Thursday, July 31, 2003

I Didn't Know I Had Muscles There

So on Tuesday, I took my first Pilates class at the gym (pronounced peh-lotties, I've learned, not pye-letts like Pontius Pilate, as I'd originally assumed). Now parts of me hurt that I didn't even know I had.

But after one hour-long training session and a few practices on my own, the results are actually visible... whenever I start crying that my abdomen hurts, I just go to a mirror and note that, except for a little fat under the skin (which I'm hoping my diet will get rid of soon... I am treading water at 205 lbs, I can't seem to get past that), my belly is quite flat.

Now, I know this flatness is because the muscles inside are pulled tight, freaking out from the unaccustomed attention and strain; and that as soon as they heal and relax, the rolling landscape of my torso will roll again. But it's very encouraging when an exercise has immediately visible results... usually you have to wait weeks to get results of any kind.

The whole Pilates thing, for those of you who don't know yet, is to breathe in a certain way (in through the nose, expanding your chest as much as you can; out through the mouth, contracting your abdomen as much as you can; in again without letting go of the abdominal tension; out again tensing it even further) while slowly moving other body parts in small tension-inducing movements which force your chest to expand while your belly contracts, causing the tensors behind the abdominal wall to pull the weight of your legs or arms or torso or whatever is being moved.

Most abdominal exercises, sit-ups and crunches and what-have-you, concentrate on the outer abdominal wall, that portion that makes the classic "six-pack" formation. This can sometimes be counterproductive to slimming the waist, as it can bulk up the abs and obliques, making an even bigger belly than you started with, especially if you're not losing the fat at the same time.

Other parts of the Pilates motion and breathing tightens the laterals and pectorals without forcing the shoulder-to-neck muscles (I'm going to have to build up my muscular vocabulary if I'm going to make a habit of talking about these things) to take the strain that one normally puts on them in such movements; this is supposed to tighten and tone the torso without bulking it up.

When I was working out before (years ago), I got a lot of bulk in places that were distinctly unfeminine, such as my shoulder muscles (the trapezius, I just looked it up) and biceps, which, along with the bulked-up abdominals and pecs, ruined my drag illusion. Although the mass was negligible on my male body, it wreaked havoc on my feminine figure.

The Pilates stuff is very counterintuitive, and it relies a lot on having much looser hamstrings than I have (I haven't been able to touch my toes without bending my knees since I was twelve), and there's balancing and other little difficulties involved. But I'm going to continue this training. Even though it hurt like hell, I felt fabulous after the class was over. And considering how much discomfort I endure for the sake of temporary beautification (heels, corsets, heavy earrings, etc.), I don't think I'm asking my body for too much in the quest for a more permanent improvement.

In the meantime, this evening I'm taking another class, Afro-Cuban Rhythm Movement. It's another one I've watched from the treadmills facing the aerobics room windows; they sometimes have live drummers in that class, and it looks like a lot of fun. I've wanted to try some aerobics that are more dance-like, which should benefit my performance style as well as helping me fit back into those beloved size-fourteens. Here's hoping it's not a lot harder than it looks, like the Pilates was (pick up your leg and move it in little circles? Easy breezy! But not when you're doing the crunch breathing, that adds that extra element of OW-itch).

Well, that's enough blather for one day. I can't quite believe I just wrote a whole post about my abdominal muscles, or that I learned words like trapezius in order to do it. Promise me: if I start spouting off sayings like "feel the burn" or "no pain, no gain," you will promptly slap me silly. Thank you!

(8:30 p.m.) PS: It was a lot harder than it looked. It was even harder than the Pilates. After a half-hour, my heart-rate was running around three hundred and my lungs told me to go fuck myself, so I spent the second half of the class sitting against the wall trying to breathe while sweat poured down my back and my pulse pounded in my temples. It was still a lot of fun, though, I just have to pace myself better and try to learn the steps instead of trying to keep up with the advanced students (damned my performance pride). On the other hand, Afro-Cuban dancing isn't really my style... I wonder if they offer aerobic Ballroom Dance?

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Little Obsessions

I was out in San Francisco on Sunday, and blew my week's allowance for four CDs from Tower Records... which is kind of a shame, since I'd planned to blow it on porn, but I parked near Church Street and so Tower happened to me before Jaguar Books did. Besides, music is the food of the soul, and porn is mere entertainment.

I needn't have worried, though... one of the CDs I bought, which I'd chosen almost solely on account of the cover art (but also because of the playlist and the tempting sale price of $12.99), was so damned sexy that new porn was quite unneccessary... gilding the lily, as it were.

Noiresque: The Lonely Fate of the Femme Fatale by Sandra Lawrence. You must have this album.

Under normal circumstances, when I talk about music I like, I just talk about it and tell you how much I liked it and why... but this time, I am going to tell you to go out right now and buy this album! Musical taste differs from person to person, but this album sets your loins on fire... and I don't know anyone who doesn't like having his or her loins set on fire. Well, maybe my Grandmother, but then she forgot how to have fun thirty years ago (and she thinks Roger Whittaker is one of the world's greatest singers, in company with Jim Nabors and Anne Murray).

