Friday, October 29, 2004

Unhappiness is Stupid

I pride myself on being a rational and reasonable person; though I acknowledge the importance and reality of my emotions, emotions are irrational, in and of themselves, and I always seek to balance my emotions with reason. I'm pretty good at it, too.

But right now, or rather for the last week or so, I have been irrationally upset by something so unreasonable that I haven't really allowed myself to admit that I'm angry. It's so fucking stupid to let onesself be made unhappy by something so damnably foolish. But the anger isn't going away, it isn't being driven off or placated by the knowledge that it's a stupid thing to be angry about, and so I find myself stuck wrestling with the anger, unable to find the key to dispersing it.

Okay, so: I'm angry that I am not beautiful, that I wasn't ever beautiful, and that I shall never be able to become beautiful. And let me be perfectly clear that I am not talking about my personal attractiveness or whether it is better to be pretty than kind, I'm not talking about the beauty of the spirit or the beauty shared by all living things. I am talking about purely aesthetic physical beauty. And by "beautiful" I very specifically mean this kind of beauty:


This is Kevin Zegers, the boy I mentioned in the previous post whose beauty made me sad. His is the kind of beauty that paralyzes me, that clutches at my heart, a beauty that is not due merely to his youth, nor to the photographer's art, nor to the prevailing fashions, nor to my own erotic predilections (though these all play a part in, or are part of, his inherent beauty): he is beautiful the way flowers are beautiful, the way sunsets are beautiful, the way the Earth seen from space is beautiful. He exemplifies, to an exceptional degree, natural aesthetic laws and is therefore an intensive reflection of the Divine.

And I will never ever look like that. Most of the time I can accept that simple and inescapable fact... but for some reason, right now, I writhe with fury that I have never looked like that, that I shall never look like that. I just don't know why, but this bothers me so much right now.

I feel like Salieri in Amadeus, raging at God over Mozart's divine talent... he raged that he had been given the ears to hear the song of God but not the voice to sing along; I rage that I have the eyes to see the beauty and the heart to love it, but not the beauty itself — that I cannot be that beauty, I cannot have it, I cannot even touch it... I can only adore it, and even that only from a distance.

There are a lot of other things I will never be, things that I will never be able to do, things that will never happen to me, things that are impossible for me to accomplish. This is true for all of us, even for Kevin Zegers and his ilk. And maybe Kevin gets bitterly angry over the things he'll never have, and the things he will lose. I suspect it is human nature to want what one cannot have, for no other reason than that one cannot have it.

But knowing this, accepting this, and understanding this does not make the anger go away. I see this beauty and I find myself cursing God that I haven't got it, despite all of my rational, reasonable acceptance of the inevitable (and, really, unimportant) limitations of all creatures.

I am glad that I do not resent the beautiful for their gifts (though at one time I did so without realizing it), that I do not seek like Salieri to destroy those who have been blessed by a capricious God; in fact, I have been absolutely drowning in this particular kind of beauty all week... first while I was indulging my new obsession for Kevin Zegers by exploring the really comprehensive gallery that someone put together, and then at this new beefcake domain I discovered in my wanderings and have been exploring for the last couple of days (it requires registration to view the pictures, but it's free and quite worthwhile)... not to mention all the beautiful boys I've seen lately on television and in magazines.

Though I do wonder if perhaps this surfeit of physical male beauty is what makes me really feel my own lack of that beauty. Or is it an attempt to reconcile myself to the beauty? Maybe it's just because. I look at acres of beautiful boys all the time without getting all upset like this; it's one of my favorite hobbies, looking at these pictures and collecting them and displaying them here in my blog.

So, here I acknowledge the anger though I deplore its irrationality (and really, isn't all anger irrational?), but I want to understand it better... I want to encapsulate the anger with reason, I want to seek causes, and from the causes seek possible cures.

I have to acknowledge that I am deeply unhappy, and that the unhappiness may have nothing to do with the lack of beauty, that the anger over my lack of beauty is merely symptomatic of the deeper unhappiness. But if that is the case, what is causing my unhappiness?

Why do I feel no joy in any part of my life? Why do even my accustomed pleasures make me feel so sad? Can it be a new facet of depression making itself known to me? Or is it that my life is not what I want, or is not what it ought to be, or is not in alignment with God's will?

There has to be an element of low self-esteem involved; there has also to be an element of poor body-image involved — and I think this because right now I am extremely displeased with my body, its recent catalog of injuries as well as the increasing fat-content, but do not feel inspired to change these things. I want the fat and the flab to go away, but I do not want to do the work required to remove them from my body; I want the pains and injuries to go away, but I don't know how to make them go away or how to effectively prevent them in the future.

There is also, perhaps, an element of "a life lived wrong" that is making me unhappy. I am feeling less confident of the choices I've made in my life, less enthused by my daily journeys into the world, less sure of what I want and how to get it. I feel that what I have is not enough, but I don't know exactly what it lacks, or how to get any of the things that I perceive to be lacking.

