Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Cruel Lash of Self-Loathing

Wuss. Candy Ass. Lily-livered pantywaist. Puling little coward. Cringing, whining, pussyboy shitfucker.

This is just a sample of the names I've been calling myself the last couple of days. I've shifted from tearful woe-is-me self pity to irritated anger at myself to elaborate justification of my actions to a certain level of acceptance that isn't true acceptance of something I can't change but simply a resting-place from the frustration of not changing something I can; but underneath all of these phases is a thematic undercurrent of plain old stupid fear. And I really dislike myself for not only harboring this stupid fear, but also for basing my actions on it.

See, there's this guy I like. I met him at my Tuesday homegroup meeting, and we became fairly well acquainted... well-enough acquainted that he lent me some DVDs. We have a lot of things in common; and the things we don't have in common, I find attractive. I also find him attractive physically, more for the really creative and artistic way he handles his "flaws" than for his degree of aesthetic beauty (which is not lacking). We've chatted superficially quite a bit, and I gravitated toward him after every meeting (under cover of the fact that he was the coffee-person for the meeting and was pretty much tied down to the coffee-bar afterward).

For several months I tried to get my nerve up to ask him out on a date, but never managed to spit it out. But now his coffee commitment is over and his schedule seems to have changed, so I don't see him on Tuesdays anymore, and haven't seen him for at least two months; and I don't have his phone number, so I can't call him (even if I had the nerve to call him).

Two and a half weeks ago, I was thinking about him, just sort of musing... and I remembered, as I was thinking about him, that he'd given me his business card a long time ago, when we were at coffee after the meeting with a group of people and discussing business cards in general. It was a really pretty card, pink and orange with a butterfly in the design, from the ritzy hair salon where he works; I kept it, but I don't remember if I gave him my card (which is a cheap print-it-yourself job but has all my contact info on it).

So when I remembered that I had his business card, I thought perhaps I should look for it and, if I found it, I should call him. This memory of the business-card episode seemed like a sign, a sign that I needed to call him. The possible location of the business-card began to obsess me.

Later that week, I was talking to my friend Lana and, though I can't remember what topics of conversation led up to this, I told her about the sudden remembering of the business-card episode and my ensuing obsession with it. She agreed that my sudden remembering was a sign, and that I should call him. And while we were talking, in my car as I was dropping her off at home, I suddenly had the clearest memory of where I'd put that card: I'd put it in my brass business-card case with my office's state-affiliate's logo on it, which in turn was in my car saddlebag, right between us under my elbow. I opened the saddlebag (I think that's what they're called, those armrest/compartments between the front seats of a car?) and there it was, the little brass case, and inside it the pink and orange card with a butterfly, bearing his name and work numbers in full. I was surprised to note that his last name (which I'd never noticed before) was the same as my sophomore-year Anthropology teacher's.

"Call him tomorrow," Lana told me. This was not a suggestion, it was an order. I whined that the next day was a little too busy, I had all this work to do, and all these errands to run, and a board meeting and everything, but I'd call him on Friday and ask him to dinner.

Of course, come Friday, I managed to talk myself out of calling. After all (I "reasoned"), it really isn't appropriate to call a person at his place of business to ask him out on a date. What I should do, instead, is somehow try to get hold of his home phone number, and call him there instead.

But I was still obsessed with the notion of asking him out on a date. I even talked to my sponsor about it, and she agreed that all these sudden memories about business-cards meant that I should ask him out... not that they were a collection of "mystical signs" but that I apparently was obsessed with him and should investigate the possibilities. And though I'd missed my Friday December 17 deadline, I decided that I would get his home phone number, call him up, and ask him out to dinner some time before the end of the year.

So where to get the number? I tried to think of various people who might have it, but nothing came to me... until I remembered (quite suddenly, you see the pattern) that his sponsor is a friend of mine, and I could ask this other friend for the phone number. I would even tell him why I wanted it, and could ask this other friend's advice on how to approach the problem of asking this guy out on a date... as well as ascertaining whether or not the guy is already seeing someone.

Christmas got in the way, though, and I put the dating issue (as well as everything else in my life) on hold until afterward. But then Christmas was over, and though I toyed with the idea of asking him to dinner on New Year's Eve, and to the Living Sober dance afterward, and toyed with the intention of calling him on my birthday, I didn't make a move. I didn't even call the friend to get his phone number on my birthday, even though I had the remarkable excuse of calling to wish him a happy birthday (the friend and I have the same birth date, though he's a year younger). I also thought that, if I didn't get his phone number, perhaps I could call him at work and make an appointment for a haircut (I needed a haircut anyway), and I could ask him then; but that struck me as both sneaky and pathetic, so I ended up getting my hair cut at Supercuts (since my last haircut was bad, my next two will be fine no matter where I go, so why spend the money?)

But the next day was Tuesday, I knew I would see my friend, or even perhaps the guy I like, at my usual homegroup meeting; I could address the issue at that time, either by talking to the guy I like, or else getting his number from the friend who is the-guy-I-like's sponsor.

This is getting difficult without names... I'm partly obscuring the names of people directly involved because I know all these people through AA, and there's the whole tradition of anonymity in AA; but on another level, it's also because I don't want anyone who knows the parties and also reads my blog to know whom I'm talking about. But I don't like to be secretive, and I've already salted my narrative with sufficient clues that people who know everyone involved will probably figure it out if they put their minds to it, but I still need to maintain people's anonymity... so we'll call them Gus (the guy I like) and Sol (the friend who is Gus's sponsor and who has the same birthday as me)... I'll also go back and change my girl-friend's name to Lana (I don't actually know anyone named Lana, which seems a shame).

So anyway, I got to the meeting last night, hoping to see Gus and, if not, determining to ask Sol for Gus's phone number. But of course, neither Gus nor Sol were there. I felt absolutely crushed.

Naturally, I started feeling sorry for myself. I went to sit down, and the person in the next seat told me he was saving that seat for someone; then when the secretary was looking for people to read various things at the start of the meeting, he passed me over... now, neither of these things meant anything, people save seats all the time and there are only three things to read and thirty people in the room... but I felt rejected. And as always, when I feel rejected, or even feel the possibility of rejection, I also felt the sensation of every rejection I've ever experienced in my long and rather rejection-ridden life. Within a matter of seconds I felt utterly wretched and might have burst into tears if not for my WASP self-control.

About fifteen minutes into the meeting, Sol showed up... but by then I was already so well-launched on my pity-party that his arrival didn't cheer me up at all. In fact, soon after his arrival, I was beseiged by the sudden urge to flee the room. I don't know if you've ever had that feeling, that you wanted to either run like hell or else find a dark room and go lay down in a fetal position on the floor in the corner, but whatever you do you can't bear to be around all these people. I fought the urge, because I know from experience that you simply cannot flee an AA meeting, someone will follow you and ask if you're OK. We're nosey that way.

So I wrestled down the urge to flee, reasoning that it was irrational to feel so rejected just because the one guy was saving a seat and because the secretary didn't ask me to read. And so I didn't flee, but I did start a preliminary bout of weeping (where my eyes watered a bit but didn't produce actual tears) right about then.

The weeping was less about the sensation of rejection I'd already experienced and more about the self-pitying realization that I simply didn't have the nerve to ask Sol for Gus's phone number. In my typical manner, I rehearsed what I'd say, and thought through all of Sol's possible answers, and though on a rational level I knew that it couldn't actually hurt to ask, I knew on a gut-instinct level that I simply couldn't do it. I was too afraid of too many things: afraid of rejection, afraid of appearing foolish, afraid of getting hurt, simply and inescapably afraid... and it wasn't even the kind of fear like a fear of falling or a fear of being buried alive, where your heart races and andrenaline pumps into your system; it was the sad, dull fear of knowing that the possibility for pain and embarrassment is greater than the possible rewards. The kind of fear that keeps you from making a dentist's appointment, or from changing jobs, or from dancing in public. A coward's fear.

And as I sat there, my heart pressed with the burden of this cowardly fear, I realized that there was another guy in that room on whom I have harbored a crush, whom I tried for over a year to work up the nerve to ask on a date, to whom I gave my card once but he never called me (but then, I didn't ask him to call me for a specific reason). And there was another guy at the meeting on whom I have a crush, though I have ruled him out as possible dating material because he's far too good-looking and therefore well out of my league. To make it all that much more weird, I realized that both of these guys live with Sol, as does the last person I fell in love with. It always comes back to Sol, somehow.

But that's neither here nor there... though it's an interesting coincidence that all these people are connected to Sol, the point is that during the meeting I was faced with more and more memories of my puling cowardice in regard to romance, and my heart became heavier and heavier. In a neat twist of fate, the topic of discussion at the meeting was "We shall not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it"... neat, because I was absolutely inundated with my past, every past rejection and every past failure in even making my romantic wishes known to the object of those wishes, and shutting the door on all that painful feeling would be an undreamed-of luxury.

When the meeting was over, I tried to flagellate myself into asking Sol for the phone number, but though I circled the room and came back to Sol time after time, I never managed to work up the nerve to ask this simple stupid question. When I finally did get away from everyone, not letting on that my lethargy was anything more than post-holiday depression, and got into the steamed-window hidey-hole of my car, I really cried, letting it all out and just feeling super-duper sorry for myself.

I snivelled all the way home and curled up in a blanket in the living room and watched television until I couldn't keep my eyes open, then went to bed and cried a little more. The next day (Wednesday) I started writing this story, but it got too long and I couldn't deal with the pain after four hours of writing about it, so I went back to the television and its electronic opiates. I watched Latter Days and cried, and then I watched Saved! and cried some more. Now, Latter Days is a love story and has lots of feelings, so crying at the end of that one was sort of acceptable... but Saved! was a comedy, and though it had some touching moments, it wasn't supposed to be a weeper. But then I was feeling so sorry for myself I probably would have cried at a National Lampoon movie.

