractive (personally attractive, that is, rather than but not exclusive of physically attractive), more outgoing, more adventurous, more imaginitive, et cetera and so on. I, in turn, offer them the things in which I excel that perhaps they do not. It's a symbiosis of learning, rather than a hierarchy in which one person is superior and another is inferior. The very description of "superior vs inferior" is completely arrogant and not conducive to growth and progress. It assumes static roles in the universe, and we all know that nothing in this universe is ever really static.

On the other hand, even though I do not consciously surround myself with people I see as "inferior" to myself, I am naturally arrogant and must always strive to remind myself that I am not "superior" to certain or various other people. Yes, I may be more intelligent than many people, more stylish, more thoughtful, whatever (and also, there are people who outshine me in these things)... but I have to remember that even the meanest creature on this planet has its purpose and uses, facets that shine and facets that do not shine — just like me. That even if one fails at everything one does, one can still provide an example to others (if only a negative example... for one thing, I've learned by scientific observation of The Jerry Springer Show to never involve myself with women who have bulbous foreheads, tight lips, and too much eyeliner on the lower lids, because they always lead to trouble).

And the reason I feel it necessary to always remind myself of my own lack of superiority is because I tend, as do many people, to prefer pointing out the splinter in my neighbor's eye while ignoring the plank in my own (that's a Biblical reference, kids). It's ever so much easier to inventory other people's window-displays than to laboriously sort through the dusty old stock in one's own back-room. But if we give in to this impulse, this laziness of feeling superior because other people are supposedly inferior, we miss the opportunity to grow and become a better person... not a superior person, because that is not the goal, but a good person, the best person one is capable of being.

So there's the sermon for today. In other news, I have started the transfer of files from my work computer to my new home computer via Winzip file compression and 100-MG Zip disks (how did zip become such a common phoneme in Computerese?) I had no idea how many porn jpegs I had stored on this thing! I just went through the photo-porn (as opposed to the cartoon-porn or video-porn) files, deleting things I didn't really like and moving things that had been filed there by accident, and ended up with 58 megs of porn! Enough, I imagine, to start my own porn site!

I also went through my Word directory and discovered that I have about 180 megs of documents stored, everything from my own writing to copies of letters and emails and instant-message sessions. And then, I can't decide quite what to do with the innumerable megs of beefcake photos... I've uploaded so many to my FTP space already, but I didn't make any notation of which pictures went up and which ones didn't. That's going to take a lot of shuffling-through and directory-comparing. That's going to take a while to get through.

I'm such a pack-rat, though! I had no idea how many files I had stored, of how many different types, in how many subdirectories, until I started to move them! On the other hand, I did buy a six-pack of Zip disks, and can make several trips back and forth, so maybe I don't really have to sort them out, after all. I should, but it's nice to think that I don't have to.

I also just bought the new Sims Deluxe Edition at Best Buy (where I went to get sufficient phone cord to connect the modem in my bedroom to the phone jack in the guest room at the other end of the house, as well as a few other things), and have been enjoying the hell out of it. This version comes with Livin' Large included and several more objects than both original games... and there are five separate (but identical) neighborhoods, so I have quite a bit more real estate to build up and have fun with. I had decided to start fresh with this edition and leave my old families on the work and kitchen computers where they are, but with five neighborhoods, I have room to move them all. I'll have to see about how to do that. Any input, fellow Sims Addicts?

I just had a terrible scare... I was eating a bagel with cream cheese, and thought I broke the temporary filling out of my freshly root-canaled back tooth! BLIND UTTER PANIC!!!! But it turned out to be a seed from one of the other bagels that was in the same bag. Phew! But that reminds me that I had better get hopping on having that crown installed. Next time it might not be a seed.

Plus, I'm really tired of not being able to eat candy. I mean, on the one hand it's easier to diet when I can't eat a pound of taffy or an entire box of See's or a big bag of pastel mint nonpareils, but I love those things so! And I'm not losing much weight, either, since I still can (and do) eat cookies and cake and what-have-you. And now that the weather is turning, I won't have as much opportunity for my preferred form of exercise (walking). I'll have to see about joining that gym I was talking about. Or just stop worrying about it... it's not like anybody besides me has to look at my doughy waist.

Well, I guess I've babbled on long enough. A picture is worth a thousand words, but I'm sure you could get more that that from this one:

Did you ever have one of those writing assignments where you have to make up a story about a single frame of photography? Give this one a shot!

