Friday, January 31, 2003


I just heard from Steve at Pyra Labs, there was a little glitch in the migrating process but my missing posts are tucked away in the database somewhere, and shall be returned to me as soon as possible. Praise de Lawd, mah babies are safe!

I'm still a little irked by the fact that not all of of Blogger's systems are aware that I upgraded my account and ponied up the required 47 ducats (35 for the Pro, 12 for a year's ad-freedom). When I log in to Blogger Pro's homepage, there is still an "Upgrade Now" come-on on the page. When I checked at BloggerControl to see how my Issue was faring, there was a little banner which explained that the delay was due to the fact that I am a free service user (which I read as "freeloader," though I'm sure that's not what they meant) and first attention must go to paying customers. But, as the technicians always point out, BloggerPro is a new service, for which I paid a low introductory fee, and you can't expect too much from an infant system that is still largely under construction. Key word in that sentence: Expect. It's always about the expectations with me.

Whatever, I'm just glad I didn't lose my text. It is so precious to me. And I really want to go over and re-edit that post that Jhames linked to... it was a good piece, but still a little rough, especially as to theme and organization. I want to work it into an essay.

I don't want to go to work today. I'm trying to think of what I have to do today, and whether or not I can leave it until Monday. But no... I have to pick up our dues and fees Income from the District Payroll, I have to deposit the checks, and put out a mailer to the executive body containing an agenda with a number of attachments, one of which I still haven't finished writing (the minutes to the last meeting). I suppose I could easily let the minutes slide, we often don't get minutes passed for months at a time (though "Minutes" are the second thing on the Agenda, right after "Agenda Review," the meetings usually jump right to whatever the people in the room were discussing or arguing about before the meeting started, and such formalities are usually skipped over. But even if I let them slide, I still have to mail out the packets. And though I could leave the banking until Monday, it's easier than the mailer so I might just as well do it today.

I'd still so much rather sit here in my bathrobe and frivol the day away. My stomach still feels ucky, I need a shower but don't have the impetus to go take one, and I just don't feel like putting on clothes at all.

I wrote a little song about it. Want to hear it? Here it goes (with abject apologies to Bernstein & Sondheim)

    I feel shitty,

    Oh so shitty,

    I feel shitty, and gritty, and gray!

    And I pity

    Any fool who tries to get in my way.


    I feel grumpy,

    Kind of lumpy,

    I'm so frumpy and stumpy I ache!

    And so shitty,

    I can hardly stand to be awake.


    Who's that horrid fright in the mirror there?

    (What mirror, where?)

    She's so frightful, how can she live?

    Such a puffy face,

    Such a messy coif

    Such a gastly look

    It's too much to forgive!

    I feel queasy,

    So uneasy,

    It's too cheesy, how greasy I feel!

    I'm just old, sick, tired

    And kind of surreal!

Okay, I'll go take a shower, have some more coffee, dress myself with as much panache as I can manage, and just get it together and go about my business. After all, I have cause to rejoice! Mah babies are safe! And there is beauty in the world. And I don't feel as yucky as I did yesterday. Gratitude, children, gratitude is the key to happiness.

Though I would certainly feel more grateful if I got to shower here...

Thursday, January 30, 2003

For Crying Out Loud

In retrospect, it seems that I should not have gotten out of bed this week. While Sunday was generally a good day, I unfortunately ate a bad mussel at dinner and I'm still paying for it in the form of painful stomach gas. Monday I spent the whole day working out an emotional and intellectual confusion in this here blog, mining through my own prejudices and fears and quandaries (a worthwhile but not entirely enjoyable exercise). Tuesday I apparently deleted it, along with all of my other long posts, while migrating to Blogger Pro. Wednesday I went to the dentist for a filling and ended up having a root canal instead (surprise!); I was under the nitrous for two hours, and now I'm on cortisone and Vicodin. My stomach feels bad, my mouth feels bad, my blog feels bad, my checking account is entering the tumbril and will be feeling bad as soon as my root-canal-instead-of-a-filling invoice arrives... and my hair is an utter fucking disaster. Gack.

I've had weeks like this before. And always my teeth are involved... not necessarily the starring attraction, but they're always contained within these little bastinades of tragedies. I wonder why that is. Is it perhaps that, when the teeth go wrong, nothing goes right? Or is it that I'm always having trouble with my teeth, but it just bugs me more when the rest of my life goes to shit? Who knows. One thing I've learned, though, is that these things always pass. In a week or two I'll have forgotten all about it.

I've decided that I do not like nitrous oxide, after all. While I do appreciate and still need the gas in order to ooch past the mind-scrambling nature of dental pain (especially since I'm novocaine-resistant), I don't really like being stoned anymore. While I was floating about under the influence, I had all these really interesting thoughts and fascinating realizations... none of which I remember now.

I do remember deciding that I was indeed in love with a certain someone, though I can't for the life of me remember what led up to that decision (and now I don't really think it's true... this can't be love, no sobs, no sorrows, no sighs). I remember having a fascinating breakthrough idea on the nature of perceptions and how much of our perception is clouded or clarified by chemicals of various kinds. I remember looking out the window upside-down through a dental mirror that the dentist was holding near my eye, and wondering why it contained a view of Mission San Juan Capistrano (which, as we know, is not in Oakland... it was in fact the west wing of Providence hospital behind the terracotta tiled roof of the building next door creating an optical illusion). I remember trying to remember whether or not there was a BART station nearby, and if not why I could hear BART trains (there isn't... it must have been a bus with a bad transmission).

The whole not being in touch with reality totally sucks. I don't like it. And I really can't imagine how or why I used to spend so much of my time in such altered states. Though being drunk is not the same as being under nitrous, there was still that removal from reality, that disconnection from my own body and my consciousness and the world of the senses. It's like being a cable-car that has become detached from the cable and is just rolling one way or another, still attached to the track but without any continuing thread of motion.

Well, this is all the price I'm paying for having neglected my teeth. I would say that I've learned my lesson after all these years, but I don't like making statements like that (they are harbingers of failure). But unless the man dies or I move away, I am never changing dentists again, and I am never going to skip a yearly checkup and cleaning. I am through fighting the idea of dental hygiene. Even without dental insurance, it is so much better to pay a few hundred out of pocket once a year, and avoid these nasty surprise root-canals in the future. I guess I just have to accept that my teeth are deteriorating apace, but I still can't afford a proper full set of dentures (nor am I ready to be a denture-wearer... that's kind of yucky when you think about it; especially when you think that you have to spend at least two weeks and up to five weeks being entirely toothless, waiting for your gums to heal from multiple extractions and while they build your dentures for you).

Well, anyway, it's going to take forever just to get my teeth in good working order. This root-canal has to sit for a while, as the bone and gums heal from the trauma, before they can prep me for a post; then it will be another two weeks or so before they can put the crown on (assuming that I or the crown-makers don't screw up the crown mold, like happened last time, and have to have it redone). And once that's done, we can start looking at some of the other problems, notably that bridge or implant that I need in my lower jaw (that's going to cost a fucking fortune). And I'm sure there are other problems just waiting to jump out at me as soon as we get out of crisis mode and can do a thorough cleaning and poke-around.

Well, anyway, that was my Wednesday. Today is just yucky, but at least I got my paycheck on time and all the bills and stuff... now I'm just waiting for the second signature on all these, and then I can go home if I want to. Tomorrow after work (where I have to do banking... always a blast and a half) I have to drive back down to San Jose and retrieve the Grandmother. She's been staying with my cousin Kellie this week (I've dropped the whole romàn a clef initial thing... l don't care if my family reads me talking smack about them), keeping an eye on the kiddies as Kellie goes on job interviews and otherwise helping her settle into her new place. I miss her when she's gone. But I dislike driving to San Jose in the commute hours. It's kind of an ugly drive anyway, but this way it takes a lot longer, giving one so much more opportunity and leisure to observe the ugliness as one ooches bumper-to-bumper for forty-odd miles.

Then comes Saturday. My sister is moving again this weekend, and she asked me to help. Like an idiot, or like a good big brother (very fine line between these two), I agreed. I'm sure it won't be too bad... she hasn't lived there long enough to completely unpack from the last time, and certainly not long enough to have hung a lot of pictures with an upholstery staplegun, or stored away a lot of things that she's forgotten about, or painted her windows, or generated a lot of waste-paper, or hung wall-mounting shelves (the most time-consuming portions of her last move). But still, it's work and I don't like work. The price of family, I guess.

Then on Sunday I run back out to the City to find out what part I got in the Living Sober Musical. Part of me is hoping for one of the featured drag-queens (the ones who have solo lines), but it's a small part of me that wants the glory... the rest is really hoping to hide out in the chorus. We shall see.

The audition on Sunday last was really interesting... I'd never been on an audition before, so I didn't know what to expect. It was rather nerve-wracking, not knowing what to do or when or how. But I talked to the director, and he put me at my ease to a certain extent, and then I sang my little song for him. It's amazingly uncomfortable to sing unaccompanied, all alone and directly at someone, in a big white echoing room. My voice wavered a bit, but I got through it fairly well. My ass didn't fall off, I didn't explode from the blush rushing to my face, the director didn't throw anything at me.

So that's what my life is like just now. It sucks, but it's not the worst it's ever been. I am not bleeding from anywhere, my pain is fairly negligible, I still have a home and a job and a lot of jewelry and clothes. I don't live in the Midwest. Nobody is shooting at me. I'm warm and dry. So I guess I shouldn't complain too much... just enough to remind myself I'm alive (I always say that, if you can't complain, you probably aren't trying hard enough).

And on that elevating note, I now return you to your own life. Kisses!

