Wednesday, March 31, 2004


So last night, when I got home from my meeting and spending time with my little protégé talking about eyeliner and casual sex, after a long day of unaccustomed number-crunching at the office and elliptical machines at the gym, and was so tired I couldn't hold my head upright but was nevertheless sitting here in front of my computer reading email and burning files onto a CD so I could take them to work, I followed an email link to (formerly E-Mode) and took their fancy new Super IQ Test.

Though there were a few hairy moments where I had to work something out on a piece of paper or add a couple of numbers on the calculator, the test wasn't that difficult. And, according to them, even when my brain is running on two cylinders in the middle of the night and I'm too stupid to just get in bed and sleep, I am some kind of low-end genius, with an IQ of 141 (the norm is 100, with standard deviations of 20, so 140-160 would be genius-level while over 160 is supergenius and extremely rare).

Furthermore, Tickle informs me that my "thinking style" is Complex Intellectual: "This means you are highly intelligent and have extraordinarily strong verbal and math skills. Compared to others you are a highly conceptual and complex thinker and are able to understand information in an abstract form. You also show great attention to detail. In fact, it's hard to find something you're not good at. Only 6 out of 1,000 people have this rare combination of abilities."

They even followed up this information by sending me an email telling me that "Complex Intellectuals tend to intellectualize a situation or muse about its layers of complexity and make grand-scale associations." And of course they want me to spend $14 on a multi-page report fully detailing my brilliance... it's what they're there for, to sell reports and matchmaking services. Oh, wait, a pop-up window tells me that, for a limited time, I can get my Super IQ Report and a free seven-day membership to their Matchmaking Service for only $9.95! Tempting...

When I was in the fifth grade, I had my IQ tested. My teacher, Mr. Polton (who was gay, though I didn't know it at the time... but I idolized him), wondered if perhaps my inattention in class was caused by intellectual boredom and so signed me up for the IQ test that would allow me to take advanced instruction. This very nice young woman dragged me off to a quiet corner of the library and asked me all sorts of puzzle questions and gave me some wooden beads and blocks to futz with. It was a lot of fun, and I came out with a score of 98 (which is just below the mean for an adult), meaning that at the age of ten I was already as mentally capable as the average college senior.

My score was two points below what was needed to shove me into the Advanced Instructional Module (or AIM... this was in the days before Prop 13 decimated California school funding, and elementary schools were just rolling around in cash while elderly people lost their homes to escalating property taxes). But Mr. Polton got me in anyway with some sort of business about my catching up as soon as I was ensconced among the intelligentsia. So twice a week, I went to another room of the school in order to enjoy advanced intellectual stimulation with the rest of the school's smartasses.

The whole thing was very interesting but a bit of a waste of time. We did a lot of entertaining science stuff, played word games, and had discussion groups, but I don't remember there being any kind of literature or art involved. It wasn't instruction, per se, it was just stimulation... I don't remember learning much of anything specific, so I suppose it was more geared to creating thought patterns, setting up the information conduits our brains would require to process vast amounts of information in our no-doubt-college-bound futures.

I discovered fairly soon, though, that my inclusion in the AIM program raised a lot of expectations in my teachers and my family, expectations I could not live up to. Mr. Polton expected that, once exposed to the magical intellectual stimulation of my twice-weekly AIM sessions, I would suddenly perform better in regular classes. But I was still bored to tears by the repetitions of basic math and the asinine adventures of Dick and Jane, as well as still completely antisocial (being in the AIM program did little to endear me to classmates who already viewed me with suspicion and horror, and my sense of superiority over them made me resent them even more) and so continued to perform poorly in class. My parents expected that as soon as my genius was discovered, I should never do stupid things anymore, and were dismayed when I continued to neglect my homework and forget my chores and make clumsy attempts to pilfer sweets from the pantry.

The worst part of the AIM class was that it was filled with geeks. And by "geeks" I mean optimistic and extroverted overachievers who dress a little too neatly and become obsessed with science-fiction very easily. And so there I was, an introverted and deeply troubled underachiever who dressed eccentrically but sloppily and who fell asleep in the middle of Star Wars and had no interest in seeing it several times. They were know-it-alls, like me, but actually knew more than I did because they'd been going to the same school all their lives (I was on my twelfth by then) and getting advanced instruction longer; and like me they were social misfits, but they were able to socialize with and conform to each other. The Advanced Instructional Module was just another place for me to not fit in.

Nevertheless, I was labeled as Intelligent, and so was saddled with Advanced Instruction of one kind or another for the rest of my schooldays. I'm glad of it now, as I got a better education than most of my fellows, but back then I found it burdensome. And if I had a nickel for every time I heard "Robert is very bright, but he just doesn't apply himself," I'd have enough money to buy a new fur coat.

So here I am, a low-end genius, and what good does it do me? Where are the cash and prizes? Sure, I graduated with honors without trying terribly hard, but my diplomas are from imprestigious schools. Sure, I can figure out complex bookkeeping records and software when I have absolutely no background in accounting or math, but I don't get paid extra for doing it. Sure I can watch a film version of a Shakespeare play (or a surrealist drama, or a complicated thriller) without ever once having to wonder what on earth the actors are nattering on about, but that just means that I end up explaining the entire plot to whoever is watching the film with me.

