Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The Blue Dog Barks at Midnight

I feel very dull-witted, for some reason... everything I start to write here sounds idiotic, and so I delete it; then I can't think of something else to write instead so I walk away. I start, I delete, I stop, I repeat... and I've been doing this off and on since Sunday evening. It's most unsatisfying. But I'll try to make my weekend sound interesting for you... it was interesting in many ways, yet I'm having difficulty finding the words.


So after I last wrote on Friday, I bundled the Grandmother and her wheelchair and my 11-year-old niece Ariel (who spent the weekend with us) into the car, and we set out for Southland Mall. Actually, a couple of hours elapsed first, we didn't actually leave the house until just after 4pm, so that we got right into the Rush Hour Traffic that I had been hoping to avoid. But it was no big deal. The mall wasn't as crowded as I had expected, either, though it was more crowded than I found comfortable.

We were there for just over four and a half hours; about halfway through, my niece started getting tired and grumpy and unpleasant to be around. We therefore stopped and ate various barely-healthy things at the food court (Ariel had the healthiest thing, an Icee and a club sandwich from Subway, though all she had on it was meat, cheese, pickles, and olives; Grandmother had some pretty good corned beef from the Hofbrau with mashed potatoes and boiled cabbage; and I indulged one of my most shameful passions, Hotdog-on-a-Stick, with three corndogs and fries and a limeade), then resumed our shopping.

About an hour later, with little improvement in Ariel's behavior, Grandmother and I started sniping at each other in JC Penney (she wanted to see and touch every item of little-boy's clothing, but I was trying to simplify things by only bringing her what she said she'd wanted so I wouldn't have to push her wheelchair among the crowded racks; eventually I started snapping that the shirts on this side of the rack are exactly like the shirts on that side of the rack, except that they were yellow instead of red), and so we decided to wrap up the purchases and go home before we made a scene.

It took a while to get through the checkout, as there was a very unpleasant young woman on the other side of the checkout center making a scene much worse than we could have dreamt of making, demanding to return (for cash) a bathing suit with no tags on that had obviously already been worn in a pool and not washed afterward and for which she didn't even have a receipt, and when her wishes were not immediately granted she accused everyone behind the counter of racism, classism, sexism, and generalized assholism. Aside from the unpleasant young woman across from us, there was also a very strange older man standing nearby who was apparently flirting with our checkout girl, distracting her with his very odd oddness and making Grandmother very uneasy (although my niece thought he was really funny and engaged him in conversation, much to Grandmother's horror).

Then Grandmother decided that she really had to have something from See's Candies. On Valentine's Day. She of course kept forgetting that it was Valentine's Day, especially since I was trying to win a bet with myself that I could go the whole day without saying That Word (I won the bet, too... my prize was a jewelry purchase at eBay). The line didn't look all that long from a distance, so I let Ariel take Grandmother and the wheelchair and go stand in that line while I took our rather cumbersome purchases to the car.

On the way back in, I stopped at KayBee Toys, having realized that I'd not bought anything for my cousin's children, whose birthdays we were celebrating on Saturday. I didn't find anything, because I have completely forgotten what it was like to be a child and could therefore not even begin to guess what these children might enjoy. When I got back to See's, fifteen minutes after leaving them there, Grandmother and Ariel were still in line. I joined them, and we stood there for another twenty minutes. During that twenty minutes, the line moved twice. Apparently there were only two people behind the counter, and for most of my time there they were busy with an old man who could just barely read the labels on the chocolates and who was putting together a half-pound box one chocolate at at time, and a young woman who wanted nutritional information on each chocolate before she consented to purchase it. It was wildly infuriating. Once the ancient man and the persnickety woman were dispatched, the line moved rather quickly, but we were still there in that #@%&*! store for over forty-five minutes. Grandmother was completely unrepentant... she wanted See's chocolate, and she was going to get See's chocolate, Valentine's Day be damned.