I feel directionless, drifting in a morass of circumstances and inconveniences and loneliness and inevitabilities, and very unhappy. And in this unhappiness, perhaps I am striking out at one thing, my lack of beauty, on which to blame other things, such as my loneliness. And by loneliness, I don't mean a lack of time spent with friends: I mean the lack of a romantic partner (dare I whisper the hackneyed cliche of "boyfriend"?), something I'm not even sure I want, and have in fact spent a number of years convincing myself that I don't need. Something I have no idea how to get. But something that would be a lot easier to find (not easier to keep or deserve or deal with, just easier to get) if I were beautiful.

And, shallow as it makes me seem, I think I might feel angry because, in the main, I could not hope to find a beautiful boy such as Kevin Zegers for a romantic partner... and that even if I did, my own lack of beauty would make me very uncomfortable in such a romance.

I mean, it's one thing to have a messy house, and have friends over to your messy house, but how would you feel if you had Martha Stewart come visit your messy house? It's one thing to be an indifferent cook, and to serve one's indifferent cooking to one's family, but it's something else entirely to serve one's indifferent cooking to a Cordon Bleu chef. You can drive around in a crappy car, but you wouldn't want to chauffer Queen Elizabeth around in your crappy car. You might be perfecly content dressing badly and not spending any time on grooming, but if the Queer Eye guys showed up at your door, perhaps you'd feel a little differently.

Well, I seem to have gotten further from encapsulating this irrationality into a reasonable and therefore manageable shape. I guess I'd better quit while I'm ahead (if you can call this "ahead"... I feel like I've revealed myself to no good purpose, like a flasher at Lilith Fair) and go do something else with my day. Like maybe some work.

In the meantime, I had better start asking for guidance during my prayers and meditations, some clarity on what I need to do, or what I need to better learn to accept, in order that I can become happy again. Because I believe God wants us to be happy, in the end... and that being unhappy is being unGodly. If you see what I mean. I cannot reflect the Divine in my face and form, but I can and should reflect the Divine in my actions and my creations and my thoughts; but I can't do that while I'm unhappy.

Yackety schmackety, blah blah blah. I'll shut up now and let you get on with your life. Love to you!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Crap, I Did It Again

or: Bad Backs & Beautiful Boys

I hope this business of throwing my back out isn't going to become a permanent recurring feature of my life. It fucking sucks! Yesterday morning I was sitting on the shower-stool, innocently trimming my toenails after my shower and before getting dressed for church, thinking again how I need to lose some weight because there wasn't really room for my gut while I rested my chest against my knees in order to reach my toes; then I tried to stand up, and all hell broke loose in my spinal column.

So there I am, bare-ass-naked on the bathroom floor, whimpering in agony, trying to figure out what to do: should I call for help? will this pass, like a spasm? can I get up off the floor? why didn't I get a pedicure on Friday when I was getting my fingernails done, instead of doing them myself? why does this have to happen to me? Calling for help was out of the question, as I would have to be in a lot more pain before I'd willingly invite Grandmother (or anybody, really) into a room where I was lying naked and damp on the floor; and besides, what could she do? She hasn't got the strength to lift me, and she comes all unstrung in a crisis. By the time I came to that decision, I'd also realized that this wasn't a spasm that would pass, this was either a bad pull or a pinched nerve (it's hard to differentiate between the two different kinds of pain while that pain is blinding you).

Anyway, I managed to get up onto my knees, and then into my pajama pants, and then onto my feet, and I came whimpering out into the hallway and told Grandmother that church was not an option, I'd hurt my back and was going to go lay down. I barely made it across the mire of my room into my bed, and then once there I realized that it was the worst place to be... I couldn't get comfortable on the bed, but more importantly I couldn't get in and out of the room without causing myself more pain, but I nevertheless needed pills and a shirt and more coffee (yes, even in screaming pain I had to have my requisite minimum of three cups); and of course Grandmother couldn't get across my room without tripping over the piles of laundry and books, and then there we'd both be, horizontal and useless.

So I got my heating-pad, my book (Memnoch the Devil, I'm still working my way through the Vampire Chronicles in order, and I just finished my favorite, The Tale of the Body Thief), and my glasses, and hobbled out to the living room, bent double and leaning against the walls and furniture on the way, every step an epic of pain.

Grandmother brought me a cup of coffee and a glass of water and a bottle of ibuprofen and a shirt and a blanket... thrilled to be useful but still making me feel terribly guilty, since she had to do a separate trip all the way across the length of the house for each thing, with her arthritis and her weight and her age, and two trips for the shirt since the first one she brought was a dressy turtleneck and too tight for comfortably laying around in.

But guilt is a useless emotion when you can't do anything about the situation, so I just made myself as comfortable as I could in Grandmother's adjust-o-matic recliner and picked up my book. Hey, I thought, at least it got me out of going to church. But like that time I induced vomiting with ipecac to get out of a test at school, I found the discomfort of the excuse worse than the discomfort of the thing I was trying to escape.

Reading was too hard, I was still sleepy (I'd only had six hours before Grandmother got me up for church), and until the pills kicked in the pain was a nagging fishwife in my consciousness, making sleep an impossibility; so I just gave up on my brain and turned on the television.