In the final analysis, IQ is just one of those things you have or don't have; and while it may have its advantages, it also has its drawbacks, like everything else in the world. It is ultimately meaningless.

Which leaves us with the question: What does have meaning? Hmmm... I think I'll bend my low-end-genius brain to figuring that one out while I go shower and dress and schlepp off to work. Toodles!

Friday, March 26, 2004

Sleep Patterns

You may be wondering why I've blogged three mornings in a row. Well, the thing is that I've been waking up at 7:30 every morning for the last two weeks, and I'm starting to get used to it. And I don't mean that my alarm goes off at 7:30... in fact, my alarm doesn't go off until 9, it has become more of a get-your-ass-dressed alarm than a wake-your-ass-up alarm. I mean that I am wide awake in my bed at 7:30 for no apparent reason. Cogent, even. It's weird.

So I usually loll in the bed for another half-hour or so before my bladder forces me out, and then I make coffee, and then I download my morning spam, and then I drink my first cup of coffee, then I read all of my daily reads (a fast-dwindling list, I need some new blood), and then I drink my second cup of coffee... and after all that, it's only 8:45. It takes me less than ten minutes to get dressed (I just now got dressed in about two seconds), and I don't leave the house until 9:45 at the earliest, but this week I've been going in at eleven (because I know I won't be able to leave work before 5), so I don't leave the house until 10:45. That leaves almost two hours with nothing to do... I can shower and fuck with my hair, that takes some time, but I can only shower every other day or else my skin and hair dry up and blow away; I can make and eat breakfast, but I'm usually not hungry in the morning.

And so I have been writing more, doing a diary entry on the mornings that I don't have to shower (yesterday would have been a shower-day, but as you can read, I wasn't in the mood to be fresh and clean, nor was I in the mood to eat).

Grandmother, quite conversely, has been sleeping a lot the last few days. Normally she's a very light sleeper, and in the usual practice of eighty-five-year-olds she only sleeps two or three hours at a time at night and has lots of little cat-naps during the day. But she was so deeply asleep when I got home from the office yesterday, she didn't even wake up when I called her name; when I left to have dinner with a friend, she was still asleep; when I got back from dinner two and a half hours later, she was still asleep. Then she woke up at eleven p.m., just as I was heading for bed. I don't know if she slept at all during the night, but she was asleep when I got up at a quarter to eight.

It has me kind of worried, all this sudden deep-sleeping. And I find I don't handle worries well... I tend to sublimate them, try to talk myself out of them, bury them deep and try to forget about them. Of course, when you do such things, the worries just pop out in other places, emotions and behaviors that are apparently unrelated but have their roots in the worries you're avoiding. Like feeling unaccountably sad, or going on mad credit-card shopping sprees (I only spent about fifty bucks Wednesday afternoon, but it was user spending, if you know what I mean).

But even admitting my worry doesn't help much. I don't want to talk to Grandmother about it for fear of worrying her, too... she has no problem worrying, she could get the gold if Worrying were an Olympic sport, but she tends to get very fearful when it's something about her health; such as, she gets dehydrated fairly easily because of her medications (hydrochlorothyazide for her blood pressure, which has diuretic properties), and every time she get dehydrated she thinks she's having a stroke... little realizing that she's essentially having a hangover, and since she never drank she has no experience of them. So I get her to drink a bottle of Pedia-Lite and she feels better, but the next time it happens she panics again and thinks her brain is exploding. It's very trying.

And then, worrying has always struck me as unbearably useless. It doesn't do anything, nobody ever accomplished anything by worrying about it. But pretending you're not worried doesn't work any better than worrying. What does?

I guess the answer is that you have to not fear in order to not worry. I worry about Grandmother because I'm really not prepared to lose her. I'm afraid of what my life will be like without her. And I may be even more afraid of her becoming incapacitated than I am afraid of her dying... it sounds selfish to my own ears, but I am not ready to devote more of myself to taking care of her. If she became incapacitated, I would need to give up a lot of my own life in order to take care of her. It's something I want to do, but not yet. I'm just not ready.

Prayer and meditation, prayer and meditation. I realize that I have always been able to do things when it comes time to do them. I may bitch and moan and freak out, but when the big changes do come down the pike, I always manage to adapt. Whatever happens, and no matter how ill-prepared I am for it happening, I will usually do the right thing and invariably survive. There's no need to be afraid. It's just the human response to the unknown and/or undesirable outcomes that litter our lives.

God, that sounded sententious. I'm going to go eat a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich now, have another cup of coffee, and go to work. I'm working on financial things today, our office finances are in such a mess and nobody understands the budget or the financial reports. So I am working on a user-friendly translation of the very confusing treasurer's reports as well as a "transparent" (meaning accessible to the densest mind) draft budget for next year. All this from the guy who flunked math even more often than he flunked PE. Hopefully the DSL is back up so I can surf beefcake while I'm juggling figures.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Today I Feel Sad

There's this website called Model Launch, which is all about male modeling; I rely on this website for light and fluffy entertainment, eye-candy, and variegated silliness. I was therefore taken quite aback to receive an update this morning that 25-year-old model Brian Bianchini (pictured above) committed suicide the other day during a downward spiral of depression, under which he had been suffering for quite some time. Though he was a local SF boy, I certainly didn't know him, but my heart nevertheless goes out to his friends and family. As with all suicides, I feel so sorry that life was such a torment to this boy that he preferred to end it. Such suffering should not have to be borne. But there it is.