But after all that crying, I got angry with myself. I hate snivelling like that. But I can't hold on to anger for very long, and I reached a sort of irritated acceptance: I am a coward, especially when it comes to the possibility of making myself ridiculous, and so I am not going to call Gus because I'm too fucking scared. And so passed another day in front of the television with a big bag of candy my niece had left behind (I must have eaten a pound of sugar at least, but those candy Legos tasted so good, not to mention the Gummi sour watermelon slices and the little candy pacifiers).

Then this morning Lana called me, and during the course of our conversations she inevitably asked about the status of the Gus Issue. I told her all about it, and she directed me to call him today and just ask him out for coffee before the meeting I plan to attend tonight. She understood the fear, she'd felt it herself, but reminded me that there is no way to get around fear, the only way to get past the fear is to just plough right through the middle of it. Just fucking DO it was the message.

And though it helped to have her cheering me on, this was in essence no different from the autoflagellation I'd done at the meeting trying to make myself ask Sol for the phone number. It was nicer, and more helpful, but in the end I still don't think I can do it. I simply haven't got the strength to plough through this fear.

I wish I could end this tale by telling you that I called Gus at work and that he's meeting me for coffee and that it didn't hurt at all. But I'm sorry, I have no happy ending for you today. I still hate myself for this stupid cowardly fear, but I very simply lack the inner resource right now to get past that fear. I'll spend some time today praying and meditating, and I hope that God can grant me the strength I lack... but to tell the truth I don't have much faith right now, either. I'm just too spiritually tired.

So I am going to go back to bed, maybe read a book, or just flip through some magazines or watch another movie, and try to shut down the engine of fear and self-recrimination and self-loathing that has been churning away and burning so much fuel for the last couple of weeks. And maybe I'll see Gus at the meeting tonight, and maybe I'll talk to him. Maybe not, maybe I just need to take the pressure off myself.

I don't know. Anyway, thanks for listening. You're a pip!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Thank God That's Over With!

Ah, good old Boxing Day, my favorite holiday of the year. I know that it's supposed to be the day for giving gifts to the people who work for you; but since I work for others, it's the day to spend in my pajamas, lolling around the house and eating pie for breakfast (diet be damned... I'm eating chocolates, too, and I don't care if I gain back all the weight it's taken me five weeks to lose). No more work to do, no more presents to wrap, no more pretending to be cheerful.

I didn't have to pretend too hard yesterday, though... once I got the cleaning finished, I did sort of enjoy myself. It occurs to me that it's not Christmas I dislike, it's housework. But we already knew that, didn't we? It also occurred to me that if I kept the house clean all year 'round, getting ready for Christmas wouldn't be such a bloody hateful chore. It's an obvious solution, but I've never been interested in the obvious.

Actually, though, I find myself wondering what it's like to not have such a labor-intensive Christmas. There are people who actually wonder what they're going to do on Christmas. There are people who eat in restaurants on Christmas. There are people who go to the movies on Christmas. There are people who sit around the house and watch football on Christmas. There are people who enjoy Christmas as a day off.

But for me, even before I moved in with Grandmother and became the Apprentice Guardian of All Family Tradition, even when I was just a little kid who shouldn't have to have any responsibilities at Christmastime except to feign sufficient goodness to get on Santa's "Nice List," Christmas was always a horribly draining chore. I was always on the go.


My parents divorced when I was three years old, and Christmases were always shuttled affairs, and I don't remember them clearly. But my typical Christmas from the age of about seven (when my parents formally settled custody of my sister and myself between the Family Court and themselves) until around fifteen (when I stopped dealing with any family other than my father's family) worked out thusly:

  1. The weeks leading up to Christmas were packed with activity, starting officially on the 13th, the day after my stepsister Heidi's birthday, which is in turn the day after Daddy's birthday; actually, we started a little before that, on Thanksgiving to be exact, with the very solemn ritual of Christmas Lists... we were enjoined to make a list of things (within reason) that we wanted for Christmas, which Mom would annotate with our sizes before copying them and distributing them among the relatives on both sides of the family so people would know what to get us.

  2. The first tangible thing to go up on the 13th was the Christmas tree, which was fake and rather ratty, and which for some reason I always got stuck decorating... I mean, all four of us kids supposedly decorated the tree together, but since I was the only child with a penis, I had to put the lights on the tree (apparently the Y chromosome comes with electrical knowledge); and since I was the only child with any taste whatsoever, I always ended up rearranging all of the ornaments and tinsel that my sister Suzie and stepsisters Quinn & Heidi (who actually understood electricity but had no sense of color harmony or objective balance) had thrown on the bottle-brush branches any old whichaway. We also decorated the house with paper Advent Chains, which we usually made in school from construction paper and paste, and ripped off one link for each day until Christmas.

  3. My late stepmother (her name was Pat but I always called her Mom, as apposed to Mother who was my mother... unfortunately, I am the only one who could ever keep that straight, so I always have to explain: Mom = Pat = Stepmother; Mother = Kathy = Birthmother, okay?) Mom always got very involved with The Christmas Spirit, and would play Christmas music nonstop in the twelve days before Christmas (neat, that). We also went shopping a great deal... for though we were poor, Mom had sisters and sisters-in-law and various other Joneses to keep up with, so she'd go into debt for the next year so that she could buy us piles of clothes and toys as well as clothes and toys for everyone else in our rather extensive family. She bought the presents, then would go into her bedroom and box them, and then we kids would wrap the boxes (Santa had elves, Mom had four kids)... elaborate precautions were taken to prevent us knowing what we were getting for Christmas; it was an incredibly laborious undertaking.

  4. Then Mom started baking. Her first task was a gross of Tollhouse cookies, half of which would have walnuts and half would not (if you've never seen one hundred and forty-four cookies produced in a kitchen the size of a phone-booth, you just haven't lived). Then there were three kinds of fudge: chocolate with walnuts, chocolate without walnuts, and peanut-butter. I remember the walnuts particularly because we kids were the ones cracking the walnuts open for hours at a time, and if we didn't pull our weight with the walnuts, we wouldn't get to eat any cookies or fudge (the story of The Little Red Hen was always trotted out on such occasions; the argument that I didn't like walnuts and never ate the cookies or fudge with nuts in them didn't hold any water). Some years there were also loaves and loaves of zucchini bread made from the giant mutant zucchinis Mom's mother grew in her backyard.

  5. Christmas Eve was spent with Mom's huge family (her two parents, three sisters, a brother-in-law, a niece and nephew, with a few stray cousins and/or the occasional visitng aunt or uncle from far away) and their huge family tradition, with this vast and largely unpalatable meal that always featured the biggest, dryest turkey you ever saw, green-bean casserole with those nasty canned onion fries on top, and that peculiar Midwestern dish that doesn't have a name but is made from pistachio pudding, lime gelatin, walnuts, and marshmallow; there were a lot of presents involved, and Christmas stockings for adults as well as kids, and just enough beer to put everyone's emotions just under the surface where they could blow up over any tiny little thing.

  6. Then came Christmas morning with my sister, two step-sisters, Daddy, and Mom. In the days before Heidi, the youngest, declared that she didn't believe in Santa Claus, the toy-presents were laid out, elaborately unwrapped, around the tree, as if Santa had put them there because we'd been so good, and the clothes-presents were wrapped and credited to Mom & Dad (personally, I never believed in Santa Claus, but I played along to keep the toys coming). Mom always had an emotional breakdown of some sort during the morning, typical Christmas let-down for someone who worked like the devil for weeks to make Christmas morning this special magical time, and then all she had to show for it was a pile of ripped wrapping paper and some lame child-chosen gifts (the poor woman was a martyr to her own expectations). Then we ate an enormous pancake breakfast.

  7. Next we put on our brand-new clothes (Christmas presents always included one snazzy new outfit meant to be worn on Christmas day) and got into the car for the drive to Grandmother's house (where I now live) for Christmas with my father's family (an aunt, an uncle, their two spouses, three cousins, and of course the grandparents). Grandmother and Grandfather had another set of stockings for us and my cousins, as if Santa had considered us all so extra-specially good that he made two trips (you can see why I didn't believe in Santa... I knew perfectly well that I hadn't been as good as all that, what with the lying and not doing my homework and all). Then there was another vast meal, called "dinner" but served at lunchtime, with another monumental and bone-dry turkey, but no white-trash salads or questionable casseroles, and no alcohol in any form whatsoever so that we could all keep our feelings tidily bottled up inside, followed by more presents.

  8. Then Mother would come pick Suzie and me up, and off we'd go to her sister's house in Livermore for even more Christmas with her parents and nephews. Aunt Margaret's & Uncle Tom's Christmas was interesting because Mother's family didn't have any real traditions to follow, so Margaret was always trying something new: one year it was a ham studded with so many cloves that nobody could eat it; another year it was real candles on the tree, which made everyone so nervous that they couldn't think of anything all night except the terror of dying in a Christmas Conflagration. The only thing that happened every year is that Aunt Margaret would make rum balls, little cocoa-dusted chocolate spheres placed just so on a beautiful tiered silver tray (Godinger Baroque pattern) which looked so delicious that you couldn't help but try one, but which tasted so awful that you spent the rest of the night haunted by the memory of it; but every year you were tempted ("Maybe this time...") and every year you got that ghastly taste in your mouth that no amount of candy or soda-pop could wash away. There were no stockings at Aunt Margaret's... nobody in that family believed that children could be good, so they just didn't bother with the fiction of Santa Claus's reward system.

