Friday, November 12, 2004

Auntie Meme

I started writing this out on Saturday because I didn't have anything to talk about, and didn't want to go too long without posting, so I found this survey and copied it for my own use; but then I did have something to talk about, and took a hell of a long time and an awful lot of cyberspace to talk about it, so I put this off for a while. Then I came down with a cold Monday, and though staying home from work for the next two days freed up a lot of my time, it locked down a lot of my brain-power. Thursday my cold was better, and I had a holiday from work (thank you, Veterans), but this has been a slow-going process. As a result, this survey is several days in the making, and it is hideously long.

It's sort of an odd survey, since it is focuses on domestic things, and one of my favorite sayings is "My only domestic quality is that I live in a house." But any port in the storm, and I simply yearn for the time-consumption and self-examination that survey memes provide. So here we go...

~ Question Air ~

Stolen from Lance Arthur, who got it from an interview with Mark Morris in The New York Times Magazine:

1. Best household chore: I hate all household chores... but some more than others, so I guess the best would be the one I hate least... which I guess would be dusting; I sometimes even enjoy running a fleece dusting-mitt or a bit of old sock over all of the furniture and objects, it has a soothing quality (although I'm allergic to dust).

2. Fantasy career: At first I was going to say "novelist," but I think I'd almost rather be an advice columnist. I love giving advice, just love it! It would be supercool to be paid for it and have people begging for my advice all across the country (instead of my circle of friends simply ignoring my unsolicited free advice). On the other hand, we're talking about fantasy here, and I often fantasize about being a nudie-art photographer like Greg Gorman or Tom Bianchi or like that... just all day long gazing at gorgeous boys and capturing their beauty on film. And since we're still in fantasy-land, why can't I be all three? A novel-writing advice-columnist and art-photographer!

3. Favorite place to shop: Though I do most of my shopping on the internet, I actually enjoy shopping at little specialty boutiques more. There is a little shop on Piedmont Avenue called Pimlico Place that I love going into, it sells all sorts of beautiful things like artisan jewelry and small sets of china or crystal or silver and other decorative objects, and I am so thrilled when I find something I like and can afford, and I so enjoy chatting with the owner even when I don't buy. There's another place on Lakeshore called Juniper Tree that sells bath-things and candles and what-not where I often go to buy gifts and perfume. And a gifts-and-decoratives shop on Market Street near the Castro called Earthtones that I absolutely adore. There's something about small, single-owner, personally-appointed boutiques that I really love.

4. Superstitions: I have long held the superstition that the mood or tone or activities of midnight New Year's Eve will repeat throughout the year. And it's pretty often true. This last New Year's Eve I felt lonely and frustrated and just a bit angry with myself at midnight... and I've felt that way a lot this year.

5. Morning routine: I wake up and I pee and I drink coffee, pretty much in that order, and I pretty much always download email and view some websites, and that's about as routine as I get... it's not always even morning still when all this happens. Every day is different.

For example, if I remembered to set my alarm the night before (which I do about half the time), I will hit the snooze button (which is across the room from my bed) every nine minutes for an hour before I actually get up and stay up; sometimes I go back to sleep in between alarms, sometimes I read, sometimes I think I've gotten up and left the room but I've actually dozed off and am surprised to find myself still in bed the next time the alarm goes off.

Sometimes there will still be a cup of coffee in the pot from yesterday, so I will have my first cup ready for the microwave while the fresh pot is brewing and can read blogs or even do some writing; sometimes not, and so I might fall back to sleep before the coffee is ready, or I read in bed or read some of my simpler daily-read blogs.

Sometimes I'm hungry enough to eat something, and that something is more often than not a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, but mostly the thought of food makes my throat cringe; every other day I take a shower before I get dressed, unless I've lain in bed too long or sat at the computer too late and have to skip it; sometimes I shave after the shower, but not very often anymore. Sometimes I remember to brush my teeth.

Most days I walk around the house in circles for at least fifteen minutes trying to get everything together so I can leave, my keys and phone and shoes and sunglasses and money and anything I want to take to work with me and trying to find where I left my coffee cup. Then I finally leave... unless, of course, I don't.

6. Evening routine: My evenings are even less routine than my mornings, so rife with Ifs and Ands that I never can tell in the morning what my evening might be like.

When I get off work, I usually argue with myself for some time about whether or not to go to the gym; an argument that the gym, I'm sorry to say, quite often loses. I frequently go grocery-shopping and/or pick up takeout dinner on the way home; but if I don't, I generally go home and turn on the computer and/or the television for some down-time before dinner; unless Grandmother finds herself unequal to the task of making dinner, in which case I will bake something out of the freezer and perhaps make a simple salad to go with it.