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Oh Dear, Oh Dear!

I feel like a mother whose child has been kidnapped. All that text, gone! And I don't know for sure that it's really gone, though I suspect it is... but I can't process and grieve until I know for sure. I need the police coroner to show me the body... I need a Pyra Labs employee to email me with condolences (at which point I will demand they warn people to back up their content before transferring things from one account to another).

I think what I'm going to do if it turns out to be true, that two thirds of my content has disappeared into the ethers, then I think I am going to create a new site and take down this whole thing. I've often considered a site redesign, but I do like my colors and graphics the way they are. Perhaps this (possible) tragic loss is the Universe telling me to let go of what I have in order to reach for something new and better.

I don't deal well with loss, though... especially loss of property. I lost so many things in my childhood, during our many moves and "moonlight flits" (my mother had issues with paying rent, she always believed that the first and last month's rent were quite sufficient for one's entire tenancy), that I've been traumatized into psychopathic pack-ratting. I can usually throw something away if it's smelly or messed up in some way (which my poor sister still can't do), I have become somewhat adept at giving away clothes that I don't wear anymore because they don't fit (that's a different trauma) or are kind of tacky, and I often lose things without ever realizing it (I mean, with so many things in my life, quite a few could go missing without my ever remembering they existed), but when I lose something that means something to me or which I still want, it freaks me out.

I once threw away all of my old magazines when I moved from a housemate living situation where I had my own room and plenty of space to a studio-mate situation where I shared a room and had no closets to speak of. Five years' worth of Town & Country, GQ, and House & Garden subscriptions, along with random issues of Vogue and Advocate and whatever, were put in paper bags and dropped off at a recycling center. That was, like, twelve or thirteen years ago... yet I have been palpably missing those magazines ever since. And I have kept every magazine I got ever since then, stacked and indexed and stored away for some day when I want to remember who was on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1997 or I need to know what was Vogue's must-have skirt for Spring 2001.

Another time I sold most of my books in order to raise money while I was unemployed; in the years since then, I have replaced almost all of them... with the exception of those that are long out-of-print and I may never find them again. My book of Robert Adam designs for Georgian Neogothic castles, my hardback Augustin Gomez-Arcos The Carnivorous Lamb, my book of Mel Odom prints, my library edition of Mary Renault's The Charioteer, so many treasures lost in the desperation of poverty. And what kills me most is that I only got $40 for my bags of life-blood, which kept me in wine and cigarettes for about two weeks. I just recenlty re-found the paperback Desert Fabuloso by Lisa Lovenheim and Andrew Holleran's Nights in Aruba (oddly enough at the same store where I sold my library in the first place, Walden's Pond Books on Grand), and though I haven't re-read them yet, or even particularly want to reread them, you just can't imagine the satisfaction of returning these two lost sheep to the fold.

Well, anyway, I'd like to continue rambling on in this manner, but I have to go to the dentist. He never keeps me for more than an hour at a time, so I keep having one appointment and then another appointment, a week or two apart. And I have learned to not go back to the office after an appointment, it's just miserable sitting here with the phones ringing while parts of my face are numb and I'm coming down off the nitrous. Fortunately I have about a month of sick-leave accrued, so I don't have to worry too much about missing all this work.

I'll keep you updated on what's happening. And if I do decide on a redesign and/or relaunch, I will be picking your brains for new titles, colors, layouts, taglines, etc. Actually, any ideas you have are welcome all the time. I love ideas.

And now to return to the sinister ducks (might as well use the links, since they do work now). Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Oh, Dear...

Jhames pointed out a problem today, that my archive links weren't working... it's because I edited my template in MS FrontPage Express, and it replaced the "<" and the ">" from the Blogger codes with HTML substitutes. Big dummies. But then, I haven't been able to publish archives for months, so the tags were useless anyway. I had sort of ignored the problem, figuring that nobody was reading my archives anyway or linking to specific posts.

Well, anyway, I decided to solve the problem by upgrading to Blogger Pro. I'd been considering it for a while, with it's better features and so on, so it's not like the archives was the only reason. But the first thing that seems to have happened is that all of my long posts have disappeared, replaced with a little code that reads "[Big Body]." And since the post that Jhames was responding to this morning was pretty damned long, it's suddenly gone.

If you just arrived here from Jhames's site, I do apologize for the inconvenience. Please join me in a little prayer that all of my brilliantly fascinating text is recovered soon. I don't know what I'd do if I lost it all.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Why Do I Have Sand In My Hair?

I've been thinking. I tried not to, but it's just one of those things that, with proper stimulus, just happen to one. What got me going was the unusually virulent tones that many of my daily blog reads have taken of late. One might go so far as to call it an Epidemic of Snarkiness (if one were inclined to use the word "snarky," which I am not... depsite the fact that I just did). I put it down to Seasonal Affect Disorder and went about my merry way, doing my best to be positive and lighthearted in response.

I am by nature a Hostess. When people are unhappy, I try to cheer them up. When they weep, I try to find something to lighten their hearts. When they are angry, I try to point out the underlying goodness or inevitablility in whatever has made them angry. When there is an uncomfortable silence, a pregnant pause, a banked fire, a sizzling fuse, I will automatically do something to distract attention from the center of the disturbance. I smile, I nod, I change subjects. It's part of being an alcoholic, I guess... or perhaps more precisely a result of a WASP's fear of emotional intensity paired with a codependent's passive-aggresive need to control people, whipped together and poured over an alcoholic's knee-jerk reaction to escape reality. I consciously work against this urge, knowing where it's errors and shortcomings are, but it's nevertheless a part of me.

However, I am also a Reasoner. I want to hear people's ideas, and I want to gauge my reactions to those ideas, and I want to consider the values and motives and repercussions of one over the other... and I want to learn something from that comparison. And so as I have read the rants of others, I have tried to understand their points of view and to understand where — and more importantly why — I find myself disagreeing.

I was reading Jhames' site this morning, as I do every morning (and most evenings, and sometimes checking in at midday), and I was taken aback by the vehemence of his language. I had been taken aback by the vehemence of his last three or four posts, truth be told. In the first of these, I did my usual Pointing Out The Positive on his comments. It's kind of a stupid thing to do, but it's habitual with me... sometimes my Editor falls asleep at the switch, and I blurt.

But today's post got under my skin in a way that others hadn't, and when I read through the previous posts that led up to it and other articles to which it referred, I was forced to sit back and actually think about a number of things, namely: A) Why is this pushing my buttons? B) What is the value of my response? C) On which points do I agree or disagree? D) How much of my agreement/disagreement is from the nervous WASP codependent Hostess, how much is from the Reasoner? E) What exactly do I believe in my higher mind, and what is the value of that belief? and finally F) What has this got to do with anything at all?

The following is pretty long, so I will put in separators (like this [...], the usual thing in blogs) between topics so you can skip around if you want.


I have gone around the mulberry bush a couple of times in the past, with Jhames and several others, about "The GLBT Community." When I look at sexuality, at community, labels, and how that all comes together in The GLBT Community, I think I see something slightly different than some other people see. I will often share my view when it dissents from the views of others, not necessarily in hope of changing their minds (though that hope is always at the back of even my best motives), but rather to offer a counterpoint... agreeing with people is nice, but it doesn't really get you anywhere in dialogue. But when that view of mine is challenged by a not-only-different-but-rather-mutually-exclusive view of the same thing, where a completely valid argument totally rebuts my completely valid argument, I have to take it apart and subject it to Reason.

I guess you could say that Reason is my religion. I mean, my favorite Star Trek character was always Mr. Spock, because he was so cool and intellectual... and yet also understanding. Though he knew something to be entirely illogical, he would go along with it because he knew that his Earthling friends held illogical things to be as important as Vulcans hold logical things (we shall skip over the fact that his character was created by illogical people, and so much of what he said and did was technically out of character, with the built-in excuse that Spock was half-human... Star Trek's unending use of racial urge over cultural influence as character definitions always got on my nerves).

So I always strive to understand people when they do or say or believe things that strike me as Un-Reasonable... because, since it's my religion, I have to align everything I encounter to that religion, the way that Saint Augustine of Hippo tried to align all the Classical philosophers he admired to the wildly unclassical religion he had embraced. And yet I know that it's unreasonable to do this, to align unreasonable thoughts to reasonable motives, so I often get very confused in my mind.

But that is neither here nor there... I was talking about the so-called GLBT Community and its shortcomings and its value.


What I don't comprehend is how or why people would assume that The GLBT Community is or should be some easily-defined, visibly cohesive unit of people... or how anyone can say that, since it's not easily-defined or visibly cohesive, it doesn't or shouldn't exist? What community in the world is such? All GLBT people have certain things in common, just as all French people have certain things in common (such as that they speak French and were born in France) and all short people have certain things in common (such as they're all short); and that commonality creates a community.

You can argue that gay men and lesbians are not alike, that bisexuality and transgendism are fundamentally different phenomena from gayness or lesbianism; but you can also say that Parisiens and Marseillaises are not alike, and that the citizens of Rouen have absolutely fundamental differences from the citizens of Caen. But they're still all French. They may not like each other, they may go around killing each other and discriminating against each other and spreading diseases among each other and so on and so forth. They may or may not identify with Jerry Lewis or eat frog's legs or wear berets. But they're still French, come what may, and have certain rights and priveleges and identifiable lables of Frenchness.

Similarly, not all gays and lesbians and bisexuals and transgendereds like Queer as Folk or do bumps of crystal or drool slavishly over designer labels. But they are still set apart by their minority gender/sexuality. If people are making assumptions about you because you belong to the same community as some people who do like Queer as Folk or do bumps of crystal or drool slavishly over designer labels, those people are to blame for ignorance and intellectual laziness... the community itself is not at fault.