  9. The next morning we would have Christmas Morning again, at Mother's house with my stepfather "BB" (his name is Robert Lee, but for some reason this has evolved into a name spelled BB and pronounced Beeb) and, later on, my baby half-sister and half-brothers (Becky, LeRoy, and Nathan respectively). This was a rather more casual affair than Mom's Christmas; sometimes the tree (always live, usually a sugar pine) was picked up for free on Christmas afternoon, and we decorated it together on Boxing Day, then opened the presents; sometimes, on the few occasions that my sister and I spent the week before Christmas Eve with Mother (our custody arrangement was weird), we would get the tree beforehand and we would open one present a day, and save the biggest and best present for when we came back on Boxing Day.

  10. After that we would go over to BB's mother's house and have another Christmas celebration, by far the most boring of all of the Christmas celebrations we'd been to so far... BB's mother, the sweet and colorless widow of a retired rear admiral, was the worst cook I've ever known. Well, no, not the worst... just the blandest. She always served a baked ham that had been simply thrown into the oven with no coating of any kind, with mashed potatoes and boiled squash (the memory of which still makes me shiver) and a salad consisting solely of iceberg lettuce with cream dressing. For dessert, there was always mince pie, and only mince pie, and the mince pie contained all the flavors that should have gone into the dinner, and then some, and was absolutely impossible for a child's palate (actually, I still hate mince pie). She was a lovely old lady, though: her name was Laura, and she was pretty and quiet and frozen in time, her white hair and stylish wardrobe and elegant house perfectly preserved and entirely unchanged since her husband retired in 1965, and her milk was delivered in glass bottles and tasted better than milk that comes in plastic or paper cartons.

  11. Then it was my birthday, and Mother would make me a cake "to order"... it is one of the happiest memories of my childhood, this business of birthday cakes. Mother would promise whatever kind of cake we wanted, and my sister and I would spend days trying to stump her creativity with impossible birthday-cake themes. Without the benefit of fancy-ass Wilton kits or clever little patterns cut out of Woman's Day magazines, Mother made us birthday cakes shaped like train engines and butterflies and ponies and castles, frosted with bizarre colors to match a favorite stuffed animal or a special outfit or, once, our eyes (Suzie and I have Mother's eyes, a peculiar shade of grayish blue that does not exist anywhere else in nature). And our birthdays were always collaborative efforts, it was never just my birthday or just Suzie's birthday (which is in June), we both got to choose a cake and we both got presents, twice a year.

  12. I was generally returned to Daddy, or at least to Grandmother and Grandfather's house, for the rest of my birthday, with another family meal and another birthday cake and more presents. Mother and Daddy would talk desultorily over our heads at the door, unless we were simply dropped off in the driveway, and Mother would usually come pick us up afterward if it were a year that she had us for the week after my birthday; Mother's family and Daddy's family never ever mixed.
When I would describe all this brouhaha to other children, they were aghast with envy: You get five Christmases? And a birthday? they'd goggle at me. But really, the thank-you notes alone were enough to turn any child Muslim... not to mention the epic environmental shifts as one shuttled from one kind of family to another, none of whom were remotely alike... and some of which were rather emotionally draining, requiring displays of gratitude for each present that ranged from "fulsome" to "abject."

And we needn't mention the gastrointestinal trauma of five enormous and entirely different (though usually overcooked) meals on a child's digestive system... I always ended up either constipated or diarrhoeic. And then with my birthday right at the same time, people were so worn out from the holidays that attendance at my birthday parties was pretty spotty and those who could drag themselves out were rather less than enthusiastic (also, with one's birthday during Winter Break, I never got to enjoy the special triumph of celebrating my birthday in school).


As I look over the above (honestly, I didn't intend to write so much when I started out, I'd forgotten just how elaborate my Christmases used to be), I suddenly feel rather blessed that my Christmas has devolved into just one time-consuming and labor-intensive holiday tradition. Is that Gratitude I feel all of a sudden? Hmmm... could be.

This Christmas was rather nice, all things considered. Like I said, once the cleaning work was out of the way, I felt a lot better about things. I spent all of the morning helping Grandmother with the pies and stuffing, and making the yams. People started arriving around two-thirty, I had the baking finished at three, and then I got the table set... we were scheduled to eat at two, but this family is always late, and we ate at five-thirty, exactly as I had planned when I scheduled dinner for two; they fell into my trap exactly as plotted, bwahahahahaha. I was a little irritated with myself for not planning a centerpiece as I usually do, but I turned that over with the realization that nobody really cared whether there was a centerpiece or not, and I think the dinner went better because we had more space for food and drink.

Then there was work getting the food on the table, since Grandmother was too busy visiting and I am the only one who knows where all the servingware is. We got fifteen people around the table and we ate, and ate, and ate some more, and talked and visited and told jokes and laughed. Then we washed up the dishes and I made some coffee and we opened presents. Then we ate pie... lots of pie. Then we talked and visited and told jokes and laughed and looked at each-other's presents and took three hours to say goodbye.

I had a good talk with my sister, and I had a good talk with Daddy when I drove him home, I got some nifty presents (a pair of black-and-silver houndstooth silk pajamas from Aunt Terry that I'd almost bought for myself when Grandmother and I were out shopping last week, a digital voice-recorder from Grandmother so I could remind myself to do things, a box of chocolates from my cousin Kellie, a belt with my initials on it from my nephew Matthew, a terra-cotta silk golf shirt from my cousin Michael in Arizona, a smoke-blue and olive-drab microfleece sweatshirt from my cousin Jamie and Steve, and a new cell-phone from my Aunt Judy and Uncle Ralph), and received appreciation for the gifts I'd given (my sister loved the bed-desk I finally decided to give her; Judy and Jamie loved the gifts of fabulous-smelling chocolate from Scharffen-Berger, Kellie liked the Borghese Facial Spa Trio, Grandmother loved the little jeweled rooster, Jessie and Ariel loved the Nancy Drew books [which rather surprised me], Alex loved the tiny papasan chair, Matthew loved the gift-certificate that came in a CD case, Uncle Ralph loved the cooler/warmer chest for his truck that plugs into the lighter, Steve loved the leather serving tray, and I think that's all the relatives I had yesterday). I write these things down so I can remember them later; sorry to have burdened you with it.

In general, I got to have really quite nice time, despite the fact that my blood-sugar and my depression were cresting and dipping and wrestling all day long, and my feet were killing me, and my back hurt, and my sinuses were acting up a bit, and I was soooo tired.

And now it's all over with. I am not having a birthday party this year, I only bother with them on fifth birthdays anymore. The house is still clean, everyone was very conscientious to help with the dishes and wrapping paper before leaving, and the only mess left is that smelly old tree in the living room spewing spruce-needles all over the place.

Well, I think I've done enough work today... I'd only intended to jot down a few impressions, but instead I've taken a four-hour walk with the Ghost of Christmas Past and written a bloody long article about it. My back still hurts a little, and my feet give me a twinge, and the whole blood-sugar-vs-depression is still a little dizzying... so I'm going to go take a nap. I have to rest up for turning thirty-seven tomorrow (I've been practicing saying "I'm thirty-seven" all week) and for my traditional birthday shopping-trip to take advantage of after-Christmas sales (I still have a little money left).

I hope your Boxing Day is super nice, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas; and I hope that if you have a big holiday mess to clean up, that you also have someone like this to help you:

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

My Christmas Visitor

As expected, I'm back... but neither to bitch about how horrible the holidays are, nor to gloat over how wonderful they are. In truth, I just don't care about the holidays anymore, and am looking forward to Boxing Day, when Christmas is all over with and I have a whole week off in which to sleep and catch up on my reading and to spend at least four hours each day working on my novel.

No, the reason I am posting today is to share with you the partly-amusing-and-partly-grisly tale of My Christmas Visitor:

I named him Chris Mouse after a forgettable Rankin-Bass Christmas special from long ago. Isn't he cute? And yes, that is a real fur stole he's resting on. A really nice russet mink stole from the Fifties with a matching muff, trimmed with a fringe of tails and feet, one of the stars of my fashion taxidermy collection (though it smells a bit, due to having been stored damp by the previous owner, and I haven't had it cleaned yet).

Unfortunately, the soft and cuddly-looking Chris Mouse is not a mouse... he is a rat. And he is not sleeping on my fabulous and collectible extremity-fringed russet mink stole, he died there, apparently from poison.

So here's the story: on Saturday, Caroline was helping me prepare for the late-night Cookie Monster show at Harvey's, and I noticed a bit of a smell in my basement drag-room. I didn't have my glasses on, so I didn't spot Chris Mouse immediately, until I was rummaging around in a nearby bin of lingerie trying to find a black satin slip. Caroline and I had been rummaging for a few minutes by this time, talking loudly and making plenty of noise, so I knew immediately that the fuzzy little lump was not alive... had it been alive, it would have departed post-haste.

It nevertheless was very cute. It looked as if it were asleep, curled in a cozy little ball; its little eyes were closed and its little ears were folded back and its little whiskers were so adorable! And cuddled there on top of my russet mink stole, it was even cuter! I have a thing about the juxtaposition of furs (note the picture in the Cast column featuring my fake-fur teddy-bear wearing a real vintage fox wrap), and though I worried about what postmortem substances might have passed from the rat into my mink, the picture was very sweet and stuck in my mind.

Caroline and I pondered what to do with it, but I was already running late and so I simply put the situation out of my mind. I did, however, relate the image just described to some of my sisters at the show; while the common reaction in the dressing-room was a collective "ew," Princess Johnson advised me to have the rodent taxidermied and affixed to a pin so I could wear him as a corsage on the stole. The colors did go together rather well, but I didn't know if I would be able to find a taxidermist, much less afford to have a rat stuffed and mounted as a brooch.

Well, with one thing and another, I sort of forgot about Chris Mouse until I came home Monday evening from the gym and noticed a rather naffish smell in the front hall. I walked around the house trying to figure out what the smell was, and when I got near the basement door where the smell was strongest, I remembered My Little Friend "asleep" on the mink stole downstairs.

