Monday, August 16, 2004


I have a dreadful headache today, and I don't know why. I woke up with it, my neck and shoulders hunched and sore, God knows what I must have been dreaming about; I almost decided to spend the day in bed on the strength of it (but realized that it would probably be quieter in the office). I took a Sudafed for sinus headache a couple of hours ago, and it helped, though it took over an hour to kick in; but there're still these two knots of tension floating around the top of my head and wandering behind my eyeballs as they shift position every few minutes.

It doesn't hurt so much when I'm eating, though, so now that I've had my sandwich and chips for lunch, I might just be lucid enough to catch you up on my multifarious and wildly glamorous doings over the last few postless days.


Thursday was uninteresting, work and gym and dining out with the Small Children. The feature of the day was renting Thirteen Going On Thirty at the repeated and unbearably annoying request of my little cousin Jessie. In her (decidedly uninformed) opinion, this is one of the greatest films of all time, she loved it in the theater and had been talking about its DVD release all week. I naturally assumed that this would be a children's film, but it turns out to be a romantic comedy... though there wasn't any sex or nudity involved, there was some rather adult language and situations that took me by surprise (I'm always dismayed that my cousin lets her children watch PG-13 romance movies... they're so unhealthy, with their potty-mouth scripts and shockingly unrealistic images of human relationships).

And of course it was a dismal film... I mean, it was kind of cute and entertaining, but I'm coming to truly loathe all romantic comedies, and this one was just the same-old-same-old about a person suddenly changing age (Freaky Friday and its recent remake, Big, Vice Versa, Eighteen Again, etc., it's practically a genre of its own). I found Jennifer Garner's blank gazes and scrunched-up grins irritating, and her hands are eye-catchingly ugly and mannish; Mark Ruffalo, though an excellent actor, always inspires in me a dreadful desire to hook his nipples to a car-battery just to get a little pizzazz into him; the magazine that provided the workplace mise-en-scène didn't make any sense at all, no business could possibly be run so badly and still survive. The writers of this dreck should all be flogged. The only person involved in the production that didn't bug me was the wardrobe mistress... the outfits were dazzling.

However, I did enjoy one thing about it, an element of story-line that didn't receive any explication but which teased my intellect a bit: in the interim between wishing to be thirty and waking up in a thirty-year-old life, the main character discovered that she'd been a total bitch during all that missed time. It was as if it were her soul that got fast-forwarded through time, skipping the seventeen years of adolescence and early adulthood, leaving behind a shell of a person motivated only by ambition.

What really teased me though, was the naturally-following question of what happened to the souls of the other empty shells motivated solely by ambition who populated this film. What birthday wishes had sent their souls off to some other time or place? Where do the souls of soulless people go? A pretty profound question from a thoroughly shallow film.


Friday was a somewhat better day; after getting to work late, I got everything done that I needed to do in just over two hours, thereby freeing my afternoon for errands and loafing... I intended to go get some new glasses, and while waiting for the glasses to be made I'd get my nails done. I have been getting my glasses in the same place for years, loving the low prices, drop-in appointments, and one-hour prescription wait-time; but when I got to Site for Sore Eyes, they didn't have any open appointments, so I made an appointment for the next day and buggered along to get my nails done. But then I decided to put that off until the next day, too, and just spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around pointlessly.

After the gym, Caroline and I went for dinner at La Mediterranée, followed by an extensive round of conversation and window-shopping that took us on a two-mile walk up and down College Avenue; aside from the pleasure of window-shopping, people-watching, and enjoying the balmy evening weather, this lengthy schlepp also allowed me to work out the quite magnificent case of gas I'd gotten from a weird food-allergy reaction I'd experienced the day before... that deadly-foul miasma wasn't something you could take indoors.

We eventually returned to my place, and settled into my room to watch Donnie Darko; I had heard good things about this movie, it seemed that every hot guy I ever browsed on Friendster listed it as a favorite film, and so when I found it on the $4.99 table at the video store, I snapped it up. I was a little concerned about the giant rabbit, things like that tend to scare me, but Jake Gyllenhaal is such a cutie-pie... I figured the two would balance out.

The movie was very disturbing, especially the giant bunny (shiver), but other images as well (Donnie's demented smile when he was having a psychotic episode was utterly haunting), and there were a few spots in the film I could have lived without (when the guy in the clown costume jumped out of the car, Caroline and I both nearly shat ourselves... I hate clowns). But it was a good film... I'm not sure I'd list it as a favorite, but it was certainly satisfying and thought-provoking.

