Tuesday, December 27, 2005

J'ai trente-huit ans!

This has got to have been the most unspectacular birthday I remember ever having. It was pleasant, mind you... but wierd. For one thing, I've never in my life had to work on my birthday, so that was something new; there I was slaving away at the elevator company, entering data and whatnot, writing this special-to-me date on mysterious reports and breakdowns. I usually go shopping on my birthday, too... but unfortunately I am a wee bit broke (though I did buy some underwear today, it was an emergency, I'm on my last pair and I won't have time to do laundry until the weekend), and work kept me occupied, so no outlet-mall orgy for poor little me.

But still, it's been a nice day. I got some nice e-cards, and a couple of cute prezzies; yesterday Caroline and I went down to Santana Row for the Aveda Store Birthday Aromatherapy Treatment, which entails sniffing a lot of essential oils with your eyes closed until you find the one you respond to most positively, of which they then give you a little complementary bottle as a gift. I was so thrilled with the freebie that I bought a $20 candle and an $8 lip balm, which used up the Visa gift card my aunt gave me for my birthday on Christmas. Then Caroline took me to lunch at Maggiano's Little Italy, where we gorged ourselves on her gift cards from her Visa Rewards Program. And today after work I went out to Corte Madera and was treated to dinner and some (window-only, unfortunately) shopping with my friend and former coworker JB. When I got home, I got another gift card from my uncle who'd come by to cart some crap out of the garage (tomorrow is Big Garbage Day), and a really cute lamp from my sister, who'd come by while I was out, and a phone call from Daddy who's out of town on vacation this week. So all in all, a rather nice birthday.

Even-numbered years don't do much for me, though. I can't remember any of them with very much clarity... it's always the odd-numbered years that stick in my mind. Seven, thirteen, nineteen, twenty-one, twenty-seven, thirty-five. So here's looking forward to a nice dull year, which I need after the various professional and medical tumults of this last year.

So thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate my yawny little birthday! I'm off to bed now, I have to get up at six these days in order to be to work at 7:30, and I should have been asleep an hour ago (and my Tylenol PM is starting to kick in). Nighty-night!


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Wake Me When It's Over

I am so not prepared for tomorrow. In fact, I have to report that I am fucking exhausted, working my ass off all week, and there is still a pile of chores to do before everyone shows up here at four tomorrow... cleaning, decorating, wrapping, cooking, cleaning up after the cooking, table-setting, cooking some more, and cleaning up after the cooking again.

Here is a perfect visual representation of exactly how I feel about Christmas right now:

Just kill me now, OK?

You'd think that after having a week and a half without work, I would be all rested up and ready to rumble... but no. In fact, my ten days off were more exhausting than you can imagine. Over last week, I did get a lot of sleep, but we were preparing for both Christmas and our weekend trip up to Placerville for Grandmother's niece's 50th wedding anniversary (I'll give you a second to work that out on a piece of scratch paper).

This trip has been the centerpiece of Grandmother's brain for months, she's been planning around and looking forward to it since we first heard about it in July, and so it ended up being rather labor-intensive... we had to shop for it, you see. Not only did Grandmother want something to wear to the party, but she wanted Daddy to wear something nice too, and so we had to buy him something nice. It was a lot of effort on my part to talk her out of buying him a suit that he would only wear once; after much effort, I finally got her settled on a dark sweater with a shirt and tie.

Then came the trip itself, and it was so tiring I'm still tired from it. The drive wasn't too bad, except that it rained a good deal; but once we arrived, Grandmother was so excited to be around her family again that I had a hell of a time trying to keep up with her... and by "keeping up" I mean that I had to schlepp her around at a much higher rate of speed, and moving in various different directions, changing plans at a moment's notice, and somehow more irritating than I thought possible (and regular readers know exactly how irritating it is possible for Grandmother to be).

And then we were running around all over Placerville, first up and down ill-lit country lanes in dense fog to cousin Kevin's house, where we were meeting for pie and coffee; then the next day in pouring rain even further out in the countryside to cousin Dub's house for fudge and cider, a hayride in a horse-drawn wagon, caroling, and general visiting (we didn't go on the hayride, though). Then in absolutely pissing rain to the Lion's Club in Placerville for the party itself, which was nice but went on and on and on and on and...

In between all these gatherings, I was running around with unexpected errands. For example, when my nephew and niece showed up at Dub's house with nothing to wear to the anniversary party but the jeans and sweatshirts they had on (my sister neglected to tell Matthew what the party was for), I was dispatched to TJ Maxx to buy them shirts and sweaters to dress them up a little. It wasn't difficult, in fact I found it distinctly entertaining (Matthew is on leave from the Army before being deployed to a two-year tour in Korea; I haven't seen him since last Christmas, and I wanted to spend time with him while I have the chance), it was still tiring. Anyway, though I had a good time, it was a lot of hassle, and very little sleep in between (I never sleep well in hotels).

Then when we got home, I was so tired I spent most of Monday in bed, then had to start the Christmas tree, and then finish Grandmother's Christmas shopping; and then on Wednesday I started a new temp assignment. This one is going to last for two months, covering for a returning worker who is out on disability; I'll be doing various Accounts-Payable, Purchasing, and Payroll tasks (of which I only have the faintest understanding after three days) at the administrative field office of a vast national elevator company. It's a pleasant-enough place, a big room full of cubicles, lots of people around, free coffee and sodas in the breakroom, and a really first-rate bathroom. But I have to be there at 7:30 in the morning, which is a struggle; and I've discovered that not only am I expected to dress nice every day (upper-end business casual), but we aren't allowed to wear jeans except on Friday... when we are actively encouraged to wear jeans. One of those places.

I am aware that a lot of people were out on vacation, and a lot of clients closed down, when I started this week, giving me a quiet spell for training; but they'll all be back, and the company operating in full swing, after the New Year... until then, I don't even know what the work or the environment is really going to be like. Still, it seems nice enough so far... and they gave us a paid half-day off Friday as a Christmas bonus, so I'm inclined to like them.

With my bonus free time, I took Daddy out to the mall for some Christmas shopping; this is the first time he's bought gifts since my stepmother passed away several years ago, and since he finally sold his house out in Concord, he had some spare cash with which to splurge. It was fun shopping with him, but the lines at the stores were outrageous.

I mean, it's two days before Christmas, the malls were thronged, and all of these huge department store chains had only minimal sales staff working these gigantic crowds... hardly more than they would have working on a Wednesday afternoon. I stood in line at Kohl's for over forty-five minutes, because they had only two out of six cash-registers open on each end of the store... thousands of customers, four cashiers. It was the same story in several other department and specialty stores we visited, where there were lines halfway through the store and only one or two cashiers working thousands of dollars worth of sales. I hope their stockholders choke on the profits.

Now that's done, and I need to finish decorating today. Grandmother has been trying to decorate the tree that I only managed to get set up and strung with lights on Monday; which means that all the ornaments are in the front center of the tree, and stop about four feet up. So I have to finish that, sprinkle the other holiday bibelots around the shelves, mantel, and tabletops, gather everything back up into the attic, and dust and vacuum. That should take a few hours, though Caroline is coming over today to give me a hand (thank God, I don't think I could do it alone).

And with all this going on, I don't really feel like having Christmas. I don't want it. I don't want to decorate, I don't want to sing carols, I don't want to exchange gifts, I don't want to eat turkey and pie. There is no Xmas Spirit in my bosom. I just don't care.

But whether I care or not, these tasks have to be done. It's my annual gift to my family, working like a carthorse so that their holiday traditions shine brightly and run smoothly. It's kind of nice knowing that I don't have to be in the mood to perform all these festive preparations... I just do them because it's what I do.

But I'm not doing them, sitting here writing, am I? I guess I'd better get moving. Thanks for visiting, and have a super weekend, whatever you're doing with it. I wish you love, and great accessories!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Oh, Darling...Must We?

It's that time of year again; and, as usual, I wish it weren't. There is a buck-naked six-foot Douglas fir taking up too much space and putting out too much scent and dropping too many little green needles on the carpet in my living room. The Grandmother wants to go to the mall and finish her Christmas shopping, plunging wheelchair-first into the densest and most stupefied crowds of the year, pretty much every day... even though she doesn't know what to buy for whom, or where to get it, nor does she care for anything that is available in the many stores that are so overstocked with merchandise that you have to roll entire racks of clothing around to make an ADA-compliant path. My daily seven-o'clock dose of Tom Welling's pulchritude in ABC Family's Smallville reruns has been replaced by those ghastly old Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials, or worse, those non-Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials that are even more poorly-written and lack that saving touch of camp Rankin-Bass always inserted into its stop-action animated features ("I want to be a dentist!" or "I'm Mister Heat-Meister!" per esempio).