If I have a meeting, I leave again after eating; unless it was an early meeting, in which case I might have gone straight from work without eating at all. If I don't have a meeting, and if Grandmother is watching television in the living room, I will go to my room and play on the computer or watch a video or read a book; if I'm home and Grandmother is watching television in her room, I usually nest on the couch and channel-surf for the rest of the evening.

I always hit the computer again before I get in bed, and usually end up surfing a little porn. Then I go to bed and have a nice orgasm followed by a prayer and meditation session, and if I'm still wide-awake after that I read a book until I feel sleepy enough to drop off... at which time I will turn on my left side, close my eyes, and wander off into REM. And then it starts all over again in the morning.

7. Favorite memento: As I look around me at the stunning array of objects that all hold some meaning for me, I am hard-pressed to choose a favorite. But I think I will go with the two Aahmes 100 Club plaques that belonged to my Grandfather and used to hang on his tie-rack behind his closet door, and which now hang on the wall beside my desk at home. I don't know what the 100 Club is or was (but I just now found a website for the Aahmes Shriners that is pretty cool, though there isn't a secondary link to my Grandfather's unit, the Novkeps, nor any info on the 100 Club), but they're interesting-looking metal medallions of the Aahmes logo, one silver with bolted-on bronze letters and one painted with bright colors. I find some comfort just looking at them and remembering my Grandfather and his various Masonic and Shriner paraphernalia, all of which connect me to his memory in a peculiarly visceral manner that his other possessions do not.

8. Favorite place in the house: Filthy dark sty that it is, I do love my bedroom. It's safe and it's mine, and everything I need is here. I even like the squareness of it, the particular size of the window, the fact that no two pieces of furniture are the same color of wood, the fact that it faces WSW and only gets direct light at the time of day in which I was born (4:15 p.m.) It would be nice if it were bigger, or if it had a bathroom en suite and a larger closet, or if I was able to keep it a little tidier; but I wouldn't trade it for any other room in the house, and I spend a huge amount of my time in here.

9. Best thing about being you: Being smarter than most people, with an IQ in the lower end of the Genius scale and a special talent for complex comprehension. Though sometimes it's irritating to be surrounded by comparative intellectual midgets, and quite frustrating when others don't figure things out as quickly as I do, not to mention absolutely infuriating when they can't keep up with my logic or argue it on a similar level (and, as my mother always says, "Everyone wants to get a little ass... but nobody likes a smartass"), it is nevertheless nice to be able to learn things quickly and to do the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink and to have the answers to all sorts of useless questions at one's fingertips and kicking ass at Trivial Pursuit or the home edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and Jeopardy!

10. What’s your reputation: I don't really know what people think of me or say about me when I'm not there. But judging by what people have told me, like in my Friendster Testimonials (this link will only work if you are a Friendster; if you'd like to join Friendster, let me know by email and I'll send you an invite), I seem to have a reputation for being classy, talented, intelligent, adamantine (look it up), nice, and perhaps a tad cannibalistic; I also have heard that people who've never met me frequently think I am stuck-up and unapproachable, formidable even. But that's just what people tell me... I'd have to bug a lot of rooms to find out what people are really saying about me... whereupon I would be devastated to discover that they never talk about me at all.

11. Favorite movie: Auntie Mame. NOT Mame, mind you... people get so mixed up by this. Auntie Mame was released in 1958 by Warner Brothers and stars Rosalind Russell in her signature role and is not a musical and is unbelievably fabulous; Mame was released in 1974 based on the so-so Jerry Herman musical and stars the wonderful but frog-voiced Lucille Ball and hysterical frog-voiced Bea Arthur and has gorgeous costumes but is otherwise quite savorless. Auntie Mame has some of the most beautiful clothes, and far and away the best set design of any movie I've ever seen (like the stage production, Auntie Mame has only one real set, the wonderful Beekman Place apartment with its sweeping stair and dramatic open spaces, and the very few other sets are just not as deeply realized; unlike the stage production, the main set is in the round, i.e. entirely enclosed and realistic; it's also the only movie I know where the set has almost as many costume changes as the star). It has parts that are so funny I still giggle when I see them, and parts that are so touching that I still kvell up a bit, even after the 150th viewing. It is genius, completely without flaw, and I love it love it love it!

12. Book to recommend: In practice, the books I most frequently recommend to people are Living Sober, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions. I mean, even if you're not an alcoholic, these books are extremely helpful for getting through a lot of problems in life... just substitute "alcohol" with sex, drugs, food, shopping, relationships, work, whatever, and you have a guide through the labyrinthine addictions of the human spirit.