Communities are not made up of like-minded homogeneous people. Communities are made up of people who have certain things in common, be they cultural or geographical or physical or personal or intellectual. Any one person must belong to many different communities... and each person is the possessor of an individual community that is made up only of the people one knows and the things that one holds important in one's self. If you are an effeminate gay man living in a big city, you belong to a community of the people you know, a community of effeminate men, a community of gay men, a community of GLBTs in general, a community of your neighborhood, a community of city-dwellers, a community of whatever organizations you belong to, a community of the family you are born into, et cetera ad infinitum. But you aren't necessarily just like all the other effeminate gay men in big cities. We are all different, one from the other, and nobody can fit into just one community.


I have heard it said (and have said it myself when making gross generalizations) that The GLBT Community is only a political construct that is used to garner rights for the people that have been 'herded' into that community for that purpose. I suppose that's a reason, but it seems to me more organic than that... the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered folk are the same, and should be the same as everybody else's. If all we have in common is the minority nature of our sexuality and/or gender identification, how can we really be considered a political community? And considering the massive differences between those acronym letters, the vast diversity of needs and desires, what can the possible outcome of such a political bloc be? If the 'cause' of the GLBT political bloc is hurt by the inclusion of transgendered folk, or the proximity of perceived pedophiles, how can the very genesis of such a bloc be useful?

It has always seemed to me that the error of Reason in Civil Rights has been to espouse and champion the causes of specific minorities. To my mind, the whole point of Civil Rights is Equality, that all citizens of a country or planet must have the same rights, that each individual person has value, rather than basing it all on a minority/majority paradigm of the strong versus the weak that is the cause of the trouble in the first place. I don't desire Gay Rights because I am Gay: I desire Human Rights because I am Human.

For example, I don't believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry; I do believe that there is no one in this world who is empowered to tell a same-sex couple that they don't have the same rights as a different-sex couple. There is no rational reason to withhold rights from one person that are granted to another, except when those rights have been abused or they prevent/destroy someone else's rights (which is what Crime really is, a deprivation of someone's rights to life, property, etc.) I don't believe that anyone has the right to tell another person what he or she is allowed to do in private to his/her or anybody else's body, so long as that action does not impinge on the other person's rights.

It's a simple matter of logic: there is no Rational reason that people should be denied rights because of same-sex orientation, there are only religious reasons; since our Government is founded upon a separation of Church and State, we therefore cannot rely on religion to guide us to legal right, we must rely on logic. We cannot base the definition of "marriage" on a Judeo-Christian paradigm of Family, because not all of the people who marry today fulfill that fundamental paradigm. What about different-sex couples who are unable or unwilling to have children? If having children is not a requirement of Family, then what does the biological gender of the persons involved in the partnership have to do with its validity? And why is it legal to base the validity of a marriage on a religious ceremony? These things do not make sense, and therefore should not be part of our nation's laws.

Of course, there are places where logic is not clear. Such as in abortion — which is the greater right, the woman's right over her own body or the fetus's right to life? Or in the case of statutory rape, how exactly is the minor's right infringed upon, and how does the right of the parent over the minor and the right of the minor over him- or herself coexist?

This is where we need a Supreme Court, to judge upon those things, because they are unanswerable questions and must rely on legal nicety. It is a legal nicety that individuality begins at the stage when the fetus can theoretically survive on its own. This is based in rationality; it doesn't cover all the questions, but it gives us a working premise. It is a legal nicety that an individual has sufficient self-possession at the age of eighteen to make informed decisions about his or her own body, even though some individuals are perhaps ready for those decisions at a much earlier age and some people are never ready. But you have to draw a line somewhere for the Rule of Law to work.

But it is not in the Constitutional privelege of the Supreme Court to take away people's rights for purposes based in religion or opinion. And denying same-sex couples the rights to their own bodies and to their property, and to the transferrence and/or conduct of these (which is what legal marriage is about), is inherently un-Constitutional and must be changed.


At any rate, I consider the GLBT classification of a civil-rights minority to be specious. Yet I also consider the GLBT Community to be a naturally-occuring actual community, one in which I take an active part and interest. No, I don't go to circuit parties or do bumps or wear Raymond Dragon slutwear or go to the gym or live in the Castro. That isn't The GLBT Community; it's the Circuit-party-gym-bunny-crystal-bumping-Raymond-Dragon-wearing-Castro-clone Community, which is but one (particularly flashy and attention-grabbing) segment of that population. And just because the party-boys and the glittering drag-queens and kookie fringe-elements grab more attention from the fickle and ineffective modern Media than the flannel-wearers and the dog-lovers and the stay-at-homes of our Community, that doesn't mean that one segment should be made to represent the others, or has more or less value than the others. The Community exists, it's flawed and wildly imperfect; but it is also perfectible and worthy of better treatment than being thrown out or ignored.


Another of my buttons that gets pushed is when people state that they consider their sexuality to be merely one of the many facets of their beings, and by no means one of the most important ones; however, it has been my experience that the fact of my sexuality is one of the most important facts about me. It defines me in ways that other Facts About Me do not. It affects my life in more ways than other Facts About Me can. It touches every part of my life, from the courses open to me and the people that I know and the way that I speak and the books that I read, in ways that few Facts About Me could. It is the opening premise, even, of many of the other Facts About Me. For me, being gay is in the top five, at least, of any list of Facts About Me. It's so integral to my identity that it practically goes without saying.

I think part of this is because of my effeminacy. I don't know exactly why I am effeminate — I can't imagine whence that queer accent derives (I certainly didn't learn it from my family), I don't know why I feel it necessary to droop my hands at the ends of my wrists or raise my eyebrows scornfully, I can't imagine what exactly inspired me to swing my ass when I walk as if I were wearing four-inch heels. It's something that interests me, the genesis of effeminacy, but I don't understand it and have learned very little about it. But I do know that it sets me apart from the rest of society. I can't be a man who "happens to dig guys"... I'm a big screaming queen and there is little I can do about it.

Still I think this is one of the reasons that a lot of people fall into the habit of ghettoizing themselves regarding their sexuality, simply because it's easier to assume acceptance for effeminacy in a gay setting. Almost everybody I know is a gay man, because being a gay man is such a huge portion of my life and thought-process and identity. Since it's so large a part of my life, I tend to gravitate toward others of the same ilk. And with that tendency, I simply don't come across very many straight men socially, as most straight men tend to stay away from gatherings of gay males. I know a few straight women, but they tend to have lots of gay male friends, too. I know very few lesbians, at least not closely, and then they are usually women who, like the straight women, have lots of gay men friends. Basically, it's a Gay Male-Friendly kind of thing.

Furthermore, most everyone I know is in Recovery. There are many of my friends who aren't, but they tend to be generally sober people, not inclined to overdo it, or simply not part of a culture that requires drugs and drinking. Of course, I do this one more on purpose than the Gay Male thing... I simply cannot stand to be around people who are fucked up.

I do not gravitate toward gay men because I want to have sex with them (though sometimes I do), and I don't shy away from straight men because I can't have sex with them (even when I want to... which does have perhaps more to do with it than I let on). It's not really about sex. It's about the sorts of people around whom I feel comfortable, connected, and accepted. I have met a lot of gay people who baffle and discomfit me just as much as straights; I have met a number of straights with whom I feel comfortable, connected, and accepted. It's just that these don't make up a majority of people I know. And since I am an introverted type of person, it stands to reason that I would tailor my social life to places where I feel immediately comfortable. It works for me.


So as I read Jhames' post this morning, I had to remove from the argument these two pushed buttons, my difference of feeling and experience, and look at it with acceptance on those particular points. I can see very easily how someone would feel differently, I can see very easily how Jhames feels the way he does.

That left several other topics to push my buttons, all right in the first paragraph. For one thing, Jhames is an idealist in ways that I am not, and the Hostess in me feels guilty about that. When people espouse ideals, particularly when their reasons are laudable and well-thought-out, I admire them; yet, when I don't hold those same ideals, I fear that my very existence, along with my disagreement, will be abhorrent to them. The very idea of people not liking me still tends to get my panties in a bunch, Reason and Recovery notwithstanding, and so a disagreement on lofty ideals terrifies me.

For example, I do not believe that animals have rights other than those we give them... I don't consider animals to be sentient, really, or capable of emotion — though this is not a scientific or Reasonable belief, it's just something that I feel and it has not been proved wrong to me. I therefore feel no compunction about eating meat or wearing fur or leather or conducting scientific experiments on animals. I disapprove of cruelty towards animals, and I personally feel squeamish about causing pain to animals, but it is because of the effect I believe such things have on the human spirit... civilization requires a degree of squeamishness, I think, in order to progress from our tribal beginnings.

However, I know that Jhames feels entirely differently about this, and it worries me because I like Jhames a lot and I want him to like me. I know in my Reasoning mind that Jhames is capable of accepting and liking me despite this key difference of belief, just as I am capable of accepting and liking him... but in my Hostessy codependent mind I worry anyway. Another pushed button, another place where I have to tell that insecure codependent little Hostess to shut the fuck up so the Reasoner can take care of business.


Then there is the issue of activism, which also worries me and makes me feel guilty. I don't believe, for example, that anything can be achieved through demonstrations. Peace marches and what-have-you often strike me as being little more than pep-rallies that give their participants a false sense of accomplishing something, a vent for their fears and anger and indignation over injustices done. The venting and the rallying, in and of themselves, are perfectly laudable reasons to have a peace march, or a Civil Rights march, or any other kind of march... but the demonstration does nothing for me and I don't think it accomplishes the task at hand, so I don't participate.