I'm just feeling funky about the whole thing. Partly, I think, because I am too broke to buy presents this year, though I know I will be receiving presents, and it feels tacky to get a present from someone to whom you have not given a present. I have agreed with my cousins and Grandmother not to shop for each other, and I have a gift for Caroline that is something I already own and which I know she covets but which I love dearly and am loath to give away. But no Christmas Shopping makes me blue... especially since I can't autogift, which has long been my favorite part of Christmas shopping ("one for Aunt Terry and one for me; one for Uncle Ralph and one for me; one for Cousin Kellie and one for me"... you get the idea).

And this inability to participate in the Reason for the Season (as I see it: shopping) is really throwing an unpleasant light on that Reason and the other Reason (you know, that ancient Nazarene they keep talking about but infrequently imitate) for the Season.

I have been hyper-aware this year of the growing tension amongst Christians about having their big holiday hijacked by all us non-believers (I can't tell you how many Christians I've heard complaining that they are enjoined to wish everyone "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"), and all the tension growing in the nonbelievers who want all that nasty hateful Christianity taken out of the holiday (I recently heard about the ACLU forcing Sears into taking the word "Christmas" out of its holiday advertisements, as if the ACLU has nothing better to do under a Republican dictatorship; I've also read about several lawsuits where people want nativity scenes banned from private homes as well as public property).

The thing that started bothering me this year is: why do all these non-Christians feel compelled to celebrate what is inescapably a Christian holiday? I understand that the non-religious aspects of Christmas have long been part of American Tradition, but how did it get to be that way? Where did all this secular Santa/Xmas bullshit come from, anyway? And why do we make up holidays at the same time of the year so that non-Christians can celebrate the Season?

It seems to me that the Reason for the Season is, indeed, retail. You'll notice that it is the retailers who come up with non-specific Holiday greetings and have removed the word "Christmas" from its advertising so as not to offend non-Christians; you'll observe that all of the "culturally inclusive" alterntative holidays that are suddenly surfacing all over the place (I mean, who ever even heard of Kwanzaa before 1995?) are always presented as gift-giving holidays, and that what you are being culturally included into is the practice of buying extra retail in December; you'll find that every tinsel decoration and every sappy TV special and every radio-broadcast carol, secular or religious or hybrid, has retail corporate sponsorship behind it. The entire Reason for the Season is to keep the whole rattling gazillion-dollar machine of gift-buying and card-sending and decoration-hanging going for another year.

Now, don't get me wrong... not only am I not a Christian, but I love retail. I worship my gods weekly at the mall. I shop to live and I live to shop. I am the perfect consumer (barring the occasional handicap of penury), I am permeated by the impulse-buying mentality that retailers study and cater to... it is for me that they put those cool doodads and nifty gizmos at the ends of the aisles so I'll be sure to buy them, it is for me that eBay and Amazon exist, it is for me that expensive glossy sale-magazines are produced and inserted into Sunday newspapers. Not in any way, shape, or form am I knocking retail.

What I am knocking, what bothers me about the tensions of this Season, is that people don't seem to realize they are being manipulated. They don't seem to realize that the Christian holy day of Christmas and the secular gift-giving holiday of Christmas are not even remotely related to each other, and share only the name and the date. If there is another Robert Manners out there and his birthday is on December 27 (not that I'm dropping any hints), does that make us the same person? No! Similarly, Santa Claus has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus Christ, nor do either of them even have anything to do with the original Saint Nicholas nor the pagan winter solstice celebrations that were grafted onto the medieval Christian calendar.

Consider, too, the fact that all of the so-called Christian holidays have been subverted and reinvented by retail. I mean, does anybody ever pray to Saint Valentine on Saint Valentine's Day? No, we buy billions of dollars worth of pink-and-red crap to demonstrate our "love" for each other. Do we go to church or revere our dead on All Hallow's Eve? No, we buy billions of dollars worth of costumes and candy. Do we pray to Saint Patrick on Saint Patrick's Day? No, we buy green beer and green clothing, eat corned-beef and cabbage, and otherwise stereotype and demean the Irish. And every year, these "holidays" become even more retail-oriented. I recently heard someone complaining that he couldn't find a nonsecular Halloween card to send. Halloween cards? When did we start sending cards on Halloween? I mean... really!

The secular form of Christmas is just that: secular. All the traditional hoo-ha about trees and mistletoe and exchanging gifts is pagan practice grafted artificially onto a new religion long, long ago. Modern Christmas is driven by corporate advertising and has nothing to do with anything except making you buy more stuff than even the most dedicated shopping-addict ordinarily would.

The religious form of Christmas is of course the original inspiration of the secular holiday, just as the word Holy Day is the original form of the secular word "holiday" meaning a national day off from work. But you know, words and meanings change over time... we no longer hold onto our balls when we "testify," and we no longer kill every tenth middle-manager when we "decimate" our workforce, and "gay" no longer means merry and bright.

Get over it. If you want to buy each-other presents, string icicle lights around your house, put a flammable green eyesore in your front window, and eat yourself into a tryptophan-and-insulin coma, have at it... I know we will, as I and my family always have done. If you want to celebrate the birth of Christ, go right ahead, light-up plastic crèche sets and all. Do them both at the same time, if you must. But please keep in mind that these are now, and really have always been, completely separate (though coinciding) practices.

So anyway, enough rant. I do have one positive thing to say about the Holidays this year: I've happily discovered that eggnog is the best beverage for taking my morning meds. It's so viscous and thick that I don't have to eat anything before taking my pills, as I ordinarily would if I just swallowed them with milk or juice. Eating is always such a trial for me in the morning, and so many things that I would ordinarily swallow pills with (yogurt or citrus juices) interact badly with the Prozac to give me terrible gas. I don't know what I'll do when the eggnog supply runs out. Maybe I'll have to make my own... though I have no idea where I might procure some guargum and carageenan (whatever they are).

Well, thanks for coming by. I had a lovely time chatting with you all! I'm off now to the mall with the Grandmother; I'm not working today, and so we can take advantage of the shoppers with jobs being busy in order to finish the last three people on her list. Wish me luck, and a cheery toodly-yoo-hoo to you!

Thursday, December 8, 2005

And How May I Direct Your Call?

Well, The Great Temping Adventure continues. I am now working the switchboard and mailroom of a wholesale restaurant supply company. I answer the phone and I sort the mail. But the mail only goes out once a day and comes in once a day; and the phones, while busy, only come on in waves... I'll be sitting here in perfect silence for ten or fifteen minutes, then five people call all at the same time. Irksome, but not particularly difficult. Actually, until yesterday I haven't had computer access, or I would have told you all this earlier... this has got to be the most unchallenging job I've ever had.

All I do is forward calls, page salespeople to the phone over the intercom, sometimes give directions, and frequently attempt to mollify callers who do not wish to leave voicemails and want to know why nobody ever answers their phones ("He's probably out on the floor and I'm sure he'll call back when he's free" and "She's probably meeting with a colleague and is away from her desk, I'm sure she'll call you back soon" are my stock answers). For the mail, I sort out invoices and put the single-page invoices through the folding machine, manually fold the multiple pages and stuff them into envelopes, and then run it all through the meter. Time-consuming, but not mind-consuming.

This is a pleasant change from the last assignment, where I was a little too challenged, having to make rather arcane associations and difficult decisions while juggling uncomfortably with piles and piles of numbers. It's even cooler here, so I can wear sweaters. I guess the only drawback is that I get bored sometimes. On my coffee breaks, after visiting the potty, I just wander around the aisles and look at all the cool stuff they sell here (we're open to the public, so it's almost like working in a store), wondering what it would be like to own a restaurant and have a need for any of the nifty gizmos we have in stock... and to know what a lot of these nifty gizmos actually do.

Well, anyway, I didn't have much to talk about, I just wanted to check in. I'm going to be reassigned next week; hopefully I'll have the time and access to tell you all about it. In the meantime, stay well, and have a happy day! Thank you for calling!

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Occasional Man

So here we are once again, blessed with both the time and the energy to record our thoughts for the benefit of posterity. I'm printing out payroll reports from our dinosaur accounting program to our dinosaur dot-matrix printer, which takes a while; and I am all caught up with my invoicing (well, I was caught up until somebody just had to bring today's mail in... damn, all that must have given the postman a strain), so I have a few moments to spare.

Things are pretty much the same. I feel a little disconnected from myself, I haven't yet joined the gym nor lost any weight (though I've been slamming vitamin C and green tea, so the bloatedness is going away), I'm still at the cement-pumping place (they practically begged me to stay a little longer, which does my ego no end of good, though it's not doing much for my bank accout). How about some Shopping News?