He had to go immediately, before the smell got strong enough for Grandmother to notice it... she cannot know that there is or ever was a dead rat in the basement, no matter how cute; for if she did, she'd have me down there cleaning the whole place out during my Christmas vacation. But how to remove him?

I should take a moment to explain that, while I am inordinately fond of dead animals, I can only handle the kinds of dead animals that have been processed in some way, whose remains are nice and dry and clean... I love my furs with their heads and tails and feet still intact, but these are satin-lined and have pretty glass eyes. I love my alligator purse and my armadillo purse, also with tails and heads and feet in situ, but they are cured and lined and contain press-powder compacts and spare change rather than decomposing viscera. I love my stuffed turtle and my inflated spiny blowfish, but they are odorless and don't play host to the larvae of flies and other insects who are an inevitable part of the decay process.

So while I wasn't upset about the fact that Chris Mouse was dead, I did feel more than a little squeamish that, unlike all of my other dead animals, he was still in process. I don't like that sort of dead thing, not at all.

Caroline does, though... she works in a medical pathology lab, and though most of the time she just shuffles pap-smears and urine-samples, she dreams of the day when she gets promoted to the stratum of lab-assistants that can assist in autopsying stillborn fetuses and cancerous corpses, or biopsying breast tissue and renal tissue and what-have-you (as it is, she can only observe, and then only if she's on break and the room isn't too crowded, which is all too infrequently), actually cutting into and observing the viscous and decaying things left behind by the unseemly processes of Dame Nature. Gross decomposing things are right up her street.

So I called her up, and over she came, dressed in her green scrubs and armed with surgical gloves and a formalin-treated specimen bag. With a cackle of maniacal glee, she plucked Chris Mouse from his mink nest and looked him over with great interest, only popping him into the bag and sealing it when the increased stench-level of having moved the corpse became too much to deal with. Still, the bag was clear, and she took delight in noting the rigor of the tail, the softness of the fur, the curious wriggling of the maggots, et cetera.

As Caroline studied our dearly departed friend, I assessed the damage to the mink; it didn't appear to be stained, but it stank rather more than before, so I put it in a garbage bag. I also sprayed out half a can of Fresh Linen Scent Lysol to kill the stench (this is where I store my entire extensive drag wardrobe, mind you, and the last thing I need is for my beaded gowns and remaining furs to all smell of Eau de Dead Rat... I hadn't had the mink cleaned yet because fur-cleaning is prohibitively expensive, so you can imagine what a whole bin of furs and fifty or so gowns would set me back at the dry-cleaners).

But not only was I queasy from the decrepitude of Chris Mouse, I was also fairly jumpy about the prospect that Our Friend had not been alone when he entered my basement. Right in front of me was a big plastic bin full of furry things, some of which were the same color as Chris Mouse, some of which have little rodenty noses sticking out of the pile, and all of which could easily contain a host of rats, alive or dead. So, while Caroline was with me and could help me with corpse-disposal or smelling-salts if anything untoward came tumbling out, I gingerly shook out each fur piece in the bin until I was satisfied that everyone in the bin belonged there.

There was nothing in the furs, and further investigations revealed no evidence that Chris Mouse nor any other rodent had been in residence any time recently... I had to suppose he came in after being poisoned. My coworker JB, when told this story at lunch yesterday, posited that Chris Mouse had come inside to die and had mistook the slightly smelly fur for his mother, and passed on peacefully under the illusion that he was in the bosom of his family.

So anyway, Caroline and I took Our Friend out to the alley and double-bagged him, then placed him at the bottom of the garbage can and covered him with three bags of kitchen refuse and a few solemn words about the Circle of Life. Then we had dinner (citrus chicken cassoulet and steamed collard greens) and watched the Dieux de Stade 2004 DVD, amusing ourselves with lewd commentary on the generous displays of French footballer flesh. A good time was had by all, despite the grisly occasion that brought us together.

And that is the story of My Christmas Visitor, illustrated.


To return to what I said in the last post, I do feel like I'm handling the holidays well. I am almost done with my shopping, the tree is up and Grandmother is helping decorate it, and I have the next two days off in which to do all the work that needs to be done. It should all be fine.

Still, I'd just as soon skip it. Aside from the things I bought for the children, I would be perfectly happy to keep all the presents I've bought, in exchange for not getting any presents from anyone else. And the tree reeks, it's probably the smelliest and most resinous fir we've ever had, I would really prefer to not have it in the house no matter how pretty it is with the lights and the baubles and my beautiful Czech glass tree-topper (with which I replaced the former stars and angels that were always so redolent of Christianity).

But whatever, I can't easily avoid it so I will just have to accept it. It will be over soon, anyway, and then it will be my birthday (I'll be thirty-seven on Monday... feel free to mark the occasion in whatever manner you wish), and then I have a week off from work, and then it's New Year's Day (when I will dispose of the tree and all evidence that Christmas ever was), and then there are no more holidays until, like, April (we don't celebrate the fake Saint days). Yay!

So in case I don't post again this week, Merry Christmas to you and yours (or Happy Saturday if you don't celebrate Christmas)! Love you!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Feeling Grinch-tastic

I taste the definite and rather bitter flavor of an incipient "bah, humbug" on my lips; but I avoid uttering it, held back by the touching belief that it will all get better before Saturday, and somehow the Christmas Spirit will visit me as it did Scrooge and Grinch and, to a lesser extent, the Bumble. It has happened before, I've suddenly tapped into a suprising well of goodwill and optimism; on the other hand, it has failed to happen before, and I just slogged through the holiday pretending to have the Christmas Spirit. This year, the signs are pointing to a pro forma display of evergreen and tinsel covering up the reality of a black and cheerless soul.

I am nowhere in my shopping, to begin with. I went out on Saturday with Caroline, and though I managed to separate myself from about $350, I didn't really get many presents. Or rather, I didn't get many presents for the members of my family, for whom I am supposed to be shopping. I bought myself a new sweatsuit and a book and a pair of jeans, and I bought some "last-minute"-type presents for people who may or may not show up unexpectedly on Christmas, and I bought house decorations like a red cut-glass bowl and a stuffed moose that sings "Bust a Move" and wiggles its light-encrusted antlers to the rhythm, and I bought a beautiful bed-desk of oak and leather for which I cannot think of a proper recipient.

I thought I'd give it to Grandmother, but I don't think it will fit over her thighs, and I already bought a present for her (a small enameled and jewel-encrusted rooster keepsake box); then I thought I'd give it to my sister, but I don't think she does crossword puzzles or write letters in bed; I thought I'd give it to my uncle who just retired, but I doubt seriously if he enjoys being in bed after he wakes up... the reality is, I liked the tray too much to leave it behind, and so I bought it without a specific person in mind, and may end up keeping it for myself.

I am trying to keep this in perspective, though... for while I am nowhere near finished with my shopping, I have gotten a few presents out of the way so far: I have a present for Grandmother, and for my coworker JB, and for my aunt (which I bought last year and couldn't find at Christmastime but which I found last time I cleaned my room), and for my cousin-in-law, and for the two little girls (I decided to be purely evil this year and bought them both books, half a dozen Nancy Drews each), and for my Daddy; I also sent off mail gifts to Mother and her family as well as my cousin who lives in Arizona.

That leaves my sister (unless I give her the bed-desk), the little-boy-cousin, my nephew (who is impossible to shop for, especially now since he wears a uniform and doesn't have his own room... I fear I'm going to have to slip him some cash again, so unimaginitive), my uncle and his wife, my two women-cousins, and my boss. And I do have the bed-desk to give (unless I give it to my sister), as well as a trio of spa facials in reusable glass jars from Marcella Borghese that I can give to some female of the family... and I have five days and a couple hundred dollars left with which to get more.

But then, I don't have all five days just for shopping. Today, after work and gym, I have to schlepp the decorations-boxes out of the attic and start work on the Christmas tree, which my uncle is bringing by later this evening. Tuesday I am taking an epically long lunch with my coworker, and after work I have my regular meeting. On Wednesday, after the last workday of the year (which frequently runs pretty late), I am taking Grandmother grocery shopping. On Thursday and Friday, I'm off work, and so can concentrate on a thorough house-cleaning and getting the cooking started (cornbread stuffing will be started on Thursday, and we'll do the pies and yams on Friday). I should be able to manage it, so long as I don't waste too much energy on the shopping or by losing my temper, so long as I don't come down with another cold, and so long as nobody else gets in my way.

These last three are the jagged rocks under the water that threaten my ability to keep up the appearance of Christmas Cheer. With so much work to do, I quite frequently overdo and end up catching a cold, even if I just got over a cold (as I did this week); and quite frequently Grandmother will come down with a cold, or a bunch of Small Children end up in the house, or some other unexpected obstacle will pop up in my path and frazzle me. But the most likely jagged rock, the one that most frequently brings me down, is my short and dreadful temper.

I already got into an argument with Grandmother last night, about the wooden boxes on which we traditionally place the Christmas tree... I got snappish with her when she asked, in her usual indirect unfinished-sentence manner, if I knew where the boxes were; and then she yelled at me for being snappish, that I had no right to be angry when she's asking a perfectly simple honest question; and then I yelled back that her question was not perfectly simple nor honest, but rather it impugned abilities that I have ably demonstrated for a decade or more... of course I knew where the goddamned boxes were, I'm the one that put them away last year and the year before that and the year before that, it's my job to screw around with all these fucking decorations, whether I want it or not, and I don't wish to be questioned about it (I didn't actually say "goddamned" or "fucking" to my Grandmother, but my tone implied them); then she accused me of having a chip on my shoulder and that this chip made it impossible to have any kind of a conversation with me; and I said in the first place that I don't have a chip on my shoulder, and in the second place that questioning my abilities doesn't comprise a "conversation," and in the third place that she is always saying things that irritate me beyond my ability to hold my temper, and perhaps she should learn what those things are and stop saying them.

