Monday, January 31, 2005

Down Inside I'm Bleeding

"Your Grandmother is so sweet!" people usually say after they've met her or talked to her on the phone. And normally I would agree. She has been exceedingly kind to me over the years, she has been exceedingly kind to almost everybody; and she has a very sweet smile and a very sweet voice. Just look at her picture there at the bottom of the left column... she is sweet.

Just don't ever try to convince her that her stupid, bigoted, archaic "beliefs" might possibly be wrong. She'll fuckin' cut you, man.


Let me back up a bit and start off with some background. See, yesterday, after church, Daddy and Grandmother were all of a dither about a controversial off-topic discussion that had broken out during their Bible class. I had been off at the mall buying Rampage dresses for 75% off, since I don't attend class, so I don't know how it got started; but according to Daddy, people started talking about why the church is declining and how that can be remedied.

(On a personal note, I think it's because Christianity has allowed itself to be hijacked by a fanatic cadre that has responded to changing society by becoming staunchly, loudly, and hatefully recidivist, demonizing and villainizing every weak scapegoat they can find to blame; moderate or enlightened Christians have allowed this hate, this demagoguery, this scapegoating, because they are in general tolerant and forgiving. But unless and until the progressive, tolerant, and forgiving Christians can stand forth and replace the hateful and all-too-visible pseudo-Christians in the eyes of this nation, and the world, Christianity will die. But to return to their discussion in class...)

From the question of Christian promotion and attraction, they got into this ancient Church of Christ controversy about allowing instrumental music in church services; the Church of Christ (not to be confused with United Churches of Christ nor with the Christian Church) has traditionally been dogmatic in its assertion that singing should be strictly a capella and that musical instruments have no place in worship services; but younger members are beginning to question this tradition. Apparently the Walnut Creek Church of Christ (where we attend) sent out a huge mailer inviting people to attend the church, and tracked those who responded; almost all who did respond attended once or twice but never came back... and, when surveyed, the most common response to why they didn't come back was "the music was boring."

So of course a lot of people want to start jazzing up the musical portion of the program in order to attract and retain new members; others holler that church isn't for entertainment but for worshipping God, and that a lot of musical folderol takes away from God; but how can you bring people into the church to worship God if there's nothing to draw them in? the first group will counter; We can't change the Word of God to please people with short attention spans... it's not the church that's wrong here, it's society! the second group will declare.

That part I did hear, as I was waiting out in the hallway for the class to end; I particularly heard a great deal from one of the elderly ladies of the congregation who was railing about how Society (which so many people seem to think is a controllable, correctible structure that governs our behavior) has become so anti-religious that school-children aren't allowed to wear t-shirts with Christian messages on them but can wear t-shirts with "all sorts of profanity."

(I think she may have been referring to a freedom-of-speech case that certain religious groups are riding right now, where a student was sent home for wearing anti-gay sentiments on his t-shirt during a day set aside for gay-issues awareness and education with the intent of fostering tolerance; the recidivism-in-religious-clothing folk are screaming about freedom of speech, but the school's dress-code is very clear about hate-speech and the wearing of t-shirts or other clothing likely to be controversial or inflammatory. But that's all on another topic).

So anyway... Grandmother is the olde-timey Church of Christ traditionalist, and has been having a rough time with all the changes that younger people have been insisting upon, such as allowing women to take part in serving communion and (just this week) leading the singing (even I had to admit that having the songs led by a soprano instead of a tenor was odd... pretty, but hard to follow); and, like many of the Church of Christ's old guard, Grandmother distrusts emotional responses to religion... if it isn't boring, how do you know it's righteous? about sums it up for her, I think.

Daddy is a little more progressive about everything, in general, but he isn't sure what to think about this topic because he never quite understood where in the Bible it says you're supposed to sing a capella and not use musical instruments (it doesn't... in fact I don't believe the New Testament says anything about congregational singing at all [correction: I looked up "singing" and then "hymns" at BibleGateway, my and Daddy's usual source for Biblical quotes, and I find references in Acts 16:25, Romans 15:9, Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16 that direct the congregation to sing hymns, but don't say anything about accompaniment either pro or con]); he wants to learn and to understand, but isn't sure what questions to ask or where to seek the answers.

So as they were hashing this out between themselves, I inadvertently got sucked into the discussion by asking how anybody could tell that one interpretation of a Biblical text was correct, since the Bible is written in such a way as to be peculiarly open to interpretation. Well, Grandmother thinks there is one correct interpretation of all texts (which is possible, I suppose, but how do you know which one it is?) and that the only reason people think there are different interpretations is because they want to make the Bible say something that they already believe (which is absolutely true, but again begs the question of how you know you're right in your interpretation, how do you know you're not engaged in skewing the text to your own purpose?)

I launched into Grandmother about her assumption that she has the correct interpretation, when in fact she can't even remember where she learned most of the things she believes. I have in the past criticized her assumptions about contexts, her assertions of how one passage is literal and another passage is symbolic without even providing any argumentation, much less proof... I habitually dwell on her pet belief that women must remain silent in the church (a direct quote, I Corinthians 14:34), which I like to point out is preceded by another direct order in 11:6, "If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off"... and Grandmother doesn't cover her head in church, but can't say why she doesn't, except that it's not the fashion now and she doesn't like wearing hats.

But this is a petty side-street; the thrust of my argument is that if you aren't constantly questioning your own beliefs, your mind becomes static and you become a stranger to the Truth. If your argument is that you've already learned this thing, and have already arrived at the proper conclusion, then you have to be able to show the steps you took to reach that conclusion. Because how can you know you believe what you say you believe if you don't know how you arrived at that belief? And how can you discuss the veracity of one interpretation of a text over another when you can't even say where in the text to find a certain passage?

In an unusually clever tactic, Grandmother turned my argument around and demanded that I show the steps of how I arrived at my own belief that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God and that the Holy Bible is not the True Word of God.

Well, I blinked a bit, and tried to cast my mind back and summarize the steps. I told her that I had never believed any of it, even when I was only a child; I never believed that there was such a person as God, nor that there was any such creature as Jesus, nor that He would dwell in my heart if I asked Him... I didn't even grasp what the hell people were talking about; but I wanted to believe it. I believed in the Church, it was all the society I knew; and I believed it was a power for good and that if I pretended to believe in its precepts, I would be part of that good... and maybe, if I pretended long enough, Faith would come to me, Revelation would come to me, and it would all finally make sense.

But then when I discovered my sexuality, and at the same time discovered my church's stand on homosexuality (that it is sinful, period), I found myself at a crossroads: so I studied, and I prayed, but nothing came to tell me that I could be saved (for even if I never touched another man, the desire was in my heart, deeper than my will; and I knew that to sin in the heart or mind is the same as to sin in the flesh... so I was basically damned no matter what I did), so I had to leave the Church. I could not be part of something that was set against me, set to persecute me... I could not believe in a God who would make me as I am and then send me to Hell for it.

"God did not make you 'that way'" Grandmother cut in, practically hissing. There was hate in her eyes when she said, "Homosexuality is a sin!"

Well, my father jumped in at this point to keep us from bloodshed, furthering me along in my lecture by asking me to explain why I don't believe Jesus was divine, or God incarnate (though I do think he was a great teacher, I don't think it makes sense that God would intervene in human affairs to such a shocking extent, in such a small space and for a such short period of time, then withdraw entirely... it's a terribly inefficient way of making one's will known, and therefore doesn't match up with what I observe about God through nature, which is beautifully efficient).

I counted slowly to ten before I tried talking again, and I let Daddy sidetrack me into further explicating my own beliefs about evolution as God's tool of Creation, that the only sin is to harm another, using comparative religion and philosophy as a guide to Truth, and studying nature and one's own rational heart for the revelation of God's will. And I continued to argue about my beliefs and Daddy's beliefs and Grandmother's beliefs (I felt kind of sorry for the people at the next tables, since Grandmother and Daddy are both a little deaf and I was more than a little passionate about the topics) until our plates were taken away and we couldn't drink any more coffee.

But after we were done talking, after we got in the car and dropped Daddy off at his house and started back home — once, in short, I was alone with Grandmother again — all I could hear, echoing around in my brain, was that implacable hiss, God did not make you 'that way'; all I could see in my mind's eye was that hate on her face when she told me, not in so many words but nonetheless quite clearly, that even after all these years and all I've done to try to understand her and help her to understand me, she has never moved one iota from her ignorant, bigoted, small-minded conviction that homosexuals are psychological deviants, willful and unnatural sinners, and that I am going to go to Hell because of it.

I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach.


And now, twenty-eight hours later, I still feel that bewildering hurt. The thing is, I had been thinking, for the last couple of years, that maybe I was underestimating Grandmother's ability to accept reality and to learn new things; I have been thinking that I might have done her and myself a disservice by allowing this "Let's Not Talk About It" rule to continue untested. I had thought that I've allowed an imagined reaction on Grandmother's part to dissuade me from dating, because I have limited my attentions to men to whom I was so strongly attracted that it seemd worth the risk of Grandmother being upset, an imagined reaction that perhaps Grandmother is not really going to have.