And yet, I also do not try and do anything that will accomplish the task at hand. I don't really understand what the task at hand is. I see social injustice, and I burn with anger and indignation, but my only cure for the anger is to bury my head in the sand, the only outlet for indignation is to point out as publicly as I can the rational errors that are being committed. And I feel guilty that I am not on the front lines, that I am not out there beating my head against that big brick wall of the Establishment trying to effect change.

I tend my own garden, and hope that others will tend theirs. I do not indulge in or practice social injustice, I eschew hatred, I try my very best to respect other people even when I believe they're wrong. If we all did this, the world would be a vast utopia of introspective and peaceful people.

But there are people who are constitutionally incapable of minding their own business. And among those who do not mind their own business, there is Good and there is Evil. And the evil will mind your business for you whether you want them to or not. Therefore, there comes a time when minding one's own business is not enough, one has to prevent people from overstepping their rights and enforcing their wills on other people's gardens... a time when tending is not enough, you have to protect the gardens, your own as well as everybody else's. And then you get kind of mixed up as to whether or not you are doing good or evil yourself, by minding other people's business (a lot of Evil is done in the hopes or under pretense of doing Good).

Above all this, I know that I am not designed to mind other people's business (outside of my codependent desire for controlling others in the interest of their own happiness)... I am not a changer, a crusader, a doer. Perhaps I could be, if the borders of my own garden were threatened, but in general I cannot emotionally handle this sort of thing... I can't process the fear and the anger and the indignation. It makes me sick, it makes me hurt physically, so that all I can do is turn my attention somewhere else, stop reading newspapers and watching the news on television and listening to news radio. I just want everyone to get along, and they don't, so I ignore them as best I can. I shove my head in the sand and wait for the feeling to pass, then examine it all dispassionately from the comparative safety of the inside of my own head.

Essentially, you can't make a potholder out of silk tulle. And why should you, when there are big pieces of teflon and cotton batting around? Though you can't make a potholder out of tulle, it is also true that you can't make an evening gown out of teflon and cotton batting. And the tulle evening gown has its function, too... not as utilitarian and necessary as the potholder, but it has its place in the universe. If it weren't for the armchair philosopher, there would be no one to tell the crusaders when they had left off doing Good and were suddenly doing Evil out of habit. If it weren't for the entertainers of the world, the hostesses and the chit-chatters, the world would be a grim and mechanical place. If nobody gave you something to laugh about, something to love, and something frivolous to do with your spare time, what would be the point of living?

I am a silk tulle evening gown. I stand at the sidelines and cheer for you, Jhames, as you tilt with the dragons. Go Jhames Go! Keep pushing those buttons, everybody, keep fighting the good fight. When you're tired and bored, come on by Mannersism and I will give you a kiss and a little song to sing (unless I'm in a bad mood, of course).


Thanks for sticking with me this far. I feel that I've worked some really important knots out of my psyche, inspired by Jhames' rants (as well as the comments on those rants, and other related rants). I find this sort of thing extremely valuable. It's important, I think, to work through one's own thought-processes in a scientif analytical manner. I know the above isn't exactly a formal treatise, but I found it rather useful, and hope you did, too. Please feel encouraged to comment. The only way for dialogue to work is if people react and respond.

By the way, as I was researching my quotation on Tend Your Own Garden (which is originally from Voltaire), I stumbled across an online text of Candide. Read it... it's really good! I thought at first that I was like Dr. Pangloss, but decided that I wasn't (his premise is that things should be the way they are because they are the way they are... which strikes me as lazily circular).

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Catch a Painted Pony...

Currently listening to Shirley Bassey beating the shit out of "Spinning Wheel" with the assistance of DJ Spinna... the beat goes right to my groin. Mmmmmmm. I haven't enjoyed an album of music as much as I've enjoyed The Remix Album... Diamonds Are Forever in I don't know how long. I love this more than I loved the Charlie's Angels soundtrack, perhaps even more than I loved the Maria Callas La Divina series.

Actually, I'm having a sort of Musical Elysium today... I'm enjoying music rather more than I usually do, reacting to it in a quite visceral manner that is not my normal response. As I was watching television earlier, I passed one of those informercials flogging The Ed Sullivan Show DVDs, and caught Pearl Bailey singing "That's Life"... she worked the hell out of that song, and worked the hell out of the boom operator who was trying to follow her as she rocketed all over the stage with the force of her own fabulousness, and scared Ed a few times by getting all up in his pudding as he was trying to mind his own business stage left... and I watched the whole thing, ecstatic and spellbound, wishing I was her or even fractionally like her, and thanking my lucky stars that I happened to see her.

Then in the car on the way to and from picking up dinner at the nearby Szechuan restaurant, I swung out to Keely Smith's latest album, Swing, Swing, Swing, particularly the title track that always makes me want to dress in a white dinner-jacket and sip a martini in a fabled West End nightclub with W Somerset Maugham and Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. During dinner I was listening to Barbara Cook's album All I Ask of You, and had to go out into the living room halfway through the meal and sit in front of the stereo to listen to "He Loves Me" from up close, twice, imagining myself performing it at the Miss Gay Marin Pageant and being very thrilled by the momentum and humor of the song, which is one of those that seems peculiarly suited to Miss Cook's peculiarly nasal head-voice. And now I'm listening to Miss Goddess Bassey again, God how I love this remix album!

I think, though, one of the reasons that music is more meaningful to me today, is because I am on the brink of doing something completely terrifying and unheard-of related to music: I am going to audition for a musical tomorrow... the Living Sober Musical, to be exact. I am going to stand up in front of God and whoever else is in the room and sing "I Wish You Love"... à capella, no less, since I couldn't find the sheet-music among my papers, and even if I could find the sheet music I couldn't rehearse the accompaniment because I don't play piano. Anyway, it's one of the few songs I know how to sing full-voice, having worked on it for my voice class last year. It sounds pretty good à capella, too.

My panties are in a bit of a bunch, here. More than a bit, really... if I think about it at all, as I am doing now in order to write about it, I am clutched by a nameless dread and a gelid fear, my lips purse and my knees flex and my heart twists into a little knot and tries to burrow down into my liver.

I remember the feeling of standing up in front of the class a year ago and squeezed out my solo final, "If I Were A Bell" from Guys and Dolls; I shall never forget the looks of stunned amazement that came over the class as I sang, blown away by my volume yet completely unmoved by my tone... it was as if a robot were singing. I'd sung our other songs, "I Wish You Love" and Schubert's "Ave Maria" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," in nicely anonymous groups, and I didn't feel that fear... in fact, I rather enjoyed the singing. I love singing, I do it all the time at home and in the car. But standing up and facing an audience, without the armor of drag, it made me feel so foolish that I emotionally froze up, and the song came out mechanical and terribly loud (I was so afraid of faltering or sounding scared, as others had done before me, that I totally overcompensated). I completely lacked content, musicality, and vibrato. It felt awful.

So tomorrow I am hoping that this won't happen. I think that once I get past that first line of verse, I will be okay. And so I am going to be utilizing the Fake It 'Til You Make It method of gaining confidence... I am going to pretend a cavalier insouciance that I don't feel, and hopefully trick myself into feeling it before I start singing. And in the meantime, I am just going to keep singing this song over and over.

I thought about trying to record myself singing, but I think that might be counterproductive. I won't be able to go through with the audition if I get it into my nut that I sound awful; and knowing me, I will believe that I sound awful on the recording no matter how I do sound, simply because I won't sound the way I do in my own head.

Aaaaanyhow... I'll just ride a painted pony and let the spinning wheel turn. Like we always say, "No matter what happens, you're ass isn't going to fall off (and if it does, just pick it up and shove it back in your pants)." Nobody ever actually died of embarrassment. And if I suck total eggs, the Living Sober Musical's motto is: "No One Turned Away For Lack of Talent."

I've found these little tests of character are getting farther apart. It seems that it's been a while since I really pushed my fear buttons and let them do their worst. I mean, taking that singing class was a step in the right direction. There have been a couple of other things like that in the last couple of years... but it seems like a really long time since I had to just swallow my heart and roll the dice (to mix a metaphor). Took a plunge. Faced the music. Stood up and did something no matter how scary it was. I've found happiness in complacency, and I have found complacency in custom... becoming accustomed to things that used to scare me stupid.

Like I almost never get nervous before going onstage in drag anymore. I used to feel abject terror right up to that moment before I stepped out on stage; but now I step out on stage with the same unconcern as I step out onto the front porch to face another day outside. The leap of fear that used to come on my way to an AA meeting is gone, I can walk into an AA meeting anywhere in the world and feel like I belong there (though I still feel uncomfortable around straight people, which means that I tend not to carry the same attitude into straight AA meetings as into gay AA meetings).

Well, I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. If I get a feature role in the musical, with a solo, that would be a great way to walk past my fear of singing alone in public. Having sung once in front of a class hasn't killed that fear, only downgraded it from Paralyzing to Abject; but with months of rehearsals and two performances, I might get it all the way down to Timorous or Edgy. Then it's only a few more steps of acclimatization before I can walk onto any stage and belt out any toneless tune with nary a qualm.

Singing... the Second-To-Last Frontier. And then, if I get used to singing in public, I will have little choice for my next fear-busting exploit except to tackle Dating. Eep.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Ac-cent-tu-ate the Positive...

Blogging twice in one day, what is the world coming to? To what is the world coming? When am I ever going to settle down about prepositions at the ends of sentences?

