Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Surprisingly Predictable, Predictably Surprised

I've always been amused by, and felt a slight friendly contempt for, people who are endlessly surprised by the same thing over and over again. My grandmother is like that, so is Caroline, so is one of my coworkers. Grandmother is always shocked and amazed that she can't find a blouse she likes at Macy's, even though we have shopped at Macy's a hundred times and have never found a blouse she likes; Caroline is bewildered and incredulous when she alienates a boyfriend by doing the exact same things that alienated the last five boyfriends; my coworker practically exists in a state of astonishment over the dickheaded perfidy of people who are well-known to us as perfidious dickheads.



I myself am seldom surprised... I keep my expectations so low that the only surprises I get are happy ones — my motto being, "Expect nothing, and most things will exceed expectations." However, there is one area of my life that always takes me by surprise, even though by now, here in my thirty-sixth year of this Vale of Tears, I should be able to predict it: I know for a fact that when I run around a lot out in the night air, don't eat quite enough, work too hard, and miss a few hours of sleep, I invariably come down with a cold of some sort. And yet, each time this happens, I am taken by surprise.



If you have been following along with the last few posts, you will notice that the Musical rehearsals, most of which are at night and nowhere near my home, along with my gym-visits and my diet, sleepless nights either worrying about whether or not I was at fault in an auto accident (which honesty compels me to admit that I now believe I was) or worrying about my behavior and shortcomings in the Musical, and other various and sundry instances detailed here or not, will add up to the exact equation required for me to catch a cold. And yet, when I finally realized this morning that I'd come down with a cold, I felt a rush of indignant perplexity: How could this happen to me?



Yesterday when I was at the gym, I felt inexplicably weak: I could only do 70 rpms at 30 pounds of resistance on the bicycle (I usually do 90 rpms at 50 pounds), and I couldn't get up past 3.5 mph on the treadmill (my standard pace is 4.2). I wrote it off as having pushed myself too hard the day before (though I hadn't, really) and not eating enough for dinner the night before (which was true, I wasn't hungry most of the night and then only had a half-serving of chicken and bok-choy... no appetite, another sure sign that I failed to recognize). Then on the way home to change and shower before my AA meeting, my inner ear started hurting all of a sudden. By the time I arrived at the meeting, the pain had moved down to my throat, and I was aware of post-nasal drip on top of the feeling of tiredness. But I nevertheless stayed up and went out after the meeting, talking and laughing and walking around in the night air. When I did get home, I sat up with my nose in my new Harry Potter book for over an hour instead of going right to sleep as my body demanded.



As usual when I have a cold, I woke up early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. The post-nasal drip had continued unabated while I slept, so I had a sore throat and chest congestion, with a feeling of muscular and mental lethargy paired with a sort of restlessness that prevents one from relaxing into the lethargy and sleeping or tuning out. So I downloaded my email and read a few more chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (it's quite absorbing, but rather more unhappy than previous installments) before it was time to get up for work. I forced down some juice and whole-grain black bread toast to absorb some of the coffee, ibuprophen, and Robitussin CE I'd been swallowing. And now I'm here at the office, the lethargy mixed with plenty of coffee and water and some fresh air has translated itself into a woozy light-headedness through which I am working just fine, but I am considering going home and going back to sleep.



I guess the reason this cold took me by surprise is because it is too inconvenient for me to have a cold right now, and so my mind simply denied the possibility. I can't miss rehearsals in the last week before the show, I can't miss my service committment or my gym committment, I can't stop doing all the things I'm doing that resulted in my catching a cold. I simply haven't the time to be sick!



Part of me is thinking that I should continue as I am, ignore the cold and let it work itself out; another part of me worries that if I don't shut down everything right now, it will get worse. The rest of me (and my Committee) is trying to find the middle ground between these two extremes.



Well, I'll talk to Caroline and see if I can get her to go to the gym without me today and maybe tomorrow; I've worked out often enough without her when she was feeling poorly or had to work late. If she would do that, it relieves me of the feeling of guilt over skipping a couple of days. Perhaps if my body isn't so busy burning off calories it can concentrate on killing these nasty cold symptoms; also, without the hour at the gym, maybe I can take a short nap before my evening committments. And I can dress more warmly when I go to rehearsals, instead of just showing up in my gym gear, either change into regular clothes or bring a warm-up suit to wear outside.