But now I see that I was right in the first place, that there will be no opening up, there will be no communion and mutual comprehension, that "Let's Not Talk About It" must remain. I see now that Grandmother will never listen to me, will never accept me, will never understand me... because she "knows" she's right and that I'm wrong, and from such assumption of knowledge there is no remedy. And that is so unbelievably depressing that it makes me want to cry.

No... that's not true... I never want to cry. But I have tears coming out of my eyes right now as I write about this, whether I want them or not.

It's so lonely to live with someone when you can't tell her two thirds of the things that are going on in your life. I can't talk to her about Gus and my dreams of finding love, just as I couldn't talk to her about Shiloh or about any other romantic interests that have blown up in my face; I haven't ever talked to her about the grim vision of being forever alone that has begun to haunt me; I can't tell her about my drag shows, can't talk about the wonderful fulfilment of my artisitic expressions, all the passions and excitements of my life as Marlénè, just as I can't talk to her about my novel or let her read any of my writing.

It's not so bad having to edit my speech for swear-words or salacious jokes or untoward gossip... but to have to edit out any reference to my romantic or artistic aspirations because those two facets of my life are inextricably tied to being gay, it becomes increasingly difficult as time goes by.

I don't understand how a person can hate part of a person and still think they love that person. I don't understand how anybody can claim that their God is a loving and compassionate God, and claim that they themselves are loving and compassionate, and still allow themselves to believe that God punishes people with eternal torment for accepting and acting on their natural built-in desires. I don't understand how anybody can watch someone grow up, to live with him as a teenager for five years and as an adult for thirteen years, and still have no basic understanding of that person's heart, his integrity, his inherent worth.

And I find myself questioning whether or not I can go on like this. If Grandmother refuses to ever change, that means that any detente between us will have to be of my doing, any sacrifice that is made for our domestic peace will be made by me. As it has always been. And the prospect of another five or ten years of "Let's Not Talk About It," lasting however much longer Grandmother lives, looks unbearably bleak.

But what are the options? I know I could afford to live on my own, if I were willing to either give up every luxury I enjoy, or else take on more work and give up all of the free time I love. Though I am the first to admit that I benefit greatly from our financial and domestic arrangements, I am no longer incapable of taking care of myself, as I once was. But she has become increasingly incapable of taking care of herself, she not only needs the company but needs someone to take her everywhere she goes, needs someone to do for her all the many things she can no longer do for herself (or never could do for herself). And considering how much she has done for me over the years, despite her peculiar ability to hate one big part of me while loving the other parts, requires some repayment from me... I still believe I must repay the years of care she has given me.

I don't know what to do. I am hurt, and bewildered, and afraid, and angry, and I don't like being any of those things.


Well, here I am again at the end of a long and depressing story with nothing uplifting to say about it. I guess that as I go along and explore my own psyche, as I mine my emotions and experiences for material and understanding, the vein of ore becomes more difficult, more sparse, and more work is required to bring it up, more time is required to polish it and put it to use.

In the meantime, a little prosaic updating: my cold has finally packed its bags and gone, I can once again breathe and talk and sing and sleep; I have taken my vitamins every day for a week, and I feel a lot better, and (aside from the emotional bleeding over the abovementioned) my depression is in check; and I went to the dentist today for a cleaning, which went remarkably well, though I'll have to go back next week to have a nasty cavity dealt with, most likely with a crown (yay!), and I have to buy a water-pick and use it twice a day for the next three months... and if that doesn't turn back the deterioration of my gums, I'll have to go to a periodontist (at grievous expense, it's such fun not having insurance).

At work tomorrow, the accountant is coming to the office to perform our internal audit for last fiscal year, so I've spent all of today going through my papers, printing up all the meeting minutes and publications from last year, and putting my files in order for inspection. I am way better prepared than I was at this time last year, having learned from last year's mistakes, but I nevertheless appear to be missing a number of bank statements and a couple of important invoices, so I shall spend the rest of today hunting them down.

And other than that, there's not much going on. I guess it's enough, though. I just wish I had something fun to talk about, some topic to explore on which I can be witty and charming and amusing. I like myself better when I'm witty and charming and amusing... so long as I am still telling the truth. Too bad the truth can't always supply me with material for wit, charm, and amusement. But, like they say in France, "that's the way the cookie crumbles."

I do hope you're having a happy day. I wish you joy, and love, and peace, and beauty.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hoboken?! I'm Dying!

The above is the last line in one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons, where Bugs helps a lost penguin find his way home... and after many picaresque adventures, he finally manages to reach Antarctica, whence penguins as a species derive; and as soon as they arrive at the South Pole, the little penguin finally offers the information that he comes from New Jersey, right across the river from where they started, in Brooklyn. It's a classic cartoon, absurd and hysterical, with a lot of memorable lines ("peng-a-wins is prac-tic-ally like chickens") and one of the weirdest running gags ever (Humphrey Bogart turning up in every third scene asking "Brother, can you spare a dime?")

I'm not sure why that came immediately to mind as I thought about a title to a post for this morning... I'd only come in here to post a quick note to say that I'm thinking about you but I haven't had the energy to write anything. My cold is still holding tight, lingering like a bad smell, and my depression is riding the cold like a stallion... I feel like utter crappy crapulous crap, and for some reason my brain doesn't work very well when my nases are clogged with mucus.

But as I think about it now, writing this post that's already longer than I thought it would be when I started a few minutes ago, I think I see a connection.

I have been feeling, frequently of late, that I am being bled dry by the people in my life. I have been feeling oppressed by the number and needs of people who rely (perhaps too heavily) on me, accompanied by a feeling of being unable to rely on anyone else. Now, normally I derive satisfaction from helping people and being reliable... but sometimes, mostly when I'm depressed, I feel like all these people who rely on me are in fact taking advantage of me, sucking my life out of me bit by bit.

And when I realized that I felt this way, I discover another reason behind my fear of new people, especially newcomers to AA... because I find myself afraid of people's needs. I fear that any new person I take on is going to steal more of my life than I'm willing to give. And behind that fear is the fear that if these people rely on me, I will fail. Because I think that is the real problem here: not that people rely too heavily on me, but that I fear I haven't got the energy and ability to live up to those expectations.

Nevertheless, I do feel the need to have someone on whom I can rely as much as other people rely on me. But I am even more fearful of relying on other people than I am about other people relying on me, because what if they fail? I fear falling more than I fear being fallen on, if you see what I mean.

Well, speaking of reliability, I have to go to work... I am supposed to be there before eleven, and I have nattered on here long enough that now I'm going to be late. So I'll post now but finish it later.


2:55 p.m. Okay, so anyway... what was I saying... oh, yeah, everybody sucking me dry. I was telling my sponsor a couple of weeks ago that the only thing worse than not asking for help when you need it is to ask for help and not get it. And that has been my experience: I have worked very hard to be as self-sufficient as possible, and take pride in what self-sufficiency I've achieved; and when I have been so worn down that I am forced to swallow my pride and ask for help, I have for the most part not been helped at all... in fact, the situation is often made worse.

There's that old saw about "once burned, twice shy"... and I have been burned a lot. But it's not like nobody ever helps me, plenty of people have given me a much-needed boost over the years, but never when I have asked. People frequently (but not always) volunteer themselves when they see I need help, but nobody comes when I call out an SOS... or worse, they come to the call and offer to help, but don't actually help, or they try to help and just make things worse... I end up at the South Pole instead of Hoboken. And so each time I feel overwhelmed and don't think I can do something, I become increasingly distrustful of asking for help.

It's like this dating thing... every time I have been particularly interested in a man, he invariably was not very interested in me; every time I've "put myself out there" and looked for love or at least a little romance, I have failed miserably; whenever I have directly asked a guy out or expressed an interest in him, I have been rejected. The only people I've really dated are people who made the first effort and expressed interest in me, and all of those relationships were complete and utter failures as well.

And so with that kind of a record behind me, it's perfectly natural that I find it very difficult to open myself again to the possibility of further failure and rejection. Because, you know what? The things that don't kill you don't necessarily make you stronger, as the old adage goes... some things cause lasting damage that further weaken you. And my foundations are pretty well termite-eaten by now, damage has happened that may never be undone or even recovered from.


I'm not going to draw any conclusions from all of this whining and moaning. I mean, I know that I'm emotionally scarred and psychologically damaged, and that many of my incomprehensible and/or irrational behaviors stem from this scarring and damage; but I also realize that it is the depression that is casting this damage in such sharp relief. The thing is that you can't get through life unscathed, and I don't suppose I have been all that much more scathed than your average Joe; but when I'm depressed, it all seems so much bigger and sadder.

I have been self-medicating my depression with vitamins, a one-a-day-type multivitamin formulated for active men with ginseng and lutein and whatnot, and it's worked exceptionally well... when I remember to take the pills, anyway. Remembering to take pills has always been difficult for me, just as it's difficult to remember to brush my teeth or remember to pray and meditate every day.