But as literature, I love to recommend The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. It taught me a lot about love and passion, nobility and greatness, sacrifice and happiness, and it's simply a beautifully-written story. I don't know how many times I've read it, and I never get tired of it. And then, if you liked that one, follow up with Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian... another French lesbian writing about male homosexuals in the Ancient world, and again a lot about love and nobility and living a good life, but this is longer, more philosophical and less story-driven, and has that peculiar sleepy lyricism of French prose that has been translated into English.

13. Your welcome mat: It's made of fuzzy green plastic on top of heavy black rubber, fretworked like an old-fashioned heater register, and doesn't say anything... its purpose is to scrape the crap of the outside world off your shoes before you enter and trip over one of the little mats that litter the foyer, not to entertain strangers (who, by the way, are not welcome... unless I know you're coming or I see your car in the street, I won't even answer the door).

14. Little big toy: I was sure they didn't mean the kind of "toys" that came immediately to my filthy mind (of which, incidentally, I have none) so I had to read the previous answers to even understand this question. Oh, ah, electronics: I don't really have very many toys of this type... I mean, I have a computer strong enough to access the internet and play music, a television and VCR in my room for watching porn and movies, and a DVD player and a nearly-antique N64 video game in the living room, but these are bare-minimum things, bought to access media rather than for their own sakes. But as a favorite, I'd have to go with my computer, since it's the most expensive and I spend a lot of time using it as well as a lot of money on MP3s and gaming software, and I might very well die without it.

15. Last meal: I've always thought the idea of a last meal before execution was kind of silly... I mean, why would I want to nourish a body that is going to die in a couple of hours? What's the point? And then it also puts a lot of pressure on the poor food: how can any food justify itself as the last thing you ever taste on this earth? I think I would almost rather spend my last few hours in meditations and preparing my soul for death instead of clinging to life's pleasures one last time... or, if in life's pleasures, I think I might rather have mind-blowing sex (because, really, I've had mind-blowing food already, many many times, but mind-blowing sex is still on my list of things to experience).

But in the spirit of playing along, I guess I'd want a little bit of everything I like, just a couple of bites each so I wouldn't run out of stomach-space too quickly... orange Pims, Philly cream cheese on a Trisquit, five or six different kinds of cheeses with a crusty sourdough baguette, strawberries and blackberries and cantaloupe and a banana and white grapes and Ranier cherries and peaches, asparagus and artichokes and sugar snap peas, combination pizza, bacon and eggs, toast with homemade plum jam, a variety of nice chocolates, a nice medium-rare steak and a slice of pork loin and some salmon and a rack of lamb, Sacher torte and tollhouse cookies and rocky road ice cream, three or four kinds of fruit sorbet, a chocolate mousse from Scharfen Berger and a chocolate pudding from Jell-O, mint nonpareils and a handful of Jelly Bellies and a few Red Vines, some good rich black coffee and some Earl Grey tea and some jasmine green tea and some sweetened iced tea and some chocolate milk and a Snapple Mango Madness, maybe even some really good champagne and a superdry martini and a balloon of old armagnac (though I'm not sure these taste the way I remember them tasting, and I might not like them any more). And if I was really lucky, someone would slip a nice quick-acting poison into this gluttonous feast so I wouldn't see my death coming.

Chee-rist, this thing is taking forever... I can't just answer a question and move on, can I? Oh, well, let's have a quick beefcake break, shall we?

Ahhh, much better. To continue...

16. Technology item you can’t live without: Again, my computer. I mean, I could live without it easier than I could live without food or clothing or shelter, but with just a good PC and the right peripherals I can substitute pretty much every other form of technology I use (with perhaps the exception of my car and the microwave).

17. Idea of the perfect party: One in which I am only consulted on the details and arrangements, but don't have to do any of the work. It would be in a rented facility like a ballroom or a fancyschmancy clubhouse, there would be entertainment in the form of go-go boys and a drag revue (in which I might or might not participate), a whole lot of finger-food beautifully presented by professional caterers, all of my friends and as many of my friends' friends as they cared to bring, balloons and flowers and lights and a DJ... and I wouldn't have to do anything except enjoy the company of my friends and their friends and the food and the music and the show.

18. Topic you wouldn’t bring up at a party: I've always thought bodily malfunctions were an inappropriate topic of conversation in any group, but especially at a party. Other than that, I think any topic that you and whoever you are talking to can converse upon without getting violently angry or upset would be just fine.

19. Fictional character you most identify with: I honestly can't think of one... I identify with piles and piles of fictional characters on one level or another; I mean, isn't that the point of fiction? But I've never read a book, or seen a movie or a TV show or even an opera, where I found a character and said to myself "Wow, that's so me!"