Somewhat less groin-stirring, but nevertheless soul-feeding, I also bought Ultimate Broadway 2 (I wanted UB1, as well, but is was a double-CD set and wasn't on sale, damn this strict budget of mine), Anthology: Nina Simone (which is a double-CD set, but was on sale), and Anita O'Day's Finest Hour (I'm trying to expand my knowledge of the genus Jazz Diva).

On other obsessive fronts, my niece brought over The Sims Unleashed, and I've gotten hooked all over again. It's amazing how the advent of little animals adds such depth and dimension to the game. It also has new objects and decorative things and actions and the ability to go shopping, which also add to game-play. So I created a new house and a new character (David Doolittle), and took the character down to the pet store and bought him some goldfish (which just died), some love-birds (which died right afterward, making me wonder if there was some sort of simulated disease in my house), and an adorable little tan-and-white Boston terrier named Ahaseureus (the Latinized version of Achashvairosh, which in turn is the Hebrew version of the Persian conqueror Xerxes, which name is in turn is a Greek version of the Median name... which I discovered while reading the Book of Esther instead of listening to the idiotic mission presentation on Sunday morning... it was a pretty good read, too).

My obsession pales in comparison to that of my niece and my little cousin, who are allowed to use my computer when I'm not here (after I secured all of my files and disabled internet access and made sure nothing "unsuitable" was visible from the computer desk... I don't have to worry about them snooping, they are so enraptured by the game). They can sit for eight hours straight playing this thing — and when they're not playing it, they talk about it. I'm sure when they're not talking about it, they're thinking about it.

So anyway, these are the things that make up my life today. I have to go to work now, and then to the gym, and then to the AA meeting. Next week I'm on vacation, to which I am looking forward greatly. I will have time to deal with all my car issues, maybe get some houswork done, and hopefully rest a bit while I'm about it. Until then, I am just going to do one thing and then the next thing and try not to get my panties in a bunch about anything.

Friday, July 25, 2003

The Beatles Had A Song About It

Help, I need somebody... I can get by with a little help from my friends... there are probably others but I'm not a big Beatles fan so I don't have their ouevre memorized.

So after my little paroxysm of autoflagellation on Wednesday, I felt a lot better. As I've often noted and often pointed out to others, the emotion Shame is best cured by exposure. Guilt is cured by forgiveness (especially forgiving oneself). And inadequacy is often treated by getting help.

When I got to the General Service District meeting, I apologized individually to the new GSRs whose contact information I had failed to forward to the Area registrar, and promised to do so ASAP so they could get their information packets from World Service. Then during my agenda time for Officers' reports I apologized to the group for dropping all my Registrar duties for the month. All (or most) were completely cool about it, not thinking a thing of it, many hadn't even known they were supposed to get something from World Service and so had no expectations, and quite understood that I was tired. We all have these little lapses after all.

The best part is, when I started in to apologize about failing to send out the newsletter in time, someone pointed out that I am supposed to be chairing a committee to do this, not doing it all by myself. I remember talk about a committee when I volunteered to chair, but in my usual I'm a big girl I can do it myself attitude, I didn't really think about it. But after that was brought up, three people volunteered for the committee, and so now I have help.

As I've discussed in this diary on a couple of other occasions, I have a terribly hard time asking for help. I foresee that it is going to be difficult for me, in the future, to ask my committee to do specific things, but perhaps this is just the training I need to get me over my asking-for-help issues.

In another "is it odd or is it God" vignette: I have been struggling about doing some ninth-step writing to my former best friend Kevin (I wrote here about that, too) having difficulty not only setting aside time to do the writing but difficulty considering what I should write. I put him first because he seemed like the most difficult project, and I always like to get the hard part over first.

But just as I was beginning to despair over having both the time and the willingness on the same day (and complaining about it loudly), I received a card from another long-lost friend, Becky. Now, I had fallen out of contact with Becky shortly before falling out with Kevin. Becky went through a family upheaval that seemed far too dramatic (and I don't mean Shakespeare drama, I mean Jerry Springer drama) for me to understand, much less handle; at the same time, she had a falling-out with Kevin (before I did), so I felt that maybe I shouldn't try to stay in contact with her (in fact, now I think about it, I was offended at the time because she had come here for a visit and didn't tell me, she was come and gone before I even heard about it). So I sort of "neglected" to write to her or try very hard to keep in touch with her when she moved from Montana to Florida.

When I was doing my fourth-step writing year before last, where I made a great deal of progress in addressing some of the emotional wreckage I had created while in sobriety (which is often harder to admit to and redress than the wreckage of our drinking days, because we no longer have the excuse of "well, I was drunk"), I addressed my wrongdoing in letting Becky slip into oblivion... or, more specifically, failing in friendship: Becky went through a tough time, and I withdrew from her because of it.