This kind of news is not the best way to start off your day. Especially as I have been feeling kind of depressed myself for the last couple of days. Though my depression certainly isn't suicidal, it leaves me in a place where the destruction of a beautiful young man I didn't even know weighs with undue heaviness on my soul. It leaves me in a place where minor irritations like a temporary DSL outage at work or an ill-considered comment from someone at a meeting can bring me to the brink of a screaming fit of tears. It leaves me in a place where I just want to get back into bed with a gallon tub of Kozy Shack tapioca and a roster of grim German movies on VHS.

I just feel sad, is all. The wonder of Recovery is that you get to feel sad without having to do anything about it. Some days I'm sad, some days I'm happy, some days I'm pissy, some days I'm giddy. Not one of these moods will last very long, so why try to control them? Just experience them as they come along. I would of course prefer to be happy today, I'd even take giddy... but I'd also prefer to be rich and gorgeous and hung like a pony. That's not the hand I was dealt this life around.

Analogy: Life is a game of 40,000-card stud; some hands are low and some hands are high; some hands have aces and kings showing but mismatched twos and fours in the hole, so it's hard to tell what hand others are playing; you might run out of money before the end of the game, you might decide to fold your hand. Each day is a new card, and today dealt me a sad card. The next card in the hand, I don't know what, but I'm going to keep hoping for aces, I'm going to keep betting on each card, with prudence when I'm not too sure and with daring when I'm feeling lucky. I'm not going to fold until I'm out of chips and credit.

One gets dressed and goes to work and runs errands and so on and so forth. Or at least I do. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, that credit-card bill isn't going to pay itself. I could take a sick-day, or more correctly a sad-day, but I think it would be better exercise for my soul to try and stick it out instead. Sometimes these sad days turn out well later on. I just wish I could find my box of Blues Drops. Methinks I might be needing them today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


I like having protégés. The role of mentor, however casually or formally that role comes about, makes me feel so useful.

I have this young friend (whom we shall call "Benedict," for no particular reason except that it is not his name), new to AA, who has taken to calling me Auntie, and I absolutely revel in the relationship as it's developed. But last night I felt somewhat tested: he was upset and depressed about life in general, largely dissatisfied with his sponsor and his higher power, and particularly worried about appearing for his misdemeanor-DUI court date the next day. I wanted to comfort him, but I had no idea what to say to him; but since he and I usually go for coffee after the meeting and I usually drive him home, I figured I'd get a chance to talk to him alone later... so I just stood still and listened.

While I stood there listening, I also listened to his friend (whom we shall call "Quincy," because he looks like a Quincy), an even younger and rather shrilly effeminate (but nonetheless cute) boy, who was taking the opportunity to vent his own drama and overall dissatisfaction with life. And during the spiel, I observed Quincy's shrill drama was having a deleterious effect on Benedict, feeding his dissatisfaction rather than ameliorating it. So when Quincy made a statement to which I had to disagree, I inserted myself into the conversation.

"It's just easier to be a bitch," Quincy declared, "it's too hard being nice to people you don't care about and who don't give a shit about you."

"Not true," I reproved, floating uninvited into their conversation like know-it-all Yoda (but with correct syntax), "Being a bitch requires so much energy! All the anger required just wears you out."

Quincy went on unheedingly with his spiel, but since my attention was focused on Benedict anyway, I just let him go. But I realized what it was that I was there for: to be calm, and rational, and to teach rational calmness by example rather than by encomium. So I stood there calmly demonstrating how to be nice to people for whom you don't really care, giving the appearance of listening politely, with my usual benign half-smile on my face... all the while thinking about giving Quincy a good slap upside the head and spanking the sass right out of him.

I tried to explain my philosopy of unengagement with Benedict later, but I don't think I did a very good job of it (as I hadn't really given it any thought until just then, and so didn't have a sermon prepared). But the gist of it is: when people upset you, all you have to do is pretend they don't exist. The world is full of people who don't really exist for you, people in other places whom you've never seen and people quite nearby whom you will never encounter; and you can add people you have seen and encountered to that pool of virtually nonexistent people. You simply don't engage with them and whatever they're doing to irritate or uspet you.

See, what I have found over the years is that only when you expect certain behaviors from people can they really get under your skin. You expect civility from people, you expect that if you are nice to them they will be nice to you. But that is not always true, and since you can't change other people's behaviors, you have to change your expectations. And I don't mean to expect people to be uncivil or unkind... you simply expect nothing at all, and attach no importance to what you get.

Easier said than done, of course. When I was working counter-service back in the days of my youth (counter-service was the context under which Quincy made his statement on bitchery), I realized that I loomed larger in the customer's consciousness than he did in mine... for while I related to hundreds of customers every day, he only related to one or two countermen per day. And so I became a focus to the customer, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill. But I didn't have to respond to that focus by focusing on the customer: I just completed the order and rang him up and wished him a nice day. I didn't really care if he had a nice day or not, it was mere formula. I didn't let myself care what the customer thought of me, whether or not he liked me, whether or not he treated me well. I refrained from engaging with the customer socially, and only related to him professionally... much the way a slaughterhouse worker relates to cows professionally rather than socially. You just bang him on the head and yell "Next!"