I got over my eBay issue in a surprising way: I stopped shopping for Marlénè and shopped instead for Robert. So instead of failing my bids for jewels and furs and size-thirteen pumps, I have been winning my bids for blazers and cufflinks and size-eleven loafers. And I've been getting some serious deals! I got two silk-and-cashmere windowpane-plaid sportcoats (one in a wedgewood blue and one in oatmeal) for $30, including shipping; I got a Calvin Klein navy blue blazer for $15; I got three French-cuff dress shirts and two cufflink-and-tie-clip sets for $60; and I got a pair of new-in-the-box Rockport brown suede pennyloafers for $20. I have a pair of gray-and-brown Bass saddle-shoes on bid, too, and am watching a number of auctions for more dress shirts and lots of designer neckties. Yippeee! I'm going to be one stylin' temp!

I never really thought to look for menswear on eBay before. But they have piles and piles of really great stuff, chic Italian suits for under $200, snazzy shoes for less than a quarter of what you'd pay in even a discount store, and all kinds of masculine accessories for super cheap. And they have utter stacks of shirts in my hard-to-find size (17x36/37). I am fortunate that I am pretty much a standard-size, otherwise... my shoes are a straight eleven and my suits are a straight 42-long, and they always fit right off the rack. Pants are a little more difficult, but most 42-longs come with 36-waist pants, and new suits come unhemmed, and it's not that expensive to get pant-legs tailored (usually about $5 a leg to get them hemmed and cuffed).

This heady success on eBay makes me think that the Universe is trying to tell me something: that perhaps the time has come for Miss Marlénè to take the backseat and let Robert drive for a while.

Other things have been happening, too... it's not just eBay that's thwarting my attempts for gowns and furs and jewels: it's everywhere I go. I find really nice menswear things but nothing good in women's. I find jewelry I want to wear with boy-clothes but nothing I want to wear with drag. I even lost a huge chunk of my jewelry collection recently, I lent it to a friend for a photo-shoot and he returned it by a reputable delivery service, but it was misdelivered and we can't find whence or to whom it was incorrectly delivered. And then of course there's my complete lack of desire to even perform, much less squeeze myself into corset and pumps, nor weigh myself down with makeup and wig.

So I feel kind of, well, manly just now. I am enjoying my short nails and my short hair and my shirts and jackets and comfy man-shoes. Socks that matter, ties that go with something, belts that do more than just hold up my pants. It's nice.

I miss my Marlénè moments a little, though. Dressing up is so much fun, performing is fun, getting applause is great, and the feeling of entertaining people is simply wonderful. And I don't intend to give any of it up. I just have to wait for the need to surface again.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this change of pace for as long as it lasts. I only hope that my next job, whatever it will be, will allow me to wear some of my snazzy new clothes... the place I've been this last month is not only casual, but the office gets really hot in the afternoon, so dressing up is not only unnecessary, it's uncomfortable. I want my next position to be in a nice new air-conditioned office-building with a snappy dress-code and a lot of interoffice politics to amuse me. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Who's That Guy?

I don't seem to quite know who or what I am anymore. I am finding much of my identity either in flux or entirely MIA; so much more of it hinged on my old job than I had ever imagined. I feel quite lost right now, and I haven't the tiniest idea what to do about it, or even if there's anything I should or can do about it.

Here are a few examples...

Identity-Defining Statement #1: I am a writer.
Fiction-wise, I haven't written diddly-squat in months. More importantly, I don't really feel like writing. I don't have the urge, the drive, the afflatus. It's not writer's block, it's writer's indifference. Blog-wise, I not only have very little drive to write, I have very little time in which to write. Working nine hour days with an aggregate hour of commute, having to schedule a ten-hour block in which to get eight hours of sleep, and then needing an hour's prep in the morning and an hour for dinner in the evening, I only have two hours in the day in which to unwind, and I usually end up watching TV. So I don't write. And where does that leave me as a writer?

Identity-Defining Statement #2: I am a drag queen.
I haven't been in drag since September, I didn't really want to do it then, and I hadn't done drag for two months before that. What is surprising is that I really don't miss it. I mean, I feel a certain obligation to go to shows and events, but the very thought of putting on makeup and a wig fills me with a sinking dread and a sour resistance. I simply don't want to do it. I can't buy new clothes and jewelry, and I have discovered that I relied on new clothes and jewelry to inspire my performances. And now I have nowhere to get dressed, so I either have to put on my face in the car (an interesting experience, to say the least) or make use of whatever facilities are available at the venue; I had no idea how much I had come to depend on using the office to get ready for shows. And so I make an excuse, send in an apology, let my nails get into a perfectly disgusting state, let my eyebrows and arm-hair grow wild, and am just not a drag queen. So what am I?

Identity-Defining Statement #3: I drink coffee all the time, all day, every day, whenever I feel like it.
I know this is a pretty weird one, seemingly rather petty; but every day I have to remind myself that drinking too much coffee contributes to the deterioration of my bipolar disorder and that I am happier and healthier sticking to two cups in the morning and maybe one cup at work. And I do feel better now that I've cut down. But when I'm in a restaurant or hanging out somewhere, I am startled to realize that while I don't particularly want coffee at odd times in the day, I have no idea what else to drink. Especially since I'm trying to stay away from sugar as well. I can order decaf, of course, but that is just as weird to me as not ordering coffee at all. It wasn't all that long ago when I was quite vocal in my opinion that decaf is for pussies. Does that now make me a pussy by my own definition? Or does my definition of a pussy have to change? Either way, it's not what it was and I don't know what it is now.

Identity-Defining Statement #4: I Shop, Therefore I Am.
Of course my extended period of unemployment reformed my shopping habits to an extreme degree. And yet when I started working, I went hog-wild purchasing new pants and shirts and ties to flesh out my professional wardrobe (and to wardrobe my increased flesh, more on that later). But I am getting very little joy out of shopping, and am more often being stymied by not getting quite what I want... I see a shirt I really like but it doesn't come in my size, I see shoes I really like but the soles are too hard; further and worse, I have lost every single eBay auction I've bid on in the last two weeks. I haven't been bidding a lot, but everything was something I really wanted, and I was invariably outbid at the last moment. That never used to happen to me... it was always I who outbid others at the last moment. I'm beginning to think that Someone might be trying to tell me something. But in the meantime, while it's a good thing that I am not frivoling my precious few dollars away on jewelry and furs when I really need to be digging myself out of debt, I feel quite disconnected from myself by this consumer impotence.

Identity-Defining Statement #5: I berate myself for being fat, but I'm not REALLY fat.
I have slipped over the border of "a trifle pudgy but still on the slim side and generally passable" and am now dwelling square in the middle of "that's really not very healthy, not even for the huge pink pig that you now resemble." Not only have I had to buy all of my new business-pants in a size-36-waist because I can no longer get into my collection of size-34-waist pants, but I now have an actual, inescapable, and thoroughly disgusting Middle-Age Gut. The waistbands of my pants and my underwear fold over as soon as I put them on, which is not only uncomfortable but also ruins my waistbands. I can't even suck my gut in, and if I try to suck in (such as when passing the cafe where the very cute boy works), I pull three or four muscles in my back; catching reflections of myself in doors and windows is an ego-crushing horror. I weighed two hundred and twenty-five pounds last time I got on the scale, five pounds more than I did the last time I got so disgusted with myself that I was able to go on a diet and exercise regimen in order to get back into shape. Ten of those pounds have come to stay since I left my old job.


And here's something that makes all of the above rather more confusing: is it because of my change of job, or because I've started taking Prozac? I mean, the non-writing dates from when I started meds, not from when I left my old job nor when I started my current one. The coffee weirdness is due entirely to my treatment and has absolutely nothing to do with work. The weight-gain is a common side-effect of Prozac; though I am eating a lot more now that I'm working (I eat lunch out every day, and those afternoon snacks have been keeping me sane), I am also getting a good deal more exercise than when I was loafing about the house, so it should balance out a little... but maybe the Prozac is keeping it uneven.

So a lot of this feeling of displeasure and disconnect can be blamed on the drugs; and I seriously would rather have the displeasure and disconnect than the mania or the depression.

Nevertheless, I have come to a point where I really miss my old job. I didn't realize how much I depended on its peculiar circumstances for my happiness... the flexible short schedule, the ability to do mindless things while blogging or writing (I'm able to write now because I'm doing a great sheaf of data entry that doesn't require any brain-space, so I can think about what I'm going to write while I'm inputting and then write it quickly in between every ten invoices), the use of the space on the weekend, the time alone... and perhaps most importantly, the beautiful sensation of knowing how to do everything.