What makes it worse, guilt-wise, is that Becky has attempted to keep in contact with me all this time. She sent me a postcard with her new address when she finally settled down in Florida, and she has sent Christmas cards for the last two years. But by some bizarre twist of weirdness, I could never find her address when I wanted to write to her (because I never transcribed it into some permanent form, like in my computer address-book). Cards would come when I didn't have time to sit down and write a full-length letter (though I most certainly could have jotted off a note, if I'd really wanted to), and then when I did have the time the card would have disappeared (though I'm sure I could have gotten her address from Fred if I'd really wanted to pursue it... you remember Fred don't you?) and I would then forget all about it again.

Well, anyway, I've been a little worried about this, because I owe Becky an amends and I still couldn't find her address. And then Wednesday night when I got home from the General Service meeting, lo and behold there was a letter from Becky sitting at my place! She was worried about Fred, hadn't heard from him since he went to Iraq (he's in the Marine Reserve), and wanted to communicate and condole with someone who might also be worried about him (fortunately, I can set her mind at ease, since Fred managed to contact me during his brief leave between being sent home from Iraq with a broken finger and being assigned to other active duty stateside).

So this weekend, my main task is to write to Becky... filling her in on what I know about Fred, catching her up on all my doings, and apologizing for failing in friendship all those years ago and continuously since then, offering to do anything in my power to make up for that failure.

I was telling my sponsor about all this when I finally picked up the phone and called her yesterday (and after I apologized for not calling on Tuesday when I was supposed to, she told me she'd been out of town anyway and wouldn't have gotten the call), she became very excited about the timing of this letter. Since the amends I owe to Becky is very similar to the amends I owe Kevin, but not as difficult to get through because my relationship with Becky wasn't anywhere near as complicated and because Becky made the first overture of communication, this would be a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone... having gotten Becky off my mind, I will be able to concentrate better on Kevin and will also have already had some practice in writing such a letter.

So anyway... I think I've written enough parantheses for one day. Thanks, my wellwishers, for your words of encouragement... your support helped a lot. I can get by with a little help from my friends (and speaking of which, does anyone know of a good auto-donation program? The company used by the Alzheimer's Association wouldn't take Miss Marjorie).

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Weight of Failure

I'm feeling kind of low just now... I have been falling behind in things, largely out of having been too busy, but there are these feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and even shame, attached to each activity or committment I let slip. These negative feelings build up as I let go of more things, and each feeling carries its own weight, its own degree of inertia... to such an extent that I find it even harder to pick up the things I've dropped — I feel a heaviness in my heart that makes activity so much harder to initiate, and so the dropped things stay dropped and the heavy feeling intensifies slowly and it all gets worserer and worserer.

Last week I failed to send out the newsletter for my General Service District; all throughout the month I have failed to update my District's registry changes; now I am more than tempted to resign from my General Service committments... I am even tempted to simply not show up at the District meeting tonight. I'm not going to do that, of course, but the weight of shame I feel right now about showing up tonight and apologizing for my failure is making me absolutely squirm with discomfort.

On a similar note, I failed last night to call my sponsor at my appointed time — now, part of this is because there were people in the office when it was time to call, and my cell-phone was dead so I couldn't call from the car, and when I got home I was drawn into dinner preparations and then I had my homegroup meeting; and while these were all perfectly good reasons, the real reason I avoided making that call is because I haven't written one word of the ninth-step letter that I am supposed to be engaged in writing and I didn't want to have to tell her again, for the umpteenth time, that I haven't started it yet.

I have failed so far to either file an accident report at the DMV or get an estimate on Miss Jane's repairs to the insurance company; plus I have yet to wash the poor thing in all the time I've had her and she's parked outside and is now encrusted with an inch of smoggy, buggy, crape-myrtle-polleny shmutz. And now I'm supposed to get her oil changed, as I've driven three thousand miles since purchase. And still wallowing in the auto zone, I have to get Miss Marjorie cleaned out before the charity towtruck comes and takes her away on Friday for a new life in the service of others (though I fear her rebirth will be more like "Capricorn" in Logan's Run, but I just can't think about that).

While I have managed to sort of stick to my diet (with the notable exception of my large chocolate-dipped waffle cone from Coldstone Creamery for lunch on Saturday), I haven't been to the gym since last Thursday. My excuse? I keep forgetting to bring my gym-clothes with me, and I just know if I had to go home and change I wouldn't leave again to go to the gym — and with my new budget I can't just buy a pair of shorts and a t-shirt at the gym shop.

I won't even get into too much detail about the office work I'm behind on... the database needs updating, I haven't fully updated the National database in over a year, my filing "system" grows worse every day, the mail is behindhand, I haven't even finished typing up Friday's meeting notes and now need to start yesterday's meeting notes as well as the minutes from May and a couple of other pending projects. These are all things that nobody would notice except myself (aside from the notes), so I can slide and skate indefinitely... but even when I get away with not doing it, I feel the guilty onus of having not done it.

All this and much, much more! Emails to write, nail appointments to change, laundry to wash, shelves to dust, the list goes on and on. And the further behind I fall, the worse I feel about it; and the worse I feel about it, the futher behind I fall. It's a nasty, vicious, stupid circle.