Well, we got home eventually and removed ourselves to separate rooms in order to cool off. In retrospect, I think it was Ariel that was setting us on edge... she doesn't "mind" the way Grandmother likes children to do, and I don't really care whether she minds or not so long as she's quiet, which she never is. So we both get riled, but idiotically take it out on each other instead of on Ariel. It never occurs to us to just not let Ariel come over, especially when we have shopping to do... but then, we'd hate for any child to feel unwanted for any reason, even if we don't want them.


So anyway, the next day was Saturday, as one might have guessed. We were due at my cousin Kellie's place at 2 pm, and I wanted to leave from there no later than 4:30 (Grandmother would be catching a ride home with Aunt Judy). Since I was on a fairly tight schedule, Grandmother of course had to be as obstructive and slow as possible, backtracking thoughout the house incessantly and concerning herself with shockingly irrelevant and time-consuming busy-work. Then we had to stop at Walgreen's in order to buy wrapping paper and gift bags, since we didn't have enough for the gifts we'd bought the night before (though I did also managed to snag gifts for the children). Then there had to be traffic on the freeways. Then it had to start raining. Did I mention that my windshield wipers have stopped working for no apparent reason?

When we got to Kellie's place, I was spinning with road-rage and Ariel-angst and Grandmother-grief, and we were an hour and a half late. Then I went back into Kellie's bedroom and wrapped or bagged the presents. Then I ate hot dogs. Then I ate ice-cream cake. Then I watched the kids open their birthday presents. Then I watched their mother Kellie open her birthday presents. Then I watched her mother, my Aunt Terry, open her birthday presents, though she was reluctant to do so since her birthday isn't until Thursday, while the others' birthdays had just passed. Then I opened two birthday presents left from December (a very nice black ribbed mock-turtleneck from my Aunt Judy and a very cute origami kit from my Cousin Jamie, Terry's other daughter). Then I flew out of there as fast as I could, an hour behind schedule. Forty-five miles in the driving rain, without windshield wipers, in the dark.

When I got home I ran down to my drag-room in the basement in order to throw together a couple of outfits for the Galaxy Photo-Shoot Party hosted by Ivy & Nick. I pretty much knew what my first outfit would be, my not-yet-worn ostrich-trimmed black silk cardigan over my full-length black jersey gown, with plenty of clear and silver jewelry. For the second outfit (I always travel with at least two outfits), I had no ideas except that I wanted something that would look good with my fox furs. I eventually pulled out my brand-new green velvet long-sleeved open-shouldered dress, which I would wear with the Boys and colored and gold jewelry.

Then I wasted a half-hour trying and failing to find my black foundation garments before simply packing my white foundation garments with a grey Lycra slip so the white wouldn't show through the dark materials. Then I showered and shaved and put on a facial, which dried while I hurriedly packed my jewelry and re-packed my makeup from its former case, the clasp of which broke last time I used it, to my even older makeup case that is rather larger and waterproof. Then I schlepped all the bags out to the car in the driving rain and drove to San Francisco in the driving rain and looked for parking near 16th and Guererro in the driving rain. Without windshield wipers.

I finally found a really quite nice parking space, less than two blocks away, which looked like a gated driveway from a distance but which turned out to have been welded shut, with stacks and stacks of debris on the other side of it (which I would never have seen if one of my headlights weren't cockeyed). The party wasn't quite in full swing yet, though there were many people there. I grabbed a soda and commandeered a corner of the bedroom and started putting my makeup on as fast as I could... with a rapt audience of women gaping, fascinated, at my every stroke and blend. I hadn't ever had so much fun putting on makeup before! But then, normally I put on my makeup alone in a bathroom or the corner of a backstage dressing room, rather than in the midst of a swirling clamoring party.