I am instead embarked upon a new adventure, a very exciting and potentially rewarding adventure; but I really wish I had a more secure sense of self to take on the adventure with me. This is a little scary, a little uncomfortable, and a little sad. I don't know who this new person I'm turning into is, I don't know what he's capable of doing, I don't know whether or not I'm going to like him. We shall just have to see.

In the meantime, I am going to rejoin the gym and at least get rid of this gut. I can't stand it. It makes me cry... hell, darling, it makes me want to puke... and bulimia really isn't the solution (and I can't afford lipo until I get my credit cards cleared up and Grandmother's loans repaid).

So anyway, I'm going back to my data-entry, and leave you with this inspiring sight (it certainly inspires me... those rippling abs, that mythical pelvic definition, the dimples and whatnot... mmmmmmmm):

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cement or Concrete: What's the Difference?

Just one of the many new facts and concepts I've had to absorb these last two weeks, along with "what is slurry" and "what is a skid loader." And I'm learning all these new things at such a dizzying speed that sometimes when I leave the office I just sit in my car staring forward while my brain just turns off. It's a pleasant kind of numbness, though... like the fatigue after a good workout.

Incidentally: cement is an ingredient in concrete, concrete is made of cement and some kind of sand or stone or gravel, and cement cannot be used by itself but the words are frequently used interchangeably; slurry is a mixture of water and some kind of solid, which in the case of concrete is the liquid form that comes out of the concrete-mixer; and a skid loader is one of those shiny yellow machines one sees around construction sites, kind of like a big snow-shovel with a truck behind it.

So anyway, this work experience has been a bit of a surprise. After the first week, I finally understood how the accounting program works and what, exactly, it is that I'm entering into said program. The program is so old that it has to run in a virtual DOS environment, and the entire Accounts Payable/Accounts Recievable system is so byzantine and complicated by this elderly software that if they updated it they wouldn't need a second employee in the office.

But I have picked up the system at a pretty good speed, and they were so impressed that they asked me to stay for another month while they looked for a permanent employee to put in the job. They probably would have just given me the job if I'd indicated any desire to stay... but while I am enjoying the job to a certain extent, it's not what I want to do for the long term... all those straight guys, I just don't feel as comfortable as I'd like (there is a woman who works there, but I've only seen her once in two weeks; and if any of these guys is gay, he's so straight-acting that he might just as well be straight).

The downside of all this is that it's keeping me so busy, I hardly have any time to keep up with my communications... I'm stealing precious grooming time right now to write this, and I actually started writing it on Saturday and never finished. Though I sometimes have enough idle time at the office to read a blog or an email here or there, I really don't have the time to write anything.

So anyway, blog updates will be spotty for the next month... though not as spotty as they've been for the last month, I hope. And Worst Luck is starting to simmer a bit around the edges of my mind, I have great hopes that it'll come boiling over sometime pretty soon. Once I get used to this farm-hand sleep schedule (I actually go to bed at nine p.m. so I can be asleep by ten and get my eight hours in before I have to get up at 6), I hope to be able to make better use of my off-time.

Well, I have to be dashing... shower shave and shine! Have a super day, and I'll try to do the same. And thanks, guys, for sticking with me during this weird transition period... though I haven't been responding to your kind comments and emails, I do appreciate them. Love you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Just Checking In...

Hey, kids! Forgive the absence, but I got to a point where I couldn't keep up with things for a while there. The ennui and stasis of unemployment really got me down for a while, and I simply didn't have anything to write about. But now I do!

See, I signed on with this temp agency, and after some initial mishaps about my assessment interview (I came down with a nasty flu on the day I was scheduled, and it took a week and a half to reconnect), I tested well on all the assessment exams, and was plugged in and set to work right away.

Aside from the relief of knowing that money is coming in shortly, I am also inspired to do some shopping... I haven't shopped in months, and oi did I miss it! But after a brief discussion with my temping agent, I realized I was going to need more items of clothing in the "professional" category... I had plenty of "office casual" and even more of at-home casual, but not so much in the really snazzy-dressy realm. Also I'm still carrying around that extra weight, and I already needed new pants. So I've been buying slacks and dress-shirts and ties wherever I can find them, and it's very soothing and exciting at once.

So now I'm up at the ass-crack of dawn, getting ready to jet off to my fabulous and exciting new assignment! It isn't as glamorous (or well-paying) as I would have liked, I'm doing data entry and filing for a cement pumping concern (who knew cement could be pumped?) out in the industrial wastelands of Berkeley; but it's only for two weeks, it's something different to do, and it will get most of this month's bills paid. Besides, the people are nice (a bunch of very manly men, as one might expect, but quite friendly), and the office is pretty nice, the office-manager is pleasant to work for, and the work itself is fairly easy.

Unfortunately, I have to be there at 8 a.m. and work for eight hours, with an hour lunch in the middle (remember at my last job I worked from tennish to fiveish and ate whenever I felt like it). So I went to bed last night at 9 with a melatonin and a volume of Proust so that I could be asleep by 10, giving myself a good night's sleep before getting up at 6. And here I am awake before the sun is up, and it's very disconcerting.

But now I'm off to shit-shower-and-shave, get myself all dolled up in some Office Casual duds, and get down to the jobsite for another thrilling day of processing invoices! Yay!

I hope you're having a great day, too! Hugs!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Le Sigh

I'm still here. I just don't have anything to say. I feel very, I don't know, quiet. Not unhappy or depressed at all... maybe a little too bored, irritated by my continuing poverty, hurt by so many potential employers' indifference to me, a little bit dissipated by my complete lack of life-structure... but generally okay.

Just thought I'd check in. Talk to you soon! I hope.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Seven, Seven, Seven...

I do believe I've been wallowing. I've barely left the house these last seven days, I've done pretty much nothing in the house. Loaded the dishwasher a couple of times, ran some errands for the Grandmother, but that's about it. But I've watched a lot of television, contributed a little to the message boards, did a little work on my novel, did a little reading, and... and nothing else. I didn't think it was possible to fill up seven whole days with so very little.

I'm having a very hard time motivating myself to do anything. There are things I know I need to be doing... looking for a job being the top of the list, with laundry running a close second... but I just can't seem to make myself move. "Monumental lethargy" is how I'd describe it. But I don't feel bad... I actually feel pretty good; I just feel very still.

Whatever. As always, when I am short of material, I will take a meme from Dana Marie. Since I haven't posted in seven days, I thought it was appropriate.


Seven Sevens

1) Seven things I plan to do before I die:

  • Have a higher balance in my savings account than on my credit card.
  • Visit England, France, and Italy.
  • Fall in love with someone who is in love with me.
  • Have a home of my own.
  • Finish writing something that is worth publishing.
  • Get published.
  • Pay for sex.

2) Seven things I can do:

  • Balance anybody's checkbook (except my own).
  • Imagine how someone else might feel.
  • Remember thousands upon thousands of useless facts.
  • Learn things quickly.
  • Enjoy beauty.
  • Write about things and people and ideas, usually with good spelling and dazzling grammar.
  • Tell the difference between a shrimp fork and an oyster fork.

3) Seven things I can't do:

  • Understand why anybody would choose to be ignorant.
  • Understand why anybody drives slower than they have to.
  • Understand sports.
  • Eat avocadoes or celery.
  • Make myself throw up.
  • Give birth.
  • Stick my elbow in my ear.

4) Seven things that attract me to a man:

  • Looks, of course! I could be all New Agey and say I notice a man's aura, or his eyes or some intangible whatever, but the fact is that the first thing I notice about a man is his face/hair/body/hands/etc.
  • An offbeat sense of style.
  • Intelligence and diction.
  • A sense of humor.
  • Vulnerability.
  • Strength (which might seem the opposite of the above, but really isn't).
  • A deep, rich voice, preferably with a slight sibilance.

5) Seven things I say the most:

  • Anyway.
  • Whatever (and its close relation, Whatever).
  • I don't want to.
  • Leave me alone (actually, I seldom say that out loud, but I say it so much in my head that it counts).
  • Get out of my way! (but only in the car)
  • Hello! (but never Hel-lo!) Not only do I say this every time I answer a phone or meet a person, I also say it when I see a cute guy.
  • I wish...

6) Seven celebrity crushes (with links & pix):

(And yes, I know... I'm going straight to hell for sexualizing something so young-looking... but he's so damned cute! And he's not really underage, so relax.)

  • Brad Pitt (even when he's playing scruffy or crazy, though I do prefer when he's pretty)

(and now I discover there were only six sevens in the meme. Some people have no sense of balance and organization! I'll fix that myself with...)