Oh, the simple adult solution... always the last thing to occur to me. Just like when I'm angry or upset or in some way emotionally and spritiually askew, it never occurs to me to pray and meditate until I've suffered for so long that no other choices remain. And then I feel surprised again at how efficacious something as simple as praying and meditating can be (and I don't even do all that complicated of a P&M, I just run through the Serenity Prayer, an abridged Third Step prayer, a short gratitude list, and then listen quietly until something else happens outside of me or when I feel calm again).



So I guess I'd better be running along to treat my cold as best as I can in the circumstances: don't push myself, drink a lot of juice, stay away from dairy, and take an antihistamine or two. I haven't decided about the gym yet, part of me wants to sweat and get my blood pumping, it will push the cold out faster; another part wants to lay down and just sleep to heal.



Maybe I'll just flip a coin. Chance often makes better decisions than I do.



Monday, June 23, 2003

Everything's Coming Up Roses...

How do you know if you are really and truly a Performer at heart? When the simple fact of seven or eight people watching you makes you sing and dance better. Yesterday we had a dress-rehearsal with a test audience, and I hit most of my marks, remembered most of my dance steps, and remembered to sing bass most of the time. I got all of my words right (except for this one song at the end that I haven't practiced at all because I didn't know that it was going to be reprised in the last act, and the first time it's done I'm not in the scene... but we all suck at that reprise, it needs LOTS of work, or else an application of scissors), and was able to count intervals and keep on rhythm without getting distracted by other people's movements or lyrics. I even managed to improvise proper blocking for myself, and to deliver my one incomprehensible line in a such a manner that it actually made sense to me for the first time. It felt really good.



I think it helped that one of the audience-members was someone I have a big crush on, and one was a friend of mine who is a Theatre Queen of the first water, and one was a nun we all know and love... such people do tend to keep one on one's toes, trying extra hard, going that extra mile. But really, I think it was the fact that none of the audience was actually involved in the production, they weren't there taking notes on how awful we all are, they laughed at the jokes that we've heard so many times they aren't funny any more, they clapped at the songs that we no longer appreciate as songs.



It also helped that I was "in character" and masked somewhat by my costume and wig — but not makeup, and I didn't even bring tights or shoes because I didn't know we were doing dress rehearsal... in fact, one of my biggest problems with this production has been my inability to absorb everything that people are saying about various topics... I didn't know about the reprise in the last act, even though it's written quite clearly in black-and-white in the script, just one paragraph before my line; I knew we were having a test audience some time or other, and I knew we were having a full dress-rehearsal with makeup next Monday (I even wrote it in my Palm Pilot), but somehow this Sunday's dress rehearsal with test audience flew under my radar.



Oh, well... it'll all be over soon enough, and I'll be back to my humdrum existence, with time on my hands. HOORAY!



As much fun as this has been, I don't think I'll ever do the Musical again. It has been too much a drain on my time... and I'm only chorus and didn't have that much to do. At the beginning, when we were rehearsing once a week, it wasn't so bad... kind of inconvenient sometimes, but I managed. Then at two times a week, not so hard since for the first few weeks I didn't have to come on Wednesdays because I wasn't a principal. But the four times a week is simply too much for me.



There's this psychic distance between Oakland and San Francisco, inclusive of the Bay Bridge and its inevitable traffic but multiplied by exponents of inconvenience, having to run straight from work to the gym to the rehearsal with only so much time to eat and pee (and that time is so often taken up by unusually dense bridge-traffic, as it was Thursday)... I'm running myself ragged.



I've found this same inconvenience when I've done other Living Sober service, too... when it's just a matter of showing up for a Follies or a garage sale or Drag Bingo, it's not so bad... but if there are committee meetings and planning meetings and having to go to the City more than once in a given week, it very quickly gets to be too much for me. I don't live or work in San Francisco, I live and work in Oakland... and these two cities are a lot farther apart than they look on a map.



I am nevertheless looking forward to the Conference this year. Aside from working in the Musical, and taking part in the annual Drag Invasion (this year's theme is pretty easy, "We Are Not A Glum Lot," we just wear terribly festive outfits... last year we were "Streets of San Francisco," and I was Miss Union Square and spent absolute hours and miles of walking trying to collect shopping bags from all the stores there without spending a lot of money... it was a hell of a challenge and I ended up borrowing most of them from a guy who collects them and had all the shops I was afraid to go into, like Tiffany and Herm├Ęs), I am simply looking forward to being in the same building with a thousand or so other sober queers (or "GLBTs in Recovery," as we PC-ly say), socializing and attending workshops and so on and so forth. It is always a lot of fun.