But now in my office environment, I find my expectations sometimes get the better of me and I have difficulty detaching from our members. Largely, I think, because they are college teachers and I therefore expect them to be professional and intelligent. Most of them are, I suppose, but the ones who call our office oftentimes aren't, and that upsets my expectations. It's one of those weird prejudices that get into your system and are really hard to get out. I also find that, since I have to put more of my self into my work, especially when it comes to writing, than I did when it was about impersonal sandwiches and lattes, that I feel mortally insulted when I discover that people didn't read what I wrote.

However, difficulty with remaining unengaged does not make it necessary to become bitchy. One of my coworkers actually noticed several months ago that, when I become extremely polite and elaborately courteous to someone, I must be terribly, terribly angry with that person. The meaningless half-smile is a dead giveaway (I use it on the phone, too), and the even tone of voice chills those who know how warm I normally sound, but nothing there gives a clue to the person receiving the "Frozen WASP Treatment" (as my coworker calls it) that I am in any way angry with him. To give away one's personal feelings to an enemy is to engage him, to put onesself in his power to a certain extent.

The lesson, of course, is that Expecations Kill. We are dissatisfied by things and people and behavior only when we expected something better. We get angry only when our expectations are upset. We are hurt only when we've expected different outcomes. Life would be an absolute dream if we could only not expect anything at all from it.

But that's not how it works. You can let go of an expectation here and an expectation there, but expectations are part of human nature and we are never completely rid of them. Nevertheless, when we react to our disappointments, angers, and hurts by engaging in deleterious behaviors with other people, we merely propogate something that we should be trying to starve into nonexistence. Complaining is one thing, it vents our frustrations and pains; but blaming, and acting on that blame, is nothing but unnecessary bitchery and only gives birth to more frustrations and pains.

Never let 'em see you sweat, that's my motto. Swathe yourself in bland indifference: never let them hear you yell, never let them know what names you call them as soon as you hang up the phone, never try to punish those who you think have done you wrong. By doing so you engage with the wrongdoers, you get tangled up in a drama that you can't control, and they drag you down with them.

Oops, speaking of unengaged, I need to be at the office now. Have a lovely day (I mean it, I really do).

Monday, March 22, 2004

Genesis 2:18

One of the things I sometimes do, when I'm sitting in church with the Grandmother, is to pick up a Bible and flip through it. Some of those Old Testament stories are a hoot... like a certain Jezebel who was tossed out of a window (or defenestrated, if you prefer) and was eaten by dogs, and nothing was left of her but her hands, feet, and skull (II Kings, a book as bloody as a Mel Gibson movie, verses 30-37). Why those particular parts, I can't imagine, which makes the Old Testament so entertaining for me.

Something that occurred to me yesterday, though, is that I have never really studied the philosophies of the Old Testament, having solely focused on the gothic tales of macabre deaths and the counterarguments about homosexuality that I love to throw in people's faces (all that business about abominations and proscriptions, it's a maze of modern hypocrisy). So I was thinking about maybe wandering through the Psalms and Proverbs sections and seeing if I could glean some ancient wisdom from them.

But instead I looked at Genesis, studying an argument I'd recently heard where it was posited that the order of Creation in Genesis follows very closely with the order of Evolution from the Big Bang to the Stone Age, but with symbolic or mythical representations rather than scientific theories. So I was following along with the division of the light from the dark (the Big Bang or the birth of the Sun) and the earth from the sky (formation of the planets) and the sea from land (emergence of the continents), the birds and sea-creatures preceding the land animals, and the only jarring note was the creation of lights in the sky after the creation of vegetation (though it is possible that the stars were not visible from the surface at that time, perhaps there was a cloud-cover, though the sun must have been if there was vegetation).

And then you get to the creation of the Garden, and all the talk about rivers and whatnot, and the tempting trees that you're not supposed to eat of, and here comes Adam, who takes care of things and names them... now, this is something that I always found interesting: Adam named things (that is, created language) when he had nobody to talk to except God, which raises the question of why God didn't name the things He created.

Well, all that's nothing but lead-up to what I was planning to talk about in the first place (like my favorite University English essay, on flower symbolism in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which I placed my thesis statement on the fifth page of a twelve-page paper): the passage cited in the title, "It is not good that the man should be alone." It started me off thinking about solitude and loneliness, and whether or not it is a good thing.

I, like many people, value my solitude but hate loneliness. I enjoy spending time by myself in certain pursuits, I love having a personal space arranged to my liking where I can be alone, I am adamant about having certain times and activities to myself; on the other hand, I love spending time with friends and sometimes even my family, I love sharing my personal space with a select few, and find certain places and activities insupportable without company.

That's all very straightforward; but what makes it difficult is the unexpected or apparently irrational feelings attached to a moment or activity that change one's aloneness to either solitude or loneliness. For example, if I go to a party by myself, I feel lonely... even though I'm at a party, with a lot of other people, some or many of whom are my friends. But for some reason, the arriving alone and leaving alone makes the whole thing feel lonely. On the other hand, sleeping alone is never lonely, it is my most valued solitude; I hate having another person in the room with me, much less in the same bed, when I'm sleeping, even if I just had sex with him. I certainly like a nice cuddle after the act (or at least I remember it so, it's been such a long time my view might have become warped), but I find it very difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep with another person there.