Most of that was true, except that I did, in fact, have a chip on my shoulder. The thing is, when I do something incredibly labor-intensive that I don't enjoy doing, solely for the pleasure it brings others, and then those others have the temerity to question or criticise my performance, well-intentioned as that question or criticism might be, I simply can't take it. The resentment that I carry around with me for having to do all this strenuous-work-I-don't-enjoy-doing-but-still-do-for-the-enjoyment-of-others simmers just below the surface and has to be rigorously controlled so that it doesn't lash out in all its burning fury at the unsuspecting questioner or critic. That control is rather ennervating sometimes.

When Grandmother asked me if I knew where the boxes were (in all innocence, really, I know she didn't mean anything by it), all the resentment I feel toward the entire family for "making" me do all this work came seething to the surface, and I was too sleepy and headachy to hold it in, so I snapped a bit. The ensuing argument was even more tiring; the apology later was utterly exhausting (I always hate having to apologize, but espcecially when I was being inadmissably stupid).

By far the best solution, if I can manage it, is to somehow convince myself that I am enjoying all of this work... if successful, I can let go of the resentment of doing hard labor for the enjoyment of others because I fall into the belief that I'm doing it for my own pleasure... and we all know that no amount of work is too much for my pleasure.

So I have been listening to Christmas carols for the last few days (though I can't sing along with all this leftover phlegm that's still coming up from last week's chest-cold), and making plans on when to do which chore so that I don't end up with this overwhelming load of work to do on Christmas Eve, and praying to God every day to give me the strength of generosity needed to obtain pleasure from creating a beautiful Christmas Day for my family. And like the presents that Grandmother ordered by phone, my Christmas Spirit hasn't arrived yet... but there are four and a half more days (half of today is gone by the time I'm finishing this post) in which it might arrive, so I'll just keep hoping.

Anyway, if you don't hear from me again this week, you know what I'm up to. I'm sure I'll be back sometime, though, if for no other reason than to vent my frustrations or report on my successful lack of frustration. In the meantime, I hope your pre-Christmas week is one long orgy of ease and joy.

Friday, December 17, 2004

And Speaking of "Still Here"...

This blog just finished it's third year of existence. Three years ago today, I wrote my first post in what has become perhaps the most important writing experience of my life... if not the most important, then second only to the discovery, after attempting to write a novel one summer, that I would never be a writer until I went to college and learned where to put apostrophes and how to use a semicolon.

I have learned a great deal about myself these last three years. I've remembered things that I'd thought were forgotten about my grim childhood and my grotesque adolescence and my drunken young-adulthood. I've worked out long-standing issues simply by writing them down where others can read them. I've begun to explore and throw light on the deepest darkest pits of my psyche in this forum, and have received love and support from a community of unexpected friends, many of whome I've never actually laid eyes on, and very few of whom I would ever have had a chance to know otherwise.

I have learned even more about writing. I've discovered that honesty really matters in the gist, not in the details, and that fudging a detail for the sake of the narrative is not only allowable, it is often necessary... for as delicious as details can be, they can distract from the real truth of the story; yet if you fudge on the meaning of the details, if you replace details in order to save face or to redirect attention (rather than to make a sentence flow better or to obviate reams of backup description), you lose the truth of what you were trying to say.

I have learned how to better engage an audience with my writing, and also learned that there's no point in having an audience if it is not your own voice that you use... for it is an easy pitfall to disguise one's own voice to make it more accessible, but if in so doing you also disguise yourself and lose your own truth, it was a pointless bargain (like one of those Twilight Zone episodes with the patented Ironic Twists, such as the guy who survives a holocaust in a library and has endless years to read in peace, then breaks his glasses; or the guy who wishes for immortality and kills his wife in order to experience the electric chair, then ends up with a life sentence in prison).

So, Happy Birthday to Mannersism; here's to many happy returns of the day. And this time, I'm not going to promise to redesign the site. I might someday do it, I might even move to another domain-name someday, as I have been thinking of doing for quite a while (the unexpected difficulty of making people understand that there are two esses in Mannersism has been unspeakably annoying), I'm done with making promises that I may or may not keep.

If you're one of those types who likes to see things evolve (as I am), why not have a tiptoe through my Archives to see how I have developed over the last three years? I will be doing so this weekend, too.

But before I go, I want to take a moment to thank Philo for getting me started on this thing. I owe a debt of gratitude that can never be sufficiently repaid.

Monday, December 13, 2004

My Dear, I'm Still Here

No, children, I'm not dead... I only wish I were. This chest-cold is lingering, or should I say malingering, and I am really tired of it. Tired from it. Tired because of it. Just tired. If you know the words, go ahead and sing along.

On the other hand, though my throat is raw and my sleep is disturbed and the Robitussin is giving me the most atrocious gas, all this coughing is doing my abs no end of good. I nearly have a waist again! And it tends to suppress the appetite, so I've also lost another two and a half pounds this week, despite going rather spectacularly off my diet on Saturday. So I guess it's not all bad.

Besides, I have spent so much time at home (if raucous lung-hacking coughs aren't enough to ruin your social life, horrific what-crawled-up-your-ass-and-died gas certainly will) that I have been able to get some good solid writing work done. I posted a finished chunk to Worst Luck just now, so you can go read it. I still haven't quite gotten to the end of the chapter, or maybe I will start the next bit as a new chapter. I don't know yet. But it felt like a good stopping-place, so I stopped and posted. Let me know what you think.

But I haven't been completely devoted to the Muse these last few days. On Saturday, for example, Caroline took me to Santana Row for window-shopping and dinner for my birthday (which isn't for another two and a half weeks, but Caroline can't be with me that day because she's working, and so we had it early). We had a grand time touring shops full of merchandise we couldn't possibly afford and so were not tempted to spend, though Caroline did take time to try on two cocktail suits at the St. John boutique (which was beautifully decorated and just a little bit intimidating). And not all of the shops were out of our range, I actually got my Christmas shopping started with cute and unusual gifts at good prices for the Grandmother (she's impossible to shop for) and my coworker JB.

I really enjoy rummaging among really expensive things that I can't buy. Luxury goods are just so... luxurious. Simply running your hand over the toe of a man's boot at Gucci or over the back of a superbly laquered antique Chinese chair at Kim3 (either of which would bust both my credit-cards) gives me a thrill that is sensuous to the point of being nearly sexual. And with high-end designer clothing and furniture, I am fascinated by the detail-work... for example, I spent a good ten minutes figuring out how the ruffles were attached on an unspeakably gorgeous ice-blue silk blouse at Escada.

So anyway, after fondling many tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, Caroline and I had our dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy, where the food was plentiful and good... but mostly plentiful. Caroline is a glutton, as she will be the first to admit, and is unnaturally impressed by being served too much food at once, so we ordered the Family Dinner Special where you choose two from each category of dinner — two appetizers, two pastas, two vegetables, two entrees, and two desserts — and share them all, family-style; but although we picked at each other's food, since there were two of us and two choices in each course, we just got things for ourselves.

However, there is no way in the world you can expect one person to eat one of each of these, the portions are unspeakably huge, and so leftovers are pretty much de rigeur... so much so that they even have special bags for them. Caroline (who'd eaten here before and was an old hand) ordered things that she knew her boyfriend would like, since she knew she wouldn't be able to eat them all there, glutton or no... she just isn't big enough. Nobody could eat that much food, unless they'd been in training for years.

I did a pretty good job of trying, though, repeating the mantra of "slow and steady wins the race," which got me through my Thanksgiving dinner. Being on a diet, I feel like I have to make a special effort at eating hugely and well when I go off the diet... I mean, if you're going to do something like cheat on a diet, you want to get as much into the experience as you can. Analogously, if you're going to cheat on your partner, you want to do it with someone hot, and you want to fuck as much as possible before you go home... cheating isn't worth it if you're just going to have a quick fumble in the backroom. The same with food — no point in cheating with just a cookie scarfed down on the sly, you want to go the way of the Roman Emperors and eat more than you ever thought possible.

So I put away two dozen steamed mussels swimming in butter and herbs, some taboo but tasty cheese-toast, half of an enormous Caesar salad (I had to stop when the dressing started tasting too fishy), six vast raviolis filled with veal and mushrooms swimming in cream sauce, half of an impressive slab of grilled salmon on a bed of garlic arugala (I brought the other half home), an entire bunch of asparagus drizzled in warm oil with flakes of romano cheese, some of Caroline's shrimp and a couple of stalks of the broccoli destined for her boyfriend, and a truly epic dessert of profiteroles (puff pastry filled with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate and covered in the most amazing cocoa-dusted whipped cream). And since this dinner was in honor of my birthday, the dessert came with candles... though at my express request, nobody sang.

I won't tell you what I wished for, unless it comes true.

What's funny, though, is that looking at the list above, not much of it wasn't on my diet... everything is allowed except the cheese-toast, the pasta, and the dessert. And the pasta wasn't all that pasta-y, anyway, it was mostly meat and cream... fatty certainly, but not starchy, and starch is the villain.

It wasn't so funny later that night, when I tried to go to sleep with all that sugar and fat running riot through my system as my diet-inured digestive tract wrestled with that lucullan feast. I was so high on the sugar that I didn't get to sleep until after two, and then woke up at five-thirty with indigestion, and didn't get back to sleep again until about half an hour before Grandmother called me to get up for church.