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

M'sieu le Baron de Ringadingding

Yes, darlings, today is a day for nonsense. Aside from my usual lack of nothing to say, I am a little scatter-brained at the moment as well. Between the almost-unendurable pain of yesterday's completed root-canal (it's utterly amazing how much pain can be generated via the teeth...why, oh why don't people understand that "drug-resistant" means that my system requires four or five times as much asnesthesia as anyone would think I was a redhead, for pity's sake) and today's almost-unendurable excitement of my new computer scheduled to arrive via UPS (update: I called the Grandmother and it HAS arrived, I'm so thrilled, I know what I'm going to be doing all evening...eeeeeeeeee!), heightened by my favorable but distracting reaction to my new Patrick Fillion eroticomics that arrived in the mail yesterday along with a new Suzanne Somers bracelet, and then exacerbated by a boring day at work, I can barely string together three thoughts, much less formulate a cogent essay of any sort.

Today is Oscar Wilde's birthday! Although I can't stand his poetry, I absolutely worship everything else the man wrote. The Picture of Dorian Gray is definitely in the top ten of my favorite novels, and a turning-point influence in my literary and aesthetic life. I just adore the short stories like "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime" and "A Sphinx Without A Secret." The untold number of witticisms he let loose into the world... these alone merit his apotheosis. You can read all of his published works at this site maintained by the University College of Cork; you can find other neat resources via the Oscar Wilde Sites; and I totally recommend visiting Jonno's beautiful Oscar Wilde pages, Oscariana.

In an interesting case of semisynchronicity, the day before Oscar's birthday was National Grouch Day. And nobody sent me a card! Harrumph.

Another interesting birthday today is my favorite celebrity jewelry-designer, the fantabulous Miss Suzanne Somers! I was just counting and discovered that I currently own nineteen pieces of Suzanne Somers jewelry! Fifteen bracelets, one ring, and three necklaces. No earrings, yet, but I'm working on it!

Also celebrating a birthday today is my favorite grande dame of stage and screen, Miss Angela Lansbury. She was the essential musical Mame, she scared the pants off me as the scheming maid in Gaslight and the scheming mother in The Manchurian Candidate, and I even loved her in Murder, She Wrote and Bedknobs & Broomsticks. And here's another amusing little piece of synchronicity: Angela Landsbury's third US film role and second supporting Oscar nomination was "Sybil Vane" in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Kinda makes you think, don't it? About what, I can't imagine. But it makes you think, at any rate, and that's a good thing.

In other news...actually, there is no other news, but I feel like I ought to say something more. And, as I was taught in university, when you don't have anything particular to say, quote somebody else. So enjoy the following fabulous wisdom:

The Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Goodbye, Columbus

Isn't that a title of a Phillip Roth novel? (Actually, a short story) Was it turned into a dreary movie? (Yes, indeed, with Richard Benjamin and Ali McGraw). I don't know (acutally, I do know because before I posted I looked up the title at Amazon) and I don't care (but I'm bored enough to feign caring). What made me think of the title, aside from the fact that today is Columbus Day, is how history is revised, sometimes purposely and sometimes via the inevitable filter of perception.

My Grandmother doesn't quite realize that all history is revisionist in its nature (because of the necessarily limited perceptions of the historian); however, she objects (as do I) to conscious and supposedly reparative revisions. See, when she was a kid, Christopher Columbus had discovered America. When I was a kid, Christopher Columbus had actually discovered the New World (since he never set foot on mainland America, either North or South). Nowadays, children are taught that "Columbus," whose name was really Cristobal Colòn, didn't discover anything at all — not only were there already people there in the so-called "New World" (the indigenous peoples having discovered it some time earlier), but also because he thought he was somewhere else (he went to his grave thinking he was in Japan... which is kind of funny, when you think about it). Columbus has been reduced from a great national hero to a typical comic male who never admits he's really lost.

"If this keeps up," Grandmother quips, "eventually Christopher Columbus won't even have left Spain."