So anyway, now all I have to do is get a pair of black flats, work on that one problem song, memorize my dance-step for the finale (it's a sort of cha-cha with an increase of tempo every two bars), and practice my solo song line, and I'm ready to go with this Musical. After having a tiny audience loving it so much, I look forward to doing this for a bigger one.



Because you know that bigger is always better.



Friday, June 20, 2003

When Egos Collide

Last evening's Musical rehearsal was a bit of a trial. I brought a nasty mood along with me... I was tired already from a night of poor sleep, work was busy, I pushed myself a little too hard at the gym, then there was an insane amount of traffic on the bridge and I was bumper-to-bumper for over an hour, I hadn't eaten anything since noon and was absolutely starving, and I occupied a good deal of my wait by talking to my mother on the cellphone, so I was a bit of a wreck emotionally and physically... and I was more interested in eating my sandwich and fruit salad and resting my tired legs than in going over songs and dances which I am so sick of that each run-through makes me want to slit my throat.



I'm sure I was not the only one who'd had a long day and a difficult week, plenty of us were tired and hungry, so it was a room full of people who would much rather be somewhere else doing something else but who had made a committment and were sticking to it. Grumbling was heard, dirty looks were exchanged, and a few outbursts of temper could be observed... and many of these involved me.



The scary thing is that the first show is two weeks from today and we still stink up the room during our production numbers. I for one find them impossibly complicated... difficult music mixed in with difficult choreography on top of scattershot blocking and everchanging tempi. When one is not a very good dancer, can't read music, has no memory for notes, and not only can't remember what dance step goes with which lyric and vice versa but can't even remember to sing in one's own range all of the time... well, it's a daunting and depressing experience.



What I am having trouble with, aside from the physical difficulties listed above, is that when I am upset or insecure or angry at myself, I tend to come off as bored... I shuffled through my dance steps last night because I was too tired to actually put any balls into them; however, my demeanor was not one of exhaustion but of ennui. When I made a comment of any kind, I sounded pretentious and snide, when in fact I was trying not to cry.



I guess what I'm saying is that some days I regret my armor. I have all these weird defense mechanisms that I don't even fully understand, and these defenses often turn into offenses. While trying to protect my self-image, I hurt other people's feelings.



Something else to work on. In the meantime, I have to find a wig (something black, styled in some sort of 60s coif), some feminine sneakers (also in black), and probably a few more costumes and props that I don't know about yet. People who have been in the Musical before assure me that it's always total chaos right up until the show, and then everything works out in the end. I find in my own experience that things only work out in the end if you compromise your original intentions and values, and this is always painful to me. I prefer to be overprepared than to reassess my priorities at the last minute.



But I'm not directing this show (nor would I, not for all the cubic zirconia on HSN). So for the next two weeks I am going to practice like mad on my own and do everything I can to memorize all these steps and lyrics, try to be enthusiastic and supportive and agreeable at rehearsals no matter how tired I am, and keep a civil tongue in my head no matter how provoking other people's behavior becomes.



After all, I can do anything for only two weeks. Afterward we will return to your regular broadcast bitch.



Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Hither, Thither, Yawn

I'm so tired my eye is twitching. I got a lot done today, but oy what a climb it was! Run to the bank and the post-office before work, do actual real live work for five hours, get my nails done, go to the gym, go to SF for three hours of rehearsal, all the time driving about all over the place and squeezing in a small meal here or there. And tomorrow is going to be pretty much the same... work, gym, and rehearsal shoved one right next to the other, and though I don't have to go to the bank or get my nails done, I'm sure something will come up. It always does. A drag queen's errands are never done. Then Friday, with mall-shopping with the Grandmother instead of rehearsals; then Saturday with laundry and housework and maybe sleeping if I'm lucky; then Sunday with rehearsals and either a family dinner or a trip to the MAC counter at Macy's. Then next week is exactly the same, but with a GSR meeting thrown in for good measure. And then and then and then and then...



That's all I have to say... I was going to write more, but I'm too tired now and the twitching eye is more irritating with every passing minute. Kisses!



Monday, June 16, 2003

Revving Up

My PDA is now running my life, and it's doing a much better job than I ever did. This is a good thing, since my life is getting so blasted busy lately.