As you can imagine, I was miserable... three and a half hours of sleep on top of a chest cold, and I was a little constipated, and didn't eat breakfast. And then the gas really got started. So I left Grandmother at the service, got a scone and a nonfat latte from Starbuck's and came back, and dozed in the car for an hour or so (with the window cracked). The coffee got me "regular" again, which sent me hurtling into the church restroom, and the scone and milk settled my stomach; the dozing helped too, and then after church ended and we went to eat brunch (eggs and sausage, nice and simple) I felt much better.

Still, "much better" wasn't good enough to go out and honor my commitments to the shows I'd intended to do. I made a few phone calls and begged off, on the grounds that aside from being utterly miserable myself, I was also emitting foul odors that would make everyone else miserable. Cookie was very understanding, and though the other calls were never returned, I assume they understood, too. Nobody wants a coughing flatulent drag-queen in their midsts.

I eventually settled into the couch to suffer in front of the television. I don't know what it is, but when I'm tired and sick, I am far too emotionally vulnerable to Cuteness. I found myself watching a double-feature on ABC Family that, in normal circumstances, I would have avoided like the plague: Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime. I was sucked in, though, by the presence of the divine Julie Andrews, the exquisite Christine Baranski, and the deliciously and adorably sexy (to me) Gavin Creel... not to mention the gorgeous Plaza Hotel, in which both movies were shot; and before I knew it, I had succumbed to the mischievous but optimistic and generous charms of Eloise, and found myself kvelling up with happy tears at the end of each movie. The Christmas one was especially sappy, I actually sobbed a bit at the end.

I was so embarrassed with myself that I got up and left the room, starting to work again on Worst Luck and leering over the beefcake at Most Sexy Guys before I finally went back to bed and got some sleep.

Today I felt no better, but I went to work anyway and, after delivering my flyers and before doing some word-processing for my boss, I got some more writing and leering done. Then after work (I skipped the gym, I didn't think I could walk a treadmill without coughing up a lung) I took Grandmother shopping at Long's for stocking-stuffers and other various and sundry... then came back here and finished the chunk that you will no doubt be reading as soon as you're finished here. Won't you!

Well, the hour is getting late again, my children, and I'm too sick to stay up. So I shall bid you a gaspy adieu, and talk to you again soon!

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Bonjour, Monsieur Chest-Cold!

It was really just a matter of time... I always get a cold in December, sure as ducks is ducks. I can only hope that this year's appearance two and a half weeks before Christmas (ohmigod, it's only two and a half weeks til Christmas!? Eek) bodes well for the much-desired circumstance of not being sick on Christmas or on my birthday. Because that would suck... and has sucked on a number of occasions in the past.

At first I thought that the irritating phlegm that greeted me on awaking each morning this week was due to the mildew (to which I am allergic) that sometimes forms under my window after a heavy rain, but when I armed myself with a can of Lysol and pulled the bed away from the wall, there was nothing there. And then yesterday I felt stupid, which isn't necessarily an indicator of ill-health, and which I blamed on too many different things to do at work; but this morning I feel weak and groggy as well as congested and phlegmmy.

On the other hand, yesterday's stupidity allowed me to concentrate (mysteriously) on my book, and I wrote a new scene for Worst Luck. I haven't posted it yet, I have three more scenes to get through before I can end the chapter, and I would like to do that before I post it. But nevertheless, I am making progress.

I also got to talk to my uncle yesterday about police evidence and probable cause... as a retired policeman, I have often tapped his expertise about techincalities I've so far encountered in my story, but I had forgotten until I saw him yesterday that he'd worked for several years as an evidence technician, and so was something of an expert in fingerprints.

He confirmed my hope that having oil on your hands would obscure some fingerprints, but that the oil would get left behind eventually and some fingerprints would be found unless the oil was reapplied regularly. He also pointed out that not having fingerprints on the murder weapon would not dissuade the police from making an arrest, especially if the knife used in the murder were old and wood-handled... using one of our kitchen-knives to demonstrate, he showed me that such porous surfaces wouldn't take a print, and the rivets would be too small to get a match for an adult's fingerprint. The blade would take a print, though very few people handle the blade of a knife when using it... but if Danny had rummaged around in the kitchen drawers, he might have accidentally left a print on the blade, and that accident would certainly land him in jail.

My uncle also went on a long dissertation about my recent addiction to crime dramas... he was particularly irritated by CSI, where civilian forensic techs constantly question suspects and witnesses directly, which never happens in real life, and multimillion-dollar equipment is available to everyone in the precinct, and prints and DNA are lifted from absolutely impossible surfaces.

But still, in his experience, DAs don't throw out cases just because a defense attorney could question the evidence... and defense attorneys always attack fingerprints first. The scenario I outlined for him would certainly lead to arrest and arraignment, since Danny was the last person known to be with the victim, he had the victim's blood on him, and he admitted at the time of arrest to having a violent altercation with the victim (though he eventually denied killing him). Finding a nice clear thumbprint on the blade of the knife would seal the deal, and without any better suspect, the DA would most likely prosecute.


So anyway, it was good to learn all these things, and it was good to get a little more progress on the novel. I worry that I'm getting too caught up in details still, but I figure all of that can be addressed in the second draft.

Well, my darlings, I still have to go to work, sick or not. They need me today, there's a membership meeting that I have to coordinate, and a newsletter that I have to get started on, and I have all weekend to be sick in (though I have a show on Sunday, or maybe two). And I'm already hours late and haven't called in yet. So I guess I'd better get on to that. I just wish my head didn't hurt so much. Oh, well.

Ciao, bellissimi!

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

The Special Guest Star Did It

I have become rather addicted to crime dramas lately... I've lost my Monday nights to cable repeats of Law & Order on TNT, Law & Order SVU on TBS, CSI on Spike and Crossing Jordan on A&E. At one point in the evening, I can find myself watching two or three episodes at once.

These shows are immensely satisfying to a mystery-lover and aspiring mystery-novelist like myself: aside from the entertainment of seeing puzzles solved and justice triumph, I get all sorts of ideas for my book when I'm watching these shows, especially the evidence-gathering aspects of the cases. With all the technical details on display, what with forensic work and police work and courtroom work, one gets a really good idea of how a crime might be investigated and how the evidence will play out in court.

For example, I realized while watching some of these shows that the scenario with which I implicated Danny Vandervere of Worst Luck's murder would never get all the way to the courtroom, it would have been thrown out as soon as a lawyer came upon the scene (based as it was solely on Danny's undeniable and undenied presence in the victim's apartment near the time of death, with no motive and no murder weapon traceable to him); but when Law & Order's fictional attorneys took away the one scenario, CSI's and Crossing Jordan's fictional forensics experts suggested three or four other scenarios that might just work, and have indicated narrower fields of research with which to test the new scenarios.

For example, at the moment I have to find out whether or not a person with cooking-oil on his hands would necessarily leave legible fingerprints... if not, or better yet if he would on some surfaces but not others, I can establish a fairly heavy case of probable cause against Danny, whose fingerprints would not be found on the murder weapon, though the oil and blood from the victim would be found in his clothes; I also started thinking that a mistaken confession on Danny's part, if I arranged events so that Danny thinks he might accidentally have killed the victim and words his confession without saying exactly how he thought he'd killed him, would certainly work against him in building a case. This paired with the suggestion that there was an appearance that Danny might be prone to violence but that crimes in his past would not have been reported because of his family's peculiar standing in Danny's hometown, might create a fairly compelling case.

That particular scenario isn't water-tight either, there will have to be some antipathy on the part of the District Attorney and some ass-covering on the part of the detectives in order to really set up the necessary scenario, and I am loath to implicate law-enforcement as antagonists in the story; but then my story really isn't about the justice system, it's about relationships... the crime is only a structure within the story, it's not the driving force.


Anyway, these are all but a few of the many details that have been stimulated into growth by these TV shows. And I guess that's what I find interesting in my recent addiction to them... normally I get addicted to things that deaden my brain, rather than stimulating it, and my all-time favorite shows are the ones that stimulate other parts of me than my brain.

I usually prefer comedies, or shows with some kind of supernatural agency at work, but mostly I love shows with rilly hot guys on them. But with the exceptions of the intense gaydar-jangling Chris Meloni on SVU, the adorably bumbling Eric Szmanda and beautifully sculptured George Eads on CSI, the boyishly sexy Jerry O'Connell on Crossing Jordan, and the occasional hottentot perp or witness on any of these shows, it's just not about rilly hot guys.

Another thing I like about these particular crime-drama shows is that their episodes are almost completely self-contained, with a beginning, middle, and end that do not require the viewer to have any knowledge whatsoever of preceding episodes. I think the main reason I've not become involved in television dramas in general is because I simply haven't got the time and energy to follow them anymore, at least not for very long.

I used to watch various evening soaps and institutional dramas set in hospitals and police precincts, but I had to give up eventually. Ongoing dramas in which episode-only action takes up about half the time and season-long storylines takes up the other half cannot be dipped into so casually... you have to make an effort to follow along, or all the really dramatic scenes will be lost on you. And since my schedule has become so unpredictable, I simply cannot commit to a whole season of the same night.

And then, of course, there are character-driven reasons that I can't follow certain dramas... on ER, which I used to watch almost religiously, I eventually came to hate all of the doctors and nurses with a burning passion, their selfishness and egotism and neuroses got on my last gay nerve, and I just couldn't watch anymore; I've tried to get involved in The West Wing, too, but it makes me so sad and angry that we don't really have a president like Jed Bartlet, a man with an ethical mind and a loving heart and a progressive agenda, or have Stockard Channing for our First Lady (I love Stockard Channing so much!)

But Law & Order and its many spinoffs, and CSI and its spinoffs, don't challenge one so much. You get to know the detectives and attorneys to a certain extent, but their characters are fairly benign for the most part, and you don't really get much of a chance to love or hate them. They're just there. The episodes are driven entirely by the case at hand (or three cases, as in CSI), the characters of that week's guest stars are never overshadowed by the regular cast, and everything just jumps along like clockwork with a lovely and satisfying resolution of some sort at the end.