It seems that the current vogue in pedagogy is to minimize Christopher Columbus by negating old-fashioned assumptions about the man and by dwelling on the less pleasant aspects of his trip... that he and his crew introduced venereal diseases to the Caribbean, that they were only looking for weak natives to loot and exploit, that the entire Renaissance thrust of exploration and colonization was inherently evil. In my American Federation of Teachers academic year pocket calendar, today's date reads "Indigenous Peoples discover Columbus." I thought that was pretty funny, the first time I read it... but it shows quite clearly that the re-focus of thinking about Columbus as an interloper rather than an explorer is something that has been planned out for a specific purpose. "Indigenous Peoples discover Columbus" is just as formulaic an oversimplification as "Columbus discovers America."

Either way of looking at it is true, to some extent, but both of these to-some-extent truths are inherently untruthful... for when you simplify history into an easily remembered formula, you have to leave out all of the innumerable extenuating circumstances. You essentially have to filter the facts, and filtering the facts turns them into an untruth. And then, when you choose which facts to leave out of your formula, you are engaging in Propaganda. And I feel that propaganda is inherently evil, because it results in a misunderstanding that benefits the stature of some person or school of thought while degrading the names of real people.

Did you know, for example, that King Richard III of England never did any of the horrible things for which he is credited? But Shakespeare's fabulous play about that unfortunate ruler was more interesting than the real facts... and the subject and contents of that play were Tudor propaganda that apologized for the regicide of a sitting monarch and usurpation of the Throne of England performed by Henry Tudor (the character of "Richmond" in the play), later Henry VI. The reputation of a generally blameless man was sullied in the eye of the world in order that William Shakespeare might flatter Elizabeth I (Henry VI's great-granddaughter) and gain favor in the Tudor Court. The same thing is now being done to Christopher Columbus; perhaps for more noble reasons, but propaganda is propaganda no matter which way you turn it.

Sure, there were Eurocentric evils involved in the exploration of the New World. Colonialism, exploitation, slavery, and religious persecution were the main motives in these explorations... very few of the Great Explorers were in it just for the fun of adventure. Most of them wanted gold and/or power, as well as or instead of adventure. While the thirst for knowledge of the world is commendable, very few commendable virtues come unalloyed with base desires: it's human nature.

But when one writes history, the temptation is to cast people in shades of black and white. Certain historians prefer to think of the Explorers as great adventurers, selfless seekers of knowledge, and genuine humanitarians bringing the glories of civilization to the poor backward natives; others wish to cast the exact same people in the roles of ignorant exploiters, greedy spoilers, self-seeking destroyers hunting for new lands to plunder and new peoples to murder.

But the truth is that they were all peu de toute, some of each... as is everybody else in this world. If you dug deep enough into Hitler's life, you would find some evidence of human compassion and goodness; if you searched hard enough into Mother Theresa's life, you would find moments of selfishness and intolerance. People are never purely good nor purely evil.

And since History is the story of people, it cannot be simplified into terms of pure good and pure evil. By simplifying history, you reduce the great pageant of human experience into a bunch of useless dates and names; and through simplified pedagogy, you rob history of its purpose... because the Purpose of History is to give us to understand how things happen, how they came to be, and how we might consider conducting ourselves in the future. If we can understand the motives behind the great events of the past, if we can understand the mistakes or triumphs that resulted in us being where we are now, we can understand our own behavior, the behavior of others, and the behavior that might result in greater happiness and benefit in the future.

It is said (first by George Santayana and then by a lot of other people) that "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But it is my feeling that those who do not understand their fellow humans are condemned to a life of ignorance, anger, and loneliness. Yes, a knowledge of history does have its practical purposes in mapping the future, but I think that knowledge of history is more beneficial in understanding who people are and why they are the way they are. And for this to make any sense, you have to understand people's intentions as well as their actions.

To judge the characters of the past (like Christopher Columbus) by our own modern standards (of having the entire planet and most of the galaxy mapped, of having learned the evils of colonialism, etc.) is the same as judging our children by the behavior we grew out of in our own childhoods. Should you be condemned as a bed-wetter if you aren't potty-trained? Should you be condemned for having a fourth-grade reading level when you're only in the third grade? Should you be condemned as ignorant when you've never been taught? Well, in the same vein, one has to ask: Should you be condemned as a destroyer of civilizations when you never understood that civilizations could exist that were not your own? Should you be condemned as a religious persecutor when you had no inkling that the bizarre rituals and practices of far-flung Africans were actual religions? Should you be condemned as a vile exploiter of human slaves when it had never once been suggested to you that those creatures were the same as yourself, men and women with minds and souls and blood just like yours, but only a different color of skin and shape of mouth or eye?