But when I do remember, the vitamins make a world of difference. I remembered them today because I talked about it with my sponsor yesterday (she suggested putting the bottle inside my bathroom waterglass, which I drink from every time I go to the bathroom) and it was fresh in my mind; and now in the middle of the afternoon, aside from my stuffy head and a generalized gray-day malaise, I feel pretty good. I mean, I don't feel quite so weepy, and I don't feel like the simple act of standing up and walking across the room is an Herculean and self-defeating task, which is how I've felt all week.

In fact, all of the things that I know will ease my depression and fatigue are simple, easy-to-do things: pray and meditate, talk to my sponsor and other friends about my feelings, take my vitamins, eat well, get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, and so on and so forth. But when I get depressed, I don't want to do any of those things. I want to watch television, hide alone in my house and not talk to anyone, eat cookies and chips and ice-cream, and otherwise wallow around in my depression like a pig in its own shit.

What I need, I have decided, is a staff. In fact, what I want is a Jeeves: someone who hangs around the house all day doing what needs to be done so that I can cast my mental energy towards worthwhile pursuits, who reminds me to take my vitamins, who does my laundry and lays out my clothes, who serves me meals and answers mail and otherwise keeps track of my life for me. I want someone to take care of my every need, who can do for me all the things I can't seem to do for myself. Is that so much to ask?

Anyway, that's what's going on in my world today. Thanks for listening!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

In Which I Pathetically Moan and Sniff

Oh, goddess, this "silly little headcold" that I thought such a nuisance has developed into a surprisingly ass-kicking kind of plague. Probably because I didn't take it seriously, pretty much going about my usual business and heading out to work every day this week as if I didn't have a cold. Well, except Monday, which was a holiday, and Friday, when I spent the whole day suffering either in bed or on the sofa... but otherwise I was out and about, working and getting chilled and running around and not eating very well.

It's been so bad that I haven't even been able to concentrate on doing anything useful at the computer... I surf a little porn, read a couple of blogs, and I'm shot after an hour or two. But last night I seem to have assembled the proper cocktail of over-the-counter drugs (two generous squirts of 4-Way nasal spray, one Sudafed Night-Time, one Melatonin and four Motrin) and I slept like a stone for ten hours, not even waking up to roll over as I usually do. I mean, I slept so soundly that when I woke up this morning I had not been aware of the passing of time and didn't realize until I looked at the clock that I'd even been asleep.

So today I am feeling much better, and I hope I can spend some time today writing, doing laundry, and adding to my beefcake collection, instead of just laying around and moaning. And preparatory to getting Danny out of the bathtub and into some clothes over at Worst Luck, I figured I'd better come in and update you, my beloved reader, on my doings (or lack thereof) this long blogless week.


I swear, every time I start to give up on Gus, I run into him at Blockbuster. In fact, I see him so frequently on Lakeshore Avenue (three times so far, even though he lives all the way at the other end of the Lake) that I have taken to going home that way more frequently, braving infuriating double-parkers and tricky traffic patterns just on the outside chance of glimpsing him.

And then Wednesday evening, not twenty minutes after moaning to Caroline at the gym about how depressed I was that Gus hadn't called back yet (I mean, it'd been twenty-eight hours since I called him) and how stupid I felt about that inane giggle on his answering machine (and Daisy, darling, it wasn't my normal contagious laugh, nor even my usual silly giggle, it was a distinctly chilling Christopher Walken kind of noise), I was scanning along the north side of the street as I drove home, with the pathetic hope of spotting Gus walking along the street; I was so preoccupied with the scanning that I almost rear-ended one of those assholes who think it's perfectly OK to wait for ten minutes during rush hour for a parking space that some other asshole may or may not be vacating but is certainly taking his good sweet time loading his trunk and getting settled into his seat... and just as I checked over my left shoulder to see if I could pass this degenerate-jerk duet, there was Gus jaywalking right in front of me on his way to Blockbuster.

So I waved and (after frantically pushing every button on my door) rolled my window down to say Hi... and he asked if I was parking, so I said Yes and I'd meet him in front of Blockbuster. I zipped around the corner (to the practically unlimited free parking garage, which so many double-parking assholes don't seem to realize is there), cut through Colonial Doughnuts, and was with him in a trice.

He looked really cute in this beautifully-fitted leather patchwork blazer, and I of course looked like shit-on-toast again, having just come from the gym and not bothered with my hair or face for several days. In fact, aside from the t-shirt, I think I was wearing the exact same thing as the last time I ran into him at Blockbuster. So much for my before-need personal upkeep intentions.

He said he'd been planning on calling me later that same night, so it was cool that we ran into each other; and he hadn't quite understood what I'd said on the answering machine (I was even more garbled than I'd feared). So I reissued my invitation, but once again made it sound like a hanging-out kind of thing rather than a date kind of thing. He accepted but couldn't manage Friday night as I'd suggested, and in fact wasn't sure what his next week was going to look like; so he's going to call me when he knows what evening he's free, and we'll go out then.

We chatted for a good while longer, leaning against the front wall of the Blockbuster Video that I shall now and forever consider Gus's Blockbuster, until the bum who panhandles that particular stretch of sidewalk lit up an incredibly foul doobie and forced us to move up the street toward Gus's car. We talked a little while longer, discussing artistic ways of decorating the nasty boo-boo on the hood of his car, until another bum came sidling up and we decided it was time to go.

It occurred to me, later that night and at intervals since, that this whole Gus thing has gotten way out of hand. I have invested more time and energy into this relationship so far than he will ever be able to catch up with, even if we started dating; I have, with my fears and neuroses, managed to turn a casual little date/non-date dinner and movie into a four-act melodrama, and there's no way anything that might come out of that date (or non-date) can be viewed as casually, or even realistically, as it should. But I suppose I have learned things, and have grown stronger in the process (at least I hope so)... and as I keep telling myself, and as others keep telling me, the more I put myself on the line like this, the easier it will become.

All I can say is it had better get easier. If I have to go through all this psychological turmoil every time I like a guy, I am going to end up a permanent resident in the nearest Nut Hut.

On the other hand, I must say it is nice to have the ball firmly in Gus's court right now... he said he'd call me to set up the date/non-date... and so I don't have to think about it anymore. I will think about it more, I will quite likely have a devastating psychic response to every hour that passes without him calling, but at least I won't have to do anything while I'm obsessing about that call. It's the having to do things like make phone calls and leave answering-machine messages while I'm all freaked out that has proved so uncomfortably embarrassing.

But now, I can't control whether or not he is or becomes interested in me, and I can't control when or whether or not he calls me; and this lack of control (like it or not) is a lot more comfortable than trying to control something I can control, but only with great effort (i.e., my calling him). I can still get all obsessive and weird, but quietly and alone, instead of doing it into an answering machine.


Like I said before, I was watching television all day yesterday; and as often seems to happen when I spend a whole day incapable of moving very much or thinking very deeply, VH1 was running a marathon of one nostalgia show's episodes... in this case, I [Heart] the 90s, Part Deux. And since this was their second run through that not-so-distant decade, the pop culture items that they explored were rather more second-tier than the first run, and so I often found myself quite lost as to what they hell they were talking about.

But it helped me relive some of the time I'd rather forgotten in the 90s... my sister joined me in the living room for a little bit while the '91 and '92 episodes were on, which covered the eighteen months that she and I had lived together (with her husband and son and, for the latter part, her daughter). And very little of what they talked about on the show was familiar to either of us... most of the music, all of the TV shows, every news event and consumer item were vaguely familiar, but definitely not part of our lives.

Then later in the day, when we'd progressed all the way to '95, I was talking to Angelique on the phone; and she turned to the same station so we could talk about the TV show as well as whatever else we were talking about... and as we watched the show together from different geographical locations, we talked about our differing experiences of that period... I was just getting sober and just transferring to San Francisco State to complete my Bachelor's, and she was a sophomore in high-school. So of course, being in a more mainstream-oriented environment, Angelique knew a lot more about the music and fads that they were talking about, while my life was rather more muffled in the novelties of sobriety and four-year academe.

Nevertheless, as I watched the whole decade roll by again, I decided that I hadn't really missed much. Pop culture isn't really all that interesting, is it?


Well, I thought I was going to say more, but really not much happened this week. I was going to talk about watching Spiderman and Spiderman 2, but I realize that I haven't quite digested them and so haven't much more to say than that I liked them (and Tobey Maguire is hot). I'm also reading a new book that I'm enjoying very much (Different People by Orland Outland), but I haven't finished it so I don't really have anything conclusive to say about it except that its pace is contagious and its intertwining stories are fascinating.

I suppose talking to Gus had been the highlight of my week, and the cold muffled everything else. So I guess I'll close now and go do a couple of bumps of decongestant, maybe eat some soup, and then come back to the desk to work on my novel. With any luck, I'll have something to post by tonight [UPDATE: I did just post something, so go read].

Smooches (from a politely noncontagious distance)!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Pox on Both Your Houses!