Still, as with any show, if you watch enough of them you start noticing patterns, particularly on Law & Order. I have noticed, for example, that if the crime points to a very obvious perpetrator, that person never did it; in fact, the first person brought in on suspicion is almost never the person responsible, and the frequency of false arrest is stunning... not to mention the frequency with which falsely arrested persons are beaten and/or killed in jail... one can assume that there is a whole team of attorneys working for the City of New York round the clock, just on false-arrest charges against the police precincts and wrongful death suits against the Riker's Island administration.

Another theme I've noticed is that, if the bad-guy gets off with an acquittal or mistrial or anything, he or she is usually murdered before the show ends. Nobody ever really gets away with anything, even if the case falls apart in court. The goddess Justice must be served, and apparently she'll get her service any old whichaway she can.

The last thing I've noticed (and the inspiration for today's title) is that if a big-name guest star turns up near the beginning of the show, he or she is almost invariably guilty of something... if not the crime, then of covering up the crime or helping the criminal to almost get away with it. Last night on the repeat of Law & Order SVU, the minute Oscar-winner Bruce Davison raised his head to face the camera, I knew he was guilty... though in an increasingly twisted plot, it turned out that he was guilty of something rather more complicated and controversial than the alleged rape that was initially being investigated.


So anyway, that's what's rattling around in my head today. I have been trying to concentrate on getting back to work on Worst Luck, and I have about two new paragraphs written (my last stall was trying to find a Tanzanian name for a masseur, once again becoming hopelessly bemired in inconsequential details), but I never seem to find large enough blocks of time to get back into it. I had intended to write last night, but then I got sucked into the various Law & Order episodes, and those along with cooking and eating dinner just stole my whole evening. I don't know when I'm going to find the time, anymore.

But at least I'm thinking about it actively again, focusing on various problems (like how to get past where I am to get to where I want to be in the narrative), and getting at least a few words down on "paper." It's not success, but it's progress. And at least I have work and other obligations to blame for my inability to sit down and write... it would be really depressing if I had the time to write, and still nothing came out.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Hell Week

Oh, my darlings, this week has been every bit as hairy as I had feared when last I had time to post here (see below)... and then some, with a family issue I can't really talk about here that turned out even more painful than I had feared, and an envelope-stuffing project that was turned into a disaster by those who sought to help me — bless their little hearts, they simply didn't understand that when things are in alphabetical order, there is probably a reason they are in alphabetical order, and quite probably should be kept in alphabetical order instead of thrown around willy-nilly so that I have to spend four or five hours going through all twelve hundred and forty labeled envelopes and putting them back into order, which is (in their defense) only half as long as it would have taken me to do all of the labeling by myself.

But with all of the printing and envelope-stuffing I had to do, it came as a nasty shock Wednesday when the photocopier started churning out black copies, and the repairman couldn't come until the next day, which meant that one time-sensitive printing project had to be put off and the other had to be taken to Kinko's. And then the office was terribly busy, with the boss off at meetings every day, and my coworker swamped with phone-calls while I was trying to do all the printing and word-processing and bookkeeping that needed to be done this week. All the while, I wasn't sleeping well, and so couldn't bring my A-Game to the mess. It was just hell, unadulterated burning cacophanous hell.

And I still have to finish the envelope-stuffing, I am about three-quarters done but there are perhaps another hundred-and-fifty-or-so envelopes to stuff, and then take them down to the office to stamp them, and to the post office to mail them. And then I have yet another show at Harvey's tonight, for which I am only mildly prepared (I know what I'm going to wear, and have a faint idea what I'll perform, but haven't learned the words yet or packed the clothes). And there is still laundry to do, and errands to run, and church to go to tomorrow, and, and, and...

I am exhausted, completely and utterly done in. And hungry! I noted before that it is very difficult to go on a low-carb diet just as the weather is turning so bitterly cold (bitter for us, anyway, down in the forties and fifties with a distinct bite in the air), prompting my Nordic genes to try to fatten me up for protection; but it's really hard to stick to a low-carb diet when you're upset about something, or several somethings... all "comfort foods" are high in starch and/or sugar, carbohydrates are so soothing and reassuring (again with the ancient genetic codes, in which evolution favored those who packed on fat in times of stress, storing the energy for any eventual lean times).

So after a week of feeling like I'm starving, and only missing two gym-days despite the near-impossibility of scheduling a gym-visit each terribly tiring day, it was quite discouraging to step on the scale each morning and still be the same weight I was on Sunday (209.5 lbs). I haven't lost a single pound, or even a half of a pound, all week.

Of course, I have to remind myself that this isn't necessarily about losing pounds as it is about losing the fat around my torso. I have to remind myself that all this exercise is also increasing my muscle mass, and that adds rather than subtracts weight. I am at the same time noticing a greater visibility of my cheekbones and hipbones, and I appear to jiggle a little less than I used to. So I am (starting today) going to chart my progress with a measuring-tape as well as a scale.

So, for the record, my waist at the widest part (where my pants sit) without sucking in is 38"... though this strikes me as odd, since all of my pants are marked as having 34" waists; my chest under the arms is 43", which I know for a fact is two inches bigger than it was two months ago when I measured myself for a dress I was ordering online, and yet the fat-pads under my arms are visibly smaller (I've been doing isometrics to pump my pecs up); my biceps are 14.5" (and I don't want them any bigger, thank you), and my thighs are 22" (and could get bigger); my hips are still 43", same as in September. I'll measure again next week and see where I've gotten to.

With so much going on at once, it seems I'd have something more to write about, n'est-ce pas? But no, nothing. Besides the family issue that has taken up a huge amount of energy, weighing heavily on my mind and severely cutting into my sleep, but which I cannot talk about in this forum (at least until it is resolved in the more traditional forum of actually talking to each other). Or complaining about all the shit that went on this week, which I've sort of already done. So...

There is one interesting thing I learned this week when I was trying to find a Latin title for this post: there is no word in Latin for "week." I guess the Romans didn't have weeks, just months and the midpoints of months (ides). Or else the word is so irrelevant to modern usage that none of the online dictionaries I found had any translations. I was trying to play off of Queen Elizabeth II's touching pronouncement of the Royal Family's annus horribilus of 1992 that included the death of Princess Diana and the fire in Windsor Castle... but it's a no-go, there was no "weekus horribilis" for me.

Which kind of puts the whole thing in perspective, doesn't it?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Addicted to Leisure

Well, my friends, this Thanksgiving Weekend has been lovely, and I am so sad to see it end... especially since I have a work-week ahead of me that is daunting, to say the very least. I have to run two ballots and one flyer distribution, manipulate a cumbersome outmoded database and stuff envelopes for a Hudson notice that should have gone out months ago, manage the details for an executive board meeting, finish typing up a set of minutes, and chase officers around trying to get signatures on checks and things... on top of all the phone-answering, mail-sorting, and butthead-appeasing that I normally do. I'd really rather stay in bed, thank you.

Ah, well, all good things must come to an end. And I wonder if I'd have enjoyed this weekend so much if I hadn't had so many new DVDs to watch. On Friday, instead of going into the office to get a head start on my envelope-stuffing and finish my Hudson printing as I'd intended (and make up a few missed hours, though I don't know why I try to hoard sick leave and comp time when I have it in such abundance), I stayed in bed quite late and then watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in one sitting. Ten and a half hours of viewing, interrupted by maybe one aggregate hour of going to the bathroom and getting snacks (string beans and grapefruit juice, yummmm... goddamned diet) filled my day nicely.

And if you ever get the chance, I totally recommend viewing the entire trilogy as one movie. I had only seen it in episodes separated by an entire year (except for The Fellowship of the Ring, which I have on VHS and have seen a few more times in between), and one simply cannot maintain a narrative mood over that much time. But seeing it all at once, on a comfy couch instead of a theater-seat, and having a pause button so you can get up and pee and eat and stretch whenever you want, made the whole epic undertaking so much more enjoyable and cohesive. It was a grand and a beautiful thing.

And then last night I watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; I ordered the double-disk widescreen edition DVD from Amazon last week, and wasn't expecting it to come any time soon (I opted for the free shipping, you see), but there it was on my doorstep the day after Thanksgiving, rattling around in the wonderuful smiling Amazon box that was much too big for one DVD and one small book (I finally broke down and bought David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim at the same time, having despaired of ever finding a used copy, or of it coming out in paperback... people keep buying the hardback, and never letting it go).

I've already seen it twice in the theater (Harry Potter that is, I don't think David Sedaris can be seen in a theater), and there was no narrative thread to lose, but I was reminded how superior this film was to the two that preceded it, how lyrically beautiful and deliciously dark. And I was reminded of how exceptionally attractive young Daniel Radcliffe is becoming... is it wrong to lust after a fourteen-year-old boy? I mean, I know it's wrong to touch them and to take nudie pix of them (illegal, at any rate, if not actually wrong), but I found my libido enslaved by his growing physical beauty.

What made this DVD most interesting to me was the rather elaborate Extra Features that came on a separate disk and featured (really terrible) interviews with groups of the cast, conducted by some nattering idiot I've never heard of (Johnny Vaughan, apparently a BBC talk-show host) in tandem with that horrid shrunken head from the Knight Bus... I mean, I don't think I learned anything of interest about any of the actors, except for a glimpse of their natural out-of-character demeanors.