These were radical and new ideas in the past, even though they have become commonplace in the present. Even though the ancient Greeks knew that the Earth was round (another thing once credited to Christopher Columbus which has been discarded), nobody had ever tried to go to the other side... and in 1492, the idea that the world was round was a fairly radical notion, just as the sun-centered solar-system was a radical idea (so radical that it landed Galileo in prison and Giordano Bruno in a heretic's pyre). In 1492, nobody really knew what gravity was. They didn't know what oxygen was. They didn't know that there was no such thing as spontaneous generation of life, that all living things in the world are born of parents and that all living things die. They were entirely unaware of the exact placement of organs and the particular makeup of tissues inside their own bodies. They had no means of measuring temperature, of measuring light, or even accurately measuring time.

And so to judge the actions of long-dead people, for whom these basic tidbits of information were completely unknown, by the standards of living people, for whom this and so much more information is readily available and commonly understood, is the same as juding an infant by it's inability to attain its parents' simplest achievements, like defecating in a toilet or chewing its own food. And then, on the same token, to apologize for the behavior of long-dead people by editing the facts of their lives is even worse, because it denies the growth of the human species and robs our race of its historical significance.

I believe the lesson here is to never judge anybody by any personal standard, because you can't know what they know and they can't know what you know. You can only, therefore, judge them by their ability to accessorize.

So anyway... sometimes I think when (or if) I go back to school, I will major in History. Preferably cultural history and anthropology rather than military history and politics. I'm always fascinated by the ways people of different times and different countries dressed, the music they enjoyed, the dances they performed, the foods they ate, the houses they lived in, the family structures they built, the gods they worshipped and the methods by which they decorated their walls. Though I have greatly benefitted from my studies of political history and political science, I prefer to know about what Louis XIV wore to breakfast than what policies he signed.

Well, time to step down from the podium. I'm going to go home and tutor my niece in the uses of the English language. My sister is home-schooling her daughter, but was baffled by possessive pronouns and many of the concepts that come after that. And since I know the English language fairly well (though I do make mistakes once in a while), I offered to help. I'm kind of excited about the opportunity to inculcate good grammar, but am trepidatious about my ability to reach my usually inattentive and sometime unbelievably annoying niece. Either way, it's bound to be more interesting than sitting in front of the TV and doing nothing.

I just love autumn, don't you?

Friday, October 11, 2002

Flying by the seat of my pantyhose...

I hate when my life gets all busy like this. For some reason, having an end-date has made me more conscientious at work. Or is it just that there are a lot of little things to do, more than usual? Then there are family things to deal with, like my niece's birthday (she was eleven on Wednesday), which involved a surprise miniparty on Wednesday and then preparations for a larger and more planned-out party this evening, and all the shopping and erranding and cleaning these entail. And now I have to get ready for a drag show. I don't remember what time the drag show is supposed to start (though I think it was 8), I haven't been able to get hold of the organizer, and I had to go online to do a Google search and a Mapquest lookup so I'd simply know the location of the building in which I will be performing! And I just this morning chose my songs and clothes. This is what I call "pulling a performance out of my ass." Wheee!

The show I am performing in (I hate dangling my participles, but sometimes it just doesn't matter, you know?) is at the Rainbow Convention in San Francisco, a Narcotics Anonymous conference for GLBT(etc) addicts in recovery. NA isn't really my program, as "drugs" (ie illegal or prescription substances) were never my problem... I smoked a little pot now and again, though it usually made me sick, and I'm terrified of everything else (my mother was a big speed-queen, and I'd rather die than do anything like my mother!) Of course, in NA, alcohol is considered a drug (any mind-altering substance is), so I feel myself qualified for that program as well as AA.

I have a lot of friends who participate actively in both programs, "cross-addicted" people who find something of value in both AA and NA (and often in Al-Anon, ACA, OA, SLA, and any other 12-step program you can name). I have little difficulty thinking of myself as a "drug addict," I can be an addict as easily as an "alcoholic." The steps are the same, the methods of recovery are the same, most of the literature says the same things. There is nevertheless a lot of discussion (and sometimes even vituperation) between the two groups about the merits of each.