7) Seven brief pieces of advice for posterity:

  • Never bathe a cat.
  • You can't change the past and you can't control the future.
  • Never get into a battle of wills with your own hair... you will lose.
  • There's no such thing as "free"... everything has some degree of cost.
  • It's better to be pissed off than pissed on (my mother's favorite phrase).
  • Never have sex with someone you wouldn't consider marrying (that one came from my dad, and he should know).
  • There are no clashing colors, there are only undesired effects.


I can't believe how long that took. I started this on Tuesday morning and it's now Wednesday morning... twenty-four hours later! And while I can't claim to have been working on it for twenty-four hours solid, I am amazed at how long it did take.

The main problem is that my computer is broken, something unpleasant happened to the power-supply, and I can't afford to have it fixed right now. I have been using the office's laptop, which I really need to return but am hoping to keep on loan for a little while longer, until I can get my desktop computer fixed. In the meantime, I do not have access to my nearly two gigabytes of electronic images. So when I was putting in the pictures above, I had to go hunting for them, I couldn't just get them off my own hard-drive. Big pain in the ass!

So anyway, I am going to go hit the job-boards, take my meds, and start a cleaning project that Grandmother wants done. And get started on my laundry! The Prozac makes me sweat, and I'm going through my t-shirts at hyperspeed.

Hope you're having a splendiferous day!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Prozac Nation

So now I'm a medicated nutwad. I met with my pee-sychiatrist (or Dr. Shrinkamadink as she shall henceforth be dubbed) last week and we discussed my symptoms and possible medications. Her first recommendation was for lithium, but I didn't care for the side-effects; next on the list was Depakote, which has a lot of side-effects, too, and usually needs to be paired with an antidepressant.

I knew side-effects would be pretty much inevitable, but the two mood-stabilizers had possible effects that I'd really hate: weight-gain and sexual dysfunction are common with all of these meds, but hair loss and liver problems can come with lithium and Depakote, so I'd really rather not go there if I can help it. Fat I can live with, but bald and fat? Nothankyouverymuch.

So we talked some more, and finally came to the decision that since my manic phases aren't that bad but my depressive phases are desperately unpleasant, I'd rather start off with a mild antidepressant... and if it flips me into manic, I have a backup of Depakote to stabilize me.

So today is day three of my 10mg Prozac treatment; after seven days, I go up to 20mg. I'm told it will be twenty-eight days before I start seeing results, but I already feel different. I feel kind of wide-awake and cheerful, with more energy than I've had lately... kind of like manic, but without that anxious edge. Also it feels like there's too much blood in my head, a kind of pressure that's a little odd but not uncomfortable. And my teeth itch. And I'm really thirsty, and I have gas. I can't tell if it's all connected to the Prozac, but it's different from before I started, so...

If nothing else, I'll have something interesting to talk about at my next group class. I think the classes and the visits with Dr. Shrinkamadink are going to be more useful than the pills, but I'm glad to have their help; and I'm really glad to be finally gettings somewhere and doing something definite about this condition. The sight of those pills sitting on the table give me a great sense of satisfaction.

In other news... there is no other news. No job prospects, no real progress on Worst Luck, nothing else much going on. I've started an exercise program today (a Pilates video, I only did the warmup part today, I'll add a little more each day), and trying to become more agressive about my job-hunt (though I don't really know where to start), and though I haven't progressed into the story of Worst Luck I have been working on "Chapter 7 Part 2" (editing and reworking, I've only written one further paragraph).

And so that's what's going on with me. How are you? Well, one hopes.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I Do My Best Thinking...

It seems all of my writing-desire is being siphoned off by the message boards at Just Us Boys. I obsessively check on the threads I've written on, obsessively check for new threads, getting wrapped up in various opinions and perspectives and experiences. It's a lot of fun... but I feel like I'm neglecting you all here at Mannersism. So it occurs to me that I'd like to share some of my JUB writing with you; but you don't want to join the message board, do you?

So instead I will simply reproduce the board topic and my little messages; I've removed any references to other JUB members... I mean, there's a line between "borrowing" and "plagiarizing," a line between sharing a conversation and breaking a confidence.

And here we go...


August 1st, 2005, 04:01 PM #34
Thread: Do you believe in God?
(This started off in regard to a recent poll in which Americans overwhelmingly professed a no doubt whatever in the existence of God while Western Europeans were infinitely more ambivalent about the existence of God).

Regarding the initial poll, I think it's more a matter of cultural attitudes; Western Europeans like to doubt themselves, they wore themselves out on theistic wars centuries ago, and I think they see religion as a political construct more than a spiritual construct; but Americans consider doubt a weakness, and many see the separation of Church and State as making the Church inviolably sacred.

I liked what (another gentleman) said, that gibes closely to my belief: I believe that God is the central organizing principle that set the whole thing in motion, a universal intelligence or energy that we can "tap into" to guide our actions in accordance with universal form. I think of God as being infinitely good, but not necessarily humanly good.

And I can't imagine a God who requires apologies and praise, nor a God who meddles in the actions and events of the world. I think that's an anthropomorphic concept, no more intellectually evolved than the polytheist mythologies of the ancient world that saw wilful gods in the wind and the waves. People require apologies and praise, people like to meddle in actions and events, and we have projected that onto God.

I can't think of God as "some guy," but I can understand why people would come to see God that way... unable to conceive of a higher plane than their own consciousness, they project their limitations on things that cannot be limited. It's poor philosophy is all.

Regarding the Big Bang versus Creation, I don't consider them mutually exclusive, nor do I consider Science and the existence of God mutually exclusive... I think we come to understand Creation (the physical universe) through Science and can come to understand how God works through this study.

I studied Sagan's theories (or those of them that were boiled down to a National Geographic intelligence), and I understand the concept of the Big Bang to be cyclical; that the universe expands so far that it starts folding in on itself, and in the act of expanding, also begins to contract... expanding inward. The concept of infinity is different from a being-and-nothingness paradigm... the time before the Big Bang was not "nothing," it was an infinite density of matter that reached critical mass and started expanding outward again. On the other hand, it is our limited three-dimensional minds that consider matter and the lack of matter as the only two possibilities; if dimensions are also infinite, then there are sure to be other things going on of which we cannot possibly conceive. But that's neither here nor there, it's just something that (another gentleman) said got me thinking about this.

As to the afterlife, I have a feeling that the soul goes on after the body dies, because human will is that strong. But I don't have any definite beliefs as to what happens, I'm just interested in seeing what happens... my curiosity is piqued. Not that I'm in a hurry to find out, mind you. And if nothing happens, I guess I'll never know. I'd like to believe that everything will be known in the afterlife... the meaning of it all. But that's just my desire.

Oh, I could go on and on... I've thought about God a lot because of the scars left on me by Religion. I am even considering starting a thread about reconciling homosexuality with Christianity. And I still struggle with religious thought, thinking about why I believe what I do believe, thinking about why other people believe as they do, and considering where I might be wrong in my beliefs and where I might share enlightenment with others.

Religion does seem to bring out the worst in some people... but then, so does football. It also brings out the best in some people. If I ever get it all figured out, I'll let you know.


August 1st, 2005, 11:58 PM #39
Thread: What exactly IS "straight acting"?
(I kind of got my panties in a wad because a lot of people were taking this opportunity to be condescending and insulting about effeminate gays... which you know I couldn't let go unchallenged)

I've always found the term "straight-acting" rather offensive: it implies that straights are somehow better than gays. I mean, it's okay if you prefer masculine men... even in the gay ghetto, I know all sorts of guys who'd pass for straight under any circumstances (if they weren't talking about rimming all the time). You don't have to lisp or overinflect your speech or swish your hips, you don't have to wear Prada, you don't have to call hair-gel "product" or even use it if you don't want to. But that doesn't make you any better or worse than anyone else.

I myself pass for straight more often than I like, women hit on me and straight guys start talking about pussy as if there weren't a lady present... mostly because I tend to dress plainly and move unobtrusively when I'm not performing. Walking down the street in my Gap chinos and tee, my hands in my pockets, one Airwalked foot in front of the other, I'm just a big dull guy, same as anyone else.

Masculine men are a perfectly valid preference. It doesn't require a defense, you don't have to come up with all sorts of arguments about how effeminate gay men make everyone look bad, or wonder aloud "why do they act like women if they're trying to attract men who like men," and so on and so forth. I like men with a touch of femininity, myself, but I'm not averse to a bit of butch, either. It's something you can like or not like, as your nature dictates.