20. Favorite decorating technique: Preemptive Clutter. I have a great fondness for clutter anyway, a baroque sensibility when it comes to decor, and an acquisitive nature paired with a love of display... but Grandmother and I are also terrible slobs, and preemptive clutter has saved the shared rooms of our house from getting too messy. The messiest shared rooms in the house are the ones where we are supposed to keep large spaces of clear tabletop or counterspace (the dining room and kitchen), which are simply piled all of the time with papers and empty bags and open magazines and unopened letters and half-used boxes and little bits of refuse and dirty dishes and clean dishes; the tidiest rooms are the ones where there simply isn't anywhere to set anything down (like the living, room, hallways, bathroom, and guestroom), and so you are forced to put the thing away where it goes rather than drop it where you are.

21. Thing in your house you’re fussiest about: The arrangement of the preemptive clutter. Though I have a penchant for the baroque, I also have a yearning for symmetry and balance that is almost neoclassical... and so tablescapes and the arrangement of objects on shelves become the medium through which I blend and exercise both tendencies. I even do it in other people's houses, if I think they won't mind, shifting an object here or there in its place to achieve a better balance and symmetry. It took me years to get the pictures in our living room shifted around to hang just right in balance with the doors and windows and light-fixtures. Flower-arranging can drive me quite mad, when the stalks and blossoms simply don't stay where I want them. And don't get me started on refrigerator magnets, I can spend hours shifting them around seeking a balance and proper spread of color and pattern (one of the reasons I dislike the children in my family... they always disarrange my refrigerator magnets).

22. Procrastination technique: Being too tired. I'm always tired, it seems, but more so when there's something I don't particularly like to do... and when I do like to do something, I do it anyway, whether I'm tired or not, so I really shouldn't allow it as an excuse. But I have to have some kind of excuse. I found, during my arguments with myself about going to the gym, that I will just move on to the next excuse down the line: I often didn't go because Caroline didn't go, so I started making myself go alone anyway; then I didn't go because I'd forgotten to bring my gym clothes with me, so I started wearing my gym clothes to work; now I don't go because I'm tired. If I start going even when I'm tired, I am sure I will come up with some other reason to put it off.

23. Guilty pleasure: Sophomoric humor... I get the biggest kick out of the kind of slapstick and crotch-centered comedy that involves horny teenagers and young adults trying to get laid or get through finals or get across country or whatever, and generally humiliating themselves and others along the way... there's always a lot of nudity and usually some cute boys in such movies, and homosexual terror/rage and therefore a lot of focus on the ass and genitals (some of my favorite parts), and embarrassing injuries, and bodily fluids, and incredibly elaborate practical jokes, and predictable but no less hilarious punchlines. Last week I finally got Jackass: The Movie, and I laughed my ass off, so hard at one point (the bit with the doctor and the toy car in the rectum) that I almost made myself quite sick, a fifteen-minute episode of hysterical convulsions immobilizing me completely.

24. What’s by your bedside: To the left, a small white bookcase with a celadon ginger-jar lamp, a white coffee mug full of pens that probably don't work, a green coffee mug full of popsicle sticks, some candy-wrappers and bookmarks, and at the moment a blue-and-white teapot full of Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer (I don't feel tense, I just like the taste); under this are books of various prurient interest, and on the floor all along this side are books and magazines (some pornographic and some not) and clothes and waste paper; to the right, actually on the bed but against the wall and therefore "bedside" are my teddy bear Antinöus, a little golden wrought-iron basket (with my remote controls, a little fur-lined cup for my glasses, a bottle of baby oil, and a little tin of cuticle cream), and a jumbled low wall of books, magazines, and VHS cassettes (also some pornographic and some not).

25. Pets: I haven't any pets... I am trying to talk Grandmother into letting me get a pug, but she doesn't want another dog (our last was a lhasa apso named Maggie, who had to be put to sleep after she went blind and then broke her back), and if she did she'd prefer a spaniel of some sort; and I am not as yet responsible enough, either financially or attention-wise, to take care of a new dog on my own. But someday, when I am responsible enough or Grandmother breaks down, I want a pug puppy.

26. Recent purchase: Domestically, the last thing I bought was a utensil basket and a new paper-towel rack for the kitchen, of modernistic chrome to match the fruit basket I bought some weeks ago (and which does not match our kitchen at all but draws attention away from the rather sinister-looking new coffee-maker). But the last actual objects I bought were two Rampage black jersey dresses of vaguely Gothic aspect that were on sale for 75% off at Macy's; these are for Marlénè's alterego, the Baroness Griselda von Beitte-Meihasse, who will be appearing at Harvey's on Thanksgiving Weekend and needed some fresh clothes (only I am insane enough to have an alterego with her own alterego... maybe someday she'll have an alterego, and we will be the psychological equivalent of Russian nesting dolls).