I think the main difference between NA and AA is the sociocultural habits, the class tone if you will, of the people in each program. There's a kind of personality profile that goes along with "drug culture," in my experience. I mean, when you are addicted to illegal drugs, you are pretty much on the outside of society; there's a subcultural mindset that comes with that sort of behavior, a kind of "fuck the world" attitude that I don't share (class-conscious queen that I am). Alcohol, on the other hand, is legal... and it's "social" in many ways. I myself was more a "social" drinker, in that I deluded myself that the alcohol was just a social lubricant and hand-occupying pastime than a substance-addiction.

There's also what I call the "tweaker element" that one encounters in NA more than AA. Though the "N" in NA stands for "narcotics," most of the NA people I know were amphetamine users... coke, speed, crystal, etc. Uppers. People who take uppers usually fall into certain personality categories, often fidgety and strident and scattershot. Alcohol, conversely, is a downer... and most of the people I know in AA who also used drugs tended to use downers... Valium, pot, etc. Then there's the psychogenic kids, the ones who got hooked on acid and shrooms and what-have-you, who are for all general purposes clinically insane due to what the drugs did to their brains.

And on top of all that is the "addiction level index" between different substances... if you've ever compared a person giving up smoking to a person giving up chocolate, you see a distinct difference in the severity of withdrawals; the same holds true between the relatively tame substance, alcohol, and the rather more intensively addictive substances like crack or heroin. It takes a lot longer, and a lot more effort, to recover from those things. As a result, one sees a great deal more "revolving recovery" in NA (or at least at the meetings I have attended), in which more people relapse often and chronically.

In short, what I'm getting at, is that I tend to feel less comfortable among NAs than I do among AAs, and that's why AA is my primary program. And the reason I'm thinking about this at all today is that I'm about to go plunge myself into the midsts of several hundred queer NAs in the Ramada Plaza Hotel, and will then get up on stage in front of said NAs and lip-synch in a dress... and that, along with my usual peformance anxiety, is making me feel a little trepidatious.

But it's going to be just fabulous, I'm sure. I'm wearing my new black velvet cocktail dress, with the short skirt and the sheer scatter-sequined bodice, to perform Keely Smith's "Sunny Side of the Street"; then changing into my old favorite basic black sequined chemise to perform Ella Fitzgerald's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." Then I'll slip into the green sequined gown with voile jacket that I wore to Parade for the finale, in which the cast will come out in all the colors of the rainbow. I'll let you know how it goes.

Not much else going on just now. Oh, I did end up buying a new computer, and it's on it's way! I bought a Gateway system, a remanufactured 300 series 1400c, to be precise... with an Intel® 1.4GHz Celeron™ Processor, 17" Monitor, 128MB RAM, 20GB Hard Drive, CD burner, a 56-K modem, with Windows® XP Home Edition and Microsoft® Works Suite 2002 installed. All for just $598, including shipping! I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. I know it's not exactly top-of-the-line, or even middle-of-the-line... but compared to my current systems at home and work, it's pretty damned fancy!

And so ends another broadcast day. Talk to you soon! XOXO

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

And now for the real story...

I hope you will forgive me for the utter vacuity of my last two posts. I mean, I do tend to natter on about Nothing most of the time, but those last two were pretty lame (though I do still have that song stuck in my head).

The thing is, I've had this big gristly chunk of life-decision to chew on for the last few days, and I wasn't prepared to discuss the issue publicly until I had discussed it privately with those who are closest to me and who would be most impacted by any decision I would make or course of action I would take. But now I have discussed it with every effected person in my personal life, and it's time to share it with you, my digital family!

As you may have noticed, I hate my job. Last week the Boss-Lady pushed me a little too far with her usual neurotic outbursts, and something in my head just snapped. I decided right then and there that the time had definitely come to leave the job. And since today is/was my four-year anniversary in this job, I decided that today would be the day that I would tender my resignation.

First, though, I had to overcome a great deal of fear. That part was pretty easy to do, though difficult to manage (if you know what I mean). With fear, there comes a time where you just have to suck it up and do it. You just have to pull up your pants and jump out of that plane, run into that burning building, take that bullet. And so I did exactly that. I had moments of blind panic and clutching anxiety, but it had to be done (like taking those novocaine shots) to stop the situation that was causing me pain. Second, I had to find some way of doing it sanely, smartly, and without burning any bridges. And that meant trying to find a reason to quit that had nothing to do with my growing hatred for my boss, our membership, and everybody else related to or involved in my office. I had to winnow out the reason that was strictly about me and my business.