It just occurs to me that I can't really discuss what was so thought-provoking about the film, though, without spoiling the ending for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. But I can say that I spent much of the night and all of my waking moments the next morning unravelling, in my mind, the fascinating web of actions and consequences that were resolved by changing just one thing in the past. I am going to have to assume that this thought-provocation is what makes the film so interesting to so many people... it wasn't all that exciting on the surface, but it really got the little grey cells jostling along.


So then along comes Saturday. I started writing this post that morning, but I didn't get it finished before it was time to go back to the optometrist for my appointment. Caroline unexpectedly turned up on my doorstep... her plans for the day fell through, and Caroline without a plan-for-the-day is a sad and sorry sight to see. I was glad for her company, though, since it always helps to have someone honestly critical along to help pick out new eyeglass frames; I was even gladder for her company when the eye-doctor decided to dilate my pupils so she could have a dekko at my optic nerve and scrutinize my corneas... I could barely see for quite some time afterward, and if it weren't for Caroline I would have had no end of trouble negotiating through the rest of my day.

So anyway, two hours (it took a while to pick out frames, and I had to do that before I could dilate, then wait for the dilating eyedrops to work) and $500 (highway robbery, how they can look themselves in the face after charging that much money for some bits of wire twisted together) later, I got to wander around with dilated pupils and a receipt for pick-up of a pair of squarish-looking ProFlex glasses featuring magnetic sunglass clips with a slightly stronger prescription than my current pair, which should be ready tomorrow (no more same-day service... Site for Sore Eyes ain't what it used to be).

We had lunch, then I got my nails done (I've become addicted to French tips), and then stopped off at the drugstore to pick up a couple of things for the Grandmother, and then we parted ways: Caroline had a rehearsal with Miss Daisy and Madasin for a show on Sunday, and I went home and got in bed to sleep off the rest of the dilation. I napped for a couple of hours, then tried to work at the computer to finish the post and maybe work on the novel, but it hurt my eyes, which were still dilated after six hours; instead, I read my new paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (I lent my hardback copy to my niece and haven't seen it since) under a dim lamp, and then after dinner spent the rest of the night watching five episodes of Mapp & Lucia (a very droll little British comedy based on the novels of E.F. Benson, the sort of thing only an Anglophile like me would enjoy).


(I have to note that it is now Monday night and has been several hours since I wrote the above paragraph, which I did just before leaving the office, almost four hours after restarting this post from where I left off Saturday... these long posts take an unconscionable amount of time to write when I'm having difficulty concentrating).

Sunday I didn't have to go to Church, thank God (there's an irony in there somewhere, I'm sure)... though I wish it were for a better reason than that Grandmother overdid it Saturday with cooking breakfast and futzing around in her stupid garden and trying to clean out the under-sink cupboard, and ended up hurting her knees again. Sometimes I think the woman has no sense at all. Why the hell would anyone in his or her right mind crawl up under the sink with a bottle of 409 and a sponge when s/he has the perfectly good excuse of extreme old age and a bum knee to avoid such tedious exercise? It's just not right.

But I was nevertheless glad to be able to sleep in and have a slow day: Sunday evening was "Cookie After Dark," our monthly show at Martuni's hosted by the inimitable Cookie Dough. Still, even with the extra rest, I just wasn't in the mood for it... if I hadn't promised to give a fellow performer a ride to and fro, I would most likely have crapped out and phoned my regrets. But instead, I dragged my ass out of the bed, showered and shaved, threw a couple of dresses in a bag, and off I went.

Usually when I don't feel like going out, I generally change my mind after I get there... especially a drag show. I shuffle and moan and wish I was in bed until I get that first earful of applause, until the first person tells me how fabulous I am, and then I'm happy I came. But this time, I just shouldn't have been out. Nobody seemed to notice that I was turning in some half-assed performances, I guess my accidentally well-painted face and carelessly-chosen clothes and jewelry distracted from my lackluster expressions and movements; I was uncomfortable and unhappy all the time I was crimped into my corset and pinched into my pumps and worried by my wig.

The funny thing is that I enjoyed everything except being in drag and pretending to perform; I got to spend time with people I love, I got to flirt with the cute barwaiter, I got to watch some quite riveting performances from my colleagues... if I'd just not been in drag, I would have had a great time. After I got out of drag, I felt fine, and had a wonderful time going out for dinner at Sparky's with Pretty, Madasin, Sue Nami, and a bunch of the latter's friends from work. Maybe next time I'll listen to that little voice when she tells me that today is not a Marlénè Day.