After about three hours of complete immobility, my ass started getting sore from sitting, and I had to pee, and I was a little hungry, so I figured I'd try getting up and making a circuit of the house. It wasn't too hard; I couldn't stand up straight, but I could sort of walk. I made it into the bathroom and then the kitchen with the help of Grandmother's cane, but I couldn't carry both my coffee cup and my peanut-butter sandwich while holding the cane, so I had the brilliant idea of comandeering Grandmother's walker as well (hers is the fancy sort that has a built-in seat wide enough to set a dinner-tray upon, and a little shopping basket that hangs in the front, not to mention brakes and ergonomic handles). I never realized how useful it might be to have a half-crippled old lady in the house... all these delightful mobility gizmos came in pretty damned handy!

After another couple of hours, I tried it again, and this time I could stand upright, as well as walk fairly painlessly... just not at the same time. By then, the pain had calmed down enough that I could tell exactly what the problem was: a pinched nerve in the lumbar area. Nothing anybody can do about it except wait for the inflammation to go down. So long as I kept the lumbar stretched out and didn't try to use any of the muscles in that region, I was okay.

Easier said than done, of course... pretty much every move I started to make involved the lumbar in one way or another, and so I had to relearn some very basic movements to avoid the area; like, if I wanted to move my leg into a different position, I'd have to push it up with my toes and pull it up by hand, I couldn't move the thigh by itself without involving the lumbar. Rolling over in bed was practically an engineering project, on a scale with building the Great Pyramids... tuck my arm here, wiggle my foot around there, shift my shoulder thusly, take a deep breath and turn my head so, and over I'd go. Eventually.

I think, in future, I should be more careful what I wish for. Just Thursday afternoon, I was wishing I had a little down-time; I was worn out from a hellish week, and I just wanted to lay down in front of the television and do absolutely nothing. But the Fates, legalistic bitches that they are, assumed that since I didn't specify a pinched nerve as an unacceptable vehicle for this lay-down, then it was a perfectly reasonable response on their part. I have my down-time, so what am I complaining about?

The TV would have been a better companion if I hadn't already spent the whole day Saturday in front of it, laying around in different positions on the sofa for about fifteen solid hours. Another fifteen hours sounded like torture... but probably more because I couldn't get up than because I had already done so much TV the day before. It's impossible to enjoy immobility when you can't get up, or at least it's harder to enjoy than when you can get up but don't have to.

Before Mesdames Fate came through with the pinched nerve, I had already plotted out my weekend for maximum usefulness and relaxation: Saturday was the Day of Complete Rest, with new movies on DVD and VHS, and Sunday would be church and family duty followed by a bout of vacuuming (the rugs are a disgrace, I never did get to that when I'd intended a couple of weeks ago) and some solid desk-time working on my fiction (remember that project? I forget all about it, sometimes). Well, like they always say, if you want to give God a good laugh, just start making some plans.

Links and reviews? Why I'd love to!

My movies on Saturday were: Gregg Araki's Doom Generation, which was upsetting and fascinating and disturbingly erotic, especially with the extraordinarily handsome Johnathon Schaech and always intriguing James Duval; All the Mornings of the World, a French period piece starring the horribly inescapable Gérard Depardieu and his unfathomably beautiful son Guillaume (there were some other people, and some really beautiful music, but who cares); Midnight, a forgotten and utterly forgettable travesty that sort of combined Sunset Boulevard with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark but starred the always amusing Lynn Redgrave and a particularly sexy (but also forgotten) boy as her gigolo; Connie & Carla, a very funny romp about two girls hiding from a drug dealer by posing as drag queens, sort of a recasting of Some Like it Hot with a little Victor/Victoria and Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion thrown in, but utterly charming and entertaining in the Nia Vardalos manner and featuring some really great musical numbers; and finally Mambo Italiano, which was sweet and had some beautiful people but wasn't corny or caricatured, and had a lot of emotion and reality without being grim or gritty or boring in any way... in fact, it made me cry.

On Sunday, it wasn't quite so structured, largely because I was too hurt to bother thinking about movies to watch, so I sort of let the TV drone on and on without my paying attention to it. However, I did notice an amazing number of beautiful boys, so many that it was its own theme... particular, one so beautiful that he makes me dizzy (Tom Welling on Smallville, which now repeats endlessly on ABC Family, and for whose perfect bones and gorgeous skin and glittering blue eyes and unspeakable physique I would gladly sell my mother... but then, I'd probably sell my mother for a lot less)... so beautiful he made me sad (Kevin Zegers, whom I first saw on The X-Files when he was ten and so pretty it made me catch my breath, and who is currently in rotation on ABC Family's "13 Nights of Halloween" starring in The Hollow... a perfectly terrible film, but he's mesmerising, the way he blinks slowly and smiles slowly, and even Eileen Brennan had to address him as "Beautiful Boy" in her fabulous little cameo)...