I'm listening to Shirley Bassey's Greatest Hits and reveling about in the richness of her bitch-fabulous voice and all these bitch-fabulous instrumentals. I wish I could perform Shirley Bassey, but she's too... what's the word I want... too intense. She's also heavy, deep, rich, and ballsy. I could do one or two of those, but not all five. Besides, I now associate her voice with Miss Daisy, Miss Ivy, and Lypsinka (all of whom I've seen pee all over the stage with Shirley songs), and I never like to cop other girls' vocals. I also this evening bought The Remix Album... Diamonds Are Forever, which is so HOT it makes me squirm. The beginning of the "Goldfinger (Propellerhead Mix)" is just an audio orgasm, is all. I almost drove my Volvo into the SUV in front of me while I was listening to it on the way home this evening. I wanted to get Miss Marjorie right up on that Escalade's ass and start pumping away, you know? Funkalicious, it is.

For the last little while, as I skim my blogs and get my groove on with Shirley, I'm browsing through this very interesting French website (which would qualify as "adult" so you might want to look over your shoulder and check for snoopers before you click). It's apparently all about this very pretty young man named Lacika. I think... the site is peculiarly bereft of text, and what text there is is in French, so I'm still working out what it all means.

At any rate, it's obvious that this boy is an erotica model, and the work of more than one photographer is presented. Most of the photography is rather pedestrian, though every once in a while something artistically good pops up. But what I am finding most entertaining is the "At Work" gallery, which is a bunch of amazingly random and seemingly pointless snapshots of Lacika and various others on the set of a porn or erotica movie called Journal Intime (and I only figured that out at about the fifteenth picture, which is a scan of the film's retail box, which lets us know that there is a certain amount of spanking promised within). The pictures aren't pornographic themselves, though some are at least suggestive of porn, but the reasons behind the particular scenes and frames are a complete mystery. It's all so exquisitely nonsensical, so deliciously absurd.

Go look at the "At Work" part before you look at the rest of the site... it's great fun to be completely in the dark (I haven't even got to the end of it as I write, so I will be discovering along with you... oh, now he's modeling for a sculpture, this looks interesting). Then look at the rest of the pictures, as this boy is very interesting-looking. In some pictures he is as pretty as an angel; in some he looks like Decadence Itself. In some poses he looks as innocent as a spring lamb; in others, about as innocent as a flesh-eating virus. He's just fascinating. Also the site has nifty graphics, cool animated buttons and an animated gif I've stolen for my own amusement (but not to use, God knows what kinds of copyrights are on it).

When I was picking up the Shirley Bassey CDs at Best Buy, my real reason for being there was to procure that larger 64-mg Sony Memory Stick I wanted, and more rechargeable batteries as well as a camera-case... so now I can take my digicam on the road. No more being limited to pix of the immediate vicinity of whatever computer, I can start taking pictures as I wander around town and hither and thither and yon. I've noticed, though, that this site already loads very very slowly (at least on my dial-up it does), and posting pictures, even thumbnailed down to 250 pixels wide, slows it down so much more than is really practical. I'll have to think about that. I sometimes wish I actually knew something about design and programming, rather than just making it up as I go along and getting hints from Microsoft FrontPage. But I suspect that's not my role in this life.

So, anyway, I think I'm going to start taking pictures of things that portray my view of the world. I think sometimes the best photography is not just capturing beauty or composing light and shadow, but rather used as a form of communication - this is what the world looks like in my eyes. Like earlier today, on the way to Best Buy, I was sitting at the stoplight at the intersection of West MacArthur and Telegraph, and was rather taken by the composition of red and pink lights all around me, the peculiar combination of neon signs and traffic lights and car-lights in that one vista. There was this really satisfying balance to what my eyes beheld. But getting pictures of such things will be a bit difficult, it will take time and practice. Like capturing that vision that clutches my heart when I gloat over my jewels in a room with numerous little halogen lights... cameras, even digital cameras, capture light differently than the eye captures it. So it becomes a matter of tricking the camera into seeing what you see. Or at least, that's how it seems to me.

Work today was better... after writing the previous post, anyway. I think that has something to do with my lightened mood (along with the aftermath of retail therapy, the joy of Shirley, and an eyeful of Lacika). The paycheck thing has been worked out, I got all of the office bills paid so they won't turn off our phones (and my internet access!) or repossess our copier. I know where we stand, mostly. It's very soothing to know where one stands. If I could get my co-workers to chill out a bit, to look at the near future instead of the recent past, we might have some nice peace and a return to the camaraderie we've enjoyed. After all, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead (so to speak), and we know the Wizard is just a little man behind a curtain, so I think it's going to be comparatively smooth sailing from here on out. But I'm still leaving that place in May, so who cares if it's smooth sailing or not? I'd like it to go well for my coworkers' sakes, but I just don't have any vested interest in the place anymore.

Well, Shirley has ended, I've finished seeing Lacika'd torso being covered in plaster (hot and technically interesting at once), I can't think of any other topics of interest to beleaguer, so I think I'd better be getting to bed. I have a lot to do tomorrow, and it will be harder if I haven't slept. Hugs and kisses!

Winter of Discontent

I'm cold. I hate being cold. I hate coldness, even when it doesn't touch me. When I've been reading my daily blogs this week, I have actually skipped entire paragraphs and pages discussing snow. The very idea of snow makes me cringe. It makes me cold, it makes me feel bleak, it makes me remember those hideous green-and-black mukluks I had to wear when I was seven years old because the chic fleece-lined knee-length boots I really wanted were "for girls." Fascists. Genderist bastards. Twenty-eight years later, I still haven't forgiven the World for those mukluks.

Actually, I'm not cold at the moment of writing. Instead, I am barraged by the sound of the office's furnace, the clattering tin-man body of which is on the other side of the wall beside my desk, and the aspirant clunking main vent of which is directly over my head. It is most irritating, but I suppose better than being cold. Last night it was so cold that it woke me up. I had to pull the blankets all the way over my head, risking claustrophobia and suffocation, just to keep my nose and eyelids warm.

It was probably all the way down to 40 degrees last night. Snowbound readers will now throw up their hands in disgust at my inability to handle such "balmy" weather. East Coasters, Midwesterners, and even Western mountain-folk will sigh with contempt at the Coastal Californian's sense of entitlement to room-temperature weather year-round. They will call me a wuss for getting all fidgety and waking in the night over a measly 40 degrees.

Well, all I can say is, 40 degrees to me is the exchange equivalent of minus-100 to someone who's daft enough to live in a place where it snows. I live here almost precisely because I cannot take intemperate weather. I can't take temperatures below fifty or above eighty. I can't take humidity, I'm terrified of thunder, and I would have to be locked up in a rubber room for the rest of my life if I had to live through one tornado season.

I've been to places where such things are common, and all I have to ask is "Why do people live there?" I mean, I would prefer they be there, instead of here, because if everyone came here there wouldn't be room for me. But still I wonder what motivation people have for living in Montana or Texas or Utah or any of those other armpit states I've visited. I don't see the beauty of Big Skies and endless vistas of nothingness (nor do I find much beauty in armpits, as some do).

When I went to Montana, I found it the ugliest place I had ever been, so ugly that it actually makes me angry to remember that it exists. Butte, in particular, irked me beyond reason. Granted, I didn't see much of Utah, as we drove through it at night, but what I did see (lightning over the Salt Lake, salt flats in every direction, and beehives on all the freeway signs) struck me as a collection of Really Good Reasons to Never Set Foot in That State Again. The entire state of Texas could sink beneath the sea and I would never miss it... I might even rejoice that it is no longer there (expecially if it managed to take the entire Bush clan into the Gulf with it). I hate Texas almost as much as I hate Montana... but actually I hate Texas twice as much because I've been there twice, and only once to Montana.

Someone once pointed out to me that I don't enjoy these places because I bring along an expectation that every place should be like the place where I live. I feel very uneasy when I can see the horizon all around me, I feel uneasy when there aren't enough trees, or when there are too many trees, I feel uneasy when there are no tall buildings or downtown shopping districts or opera-houses. I worry when there isn't a large-ish naturally-occuring body of water nearby, preferably an ocean though a sizeable lake would do.

During my brief trip to the East Coast a couple of summers ago, I discovered portions that the world would be just as well without. Delaware, for example. And the weather was simply hideous, hot and humid in most places. The scenery was nice, though (except for Delaware... God that place was ugly, at least the parts of it I saw...), and there was a lot of trees and hills and old buildings and ocean and other points of interest.

But I think the real reason is that I'm simply a genetically-programmed homebody. I like to travel, but I don't like just going places. There has to be something there to look at, and it should be as much like home as possible. I want people to speak English to me, I want to be able to understand the money, I want there to be trees and buildings and water.

My favorite vacation ever was to Victoria BC, which is so much like the San Francisco Bay Area, in both temperature and geography, that I felt perfectly comfortable the entire time. I loved Seattle, too (on the same trip), for pretty much the same reason. People complain about the rain there, but I quite like rain (it's my British blood, I guess) so long as it doesn't get too cold. My other Favorite Place is Hawaii, though the humidity there did give me pause, and I get tired of all the palm-trees and vacationers after a while. Still, it's got all the high-rises, the trees (even if they are just palms), the people, the mountains, the water, and the shopping venues that I value; and when it's hot it never gets too hot, and it never gets cold at all, and the rain is so soft and fragrant that you don't mind getting wet even when you're fully dressed. Essentially, it's the only place in the world I've visited (though my experience is extremely limited) where the weather was actually better than it is here.

My coworker, JB, who teaches Cultural Geography, tells me that there is an accepted phenomenon that in any given population there will be Explorers and Stay-at-Homes. If we were all Explorers, nobody would stay anywhere long enough to build a civilization; if we were all Stay-at-Homes, the human race would have died under its own overcrowded decadence millenia ago. So we need both.