So what is it that makes a moment feel like loneliness or like solitude? My expectations? My physical needs? Forces of habit? Some weird combination of the three? I don't know. But I am beginning to understand the point of mating: that other person who will be there when you need another person there, and for whom you can be there when s/he needs someone, and who you are comfortable having in the places where you usually demand solitude. And yet, I still fear letting another person into my solitude and nevertheless feeling lonely; and so I place my solitude at a premium and accept loneliness as its price. But for how much longer? I wonder.

And while I'm wondering about that, I'll leave you with this:

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Nice and Mundane

What a hell of a week that was. Can it really have been only the heat that made me so angry and resentful and irritable and depressed? I was so surly and enraged, I'm going to be spending much of next week apologizing to everyone I yelled at or growled at last week, my coworkers and my friends and my sponsor and my Grandmother. It was very much like a low depression swing. So I find myself wondering: was it the heat, or was I having a bipolar episode?

I'm leaning toward the heat theory, since the heat-wave ended yesterday, the air is nice and moist again, the temperature hovering in the ideal 65º-70º range, and all is now right with the world. I got a good deal of work done yesterday, and then went to a really quite nice funeral (a friend of my Grandmother's from church, she was eighty and had severe arthritis and Alzheimer's, the service was short and interesting, everyone was happy to have known the deceased and glad her suffering was ended, and there was no lugubriousness involved), had a nice dinner featuring lots of meat (I finished half of Grandmother's chicken-fried steak as well as my own three pork chops), got into bed at ten-thirty and read some nice porn, then slept really well for almost ten hours. And now I feel just peachy.

So peachy, in fact, that as soon as I'm done here, I am going to tackle my room for a couple of hours. Then I am going with Caroline to the RGDC Motown Show at the Rainbow Room in Hayward; I'm not performing in the show, but Caroline and Angelique are. It will be nice to go to a show and not have to do anything, although I have always found drag shows in which I am not performing to be rather dreary. But without performing myself, there isn't the two hours prep-time nor the hour or so un-prep time to factor in, and I will be perfectly comfortable in whatever Saturday schleppwear I decide to don for the event (perhaps I'll just throw a Hawaiian shirt over the flame t-shirt and khaki board-shorts I'm wearing now).

I will be performing tomorrow, in the Studs & Stilettos Show, also at the Rainbow Room... I don't know if it's a Grand Ducal event or a Leather Council event, but I promised the host I'd be in it. Me and my damned scrupulous honor. Oh, well, it might be fun, and another good reason to wear my fabulous black satin lace-up boots. What I'm going to wear them with, I have no idea, nor any idea what song to perform. I was thinking Ella's "Everything I've Got," which is all about spousal abuse ("I've a powerful anesthesia in my fist, and the perfect wrist to give your neck a twist; there are hammerlock holds, I've mastered a few, and everything I've got belongs to you")... but I think I performed that recently, though I can't for the life of me remember where or in what context.

My life feels so boring. But I'm content. I wish for passion and intensity of some kind, but I'm perfectly content, today, to just wander through my dull little life without rocking any boats or upsetting any applecarts. It's not what I want, but it'll do for the time being.

Well, off I go to clean out my drawers, break down these boxes that are in my way, repack this plastic crate of keepsakes, and haul everything down to the garage for disposal or storage. Kisses!

The caption is too easy...

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

It's Too Darn Hot!

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate heat? Okay, so maybe I bitch about it every time it happens... the thermometer goes over seventy and my Druidic blood just screams out in agony. Especially if it's a dry heat or if it's muggy... that's just hell on Earth. I feel all sticky and grouchy and tired and stupid.

Of course, the rest of the country is still having Winter... they tell me the Northeast is blanketed in snow. What's up with that?

And if I had my choice between heat or snow, I would take the heat. Much as I dislike the heat, I haven't touched snow in fifteen years at least, and I have no intention whatever of ever touching it again. It looks so pretty and fluffy and nice but it's really just cold and wet and painful. At least heat looks uncomfortable. Hot air rising off of boiling asphalt, bright white sunlight roasting the trees to a dusty sage color, etc. And then there's always the added bonus of other people taking off their clothes (if one learns to look only at the cuties and filter out the horrors).

But you know, I have never been the type of person to feel better about my ills and discomforts when given the knowledge that someone else has it worse than I do. "At least it's not as bad as that other guy's problems," has never given me any comfort, so knowing that New Yorkers are shoveling snow doesn't make me feel any better about this goddamned heatwave. For the same reason, I never assume that people who appear to be better off than me are any less tortured by their problems than I am by mine. Discomfort, pain, unhappiness, loneliness, these are all completely relative to each person.

What was I saying? I don't know. I'm going to go drink some iced tea and take a shower. Have a nice afternoon!

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Saturday Mornings

There's something vaguely sacriligeous about getting up at a specific time on a Saturday morning. On Saturday, one should sleep until one wakes up on one's own... well, ideally, one should be able to do that every day, but realistically there should be one day in the week set aside for sleeping in. And since I take the Grandmother to church on Sundays, and have to show up at the office the next five days of the week, it seems that Saturday should be sacrosanct.

But here I am on a Saturday morning, not snoozing and loafing and lollygagging, but getting my drags and bags together to go to an Imperial Coronation in San Jose (and taking a brief moment out of the day to complain to you about it). It's a long and boring tale about protocol and will-call tickets and dressing venues gone suddenly awry, but whenever you involve drag queens and travel in any equation, it becomes immensely complicated and unbelievable time-consuming.