...and one so beautiful he makes me want to hug him and squeeze him and dress him and feed him and take him for little walks, but so young he makes me a trifle uncomfortable (Ricky Ullman of Disney Channel's Phil of the Future... okay, I find now that he's actually eighteen, but his character's only fourteen or fifteen, and he looks about twelve. Still, God he's pretty!)

(This all feeds into my theory that Disney will one day take over the world with their genetically engineered Perfect People... remember, ABC is owned by Disney. They're going to brainwash us with beautiful boys and make us do their nefarious bidding, like someday electing Lizzie Maguire as President)

The other theme, besides beautiful boys, was me crying. At one point in the afternoon I came across The Color Purple on some station, and I caught all the good crying bits... and at the end I cried so hard I made my back spasm again. I always weep at the end of The Color Purple, but I was just wracked with sobs. It was wildly cathartic.

And I'd cried at Mambo Italiano the night before. And I sort of cried a little looking at Kevin Zegers in that silly dreadful movie. And I watched the second half of The Lost Prince on Masterpiece Theatre, and I wept a bit over that as well. Then this morning I was watching another of my new tapes, Born to be Wild; the Leading Men of American Ballet Theatre, which I talked about here when I saw it on TV a year or so ago... watching these four amazing and talented and wildly beautiful men dancing, it simply filled me with wonder and envy and joy and despair. Everybody cries at movies, but I'm the only person I know who cries at the ballet.

But then, I also laughed a lot, pretty much every little joke got at least a guffaw out of me, even the commercials and the things that weren't supposed to be funny. Basically, all my emotions were running amok. Something about the pinched nerve seems to have turned off an emotional filter somewhere, and I have simply been feeling a great deal.

Well, this little exercise has taken me all day long to do, I had to keep taking lengthy breaks to rest, like three or four hours at a time (I watched another episode of Smallville, as well as watching The Hollow again, "Excuse me, beautiful boy, excuse me," cable is nothing but repeats)... it's a wonder there's any narrative consistency at all. It's after midnight, and I started this just before noon. And now I am going to go to bed. My back is feeling better, I think I'll be able to make it to work tomorrow... not that I really have to, but I'm so fucking bored I could scream, so I might as well be there. I hate being bored at home, it ruins home for me.

So anyway, thanks for bearing with me. Talk to you again soon!

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Did I spell that right? Does it matter?

I'm just taking a few moments out of my morning, before the day turns hectic, to update you on my spiritual, physical, and mental conditions... because I know you care. If you didn't, you wouldn't be here, now would you?

My back has righted itself. There was something more going on than a pulled muscle in my back, it was more of a muscle-fatigue issue that was exacerbated by the pulled muscle; after I managed to get the pulled muscle massaged and heated and relaxed, a general lethargy remained that made it difficult for me to hold my head up or walk around much. I think it was viral, as there were other flu-like symptoms (like nausea and chills) that accompanied the fatigue but were disguised by my general discomfort so that I didn't notice them... not until I had an hour-long attack of explosive diarrhea followed by chills and exhaustion that sent me to bed for fifteen hours of uncomfortable sleep, after which the whole thing sort of passed off.

But anyway it has passed, and I am back to more-or-less-normal again. This episode really illustrated to me how many different muscles I use, almost unconsciously, on a daily basis... I mean, I never realized how many muscles were involved just holding my gut in, until they stopped holding up anything and I found myself walking around with this low-slung quivering Buddha-belly that I couldn't control. It was most unattractive.

The allergy symptoms may have been part of the virus, too, since nobody else I know who is allergic to everything has been suffering this last week. But it might also just be the rain that has kept the pollen out of the air. Incidentally, I found out that pernicious yellow dust on my car last week was not acacia after all; acacia only blooms in the spring. It was, instead, the eucalyptus trees that were blooming.

Now, this is really just splitting hairs, since they look alike and both have yellow pollen and I am allergic to both of them; but the eucalyptus is not native to California and so blooms on a schedule all its own, while the trees we Californians call "acacia" (Acacia gregii, or cat's claw) is native and blooms on a set schedule, as native trees are wont to do.

The story of how the eucalyptus trees got into California is one of my favorites, and a cautionary tale about importing non-native species: some brilliant thinker of the nineteenth century heard that the Australian eucalyptus (Eucalyptus regnans) is one of the tallest trees in the world, bears an excellent hardwood, and grows to full height in only seven years, two or three times as fast as the pine and oak trees native to the area.

What he did not know, when he decided to import a grove-full of such trees to grow fast for quick lumber profits, is that there are several different varieties of eucalyptus that grow in Australia, only some of which have hard enough wood to use for lumber or paper-pulp... and of course, that wasn't the variety of eucalyptus that he bought.

The variety he ended up with (Eucalyptus globulus or Tasmanian blue gum) was completely useless for lumber or paper, and although it was useful for menthol oil, the original importer was a single-minded old poop and just abandoned the trees. The E. globulus loved the California climate and grew like weeds, and the whole species was completely out of control in a few years; now the lovely trees (and they really are quite attractive, tall and slim and shivery) cover the hills of the Bay Area and have traveled by the various waterways to grow along most of the rivers and creeks of the Central Valley.