Yes, another title that has nothing to do with the subject of the post it heads. But I like that phrase (I think it's from Romeo & Juliet), and it's my blog, so there.

I have a head-cold. One would think that I would be used to having head-colds by now, considering how frequently I get them. But no, each one is its own little surprise from Hell. I suppose it's the periods of wellness in between head-colds that unsuits me for having them... a sustained misery is easier to get used to than an occasional misery. You don't miss what you never have, so I suppose if I never could breathe properly I would just adapt somehow, and I'd be accustomed to all the extra little aches and pains of illness just as I'm accustomed to all the little aches and pains attendant on the human condition.

Three years ago, I had a tooth extracted, and the dentist gave me ten days' worth of Vicodin for the (not inconsiderable) pain. I'd never taken anything stronger than Tylenol Codeine before, so the Vicodin was something of a surprise... I really liked it! It didn't make me woozy or nauseated or anything, it just erased all the pain in my entire body. It was also mildly euphoric, so I felt mellow and happy, and it knocked out my Editor-in-Chief, that little voice in my head that reviews everything I say before I say it; the most bizarre things came spouting out of my mouth, but it was always something pleasant.

But the revelation of Vicodin (and the point of my telling the story) was how many strange little pains I discovered in my body when I stopped taking it... all these little day-to-day discomforts that had been turned off along with the major pain in my jaw were once again noticeable, and it amazed me how many strange little pains there were. I mean, after ten days of no pain whatsoever, the hair on my legs hurt when I put on my pants, and my fingertips hurt when I typed, and my skin hurt when I moved. My joints hurt, my innards hurt, my feet were an absulute symphony of pain when I put my shoes on, between the stretched arches and the pressed-upon toenails; defecation was simply shocking, I had to wonder if that's what child-birth is like.

I could see why Vicodin can be addictive... aside from the euphoric properties, if stopping the pills heralds in a new age of unexpected pains, and the first undrugged crap I took was enough to make me wish I had a couple more pills left in the bottle, it would be very easy (if I had the kind of doctor who prescribes things capriciously, and there are a lot of them) to keep taking the little beauties. But these were not pains caused by withdrawal from the drug, it was just the little sensations that we deal with every day which had been deadened or masked by the Vicodin. If I'd never taken the Vicodin, I may never have realized how many tiny pains I had become accustomed to over the years of being alive.


And speaking of tiny pains: What do you call that pain you experience when you leave a phone message on the answering machine of a boy you like, and you sound like a total psychopath on that message? I called up Gus this afternoon, and after babbling incoherently for a minute and a half, I giggled in a manner that reminded me of one of Batman's more bizarre nemeses... like the Mad Hatter or the Timer, someone really unstable and kind of sad.

Nevertheless, in between the inane babbling and the insane giggle, I did manage to spit out an invitation to dinner and a movie, suggesting Friday for said outing but indicating my flexibility in suiting his schedule rather than mine. Hopefully I can recoup the dignity I lost with that stupid little giggle by being deliciously suave and urbane over a pleasant meal. I mean, it's not like he doesn't already know me, not like he doesn't know what I sound like when I'm not talking into answering machines. But the sound of that demented giggle is echoing around in my poor phlegmmy head, haunting and taunting (to borrow a lyric from "Limehouse Blues") and just kind of wild.

Me and my poor dignity. It's amazing how fearful I am of losing face, and yet how often I do things that result in losing face. Like the colds and the pains, you'd think I'd've just gotten used to it by now.

But then, life wouldn't be quite so much fun if we just adapted to things without getting our panties in a twist about them. I certainly wouldn't have as much to write about here, would I?


Finally, speaking of writing, I am still hard at work on Worst Luck, though I am not getting very far very fast. I have managed to write at least one paragraph every day, but it's not flowing out as fast as I'd like. Perhaps I started the second chapter off on the wrong foot... I am trying to distance the narrator from the action a little bit in the second chapter, discussing things about Danny's character at greater length than the descriptions of what exactly he's doing at the moment. Perhaps I shouldn't?

Well, my darlings, the little clock at the bottom of my monitor is telling me that I can go home now (I've been jotting at this while finishing up a set of minutes and suffering from a cloudy head), and so I think I'll close up and go about my business... drink some tea, have some soup, moan and cry a little, and otherwise milk this cold for as much sympathy as I can get (which won't be much... head-colds are so dreadfully common).

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Exactly Like That, But Different

The title doesn't relate to anything in the post... and neither does anything I'm about to write relate to anything else I'm about to write, so I guess it all goes together.

I was going to write something yesterday, but the DSL was out at work, I don't know why... I could have called SBC and found out and harrassed them about the DSL, as my boss suggested, but I've been calling and finding out and harrassing all sorts of people all week, and I'm just fucking sick of it. So I read a porn novel I had stored on my hard drive (snicker) and did some data-entry instead.


So last night, Caroline and I went out for dinner at a Korean restaurant and had a long talk where we discussed religion, souls, morals, and animal behavior. We talked for three hours solid, and it was a lot of fun.

We started off talking about religion and abstract thought; many people, who are too lazy or untrained to concentrate on abstract thought, tend to get caught up in literalist interpretations of religious texts. Caroline was wondering how people can believe in Creationism when there is so much proof for Evolution; I pointed out that there is no reason to believe that these are mutually exclusive, in fact Genesis describes in a symbolic manner (and draws premature conclusions from) the actual events that led to the existence of human life; but that people who feel it necessary to believe that the Bible is literally true, and who furthermore are intellectually incapable of dealing with deeply abstract concepts, find it impossible to think that God created the Universe in any other way than was described in Genesis.

Now, even if it is true, Genesis was written at a time when the most abstract things most people could comprehend were anthropomorphic symbols. Ancient myths are the symbolic interpretation of abstract thoughts like "where did we come from" and "what should we do?" But even symbolic myths are fairly young in the history of the human race... it's just been a few thousand years since the appearance of the first written language, which is the first historical proof of abstract thought turned to symbol. And the human species as we know it has been here longer than that, at least three times as long if I remember correctly. But we have, in these last three thousand years, developed beyond that need for anthropomorphic symbols, and many of us can comprehend symbols that are purely abstract and have no relation to human experience, like scientific notation, higher mathematics, computer languages, and so on.

But there are always the throwbacks amongst us who are still incapable of seeing beyond the symbol, incapable of understanding a concept that exists outside of what they themselves can see and feel. Such people apparently believe that God is a person, superhumanly powerful certainly, but shaped like a man and contained in the form of a man, usually a white-bearded individual who lives in Heaven (which is above us, beyond the clouds) and has two hands with which He created a literal First Person from dust.

And if you suggest otherwise, they become vehemently defensive, because if they are wrong about how they think the world came into being, then they might easily be wrong about everything else they believe. And nobody wants to be that wrong, so people who do so believe will defend that belief tooth and nail. Hence all this idiocy about Creationism and Evolution being mutually exclusive theories... even though you can scientifically prove Evolution, but cannot prove that God did not cause it (which I believe He did).

So anyway, from there we got to talking about why people would want to believe such dreck... the age-old question of why people need religion, why they need to believe something so fantastical in order to be happy.

I believe it's because of two things: first, because people want to believe that there is an answer to all the questions, that there is something they're supposed to be doing, but don't want to do all the brainwork of figuring it out for themselves, so want it to be dictated from Above; and second because people naturally fear death and so want to believe in a paradisaical afterlife.

The chief success of Christianity and Islam is, I think, that they promise eternal life in a paradise to believers and eternal punishment to those who stand against the believers; there is also a code of sin and redemption which is fairly easy to live up to and is rife with legal loopholes. Other ancient religions believed in an afterlife, too, but they were either gloomy shadow-existences or else a vague and abstract concept of eternal existence without individuality; they had codes of behavior, as well, but it completely lacked loopholes or a very distinct code of rewards and punishments.

After talking about how religion came about, we got into the realms of what we personally believe. Caroline doesn't really believe anything in particular, as far as the existence of God or the possibility of an afterlife; but I believe that everyone has such a belief... I think she doesn't want to believe in the versions of God or an afterlife that she's been taught because it doesn't jibe with what she does want to believe (whatever that is).

The very ability to comprehend these abstract concepts, to think about God or an afterlife, or morality or any other rational concept is what indicates, to me, that these things exist. Abstract thought in and of itself is what sets us apart from the animals, and it is my considered opinion that this abstraction that we comprehend is what God is... something that is not Material in any way we currently understand, but is individual and intelligent and which our souls recognize because God is of the same matter that our souls are... and as such, our souls are not governed by the Process that governs our bodies; that being the same material as God, our souls are also immortal like God.

I furthermore believe that the only sin in the Universe is to do harm to another person. And it is in doing harm that we find unhappiness... we are unhappy when people harm us, and we will be unhappy from the harm we cause others (and for the record, death and harm are not the same thing... death only harms when we kill in order to harm, if you see what I mean).