The cure, of course, is to do the things and get caught up with the committments, and to do that I have to somehow rid myself of these onerous Feelings. "Prayer and meditation" you say? What a novel idea! Why didn't I think of that?

The other thing I have to do, what I have to pray for and meditate on, is to learn to forgive myself for my failures. That is, I think, a bit harder. No matter how much I tell myself that I don't expect perfection, I still do... well, maybe not "perfection," but at least consistent unfailing competence. I think it's natural for people who grew up feeling unvalued and unwanted to have this need to excel and be perfect, to be dependable and depended upon. And so I commit myself to things, one after the other, until they're all too much for me. And then I fall apart. And then... and then... I don't know what then.

I always do muddle through one way or another, don't I? Why am I getting my panties in a wad? It's all so illogical. But then, feelings and logic are pretty much mutually exclusive, aren't they?

So I guess I'd better get started catching up on my work, one thing at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time. Today, I must finish my meeting notes and must type up and copy out the agenda for the District meeting tonight. That's enough to be getting on with.

Thanks for listening to me babble and rant. You're super!

Monday, July 21, 2003

I Have Something to Tell You All...

...but damned if I can spit it out! I don't know what's wrong with me the last few days, but the very idea of sitting down and typing fills me with a nameless dread. I have emails I want to respond to, I have thoughts I want to record, I have all sorts of things that I could and should and want be writing; and yet I don't seem to want to.

I seem, instead, to be existing in a state of restless lethargy. I can't settle down and I don't want to get up. Part of this is, I think, a reaction to the upset of our home routine, what with the painters and all; another part may be that I know that I have to do some ninth-step writing that is going to be painful and difficult and searching, and while I want to get it done with, I nevertheless resist starting it; and finally, I am simply tired... after weeks of doing too much, I can't seem to get back to my regular schedule of doing very little and enjoying it. I have been having difficulty sleeping at night, too (which I think has more to do with the paint fumes than anything else, though the unaccustomed heat has no doubt contributed).

Well, today I am going to do a lot of writing, whether I want to or not. I have some notes to type up from a negotiations meeting on Friday, and I would like to get those done as soon as possible (especially since my boss gave me the rest of Friday off after that meeting as a reward for having to go to something so distateful, two hours earlier than I usually start); I also figure that, while I'm doing it I might as well continue on and write up the minutes from the last executive body meeting back in late May (I wasn't at the meeting, so I will be working from a recording rather than from notes, something I have been avoiding). And if there is still time left, I will get started drafting a letter to a friend to whom I have not spoken in over four years.

Once I get all that off my mind, I can perhaps resume my ability to write endlessly about silly little things that I notice around me. But in the meantime, I leave you with a lovely little image:

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

God Give Me Strength

... unless, of course, God chooses to give me a big buttload of money, and then I wouldn't need the strength. But as far as I can discern, God does not concern Himself with such prosaic stupidities as money (or preventing people from death and illness or the will of others). But He does give us strength to get through budget crises without flipping out, so that's what I'm praying for.

As I detailed in the previous post, my finances have gotten into a bit of a tangle. I've had to borrow money from Grandmother and have been scraping by this week on tips from the last drag show, something I haven't had to do in a long time... I was even considering taking that big jar of change off my dresser down to a Coinstar machine and cashing it in just so I could get my nails done. I've considered peddling some of my less-favored jewels (as well as maybe some unloved CDs and forgotten objets d'art) at eBay, whence they often came, in order to raise a bit of scratch for getting Miss Jane's scratches fixed up.

This is simply The Panic talking... and fortunately, God has so far granted me enough strength to not act on The Panic and do anything I might regret. I know that there's no need to panic, that I have enough to make it to payday, at which time I can distribute the infusion of direct-deposited funds among my en crise accounts. No need to start bailing, there isn't any water in the boat.

Instead, I did something almost unheard of in my life of frivolity and flutter: I sat down and made out a Budget — I opened Excel, put my minimum monthly income at the top, wrote my regular monthly bills under it, and then inserted such prudent mundanities as paying down my credit card to zero balance in six months and building up my savings account in case of medical or dental emergencies.

This almost led to another Panic, since the amount left over at the end was a paltry $300 a month for discretionary spending on such unnecessaries as clothes, jewelry, gasoline, porn, lunching and dining out, movies, books, magazines, and makeup. I usually spend about three or four times that amount, according to my Income/Expense reports in Quicken. But still, I have to remember that three hundred dollars is still a tidy sum of money, and if I'm careful it should be enough. I just have to curb a few of my less thrifty habits.

Such as, when I run out of clean underwear, I can't just go buy some more. Like when I suddenly can't stand the outfit I'm wearing, I can't stop at the nearest Gap and buy a new outfit on my way to wherever I am going. Like no more buying everything Suzanne Somers ever made that fits me and I don't already own. No more buying things when I'm a little depressed and need a lift. No more buying things just because they're there.

