Thursday, April 17, 2003

Didja Miss Me?

Sorry to fall out for so long without any explanation. I suppose this has been the longest I've gone without posting since I started this here diary. And my silence seems to have worried some people (you're so sweet, darling!), so I figure I'd better weigh in with a little update.

So I'm on vacation for Spring Break. I wasn't sure the new boss would want to close the office, as we've done in the past, with his twin policies of Coverage! and Service! but I got the week off as I usually do. And as I usually do, I have gone into the office three times this week. I didn't do any work there, but I went anyway. I was expecting packages, you see, and I had to find my damned W2s. In fact, I have been unusually busy with details this week. It wasn't really fun.

But to back up and go chronologically... Friday was my nephew's 17th birthday. I picked him and some pizzas up at Jack London Square (where he had been to see Anger Management with friends), and was sinfully late after having to write that damned self-evaluation (below) and finish up some other work before the weekend. When I got home, my cousin Kellie had already dropped her spawn and fled (her kids Jessie and Alex planned to stay for Spring Break... and I was strongly considering going in to work on my vacation just to get away from them, and so hadn't told Grandmother about the office being closed). I also picked up Caroline, with whom I had made plans for dinner and seeing Spirited Away before my plans got changed for me by my sister and nephew. So it was a pretty full house.

After dinner, I excused myself to check email and eBay auctions (I'm on a fur binge), and the kids and Caroline played Jessie's favorite board game, Pretty Pretty Princess, in which one rolls dice and lands on jewelry items, and the point is to get the most jewelry and the tiara in order to win. Matthew won the first round, Alex the second.

So on Saturday, I took Matthew to his girlfriend's house in Alameda to spend the day with them before going to work (all this backing and forthing and chauffeuring is because Matthew's car registration has expired, because his car won't pass smog and he can't afford to upgrade it, and he's too conscientious to run around in an unregistered vehicle... as his uncle has been doing for the last four months). Then, out of the absolute blue, my old friend Mary Jane called me up and invited me to a baby shower for another old friend of ours, Lisa.

I should pause to point out that these and several other girls were all part of a clique in high-school, and have pretty much remained friends all these years; Mary and Jen still live together (or rather live together again), having been roommates since just after college; further, Mary has known Shelli and Lisa and Lisa's sister Laura since elementary school. Among them all, everyone is still friends with everyone else from our old high-school clique... not all at once, but one will keep in touch with another so there aren't very many degrees of separation between us all. Eva and Hayes and James and a whole bunch of others whose names escape me just now still know each other.

I have fallen out of touch with all of these people in the last few years. I had grown apart from most of the people I knew in high school, who were all straight and who mostly got caught up in marriage and children at one point or another. I kept up with Mary and Jen because we had other mutual friends, and the more different people you have tied together socially, the more often you see them (especially people who don't have children... it has been my experience when people have children, they drift away from friends who do not have children). But when I stopped seeing my former best-friend Kevin three or four years ago, I lost a strong link into that group of people.

At any rate, I have not been keeping up with Mary and Jen now that Kevin is no longer a part of my life (nor, I believe, is he a part of theirs), and I feel guilty sometimes that I don't keep in touch with people. But Mary called me, and we went to this party and had a really wonderful time. The food was from La Mediteranée, where one finds the best dolmas in the continental United States; the desserts were by the auntie-to-be, Laura, who is a professional pâtissiere and quite good; loads of terrifically uninteresting people were there (and by "uninteresting" I mean straight, married, child-ridden, and not especially pretty... with one or two exceptions); and I got to see and schmooze with a handful of long-time friends. I had a lovely time.

Mary Jane (not a good picture, she is very cute and doesn't usually squint like Popeye)

Jennifer... giving us a little of that Bolivian

Shelli lives in Seattle and flew in for the weekend.

The Little Mother, Lisa.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to stay very long. Just after the presents were opened (baby gifts are so boring, not one drip of jewelry even though they know it's going to be a girl), I got a frantic call from my little cousin Jessie... Grandmother had fallen and I had to get home immediately. Mary Jane had driven me, so she had to leave as well, and offered to come in and help if she could. I wasn't sure what exactly had happened, but it was a little scary and the kids were quite rattled.

Apparently, Grandmother had blacked out while sitting, to put it as delicately as I can, sur la crapper. Upon blacking out, she simultaneously threw up and fell off the john, banging her bad knee and wedging herself into a rather tight corner. She was no longer ill, but terribly shaken, and embarrassed beyond imagining to be stuck in a corner with her drawers around her ankles.

Mary Jane was an absolute Godsend. She helped me get Grandmother off the floor, which I don't think I could have managed alone, and then into bed. She was extraordinarily soothing and helpful, calming Grandmother and the children simultaneously and acting as if this were the sort of thing that happens every day to everybody. GM insisted that she didn't need to go to the emergency room, and Mary sat and talked with her before she went to sleep. I was so grateful I could just cry.