Well, that was pretty easy, too, when I sat and thought about it calmly. I mean, this job is essentially a dead end. There is no promotion possible, no other job to which I could transfer, no future of any sort. It's a four-person operation, and the other positions can only be held by union members; and union members can only be faculty working in this district, and since I'd rather roll naked in red ants and broken glass than work as faculty in this district, I'm stuck. My job performance suffers due to my unhappiness in the office, and there is absolutely no motivation for me to do a good job except to maintain a status quo that is making me unhappy in the first place. And so it's in the office's best interest, as well as mine, if I leave... because my performance will only worsen, since I have no real reason to improve it.

So I talked it over with two of my best friends, talked it over with my sister, talked it over with my Grandmother, and talked it over with my sponsor. I developed a plan, with contingencies addressed, in which I would tender thirty days' notice, work up a manual describing all of my tasks (so there would be no need of me training someone to do just as crappy of a job as I'm doing), finish off my pending projects, and help find a replacement. After that I would take a couple of weeks off to just rest and depressurize and regroup; after that I would register with a temp agency, so that I could "audition" different jobs before I went hunting for any one particular kind of job. I would have to do without my little luxuries during this down-time, but over the summer I proved to myself just how easy (if less-than-pleasant) a life without little luxuries is to achieve. I even wrote a rather nice letter of resignation.

But before I made any final move, I waited to discuss it with my coworker and friend, JB... the person who would bear the most impact of my leaving. After all, she would be the one who would have to deal with the replacement, and the one who would have to take over many of my responsibilities if the replacement was slow in being found or didn't work out or whatever.

Not surprisingly, JB was the only person with whom I discussed this who was not delighted with and fully supportive of my decision to leave. Unlike me, she likes the status quo and is interested in keeping it, and that status quo includes my presence there. And since our other coworker, BB, is still out on maternity leave and would not be likely to have returned before my thirty days were over, we would still be understaffed even if we managed to get a replacement trained and in place, leaving JB in rather a lurch. JB further pointed out that a smooth transition of staff would be more likely achieved in the period between semesters, the first half of January, when the office is always very quiet. If I would put off my leaving for a mere six weeks, BB would have returned, the office would be quiet, more time would be available for finding and training a replacement, and it would have a less negative effect on the office.

And so I altered my decision in light of these new considerations. It is the wisest thing to do, as it allows me more time to finish my projects, it gives me three more paychecks to save from, and it gives the office more time to find and train a replacement. But it certainly took the bang out of my gesture of resigning on my anniversary. And it would keep me there some weeks after my 35th birthday, which is the end of my Seventh Year and will not qualify as my Big Life Change that I expect (which means that some other Big Life Change might just come along before then...oy!). And I have to put up with six extra weeks of my boss and her foster-baby and the whining membership and the irksome executive council and the benighted district administration.

And I have to think of how exactly to handle this... I mean, thirty days is a standard resignation period... eighty days is rather strange, and rather strained. But I have to inform the boss as soon as possible of my plan to leave, so that there will be a maximum time to obtain a replacement, or one of the main reasons for putting off my termination date will be rendered moot. I just wish I could better predict what Boss-Lady will do, how she will react. I mean, I don't have a contract, she could just fire me on the spot. I could just leave at any time without notice. And I would prefer for neither of these things to come to pass... after all, this is the only real job I've ever had, and I need the good reference — otherwise I am right where I started four years ago with a Bachelor's degree and no experience, but this time with more grey hair.

So anyway, that's my big thing that's been on my mind. Another big thing is that, in leaving that job, I am giving up access to a pretty good computer. Before I changed my mind about my timeline, I started shopping around for home systems that I could afford, which would be better than the sad little Pentium-I in my kitchen (at which I am typing now) with it's 48 megs of RAM and 36K modem and 15-inch monitor. I found a system I really like at Gateway, and since I am not leaving my job right away, I can totally afford it. And so I will be getting a better home computer, which will be great! I'll be able to play my Sims with greater efficacy, as well as all sorts of other things that have in the past kept me in the office. It's gonna be fabulous!

Well, that's all I have for now. I have to get to bed. Thanks for listening! I can't tell you how valuable it is to me to have this outlet for my thoughts and my writings. You're the best!