I am also going to have to endure economies that require efforts on my part, besides just resisting temptation: bringing food to the office from home instead of buying my lunch and snacks every day; bringing bottled water from home, and/or refilling them from the tap, instead of plunking down $2 every time I go to the gym; looking for unmetered free parking whenever I can, and not going any farther than necessary to get there, avoiding going places across toll-bridges, and not taking trips to places where I am liable to succumb to temptation and spend money.

When I look at it that way, it's nearly unbearable. PANIC PANIC PANIC!!! But it's just for six months, just until I get my credit-card paid down. And there is always the possibility of changing it later on, if it proves too difficult: I based my budget on minimum monthly income rather than average, and there are months that have three paydays in them; I can take longer to pay down my credit-card if necessary; and I can maybe sell some of my stuff if need be.

The nub of it all is, I think, adult prudence. And there's something about becoming a prudent adult instead of a frivolous child that terrifies me. It's seems so much like getting old.

On the other hand, I'm trying to look at my budget strictures the same way I look at my diet: I have a specific goal I want to achieve, and I know what pleasures I must sacrifice in order to gain that goal. Just as I want to have a healthy and attractive body, and therefore must become mindful and prudent about what I eat and diligent about exercise, if I want to have good credit and minimal debt I have to become mindful and prudent about my spending and diligent about my saving.

Still, God (or anybody else who is able), if you see fit to drop a load of cash into my bank account, I would be entirely grateful. Surprised, certainly, but grateful. I mean, I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn how to handle money wisely, but I would also be grateful to forgo that lesson entirely. Either way. I leave it to You.

In the meantime, I will be over here in the corner pondering whether or not my manicure maintenance is important enough to become a line-item on the budget.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Life is Just a Bowl of Chaos

We have painters at home. They're very polite, they seem to work quickly and thoroughly, and they came highly recommended by our neighbors. They're not hot, which I think a shame, but we never do seem to get hot men working on our house... not that it matters, since I'm not home to watch them, what with having to go to work and all.

At any rate, no matter how polite and thorough, painters equal chaos. On Friday, they came by and moved everything away from the house (like the plants on the porch and the garbage cans and all that), scraped all the wood and power-hosed the walls, and left notes as to what would need to be moved during the rest of the job. Today they came and started spackling the cracks, and decided that they need to have more room in the driveway in order to reach the front windows... ergo, I had to move Miss Marjorie.

This is easier said than done, of course... mid-80s Volvo sedans are rather weighty objects, and without a working engine it wasn't going anywhere. But I had the three painters to help me, so I figured we could push her out into the street, and beside the curb in front of the house.

Well, we got her out into the street, with a great deal of effort, but she wasn't going to go uphill, no matter what. We tried pushing with the painting van, but the bumper was too high; we tried pushing with one of the painters' cars, but it didn't have enough power and just burned rubber. So we simply abandoned Miss Marjorie there in the street. She's less than eighteen inches from the curb, and isn't obstructing traffic, but she's facing the wrong way and blocking the driveway (both of which are techincally illegal), so she simply can't stay there.

On the plus side, though, this tenuous situation got me off my keister about donating Miss Marjorie to a worthy cause. I decided on the Alzheimer's Association after a certain amount of struggle over my approval of the Salvation Army's work in rehabilitating alcoholics and addicts and my disapproval of their Christian mission. And there are all sorts of other organizations that could benefit from my car, but I didn't have a lot of time to do the research... or rather, I did have a lot of time, but didn't use it well, and the time ran out.

I also assign my California tax refund (when I get one) to the Alzheimer's Association. That particular disease has occurred frequently in my family, and though I don't know whether it's hereditary or not, it is a major concern of mine. I only hope that they are looking into other avenues besides stem cells as a treatment for Alzheimer's. I have a strong dislike of using human tissue of any kind in this manner, even tissue that is otherwise going to be thrown away.

I remember doing my first-ever college research paper on the topic of tissue and organ transplantation, and I had never really thought about it before then... I even signed an organ-donor card with my first California ID. But after doing that research, I found it difficult to stomach as an idea... the practical purposes are of course unquestionably good, but the moral questions it raises make me very uncomfortable. I am still an organ donor, they can have whatever's left that I haven't ruined before I'm cremated, but I feel this niggling disapproval of using tissue from a dead person to keep another person alive. I would not consent to having an organ or tissue transplanted into myself under any circumstances... I don't think I could even be comfortable about transfused blood.

Or maybe I would, if Death were really staring me in the face. It's easy to be brave or squeamish and take the moral high ground when you're perfectly healthy.

Speaking of chaos... I start talking about moving my old car, and then get started talking about organ and tissue recycling. In the meantime I also had to go look up the word keister to make sure I'd spelled it right (I hadn't), made a number of phone calls to the answering machines of our executive body, ate my lunch (chicken salad, no dressing), had confusing conversations with several other people on the phone, and less-confusing coversations with Caroline and Shiloh, and discussed the week's itinerary with the Boss; I have also discovered that it is very hot outside, which simply isn't fair since the Bay Area has already had its four days of heat.

That's the way my mind is working today. It's just a big old allergenic hodgepodge of miscellaneous trivia.