They reach maturity and start reproducing in about two years, they shed a stunning amount of bark all over the place, they attract ants, and they spew bright yellow pollen so thick you can taste it (and it's bitter); if you don't keep them back from your house, they will knock it off its foundations in a couple of years; if you cut it down and tar over the stump, it will still grow, shooting up around the roots and making even more trees, like a hydra, and the only way to permanently kill one is to dig up its entire root system.

Well, I've wasted enough time nattering on about these things (I'll bet a quarter that when you logged in today, the last thing you expected was a botany lecture). I have to get to work, busy busy busy day ahead: in fact, this whole week has been unaccountably tiring.

On Monday, I was suffering from the flu-thing, and so didn't get much done, and then on Tuesday I was laboring away at a set of minutes, and then yesterday I was laboring away at our newsletter; now today I have to get the newsletter printed and distributed, and while that's going on I have to go out and buy some snacks for the board meeting, print up the minutes and agendas for the board meeting, rearrange the conference room to accomodate the board meeting, take notes at the board meeting, and then clean up after the board meeting. And then, after all that, I have to do my General Service newsletter, which I really ought to have done last week and really don't want to do at all.

I just don't want to go. I want to stay here with you! But O, the curse of being a responsible adult... I have to go, and I have to get through this day, and the next one, and I have to have to have to...

Anyway, I hope you're having a great day, and I'll try to write something a little more interesting next time. Toodles!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Still Hurting

Though the allergies have passed along, my head still hurts. And my back hurts all the way from the nape of my neck to my asshole. Even my hands hurt. I don't know what it is, but after I pulled whatever it was I pulled in my back, there has been a sort of domino effect of pain. I'm even having random shooting pains in my arms. I think I just strained the rest of my spinal column trying to compensate for the pulled muscle, and now the entire mechanism is unraveling all at once.

So here I sit with a heating pad on my lumbar, the keyboard nestled in my lap, essentially immobilized; soon I will have to get back in bed, as the effort of holding my head up gets to be too much after a few minutes, and I've been holding it up for what seems like hours.

But to say I am "in pain" would be an exaggeration. At this point, I am merely uncomfortable. But discomfort is, in some ways, worse than actual pain... pain at least stimulates the production of endorphins, and when the pain abates there's a sort of euphoria that kicks in; but with discomfort, you just get grouchy and stay grouchy.

Well, that's all I can manage right now. I'll check in with you later... and if you have the opportunity, go see Cookie After Dark this evening at Martuni's. I won't be there (if typing is this much of an effort, you can imagine what walking in heels would do to me), but it promises to be an utterly stellar show nonetheless.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Pain, the Pain!

My head hurts. And my back hurts. I'm not sure which hurts more, or which particular condition is causing which particular pain. I mean, this headache can't just be allergies, can it? I took allergy pills, the pain should be gone by now... or is the headache from stress or from toothache or from not wanting to be here? And is this pulled muscle in my back from building the kitchen cupboard (which I finished yesterday), or from carrying heavy objects (which I also did yesterday, a case of paper and a folding table), or from sneezing too vigorously (which I've been doing ever since those trees bloomed)? Or is it all a combination of the above, working in concert to make me miserable?

And then, I forgot that it was Thursday and parked on the side of the street that gets cleaned on Thursdays, so I got a nice little $48 parking ticket. And I can't seem to leave here long enough to get some lunch... every time I try, the phone rings or someone drops in or the copier breaks down or something, so I've been subsisting on raspberry Newtons and baby carrots all day. And an eBay auction I was watching and really wanted came up while someone was talking to me in another part of the office, so I missed the opportunity to get 32 gay-themed videos (many of which I have been hunting for ages), and the auction ended for only $58! AAAARGH!!!

This is one of those days that needs a reset button. I want a do-over.

I guess there's always tomorrow. Unless I die in my sleep. And I know I'll never get that lucky. So here's to tomorrow: I avow that it won't suck like today did. And it really shouldn't... I'll spend some time with my vibrating massager and a little time with my heating pad, and that should take care of my back; the allergy thing will either pass or else I will sort of get used to it; and I'll just avoid parking on the swept street regardless of what day it is, that way I won't have to remember if it's Thursday.

And here's to a happy tomorrow for you!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Soooooo Sleepy...

A pox on whoever introduced the acacia tree into North America. Those fuckers are evil. Some time during the night, every acacia tree in Oakland bloomed simultaneously, and now everything is covered in that pernicious yellow dust to which all living things are allergic. I had to hose off my car so I could see out the windows to drive to work this morning, and by the time I got to the office there was another thin layer of yellow in all the corners and folds of the chassis.

Of course I took a Sudafed as soon as I saw the yellow dust on the car... for me, the yellow dust means immediate and unrelenting sinus pain, so I forestalled it as best I could. Unfortunately, in my terrified haste, I took the wrong Sudafed: I should have hunted for the blue daytime non-drowsy pill, but instead I just took the pink pill that is not non-drowsy. And since "non-drowsy" is just one of the many horrid lies perpetrated by the pharmaceutical giants, non-non-drowsy means that it will put you immediately to sleep. Nighty night!