And last week I was up at the crack of nine so we could get a reasonably early start on our drive to Bass Lake. And the week before it, was something else (San Francisco Coronation, but that didn't make me get up early... I can't remember now what did, only that I was up early for some reason). I can't even remember the last time I got to sleep until I woke up of my own volition, without some dratted alarm telling me what to do.

Oh, well, it's the price we pay for hobnobbing with morning people and living in their crazy dawn-to-dusk world. I once plotted with my cousin Jamie to overthrow this world run by morning people; our plot fell apart, though, when we realized we'd probably have to get up really early in order to launch a proper attack, which would defeat the purpose of the whole thing.

So off I go to pack, shave, and jet. I hope your Saturday is as restful and easy as a Saturday ought to be... by all rights, you shouldn't even have to read this until Monday afternoon. Ta!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

What's Going On?

In the past, when I have had difficulty coming up with something to write about, it was because there was something I should be writing about but I didn't want to. But for the last week or so, I've had such difficulty finding topics to write up... and when I did try to squeeze something out, all I managed was a little update on my activities. It makes me wonder what topic I'm avoiding. But in the meantime I will continue to mine the mundanities of everyday life in an effort to find some deeper truth.

So I was watching Queer Eye last night, and the Straight Guy in question was the scrumdiddlyumptious John Zimmerman, a figure-skater of mindboggling beauty. I have a thing for figure-skaters anyway (put a fabulous ass and thighs in skintight beaded satin pants and I'm there), but this is a figure skater with big hair and an epically pretty face, with whom I fell in love at the 2002 Winter Olympics (and even wrote about it in my blog at the time). So when I saw that the Fab Five were taking him on, I dutifully tuned in... an angelic hunk getting pushed around by well-meaning fags, sneaky-peeks of panty as Carson dresses him, sneaky-peeks of parts as Kyan takes him tanning or massaging or whatever, and so on and so forth: this is my definition of "Must-See TV."

I was therefore quite disappointed that the epidode turned out to be rather dull. Perhaps I missed the sneaky-peek bits while helping Grandmother with dinner, but aside from reveling in the glory of That Face (and tittering at the Fab Five, all of whom were so besotted with That Face that whenever they sat him down to give him a stern talking-to, their eyes would glaze over and their jaws droop while a soft-voiced encomium came dribbling out), there wasn't much point to the project. He certainly needed the pedicure, which is becoming pretty old-hat to regular Queer Eye viewers, but otherwise there wasn't much that needed to be done for this godling. A nice redecoration job in the home (which was as much his wife's fault as his), some new clothes, some recipes, some romantic advice that was really rather sappy, this was all just frosting-flowers on an already-iced cake. A very minor renovation.

I often wonder what it must be like to have that kind of beauty. To wander through the world having people stare amazedly at you, lower their voices and go all soft and dewy-eyed when they talk to you. It must be nice. And at the same time, it could become tedious. I've long been fascinated by the question of the burdens of great beauty. My fiction is pretty much solely focused on the idea, people with great beauty and/or great wealth who might appear from the outside to have the world wired down but who, underneath, are only human, with human frailties and human problems... but who are not considered to be quite human because of their advantages.

Unfortunately, I will never know, I can only posit... just as I can never really know what it's like to be a woman, or straight, or Bangladeshi, I can only try to understand and empathize. And there's a terrible danger in writing what you don't know... it seldom rings with truth, since you're really just guessing. Sometimes you guess right, or produce a fair facsimile of the truth, but more often than not you float a stinker, and the reader can smell it. Which is, I think, the reason that third-person narrative is easier than first-person, because the narrative becomes about observation rather than experience, and all you have to know is what you've seen from the outside, and you can guess at the rest.

On the other hand, I have not had much opportunity to observe universally beautiful people (the beauty types that everyone responds to at some level) at close quarters, nor to interview them on their experiences with their own beauty. The few terribly beautiful people I know seem to be unaware of their own beauty for the most part, or even faintly disdainful toward it; besides which, it's sort of a rude topic of conversation to bring up with casual acquaintances... "So, what's it like to be so beautiful?" It sounds like a line. One's own beauty, like one's money, is not a polite field of inquiry.

But if I'm not willing to ask the questions, how am I ever going to get the information? That's a sticky dilemma for me. I would prefer to draw all of my conclusions from pure observation without ever having to make inquiries. But there's only so much that is available to the naked eye, and only so much you can base on other people's research. Eventually you have to go to the places and see the things and ask the questions for yourself.

In the meantime, what does a person write about?

Daily life, I guess. One's own perspective on the eternal constants: love, death, art, God, and the purpose of existence. Or maybe just television and vacations and parties. Just so long as you keep writing and don't let yourself get lazy, as I have let myself get lazy. A writer should write, all the time, about everything. And I want to be a writer... not necessarily a novelist or an essayist or anything so specific, I haven't yet developed the Voice and until I do there's not much point in forcing myself down one channel or another. But I have to write nonetheless.