Speaking of miscellaneous hodgepodges, I finally gave in to The Krisy Kreme Temptation yesterday. For the last week I have been weathering Krispy Kreme temptations... driving past the San Francisco store one afternoon, that divinely sinful smell wafting across the street into my open windows (but there was nowhere to pull over), and then someone very generously donated twelve large assorted boxes to the Conference and they were laid out in the Mezzanine lounge just as I was leaving my workshop, and it took every ounce of willpower I had not to eat one (or ten), and then someone brought one of those boxes right into the dressing room while I was getting ready for the final performance of the Musical, and then someone brought a box to my AA meeting on Tuesday. I passed all of these tests, though it cost an eviscerating pang of longing and an internal struggle of gargantuan proportions.

Anyway, at the Musical cast party yesterday, there was another box of Krispy Kremes sitting there, and I crumbled. The way I figured it, I had to eat a piece of the (incredibly sweet) show-logo cake, it's just traditional; and I also had to taste the cookies that Erik made (because I have a crush on him), and the pasta salad Roxy made (because it would be rude not to), and the latkes with sour cream and apricot sauce that Deena brought (because... well, just because I love latkes with sour cream and apricot sauce) — and so, after all that starch and sugar aready destroying my diet, there was really no reason not to slide a Krispy Kreme onto my plate. So I chose one that looked like a flying saucer, bit into it, and discovered that it was filled with whipped cream. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Of course, when I was laying awake at one-thirty this morning, unspeakably exhausted but still flying on all that sugar, I thought I'd died and gone to hell.

So anyway, today after work and gym, I have to go home and clean out Miss Marjorie, have dinner with Shiloh, and keep on cleaning my room. The painters won't need to get into my room until Wednesday, but I won't have time tomorrow to do much. I am not going to make as much room for them as I did for the window men (you remember), as all they need to do is paint the window frames rather than completely rebuild them. They could, in all practicality, simply paint the windows from the outside, and needn't come into my room at all... the only real reason I even care about moving the bed away from the window is because I don't want them to get paint on it.

Besides, I need to have a clean room someday soon. I can't live this disorganized life any more. It's too tiring. I have so many things to do all the time, and I can't keep track of them. Perhaps it's just a silly superstition, but I sometimes feel that if I could only get one part of my life organized, the other parts would become organized in a process of momentum... that a tidy room is contagious and will result in a tidy life, the way that a messy room is contagious and can make the rest of life messy.

And let me tell you, honey, my life is even messier than my room right now. For example, I have let my finances get into a terrible mess... so bad that I had to borrow money from Grandmother today so that my electronically debited student loan payment wouldn't bounce. I might have made it if I hadn't paid $36 last Wednesday for Elizabeth Taylor's My Love Affair With Jewelry at Barnes & Noble for 60% off (totally worth it, it's such a fabulous book, but the timing is wrong). I have tips from Saturday's drag show to cover my incidental expenses, like lunch and bridge-tolls, until I get paid on Thursday, but my gas tank is almost empty and I can't even use my credit card because I forgot to make the minimum payment last month and so it's been frozen (besides which, true to my worst fears, I have almost maxed it out after three months of having the damned thing). Oy!

And then, there's the matter of my new car, whose repair-job hasn't even gotten to the appraisal stage yet because I haven't had time to get to the auto-body shop. And even when I do get to that stage, I won't be able to afford to have them get started on just the most necessary repair (getting the right sideview mirror replaced or fixed so it doesn't have to be held on with duct tape, as it is now) for a while, since I have to pay down my credit card as soon as I can before the interest starts accruing.

And then there's the issue of my nails... I broke my right index nail on Saturday, it looks perfectly ghastly; I was supposed to go in last week to get a fill and shaping, which would have prevented the breakage, but I was just so busy and tired last week... and now I can't afford to get it repaired until after Thursday.

And then, and then, and then... I'm broke and indebted and tired and allergy-ravaged and horny and frustrated and the whole thing is just such a big old chaotic mess.

Oh, well... at least it gives me something to write about.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Think Pink

I saw Legally Blonde 2; Red, White, and Blonde last night with JB and Caroline, and enjoyed it immensely. It was so cute, so frivolous, so fantastical. The costumes! The little unexpected jokes! The immeasurable good cheer! The cute boys and that adorable little dog! Granted, it required a suspension of disbelief on a rather grand scale, but that's precisely what fantasy is about. Once you try to force any sort of sensible reality onto it, it loses its specialness.

Most of the critics whose reviews I read seemed to think that there was supposed to be some sort of logical progression, politically correct and/or darkly sly humor, perhaps a lesson in politics or social redemption... I think those critics need to conduct the Snap Cup Ceremony (film reference... you have to see it) and stop taking themselves and the world so seriously.

The truth is, the movie (and its predecessor) is a monument to frivolity, fun, and feistiness. It's like a Disney Channel movie with a PG-13 rating and a high-end production budget. It's no more pointless a fantasy than any given Jimmy Stewart film, if you come down to it, where the underdog always wins simply because he's honest and good. It's no more unbelievable than any action-adventure or science-fiction flick, which defy logic and reason and probability on just as grand of a scale.