With the Living Sober Conference coming up fast, Musical rehearsals are kicking into high gear. We had our first full run-through yesterday, and I finally got to see the whole thing all together in one piece... and it's not as bad as I thought it might be. As I was telling someone yesterday, I really have very little imagination... I can't see things until I've seen them. I'm still not sure what my one line means, really, but the rest of the play makes more sense now that I've seen it completely acted out by the cast actors; further, the text seems rather less hackneyed and lame coming out of the mouths of moving people, in the context of interaction, than it did on the page or during sitting-in-a-circle read-throughs.



Of course, there is still a lot of work to do... the blocking is disastrous, with all sorts of background personnel wandering around not knowing what to do; the choreography is labor-intensive (to say the least), and not all of us have it memorized yet (I certainly don't); many of us haven't completely memorized all of the songs, either, and since my memorization hinges on following along with the soloists, and the soloists haven't gotten all their lines down, I find myself off at sea rather a lot. I thank God I didn't get cast with more than my one incomprehensible little line, I don't think I could memorize all of the lines and songs that the principals have been saddled with. There's safety in the chorus.



So as we approach the Conference, we are stepping up rehearsals to four times a week, three or four hours at a time: the Sundays we've been doing all along, and the Wednesdays that I just recently started showing up for, and now Mondays and Thursdays as well. To make it all more interesting, each day's rehearsal is in a different place. Since I have to miss one Wednesday because of my GSR meeting, I feel it incumbent upon me to attend every rehearsal that I can, and so my calendar for the next two weeks is completely packed.



On top of that, I have my weekdaily gym hour, which I daren't modify in any way, lest I lose momentum altogether and become lazy about going. I also have to find some time soon to get my nails done... they look awful, and I want to get the acrylics and extensions removed completely and replaced with something without extensions. The tiny little space between my real nail-ends and the extensions attract the most amazing amount of filth, and it's difficult to keep them clean. If I had the acrylics applied directly to the nail, without any extentions at all, it would be much tidier. The trick will be to get the acrylics off without breaking my real nails (which are nice and long now).



Actually, the trick is to squeeze in the time for an appointment. I wanted to go today, while the office is really quiet, taking a fabulously long lunch as part of my floating vacation days. Unfortunately, the salon I wanted to go to is closed on Mondays. I could go to another salon, of course (it's not like there aren't hundreds to choose from), but I really liked the last manicurist I had and am not sure I want to take a chance on an untried quantity today.



With all this going on, I'm finding it nearly impossible to get any work done on my Eighth Step, my Gratitude List, or my laundry. I did six loads of laundry on Saturday, while reading the latest posthumous Dorothy L. Sayers novel Presumption of Death (written entirely by Jill Paton Walsh, but based on and including some epistolary magazine articles written by Sayers at the beginning of WWII... it was pretty good, but not great, and the denouement was a trifle disappointing). And while those six loads relieve me of the no-underwear difficulty and the tedium of wearing the same pair of jeans over and over again, I only managed to wash the clothes that were currently in my room... there are three more large plastic garbage bags in the basement containing the clothes I gathered up when I had to make room for the window-man (regular readers will remember that this was over a month ago). While this certainly illustrates the fact that I have way more clothes than I need, the clothes are still there and need to be washed.



Well, anyway, the Musical will be over as of July 5, and my schedule will free up a bit. But then Grandmother wants to start attending church out in Walnut Creek (we went to church with my Daddy for Father's Day, and GM liked the atmosphere a whole lot), and so my Sundays are going to start earlier in the day from now on; and then when I'm no longer in weekly dance rehearsals I'm going to start taking movement classes at the gym. And I have a feeling that summer in the office isn't going to be as quiet as it has been in years past; not only do we have a contentious contract in negotiations, but my boss has this weird work-ethic where he plans to spend the entire summer in town and actually working (my previous boss pretty much disappeared in the summer, much to our relief).



Oh, well, as Daddy always says, it's better than a rap on the head with a sharp stone. At least I have a PDA to keep me on top of it all. Now if I only had the youth that would make such a schedule easier. Or maybe just a youth to stay on top of (as if I had the time or the energy for that).



Friday, June 13, 2003

Assailed by Doubts

I felt much better yesterday after I talked to the insurance company. Not that my deductible will be any lower (one thousand dollars, oy), not that my future rates aren't going to go up, not that I actually changed anything... but I talked to this really nice lady and I did the necessary footwork and generally acted like an adult. I also bought a roll of duct tape (now, at the store, the labels said "duck tape," and I was taught the word as "duct tape"... who's right?) and bandaged up Miss Jane's wounds. And though she still looks awful, her scars are post-op grim instead of emergency-room gruesome.