And I am content to be a Stay-at-Home. I would like to travel to Europe one day and see all the picture-postcard sites for myself, especially France and Italy, but I am in no big hurry. I'd like to go to England, spend time in London and then extensively tour the Great Country Houses. I'd like to go to New York and New Orleans someday, and Montreal. But I would have to go when the weather was nice. And I only want to see them because I know how exciting it is to see something in person, to experience its "thereness"... yet in the meantime I am perfectly content to be an armchair traveler and leave the "thereness" to more intrepid souls until I can afford to travel in the manner of the Ugly American, where I'd have an interpreter and money-changers and some access to foods I recognize.

Now how did I get from complaining about the cold to talking about paying people to speak English to me in Italy? And it's not really all that cold, either... I'm just in a bad mood and the cold is pissing me off. When I'm in better form, emotionally, I don't even mind so much that Montana and Utah and Texas and Delaware exist and are so damned ugly. Funny how a little headache, a touch of depression, some tooth pain, and a difficult atmosphere at work can make you lash out at perfectly innocent weather formations and landscapes.

Well, whichever and whatever, I must be running along. I have to go buy snacks for the executive body so they don't waste away of hunger while discussing the upcoming contract negotiations. Yippee. I'd almost rather be in Butte.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Then Suddenly, Eight Years Later...

I started writing yesterday, but I couldn't concentrate and the damned phone kept ringing... not that any of the calls were for me, mind you, but I was at home for the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday and my computer has a dial-up connection using the single phone-line in the house, and every time a call comes in it interrupts me. Plus I hadn't quite processed the events about which I was writing, i.e. My Return to the Scene of the Crime.

In the last few days, when I mentioned I was doing a Court show on Sunday, my listeners would usually ask me what that meant... and I was hard-pressed to come up with a response. The Drag Courts differ from place to place... no doubt you have seen or heard about Paris is Burning, the ground-breaking documentary about the drag courts of New York (and the popularity of which documentary directly or indirectly inspired The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar... you notice how both major US-released drag films have incredibly long names, which happens a lot in drag as you will see below), but the Courts mentioned here are a little different from that.

First, there are two loosely affiliated Court Systems here in Alameda County (most Courts are divided by county), the Imperial ("The Imperial Star Empire of Alameda County, Inc," or simply I.S.E.) and the Grand Ducal ("Royal Grand Ducal Council of Alameda County, Inc"). They are separate corporate institutions, but considering the size of the drag community in Alameda County, there is a lot of overlap. The ostensible purpose of the Courts is to raise funds for local charities and projects; the more practical purpose is to create an organized community for gays in general and drag queens in particular. Each organization puts on shows and other events throughout the year to raise funds for the various organizations it supports (mostly AIDS services and GLBT youth services).

Fairly simple, no?

No... there are a lot of little things that make Court shows very strange and different from other shows I've performed in and other organizations I belong to, things that I had forgotten about or magnified in my mind over the last eight years. For example, in my day, I remember that the Courts drank a lot. Now, I may have been projecting, since I was drinking a lot at that time, and tended to drink a lot wherever I went, and Court people are more generous in buying drinks (and in many other ways) than the average bar patron... but it seemed to me that Court functions were rather more lubricated than day-to-day life. It's one of the reasons I stayed away from the Courts, and from performing at all in the East Bay, ever since I got into sobriety (aside from the simple fact that I was afraid of being remembered for the lush that I was, and reminded of the idiotic things I did).

The other thing that I "remembered" was that Court queens take themselves way too seriously. All the titles and the hierarchy and the bowing. I had forgotten about the bowing until Sunday night, but there it was. Taking oneself seriously is anathema to me (since I have a fatal weakness in that direction), and I tend to veer away from anything that seems to be puffed up on its own grandiosity... any group or person that conducts itself as if its actions were a matter of global importance. I mean, there are certain things that must be taken seriously, but one should have a clear concept of just how many people are affected by one's actions, and have a healthy understanding of one's own silliness and frivolity.

In the case of the Imperial and Grand Ducal Courts, there is little involvement or effect outside of the Courts themselves (aside from those who are benefitted by the money raised). All of the money raised comes from members of the Courts, pretty much the same roomful of people over and over again, and all of the entertainments are generally just excuses to perform... though I must point out that they keep the act of supporting charities a form of entertainment instead of a pious duty or a guilt-trip, something other fundraising organizations would benefit from learning.

Again, though, here I am projecting in a certain way. When I was in the Courts, there was a lot of back-biting, a lot of petty politics, a lot of Drama... but that may simply have been the people I was listening to; perhaps I was focusing on the bad in a way of making myself feel better about my own inadequacies, my drinking and my lack of money to either donate or to buy myself the fabulous gowns and jewels that are the feature and focus of the average Court queen. Instead of just enjoying the community that these people created, instead of seeking the support and love that were available in the Courts, I focused on the weaknesses I perceived in order to aggrandize my own ego (I used to do that a lot, and still do if I don't keep an eye on it).

Well, anyway, to return to the original topic, I did this Court show on Sunday. To be specific, it was the Grand Ducal Council of Alameda County's Annual Winter Extravaganza, "An Evening of Winter White, Silver Elegance & Sparkling Ice," the traditional event put on by the Royal Crown Count and Countess to the Grand Ducal Court. This year's Royal Crown Countess is my buddy and some-time co-star Christine SaDiva (ahem... Her Most Honored Grace, Royal Crown Countess Christine SaDiva, Silver Aquarian Amethyst Star-Crested Bastetian Wildcat to the Reign of Leather, Fur, & Fantasy, the Eleventh Dynasty for the Royal Grand Ducal Council of Alameda County, Inc... you see what I was saying about the long names and grandiosity... I mean, Bastetian?), who kindly asked me to lend my own personal brand of fabulousness to her event.

I was feeling more than a little trepidatious about this performance. For one thing, it was being held in the Bench & Bar, the scene of my origin on the Drag Stage, the birthplace as well as the grave of the late and lamentable Jazz Princess Marlénè Martini-Dahling (before she was reborn as the Really Classy Lady Miss Marlénè Manners). Not only did I get my start performing at the B&B (as we affectionately called it), but I practically lived there for the bulk of my drinking career, spanning that event-packed age from 22 to 27. It was the place I "fell asleep" at the bar during happy hour on several occasions, the place I gave nonreciprocal blowjobs to two strippers in the storage room, the place I tricked from and hung out at and thought of as my home, the place where I triumphed on stage and where I threw up in the gutter (sometimes in the same night). It's the place I had my last drink, where the owner of the bar had suggested to me that perhaps I had a drinking problem.

It had been eight years since I last stood on the stage of the B&B, and on that occasion I had been so drunk that I was completely unaware that the spaghetti-strap of my dress had broken and my gym-sock "boob" was hanging out, until one of the other performers came up to me and fixed it in the middle of my number (I was doing "Jazz Hot" from Victor/Victoria in a white slipper-satin sheath). It was not an evening I particularly care to remember, though I have to remind myself of it every once in a while, to keep myself humble.

For another thing, unless there had been a major death-toll or other massive turnover of personnel, there would be other people at that show who would remember me from Back Then... people who might remember the time at the ISE Christmas Show that I slipped on an ice-cube from my own drink and landed flat on my back on stage with a prat-fall that would have made Chevy Chase proud (to name but one example from those messy last two or three years of my drinking days). There would be people whom I had not seen hide nor hair of since just after I quit drinking, when Caroline accompanied me to the Investiture of the 6th Dynasty (Grand Duchess SoHorny Beaver, I can't remember just now who was Grand Duke then), though I had considered them my friends at the time.

So, to say the very least, I was going to be revisiting a significant portion of my past, and I was feeling a bit nervous... not nervous that I wouldn't be fabulous enough (because let's face it, I may be forty pounds heavier and not nearly as young and pretty as I was, but I now dress much much better than I used to... and I don't fall down anymore), but nervous about remembering and revisiting the people and places I associate with The Bad Old Days, nervous about stirring up old emotions and old resentments. The kind of nervous I feel when I see a relative or old friend to whom I haven't spoken in years and years and years.

So to combat this nervousness, I did two things: first, I asked Caroline to accompany me, as it's always good to have a close friend at hand when tackling these little bêtes noires of the memory, epsecially a close friend who is honestly critical and unfailingly supportive, who knew you then and knows you now; second, I wore the most fabulous clothes and jewels I have that fit the theme (it was a silver-and-white theme, though I could only do silver-and-black... which made me look like a Raiders fan, but I didn't think of that until later)... namely the expensive and wildly glamorous silver-sequined and -beaded black evening gown I bought for the poise section of last year's Miss Gay Marin Pageant, which sparkles like diamonds, and every piece of silver-set CZ jewelry I own, as well as all of my best and sparkliest rhinestones, my rhinestone-encrusted silver handbag, and my silver lace and rhinestone shoes — and the pièce de resistance, my "boys" Collin and Clive, the silver-tipped brown fox boa with heads and legs and tails and all. I was so stunning, I stunned myself. And I performed my best and favorite piece, Ella Fitzgerald's "A Fine Romance."

Upon arrival at the Bench & Bar, I was pleased to discover that they had repainted and renovated since I was last there... that the cigarette smell was completely gone, that the pastel carnival colors were replaced by simple blacks and golds, that the rust carpeting and the blondwood parquet floors were replaced with glossy black flooring, and the dressing room was enclosed by a real wall and door instead of a tacky curtain hanging from a droopy wire. Even the old shelves of obsolete law books were gone, the last reminder (besides the portions of terracotta flooring and the gas fireplace) that the Bench & Bar was originally designed as a hangout for lawyers, handy to the county courthouse, before it turned into a gay bar in the late 70s or early 80s.