We all know, though, that the only difference between a drowsy pill and a non-drowsy pill is the caffeine, so I bought a big cup of coffee on the way in, and that helped some. I also doubled my vitamins, and am drinking plenty of cold water. But helpful as all this is, I am still feeling sleepy and more than a little bit stupid. And now as the afternoon advances, the caffeine and vitamins have worn off but the pseudephedrin lingers on. So I think I'll just stop trying to work.

But, oh, I can't! Though I have done enough at the office to be able to leave guiltlessly at four p.m., once I get home I have to do housework. The Grandmother is coming home from her trip tonight, and there are dishes to wash and rugs to vacuum before she arrives. While it certainly shouldn't surprise her that I didn't wash any dishes while she was gone (hell, I've hardly used any dishes, limiting myself to two cereal bowls, four coffee cups, two water-glasses, one butter-knife and a couple of forks and spoons over the last seven days), it has long been my tradition, when Grandmother goes out of town, to clean house right before she comes back.

This tradition started long ago, when I used to smoke and drink in the house as soon as she was gone, and so had to do a fairly thorough cleaning to get rid of all the telltale smells. But now that I don't do either of those things, I still feel it necessary to give her a cleaned house to come home to... it's just a nice thing to do for someone. I mean, you get off an uncomfortable airplane after a week of sleeping in hotels, and the last thing you want to deal with at home is a sink full of dishes and sheets that need changing.

Well, if I'm going to get all that done before Grandmother's flight comes in at ten, I had better get on home. Maybe if I organize things properly, I'll be able to take a little nap first... I don't know if I'm awake enough to make it home, much less stand over a sink and wash things. God, how I hate acacia season!

Speaking of God, allow me to go off on a total tangent. I was complaining last week, not specifically in my prayers but generally during my meditations, that I was feeling lonely. Caroline's new boyfriend takes up a lot of her time, so I haven't seen much of her in the last few weeks (I'm accustomed to seeing her at least twice a week, if not every day), and I hadn't heard from any of my other friends lately; and now Grandmother's out of town, and though I've been going to more AA meetings in order to see people, and have had shows where I got to spend a little time with friends, it just wasn't enough. I felt sad and ignored and just plain old lonesome.

So anyway, I was feeling lonely, and I said so out loud, though not in a particular prayer. Then this weekend, I've heard from almost all of my oldest friends, one after the other. I got a postcard from Becky in Florida letting me know that she'd survived the hurricanes (though she had to move temporarily, as her house was damaged), then I heard from Indigo that he was back in town from his peripatetic job and had some time on his hands, and then as I was getting ready to go over to Indigo's I got a call from Fred in Virginia! And these are all people I've known since high school. Then while I was out with Indigo in the Castro, we ran into Shiloh, as well as a couple of more casual acquaintances in various places.

I guess God was listening to me bitch about being lonely, and gave me this serendipitous gift to shut me up. And though it was lovely to hear from so many old friends in such a short time, it suddenly occurs to me that I should have complained about being broke, while I was at it... so maybe God would send me a nice check, too. But then, God doesn't usually send cash, it's always a present of some kind, usually home-made.

Now I'm just babbling. But I wanted to be grateful out loud for all of my friends, and the fun of hearing from so many of them in one day, before I go home and collapse on the couch while cursing the name of Acacia.

Must nap now. Nighty night!

Friday, October 8, 2004


Fear me, for I own power tools.

Not big power tools, mind you — no bandsaws or router boxes or rototillers or pneumatic ratchet wrenches — but I have a big electric screwdriver that I use a lot, and I just bought an electric staple/nail-gun at Ace Hardware. I feel so butch.

And when I bring out my power tools, everyone who knows me reels with disbelief. You own an electric screwdriver? they goggle at me when I authoritatively push the battery-pack into the end of the big orange tool while getting ready to assemble a piece of furniture out of a mail-order box. I have duct-tape in the trunk of my car, too, I reply, just a touch of John Wayne in my hip as I fall into the drag queen's standard Little-Teapot Pose.

But allow me to explain: I own an electric screwdriver because my wrists are too weak to operate a manual screwdriver, but developiong my wrist-strength will make my wrists stiff and manly and thick so that my bracelets don't fit. And I am always screwing things into walls (like shelves, you dirty-minded buggers) and assembling cheap ready-made furniture, so I had to buy a Black & Decker electric when I installed my wall-mounted shelves last year.

And I bought the staple/nail gun because the kitchen cupboard I'm assembling for my office breakroom (which I got on eBay, and it's adorable) required these teeny-tiny little nails to hold the four planks that make up the back of the hutch; and while I was trying to hold a teeny-tiny nail and pound it into the soft pine plywood with a tack-hammer, I chipped one of my precious acrylic overlays and had to stop work immediately... and so the weighty electric gun (which makes a gorgeously masculine little noise when it punches its tiny phallic bits of steel into the back of the hutch) was bought solely to preserve the pretty French tips I had applied today, after getting the hammer-damage repaired.