And so we come to Monday, the Day of the Endless Headache. I muddled through work, disgruntled slightly at my boss who has become obsessed and enamored with the office space I hated most in our tours last week, a little pigeon-coop of a penthouse perched atop a recently-remodeled turn-of-the-century factory four blocks away from our current location and no closer to restaurants or transportation or anything useful. Straight men can be such a bafflement, I cannot understand what thrills him so about this cramped and inconvenient space. I was just disgruntled enough that I don't feel even remotely guilty for spending time writing a letter to my nephew at boot camp, nor for spending time writing this post. I was too headachey to do much work, anyway.

After spending a shamefully brief time at the gym (fifteen minutes on the elliptical machine was all I could stand), I meandered on home... oh, the delicious echoing silence! The Small Children are gone home! I love the little buggers, but I'm just unspeakably glad they're not in my hair anymore.

I made a simple dinner for the Grandmother and myself, bringing her a tray in her room and taking mine into the living room... retreating to our separate televisions as we had before the Small Children came back. She was alternating between an A's game and the Olympics... I wish I had the patience to watch sports, especially sports with rilly-hot guys, like swimming, diving, gymnastics, etc. But I can only watch for a few minutes, filling my eyes with muscles and skin, and then I get screamingly bored with it all and have to change the channel to something else, anything else. There's something about sports that just hurts me on some level.

So instead, I viewed a new DVD that I haven't had a chance to watch since I bought it last week, The Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher. I bought it just for Ashton's face, and was quite impressed with the writing and acting... but here I found myself watching another movie about time-travel and the consequences of actions... a trio in theme, can you dig it?


Still with me? Let's see if I can bring it to a close soon so I can go to bed. I like thematic continuities, perhaps I should have only written about these three films instead of interleaving them with all that rubbish about my tiresome activities. But what the hell... I spent all this time writing it, damned if I'll erase it just because it's irrelevant.

I think it is a human trait to be fascinated with the possibility of time-travel, to want to go back and fix something that went wrong or to jump ahead out of an unpleasant present. I've seen this theme worked out in every medium, from novels and short stories to film and theatre to The Simpsons and Jimmy Neutron. I myself have often thought about what I would change in the past, if I had the chance to go back... I've lain awake nights thinking about how far back I'd have to go, positing what kind of life I might have now if I had done certain things differently.

But I have learned in the last few years that it is a crucial element of maturity to be able to accept the past instead of wishing to change it. Shit happens, and even if we could go back and change things, shit would still happen... it would be different shit, but it would still be shit.

Still, it's an interesting topic to ponder, without wishing or pretending... just an intellectual question: what would life be like today if I had done something differently. For example, what if I hadn't skived off of PE all those years, applied myself to exercise when I was young and pliable: would I now be in better shape? What if I had gotten better grades in high-school and gone straight on to college, focusing on the major I want now instead of the one I wanted then? How much of a career might I have now? I could be an established writer with a rather nice body right now, if only.

On the other hand, if I were able to go back and do my teens and twenties over again, would I have started drinking? I mean, I wasted a lot of my youth on alcohol and related pointlessness; if I could go back and do it again, knowing what I know now, would I take that first drink again? If I didn't, I wouldn't become an alcoholic and would never have had a reason to go to AA, and I wouldn't have met any of the wonderful friends I have made in the rooms. Are Miss Daisy and Shiloh and Madasin and all my other sober friends a fair price to pay for having my youth back?

It's an interesting puzzle, the interlacing patterns and paths of actions and consequences and consequent actions. It presents a fascinating study, going back and seeing our mistakes and our good luck, and seeing the good luck that came from our mistakes and the mistakes that came from our good luck. The unexamined life is not worth living, They say, and so I welcome anything that gets me to thinking about that sort of thing... unless, of course, it's a badly-written romantic comedy starring a screwy girl with man-hands. But that's what you get for taking movie advice from a neurotic eleven-year-old.


Well, if I haven't bored you into a coma by this point, I have certainly taken up all the time I intend to spend writing today... it's now half-past twelve, and I have to go to bed now if I'm going to be any use tomorrow. Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope this post has yielded some reward for you, either intellectually or soporifically.


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