I was a little taken aback by the Aztec mural on one wall, testament to the fact that the Bench & Bar premises now operate at lunchtime as a Mexican restaurant (as it's still handy to the courthouse, as well as the State and County Admin buildings, and the new Social Services office building right next door); and memory was rekindled at the sight of the mirrors, the beamed ceilings, the pool-table, the restrooms, the mural in the foyer, and all the other structural inevitabilities of my old home-away-from-home. In general, it was all very familiar but nicely fixed up (kind of like me).

I was also amused, though I couldn't decide if I was pleased or not, that nobody recognized me. I immediately recognized several faces (though not necessarily names) from the old days, but they had no idea who I was. Of course, aside from the medium length red wig I was wearing (I used to sport my own hair in a pageboy style), the extra weight, and the facts that I'm older and wear glasses and subtler makeup, none of them had seen me for eight years, either.

So anyway, in all these memories there were a few things I had forgotten about Court shows. Such as that performers sign up for one number rather than two, and that the lineup is first-come/first-perform (though titled performers such as emeritus Grand Dukes/Duchesses or current office-holders are put on at intervals, and the current people go last). I am accustomed to troupes where everybody shows up and turns in two numbers, and then the emcee makes the lineup based on who's ready first and who is like or unlike whom (never put two comediennes adjacent, never put two balladeers adjacent, never make a newcomer follow a grand diva,'s Showmanship 101).

So, thinking that the lineup would come out and not knowing where on it I was, I went and changed into my performance outfit as soon as the show seemed about to start... but since I had arrived later than most of the other performers, I was stuck in the crowded busy dressing room for the bulk of the show, all ready to go (in a beaded gown so I couldn't sit down very easily, and that gown carried the bulk of my impact as a performer so I couldn't go out and watch the show) and with no clear idea when I would be on. It was a little nerve-wracking.

And then there was the bowing. In a Court show, the host and hostess (in this case the Royal Crown Count and Countess) sit at the side of the stage and are the first to tip the performer. You bow to them when they do this... I quite forgot that, until the others started with the tipping. See, in Living Sober shows, people come up and put their tips in a big white shoe; at Galaxy shows and other such shows, they hand them to you while you're performing; in both instances, one acknowledges the tipper in whatever way one wishes, and there is a certain demarcation line between the performers and the audience, so performers tend to not tip each-other. But in Court shows, tipping is a very formal affair: people come up in couples (or singles, if one's official escort is not there), arm-in-arm, in a line, and there's precedence and bowing and all that sort of thing involved. Since these are fundraisers, and we donate all our tips, this is a Big Deal; and since most of the Court are performers as well as audience members, the tipping is very much more a part of the performance than it is in other places (and another element that smacks of Taking Oneself Too Seriously).

Still, I had a wonderful time. After I performed, all of those familiar faces finally recognized me as the drunken but somehow fabulous young gamine I had once been (even in cheap unbeaded dresses and jewelry made from Christmas garlands, I had the talent and stage-presence I now command, plus the youthful energy to do it all the time), recalling the best of my past performances (such as the time I was spinning around on the dance-floor and got too close to the edge of the stage runway, but instead of bumping into and/or falling over the catwalk, I leapt three feet straight up in the air and landed perfectly en pointe on the stage... though to tell the truth, I'm pretty sure I levitated on gin fumes from the seven martinis I'd downed, and have sometimes wondered if I hallucinated that performance), and inviting me to take part in future Court functions.

So I have a foothold in the East Bay again. I still plan to run for (and win!) the title of Miss Gay Marin (which is also a very limited thing to be, as it's pretty much an in-house Galaxy Girl title and has nothing to do with anything outside of what individual Miss Gay Marins choose to make of themselves), but it's nice to know I have some stage access closer to my place of residence.

I am somewhat leery of getting too involved in the Courts, though. As I've discovered in my participation in the Miss Gay Marin pageants, I have a competitive streak in me that isn't one of my most pleasant qualities. Though I have managed to keep my rabid lust for a tiara from hurting other people (I didn't even try to kill Candie Swallows when I was her first runner-up and would take the crown if anything unfortunate happened to her), but I still tend to do myself a bit of damage. Financial, mostly... I've already spent over $100 for one dress for the pageant, and I still have to work on my Creative Costume and my Performance outfit; plus, I tend to soothe my competitive anxieties by buying more and more fabulous things for the pageant (which isn't too bad, since I can use them indefinitely after they've been debuted). I spend sleepless nights and hours upon hours and loads of money searching for that End-of-the-World-Fabulous-and-Never-Performed-Before Song. I tie myself into knots trying to anticipate the Poise Question and formulating witty and heart-felt responses to any number of possibilities gleaned from current events and popular culture.

Now, if I brought that kind of mentality to the Courts, I'd be screwed and in debt almost immediately. A friend of Court days, Honey Hush, told me, after she stepped down as Empress of the 13th Dynasty, that she had spent almost $20,000 during her reign, what with gowns and catering and travel and donations, and yet the ISE only raised about $8,000 to forward to it's roster of charities that year. You don't have to spend that much money (and I think she was able to take a lot of it off her taxes as a small-business owner), but I know my own weaknesses.

Well, we'll just cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, I think I'll start stocking up on beaded gowns and matched jewelry parures. And you can never have too many furs. I'll post the pictures as soon as I get them back (I still don't have a large Memory Stick for my digicam, so I had to rely on old-fashioned film). I mean, I was stupefyingly fabulous the other night! When the show was over, I was loath to get out of face, I was so fabulous!

I figure, if I don't toot my horn, who will?

Saturday, January 18, 2003

O Blessed Catharsis

It's funny how the simple solutions are always the last ones I think of... that it never occurred to me in this last week or so of anxiety, anger, horniness, obsession and unpleasantness to do something easy and cathartic to skim the top off of these emotions.

So yesterday was much worse than the day before, though there were fewer people involved. I did a great deal of running around, interspersed with a great deal of sitting at my desk waiting for the phone to ring. Though my paycheck was signed and ready to go during banking hours, I wasn't able to actually leave the office, because I was waiting for the other officer to come and sign my co-workers' checks. And all of this rigamarole because the former bookkeeper has refused to communicate with the new bookkeeper, his wife my now-former Boss Lady refused to sign checks even though her signature is still valid at the bank (supposedly because the attorney hasn't returned her calls in the last two days), and between the two of them refused to issue checks to my coworkers without signed timesheets and a resolution of whether their Christmas week off was a holiday or a vacation (which would have absolutely no bearing on the amount of the checks). Essentially, Mr and Mrs Former Boss-Lady have decided that they must and shall do anything and everything in their power to be a thorn in the sides of everyone in the organization, including the staff.

Having to drive my ailing car all over hell and half of China is bad enough, having to literally run to the post office so I could express-mail my coworker's check to her, and having to go through all of this for no really good reason... but having to sit still waiting for phone calls and officers while I am that angry is very very bad. By the time I left the office, I was so deeply infuriated that my stomach actually hurt. I was quite literally fuming... I wouldn't be at all surprised to find noxious smoke pouring out of my ears.

So then Caroline calls and suggests dinner and a video, specifically a Costco lasagne and A.I. I wasn't really in the mood for company, but I didn't have anything better to do with myself so I agreed.

Now I'm glad I did... actually, I was glad I did within minutes of agreeing. First, I was able to vent my spleen by telling Caroline all about my day and what I thought of certain people, using words like "Fucking Cunt-Assed Bitch" and "Goddamned Motherfucking Cocksucker Twat"... she listened patiently, agreed with me, and I felt immediately a lot better. This is the kind of conversation I couldn't have with just anybody, certainly not with Grandmother, and I needed to get all those words out of my head and into the open air. Then we talked of other things, joked and laughed and had a good time while the lasagne was baking, and I did some more organizing in my room while she showed me the latest crop of responses to her personals ad.

Then, after dinner, we went for a walk around my neighborhood and talked of many things, mostly about our parents and the ways different people are raised and how that affects their adult behaviors, particularly in relationships. It was a good, long, brisk walk with a lot of talking and a lot of thinking, and it was very cathartic as well. Then we sat down and watched A.I., Stephen Speilberg's much-panned special-effects extravaganza. We had started watching this film a month or so ago, when it was on HBO one idle Saturday afternoon... and about halfway through the film, the cable went out. After placating the screams from Grandmother's room (her very important football game had gone out too, but it was on a local station so all I had to do was disconnect her cable and adjust the aerial), Caroline had to go to work, so we decided that we would simply rent the movie someday and finish it.

And so that is exactly what we did... and at the end of the movie, both Caroline and I were crying like little girls. This wasn't one of those tear-jerker movies where there is a weeping-cue every ten minutes, either, so I was rather taken aback by my own reaction... but OH! That ending! "I love you David, I always have," she said to the little robot boy, and then she went to sleep never to wake again, and Caroline and I were suddenly gushing like the fountains of Versailles. Caroline thinks it was because we were talking about our parents and their failures in love to us, and I think it was because I had finally given up hope for the little robot boy to ever acheive his dream of being loved by the one being who he had been programmed to love... and then the aliens brought her back to life for one day, and at the end he got his wish. It was pretty fucking poignant.

But that's all it took... yelling, walking fast, and crying. I felt all better afterward, I slept like a baby, and I woke up this morning feeling pretty damned good.