Still, I do enjoy putting furniture together, and that's a fairly butch pastime. And I am always the one to put things together here at work... not just because I'm male (so is my boss and one of my coworkers, after all), and not because I'm far and away the youngest and quite possibly the strongest, but simply because I'm good at following assembly instructions. I can often figure out how to assemble something without even looking at the instructions, having an instinctive talent for seeing the finished product and where to put the pieces.

This is a typically male trait, though many men aren't skilled in this field... according to a number of quasiscientific articles I've read in such august periodicals as Ladies' Home Journal and Reader's Digest, men's brains are naturally more adept at linear thought and spacial relationships; and being not only biologically male as well as particularly intelligent, the reading of diagrammatical directions and assembling the pieces of a complicated object is extremely satisfying to me on a very deep level.

On the other hand, it sort of blows my mystique as a glamoreuse and literateur to be seen assembling an enormous and rather complicated Colonial-style pine hutch, weilding my Black & Decker electric screwdriver and Ace electric staple/nail gun, wiping the manly sweat from my brow and tasting the brass screws I'm holding in my mouth so I don't lose them. We clean-handed types are usually more drawn to drafting and chemistry to satisfy our spacial-relationship and linear-thought cravings. But I didn't train for those things (though I have always had an affinity for architectural drafting, and I often read books of floor-plans to make myself sleepy), so I am reduced to assembling furniture out of boxes and being satisfied with that. It's either this or jigsaw puzzles.

Anyway, I've already scratched a couple of my new French tips while trying to screw the tiny screws into the hinges and the glass-holders and the doorknobs of the hutch, so it's time again to step away from the project... bookshelves are one thing, but the hundred-piece puzzle of this hutch is a little more work than I'm used to.

So I shall put this aside until Monday, and do some typing for the time being. Later tonight I am going to a meeting (I'm filling my evenings with AA meetings while the Grandmother is out of town, so I don't get lonely); then tomorrow I'm going to do some housecleaning before it's time to pack up my drags and head off to Guerneville for the CandieLand show at Club Fab. I have no idea what I'm going to wear, or what I'm going to perform, so maybe I should focus my linear thought on those two little problems. And on Sunday I have no plans at all, maybe I'll get some writing done. We shall see.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

The Bad Haircut

I haven't worked it out on paper yet, but I think there must be about a one-out-of-three ratio of bad haircuts to good haircuts; my last two haircuts were pretty good, so I guess I was due.

And it's not that bad of a haircut, it's just a little too short... actually, it's a lot too short, but I'm trying to keep a healthy perspective; it's essentially a crewcut with a duck-tuft on top, and it makes my face look huge; this is mostly due to my ignorance of what a #2 clipper attachment would do, along with the haircutter's ignorance of what precisely I meant by "short on the back and sides and a little longer on top." It's the exact same thing I told the last two women in the same Supercuts shop who correctly cut my hair before; but whenever you pay $13.85 for a walk-in haircut, you take your chances.

Aside from my own bad-luck ratios, my fatal predilection for low-cost hair and nail care, in conjunction with my location in a major center of third-world immigration, means there is always a language barrier to be dealt with. I can't remember the last time I had my hair cut by a person whose first or even second language was American English; and I have never had my nails done by anyone who was not a tiny Asian woman.

Communicating what I want to someone who doesn't grasp the finer details of an intensely complex language is always chancy... and I've never even tried to learn the Vietnamese or Laotian or Chinese words for "skosh" or "tad," or "shag texture" or "like a French manicure, but not such a sharp tip, more of a rounded square, if you know what I mean."

I'm never exactly sure, when I visit the same shop more than once, whether I'm getting the same tiny Asian woman as before, or a different tiny Asian woman who is related by blood to the last tiny Asian woman. I know it's a racist cliche, but Asian people do tend to look more like each other than Europeans... the differences in coloring and feature among types are more subtle, more difficult for a European (even one accustomed to living among Asians) to recognize after one meeting.

Furthermore, nail and hair salons run by tiny Asian women are usually family businesses, so one is quite often entering an environment occupied completely by aunts and sisters who all look at least somewhat alike... even among European types, I get large groups of sisters mixed up, and I even confuse my close relatives with each-other on first glance.

And then there's the whole name thing. I'm not good at remembering names to begin with; but then they all seem to have the same name... when I get my nails done, the manicurists' state cosmetology licenses almost always read "Tran," but they all call themselves some derivative of "Jennifer." I can understand that one wants an American-sounding name, especially since Americans tend to be pig-ignorant about foreign names, but why all the dog-piling on "Jennifer"? There is probably a perfectly logical cultural reason for this, but I find it terribly confusing.

Nevertheless, I don't think I can blame my bad-haircut and -manicure ratio on all the Tran/Jennifers who've been cutting my hair and doing my nails. I have a feeling that if I got my hair cut by a good old American hair-queen (and I know enough of them), I would still get a bad 'un every now and again. When I've gone back to the same third-generation Californians for thirty-dollar haircuts, I would usually get two great cuts and then a bad one, or else the stylist would disappear before the third haircut could be administered.