But then, that's what I really enjoyed... I understood why it was I'd started lusting after Daniel Radcliffe despite his tender years: in this film, he portrays Harry as a very steady, strong, and self-possessed character, and his on-screen demeanor is very adult... the adult mind behind the youthful face is a heady attraction. But the interview revealed him to be a rather typical high-strung teenage boy, given to spasmodic movements, clutching convulsively at the seat of his chair as if afraid he'd fly away, and letting loose with nervous giggles strenuously supressed into a rictus grin, unable to look anyone in the eye for more than a moment... he was pretty and endearing, but not sexy.

The other young actors were rather more self-possessed in their real-life characters, and rather more attractive than they are made in the films... Rupert Grint, who in the film alternates between a Stan Laurel-like comic terror and an inbred slack-jawed awe as Ron Weasely, is really quite lovely when dressed properly and not snivelling or gawping; Emma Watson, who plays the bush-haired know-it-all frump-in-training Hermione Granger, is a truly beautiful and surprisingly feminine young lady.

Many of the young people in the movies have become unexpectedly good-looking, and have to be laden with prosthetics to keep them funny: Matthew Lewis, who plays the hapless Neville Longbottom, had to wear stick-out braces behind his ears and goofy false teeth (as well as shoes and clothes much too big for him) in order to disguise the handsomeness that has grown on him since the first film; the brutish and porcine Dudley Dursley is played by the rather sweet-looking Harry Melling (couldn't find a good link), who has to wear an immense fat-suit over his relatively svelte frame.

At any rate, the Extra Features are very nice, though I didn't really explore the built-in games... I have a hard time using my remote as a game-controller. Perhaps the best part is the "making of" featurette, which had a lot of footage of Alfonso Cuaròn and J.K ("Jo") Rowling sitting at a table and discussing the eerie similarities between their different internal visions of the world of Harry Potter. Seeing how some of the effects were achieved was terribly interesting as well... I had become so entrenched in the vision that I'd quite forgotten that much of the scenery and a number of the characters were total CGI.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to go through all of the extra feautre disks of my Lord of the Rings box set... each episode came with an extra disk, but after the nearly twelve hours spent on Friday, I wasn't able to devote a similar amount of time to them on Saturday, as I had to prepare for the Cookie Monster Show at Harvey's, where I would be bringing the Baroness Griselda von Beitte-Meihasse back to life for her first appearance since winning the (first last and only) Hallowqueen Pageant last year.


The show itself was fine, but the hours leading up to it were an utter disaster of bad planning. To start, I unexpectedly fell asleep in the afternoon for two hours, totally throwing myself off schedule. Then I realized that I'd lent the corset I'd planned to wear to Angelique, and she was out of town for the weekend at Los Angeles Imperial Coronation, so I had to go to Frederick's yet again to buy another one. Before that, I went scouring through a shop in Berkeley called Sunshine Fashions, seeking a high-gloss-vinyl corset or waist-cincher to match my high-gloss-vinyl thigh boots (and the waist-cincher I did find, which is really just a very elaborate belt, cost more than the boots did).

Then I picked up Madasin, and then did the grocery shopping I'd intended to do instead of sleeping (I'd also planned to go to the gym during those two lost hours, but that was simply out of the Q), and then got back to the house to get my things together and shower and shave. Of course, I couldn't find several of the things I'd wanted to wear, and had difficulty finding several others, and so wasted an hour that I could no longer afford after all of the above shenanigans.

My makeup went on like a breeze, the Baroness being much easier to paint than Marlénè... the Flapper/Goth Baroness is pretty much just a blank moon face with panda-eyes and severe cheekbones over a downturned china-doll mouth, the eyes and mouth done with one shade of bruise-purple, with black eyeliner and burst-blood-vessel-red rouge, while the much classier and classic Marlénè is a masterpiece of very subtle shadings and contours, two different colors of rouge and five of eyeshadow and three of eyeliner and a lipliner and lipstick and three separate layers of powder. Of course Marlénè is easier to put on, since I have more practice, but it takes me at least forty minutes to do that makeup, and the Baroness only took me twenty despite the unfamiliarity of the materials and shapes.

The makeup, unfortunately, was the only thing that didn't turn on me. As I was putting on the vinyl thigh-boots, the zipper on the right boot burst at the ankle — I'd forgotten to loosen the laces before I tried to zip it up, as I had with the left boot, it can be fixed but I didn't have time — and then the vinyl waist-cincher (which I had of course not tried on in the store) wouldn't close over my waist, at least not without the help of another pair of hands, and Madasin had her own wardrobe malfunctions to deal with... so the whole idea of the first dress, which was intended to be made of contrasts between the hardness of the vinyl boots and corset and the softness of the shredded-chiffon dress, the severity of the bobbed hair and the girlishness of the beaded voile throat-ribbon (which I couldn't find), was shot straight to hell.

By the time we got into the car, dressed and more-or-less ready, we were fifteen minutes late for the scheduled starting time, and Goddess knows how much longer it would take to drive there. Fortunately, when I called Cookie on my cellphone to let her know of the delay, I found that she was still getting dressed: the show wouldn't start for at least another half-hour, so we had time to get across the Bay and finish getting ready there. So I got over the Bridge and across the City double-quick, pulled into the bus stop in front of Harvey's and unloaded Madasin and our luggage, then went off looking for a parking space, finding one quickly on my usual secret-magic-parking-place-street... which is about eight blocks from the club on 18th and Castro.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to wear walking shoes (or to be more specific, tap shoes) so that I could schlepp from the car to Harvey's in a reasonable amount of comfort, instead of trying to do it in my four-inch-stilleto-heeled boots (I'd brought a back-up pair, naturally, the Edwardian-style satin knee-boots I wore for Hallowqueen last year). But still, with a corset pulled tight around my middle, freezing to death with a very cute but totally inadequate Liz Claiborne ribbon-tied rabbit stole, it was not an easy walk.

And then, the minute I got to the club, where the show had just started, and began changing into my boots and getting my jewelry on, I realized that I'd left my music in the car! So back I had to go, running part of the way, in a fully-cinched corset mind you, uphill, eight blocks back to the car, and then rushing/running all the way back again as fast as I could. At least I wasn't cold anymore. I just had time to get into my boots and put on one bracelet before I had to get up on the stage without even catching my breath or powdering my face or touching up my lipstick.

Well, as frazzled as that, it's no surprise that I didn't put near as much oomph into my first number as I'd intended, pretty much phoning in my performance while trying to breathe normally and not pass out from the strain. But then, I've noticed that most people can't tell when I'm giving a half-assed performance, and so they don't seem to mind. I mind, though: I thought the song was important, and I really wanted to be on for it.

I performed Ute Lemper's German-to-English-translated version of "The Lavender Song," a rousing anthem to gay pride that was written in 1920 and very popular in the cabarets of Berlin as Hitler was coming to power; it's pretty much a march, very militant and in-your-face, and relevant to the growing climate of reactionary backlash in this country — the second verse goes: "Round us all up, send us away / That's what you'd really like to do / But we're too strong, proud, unafraid / In fact, we almost pity you"... in view of what happened in Germany after that song was first sung, there's a poignancy that I find very stirring.

The second number, "Peel Me a Grape" as performed by the smoky and sassy Anita O'Day, went a bit better, since I could breathe, and my makeup was neat and matte, my hair combed, and I was wearing the outfit I'd intended to wear (a chiffon peignoir with faux fur collar and cuffs with my satin corset over a satin slip, and the satin boots... actually, I'd intended to wear lace-topped stockings, too, but I ended up having to wear tights because I'd not had time to shave my legs, something I haven't done in years but thought would be appropriate to the character). I was very sultry, and they loved it. Hell, I loved it!

In between and after the numbers, I also got to sit and chat with good friends: Daisy Wynan-Roses and her hubby Dean, and Miss Ivy Drip and her hubby Nick, and Princess Johnson and Dazelina and JoJo and of course Madasin; and I also got to collect compliments from various of the audience members, two of whom compared me quite favorably to Catherine Zeta-Jones (I get that whenever I wear a bob, I shall have to explore the possibility of a more direct imitation), and ogle some very cute (but fuzzy, as I wasn't wearing my glasses) young men inside and outside of the club.

Afterward I gave Cookie and her hubby Michael (I call them "hubby" in this condescending manner because I am jealous as all hell) a ride home with all of their many goods and chattels, took off my face and put on my jeans, and then Madasin and I had a late supper at Baghdad Cafe before finally heading home. I almost fell asleep several times on the way home, and seriously considered pulling over and taking a little nap, but I was afraid I'd stay asleep too long and freeze to death on some side-street in El Cerrito... explain that one to St. Petie.


Joy of all joys, Grandmother didn't wake me up at 8 to go to church Sunday morning... I had been dreading that, since I didn't get in bed until 3:30 and would have been a wreck. I was sorry that she felt sick (she's been having dizzy spells and sleeping a lot all weekend, I think she either has a flu or had a reaction to something she ate at Thanksgiving... though I don't think she ate anything I didn't), but her discomfort was my luxury when I woke up at noon after eight uninterrupted hours.

I was so overjoyed that I got up and started doing laundry (eventually, that is... after reading a little and having coffee and talking with Caroline, and during the making and eating of dinner [short ribs and steamed rainbow chard with onions, really yummmm and on my diet] and the watching of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). I'm about a third of the way through the laundering, and it feels so good to have the piles of clothes up off the floor. Of course, I wasn't so energized that I was able to pick up the trash and books and magazines that are also on the floor, nor to make my bed again with clean sheets... after all, remember that I ran several blocks uphill and downhill in a corset the night before, and I was sore (still am, actually).

So anyway, that's my Thanksgiving Weekend. When I started writing this post this morning before going to work (it's now almost 9 p.m., and I've been pecking at this all day), I had a theme that I was going to explore, which had something to do with the title at the top... but damned if I can remember what it was. That's what I get for letting work get in the way of my leisure activities! (Maybe that was the theme...) Anyway, the dryer just buzzed, I have to go fold now. Toodles!