The movie was very odd, though. If I hadn't had such a nice cry at the end, I would have started dishing it right away... but in gratitude for the emotional release, I'll try and be nice about it. I can see why the critics panned it so vigorously... the plot was inconsistent, with holes you could drive a truck through; the pace was wildly inconsistent, vacillating between a hypnotized dreamy sluggishness to a terrifying event-packed run without any real balance or segue; the characters, though sympathetic (Jude Law as "Gigolo Joe" was great fun), unfortunately made little sense, there was never any exploration or explanation of why they would do these odd and unexpected things; and the script called up all these really important and crucial questions, then totally fudged on trying to answer them... and then when answers were given, they were stupid. There was far too much reference to Pinocchio, without following any of the important plot points of that children's classic, though it shamelessly ripped off many of the less important scenarios. It was just badly done, is all.

The morality of the film is what I found most lacking in exploration. Why in the world would people have given robots such human characteristics as a survival instinct and sense of individuality? Why would they make them feel pain and fear if they didn't make them feel pleasure or love? At the beginning of the film, when Professor Whoeverhewas (as played by William Hurt), was proposing creating a child robot that would be programmed to love a parent, one of his colleagues raised a moral question that was so fucking pertinent that it should have been discussed at length... but then the scene changed almost immediately, with a segue in between that was so irrelevant that it was just confusing. The "Flesh Fair" could have brought up a lot of interesting points about how people tend to villainize anything that is perceived as making them superfluous... such as how illegal immigrant workers are often portrayed as stealing jobs from Americans, when there in fact wouldn't have been any need for those immigrant workers if there had been Americans willing to do the work. The Flesh Fair used robots as scapegoats for their own feelings of inadequacy, but that rather interesting theme was never explored in the least.

And then the ending was such a cop-out... all questions were "resolved" by David being buried in ice for two thousand years, praying to a statue of the Blue Fairy until his batteries ran down, while the human race and all the robots disappeared in the mists of time. Then alien archeologists came and dug it all up, providing a false resolution and taking time out to deliver a most specious sermon on the nature of the human race... to have an alien, who's never seen a live human, preaching to a little robot boy, who wants to be human, about the scientific and metaphysic nature of the human condition... well, it stank. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

But still, that last five minutes was so beautiful, so sweet, so poignant. I used up three Kleenexes, and forgive all the stupidity that preceded it.

Well, now I have a new lighthearted feeling, and a lot to do, so I'd better get cracking. I'm meeting the delicious Miss Ivy Drip for lunch and shopping; then I am going to do some more work on my room, then I am going to a salon tonight and read (hopefully) from my favorite short-story-writer, Saki. Tomorrow I have a drag show to do, not with my usual troupes but with the Grand Ducal Court of Alameda County, revisiting my old haunt the Bench & Bar for that purpose. I haven't performed there in eight years or more, in all my time of sobriety, so it will be a bit of a trip to return to the scene of many past triumphs and tragedies. Then on Monday I am going to use my Martin Luther King Jr Holiday to finish my room and the rest of the house. Then it's back to the daily grind with all of it's problems, but I am not going to think about that until I get to it. I may not even think about it then. "Fiddle-dee-dee" and all that jazz.

And in the meantime, I think I'd better stock up on tearjerkers for the next time I get into a Mood. The Joy Luck Club always makes me weep, but I shall keep an eye out for more.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Shivering Shattered Sheaves of Shuddering Shit

Well, I had a rather unpleasant day at work. I don't want to go into a lot of detail about it, except that at one point during the meeting this afternoon I started seriously wondering if I was the only person in the room with the tiniest grip on reality. And considering my track-record with Reality, that was a sharply disturbing thought. But my main theme today was disgust at the infantile behavior of relatively well-paid and generally well-educated "professionals." When your coworker's four-month-old baby actually behaves better than your boss, there's something terribly terribly wrong.

I have also been trying and in general failing to understand, and work with, my own responsibilities in these matters at the office. I seem to feel responsible for things that are not my responsibility in the least, and then somehow fail to do the things which are my responsibility. So I take on responsibility for the things about which I am feeling unnecessarily responsible in order to atone for the mistakes I made in realms that are my responsibility... if that makes any sense. Basically, everything is all fucked up, and I am fucking up my part of it while other people are fucking up their parts of it, and I am trying to unfuck other people's parts but they are not trying to unfuck mine. Most dissatisfactory... all this fucking and nobody getting laid.

Well, anyway, aside from the fact that we didn't get our paychecks today, I don't really care. This organization, these overgrown and overpaid infants, and the actions of one toward the other are not my problem. They do not represent me, they do not reflect upon me, and they can't do anything to me. The paycheck thing I am pissed about, and the fact that I am going to be driving all over everyplace tomorrow to get the checks, get them signed, and get them delivered to my coworkers as well as my own bank (none of which is my responsibility, natch) really pisses me off... but as with all of the things going on at work, I am practicing acceptance and detachment. It's hard for me to practice acceptance and detachment when my checking account is empty, but I'm doing my best.

In other, more interesting news, the dance class dilemma has resolved itself (you remember, the 2003 Goal to learn something physical, the discovery that the class I want is only taught at 8am on Saturdays?), in that the class was canceled this week. It was underenrolled (and I checked and discovered that even if I had enrolled, that would have brought the grand total up to three, and it still would have been canceled). So now I get to think of some other thing to learn, or some other place to take dance classes. I really do want to learn to dance... a little tap, a little ballet, a little jazz, a little ballroom. And I don't want to spend a lot of money on it, money that is required by my dentist, my jewelry vendors, the DMV, my Volvo repairmen, and all the other wolves at my door. But I definitely still want to do it.

And now for a complete change of subject...

I wish sometimes — actually, I wish almost all of the time, whenever I think about it — that I was thin again. I wish I was reed-thin and paper-white and had cheekbones again. With the big eyes and a fat-lipped sculptured mouth and glossy wavy hair that I never had. I wish I was the kind of tall and thin and cheekbones and lips and wavy who could go around in tropical white linen suits, riding habits with boots, or baggy pants and tanktops with impunity. I guess I wished I looked like a fashion model... the waifish eccentric type.

What I find funny about this is that I know better. I know that one cannot look any different than one already looks... I mean, there are things one can do with dieting and plastic surgery, if I wanted to go through all that... but it only goes so far. There are bones that you can't change, there are skin elements that you can't change, there is hair-texture you can't change, there are proportions you can't change. You can make yourself look like a waxwork freak, like Michael Jackson or that tragic Weisenstein cat-woman, but you can't turn yourself from a thirty-five-year-old me to a twenty-year-old one of these.

And even if you could, I know perfectly well that being beautiful by my own idiotic standards would not make me any happier. For a time it would, of course, by giving me a new Me to play around with, a new image and size to shop for, a new set of features to scrutinize and find fault with in the mirror. But eventually I would probably get a little chubby again (would I give up chocolate and pastry and cheese to keep myself rail-thin? I somehow think not) and my hair would thin and grey again (because that's what hair does) and my skin would ooch ever closer to the ground with each passing week (because nobody has yet found a cure for gravity). And then I'd be right back where I started... except with the memory and ruin of a faded beauty that could haunt me for the rest of my days.

I suspect, however, that my psyche is creating this impossible ideal image in order to give myself excuses from committing myself to a possible real image. Like I said before, there's a lot I can do with simple dieting and exercising and other non-surgical personal maintenance practices. But I seem to be telling myself, "Since I can't look like an Uomo Vogue stripling, why should I bother?" I think that is the little mental trick that keeps all these fashion magazines going... I know perfectly well that I can't look like that, but I want to look like that, and by wanting to look like something I'll never be able look like, I will be able to avoid doing anything to look like how I could look if I stopped eating ten thousand calories a day and sitting on my fat ass all the time.

The human mind is a strange and twisted place. Especially this human mind.

What I think it comes down to (and what so many things come down to) is the issue of Expectation vs. Acceptance. Beyond all rational reason, I Expect to be tall and thin and dramatic-looking, hairless, pretty, and eternally young; as such I find it difficult to Accept that I am tall and medium-weight and flabby and bland-looking and hairy in some places but not others and not pretty and quickly ageing. Though I have a talent and an eye for beauty, I have difficulty finding beauty in what I am. I mean, while I find enjoyment in aesthetic beauty, and can usually accept that aesthetic beauty is just one of those things that some people have and some people don't, as random and meaningless as blond versus brown hair, or freckles or inherited wealth or hæmophilia or the ability to curl your tongue into a little tube — I nevertheless sometimes just burn with resentment that I myself do not possess great beauty.

Fortunately, I have not slipped into the frame of thinking that lets me resent those who do possess aesthetic beauty. A lot of people fall into this pattern of jealousy, and it's embittering... because no matter what you do or who you are or how blessed you've been, someone will always have something you don't have. It's a no-win situation. I used to resent people who were better-looking than I, which in my own opinion is an awful lot of people. But once I realized that I actually resented people for being beautiful, that I felt anger towards complete strangers because they have something I want, I was able to see it as the silliness that it is and sort of talk myself out of it. And that has saved me from a world of anger, let me tell you.

But I still resent the fact (not any person or any sense of universal fairness that I don't beleive exists, or even God or myself) that I am not beautiful by my own standards. So the question remains, do I make efforts to make myself more like my ideal, or do I endeavor to change standards to include something more like I am? Something's got to give, as the song goes. Perhaps, as with most things, the answer will turn out to be "a little of Column A, a little of Column B." Both the ideal and the image must reach toward each other.

I think I'll go for a walk now and burn off some of these calories (we had pork sausage, steamed rice, and broccoli for dinner), and think about ways in which I can celebrate and enjoy my physical self while training myself to find beauty in less magazine-oriented images. It'll be my project for now. I just hope that such a project will not require me to stop looking at magazine beauty. Cuz I do love my haute-couture hotties!