I have never even seen a manicurist who wasn't a tiny Asian woman, even in the more expensive salons... they must exist, the European- and African-American manicurists, but they hide themselves skillfully. And at least with my nails, I never got a bad job from the Jennifer who operates in a chi-chi salon up in Montclair, but I have to make appointments two weeks in advance and I never can remember to do it (plus she costs twice as much)... so it isn't a matter of language, but of skill — and skill costs a lot more, and has more clients.

Well, anyway... who could have guessed I could take up this much room bitching about a recurring bad haircut and a few half-assed acrylic fills? But then I find that the more idiotic a topic, the longer I can rattle on about it. So until my hair grows back and my nails start chipping, I guess I can consider the topic exhausted for the time being.

And speaking of exhausted, I certainly am... after a few hours of fairly demanding work here at the office, our new kitchen hutch arrived in the mail, so I abandoned my clerical labors and set about assembling it. I got most of the top half finished, with only the back and the doors to assemble and put on, before I became frustrated and had to step away from the project, and that much manual labor does a girl in. So off I go home to rest and have dinner and watch some movies or something.

À bientôt, my darlings, and may all your haircuts be good ones!

Monday, October 4, 2004


I suppose I have hit one of the doldrum plateaus that most online diarists (or bloggers, if you prefer) wallow in at one time or another during their careers. I have been part of this whole blogging thing (Blogosphere, Blogiverse, Ship of Fools, call it what you will) for a little over three years now, reading as well as writing; and I've seen a number of great writers quit blogging, or take extended breaks from blogging which drag on and on, or simply scale back their efforts so far that they only post once or twice a month. I've had to revise my Daily Reads column several times after whole blocks of brilliant bloggers have faded from the horizon.

The reasons are usually the same... life intervenes, the blogger becomes too busy living life to write about it; then there are those whose blogs have grown so popular that they get out of control, where the writer finds him- or herself at the mercy of the blog's readers, losing his or her own true voice in the attempt to satisfy or at least pacify the commenting mob. And there are those who simply grow weary of living life in a verbal fishbowl, who suddenly yearn to have a life-experience without thinking about how to turn it into a funny blog post.

But my doldrums are not because of these. Granted, my life is a little hectic right now, and I am finding it difficult to find the time to sit down and write. But really, it's the motivation that I'm lacking, not the time and energy. I am simply growing weary of writing. I am weary of finding new things to say, finding so little left in my soul that hasn't already been written about. I am weary of mining my subconscious for material. It's taking me longer to say less, and the effort is starting to bore me.

When I get into these doldrums (and it has happened before, though not to the extent I am experiencing it now), I have to remember why I'm here, writing online as I do.

I remember, some years ago, reading a huge book I found on the Oversize shelves in the Laney College library (I have always had an affinity for the Oversize shelves, where books from many sections are lumped together... plus I just like big books): The Journals of André Gide, in which his private journal entries are interleaved with his short stories and segments of his novels and essays. It presents a rare view into the creation of literature, an illustration of how one writer mined his private life for the material of his public writing.

In one of the journal entries, Gide discoursed to himself about the difficulties he'd found in his youth finding time to write. Now, Gide didn't have to work for a living, but he had family and friends and life, and there were always distractions... and it was on these distractions that he blamed his inability to concentrate on his writing. So he went away to a small town where he knew no one and took up residence at an inn, there to force himself to write. But instead of squeezing out a novel, as he'd intended, he spent pretty much the entire time masturbating... indulging in "self-abuse" (as he called it) to such an extent that it made him physically ill.

Now, the lessons in this are multifold; but it was Gide's stated consideration (as I remember, though I'm not sure I remember correctly) that it wasn't the lack of time and energy that was preventing his writing a novel, it was his lack of a novel to write... and that trying to force the creation of a novel was about as useful as masturbating oneself into a decline. He nevertheless maintained a meticulous journal of his ideas, in between all-day sessions of spanking his monkey, a journal that stood him in good stead when it came time to recapture his own understanding of his own youth. It was the journal that was of value in the creation of a novel, and in the examination of his life.

Aside from the wisdom of this consideration, I was struck by the candor with which Gide wrote about his life and his ideas in journals that he knew would be read, which he in fact insisted should be read. It is this candor that I try to use when I write, in which no topic is taboo, in which no embarrassment is allowed to be euphemized, in which the mundane and even perhaps tedious details of my life are given the weight and importance of literature... for it is this candid record of mundane details that will, hopefully, provide a vein of truth that I can mine for the creation of good fiction.

And so I intend to keep plugging away at this diary, journal, blog, whatever-it-is for as long as it takes. I will have times when I don't want to write, times when I have little to write about, times when I just haven't got the liesure and energy to sit down and write. But I won't quit. I won't take extended breaks. I won't let go of this valuable resource.

But I will have to go to work now... unlike so many of my favorite novelists, I have to labor for my ducats. And so the litany of mundane activities that I started to talk about before I got side-tracked into remembering Gide's journals will have to wait until the next time I can carve out an hour of my life to write about it all.

Until then, have a lovely day!