I am home, in my

I am home, in my little apartment, staring with bleary eyes at the long list of tasks I must accomplish in the next week, not the least of which, I think, is to get this blog back on track. But what to say? It has been so long since my daily activities have even approached normalcy, I have forgotten how to recount them in a remotely interesting manner.

Today, I got a haircut. Yesterday, I rearranged my television and stereo components in anticipation of digital cable installation. Today, I watched Maria try to flee Pine Valley with her daughter and police chief Anna arrest her own husband in punishment for his part in the Maureen cover-up. Yesterday, I rearranged the Zapotec rugs on my apartment floor. Today, I went grocery shopping and could not find those cereal bars I like. Yesterday, I took my wireless phone in for repair.



Late yesterday morning, we drove

Late yesterday morning, we drove from Milwaukee to Madison, Wisconsin. The drive was nice. We came to visit Rindy’s apartment. It is a nice apartment. Rob and I checked into a motel. It was a nice motel run by a nice guy named Uncle Creepy, Junior. Then we had lunch at Wendy’s and drove an hour west to see a tourist attraction. It was a nice lunch and a nice drive. The tourist attraction is called The House on the Rock. It seemed like a nice tourist attraction.
Here we go, into the nice tourist attraction called The House on the Rock. It is a museum, kind of, situated in the house of an eccentric millionaire who devoted his life to building it and expanding his collections. It is a . . . nice . . . museum.

The walkway is narrow; the ceilings are low. There are stairs that lead nowhere and musty carpeting throughout. Conversation pits. Multiple conversation pits. Nice conversation pits. A narrow room jutting dramatically out over the trees. Some musical instruments, playing by themselves. How festive. How nice.
An old-fashioned town, inside a building; interesting displays in the shop windows. Here are some dolls, peering stiffly out at pedestrians who are getting slightly unnerved. An ad for “sterile tapeworms,” marketed as a cure for unhealthy fat. More musical instruments, playing by themselves. Are they a bit out of tune?
Onward to the ocean, also inside a building. A killer whale larger than the Statue of Liberty battles a many-tentacled kraken with an eye the size of a manhole cover. Models of ships long sunk or scuttled line the walls in a roll call of nautical history. Scientific scans determine that Rob is “Hot” and Rindy is “Crazy.” Still more musical instruments, some playing by themselves and some strummed by a mechanical octopus that does not seem to be paying strict attention to this activity.

Ancient cars and buggies. Burma Shave ads. Pizza, sweet pizza.

Musical instruments! Playing by themselves! Disembodied orchestras line the walls and halls, uncanny tableaux that defy easy description and leave my mouth hanging open; discordant percussion pokes formerly quiescent sections of my brain as if with thumbtacks.

A narrow tunnel turns and opens into a cavern of whirling lights and brash music. It is the largest carousel in the world, here in rural Wisconsin. Hundreds of assorted creatures whiz by in nightmarish rotation. Some are huge versions of normally insignificant animals, a dog the size of a hippopotamus; some have never before been seen on this world and, it is my hope, will not be seen again. There are no horses on the ride itself, though hundreds of carousel horses line the walls, their mouths gaping in frozen screams. They are held captive-we are all held captive-by vintage female mannequins outfitted as winged angels, which twirl in celestial foreboding.

The next room is simply indescribable. I would not even venture to try.

After that, another carousel, a carousel of antique dolls, which circle and scrutinize with eyes larger than their puckered mouths, an eerily adorable Argus on which I cannot bring myself to turn my back. Then further down to the greatest spectacle on earth, a miniature circus that stretches for what seems like acres; dozens, hundreds of tents populated by disproportionate clowns, roustabouts, and marks. Above our heads, as we wind our way around, two mechanical symphonies battle with strident timbre, a melody that sees us through to a much larger doll carousel (possibly some unseen extension of the first) and a final pass by the world’s largest merry-go-round.

Then, at last, the gift shop, where, stunned into submission, I buy a postcard, a magnet, and a mood ring, which shifts through an astounding palette of colors before settling upon a pulsating dark blue.

Outside, back in the nice, normal world, we attempt to analyze and classify, but I am still thunderstruck by the assault on my senses and sensibilities. It is not that the place is terrifying or completely ghoulish; in fact, each individual item has its own charm or beauty or fascination, and if I could buy and occupy the house, I would do it in a heartbeat. It is the overpowering excess that haunts me, the compounding of indulgence, and the curious idea that I have just trekked two and a half miles through another person’s subconscious mind. What, I wonder, would my own psyche look like to passers-through? It is a question with a special relevance as I contemplate my life and the world and the tenuous connection between the two. I have recently had the occasion to delve into the complex multiverse of my own emotions and motivations, as well as to get a bird’s-eye view of what that particular system looks like from the outside. Final conclusions have not yet been drawn, but is my hope that visitors would find my particular House on the Rock populated with at least as many delights as oddities. It should be nice . . . but not too nice.


We are back in Milwaukee,

We are back in Milwaukee, staying with Barbara and Paul for the rest of the week.