But last night, just as I was dropping off to sleep, this little question popped into my head: "Were you in the right lane?"



The story of the accident, as I set it down here in the previous post, is the story that I have told the SF Police, the insurance claims people, and anybody who would listen to me in my daily life. In thirty-six hours, I have probably repeated that story twenty times. In that story, I was already in the right lane and was turning right into a parking lot and had no reasonable expectation of the motorcycle being there.



But having introduced this tiny doubt about my story, I can't really now remember the exact moment of the accident. I remember that at the moment of impact I regretted having done something stupid... was I actually in the left lane, and did I suddenly turn right across a lane of traffic without signaling or looking over my shoulder?



I know I am capable of gross stupidity, but that particular piece of gross stupidity seems so unlikely. I was trying to get to the right, and the reason I turned right to get into the Safeway parking lot is because I remembered you can't turn right behind Safeway because that's where Duboce stops suddenly and plunges into the MUNI tunnel... and if I turned right after that, I would have to turn right again onto Market and left across busy Market without a turn-only-light to get onto Duboce and thence to the freeway; if I was in the left lane, I would have turned left onto Duboce and then another left to get back to Market. I also habitually look over my shoulder before I change lanes, since the first three cars I ever drove didn't have a right side-view mirror and so I am not in the habit of using one (Miss Marjorie has one, but I used it almost exclusively for curb-finding when parallel parking); the only reason I can think of that I wouldn't look behind me would be if I was already in the right lane.



On the other hand, I know myself not only capable but also widely experienced in fabricating face-saving memories. My memory has been known to produce a version of events that is more flattering to myself than the absolute truth. It is quite possible that I was in the left lane, and that when questioned about the event I would have blurted out an untruth that would make my wrong action more forgivable. I was also tired and preoccupied when it happened, and it is quite possible that my mind was just going through a moment of mental abstraction (a brain fart) when I turned, and the logic of my destination and habitual driving practices might simply have been suspended.



What's driving me nuts, though, is that I can't remember. Usually when I have fabricated a memory, once I accept the possibility of having lied to myself I remember the true memory quite clearly. I sat up in bed for over an hour trying to wrest the memory from my subconscious, focusing on the visuals that are the clearest parts of my memory (I have a photographic memory, but I don't always process the photographs very well, and then sometimes have trouble accessing where I filed them). I also prayed and meditated, struggling to accept the possibility that I was in the left lane, and accepting all the ramifications that version of events would carry. But in all the memories I have managed to pin down, it could have gone either way. I simply have no memory of which lane I was in, and the visual memories I do have would support either hypothesis.



In order to get to sleep, I had to come to some sort of conclusion... and so I have decided that I will defer to whatever is in the police reports. I don't know if there were independent witnesses to the event itself, but I'm sure the police evidence (they spent some time measuring distances and trajectories, and must have come to some conclusion on what really happened), and the motorcyclist's version of events would shed some light... if he said I was in the left lane, I will have to accept that as the truth. And if that is the truth, I will have to manfully accept whatever consequences that entails.



I dearly hope that there are no serious consequences... I don't think either the motorcyclist or the motorcycle were materially damaged, and I don't think people are sent to jail for traffic mistakes that do not result in an injury. With my enormous deductible, which is higher than what I think the cost of repairs will be, I doubt that fault will have any effect on my purse, unless there was in fact damage to the motorcycle or its rider. But that question is in the hands of the insurance adjustors, and they will base their decisions on the police reports, and if the police reports could go either way or are in favor of the motorcyclist, there's nothing that my changing my story would accomplish.



The main thing, I guess, is that I just have to wait and see what happens. That's hard to do sometimes, especially when the consequences can be grave. But there's nothing else to do... except perhaps to alter my statement to the police. I'll have to consider that possibility and consult with experts (namely my uncle, you can't believe how convenient it is to have a cop in the family) about the viability of introducing new evidence, especially when it is a doubt rather than a material fact, into a police report. And continue to pray and meditate on the subject.