But when you dress it up in the phrase "straight-acting," you set up heterosexuality as the preferable paradigm, you set up heterosexuality as the only correct way to be. And that's just plain homophobic.

My two cents, a bit off-topic. Sorry if I flamed.


August 12th, 2005, 10:06 PM #33
Thread: What a fucking load of Bullshit

(This thread was posted in response to someone coming across this crazy anti-gay "childcare" website that endorses Joseph Nicolosi's recently published book Preventing Homosexuality: A Parent’s Guide, which the psychiatric community has roundly condemned but which nevertheless got published and is selling briksly)__________________________________________________________

Echoing what several people have already said, the "studies" Nicolosi is espousing have made the medieval mistake of taking symptoms for causes. To say that these early indicators of homosexuality are the causes of homosexuality is the same as saying that weight-gain, mood-swings, food-cravings, and frequent urination cause pregnancy.

I mean, I had a distant father and an overbearing mother and stepmother as well as an abusive stepfather. Nicolosi's family model describes mine fairly closely. But it also describes a lot of people's families. Fathers are typically distant and mothers are typically overbearing, particularly in America, at least by Freudian standards. I know absolutely mountains of people who were raised by distant fathers and overbearing mothers who are all straight as boards.

Gay children typically become attached to female relatives and supposedly female behavior because we are presented with a solely heterosexual paradigm from birth on; and we want to be the one who mates with the Daddy, so we become the Mommy. We are given no examples of close and affectionate adult male relationships (I mean, how many people ever saw their fathers hug or display any kind of affection for another man? I never did... American men are typically not allowed to be affectionate with each other), so we will frequently try to fit ourselves into the mommy-daddy paradigm by becoming what we perceive as feminine.

Thus is born the queen. But while all queens are homosexuals, not all homosexuals are queens.

The thing is, Nicolosi and his ilk are deeply threatened by homosexuality, and there's usually an anal-invasion phobia at the root of it. So they allow their fears to override their scientific training, and abuse their doctorates by broadcasting their specious "findings" to others like themselves. You can believe almost anything if you really want to believe it.

I hope someday there's a cure for such people. Their sickness infects the world.


August 16th, 2005, 10:52 AM #24
Thread: What Makes People Gay?
(This thread was started off in response to the Boston Globe Article that you'll want to read if you haven't already)__________________________________________________________

It's long been my opinion that degrees of sexuality are inborn and the manifestations of that sexuality are a complex of nature and nurture; and science will one day identify those markers, but not for some time yet... we're focusing on something as large and clumsy as the hypothalamus because we simply haven't the technology to look at smaller physical manifestations; just as Kinsey had to use clumsy and inaccurate volunteer testimony for his research because the subject was so taboo that you couldn't get a really decent and diverse sample, yet the study of human sexuality could not have proceeded without those flawed and partial studies. The findings published in the Globe are a step, and what the general populace makes of scientific findings is always unpredictable... will it enlighten as Einstein's dense theories, or will it cause recidivist backlash like Galileo's rather simple proposals?

What I find interesting in this thread and in other discussions of the "gay gene," is that people frequently posit the problem of future eugenics programs in which parents will abort a predisposed-to-be-gay fetus. It would certainly present a bit of a conundrum to the Right, wouldn't it, if an anti-abortion/anti-gay person were suddenly confronted with the choice of either having an abortion or bringing a gay person into the world. Makes ya think, no?


August 16th, 2005, 11:09 PM #8
Thread: Are heterosexuals just self-centered?
(The original poster wondered if straights' inability to comprehend and empathize with gays was a form of self-centeredness, un unwillingness and inability to see beyond their own desires and experiences)

What an interesting question! I have often considered several of those points, and have a few ideas.

The "Defense of Marriage" argument is interesting to me because nobody has ever actually argued it. They just say that gay marriage threatens the institution of marriage, and the dumbasses of the world fall right in line believing their family structure is being threatened. Nobody has ever explained how, exactly, marriage is threatened by same-sex marriage. Nor do they bother to aim their pudgy little fingers at any of the real threats to traditional marriage, such as easy divorce and serial-marrying celebrities.

Demagogues always use threats to children and spouses as a way to demonize another group. "They" (in this case "The Gays") are going to take your children and your wife... despite the rather obvious reality that we don't want your children or your wife. And the plebes feel threatened and they react to the threat.

But really, no thinking person could possibly believe this rhetoric. And the only straights I've met who do believe it are the people who indulge in blind faith... who as a rule don't think about the thing once the name of God is invoked.

And straights do turn a blind eye when it's their own sexuality in question: as (another gentleman) pointed out, St. Paul the Apostle was entirely against sex, period. He wrote that it was better to get married and screw your wife if you couldn't control yourself at all, but the ideal is complete chastity (I just came across that somewhere when I was looking for something else, but I can't remember where). You never hear about that from straight folks, do you?

The Old and New Testaments go on for page after page condemning adultery and fornication and sex-for-pleasure, compared to maybe three or four mentions of homosexuality, but it's those tired old anti-gay scriptures that get quoted all the time. When Pope Freakynut the Whateverth issued his statement condemning all extramarital sex, as well as marital sex that was not intended to culminate in children, all anybody parroted and published and got behind was his rather fleeting condemnation of gay marriage.

Sexuality is a very strong urge, and so people who have never had to think about their sexuality (because it's the norm, so what's to think about) get very narrow views of sexuality; they have no empathy because they were never shaken from their beliefs. We homosexuals and bisexuals and transgendereds have had to think about our sexuality at great length, so we can comprehend and sympathise with other sexualities because we have considered it. Just as people who have gay children have had to think about it, and frequently come to a more empathetic view than people without gay children.

And then of course there is the Country Club Factor: it's so much easier to think yourself better-than someone else than to actually do the work and try to be a better person. And it's always easiest to take a rather small group of people for this exercise, a group of people who are different from you in one major area. A racial minority, a religious minority, a sexual minority. There's always something.

The "Ick Factor" as so many people call it... it's not the gay sex, it's the butt-sex that gets them. Most of the straight men who've ever asked me about gay sex have focused solely on anal sex as being Ick, and seldom ever consider any other form as being something we'd do (cocksucking is more a power issue, and they can't imagine giving up dominance in this manner). And I have a theory about that: consider the defensive posture that a man would take if he didn't have any weapons.

Most animals defend themselves from more powerful enemies by curling up in a ball, and humans do this too. Such a posture defends your head, your throat, most of the easiest accesses to your heart and entrails, your major arteries, and your genitals... but it exposes your asshole. That is sufficient to inspire a deep animal phobia in most people. And I think that phobia is the chief cause of the Gay Ick Factor in straight men.

Well, these are just some of my many thoughts on this topic. Thanks again for bringing it up.


August 17th, 2005, 10:04 AM #37
Thread: What Makes People Gay?
(This second post in this thread responds to another post, in which a member posited that his sexuality was caused by having been raised by women, bonding perhaps too strongly to his mother and grandmother, and having no male role models, as per Nicolosi's "studies"... but I omit the quote since it's not my writing).

While I don't have any scientific proof to back this up, and am not aware of any studies having been made, it seems to me that straight little boys grow up in such environments, too. But instead of submitting to female interests, they rebel and seek out neighborhood males.

From the ages of three to five, I lived in an apartment building near a Navy base that was filled with Navy wives and single mothers. It was perfectly normal to not have a Daddy around, there were maybe three or four men who actually lived in the building for more than a week or two at a time. And there were lots of little boys around to socialize with... I doubt seriously if they all turned out gay. Personally, I only played with my sister and the other little girls.

Lots of straight boys were raised by their mothers and grandmothers. The thing is, homosexuality is still considered an anomaly, so studies like this are still focused on "what makes you gay" rather than "how is sexual orientation created"... like I said, I don't know of any studies showing how heterosexual men brought up in "gay-making" circumstances turned out straight. But from my own anecdotal evidence, I'll bet you find that while the female environment has an affect on heterosexual children (everything that happens in childhood has some affect), it does not turn them gay.


August 18th, 2005, 07:19 PM
Thread: Are These the Best of Times, or the Worst of Times?

I guess I take a wider view than my parents' and grandparents' generations: they had some things better, and they lacked other things that I appreciate. But for everything we gain we lose something else.

I think the thing is that we're in the midst of the Information Revolution, a huge cultural shift comparable to the Industrial Revolution. Education suffers because we have so many things to distract our minds that didn't exist twenty years ago, like video-games and DVDs and hundreds of channels of television. Family relationships have changed because we no longer spend huge amounts of time together with nothing to do... most parent work outside the home, and for longer hours.

But the Information Age also overloads us. Things seem worse in some ways because we hear about all these things that we didn't used to hear about when there were only newspapers and radios and they weren't in competition with each other to out-bad-news each other.