But, Caroline asked, what about people who kill but feel no remorse? These are, I think, people who believe the person they harmed is not really a person... they live in a fantasy world, or they override their remorse with justifications, and in those fantasies and justifications, the person harmed is not real, is not human, is Other in some way. And nobody who kills or harms is ever really happy; our souls know it's wrong and won't allow happiness.

Caroline took exception on that one... she outlined the belief that, if she knew she wouldn't get caught or be punished by any outside agency (the police or God), she would very happily kill a good number of people. But I had to point out that all of the people she thinks she would happily kill were all people who had done something to her that she interpreted as harm; would she want to kill someone randomly, a stranger she's never met, even if she was allowed? On the strength of that harm to her personally, these would-be victims had relinquished or forfeited their humanity in her imagination. Because they'd hurt her, she was reasoning, they no longer had the right to live, and the only thing that kept her from killing them is that she doesn't want to get in trouble for it.

But that's not true, I argued, because the justification she came up with for why they deserved to die would have to be repeated and repeated and repeated... she would have to convince herself, because it wasn't true. Now it is true that those people harmed her, but it is also true that she has harmed other people... maybe not the same way, maybe not to as great a degree; but to say that the people who harmed her have no right to live means that she also doesn't have the right to live because she's harmed others.

To justify ourselves in doing harm, we have to separate ourselves from the rest of humanity, we have to make ourselves believe that We are better than Them; but deep down inside, we all know that we aren't better than other people, so the concept has to be repeated and reiterated and upheld by society so we can believe it. And from that need to believe that we're better than someone else comes the human need for a religion based in punishment and reward... I am better than you because my God loves me but will send you to the Fiery Pit for all eternity, and serve you right.

From there we got into the nature of souls and whether or not animals have souls. I don't think they do, I don't think animals are capable of emotion or of reason or of comprehending the existence of anything outside of themselves and their experiences. I think all animal behavior is a combination of instinct and conditioning (as is much of human behavior, I concede), that there is no will other than the will to live and to reproduce that informs an animal's behavior. Human beings can and usually do chose to change their behavior for abstract reasons that have nothing to do with the animal instincts to survive and propagate, and that's what makes us different from other animals.

I will spare you the full extent of this argument, it was very complicated; but after a while, when I was repeating something I'd already said about the instinctive behavior of domesticated animals and how it can usually be correlated to a behavior found in the wild, I realized that the reason Caroline was arguing this question so closely is because she wants to believe that animals have human emotions: she wants to believe that the cats and dogs and pet rats she has cared for also care about her, that they are capable of loving her, that the behaviors she has witnessed show a concern for her as an individual that somehow increases her self-worth.

So we find ourselves at another juncture where someone wants to believe something.

I think... no, I know that wanting to believe something is extremely dangerous. Now, I believe in the immortality of the soul, that my intellect and memory and individuality will continue to exist after my body dies, because I want to believe it; but I figure, if I am wrong, I'll never know. And the ability to be wrong is the only thing that keeps us thinking about what's True. Once you think you've found The Answer, you stop looking for Truth; and if you believe something because you want to believe it, not because you actually believe it or because it is proven, but because you have invested part of your self-esteem into the reality of that belief, then you have a motive to ignore Truth when it's staring you in the face.

Just like those people who cross their arms and state unequivocally that Evolution is just plain wrong, despite the overwhelming proofs to the contrary, and just like Caroline's attempts to outargue me that animals have souls and emotions and personalities despite all the proofs I offered to the contrary (none of which are conclusive, I will be the first to admit, I am no animal-behavior expert), anyone who clings to a belief without thinking about why they believe it, and what it would mean if what they believed turned out to be not true, these people are ignoring the greatest gift of humanity: the gift of abstract thought.

Abstract thought is hard, it's difficult to go through life not knowing exactly what to believe, to constantly have to reevaluate your beliefs against every piece of new information that is offered to you. But if we eschew this thought process, we have failed as human beings. Just as if we go through life without appreciating the beauty of this world (animals do not comprehend or appreciate beauty) and loving all of it, we have failed as human beings. If we just sit in our little circles believing what we're told to believe and doing what we're told to do, surviving and reproducing and doing things instinctively or in a pack, harming anyone who is different from us and ignoring new information, we're just animals... and then what's the point of being human at all?



So, when I woke up this morning (at a most unusual hour, seven-thirty), I had been having a dream where I was directing a musical in a drama program much like the one in Camp, one of my favorite films; in fact, my dream featured several of that film's young actors. Except I wasn't really me, I was more along the lines of Charles Busch as Angela Arden in Die Mommie Die; and I was directing the musical in a particularly bitchy manner, tearing viciously into the cunty ingenue and flirting outrageously with the cute romantic lead.

But at the end of the dream, the Buschian version of me was dressed in a pastel Karl-Lagerfeld-for-the-House-of-Chanel reinterpretation of the nubby homespun costume worn by Julie Andrews in the big "I Have Confidence" number from The Sound of Music. I even had an Austrian abbey (wherein my musical rehearsals were being held) in which to perform my rather belty version of that song. And what woke me up was that, despite my Lagerfeld/Chanel nubby suit and pert short red hair and fabulously strong Garlandesque alto, I couldn't remember the words to "I Have Confidence."

When I woke up from that dream, dazzled by the clarity of it but completely obsessed with my inability to remember the lyrics, I downloaded the song from iTunes so I could listen to it and remember. And while I was at it, I downloaded Stockard Channing singing "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" from Grease, another favorite song that I happened to notice quite randomly in the playlists.

But the "I Have Confidence" lyrics that I couldn't remember were plot-specific, all about how Maria was going to become a nanny to seven children. And this reminded me of a dream I had last week, where I had become a nanny to a family with seven children. And I was myself, in this dream, though I was younger and inexplicably liked children. They lived in a big countrified townhouse in San Francisco, and the parents and most of the kids were from the cast of Cheaper by the Dozen... notably missing from this cast was my beloved dreamboat Tom Welling, and one of the other kids was played by a ten-year-old Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement, but otherwise it was the film cast minus five.

So two dreams that relate (however circuitously) to being willingly in charge of seven children, wherein I was either more fabulous or younger than I really am, and in which I had talents that I do not naturally possess (can't sing for shit, can't stand children). Weird, huh?


So, today I watched Van Helsing on DVD. I really liked it! Visually amazing, and rather a fun story. Not brilliant, mind you, but entirely entertaining. Hugh Jackman is such a cutie; and Kate Beckinsale is so beautiful, I could look at her all day long.

My favorite part of the DVD was the blooper reel, though. Hugh always does a funny little dance when he screws up a scene, and it's so cute. He's an amazingly charming man.


And that's all I can think of to talk about right now. I could probably come up with more, but I have to go, I'm supposed to pick up Miss Madasin and take her to the City for Cookie's Monster Show at Harvey's. I don't usually like watching drag shows in which I am not performing, but the joy of not having to get into Baroness drag again is such a relief, you can't imagine. I'm sick to death of her just now.

I'm not doing any drag myself this month. Next month, lots, but none in January. Isn't that sad? But it's just as well. I don't feel like being in drag lately.

Oops, there I go starting on another topic, and didn't I say I had to leave? Toodles!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I haven't got anything in particular to talk about, but I wanted to post (I'm trying to stick to an every-other-day pattern of posting), so here I am... posting. With nothing to say.

Good news for Worst Luck fans: if you haven't seen it already, I finally finished Chapter One, Part Five. It's really short, but it was really hard to write, since it was almost all dialogue, and dialogue is such a bitch. And as soon as I was finished, I was so jazzed with the creative spirit that I compiled all five parts, edited the breaks together, made some changes that had been bugging me in the individual parts, and posted Chapter One (Complete) late that night (or early the next morning, depending how you look at it).

I did a couple of more edits the next day (and ran the whole thing through a much-needed spell-check), but today I started on Chapter Two, and so what's written is the final version of the First Draft. There's forward momentum, and I feel really good about it. Really really good. Satisfied, even.

But other than that, I have nothing to report about the state of my mind (I'm in pretty much the same place I was Monday... i.e., bat-shit crazy) or the state of the world around me (which I simply haven't got the energy to pay attention to, right now). So until I do have something useful or at least interesting to say, I shall leave you with a nice little piccie (not your usual slice of beefcake, but a magazine-cover that I find quite compellingly erotic) and wish you an ultra-happy-licious day.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sitting by the Phone

I feel like some drippy high-school girl with a crush... last night I actually sat there with the phone in my hand, waiting for it to ring. In fact, I spent the entire day never letting the phone out of my sight.

Granted, I usually do keep my cell-phone nearby... that's the whole point of a cell-phone, after all, to have it with you. But I often leave it in the car, or put it in my pocket; and when I'm at home, I usually stick it on its charger and leave it in my room — but most of the day and all last night, I had the phone dangling from my wrist or clutched in my hand, or laying on a table within my range of vision, compulsively checking its face to make sure it was working and had reception, et cetera.

And all because Gus said he'd call me back "later."