I also have to work, since I failed to get born into a trust-fund family... so off I go to the office to write dreck about a meeting that was a waste of everybody's time but which nevertheless needs to be immortalized in written form. I hope your day is at least as lovely as this boy:

Monday, March 8, 2004

Maxin’ and Relaxin’

There's nothing like a long soak in a hot tub in a lovely suite at a luxury resort on a mountain lake to put everything in its proper perspective. Caroline and I had an excellent time at The Pines Resort at Bass Lake, where we did very little except sit, sup, and soak: sitting in the car listening to music and on our balcony watching the sunset and on our little sofa reading the complimentary magazines and on the bed watching music videos; supping at the In-and-Out in Turlock and Ducey's on the Lake (where we had tournedos of beef and crown rack of lamb with a sweet-potato french fry appetizer) and in our suite with the enormous Continental breakfast and at the Gold Rush Grill & Saloon in Mariposa; and taking turns soaking in our lavishly appointed en suite whirlpool spa tub (I would include the picture of Caroline soaking, but it's both R-rated and not very flattering).

It was extremely relaxing. We did a bit of shopping, too, stopping in Turlock's Historic Old Town (which was neither very old nor particularly historic but was incontrovertibly a town) on the way up and Mariposa (which is old and historic but doesn't have great big billboards on I-99 saying so) on the way down, as well as at the few little shops in Bass Lake Village; but we didn't actually buy much of anything, I spent about thirty dollars on a new hat and a crystal "diamond" paperweight and a good-luck Ram (from last Chinese lunar year... this year is a Monkey year) and a jet bracelet and a jeweler's loupe, and Caroline got some pyritized fossils and a stone jar and an Italian silver paper-knife and a couple of other things... still, it was pleasant and entertaining to just browse around.

And here we are back at the old grind, refreshed and invogorated.

You know what I want? I want a boyfriend. And something crispy to eat. Fortunately, I brought a lovely Cameo apple from home today... BRB.

I had an interesting dream last night: I was a young and very pretty and rather innocent boy (I was, in fact, Kyle, the cutie-patootie from the sandwich shop where I buy my daily luncheon) who applied for a job with an import-export firm; apparently they were importing and exporting illegal weapons and drugs, but I didn't find that out until after I started working for them, and my choice was to go ahead and do the job or be bumped off; so I was working as the go-between for a drug/gun runner, and got arrested by the DEA or someone and was sent to prison for twenty or so years because I couldn't turn State's evidence (because I didn't know anything). So there I was, this young and very pretty boy in a prison full of... well, you know the stories.

And that is of course when my alarm clock went off. I hit the snooze button and rejoined the dream after a bit, by which time the story had progressed somewhat: I was being "protected" by this enormous hairy creature, I suppose he was a man but was more of a Sasquatch really. There was no sex involved in the dream, which was a bit of a disappointment... until later in the dream when we're in the showers and a hundred or so inmates decide they're going to gang-rape me. I was too concerned with the safety of my protector to allow him to defend me against so many, and my alarm went off again just as I was about to throw myself to the wolves... you'd think it might be kind of hot, all these guys in the shower and little ol' me (or more specifically, lovely young Kyle) as the centerpiece, but like I said, the dream was totally non-sexual; nor was it very violent, I wasn't exactly afraid of being gang-raped by a hundred or so people... I just felt very sorry for the Sasquatch guy and kind of sorry for myself for being so pretty. Prison showers are among those few situations where physical beauty is a liability rather than an asset. The whole tone of the dream was of sadness and sacrifice.

So, back to the boyfriend thing. As I think about it, I'm not sure why I suddenly want such a person, or whether or not I ought to want one, or even if I have the time or energy to give to one. I just want one. I would really enjoy a bit of romance in my life, and of course seven and a half years really is long enough to be celibate. I feel as though I have worked through some of the self-esteem and relationship issues that led me to enforce celibacy on myself. I may have some work left to do on the body-image and sexual-hangup issues, but sometimes you have to jump into a situation and do the work with someone else there with you.

Well, anyway, I don't think I'm going to just run down to the corner store and get myself a boyfriend, so there's not really much point to suddenly wanting one. I guess I just wanted to put the idea out to the Universe and see what It says.

In the meantime, I have plenty else to do, what with friends, family, program, and work. Speaking of work, perhaps I ought to get some done today... more minutes to write and some phone calls to make. Have a super day!

Friday, March 5, 2004

Busy Lil' Bee!

Well, I've had a terribly productive day... I did a lot of office banking (ordered new checks and such as well as making deposits and paying bills), got my hair cut (shockingly short), picked up Angelique, went shoe shopping (but didn't buy any for myself), had lunch, got my nails done (not so short), took a nice walk around Lakeshore, burned my Carol Burnett iTunes collection onto CD for Angelique, made dinner (farfalle marinara), watched a movie (8 Women), and took Angelique home. I just got back from the last bit, and am importing some favorite tracks into my iTunes Playlist to fill out my Happy Songs CD that I am going to test-drive tomorrow.

And tomorrow, Caroline and I are driving up to Bass Lake for an overnight getaway. And to prevent any confusion from runaway surmises like happened last year when I said that Caroline and I were going to Bass Lake, we are not going to be camping... we're staying in a lovely suite at the Pines Resort with a hot-tub in the room and all the rest of the necessary amenities. I do not camp, and Caroline hasn't ever camped. So just put that terrible thought right out of your head.

We plan to leave before noon so that we can make a few meandering touristy stops on the way and still get there in time to change for dinner and eat at a decent hour (Ducey's on the Lake is an exquisite experience)... so I had better get to bed soon if I intend to get a good night's sleep. And then I won't get back until Sunday evening, so no updates over the weekend.