And then, as we know more and more about each other, we are confronted with information that we aren't ready to handle... before WWII, most people were only exposed to their neighbors and families, not to foreign cultures and gays and Jews and any number of people otherwise unlike themselves; and not every intellect is capable of handling that knowledge, so they react... they are reactionaries.

But I take an historical view: the rise of the Right today is so similar to the rise of Savonarola in Renaissance Florence... a time of unprecedented freedom and learning and change; the common people got scared of so much change, and were ripe for a demagogue. The similarities are staggering.

But to answer the original question: I wish we still had craftsmanship in common things the way they had two generations ago (I live in a house built in the 20s that would cost millions to build today, with hand-laid hardwood floors and hand-laid miniature tiles and lath-and-plaster walls and custom-made mullioned windows... things you just can't get anymore); on the other hand, I wouldn't want to have to live without computers, I never would have become a writer if I had to rely on pencils or typewriters, if I couldn't look up information at the touch of a search-engine-button, if I couldn't communicate with people all over the world without having to get out of my armchair.

It's all give and take. I don't think any one time is better than another, it's just different.



And that's just the longest posts that I've written this month; I actually started on this board when I was in Texas, and I've made 132 posts so far (an average of 4.43 a day). It takes up so much of my time that I feel kind of... fulfilled. I suspect I'll have to get bored with it before I can get any work done on my other writing projects.

Maybe next time I'll write something just for you!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I Wanna See Blood and Gore and Guts and Veins In My Teeth!

I want to beat the shit out of a homophobe. I mean it... I want to grab hold of Fred Phelps (of God Hates Fags fame) and shove an electric cattle prod so far up his ass that his eyes light up. I want to put Joseph Nicolosi (discredited but published author of Preventing Homosexuality: A Parent’s Guide) in a burlap bag and bludgeon him with croquet mallets. I want the entire staff and support structure of Love in Action (the so-called "ex-gay" movement, none of whom are gay themselves) naked in my basement so I can go after them with my weed-whacker. I want to make those people suffer for the suffering they've spread. I want to humiliate and maim these people.

Manic? Yeah, I seem to be. I've got most of the symptoms: I'm not sleeping well, and I am grouchy as hell, and I am having difficulty discussing things with anyone who disagrees with me in the slightest; I'm fidgetting and squirming and incapable of concentrating for more than a few minutes; I'm horny as all get-out; and everything I hear on the news and the message boards pisses me off so much that I want to lash out and draw some blood... I want to kill, I want to tear the flesh of the neocons and gnaw on the bones of the fundamentalists.

This is terrifically unpleasant. I am trying to do the things that I learned in my first bipolar class, like avoiding sugar and caffeine, avoiding stressful situations, and I am going to go for a long walk a little later on when Caroline comes over... that ought to work off some of the nervous energy. But I am really looking forward to my next bipolar class, and to talking to a doctor next week.

I simply need more ways to deal with this. I wouldn't wish this feeling on anybody (ordinarily... right now I wish this feeling on a lot of people, as well as the feeling of having one's skin torn off inch by inch, the feeling of having one's colon filled with boiling Tobasco sauce, the feeling of having one's genitals eaten off by dung beetles).

The hardest thing I'm finding right now is to be patient with people and refraining from sharing my bloody-minded opinions with others. On that message board (Just Us Boys), there are a lot of opinions shared which are different from mine, particularly in regard to revealing one's sexual identity.

There are a lot of closeted people on that message board, and they all seem to have some defense about either "my personal life is nobody's business" or "disappointing my family and alienating my coworkers (or in more extreme cases, losing friends and family and jobs) is not worth the spurious rewards of being out." And I disagree with them.

The Defending My Privacy people seem to be letting other people do all the work of liberation and struggle; the "I'm afraid" people are allowing the rest of us to suffer with our perceivably small and deeply divided numbers so that they can be safe. Both seem to be internalizing the homophobia of the people around them and have come to believe that their sexuality is wrong or at least shameful, that the homophobes have a right to their wrongheaded opinions.

Both piss me off. Rationally, I know that coming out is something that is different for everyone, something that you can only do when you're ready to do it. There are all sorts of compromises, all sorts of gray areas, all sorts of mitigating circumstances. But emotionally, I get so impatient with other people's fears (hell, you know how impatient I am with my own fears); and with my manic swing running rampant, I'm finding it really difficult to keep the vitriol out of my writing, difficult to refrain from shooting off in an inappropriate forum, difficult to offer sane perspectives instead of demanding agreement on threat of violence.

Maybe I should stay off the boards for a while. But message boards are so addictive! And if I wasn't on the message board, I'd have to confront my complete lack of motivation to work on Worst Luck. I had a dream this morning about the characters, and it gave me an idea for a motive that I needed for introducing this new character who is waiting in the wings... I'm going to take this as a sign, that if I'm dreaming about Danny and Marquesa's conversation, that my mind is almost ready to get back to work. One can hope, anyway.

And hopefully this manic swing won't last too much longer... and hopefully the inevitable ensuing depression won't be as bad as that last depressive swing was. And hopefully I won't make any irrevokable mistakes or implacable enemies while I'm in either state. And hopefully the medication and classes will work. And hopefully...

I'll keep on hoping.

And in the meantime I'll think up a prize to give anyone who can name the source from which my title is quoted.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Writer's Block

This is getting ridiculous! I can't write! I can't even think of anything to write! I can't think of anything to write here, Worst Luck is dead in the water, and I haven't written a single email in weeks! I do a little responsive writing on my message board, and I've jotted some notes for the novel in my notebook, but nothing much. It's terrible! I feel empty and impotent.

Here's the funny thing: the depression that plagued me in July pretty much cleared up a few days before I went to Texas. And then it came back a week and a half after I came back from Texas (it made a very definite reappearance on Saturday, and hasn't much let up since). I guess that's a good thing, you certainly don't want to be depressed in Texas... it's depressing enough as it is without the veil of bipolar gloom making it worse.

On the other hand, it is making me look at the things in my home and routine that might be enabling the depression. The sameness of my life is kind of depressing; the bad eating habits and all, which weren't any better in Texas (they fry everything there), seem worse here because I can do better.

The job-front might be contributing somewhat. I had an interview for a job I really want last week, and while I think I handled the interview itself fairly well (though there were several things I wish I'd said in response to the interview questions), my emotions before and after were totally off the charts.

The day before, I panicked about what I was going to wear, so I went to this consignment store in Rockridge and bought a pair of shoes, a belt, and a tie. They were nice items for quite cheap, the shoes were from Barney's and the tie is Kenneth Cole, and I got the whole accessory-trio for under sixty bucks, so it was a good investment; but really, I do have shoes and ties already.

Then when I got home, I couldn't decide what shirt to wear with these new shoes and tie and belt... most of my dress shirts are warm colors, and I wanted a cool summery look for the interview; and the only cool colors I had were medium greys and bright blues, which didn't go at all well with the brown shoes and belt I'd just bought... and I didn't want to switch to black shoes and belt because they'd darken the dark taupe suit I planned to wear, rendering it not cool and summery. So I had to run down to Ross in Alameda to buy a new white dress shirt.

All the while, I was sniping at Grandmother and Daddy; I needed help from Grandmother with coordinating the shirts and ties, I needed her outside opinion, and she was being singularly unhelpful. She finds it distatsteful to just say she doesn't like something or just say that this shirt and tie don't look good with that suit. She has to couch her objections in weirdly noncommital phrases, or pick on some random and irrelevant detail... like I have this one shirt I really like, navy-and-white stripes with a white collar from Lord & Taylor (another consignment find), to which she objected because it looked "outdated." Now, white collars are very "in" for spring and summer these last two years, so the objection was entirely groundless, and so it pissed me off. The truth is, it doesn't go at all with my dark taupe suit, in fact no blue looks good with that suit, and that's all she had to say.

I tend to get very testy when my stress level gets above a certain level... I think most people do. But Grandmother doesn't grasp that when I get testy is the time to stop putting stress on me. I don't think she has ever understood the concept of changing one's behavior to not aggravate another person's emotional state. And my Daddy wouldn't know an emotional state if it jumped up and bit him in the ass... unless you explained it to him.

So anyway, I bought the new shirt, pressed it, pressed my pants and brushed my jacket, buffed up the shoes, and had everything set out so I could just get dressed the next day and head out to the City for my one o'clock interview. And of course I got a little behind schedule (Grandmother again, for some reason our internal clocks are wired so that we always need the bathroom at the same time), and started stressing out on the drive out to the City. But I got there in time, I was cool-calm-and-collected during the interview (though I was sweating like a... I was going to say "pig," but neither pigs nor dogs, the other usual comparison, are able to sweat... so I was sweating like a guy in a starched shirt freaking out at a job interview), and I think things went fairly well.