To give you the full history of our little game of phone-tag, I actually intended to call him on Friday afternoon/evening to set up a time to meet for dinner. But I got involved in cleaning my living-room, and didn't finish until after eleven... and I never call anyone after 11. That's the magic phone-cut-off time with which I'd been raised, and I can't change it.

So then Saturday, I was out at a party and then at the mall with some friends; on the way home (around 9-ish) I called him from the car, and got an answering machine... but the outgoing message was rendered in a female voice, and it was maddeningly uninformative, mentioning no names at all. Does Gus have a female roommate? Didn't he give me his cell-phone number? Did I program in the wrong number when we exchanged info at Blockbuster? I was a little confused, unsure how much information to leave, so I just left a very brief message stating that I'd called and please call me back.

On the way home, I saw Gus walking down Lakeshore with another guy, a tall and reasonably attractive (at first glance) guy wearing a rather jazzy black leather hat that I couldn't carry off no matter how hard I tried. But I was driving in the opposite direction and there was nowhere to pull over to say "Hi"; and even if there was a place to stop, it's a little stalker-ish to interrupt a tête-à-tête, no matter how public, with a drive-by Howdy. So I just filed away the info that he was out with a guy (relationship unknown) on a Saturday night, and continued on my way home.

The next morning, while I was in church with the Grandmother and the cell-phone was alone in the car, Gus called me back, telling me that he'd been out Saturday night (which I already knew, but he didn't know I knew), and hadn't got my message until late at night, and finally left a different number to call (I assume his cell-phone number). As soon as I got the message, when I'd left Grandmother in Bible class and came out to the car to nap for an hour, I called him at the new number.

I won't try to reproduce the conversation, though it was certainly short enough; but basically he'd thought that I had called the night before for some urgently important reason, I guess I sounded frazzled and weird in my brief message, and that's why he gave me his cell-phone number. But since I was not calling for any life-threateningly important reason, just simply to chat, he asked if he could call me back later. I assumed he was at work, and I didn't want to take up his time with idle chit-chat, so I rang off, forgetting completely in the confusion to state why I had called in the first place.

I mean, it wasn't idle chit-chat that I was calling for... I had an actual reason, just not an urgently important reason. It was only important to me. But I figured I could relate all this to him when he called back; my assumption was that he'd call when he got off work and/or wasn't busy anymore, so I kept the cellphone continuously under my nose for the rest of the day.

It sounds so simple and ordinary when I write it down; and if I wanted to save face and pretend that I am a normal and rational person, I would leave the story there.

But this website isn't about saving face, it's about honesty, so I must report that I became inordinately depressed after I talked to Gus. His tone was rather impatient, and I got the feeling that he thought I was wasting his time. On a rational level, I knew I couldn't read too much into how someone sounds over the phone (I mean, I'd sounded upset on his answering-machine, when in fact I was simply unsure of myself); but on a purely emotional level, I felt as if I'd been slapped.

Between the impatient tone and the knowledge that he'd been out "late" with Mister Jazzy-Hat, I felt like I'd once again made an utter ass of myself and become infatuated with someone who was not interested in me. My 25-year record of romantic loserdom appeared to remain unbroken, reaching from puberty to the grave, a solid stone wall, insurmountable and ineffably heavy, and so vast as to be visible from outer space. And by letting my mind wander off in this direction, I managed to work myself into a state where I felt so profoundly sorry for myself that I even cried for a while before I managed to pull my shit back together.

I was simply over-tired (I reasoned), and emotionally over-stimulated; and the fact that Gus was out with a guy didn't necessarily mean anything, and even if it did, so what? It's not like I'm in love with Gus, I'm just interested in him (to the point of infatuation, but still). And it's not like he was mean to me, or stated out loud that he wasn't interested in me... he just sounded impatient on the phone. Nevertheless, I remained rather depressed-feeling all day, though I didn't let myself become despondent again.

However, when midnight rolled around and my phone still hadn't rung (though it certainly worked, I checked often enough), the despondency threatened again. But I was not going to let myself get worked up about it like I had earlier in the day; so I told myself that I am simply going to have to detach from this situation... for while I am not as good at Acceptance as I would like, I'm an absolute genius at Detachment. I am not going to give up on Gus, I'm just going to have to force a Chill Pill down my throat and get over myself. The ball is in his court, maybe I have made an bit of an ass of myself (again, you'd think I'd be used to it by now) but I haven't done anything socially unforgiveable, and now it's his turn to call if he wants to call.

It's just that I've built this up in my mind to the size of a big-budget wide-screen star-studded epic, and it really isn't that big of a deal. It's just that I'm not accustomed to relating to people emotionally, and my avoidance of emotional vulnerabilty is so deep that the simple act of opening myself to the merest possibility of being hurt takes on an undue significance. And this undue significance resulted in another case of my hopes turning into expectations, which invariably turn into disappointments.

I can't stop hoping, but I have to stop letting my hopes turn into expectations, and stop letting minor disappointments destroy my serenity.

Easier said than done, of course. If you could find an easy no-fail mechanism to stop hopes becoming desires becoming expectations becoming disappointments becoming resentments, you'd pretty much stop the pain and misery of the human condition in its tracks. It's more a matter of training your heart and soul to not do these things, and it's never easy, and it's never complete. But you do it anyway, because what else can you do? Keep suffering?

Well, anyway, that's what's rattling around in my head today. I'm going to go work on my fiction for a while... a universe in which I have some control over people. Talk to you later!


No sooner do I hit the "Publish" button to post the above, but my phone rings and Guess Who? Gus was at work when I called yesterday... he was, in fact, with a client in the middle of a haircut, and so could be expected to sound impatient. Then he was busy with one thing and another for the rest of the day, and that's why he didn't call back.

So anyway, we had a good chat, he was smart and funny (and cute, I bet, though I couldn't see him), we found things in common and talked about things not in common. There was no weirdness, I was completely present for the conversation without having a secondary dialogue with myself in the background, and it was nice. We didn't make plans for dinner yet, we had to end the conversation when our respective cell-phone receptions started fritzing out, but we planned to talk again and will continue to communicate.

I'm just going to have to stop being so damned neurotic. It's very tiring. All these emotional ups-and-downs without cause are going to put me in an early grave, or at least a padded cell. But all things get easier, and less scary, with practice. I just have to practice more.

Friday, January 7, 2005


This weather is really starting to get me down. It's been raining pretty much steadily for the last two weeks, and I'm sooooo tired of it. I really am accustomed to more change in my weather; here in the Bay Area, you get all sorts of different weather all the time, so two whole weeks of deep cold and heavy rainfall is very unusual, especially in winter when people in other parts of the country expect such things. Bay Area weather is supposed to be perverse, unexpected, and ever-changing.

But now the perverse and unexpected behavior is to not change, to be just like weather in other places. It happens sometimes; but I hate it.

The funny thing is that I normally like rain. I like the charged ions in the air, I like the sound, I like the way it cleans everything off and turns everything green. However, while I am totally heliophobic and can't stand for the sun to touch me, the absence of light is starting to wear me down. I mean, it's high noon right now, but it feels like dawn just because of the lack of light; it feels dismal and depressing, and it's felt like that for far too long.

Going to work this week has been a horrible chore... so horrible, in fact, that yesterday I simply didn't do it... and I may not do it today, either. It's so boring there! There's about ten minutes of overlap when the lady who's working with us on a project (she's organizing all of our files, an Herculean undertaking) is still there, but she leaves at noon and that's about when I've been coming in. For the rest of the day, I'm there all by myself.

I was complaining about this to the Grandmother yesterday, and she remarked that I used to love being alone for a week at a time. But that was back when I had a lunatic for a boss, and so being alone was a peaceful break; besides, in my old office, I didn't feel so alone... there was cutie-pie Kyle in the sandwich-shop around the corner (but now, even if I were still there, Kyle and the sandwich shop are gone), and places to go to get something to eat or a soda or a newspaper or whatever. In the new office, there are no shops nearby, there isn't even much foot-traffic on the streets, just noisy trucks rumbling by... so it just feels lonelier somehow.

And then, aside from being alone, there's a certain futility to my being there... the only calls that have come in are for people who are still on vacation, and so I have to absorb the callers' impatience as I explain that, while the office is open, it isn't really operational.

To top it all off, my work computer got hit by an incredibly pernicious Trojan horse of adware, which infested my internet browser with at least eight separate programs that I had to uninstall, and several more that I had to find and delete, and at least one more that I can't seem to find the source of or disable in any way; it completely overrides my pop-up-blocker and makes "offer optimizer" windows open up all over the place whenever I use Internet Explorer, and I have wasted hours upon hours of my time trying to get rid of it. I've also spent time as well as good money on adware cleaners, but they haven't been able to get rid of the offer optimizers, either.

Of course, there is plenty of work I can be doing without using Internet Explorer, but it is work so tedious that the very idea of doing it makes me shrivel up and die a little inside. It's all data-entry work, which is so boring that the only time I can do it is when there isn't anyone else in the office to distract me. And since I haven't done it this week, I'll have to do it next week. But next week isn't right now, and right now I just don't want to do the work.