So after Mary went home, I cleaned up the bathroom and washed the rugs and towels and so on. Kellie came and visited with Grandmother for a while, then took Alex home with her, but left Jessie behind to be of help to Grandmother (which she was, and it puffed her up with importance to be needed... it's rare to feel needed when you're nine). Then I went and picked up Matthew from his work and brought him back here for the night. Grandmother eventually called the Advice Nurse at Kaiser and made an appointment with a doctor for Monday. After a good night's sleep, she felt fine except for her knee and a nagging worry about what could possibly cause such an episode. Anyway, that was my Saturday.

Sunday was all about rehearsals, and driving around. I drove Matthew back to work (he works at Tucker's Ice Cream in Alameda), then out to the City for my Musical rehearsals (where I was told, to my great elation, that I wouldn't appear in the hated "I Hope I Get It" scene), then back home because I forgot my wallet and couldn't stay all day in the City with no money, and then back to the City for some shopping in the Mission District (I found some really fabulous vintage things at Clothes Contact [Fashion and Fabric by the Pound] on Valencia, including a cream-and-cocoa chiffon garden-party dress that will make me look just like Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven... except much thicker) before meeting some of the other girls at Ivy & Nick's place for another rehearsal of "Cell Block Tango," which we'll be debuting at the Living Sober Spring Fling drag show in a couple of weeks. After that, I went to the Castro to do some shopping, and ran into Zach & Shiloh at Firewood, where I stopped for dessert. It was quite a lovely day, though utterly exhausting.

Monday was about going to Kaiser for Grandmother's appointment. Over the weekend she'd talked to some of her friends and family, and discovered that she might have the same symptoms as Aunt Terry's friend Yoli's uncle, which turned out to have been caused by polyps. It made her feel less like a dying freak to know that Terry's friend Yoli's uncle suffered similar discomforts (nobody likes to believe that they are the only person to have ever puked and passed out whilst pooping).

Grandmother's regular doctor was out of town on vacation, so GM drew a substitute who I happen to like a great deal better than the regular guy (who was in turn a good deal better than her previous doctor). She asked pertinent questions, ordered some blood tests, and was in general very soothing. So we went down to the lab and had some bloodwork done (stat, so we didn't have to wait so long, only three hours for processing). When they returned negative for anemia and three or four other things that the doctor thought might be the trouble, she ordered a barium enema to check for polyps and anything else that might be going flooey in the colon. So down we went back to the lab, where we received an interesting little kit and a list of instructions for liquid-dieting and laxative-taking on the day preceding the barium enema (which was scheduled for Friday).

After that terribly entertaining interlude, we went and had lunch, then came back home. I went to bed, I'd gotten so little sleep the night before, though I couldn't drop off into my nap. Instead, I worried about taxes and hunted through eBay for more furs and chiffon (this jewelry fast I've been on hasn't saved me one dime, since I am still spending way more money on everything else).

Then I went down to the office to try and find my W2s. I looked all over the place, shifting every piece of paper from one spot to another and not coming up with anything. After a couple of hours of fruitless bootlessness, I went down to the Post Office to buy a money-order for one of my auctions. Upon returning to the office, I stuck my hand into a pile that I had already gone through twice, looking instead for the software for my Quicken program, and pulled my W2s out. Then I went and got my hair cut, did some grocery shopping, went home, eBayed some more, and watched tv before going back to bed, this time for the night.

So Tuesday was Tax Day. I finished up Grandmother's taxes, which I'd actually done two weeks ago but never quite finished (with signatures and checks and things), and then spent several hours running around the house looking for my 1098 Forms from my student loan (you can claim the interest paid on a federal student loan as a deduction). After breaking two fingernails in my search, I gave up and just went ahead and did my taxes with the 1040EZ.

When I looked up the tax in the 1040A booklet that I'd used for Grandmother's taxes (I never get the IRS forms sent to the house, I don't know why, so I always end up downloading it from the web), the amount seemed too big. So I went back to the website and downloaded the 1040EZ instruction booklet... which took almost an hour, since I had to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 so I could read it. During that time, I sat and enjoyed my big coffee-table edition of Mark Girouard's The Victorian Country House, which I'd just received from Powell's, my new favortie online bookstore (they specialize in out-of-print books, which not very surprisingly are my favorite kind).

Well, the tax is the same for 1040A and 1040EZ and 1040, I just didn't want to believe that the government was soaking me for 11% of my income (almost 14% of my taxable income), to the tune of $3,608! And that the maximum deduction that I always have withheld from my checks was only $3,390... so for the first time in my life, I had to send a check to the IRS! When in the past I had always received a quite hefty refund! I was furious! Quite literally hopping mad, jumping up and down in the dining room and cursing Bush and Clinton and everybody else in that corrupt cesspool of a government. I was also angry with myself for losing that damned 1098 form, which would no doubt have brought my taxable income down to a level that I wouldn't have had to shell out. Not to mention breaking the two nails, my left middle and right thumb, during the search.