Furthermore, inside all the silly fun, there is a socially redeeming message encrypted... a rather good message, too: that cynicism dies under its own weight; that The Game is played merely because people continue consenting to play it; and working against people you don't agree with is harder and ultimately less efficacious than working for something you believe in. The message was the power of positivity, I think, not just positive thinking, which tends to be self-centered, but positive movement as opposed to negative obstruction; and that everything works better with a little sugar on it... scented poo-bags, feather-headed pens, pink paper, and adorable shoes can, if properly utilized, cure the ills of the world.

On an almost completely unrelated note, I also just finished reading Scott Heim's Mysterious Skin, and am not sure whether I enjoyed it or not. It was beautifully written - I absolutely delighted in the exquisite choices of words, the lyrical cadence, the quite elegant imagery. But like Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which was also exquisitely written, it left me with this feeling of grim desolation at the end. I'm not sure what it is or why it is, but I feel this sense of vague dissatisfaction now that it's done.

That leaves me bookless again for the time being. I guess I need to stop off at the bookstore and pick something up. Oh, no, wait... I do have the latest installment of Stephanie Barron's "Jane Austen Mysteries," which is a series I have enjoyed since they started with Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor. I also have some classics gathering dust on the shelf... and several newer things in various bags that are secreted somewhere under my mess. But after that I'll need a new book. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Singing in Front of People

I had an amazing weekend... so many firsts, so much fun, I haven't quite processed it all yet. The Musical went swimmingly, the second performance better than the first of course; I did my workshop (on Recovering From Ego... as if I knew anything about that) and it went well, too; I didn't meet very many new people but was surrounded at all times by people I already know, who seem to number in the hundreds now; I laughed, I cried, I developed new crushes and deepened old ones, and I looked fabulous (but neglected to bring my camera with, so you'll have to take my word for it until everyone else gets their film developed, shares prints with me, and I scan them into the computer... anticipation is good for you).

And I sang karaoke. Badly.

I've always wanted to sing karaoke, but never had the nerve. Not even when I was drunk. I have this perfectly natural fear of making a fool of myself, but will go to quite unnatural lengths to not make a fool of myself. I have been suffocating under the weight of my own dignity for years. Yet I know that when I am able to shed that dignity and be silly, or be brave, or do something potentially foolish-looking, I have enjoyed myself and grown from the experience. But it's so hard for me to take that first step over the threshold.

I think doing the Musical has broken down a certain barrier in my psyche... for although I appeared in full-armor drag during the performance, and in a different and more fabulous drag when I sang karaoke, there were times during the rehearsals process when my dignity was hung out to dry without the protection of drag. Like the day we had our first dress rehearsal, and I didn't know it was going to be a dress rehearsal, and so appeared before our test audience in a wig and a dress and a pair of gym socks, no foundation garments or makeup or stockings or jewels — I have nightmares like that sometimes, performing in drag but with my hairy legs all over the place or a beard coming through a hasty attempt at makeup.

The Musical also gave me a bit of experience singing in public. I know now that my voice isn't as bad as I'd thought, it just needs training. Lots of training. But more importantly, it drove home the idea that if all the birds who didn't sing best never sang, the forests would be awfully quiet... it's not how well you sing, it's how much you enjoy singing that's important (unless of course you are getting paid for it, in which case you'd better sing right)... and in karaoke it's not so important that you enjoy your singing as much as for the audience to enjoy it. And so if you can't sing well, you just have to wing it and do what you can to entertain the people. Like the very hot young man who sang a Britney Spears song with the voice of a dying ocelot, but who was so sexy and funny about it that he was absolutely irresistable.

I sang "South of the Border," by the way, since it's one of my favorite songs to sing in the car. Unfortunately, the karaoke machine played the Frank Sinatra version, and I always sing the Keely Smith version (which is based on the Sinatra version, of course, since the album is Keely Sings Sinatra and therefore I thought it would be the same... but there are subtle differences). And when the screen went completely blank, as there is a nonvocal interlude in the Sinatra version that isn't in the Smith version and for which I wasn't prepared, I appealed to the audience for advice... they yelled "DANCE," and so I shimmied my feather boa and shook my cotton titties and kicked my exquisite new strappy pumps as high as I could, with abandon and gusto. Between going off key every three bars and the impromptu cooch-dance, I essentially made a total ass of myself, but the crowd loved it, and it was so liberating.

There was another moment in the Conference weekend for which I am immensely grateful to the Musical. On Friday night, for our first performance, I actually felt nervous! Not afraid that I wouldn't do well, not uncomfortable about remembering my words or directions, just plain old jittery, a fibrillating thrill of uncertainty clutching my chest and throat. I haven't felt that way in years! And I felt alive.

And then there was the moment in the finale number of the second and final performance in which I suddenly realized, as I hit my notes and flailed my arms as instructed, that I was doing it right and I was fabulous... "here I am singing in front of people and I don't suck!" If it were a movie, the violins would swell and angelic voices would descend from above, while the camera closed in on my ecstatic (and heavily painted) face.