Besides, there is plenty of work I can be doing here at the house... although I got the Christmas tree out of the house in plenty of time for it to be picked up, I haven't put the ornaments away (they're still on the card-table in the living room), nor have I put away any of the other decorations or restored any kind of order to the living room. There are also a dozen glasses and some other hand-wash-only holiday dishes left over from Christmas that still haven't been washed. On a more personal note, I also have laundry I could be doing, and a novel I could be writing, and a body I could be exercising.

But I can't seem to get myself motivated to do anything, neither work-related nor home-related nor personal. I just sit here on the computer for a while, then get back in bed and read another Ngaio Marsh novel (I've gone through three this week), and sometimes go out front and watch some television. The house is too cold, except when the heater is running and then it's too hot, and my skin is drying out and my hair is sticking up; though I have been writing lengthy emails to my father, sparked by some of the chain-emails he's forwarded to me, I haven't been able to write any of the letters I want to write, nor have I been able to write the next paragraph of Worst Luck, much less the rest of the chapter (I'm stuck on a piece of opening dialogue); I just feel so tired, and I keep eating all this candy trying to get rid of it, and not eating proper meals because they're too much effort to assemble, and sleeping a lot.

All in all I'm feeling just a trifle bleah.

It'll pass, anyway. All I have to do is do something, get started in one corner and work my way into the next corner, and I will eventually get everything done, and will miraculously feel better once I have gotten them done. And the weather will change to something else, to which I will no doubt object.

So maybe I'll get up now and go do something. Or maybe I'll go back to bed. I don't know. Doesn't really matter. I can always blame it on the rain.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

God Loves Me: I Make Him Laugh

So after all that rigamarole with phone numbers and cowardice, whom should I encounter at the video store last night? Yes, "Gus" himself, looking unutterably cute and hunting through the pre-viewed VHS. Of course I looked like shit-on-toast, unshaved and unwashed, suffering a bad case of bed-head, dressed in my ratty and sticky gym-clothes. I had only stopped into the Blockbuster on Lakeshore to kill a little time while I waited for my hamburgers to be made at Adam Burger across the street, and I'm flipping through the comprehensively dismal selection of surplus videos when I suddenly hear this familiar and distinctive voice behind me.

So here's my chance... no weirdness about cold phone calls, no scheming or scripting to make it seem natural, we simply ran into each other in the video store, just like normal folk. Manna from heaven! One of those typical "Is it odd or is it God" moments. I don't really believe that God took time out of His busy schedule to prod Gus into entering the Blockbuster at the same time as me, I don't in fact think that God prods us or makes us do things (for then what would be the point of Free Will); but it's a little more than coincidental, don't you think?

So there I am with Gus in the Blockbuster; I instantly split into two people, one of whom was chatting quite casually with Gus about movies and what-not, the other of whom was plotting madly in his head, trying to talk himself into asking Gus to dinner and yet feeling awkward and idiotically fearful. How do I phrase the invitation? How can I live with myself if I let this opportunity pass by without asking him to dinner or at least getting his phone number? Why am I making such a big deal out of this? Other people do this sort of thing all the time... but then other people aren't chickenshitted little cowards. And like that, all while carrying on a normal conversation and browsing through movies.

After about half an hour of browsing and chatting about films and actors and mutual acquaintance on the one hand, and beating myself up on the other hand, I finally came out with it; I had to leave eventually — aside from the fact that my and Grandmother's dinner was getting cold across the street, I had already picked out two movies and had no excuse to linger. So I just held my breath, acted all casual, and said "We should have dinner together sometime."

A hell of a lot of psychic buildup just to spit out six words. And I should have said, "I would like to take you to dinner; are you free on Friday?" That statement would have made the dinner unequivocally a date, whereas "dinner together sometime" can be interpreted any number of ways. But still, I got the concept of a shared meal out into the open, and I didn't explode or implode or drop dead or embarrass myself in any other way.

"I'd love that," he responded (to the "dinner together sometime"), and we exchanged phone numbers and I bought my movies and went to pick up my hamburgers (which were stone cold by then). And as usual, when I finally manage to do something that I have been fretting myself about, I wondered why I had been so scared. It wasn't so hard, after all, and he said he'd "love" to! Not "like" to, not "sure, whatever," not "why would I eat with you?" It was all very pleasant.

Well, after getting that off my mind, you can imagine that I had a bit of a bounce to my step. So much bounce that, to the naked eye, it looked a lot like a manic episode. Even Grandmother noticed that I seemed exceptionally cheerful. I went home and ate my cold hamburger and chatted with the Grandmother and checked my email and what-have-you.

I was surprised, later, when Gus showed up at the meeting. He hadn't planned to go, when I spoke to him at the video store, but I guess he changed his mind. He also changed his clothes and looked even cuter in an orange sweater and a really pretty scarf; I of course hadn't changed, I was still in the same ratty gym-clothes though I had added an extra layer of clothing (a black sweatshirt over the T-shirt, since it was cold out), and I hadn't even combed my hair or brushed my teeth... I looked like shit and I smelled like hamburgers and Altoids.

To make it all that much more comical, the topic of disucssion at the meeting was "Fear and Faith, how we work through Fear in recovery." And there I was, with this really great story of how I'd let fear get to me and how I had managed to finally get through it, but I couldn't tell the story because the person I was afraid to call was sitting right behind me. I could hear God laughing at me (or laughing with me, since I saw the humor in it, too). Either way, it gave me an opportunity to listen instead of thinking about what I was going to say, and I heard a lot of things I needed to hear about handling fear with faith.

So anyway... this is not the end of the story, though it ends my quest for Gus's phone number, which is now programmed into my cellphone. Now I have to actually call him and arrange the time and place for dinner. That shouldn't be too difficult... having cleared the hurdle of asking him, I'm not so worried about follow-through. I will of course have a complete mental meltdown when it comes time to get ready for the dinner (what do I wear? how do I act?), and then there will be the exercise of future-tripping that will take up a great deal of my time if I let myself think about any possible outcomes of that dinner (will he like me? will my family like him? will we be sexually compatible? will we get married? will he just want to be friends? will we break up painfully? will I scare him off with my neuroses?) but I'll cross those bridges when I get to them.

In the meantime, I am going to make more of an effort to groom myself properly so we don't have so much of this being unprepared to meet someone we like and looking like shit when we don't want to. Keep the teeth brushed and the hair combed and the skin clean; it doesn't do to get lazy about such things... you never know when you're going to meet someone at Blockbuster.

Sunday, January 2, 2005

And So It Begins...

Happy 2005, my darlings! May this year be filled with wonder and blessings for you! Or at least devoid of despair and hardships. I find that odd-numbered years work best for me. I was born in an odd-numbered year (1967), and I got sober in an odd-numbered year (1995). I also notice that years where I was dancing at midnight work well for me. Last year I did not dance; this year I danced my ass off.

Before I continue, I have to report that, while I am feeling much better about myself (thanks for the support, guys), I still haven't called "Gus," nor have I got his phone number from "Sol" or Shiloh or anyone else. I will, sometime this week... first I need to get Shiloh's phone number, which was in my old cellphone that I've lost somewhere in either my office or my car. I used to have his number memorized, it was a really easy combination, but I have learned too many other numbers since last I called him. Nevertheless, I've sent him an email and expect to hear back any minute.

But to pick up where I left off (with all the élan of a moldy old mop) last time, I spent the rest of Wednesday, most of Thursday, and much of Friday hating myself and/or wanting to crawl into a hole and die. But on Thursday, I talked to Shiloh and Zach at the gym, and I talked to some other people at a meeting, and I enjoyed some fellowship afterward, and I started to pull out of it. I still had this urge to flee, and not just the room but the whole state, to just get in my car and drive north until I encountered snow, and then stop wherever that was and check into a motel, there to simply hide for as long as my credit card would hold out (what stopped me, aside from family responsibilities, is that my credit card wouldn't hold out for even one night... after my Christmas shopping, I'm about two tankfuls of gas away from being maxed out).

But then Evan (AKA Miss Madasin Hatter) asked if I was going to the Living Sober New Year's Eve Dance, and, if so, if he could go with me. I had been sort of planning to go, as I have gone pretty much every year of my sobriety, but was also entertaining the idea of not going, to instead hole up at home with the Grandmother and continue feeling sorry for myself. But I felt like he needed to go, that he needed a safe environment on this most liquored-up of holidays, so I agreed to pick him up and take him to the dance.

I was still unspeakably depressed, though. This expressed itself mostly in my inability to decide what to wear. I considered going in drag, which always boosts my ego, perhaps wearing the fabulous new dress I got on my birthday (mauve chiffon with beaded flowers and a ruffled asymmetrical hem); but then there's all the discomfort of shoes and things which didn't appeal to me. Besides, it's sometimes awkward-feeling to wear drag when there isn't a show to perform in... it's like wearing a Halloween costume on Easter, it just doesn't seem appropriate somehow.