In other news, I lost five pounds this week! I've certainly been enjoying my daily gym visits, I wake up in the morning feeling more energetic and alive, and I'm sleeping better (except when trying to remember something I may or may not want to remember). Of course I did indulge in a lot of starches yesterday, I needed the comfort of unremunerative carbohydrates to see me through (a bag of M&Ms when I was trying to figure out my insurance papers, then a grilled-cheese sandwich and corn chowder for lunch, and finally a fairly starchy Grandmother-produced dinner)... but then I worked extra hard on the treadmill and bicycle so hopefully it will even out.



So anyway, wish me luck and love, as I do for you.



Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Ouch!

My Year of Firsts has gone a bit too far this time... not content with sending me my first credit card and my first new car, Fate has decided that it was time for my first ever auto accident. I would prefer that this First had come before the first new car, as Miss Marjorie and my other previous vehicles would not have been much diminished by taking a motorcycle in the side. Miss Jane, on the other hand, is marred. Her beautiful newness has been horribly maimed! Sob!



So I was driving home from dropping off Miss Lorraine Dubonnet after our Musical rehearsal, making my way up Church Street to Market. I wanted to turn right onto Market but there was someone driving right next to me in the right lane... when I sped up to get in front of her, she also sped up; when I slowed down to get behind her, she slowed down until the car behind her was then blocking me. I don't think she was doing it on purpose, it was Just One of Those Things. So I just went straight up Church Street, thinking I could turn around up there somewhere and get back onto Market. After crossing Market and finding myself in the right lane, I suddenly decided that the best route would be to turn into the Safeway parking lot and come back out onto Church Street and then left onto Market.



And then CRUNCH! I slammed right into a motorcycle that was in my right-side blind spot. If I had thought in advance to turn into the Safeway parking lot and signaled, he might have stayed behind me; if I had looked over my shoulder before turning, I would have seen him. But as it was, my decision was sudden, I didn't think of using my turn-signals because I didn't see anyone behind me to signal at, and I really had no real expectation of a moving object being on my right when I was already in the right lane. I don't know what the motorcyclist's version of events was; when the police got there, they kept us separate when taking our statements.



I immediately got out of the car to see if the motorcyclist was okay, and was of course joined by several other people. It turns out that the motorcyclist was just leaving an AA meeting... some of the people who stopped to check on him were people I also know from the program. He was not badly hurt, or at least had not sustained an emergency-room injury in the opinion of the firemen and EMTs who eventually turned up, which was a relief... aside from the hideous guilt I would feel over hurting a fellow person to that extent, I wasn't sure my temporary binder insurance covers injuring other people when making sudden right-hand turns without using the turn-signal. His motorcycle didn't appear to have sustained any damage, either.



Miss Jane, on the other hand, took it hard. Her right-hand mirror is dangling on a cord, her front bumper is hanging half-off, her right front hubcap is shattered, and there's a huge nasty scratched dent in her front right fender from the wheel-well half-way across the front door. It absolutely hurts my heart to think of her in this state.



So tomorrow I have to call the insurance company that holds the binder insurance and find out what I have to do to get her fixed. I shudder to think what my deductible will be. I can stick the mirror and the bumper back on with duct tape for the time being, I think, but that won't hold for long, and the dent in the door makes a whistling noise. Perhaps later tonight I can have a good cry about it.



A large part of me simply can't believe this happened. It just doesn't compute. These things simply don't happen to me.



Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Ingrate!

A couple of weeks ago, Susan of Easy Bake Coven posted a quick list of things for which she was grateful; ever since then, I have been thinking about doing one myself. Gratitude Lists are a regular part of recovery, they keep you focused on the positive things in your life instead of the negative. They also give you something to look at and remind yourself, in the "Count Your Blessings" manner, that your life isn't as bad as you sometimes like to think it is.



On the other hand, Gratitude Lists really take the gas out of bitching and moaning about one's minor inconveniences as if they were cataclysmic tragedies worthy of an entire Wagner cycle. Since feeling sorry for myself is one of those things that my sick little mind clings onto, I feel a certain amount of resistance to getting too elaborate or thorough in my gratitude.



I have noticed, through reading my previous posts and emails I've sent to people, as well as remembering conversations I've had lately, that I have not been in what one could describe as a "fit spiritual condition." I have been angry and frustrated and listless. I have avoided writing, avoided phone calls, avoided doing things that I want to do and/or have to do, using the excuse that I'm so terribly busy with work and events and whatnot. The Committee is yelling its heads off inside my brain, keeping me awake as I number my worries and worry my fears, late into the night. I have not prayed or meditated; I have conducted myself as if I did not believe that there is a God and that this God would help me if I asked; in my darker moments, I even wondered if there really is a God at all.