But since then, I have been seriously depressed. And it wasn't good timing, I had a show on Saturday night and so was around a lot of my depression triggers (lots of people to whom I would be likely to compare myself negatively... young, pretty, thin, talented, etc.) My self-esteem is down in the sub-cellar, I wake up grudgingly in the morning and have difficulty going to sleep at night, I have a weepy sensation in my chest, my temper flares up inappropriately, and I just feel sour.

I don't like not knowing if I got the job, and I don't like the possibility that I might not have gotten the job, and I don't like the fear of what happens if I do get the job but I'm not good at it or I hate it. And I think that this, along with my growing disgust with my burgeouning belly and my ennui around the house, is making me depressed.

But whatever. I'm working at my old job this week, training the replacement who is replacing my replacement (if you follow me). She's a nice lady, I like her and think she'll do a sterling job. Her first order of business was to rearrange her work area to her liking, which I think bodes well for longevity. And everything I've told her so far has been filed away efficiently, no repeating. She's a natural!

It's something to do, and some money in the bank, for which I am grateful. And next week I start my bipolar class, and then I have my doctor's appointment, to both of which I am looking forward with keen anticipation. And if the job for which I interviewed doesn't pan out, I have a plan of action set up to be put in motion as soon as I hear from them. So things are looking up.

And I seem to have done a bit of writing... how very cathartic!


Monday, August 1, 2005

Meme Without a Name

I find myself starved for content again; and as often happens, God (in the form of Dana Marie, Queen of the Universe) has provided me with an assisting meme; the title of the meme seems to change with each incarnation, and I was unable to come up with one of my own, so I'll just have to jump right in without prologue. Normally I would also link the provenance of the meme, but I think I won't this time. I have my reasons, but they aren't very good reasons, so go ahead and hunt them down yourself.


Ten years ago: Let's see, I'd just achieved sixty days of sobriety, I'd just gotten back from the same Texas trip I just now got back from, and I was probably intent on cleaning something (I did a lot of cleaning in early sobriety). I was also preparing for transfer to San Francisco State University, mailing off transcripts and pushing endless papers involved with financial aid. I was twenty-seven and still smoking, so I weighed thirty-five pounds less, I had a little more hair, and a little more of it was brown; I knew nothing about the internet, and spent all of my computer time writing a truly dreadful novel that I have since abandoned and playing solitaire. I still believed that falling in love would solve my problems, and that I could somehow make the man of my choice love me.

Five years ago: Hell if I know... I had to consult correspondence from the year to figure out what I was up to, but none of it contained anything about my personal life. I guess I didn't have one, because that was the year I decided to rewrite Stag Island, the first novel I'd ever tried to write. I had come across the original manuscript in a drawer, which I'd written one bored winter in 1991/92, and though I cringed at the bad grammar and worse dialog (this was before I went back to college), I considered the premise rather clever and usable. But I had already evolved the characters I'd created the first time while I was in college, and they no longer fit the premise correctly... it was intended as something of a dark comedy. So I came up with the conceit that this new incarnation would be the novel written by the main character of the first novel, a sort of roman a clef, replacing himself as narrator with someone quite different from himself... and went to work on it from there. It is here that I created Danny Vandervere and the various characters I am now using in Worst Luck, which is a sort of prequel to Stag Island (which I will someday actually write).

One year ago: Fortunately I have my blog to tell me what I was doing this time last year... I was helping take care of my little cousins, and taking a week off from work, and that seems to be about it. But here, you can read it yourself.

Yesterday: I started writing this but didn't finish because I started in on the Just Us Boys message boards; then my dad wanted to use the internet, and then my niece wanted to use the internet, so I watched TV instead. Among other mindless drivel, I caught two or three episodes of Kill Reality, which is rather amusing. But would it be amusing without Reichen Lehmkuhl, who is possibly the most beautiful gay man on television? He's soooooo fucking gorgeous! Those eyes! That skin! Those great succulent pecs! I'm in loooooooove!

Five snacks I enjoy:
1) Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
2) Dreyer's Whole Fruit frozen pops.
3) Grapes.
4) Bowl of cereal (esp. Frosted Mini Wheats).
5) Pudding.

Five songs I know all the words to: I know all the words to hundreds and hundreds of songs. I swear, I can memorize anything if you set it to a catchy tune. But most of them I have to have the music before I remember all the words, so here are five songs I sing to myself frequently a capella;
1) "Once Upon A Dream" (also known as "Sleeping Beauty's Waltz," from the Disney animated feature Sleeping Beauty... it cleans out songs that get stuck in your head)
2) "Stardust"
3) "The Man I Love"
4) "Good Morning, Heartache"
5) Pretty much any and all traditional secular Christmas songs.

Five things I would do with $100 million:
1) One big-ass fabulous house here in Piedmont, with furnishings, art, and good-looking servants.
2) A fleet of fabulous vintage cars, including but not limited to a few Rolls Royces, at least one Jaguar, a 1935 Deusenberg Model J Victoria, and a 1961 Caddilac convertible in ivory white.
3) Trust funds for all of my relatives that pay them enough to live on but not so much that they become spoilt.
4) An unending shopping spree, flying from Fashion Week to Fashion Week across the globe, amassing more stuff than I can even store, much less wear.
5) Fund a secret gay task-force of spies and super-ninjas to harrass, humiliate, and bedevil homophobic politicians, ministers, and publicity-hounds. We won't assassinate anyone, really, just make their lives a living hell until they all shut the fuck up.

Five places I would escape to:
1) Hawaii.
2) The bedroom of my fabulous mansion (see above).
3) Italy (it's a small country, but plenty of places to hide).
4) Victoria, British Columbia.
5) England (even smaller country, but I won't have to learn a new language).

Five bad habits:
1) Procrastinating.
2) Assuming the worst outcome before I even try.
3) Eating sweets all day every day.
4) Burping really loud.
5) Procrastinating (it's such a bad habit, it's worth repeating).

Five things I like doing:
1) Shopping
2) Writing
3) Eating
4) Reading
5) Masturbating

Five things I'd never wear: Never? Never is an awfully long time. I mean, there are things I wouldn't be caught dead in right now, but if I started exercising and got a full-body wax I might. So, I'll just have to be general here;
1) Anything itchy.
2) Anything avoidably unflattering (like a half-shirt with a thong on my current physique).
3) Anything lime-green or hot-pink (the only two colors I've found that look bad on me).
4) Anything that would make me look like a Mormon or a Republican.
5) A really big Western belt-buckle.

Five TV shows I like: .
1) CSI (the Las Vegas one, not the spinoffs)
2) Law & Order (again, I prefer the original, and also like SVU, but the rest of the spinoffs leave me cold).
3) Mystery! (not all of them, but recently the Inspector Lynley Mysteries and the new Jane Marple mysteries are fabulous)
4) Smallville (Tom Welling! And gorgeous-boy guest-stars... like when Ian Somerhalder was on the show for several episodes, and there were Tom and Ian in a frame together, I thought I would simply plotz!)
5) Phil of the Future (I don't want to talk about it... except that Ricky Ullman is really eighteen, not the fifteen he looks and plays, so the terrible things I want to do to him are perfectly legal).

Five biggest joys of the moment: .
1) Finishing a chunk of novel (which I haven't done in weeks)
2) Making Grandmother laugh.
3) Orgasms.
4) I don't know?
5) I can't think of any more.

Five favorite toys:
1) My desktop computer.
2) My old job's laptop computer, which I still have but will give back when they need it or when I get a new job.
3) My N-64 (it's an antique, practically)
4) My Palm Pilot.
5) My new dildo (Okay, I'm getting into TMI here, but I really like just playing with the thing, rather than inserting it anywhere [which I really can't do, it's too thick]; it feels real, except that it vibrates, and I simply love holding it).


Okay, so now you know even more about me than you did before. Probably more than you really wanted to know. But that's the risk you take with reading these blogs. And hopefully I will be able to pry myself off the message-boards for long enough to write something here of weight and import. And get back to work on my novel.

Oh, speaking of work, I have a job interview tomorrow! It's a full-time job in San Francisco, so I won't have nearly as much free time if I get it, but it pays quite well. So wish me luck!

Now I have to go get my front tires replaced and my front axle realigned (my bald tire finally gave up the ghost while we were in Texas, so Miss Jane sat on her axle for several days, and I've been driving around on a doughnut since I got back). Wish me luck on that, too!