I'm still flying high, emotionally, from the whole weekend. I was a little worried that there would be a crash once I realized that this project around which I have rearranged my entire life is now over with, that there are no more rehearsals or performances or anything, and that I never ever have to sing "Can't Stop Recover-eeeeeeeeeeee" and hold that damned E vowel for fifteen beats, and that I won't be seeing any of my new friends this week, or even next week. But the joy of the project and the serenity gained from the meetings and workshops and fellowship of the conference are keeping my spirits up, and the relief of having my life back is counterbalancing my missing people.

So now that I'm not rehearsing or obsessing, I have started back to the gym (though I haven't gone back to the diet yet... all in good time, though), and hopefully I won't be going so long between posts here. I have to do some step-work writing, which will take some time and effort, but I often like to post that here. And then of course there's still work to do at the office — I mean, I started writing all this yesterday and was interrupted by my boss asking me to send off letters of various descriptions to a variety of people... of all the nerve, like I was his secretary or something.

I hope your day is super... and that if you make an ass of yourself, you'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Not a Well Woman

Sorry for the silence, kids, but that cold is still lingering. Imagine what it was like when I had the cold during that goddamned heat wave. I just can't handle heat, it makes me weak and pissy and uncomfortable. And then the heat-wave stimulated my allergies, so I had a head-cold and sinusitis at the same time, all while sweating and weaving and dying from the heat. To top it all off, the cold and heat and sinuses conspired to give me migraines, which are my least favorite things in the world. I hate migraines more than I hate Madonna and the Republican Party put together.

All this would be bad enough during my regular life, but now while I am so busy it has been pure torture. Not as busy as I could have been, of course; for example, I had to give up the gym for the time being — I learned, at rather an awkward moment, that with the cold/heat/allergy triumvirate in action, getting my heart-rate up instantly resulted in a mind-shattering migraine episode... and so not only is exercising out of the question, and not only do I have to move slowly and pretend that my head is made of spun glass, but I can't even masturbate... might as well just kill me now.

Still, the other events of my life continued unabated, exacerbated by the horrible heat... the endlessly tiring GSR meeting on Wednesday; an absolutely torturous Musical rehearsal on Thursday at which I spent a good deal of time lying on the floor and gasping in between bouts of singing and dancing; on Friday I called in sick and spent the day in bed sweating and moaning and finishing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (I didn't care much for it... it wasn't as engaging and entertaining as previous installments, though it was certainly suspenseful and imaginitive and furthered the plot a good deal), but then went to Le Bateau Ivre for Shiloh's birthday that evening; then a family reunion on Saturday, the Chinese part of my family, few of whom I know and none of whom were worth getting out of bed for (but then, I would consider anybody less thrilling than, say, the entire cast of Frisky Summer 4, would not be worth getting out of bed when one has a cold, heat prostration, and allergies).

Fortunately, on Sunday, the heat-wave broke... and though it was sunny and lovely out for the whole Pride thing, it wasn't killingly hot. I didn't go to the parade, I had to take Grandmother to church and I had a rehearsal at 1:30, but I did walk through the festival on my way to the Living Sober Sobrie-T Dance at the War Memorial, which was a lot of fun and not as tiring as rehearsals since I didn't dance or sing (though I got to watch others dance, always a pleasant pastime, and spent a lot of quality time talking with some favorite friends and a particular favorite crush).

Then yesterday was our first and only full dress rehearsal, with makeup... not only putting on my own makeup in an entirely different manner than usual (I am trying to appear as "Marla the Drag Waitress" instead of as the well known glamoureuse Marlénè Manners, so went for a kind of Asian Mod look with black eyeshadow and China-doll lips and rouge), but also painting my fellow waitress Madge and giving a hand to the third, Midge, who was being painted by Cookie Dough (who is supposed to be our manageress). The dress rehearsal itself was okay, we ran through it fairly well considering that we were in our most cramped venue and kept knocking into each other, both onstage and backstage. It was a good thing we had it, though, since a lot of issues arose around costumes that we can now resolve.

Anyway, the carousel of activities is going to continue for the next week, and all I want to do is lay down and sleep. But tonight is our first blocking rehearsal, finally running through the whole thing on the stage we'll actually be using; there will probably be another last-minute rehearsal on Wednesday, and then our first and only tech rehearsal with sound and lights and whatnot on Thursday.

Also during this time, my boss expects me to turn out an entire newsletter and mail it to all thousand faculty members (yeah, that'll happen), on top of the usual letter-writing and phone-answering I do here. There will, no doubt, be errands to run for the household, as well. And driving from one spot to another in traffic.

Then comes Friday and Saturday, which are going to be long, long, long days at the Living Sober Western Roundup Conference, at which I foolishly committed myself to various activities, aside from and including the two performances of the Musical, activities that will prevent me from either coming late or leaving early. I will be taking naps in my car, I guess. And, like the Pride dance, it will be entirely worth the effort involved.

And then it will be all over, no more rehearsals, no more events, and I can finally get some rest. All I have to do is make it to next Sunday.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...