27. Always in the fridge: You want a grocery list? Our refrigerator is always packed with stuff. There are loads and loads of things we always have in our refrigerator, all the usual staples like milk and butter and cheese and lunch meat and jelly, and then all the leftovers and snacks. But things I particularly crave and keep in the fridge and freezer for my own personal use would be juice (two or three kinds, the light sweet-tart sorts like ruby grapefruit and white cranberry), yogurt (nonfat store-brand, black cherry, peach, and key lime being my favorites), and fruit popsicles of some kind.

28. Nagging injury: My right wrist... I don't know what the original injury was, but every now and again it will flare up, after particularly strenuous use of the hand in writing or carrying things, or if I bang it on something; the little bone on the back of my wrist (let's see if we can find out what it's called... lunate carpal, I guess, such a tiny thing) pokes out of place somewhere, and it gets inflamed underneath and hurts a lot. Then I have to wear a CTS brace and everyone razzes me about masturbating too much... which is perfectly silly, because I think it's quite obvious to the intelligent observer that I masturbate with my left hand.

29. Collections: Jewelry is my greatest collection; and of that, I think the most "collectible" portion is my Suzanne Somers pieces. I used to collect colored rhinestones, but that collection is too varied and odd to really catalog, and then I have absolute mountains of white rhinestones as well. I have piles and piles of jewelry in all sorts of different colors, and even a few really collectible pieces, but I keep my Suzannes separate in the very top of my jewelry wardrobe. Second to that would be my Dead Animals, from fur pieces with their heads and tails en suite to handbags made out of entire animals (an armadillo and a baby alligator, as well as a coin purse made from an Australian cane frog) to stuffed and completely inutile remains like my inflated dried blowfish and my stuffed Mexican sea turtle that plays a little wooden harp. I also collect egg-shaped things, and things with elephants, and pretty much everything else I touch.

30. Fitness routine: Huh? See above for my definitions of "routine." Well, when I do go to the gym, if Caroline is with me I just do twenty or thirty minutes on an elliptical machine while we talk a mile a minute and get all out of breath; if I'm alone, I will usually do twenty minutes on the treadmill at 4 mph and twenty minutes on the exercycle at level 4 or 5; in between, if I'm feeling frisky, I will go upstairs and maybe do a couple of butterfly presses and maybe some thigh presses, whatever catches my fancy and doesn't threaten to bulk up my biceps or calves or shoulders (so unladylike).

But since that pitiful and woebegone cry in my last unbearably long post (just beneath this unbearably long post), I have "hit bottom" on my body-hatred and have decided to do something about it. My immediate short-term goal is to lose fifteen pounds, and my mid-term goal is to have a body that I myself find sexually alluring... the long-term goal being to finally make peace with my body. When I get back into the swim of things (which I had vowed this week to do in earnest, before I was felled by this idiotic head cold), daily gym visits with forty minutes of cardio and fifteen minutes of weights will become de rigeur. I will start the weekly Pilates classes again, and maybe if I can swing it I'll take some training sessions to tone myself a little better. I have been back on my modified Atkins diet this week, and will remain on it (with exceptions for holiday dinners) until I reach the mid-term goal.

31. Recurring nightmare: I don't have recurrent nightmares in the usual sense, that the same specific dream comes back. But the two main themes in my nightmares are about being caught unprepared and having to go through with it anyway and make an absolute ass of myself, and being hideously betrayed by someone I love and trust. Paging Dr. Jung, paging Dr. Jung... even a novice could analyse those two.

32. Idea of a perfect day: I have no idea. Really. I mean, I can think of a catalog of things to do, but they won't all fit in one day; I can think of ideal weather conditions, but they don't really exist anywhere except in my own fevered brain, I can think of friends I would want to see and people I'd want to meet, jewels I'd want to buy and stores where I'd want to find super bargains, meals I'd like to eat and so on and so forth ad infinitum... but I don't believe in perfection, not of days, not of meals, not of anything really. Instead, I will hope to make each day perfect in its own way, to seek the joy in everything, to savor every moment as it passes.

And on that resoundingly saccharine cliché, I must leave you. I've been chipping away at these thirty-two questions for days and days. I have learned a lot, and in the interim between questions I have had a lot of ideas for the future. Thanks ever so for sharing this rather lengthy journey with me. And, as always with survey memes, please reproduce it where and when you can. Love!

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