As you can imagine, that sort of thing simply won't do. These are the first steps towards relapse, or at the very least a "dry drunk." And so I have been making conscious changes to get back into my program. I have been eating better, exercising at the gym, and getting my things in order at work and at home. Through daily prayer and meditation, I have told each voice in The Committee where to get off and where to shove his contradictory and seditious opinions. I have returned to conducting myself in accordance with the guidance of a power greater than my own will. And I am happier and calmer for it, wallowing in serenity.



And so, since you can never have too much serenity, I am going to write a Gratitude List, and post it here for your delectation and edification (and for my own future reference).



But not today. It's taken me since ten this morning just to write this much. Today I have spent all of my time and a good many brain-cells writing large picket signs for our members to carry to a board meeting tonight. Aside from having to come up with compelling arguments for the district to not discontinue the Blue Cross PPO, and then coming up with ways to keep those arguments under ten words and fitting them on 24"x36" placards, but I've also had to sniff permanent-marker ink in a not-very-well-ventilated room while I'm doing it. And now I have to go change into my really cute gym outfit and schlepp over to Gold's for my hour of cardio between five and six (perhaps while talking to my sponsor on my cell-phone), then I have to go to the grocery store for supplies, then eat my dinner, then go to my AA meeting, then go to fellowship after the meeting... if I have time after all that, I will write a Gratitude List.



In the meantime, we will merely resort to enjoying the steamy flesh of pulchritudinous young men via the photography of Mr Bruce Weber (by way of the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog... sharp-eyed hunkwatchers will find Ashton Kutcher and Tom Welling secreted somewhere in this one):



Thursday, June 5, 2003

It Could Happen to You

So I finally accepted one of the invitations I've received to join Friendster. I refrained from inviting five more people to join, thinking it rather importunate and not at all my style to invite people to something I don't know anything about (you are asked to invite five friends right after you sign up and before you do anything else); however if you are already a Friendster yourself, it would be super if you'd add me to your friends list (if all else fails, you can find me through my email address, diva@mannersism.net). So far I have three friends, one in Confirmation limbo, and several more people I know who I shall ask to add to my list. I have no expectations of being popular, but it seems like a nice way to meet people and to keep in touch with friends (something I always find challenging).



I had loads of fun writing my profile, but then talking about myself is one of my hobbies. I have enjoyed browsing around in the thirty-seven-some-odd-thousand profiles contained in my "Personal Network," though the search-results are so baffling in their numbers that I haven't really explored very far. I'm also trying to think of nice things to say about people, so I can contribute to the Testimonials (which sounded terribly gauche when I first heard about them, but which strike me as terribly amusing and informative now... it's one thing to read what people have to say about themselves, but it's something altogether different and interesting to see what other people say about them).



In other news, I also bought my first-ever PDA this week. It's a Palm IIIxe, which I bought brand-new for super-cheap on eBay. I don't really know how it works, yet, though. I spent an hour or so last night playing with the "Graffitti" feature, practicing writing letters and keyboard-functions in the little box with the little stylus. I have to download the Desktop Hot-Synch program in order to do any major programming, and I guess I'll do that tonight when I get home. I don't expect that this will suddenly make me very organized and efficient, but it does seem like a good way to keep a calendar and address-book and stuff like that without lugging a big old book around with me.



The main reason I bought it is because it was so cheap, and because it must be useful and easy because my Daddy has one. He asked me to order it for him a month or two ago, since he doesn't have an eBay account or a credit card for online purchasing; when I saw how inexpensive they were ($60), I thought of getting one for myself at the same time, but I wasn't sure I'd have any use for it... I figured I could always get one later if I wanted one. Well, he got his and used it and really enjoyed it... until he dropped it in the toilet and destroyed it (I did not ask what he was doing with his PDA over the toilet — I really don't think I want to know). He asked me to order him another one, as he has become completely dependent on it in the last month; while I was at it, I figured I might just as well get one, too.



So now there is another electronic object in my purse for which I never thought I'd have any use... along with my cell-phone and digital camera and car-alarm control. And the multiple computers in my life, for which I never thought I'd have a use until I got one, and then two. And the VCR and the CD-player. And the new car. All sorts of things I didn't even think of wanting, much less needing, until I took a chance and bought it.