But furious as I was, I had to pay, so I wrote out my check and then did my state taxes...and ended up owing them money too, though not nearly as much. But then when I got to the office to run the taxes through the postage meter (which saves me from having to run all the way down to the Main Branch post office to get it date-stamped before midnight), there were three packages there from eBay auctions, two fur pieces (both mink, of different colors and sizes, but with all their little heads and feet and tails dangling) and a funny little tiara I'd bought for Caroline on a whim. That made me feel quite a bit better, and then the AA meeting I went to made me feel loads better. I still grumbled, but I had minks to grumble into, and sympathetic people to grumble at, and that's always nicer than just grumbling into nothingness.

Wednesday I had a real vacation day. I did absolutely nothing but play on the computer, read The Surprising Rise of Luke Vanner by Robert McCartney Moore (a favorite of yore that I lent out and never got back, which was available at Powell's... gotta love 'em!) and played with my Sims, which I haven't done in ages. I discovered while watching my cousin play on the kitchen computer that they can catch fire. I already knew you could starve them to death by walling them up, or by luring them into the pool and deleting the ladder so they can't get out, but the fire thing is much faster and much more gruesome. I murdered so many Sims that I now have a most severely haunted house (it's got seventeen ghosts), and I killed eight of them at once so the Grim Reaper was just the busiest little bee on the block (I deleted the doors from the house, and put fireplaces in every room and surrounded them with tapestries and carpets... it was just a matter of time before disaster struck). The only downside of the day was breaking another nail, my left pinkie this time, while typing an email to an eBay vendor.

And that brings me to today! Yesterday was so restful that I woke up quite ready to face a new day... I was scheduled to meet Caroline for her lunch break, so we could go together to a favorite antiques shop that is closing down and liquidating it's stock at 55-75% off. Of course, they have such beautiful high-end things that even at those discounts I couldn't afford much (even with the extra 5% "Gay Discount" the very nice owner offered). But I did buy a beautiful ruby and moonstone ring for Grandmother; I had intended it as a Mother's Day present, but I decided to give it to her when I got home, to cheer her up from her day of liquid dieting.

After taking Caroline back to her office, I decided to make a day of it. I went to all my favorite shops on Piedmont Avenue, and spent an unholy amount of money on jewelry... breaking my Lenten fast but good. I got two truly spectacular pairs of earrings from Paris at JoJo Bejano, a jeweled sweater-dress of shocking chic and a kidskin belt that I hope will match the chiffon dress I got on Sunday from Sophisticated Lady, and a gorgeous and vast lavender CZ ring and a white rhinestone parure from a shop that just opened today called World Jewelry.

After that I was feeling more stimulated than sated. I went to the office again and found another fur piece had arrived (three beige martens this time), as well as a couple of messages and a lot of mail. I went through the office email and sent off a couple of checks I'd forgotten about from last week, and then went to the Post Office for another money order for another eBay auction (I hate when they don't take PayPal, and then require ten days to clear a check). I suddenly realized that this lamp-shop that is only open during the hours I work would be open during my vacation, so I jetted off to Foss Lamps on 12th Street and bought a shade for the floor-lamp in the living room, something I've been meaning to do for years. Then I went to Collectible Designs on Grand Avenue and bought two sequined cocktail dresses (one of which is for someone else) and a really interesting brooch.

When I got home, still flying on the energy of so much shopping, I cleaned out my car. I actually filled up our entire garbage can with crap that had been shuffled from the back seat to the trunk (or just shoved in the trunk) over the last year and a half. I found a couple of CDs, too, as well as some canned goods and a pair of shoes. What I didn't find was my fox boa and ostrich-trimmed cardigan, which I fear I may have lost. I certainly hope not, and will continue the search (there are a couple of places in my room that they might have got crammed into), but at least I got a tidy car out of the deal — although I broke yet another nail in the process, my left thumbnail, bringing the grand total to five.

And then dinner, and then reading up on some blogs, and then writing this here mess. It would probably read better if I had written it when it happened, instead of all at once at the end, but these things happen. I needed the vacation, is all. And now I've had it and I won't go quite so long without writing ever again... unless, for some reason or another, I do.

Well, my darlings, I had better be toddling along now. I have to make up my mind whether or not to cut off the last five remaining long nails to match the five broken ones. And they were looking so lovely, too! Not to mention that I have two drag shows coming up, and that was why I was growing them out in the first place. I guess I'm just going to have to get some acrylics installed instead.

I hope your day is super fun! And that none of your nails break!

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