I also bought, on my birthday, a beautiful silver satin bowtie and waistcoat to wear with the new wing-collar formal shirt I got at the same time at Nordstrom Rack; I bought these with the intention of wearing them to the dance with my black suit. But when I tried on the ensemble, I looked a little too snazzy... I mean, the whole thing looked marvelous, the low-sheen jaquard-striped black wool is cut really well and doubles easily as a dinner-suit, the white shirt was dazzling and flattering with the silver satin waistcoat; but I'd come up with the idea of wearing formals to the dance before I got so profoundly depressed. By the time the dance itself rolled around, I was completely depressed and couldn't bear to draw so much attention to myself... this is not a formal dance, most people dress as they would to go dancing at a bar, so wearing formals would make me stand out a little more than I felt comfortable with.

So what to wear? I didn't think I would be any more comfortable in everyday-wear, jeans and a t-shirt or khakis and a sweater... complete anonymity would be even more ego-bruising than conspicuousness. And besides, that damned shirt and waistcoat had cost nearly a hundred dollars after tax (I thought the Chiarelli shirt expensive at $29.95 but it appeared to be exceptionally well-made, with real pleating and fold-over French cuffs; the De La Renta tie-and-waistcoat set didn't have a price tag on it, but the tie-and-cummerbund sets on the same shelf were only thirty dollars, and everything else in the store was on sale... so I was quite surprised when the boxed set rang up at $59.99). Not to mention that I'd been yearning to wear my English silver cufflinks with the rainbow stripes made of tiny colored-glass tubes, and the new formal shirt was the only shirt I owned with French cuffs.

Queer Eye came to the rescue, though... I remembered a favorite episode with an incredibly hot guy whom Carson dressed up in a black cashmere sweater with a white French-cuffed dress shirt from Ralph Lauren. I figured I could wear the dress shirt and the cufflinks comfortably if I dressed them down with a sweater and corduroys. But what sweater? I have three black sweaters, but they're all cotton and a little too casual; I have a cashmere sweater, but it's beige, and some dark lambswool sweaters in burgundy and brown, respectively; but really, a black wool sweater was what I required.

So off I went shopping on New Year's Eve. Macy's, fortunately, was having a fabulous sale, and so when I was unable to chose between a ribbed crewneck and an unribbed vee-neck, both of finespun jet-black Merino wool by Alfani, I could afford to buy them both. Since Alfani is an in-house brand, and then all the men's sweaters were 50% off, and then almost everything in the store was an additional 10% off, both sweaters set me back less than the tie-and-waistcoat set from Nordstrom Rack.

When I got home, after picking up some Chinese food for Grandmother (she always stays home on New Year's Eve and takes phone calls from her children and grandchildren), I started making myself as pretty as I could without recourse to makeup and a wig.

I had a nice rest in the tub to open all my pores and soften my skin, and gave myself a bit of a pedicure (though not much of one, since I'm still not as limber as I could be and my feet are awfully far away) and soaked my face with alpha-hydroxy exfoliating lotion. Then I showered, shampooed and conditioned my hair, and sloughed every dead skin cell (and a few live ones) off my face with an apricot scrub. Afterward I shaved, then had a Noxema facial while flossing and brushing my teeth, followed by a green clay firming mask while I ironed my shirt (I'd had to wash it, it was too scratchy with starch). I combed my hair, moisturized thoroughly, oiled my cuticles, spritzed on a fresh white-linden-and-tabac-blond scent, and was ready to go.

The outfit worked really well, ths crisp white and the soft black, with the pretty cufflinks and my ivory moon-face pendant and two well-chosen CZ rings; my skin positively glowed, and my hair looked terrific — I have to say that, overall, I looked pretty damned good... possibly the best I've looked in a long time (out of drag, that is). I rather wish I'd taken pictures, but then I wouldn't have looked as good in the pictures (I never do look very good in pictures I take of myself) and that would have seriously dinged my little shreds of hard-wrought confidence.

So off I went to pick up Evan, but he wasn't home when I got there! His mom told me he had been delayed and would be home shortly, so I sat in the car and whiled away the time... first by looking for my gloves (which I couldn't find, but I did find my paisley bronze silk velvet scarf, which I promptly put on), then by looking to see if I had any clear nail-polish in the car (which I didn't), and then by making phone calls. Mostly I left messages, as very few people were home, but I talked for a long time with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Indigo, who was in Seattle with his boyfriend, and that cheered me up amazingly. He always lifts me up, I wish I'd gotten hold of him sooner in the week (we've been playing phone-tag since before Christmas).

Evan arrived in due course, and off we traipsed to the City. We were too late for the meeting before the dance, but despite the rain and the traffic, we got across and found parking in plenty of time to walk around a bit (the rain had stopped by then) and have dinner at the Cove Cafe before the dance (I had an utterly divoon shepherd's pie, one of my favorite dishes, and Evan had a cheeseburger... you know you're in a gay restaurant when smoked Gouda is one of the cheese choices).

Talking to Indigo had cheered me, but Evan cheered me even more. I don't know if it was the fact that my depression simply passed off, or if it was the joy of being dressed well and eating good food, or if Evan's gloomy visage leeched all the sadness out of me (he was feeling rather glum, but even without feeling glum he often looks kind of like an El Greco saint, sort of long and pale and droopy)... whatever it was, I started feeling fairly happy, perhaps even a little giddy.

The dance itself was great fun. The music was good, I saw many friends, I got a lot of complements on my outfit in general and my pendant and scarf in particular, and I managed to get myself started dancing early on in the evening.

I often have a hard time making myself dance, I usually feel so foolish, and will only dance if someone makes me. But I was standing there trying to recognize the song that was playing and wondering what the hell had happened to music in the last twenty years, when I suddenly remembered a lyric from Shirley Bassey's "History Repeating": Some people don't dance, if they don't know who's singing / Why ask your head, it's your hips that are swinging... so I just said "Fuck it!" (as I've been recently advised) and went ahead and danced.

I figure, I'm a drag queen, I can dance to anything; besides, there were enough people dancing badly nearby (and by "badly" I mean clumsily and off-rhythm... there's no wrong way of dancing, so long as you're enjoying yourself) that I didn't feel so self-conscious; I know I'm a reasonably good dancer, but I'm not spectacular, and you know I always feel silly doing things at which I do not excel.

Well, anyway, to cut this story down a little (it's far too late to make it short), I had a perfectly marvelous time, I danced until I hurt all over, I laughed and hooted until my face ached, and I eventually had to strip off my sweater to tie it around my waist because I sweated enough to make up for three missed gym visits. In between twenty-minute bouts of terpischorean effort, I took breaks outside to cool off and talk with various friends. I called Grandmother shortly after midnight, and danced a little bit more before the dance ended; after that, I hung around and chatted some more while they cleaned the place up. Then I took Evan home, got myself home safely, and fell into bed with a grateful and happy sigh. It was a banner New Year's Eve, so I feel like I can reasonably expect a banner year to ensue.

New Year's Day, I intended to take down my tree, but instead I alternated between the television and the computer, where I was enjoying Most Sexy Guys' free porn day, where the pay-access pages were open to non-paying members, as well as reading through my own archives trying to get a feeling for the tone of last year's blogs in hopes of writing a "Year in Review" post (but I was undone by my own verbosity, I only made it through April after several hours of reading). I was going to do some updates to this page, as well (I have pictures of Madasin and Indigo to add to the cast column, as well as some new links) and upload some new wallpapers to Webshots (they just deleted my entire Celebrities section for supposed "copyright violations," which I have finally learned how to circumvent)... but I just didn't have the energy.

And then today I woke up really early (8:45 am!) and read for an hour or so before I got up and made coffee; since then, I've written all of the above (it's now tea-time as I write this sentence, some six and a half hours after starting), browsed some beefcake, read my daily blogs and a few more chapters of my current book (Ngaio Marsh's Dead Water), snacked on three or four different things at different times, put through a couple of loads of laundry (napery from Christmas as well as a sweatshirt that got left outside in the rain and smelled all musty), and came up with three or four more ideas for Worst Luck (which I updated a couple of weeks ago, but no one has commented on it) which I think will work nicely once the narrative works its way around to actual salient details.

The tree is still at its station in the living room, taking up too much space and smirking at me. I've wanted to take it down all week, but left it up because I traditionally take it down on New Year's Day; but then the Day came and I didn't have the energy to tackle the beast... and the beast knows I don't have the energy to tackle it, and now it is mocking me.

But I'll have the last laugh, Herr Tannenbaum! I'll strip you and cut you in half and drag your sorry spruce ass out to the curb by Wednesday morning, when the Oakland Scavenger Company does its first pickup of Christmas trees. See if I don't!

Pardon me... I'm feeling a little light-headed just now. I think I'll take my tea-time break, and maybe even have some tea. I have some chocolates that need to be eaten before I go back on my diet tomorrow, so I think some strong tea and some chocolates in bed will suit the occasion admirably.

Again, Happy New Year to you!