A third entry in today's Gallery of New, Caroline and I have our appointment today at the gym to learn about the equipment and facilities. We are also getting a personalized workout plan (free with new membership!), where we will be weighed and rated, where we will express our fitness goals, and where the personal trainer will set up a recommended diet and exercise regimen that will help us attain those goals. I am looking forward to it... I always enjoy talking to energetic, athletic people who seldom comprehend why anyone in their right mind would rather lie down and read a book instead of pushing inert objects all over the place and running around in circles for no good reason.



I am also looking forward to getting started on my gym routine. I know that I am more energetic and healthy when I'm exercising regularly, and that it will be fun to do it with someone whose company I enjoy. I am also looking forward to eventually losing this unsightly flab. And filling my eyes with the passing show. And maybe, one enchanted evening, across a crowded cardio room, my eyes will meet the man of my dreams. It could happen! That's where Zach and Shiloh met, you know (but in the weight room, not the cardio room, because they're Real Men and all).



So all sorts of interesting things are happening in my life, all sorts of novel experiences and technological advances and welcome changes. Now if only I could get over this sneaking suspicion that I'm being assimilated somehow.



Tuesday, June 3, 2003

So What's Your Excuse?

Sorry, darlings, but I just haven't felt like writing lately. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I specifically have felt like not writing... I think about writing something, and every fiber in my being resists. I have time on my hands every now and then, and there are events in my life that I could talk about, thoughts in my head I could elucidate, but I simply do not want to, and want not to.



What I do want to do is shop and eat and masturbate. But I'm out of money for the nonce and should be economizing to make room in my budget for the new car and credit-card debt; I'm trying to cut back on sweets and carbs so that perhaps I can divest myself of this flobber that seems to have taken up permanent residence on my midriff; and while masturbation is free and burns many calories, one only has so much energy and semen to spend... I'm not as young as I once was, children, and now any more than two or three sessions per twenty-four hours gives me a migraine.



I think this lethargy is a combination of debt-anxiety and fear of upcoming changes. The whole credit-card-debt thing bothers me, and the frailty of my beautiful new car wakes me up in the night (I keep dreaming that Miss Jane has gotten hurt somehow). Also, Caroline and I joined a gym together and are going to begin a daily routine of an hour's after-work cardio followed by classes and/or muscle-toning three days a week. Our hope is that if we're both involved, we'll keep each other on track... Caroline out of fear of wasting one penny of her $360 annual fee, myself out of a desire to see someone else suffer as much as I do (if not more). And while I look forward to and am excited by this new routine in my life, I nevertheless feel very edgy about it.



Perhaps after we have our orientation and workout recommendations on Thursday, and start our daily routine, I will get used to the idea. I very much want to lose weight and feel better and be healthier and ogle boys in the gym, but there is still that slothful cake-eater in me that is unhappy about the whole thing... my inner fat-man is very upset.



I am also feeling very edgy about my desire to start dating. If my dieting and exercising does what I intend it to do, i.e. make me more attractive and not physically repellent to myself (and by extension others), there won't be much protecting me from that terrifying outside world of Dating & Romance.



This is one of those places where The Committee (the name I like to give those voices in my head) is bent on sabotage... one committee member points out that I'm really horny and that I should start dating again; another points out that I'm too fat and ugly to get a man within my rather exacting specifications; the third voice starts listing those specifications, in an attempt to discover a combination that might be actually available; the fourth adds ever more unrealistic specifications to insure that the third voice fails in its efforts; the fifth voice starts shouting simply to be heard, without adding to the conversation; the sixth voice bangs his gavel and calls for order, but nobody is listening.



I usually don't pay any attention to The Committee, but sometimes when I'm feeling unsure of myself, they come surging to the forefront of my mind with their impossible and mutually exclusive demands.



Anyway, that's all I have to say today. More than I thought I'd have to say. When I logged into Blogger just now, all I intended to do was tell you I didn't feel like writing and post a nice piece of beefcake, maybe nag you to go visit my friend Cookie Dough at her new weblog, "Creepy Carrie" (which I have just added to my Daily Visits column, as she's been nagging me to do for some weeks now — even though she's still hosted at Tripod, the most pop-up-happy server on the net). But once I get started on a post, I always babble on a bit.



I guess that's the secret to getting anything done... once I get past the initial resistance to doing something, I can usually sail right through it, no sweat. But getting past that initial resistance is a toughie.



Oh, well. Here is supermodel Channing Tatum... and his cock: