Monday, May 30, 2005

Tag, I'm It!

I was very honored to be tagged by Vince to take part in this meme that's spreading across the web. I love being "a part of," and I love the topic of the meme (books), so I'm going to love this!


1. Estimate the total number of books you've owned in your life.
Since I cleaned my room, I can just count the books from where I sit: there are 486 books here in my bedroom. I counted picture-books as well as novels and the like, but not magazines (of which I have hundreds upon hundreds). When I cleaned, I took a lot of them downstairs; in fact every time I clean, I take a lot of them downstairs, so I'll be right back with a number... I just put a box of 61 large-ish hardbound books in the basement (as well as an identical box containing 122 videotapes), and there were another 172 from previous room-cleaning attempts. I know I have some books I brought home from the office as well as a few really old books in a trunk in the garage, I'll guesstimate about fifty, as well as a box of schoolbooks up in the attic, probably another fifty or so. And then I have lent or lost maybe fifty, and sold or sold-back (as one does with textbooks) probably two hundred more. I can't even guess how many books I owned as a child that I lost along the way, but I figure it was probably no more than a hundred. That makes (damned math, where is that calculator) approximately 1,169 books owned. And as far as I'm concerned, that's not nearly enough.

2. What's the last book you bought?
My last trip to Barnes & Noble, which was Wednesday evening, I purchased two books (and three magazines, but I'm not counting them), and I don't know which one went through the cash-register first: Serendipity: The Gay Times Book of New Short Stories, edited by Peter Burton, and Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice. The former I look forward to reading, I am always fascinated by short fiction (since I seem to be incapable of writing anything short myself), and anthologies are a great way of finding new authors to investigate. The latter I bought because, late last year, I decided to reread the entire "Vampire Chronicles" from front to end, in order and all at once so that I could hopefully gain an overview of how Anne Rice has developed as a writer and how her characters have developed as individuals; so I started with Interview with the Vampire, chugged through the next nine novels, and got caught short when I finished Blood and Gold... apparently I had lent the next book to my sister, and she never gave it back. So when I saw Blackwood Farm on the bargain shelves in hardcover priced at $6.98, I decided to get it and finish my aborted project from several months ago.

3. What was the last book you read?
You'd think I'd be able to answer that right off the top of my head... but no. Before I cleaned, of course I could have just looked on top of the pile on my bed... but even then, I don't think I could answer, because I haven't been finishing books lately. When I brought home Blackwood Farm and started re-reading it, I had to put aside David Hunt's The Magician's Tale, which I was re-reading in order to get a feeling for the San Francisco police and the Polk Street hustling scene, about which Hunt wrote with some authenticity and about which I am trying to write. And I picked that one up after throwing down Henry James's The Princess Casamassima, which I was enjoying but which was too slow and dense for me to take all at once... after ten days of reading, I was only a quarter of the way through the novel, and the plot hadn't advanced very far. Besides, I wasn't sure I liked any of the characters, and I find it indispensably necessary to like at least one of the characters in a book in order to have a motive for reading it.

So what did I read before that? Hell if I can remember. Fortunately, I received a Book Journal as a Christmas present from my friend JB, and I have been keeping up with it, so I have a list with dates and summaries of all the books I've read this year. Before The Princess Casamassima, I finished reading David M. Pierce's Elf Child. I'm afraid it wasn't very good, and obviously not very memorable, but I enjoyed it while I read it. It was about a young man who falls in love with a shapeshifter, and the shapeshifter falls in love with the young man, but there are all these complications to do with shapeshifting and adoption and mothers and self-loathing and identity and what-have-you. It was neither particularly believable nor particularly fantastic. Feh.

4. List 5 Books that mean a lot to you.
The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren. It wasn't a great book (IMHO, though it is generally considered powerful and ground-breaking), and I haven't re-read it in ages, but it was the first gay novel I ever read. I remember, when I was sixteen, I picked it out of the Used Gay Lit section at Walden's Pond (a local independent new-and-used store that I've been patronizing for eons). Though I didn't really relate to any of the characters, and found the ending too depressing for words, it was profoundly moving to read about two men falling in love and living life together. (While Googling for a link, I discover it's being made into a movie! Huh!)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. When I started to college at age 18 (community college, College of Alameda to be precise, which I didn't really commit to but only attended because I had to do something and had no idea what I wanted), I found this book in the college library called Homosexuals in History. I thought of listing that as a book that meant a lot to me, since it started me off on a lot of other writers, but it really only served as a bibliography. When I read the entries about Oscar Wilde, something about his personality and history caught my fancy, so I went down to the Literature aisle and picked up the biggest Oscar Wilde anthology they had, and started my love affair with Wilde by diving headfirst into his masterwork novel. I also read all the plays and and essays and fairy-tales and poems, being particularly moved by his latter works "De Profundis" and "The Ballad of Reading Gaol"; but really, The Picture of Dorian Gray caught my imagination and inspired my aesthetic senses more than any other novel I read before or since. I still dip into it every now and again just to enjoy that richness of language, that surfeit of gorgeous detail, that decadent taste, and that deliciously veiled homoeroticism.

The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. This was another book discovered at Walden's Pond; actually, I discovered Mary Renault by way of The Charioteer, which I found in the Gay Lit section but didn't really care for; then I found her historical novels of ancient Greece in the regular Lit section. The Persian Boy caught my imagination in a way that none of the other books about ancient Greece, or about Alexander the Great (childhood fascinations based largely on the rather erotic Olive Baupré Miller illustrations in a set of pictorial history books here at Grandmother's house) ever had before. In reading of Bagoas' life and his devotion to Alexander, I found myself learning a different way of loving someone, a self-sacrificing and ultimately all-consuming but no less worthwhile way of love. It was also the first time I ever fell in love with fictional or historical characters, both Bagoas and Alexander break my heart. I've read that book so many times that my original used paperback copy fell all to pieces, and I had to buy a hardback copy at A Libris, and like The Picture of Dorian Gray, I recommend it to all of my friends and occasionally dip into it at random just for the flavor.

Living Sober. Since I just had my tenth sobriety birthday, I feel it necessary to list a piece of Recovery literature here. Though I only read it once, and have been helped in recovery more by the more serious and specific Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions, the first time I read Living Sober I experienced a profound change in the way I thought. It was the first time that I was able to consider the possibility that a life without alcohol was not only possible, it was actually desirable. Though it was three years before I really quit drinking, Living Sober was the trowel that turned over the ground of my soul and prepared me for the seeds that would be planted in the coming years.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers. Another oft-read favorite, from my favorite author of my favorite genre, which I heartily recommend to one and all. But the reason I chose this particular novel as being important to me is because it is the inspiration for my own novel-in-progress, Worst Luck. In Gaudy Night, the mystery around which the story is created is a rather dim and not very interesting mystery... nobody is killed, there is simply no murder at all, and murder is the heart of the whole genre. So instead of murder, the "crime" is only there to act as a scaffold and catalytic agent for what is really a character-driven story about love, purpose, and social perception. The mystery is just an excuse for the numerous beautiful and lovable characters, flights of exquisite description and passages of beautiful prose, and discursive essays into the human condition itself. And so, loving this novel so much, I am inspired to write my own novel in which the mystery is there only as a framework around which to build characters and consider the many mysteries of life: love, family, society, etc.

5. Tag 5 people
Well, this is going to be difficult... there aren't that many people I know read my blog who have blogs of their own. So let's see... I know I want to tag Dana Marie, she's always on the prowl for good memes and she loves books; and I want to tag Susan though I don't know if her blog's quick-and-dirty format allows for this sort of meme; I would like to tag Tom, though he told me recently that he never gets much chance to read anymore; and I'll tag Bill, even though his blog is about music, because he came to the show at Harvey's on Saturday and I was so happy to see him again. And for my fifth tag, I invite my friends who don't have blogs to use the Commentary box for the meme.


Hey, that was fun! But it was hard! I not only had to think, but I had to look up links, too!

I'm just unbearably tired today, after all the strenuous cleaning and socializing I've been doing these last few days. I spent all day right here in my fresh clean bed under my brand-new Wamsutta comforter in my disturbingly tidy bedroom, clattering away on the office laptop (which I'm keeping until I get another job and can't act as note-taker anymore) on this meme and on the next part of Worst Luck, taking frequent breaks to read Blackwood Farm and nap and eat and otherwise pamper and baby myself. I've also been coughing a lot, I either caught a cold from all this gallivanting, or else I'm having a delayed reaction to all the mildew and anti-mildew chemicals I've been breathing in lately, and my feet and back are still sore from the unaccustomed labor, so I really need the rest.

It was extremely satisfying to have the house so clean, and to have people over to admire how clean it was. I made everyone come look at my room, and those who had seen it in its previous state were quite simply flabbergasted. Now let's see if I can keep it this way for a while... and see also if I can entertain again sometime soon. Everytime I get the house and/or my bedroom really clean, I vow to do everything I can to maintain that cleanliness, and every time I have people over I enjoy it so much that I vow to do it more frequently. But then I don't. Historically.

But History is there to be changed! As are sheets!

So anyway, my peeps and pretties, I shall be signing off now. It's well after midnight, and I'm all sleepy again, so to sleep I shall go. G'night!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Decade Dense

So, yesterday was my tenth anniversary in sobriety. Ten years ago yesterday, hungover from what turned out to be my last binge, sitting in the garden with the sun shining and the flowers in riotous bloom, I decided to quite drinking; later on I went to my first AA meeting, launching into an incredible journey.

So how do you suppose I celebrated this wonderful milestone? A spa day in Calistoga? High tea at a grand San Francisco hotel? A shopping spree in a favorite mall? A luncheon with friends? A quiet little soirée chez moi? Hoisting a festive brewski (or festive flute of champagne, as appropriate) so I can start all over again? No.

I cleaned my room, is what I did. Actually, I started cleaning on Thursday, I figured I'd finish off the laundry I started last week, then pick up the trash, do a little dusting, and put the new comforter and bedskirt I bought at Ross the other day (I only went in to get some fresh undershirts, but they didn't have any in my size... yet they did have this beautiful burgundy-and-gold brocade Wamsutta comforter set for only $25) on my bed. Then I would turn to the rest of the house and prepare for the party I am having on Sunday. Simple, no?

No! It was going along just fine, I started at the door and went around counterclockwise (or widdershins, if you prefer), sorting the clothes into laundry piles and filling up my garbage can again and again (disgusted with myself of course for the sheer volume of trash in my room), mostly clothing tags and junk mail and those little cards that come out of magazines, but also such shameful items as empty ice-cream cartons, forests of grape-stems and a few stray chicken-bones, dirty dishes so old I couldn't even guess what I'd eaten or drunk out of them; I revealed acres of carpet, and found about $20 in loose change and two whole $20 bills.

But then as I started mining into the southwestern quadrant of my room, the space between my closet and the bookshelves at the foot of my bed, a place I seldom use for anything other than piling up dirty clothes and discarding the large cardboard boxes in which my furs and other eBay purchases come, I encountered something unpleasant, something that I hadn't expected even in the squalor my room had become.

I moved a plastic crate out of position, and was assaulted by the putrid odor of mildew; further investigation showed a delightful forest of feathery-flossy mold, adjacent to a block of cream-colored powder mold, and then to the left I found an even-more-putrid-smelling fluid soaked into a flannel sheet that had been forgotten at the bottom of the pile. Gross!

It was getting late, so once I got the laundry and trash up out of that quadrant, I sprayed the whole thing with Lysol and then powdered it over with lilac-scent Carpet Fresh (to absorb the moisture as well as to kill the stench), then went to bed. Actually, I had to sleep on the couch, because the laundry piles and all the books and magazines that had been on the floor were on the bed, and it would have taken a couple more hours to move it all.

The next day, the discoveries got worse! After vacuuming up all the Carpet Fresh, I discovered that half a can didn't quite absorb all the moisture; in fact, the carpet was soaked through, sopping wet... the water had also soaked into the corner of the bookshelves in front of the window, and the smell coming from under the bed was unbelievable, like a recently unsealed tomb.

So I had to move some furniture, emptying out the bookshelves and moving them off the carpet, then prying the bed away from the wall. The space under my bed beneath the windows, all the carpet and several layers of wallpaper and a few magazines that slipped down there, were soaked and completely covered in mildew. Apparently my windows have been leaking all winter, and since the area was covered with my bed, some pieces of furniture, and a mountain of fabric and refuse, it didn't dry out, it just sat there, soaking in and stagnating.

Here is where this simple little tidying job turned into a massive undertaking. I had to take as much furniture out of the room as I could, take all the laundry and books off the bed, then dismantle the bed and move everything away from the window so I could assess the damage.

And the damage was severe... the mildew had soaked into the plaster of the wall under the window, infiltrating and decaying three ancient layers of wallpaper to start nibbling into the original plaster; the water had also soaked deep into the floorboards underneath the carpet, several of the boards were buckled and puckered, completely destroying the hardwood floors original to our 1929 house, and a huge deposit of mildew infested three square feet of it, blackening the still-damp wood. The stench was stupefying... and did I ever mention I'm allergic to mildew?

Well, first I doused the place in Lysol and then powdered it generously with Carpet Fresh, using up one whole can and the half-can that was left from the day before (I should have used kitty litter, it is way more absorbent, but hindsight is always 20/20). I put a fan on it so it would dry faster, then ran some errands... specifically to the store to buy another really big can of Lysol, a can of orange-oil wood-cleaner, and a can of Endust. When I got back, I vacuumed up the clumps of Carpet Fresh, soaked the area thoroughly with Lysol to kill the mildew and mold spores, scrubbed the area down with orange-oil and a green scrubbie-sponge, then coated it with Endust (I got apple-scented instead of lemon, and it's divine) and polished it all with an old pair of jersey boxers. The mildewy patch was still damp, so I turned the fan on it, and then put a bathmat on top of it so I can soak the water out by walking on it.

Well, to make a terribly long story a tiny bit shorter, I eventually decided to simply get rid of the carpet, rearrange my furniture so that my bed is no longer in the corner between two walls and a half-wall of bookshelves (which was more trouble than it was worth, since it encouraged me to clutter up my bed with books and stuff), and rearranged a few other pieces that I'd had to move anyway because they were sitting on the carpet. Finally I made my bed with my new bedding, then took a shower and went to sleep very tired and muscle-fatigued but happy.

This morning when I got up, I finished the laundry and the tidying, and now my room is so neat that it makes me a little uncomfortable. After two and a half days of strenuous labor, I have a very clean apple-and-orange-smelling bedroom with a brand new comforter on my bed. It hasn't been this clean in four years or so (longtime readers will no doubt remember the previous aborted attempts to clean the joint), it's never smelled of apples and oranges before, and I haven't had a new comforter since I bought this bed... just about ten years ago, now I think of it. It's pretty cool, and very nearly worth the amount of work I had to invest. I'd take a picture and show you, but I can't find my digicam and I don't think my phone would take a clear enough picture... maybe later.

I sincerely hope the rug can be saved. It's a beautiful thing, though it's modern and was rather cheap, I picked it out myself when I was sixteen, and I'm ashamed to have neglected it so terribly. It's down in the garage right now, draped over some boxes in hopes of drying it out. Where do you get wool Persian rugs cleaned, anyway? I guess I'll have to look onliine.

Well, my darlings, I must dash... I have to clean the bathroom, dust and vacuum the living room, dining room, and hallways, and attempt to put away my clean laundry (God knows where it's all going to go). And tonight I have a show in San Francisco (Cookie Dough's "Death Becomes Her" Show at Harvey's), and tomorrow I have church to attend as well as the party to set up and give. La, such a merry dance!

If I keep this up, I might actually get where I enjoy cleaning. On the other hand, I have a feeling I'd enjoy hiring a cleaner even more. Especially if the cleaner looked (and dressed) like this:

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Too #@%^$! Hot...

Bay Areans are total pussies about the heat... we who live in the cities actually on the Bay (San Francisco and San Rafael and Hayward and Oakland and Berkeley, etc.), if we've lived here for a long time and don't frequently travel to exotic climes, eventually become incapable of dealing with temperatures above eighty or below fifty.

I've lived in Oakland most of my life, and continuously for the last 22 years, so I have become a total weather-pussy. Yahoo! Weather says that it's only 76 degrees here today, but it feels like ninety to me. I'm all sticky and logey and bleagh. But that's just because there's no breeze, and I'm sitting here drinking coffee in my darkened bedroom with the windows closed and the computer running. Maybe if I drank some ice-water and took this stupid shirt off... but then I'd have to look at my nasty boobies in the unflattering light of a cathode ray tube, and I'm not up for it right now.

I decided when I was at the grocery store today that I would start my diet... right now. Not next week, not when I run out of cookies, but today. It helped that they had a lot of my dieting staples on sale today (broccoli florets, eggs, bananas, nonfat yogurt, sliced turkey, and tuna); but I think the tide-turner was the Flossboy who walked down the aisle and bewitched me with his adorable little tuchus in pale tan corduroys (a "Flossboy" is a cute boy so skinny that after you're done having sex with him, you can use him to floss your teeth... just in case you were wondering — if they're also short, I call them Pocket Pretties).

So there I was standing in the dairy aisle and this pretty little Flossboy comes sauntering by, short dark hair and tight mod clothes, and I go into a trance staring at his ass (which was a very nice ass, and the very sexy saunter set it off to great advantage); and then when he turns a corner and breaks the spell, I look down at my dust-blue polo shirt tenting out in front of me, instead of my orange board-shorts tenting out in front of me as God intended... and I decided right then and there, no more excuses, it's definitely time to lose this weight.

Not that I would have even tried to talk to the boy if I had been in better shape... but I would have felt better about the possibility of getting caught staring at this ass if I were in better shape. I remember being a Flossboy myself, O so long ago, and I remember how flattering it was to get cruised by a sexy older man but how icky it was to get cruised by a pudgy old toad. I want to be the sexy older man, or at least not the pudgy old toad, so that when the Flossboys and Pocket Pretties and whatever other yummy-type males at the grocery store catch me staring at their asses, they'll be flattered rather than repelled.


So anyway, I couldn't sleep last night, so I got a big chunk of Chapter Four finished at Worst Luck... I was going to keep going, but I figured I had enough to post for the time being, and the rest of the chapter can come later. That was the whole point of doing the rough draft in sections. Heretofore the sections had been made up of one scene, but now the scenes are intercutting each other at greater speed, once scene isn't enough for a section but three scenes definitely are.

When you get a chance, have a gander at Chapter 4, Part 1 and let me know what you think. The comments and suggestions from my readers have been enormously valuable to me in the creative process and the editing process; for example, Will pointed out three blaring factual errors in one of the sections that would have made me look very stupid if I'd left them there.


That's all I've got for today. I'm going to go get a big glass of ice water, take off my shirt, and then lay down so that my fat spreads out evenly instead of humping up in my lap. Then I'm going to go to the gym for some cardio, and then come back here for more ice-water and rest. Have a lovely day!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Insert Clever Title Here

It has become my tentative semiconclusion that I may quite possible be once again in the grip of depression. But this doesn't feel like the depression I'm used to. Certainly it has some similarities: I feel lethargic, I'm having trouble concentrating, and I'm horny all the time. But I don't feel sad or overwhelmed, and I'm not having manic spikes.

Perhaps the difference is that since I'm not working, I'm not having to force myself out of lethargy, and I'm not having to force myself to concentrate. I can just hit the couch and stay there. On the other hand, it's sort of taking the fun out of being able to hit the couch and stay there. The trouble concentrating is so acute that I can't read or write or even watch a movie... I can't focus on anything that isn't interrupted every seven minutes by commercials.

On the other hand, I have to wonder how much of what I'm feeling is because I'm not working. I haven't heard a peep back from any of the jobs for which I've applied these last three weeks at the one big company that I really had my heart set on, not even the one where my resume was delivered personally to the hiring manager by a reliable friend. I didn't even hear back from the department I didn't apply for but who found my resume in their system and ordered the skills testing that I took last week (and aced... perhaps I was overqualified).

And then, I was turned down for unemployment insurance... I can appeal, I have a few more days to consider it and want to get some opinions from people who've had experience with the California EDD, but even if I prevailed it would take several weeks... so I won't be getting any unemployment money this month, and I'm running low on cash. I have enough to pay this month's bills, and if I'm prudent I can pay some of next month's, but after that there's nothing but borrowing from the Grandmother. And by "prudent," we mean: no shopping of any kind whatsoever. I can't even buy lunch or videos or books. Just kill me now, OK?

I've been working on Chapter Four of Worst Luck, but I'm getting nowhere fast. The speed of the plot just picked up, and there are lots of places where I'm not exactly sure of my factual footing yet (I haven't done any of the research I need to do into the SFPD system), so I don't feel very confident even of the things I've got written down, much less the direction the story is going.

Nevertheless, I am working on it, and getting at least a little bit done. If it turns out my facts are askew, I have plenty of time to fix them, and it has been something of a strength-building challenge to avoid forcing the entire plot to hinge on a fact that may turn out later to be incorrect.

And about the job stuff, I guess I'll just have to widen my search and really start concentrating on getting a job. My weeks of planned relaxation are over, so I need to get off my ass and get busy. I also have a house to clean, since I'm having a party here next Sunday (to celebrate my ten-year anniversary in sobriety), and I'd like to get my room put in order while I have the time.

Perhaps what I should do is make up a "work schedule" to follow the next couple of weeks. Spend certain amounts of time looking for a job, certain amounts working on Worst Luck, certain amounts cleaning, making up an eight-hour workday. And then I can do whatever I want for the rest of the day, like watching television or whatever. Something to think about.

Well, whether I'm depressed or just bored, it's better than a rap on the head with a sharp stone, as my Daddy always says. My mother always says "It's better to be pissed off than pissed on," but I don't think that applies to this situation... it in fact has nothing to do with anything, I'm not sure it's even true, but that's the way Mother is: always with the colorful nonsequitur.

Well, darlings, it's time for my early-afternoon nap. And then the Grandmother and I are going down to San Jose for dinner with the cousins, and before that I ought to call down to the psych department with my referral and get an appointment in the works. But first the nap, I've been awake for, like, four hours now and I can't take anymore. Toodles!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

He Touched Me...

Yesterday I went to meet my new doctor with my new health plan, and had my first thorough physical exam in almost twenty years. And the things they check for have changed since then... he didn't look in my ears or my eyes, or check my reflexes or anything like that; but much to my surprise, I did get a prostate exam.

Actually, the whole pelvic-area portion of the exam took me aback. Not only hadn't I expected to be examined "down there" (though why I didn't expect it, I don't know, since "turn your head and cough" is pretty standard), but the truth is that nobody has touched me anywhere near any of those areas for any reason at all in a very very long time. It was distinctly unsettling. And then when he shot a finger up my ass and prodded the old prostate, I kind of freaked out.

I didn't freak out because I'd been penetrated, I've never in my life considered my anus an exit-only aperture; and it didn't hurt at all, in fact it was rather pleasant, if a bit quick. But there was something about the intimacy of having this strange man's finger up my ass that just threw me off kilter; and my prostate felt sort of startled and overstimulated for quite some time afterward, I kept getting tingles and frissons from it, for hours afterward... between these two weirdnesses, I felt deeply discombobulated for the rest of the day.

Oh, and did I mention that my new doctor is very attractive? When I drew him out of the online find-a-physician pages, his ID picture looked kind of goofy, so I wasn't expecting him to look quite so smooth and handsome in person. And he has an accent. I thought he might have one, among the (mostly arbitrary) reasons I chose him was because he was from South Africa, which struck me as kind of exotic; but I've only ever heard black South African accents, which sound typically African, and Johannesburg accents, which sound typically Commonwealth; I didn't realize that the Dutch-African blend in an Afrikaans accent would be so sexy.

Well, anyhow, he referred me to the psych and allergy departments for my two main health problems (my new health plan, which shall remain nameless though you can probably figure it out, is one of those big organizations where everyone specializes and refers patients from one department to another), then he ordered an EKG (to screen for hypertension, which runs in my family) and a whole battery of blood and urine tests (for which I have to fast for twelve hours beforehand because of the cholesterol screening), and will communicate the results of all my tests by mail so I don't have to come back in again (unless something untoward is revealed in the tests).

Another unexpected occurence from this doctor's visit is that I finally found the motivation I needed to go back to the gym and get serious about putting my body back in order... as I sat there on that damned table in my underwear, with a strange and attractive man prodding my fat parts trying to find my various glands, the only thing to look at was this huge wall-mirror across the room. The light was not flattering, either, the way it is in my bedroom and bathroom at home, and so the view was a little too honest for my taste. Then there was another big mirror in the room where I had to sit for forty minutes with my shirt off waiting for the EKG tech to come hook me up, and then I had to have yet another strange man poking at my fat while attaching the little stickers and wires. I'm not sure if that was as unsettling as the prostate exam, but it was close.

The last time I lost a bunch of weight, I had this snapshot that someone took of me where I looked exactly like a half-roasted pig, and whenever I thought of eating sweets or skipping the gym, I'd have a look at that picture; now all I have to do is close my eyes and think about how I'll look in my underwear sitting on a doctor's table... or more importantly, think about how I'll look in no underwear sitting on a bed in some future boyfriend's bedroom. If I want people touching my testicles and poking my prostate (and I think I do), I'd feel a lot better about it if I looked a lot better.

Maybe I'll run down to the gym right now, come to think of it. And take that big bowl of Jelly Bellies and the jar of chocolate cookies to a party I'm attending tomorrow and conveniently "forget" to bring them home.

And of course, I will look to the beefcake here as an inspiration, not just to stimulate my libido but to give me something to aim for... a straight-guy friend of mine who sometimes reads this blog told me that he found my beefcakes very inspirational when he's thinking about eating some cupcakes or skipping a run, so maybe I'll try that too... in my experience, a positive image isn't as motivating as a negative image, but it sure couldn't hurt.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Frank Sinatra Pudding Bowl

This phrase came from the dream I had this morning... there was something to do with werewolves, a struggle with a member of a civilized group of werewolves living communally (of which I was the leader) and one of its members who had turned wild. Apparently part of our civilized werewolf day was lining up each morning at the Frank Sinatra pudding bowl, and I suppose it was a little humiliating to do, as I quite understood my friend's desire to leave our commune of vegetarian werewolves and join a rock band of flesh-eating werewolves.

I don't think the werewolf part of the dream means anything... the werewolves came directly from the movie I watched last night, Ginger Snaps Back, but the commune part is kind of odd. Still, when I woke up with that dream fresh in my mind, the phrase "Frank Sinatra pudding bowl" leapt out of my mouth and made me laugh.

On the other hand, I have been dreaming about dogs a lot lately. Though part of me insists that these dream-dogs are largely due to the fact that I really want a dog of my own, I nevertheless consulted my dream dictionary on the topic: it said that dogs represent the relationship between our animal nature and our civilized mind. I haven't come to any conclusion about how the dogs in the dream were representing that relationship, nor have I given much thought to the concept of werewolves as dogs and the little drama played out over the Frank Sinatra pudding bowl, but it certainly gives me a little food for thought.

All of this dreaming, or rather all this remembering of one's dreams, is a lovely side-effect of not working... I get to sleep in of a morning, and wake up slowly and comfortably, with none of the traumatic shocks of alarm clocks or dragging myself out of bed at a particular hour to chase the dream memories from my conscious mind.

Now that my cold has gone, and my allergies dulled, I am finally enjoying my time off. I'm getting loads of sleep, spending entire days doing nothing, spending hours reading and watching television. Yesterday I got a good bit of exercise, I was babysitting my uncle's little dog Patty (again with the dogs) and she was pining at the door, so I took her for a long walk around the hills of Piedmont above my house; and while I was out enjoying the sunshine and Patty's antics (she's half shih-tzu and half Scots terrier, black and tufted and utterly adorable and rather lively), I made a bunch of phone calls, using up my cell minutes while catching up with people I haven't talked to in too long.

I've been making a little headway with the job-search, which is quite satisfying... I was called in for a skills test for one of the jobs I applied for at a particular large health-care organization, and I aced the exams, getting 100% on the medical terminology test (about half the questions were things I knew from crosswords and television, but the rest I learned from a textbook Caroline lent me for the purpose), and scoring 62wpm on the typing test; I know I type fast, but I thought I averaged about 60wpm when I was typing out of my head or from dictation, and dropped down to about 50 when I was typing from copy... but not only was I typing from copy, but it was small-written copy, and there was no auto-correct feature. And although I don't really want the job for which this skill-test was ordered (hospital admitting clerk, ew), it was really nice to have my skills affirmed so highly. It was like getting a good grade in school, like getting a gold star stuck on my folder.

And now today I am getting some writing done, which I've wanted to do for some time but haven't... I'm working on the rough drafts of Chapter 3 of Worst Luck, and will hopefully have something better and more polished to show for it in the next day or so. But the main use of my computer time these last few days has been devoted to a new CAD program I got last week... those who know me well are aware of my great love of floor-plans, and this new program is better for drafting floor-plans than my old 3-D house-planner (which was better for getting visuals of spacial relationships). I've drafted beautiful plans for all of the houses I've used in my story so far, and have started work on the next apartment to be featured before I got the novelty of the program out of my system. I'll upload them later on the Worst Luck website so you can have a gander at them.

I'm also going to upload some more pictures there, creating pages of visual references for each of the characters as I go. That way you can see the creative process at work, and I can find out from you if I'm describing things the way I think I am. Besides, I expanded my web domain space a month or so ago, so I really ought to upload some more beefcake... I'm starting to get tired of the galleries I have to choose from.

Imagine getting tired of someone this beautiful:

(PS: before we get to the beautiful boy, I finished Chapter Three this evening, it took considerably less time than I'd feared... I made some significant changes with very few actual edits or additions, and am quite excited by how the chapter turned out. Next, the murder scene and the police! I also uploaded the floor-plans I mentioned earlier, and here are the links to Danny's, Marshall's, and Valerien's apartments. And now, back to your regularly scheduled eye candy...)

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Feelin' Kinda Grody

I'm not enjoying my unemployment as much as I'd hoped to. First I had that nasty cold, then my allergies started acting up, overlapping the end of my cold; now I have a sore of some kind in my mouth that makes it painful to chew food... I don't know if it's a cold sore, or an irritation from a seed or something, but it hurts and makes eating unenjoyable. Furthermore, I am not sleeping as well as I'd like, I have a hard time getting to sleep some nights and then I wake up ridiculously early, or sometimes even in the middle of the night, and can't get back to sleep; then if I do sleep eight hours or more at a time like I'm supposed to, I wake up with a sinus headache. And then on top of all that, I seem to be spending more time at the office than I did when I worked there... an exaggeration, of course, but I've been there three or four times a week for the last two weeks.

It's wearying, I tells ye. I had planned my unemployment as a period of restful hiatus, but I simply feel run off my feet.

I have managed to find time to do some of the enjoyable things I'd planned for my hiatus, though... I've been able to spend some time with friends, and I've done a bit of reading, and I even got some work done the other day on Worst Luck (Chapter Two Complete is up and ready for your perusal; I didn't change very much from the rough drafts, I added a few phrases and cleaned up some repeated words, but the story hasn't changed).

But I feel yucky, and that takes a good deal of the enjoyment out of everything. And by "yucky" I think I mean that I feel uncomfortable inside my body. I keep having this weird urge to just wriggle out of my flesh, to peel the whole thing off like an ill-fitting rubber suit. I don't know what that's all about, whether it's about the discomfort of my body after the cold and during the allergies and with this sore in my mouth, or if it's some psychological discomfort that stems from a general dissatisfaction about myself paired with an insecure feeling about my employment situation coming in on top of a depressive swing... or maybe it's all of the above, a sort of peu du tout selection of unhappiness.

Whatever it is, I can't figure out a way around it. I am going to take some Advil (which I've been eating like candy all week), and maybe a hot bath to unclog my stuffy head and unwind my tense shoulders (they've been clenched up ever since I caught that cold), and maybe a facial or something to make myself feel pretty. Perhaps I can get some OraJel at the store later to deal with this pain in my mouth, and perhaps I can get some more writing done on "Chapter Three Complete." I was going to go to a party later tonight, but I think I'll skip that, since I don't feel too well and need to reserve my strength for the big family Mother's Day gathering tomorrow (for which I have to do some grocery shopping and dessert-making).

Well, darlings, I hope you're having a better life than I am, and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there... and to all the non-moms, too. Kisses!

Monday, May 2, 2005

If Only There Were Some Other Way...

Dammit, I've gotten fat again... I'm not all the way back to 220 yet (my highest weight so far), and my cheekbones are still showing, but I look pregnant when I've eaten and I have to suck in a little to fasten my pants; last time I dared get on the scale, it told me I was 212 pounds, three pounds up since Christmas, which was in turn five pounds up since last summer, which in its turn was a good bit more than my ideal weight. Worst of all, I have breasts... and worse even than that, they sag: this simply offends my sensibilities.

The thing is, I know exactly what to do in order to turn this around and get back down to 200 in just a few weeks. But I don't want to do these things. I don't want to eat salads instead of sandwiches, I don't want to give up chocolates and cookies and ice-cream and toast, I don't want to go to the goddamned gym every day for forty minutes of cardio, I don't even want to take pills or whatever to stimulate my metabolism because they always make me grouchy, I just don't wanna.

I want the fat to just dry up and blow away, that's all. But, unfortunately, that's not something fat does, it's not in the physical nature of fat to just dry up and blow away... even if you leave a tub of lard or drippings outside in the sun, it never evaporates; it melts, it might even curdle or separate, but it doesn't go away. Fat has a cellular structure that can be expanded or contracted, but it's there, no matter what you do.

One can, of course, make body fat go away... you can have it surgically sucked out from under your skin. But it's expensive and I don't have any money. It's also painful, but I think I could get over that... dieting is pretty damned painful, too, though mentally rather than physically. Still, it would be nice to have a waist again without having to do any hard work.

Ah, the old fantasy of getting what you want without having to work for it. We all have that fantasy... the lotto fantasy, the rich relative fantasy, the genie-in-the-lamp fantasy. I prefer the genie in the lamp, personally, because (aside from the facts that I don't buy lottery tickets and I do know perfectly well who all of my relatives are and exactly how much they're worth) a genie tests your intelligence, tests how to get everything you want into three wishes. I think I would wish for two hundred and fifty million American dollars, exceptional physical beauty, and eternal youth.

Any self-respecting genie would of course make me regret those decisions almost immediately... it is the function of art to show us the error of our genie fantasies, and so all the ironic short stories about genies and wishes tell us of the hideous outcomes when we wish for something heedlessly.

For example, I didn't stipulate that the large sum of money would come to me by legal channels, so a good sinister genie would deposit the sum in my account by stealing it from somebody else's, preferably a violent and touchy mobster's; since I did not stipulate what exactly I mean by exceptional physical beauty, I might be turned into something the genie thought was hot, but maybe the genie is sexually attracted to slugs or gorillas or something; and since I did not stipulate that I wanted to be alive and young for eternity, he might simply turn me into a statue, trapping my soul forever within an insensate and inanimate object. If he was a really efficient genie, he would hit all three wishes by turning me into an erotically beautiful statue that was made of two hundred and fifty million dollars' worth of some impenetrable material, maybe a giant diamond carved in the shape of a beautiful boy.

So even if I got a genie, it wouldn't solve anything. I'd still be unhappy, because happiness isn't found in our things or lack of things, it's found in our selves. I know perfectly well that, though I could be very happy with a whole big buttload of money, I can also be happy without it. I could be happy to become suddenly beautiful, but only because I haven't always been used to it. I could be happy with eternal youth, and I can also find happiness in the process of aging.

It's all a matter of realizing and adopting the knowledge that happiness is the manner of travel, not a destination. I can be just as unhappy if I were rich, beautiful, and young. Ask any rich beautiful young person you meet, and he'll tell you how unhappy he is capable of being... not because these things made him unhappy, but because he's simply unhappy despite the things he has. He may even think you're happier than he is because you have something else, something he doesn't have.

At any rate, I need to get back on my diet and start exercising again if I want to get rid of these gestative appurtenances on my torso. It's just a matter of tapping into that will and dedication again. I have to want to be thin more than I want to eat the yummy-nummy crap. Because the simple truth of the matter is that I'm thirty-seven years old and I can't have both anymore.

Well, innyhoo... here's what I might stipulate to the genie that I want to look like... and since it only shows one angle, and clothed, the genie would do something icky to the parts that aren't showing, like maybe I'd be completely flat and colorless like a slab of cardboard, or covered with coarse green and orange fur, or studded with little red nipples all over that wiggle on their own, or someting nasty like that. Damned sneaky genies.

(Ian Somerhalder, my current favorite celebrity crush)