Once fully painted and clothed and jeweled, I sat for my first ever drag photo-shoot. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. Nick did the pictures, and several people watched from the sidelines, and there were two stylists hovering just off-screen and darting forward to adjust this or fluff that or pull a stray hair out of my wig or move my knee an inch to the left. Part of me enjoyed the attention, and part of me was slightly annoyed by the fussing over my details. Mostly I enjoyed it, though. And though I haven't seen the formal pictures yet, here are a couple of candids that will give you an idea:

Photo by Min Jung

Photo by Miles

You can see more pix from the party here and here.

After the photo-shoot I was able to stop changing clothes and/or sitting still for photos, so I had the opportunity to sit and visit with people. It was a lovely party, with lovely people, and I had a lovely time with my lovely hosts (Ivy and Nick are quite possibly the nicest people I know... and I know a lot of really nice people). I did not have a very lovely time getting home, however, in the driving rain with no windshield wipers. I kept hitting these enormous puddles and hydroplaning across them. I never lost control of my car, but each time I felt my tires leave the road surface, every muscle in my body tensed up... an extremely tiring experience.


So then Sunday rolls along, and Grandmother gets up in time to go to church. I was hoping she'd skip this week, since we had Ariel (who tends to misbehave in church) and since I was so tired and had a rehearsal in the afternoon. Fortunately, it was a straightforward service, with a deadly boring sermon that I was able to tune out on. The point of the sermon was the stories of Sarah and Abraham, Sarai and Abram, and some other couple who pretended to be brother and sister for some reason that I might have grasped if I had listened to the whole sermon... the minister felt that since this theme was repeated three times, it must be important; however, most biblical scholars would surmise that at least two of these stories are different versions of the same tale... stupid people make me so tired. In fact, I had a nice little snooze for part of it, not quite falling asleep but definitely resting my eyes and letting my thoughts wander.

After church I had to jet out to the City for my Living Sober Musical rehearsal. I had decided to take BART since I imagined that the traffic would be pretty nasty with the Peace March, and that parking would be a nightmare. I hadn't taken into account, however, the probability of hordes of filthy stinking hippies. O, how I loathe Filthy Stinking Hippies.

Before anybody starts lambasting me for this loathing, let me point out that hippies, in and of themselves, while wildly exasperating, are not the object of my loathing. It is the "filthy stinking" part that bothers me. It's extremely unpleasant to stand on a crowded subterranean transport while surrounded by people who quite obviously and palpably believe that shampoo and combs and laundry detergent and razors are the Tools of the Oppressor. Poor hygiene, especially when practiced as a political statement, is the very height of antisocial behavior, and it makes me want to drive around with a tanker-truck of Suave and a fire-hose.

Fortunately, I ran into Zach, Shiloh's mister, on his way out to meet Shiloh after the Rally. We had a wonderful time talking smack about the Filthy Stinking Hippies and the Peace Rallies and Republicans and Iraqis and Mormons and other various and sundry topics until we both got off at Civic Center. I would have liked to stay and chat with Shiloh as well, whom I haven't seen in weeks, but I was already half an hour late for rehearsals so I had to run along to the International Order of Odd Fellows Hall, on the fifth floor of which are dance studios where we have our rehearsals.

The rehearsal was enjoyable but strenuous. We started of with a spot of yoga to stretch our muscles, but I'd missed most of it and wasn't entirely warmed up for the more advanced stretches (though at least I was dressed properly this time in a black long-sleeved tee that disguised my tummy and comfortably baggy chinos). We practiced several steps and combinations for quite some time before we started dealing with music, and started putting the odd and seemingly inexplicable combinations together into a coherent whole. But again, since we don't have the score yet and the choreography is far from complete, we basically went over the same two numbers over and over again... "I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line (which is going to be turned into a song about doing the Twelve Steps), for which we practiced about four bars'-worth of choreography, and "Momma I'm A Big Girl Now" from Hairspray the Musical, which is going to be turned into a song about tensions between sponsors and sponsees, and for which we only did another four or five bars.

I felt a little silly doing this. The second combination for the first song required us to do a 360-degree turn on two counts, followed by a high speed arms-up/arms-back/left-snap/right-snap on four counts, which my body flatly refused to do. I just couldn't spin. Then on the second song, we were supposed to be miming, snapping into poses that somehow illustrate the words "Stop," "Don't," "No," and "Please." Not only could I not think of a pose that exemplified such words, I couldn't stop myself from giggling at the poses that people did use, all of which struck me as immensely silly. I'll probably, hopefully, end up with some kind of directed choreography for that bit... I would rather look silly than just stand there like a plank.

Anyway, the rehearsal went on and on, and I was all worn out when Chel (who is super-cute and a pleasure to watch) finally let us go after three and a half hours of step-step-snap-snap and so-on and so-forth. Since I hate wasting a trip into San Francisco, and consider the trip a waste if I don't do more than two things while I'm there, I headed down towards Union Square to do some shopping and get some coffee. I thought the Rally was over with, and therefore people would either be gathered at the end-point of the Rally or would have gone home. No such luck... there were people everywhere, a large majority of whom were Filthy Stinking Hippies, carrying large and badly-lettered poorly-worded picket-signs and taking up far too much room.

The last straw came when I was getting close to Virgin Megastore, where I had planned to pick up some new music and maybe a book and/or a video, which I would then take to the café on the third floor where I would have a nice capuccino and observe the FSHs' movements from a comfortable odor-free distance. Just as I was getting ready to cross the street, I discovered that a large group of Anarchists were staging an unofficial demonstration that apparently originated in Union Square and worked its illegal way down across Market, blocking both Market Street traffic and my progress to the Virgin Megastore.

I was incensed by this, and yet I didn't think it would be wise to try and fight my way upstream to Macy's and Saks, which were on this side of the Demonstration but nevertheless right next to the Anarchists, who appeared to be burning something... and I didn't want to be stuck in Macy's if looting happened. Still, I had my heart set on CD-shopping, so I went down through the BART station and came up on the other side of the Anarchists into Virgin (all but one of whose doors were locked... they were probably prepared for looters, too).

The café was of course closed, in keeping with the theme of my afternoon, and so was the bathroom, and there weren't any books or videos I wanted. I bought a couple of CDs, though (Ella Fitzgerald's Get Happy, which replaces the CD that was in my player when it was stolen last March, and a duet album from two women I've never heard of but which looked promising and was on sale). I was tired, I had to go to the bathroom, I was in a foul mood, and the Anarchists were still blocking the way to Union Square, so I abandoned my shopping trip and just went on home. Of course the BART train was crowded again with yet more FSHs, but I ignored them as best I could. Then I drove to the house and hit the couch at a run, and didn't move anything but my thumb on the remote for the rest of the evening, except to eat dinner (vegetable soup and cornbread).


Monday I stayed in bed as long as I could, though I had intended to clean my room and help Grandmother figure out her new home steam cleaner. I was just too tired to do anything, and too brain-weary to care. So I lay in bed reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire until Caroline came over around five; then we chatted and she showed me pictures of the latest guy she's dating from her online dating service (who is SO my type, witty and attractive and tall, an English major and a film-buff... except that he's a little too good-looking to be in my echelon... and, of course, he's straight). Then we got dinner from Boston Market, then went for a walk, then she went home and I went back to bed.

Which brings us completely up-to-the-minute. Work was boring today, which gave me plenty of time to write all about my fascinating weekend (valiantly resisting the urge to delete everything, because if I keep deleting I'll never publish, and there will be no updated content on my site, and people will get bored and stop visiting me). I'm going to now jet on home and have a quick bite to eat before going to my regular AA meeting. Then I'm going back to bed. I hope I'm not coming down with a cold or anything... I'm just so tired! And now my throat is hurting a little bit. I don't need this.

I hope your weekend was fabulous, and that you're feeling well and doing fine. Kisses!

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