In the meantime, I have a question for you, a readership survey if you will. Sometime soon I have to decide if I'm going to dye my hair. When I got it cut today, the lady turned me around and gave me a hand-mirror... and I almost fell out of the chair with shock. Since my hair was rather long before, I hadn't noticed that there are whole huge patches of gray on the back of my head. I don't mind the gray — well, of course, I mind the gray —but it's the patchiness of it that really bothers me. It's so uneven-looking. So I bought some Clairol Beautiful Collection Gentle Semipermanent Color (B11W Honey Brown) to cover the gray. But I'm not sure I really want to dye my hair. I haven't colored in years, and I don't want it to look as if I colored it... I guess I'm not sure I want to be the kind of guy who dyes his gray hair. What do you think?


Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Merrily We Roll Along

Wandered off for a bit, there... so much to do! Places to go! Things to watch! La, the dizzy polonaise! That, and when my nails get this long, I find myself somewhat disinclined to type. But they look ever so fabulous, so I guess it's a fair trade. But this morning I find I have a bit of time on my hands (along with all the acrylics), and so here I am.

Saturday was San Francisco Imperial Coronation, and so Caroline and Angelique and I put on our gladdest rags and popped across the bay to revel in the revels at the Gift Center. It was an amazing display, as one might expect from the Mother Court (San Francisco Imperial was the first drag court), drawing the cream of the Courts from across the nation... I experienced a twinge of Tiara Envy when I saw so many three-foot-plus crowns floating around atop vast wigs and dazzling gowns (Angelique saved her towering wig with Royal Grand Ducal crown embedded in it until we got there, since it wouldn't have fit in the car with us, but I neglected to take a picture of her in it). And since this is the Outrageous Court of S&M Leather, there was a lot of very sexy costumery walking about (in particular three rather petit pretty boys wandering around with just enough leather between them to make a proper wallet). The dazzling Empress Snatch put on a hell of a show for her Final Walk, not to mention her entrance for the Third Act on the back of a gleaming black-and-chrome motorcycle.

Well, a good time was had by all. It was a feast for the eyes, and time well-spent with worthwhile people. Caroline particularly enjoyed having another opportunity to wear her rubber bustier, though Angelique and I didn't have anything to wear "in theme" for a night of Leather Fantasy, so we didn't bother (though check out this picture... I think we look like the Drag Mafia). And once we got there, surrounded by custom-made leather evening gowns and thousand-dollar tiaras and truly amazingly fabulous accessories, I for one was glad we didn't even try... better to be a non-contender than to lose by comparison, if you ask me.

So then on Sunday, it was that Gay High Holy Day, the Oscars. I wasn't as interested in the Oscars this year as I have been in the past, largely because I only saw one film that had been nominated (LOTR: Return of the King), and had no stake in what happened. But I nevertheless settled down for the red-carpet parade and watched the whole program. It was rather nicely put together, I thought... they didn't try too hard with overproduced musical numbers and sight gags that couldn't possibly work. The gowns were lovely (except for Jada Pinkett-Smith's Victorian lampshade and Uma Thurman's...what was that? Tablecloths?), most of the tuxedoes were lovely (Stuart Townsend was unspeakably scrummy in his white dinner jacket, it wasn't until later that I realized that it's still Winter and you can't wear white dinner jackets until Spring), and most of Billy Crystal's jokes were funny (except the ones that weren't).

Monday I decided to stay home and do some tedious typing-work I had on my plate, working from the assumption that I wouldn't be interrupted at home as much as I am in the office. Unfortunately I was interrupted, but by something fun and fabulous instead of prosaic and irritating: the mailman brought me my complete set of Brideshead Revisited on VHS from Amazon. O how I love this miniseries! Such beautiful people (Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews, they were so wonderfully young), such beautiful settings (Castle Howard and Oxford), such beautiful costumes, such beautiful acting, such beautiful speech, such beautiful writing! Too bad it was the BBC series and didn't come with the old Alistair Cook intros from Masterpiece Theatre.

It took all my self-discipline to not just brew a pot of tea and get into bed for the rest of the day, immersing myself in Waugh's sad but gorgeous world. As it was, I had to set up a reward system... for every hour of typing I did, I could watch an hour-long episode. In that way I got five hours of typing and five episodes of audiovisual ecstasy under my belt by the end of the day.

My other big project that's taking up a certain amount of time and brainspace is my continuing exploration of iTunes. I'm working on a collection of songs that make me happy, like the B-52s' "Rock Lobster" or Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation (DJ Scribble Remix)"... and in the search, I am finding all sorts of interesting things that I want to have even though they don't fit into the theme, like the Oscar-winning best song "Into the West" from LOTR or Maroon 5's "This Love." Last night, for example, I downloaded the entire soundtrack to Candide (twenty-three songs from one of the world's most obscure musicals, for only $9.99! Can't beat that with a stick). And whenever I get where maybe I don't feel like have to go visit iTunes at any given moment, my nephew comes by and gives me another handful of Pepsi bottlecaps with free songs in them (and in my typical fashion, I've redeemed eight bottlecaps, but have downloaded over forty songs... among which are two full albums, mind you, but it's still a burgeoning collection).

So that's what I've been up to. How about you?