Today, after a stunning episode of “All My Children” (in which the amnesiac Maria, returning after five years under the alias Maureen, is convinced by the evil David – on the night before her husband, thinking her dead, marries Brooke – that she murdered herself in cold blood and that she has a long-lost daughter with whom she will be reunited in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico), Rindy, Rob, and I patronized a massive used-book store, where I stumbled across a treasure from my youth: the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series of books. The Three Investigators are teenagers from Rocky Beach, California, who are also, as their name suggests, master detectives. Their leader is Jupiter Jones, a “stocky” young genius who lives with his Uncle Titus and Aunt Matilda at their salvage yard. The second investigator, often referred to as “Second,” is Pete Crenshaw, who is tall and muscular. (A description that single-handedly ignited my short-lived childhood crush.) Bob Andrews, called “Records,” was in charge of records and research because he wore a brace on his leg and worked at the library. Poor gimpy Records was often left behind as his more able-bodied companions tracked criminals who invested in elaborate hoaxes and horrific disguises rather than simply breaking in to steal what they wanted at gunpoint. (Presumably, the Three Investigators shared their rogues’ gallery with those pesky kids from “Scooby Doo.”)

Each case was introduced by Alfred Hitchcock until his death, at which time the entire series of books was reissued with forewords by mystery writer Hector Sebastian, an entity who may have been completely fabricated but in any case did not get his name on the cover.

As a child, I scrimped and saved to purchase individual volumes. As an adult, overcome with nostalgia, I breezed up to the counter with the entire series and paid cash.

Over a late lunch, our literary purchases stacked around us, we decided to form our own detective agency modeled after this fictional trio. Rob, the brains of the operation, is Jupiter. Rindy, who works in an archive and twisted her ankle the other day, is the obvious Bob. The fantasy begins to disintegrate when we consider that the only remaining role is tall and muscular Pete, a position I could not fill without straining the seams of reality in a way that even the transsexual Records does not. I comfort myself with the notion that I am probably taller and more muscular than the imaginary young teenager who is my predecessor.

Our first case will be that of Maria/Maureen, who on the flight to Puerta Vallerta, flashed back to a suppressed memory of surrendering her long-lost child to Brooke, also on the doomed flight whose crash, along with a starring role in a movie about Annette Funicello, led to Maria’s original disappearance. As much of this investigation will occur on the couch as we stare, entranced, at a television set, we have our work cut out for us.


Evidently, I jumped the gun

Evidently, I jumped the gun by my use of the words friendly and delightful.


First things first: There is

First things first: There is nothing especially holy about Toledo unless one counts the rollers who congregated in their strip-mall temple across the street from the tidy little Days Inn we smuggled Goblin into three nights ago; we left her in the room, in her crate, as we crossed over to the Friendly’s for dinner, during which we witnessed a woman in a wheelchair lecture her companions on the advisability of saying “copydog” instead of “copycat” and “oh, sister!” instead of “oh, brother!”

Goblin is not a copydog unless she imitated a creature with unspeakable manners when she vomited on Rob’s mother’s (Barbara’s) living room floor two minutes after we arrived at her home in Milwaukee. It cleaned up easily enough, an auspicious beginning to a fabulous night during which I discovered the family I had been kidnapped from as a baby. Over an organic, largely vegetarian meal, we discussed acupuncture, Macintosh computers, and just about everything else I am interested in. Later, I helped Rob’s mother’s boyfriend, Paul, a physician and natural healer, enter some of Rob’s symptoms into his diagnostic Powerbook to discover a homeopathic remedy for his draining eustachian tubes.

His ears did not drain as quickly as Rob’s father’s (Jack’s) boat did this morning as we all chipped in to winterize it and put it into storage for the season. From Milwaukee, Rob, Rindy, Goblin, and I drove to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Jack’s summer home on Lake Superior, where we will stay for a week. It is a beautiful place. Jack is a friendly guy, a mix of Cliff Claven and Jerry Stiller. Aside from dealing with the boat, we took Goblin for a walk around the harbor, where, with the enthusiasm of our illegal president transferring the “War on Terror” from the actual culprits to Afghanistan to Iraq, my dog shifted the “War on Squirrels” from squirrels to the Canada geese who were minding their own business on the shore. She chased them into the water, ran around in a few circles, and called it a day.


I fear for the future.

I fear for the future. I have become one of those people in airports who start conversations with strangers who are obviously uninterested in the exchange. I hate those people. I do not mind the occasional small talk, but if I am clearly trying to read or work on my computer, my policy is: do not bother me. Stay outside the bubble.

I was on my layover in Chicago, and my flight was cancelled, and I was flying standby for the next flight, and a woman asked me to watch her bag while she got coffee, which I did. And when she came back, I just began speaking to her. I suppose I was nervous about getting a seat on the plane because I have never flown standby before and there were a lot of cancelled flights (hence a lot of people trying to get on that plane). But that is no excuse. She was trying to read her USA Today and I just kept blabbing on and on. I wanted to hang myself by my laptop cord, but I could not stop because I was afraid she would then think I was rude for stopping in mid-conversation to read my own book, even though it was evident that neither of us wanted to continue. We both heaved sighs of secret relief as boarding began (I got a seat), and we bid each other farewell. Later, at Laguardia, we pretended not to see each other at the luggage claim. It was better that way.

So now I am home for less than ten hours. In the morning, I will retrieve my rental car and head off on my trip with Rob and Goblin. I may try to answer some email tonight, as quite a few have piled up in my absence, but do not feel slighted if you have sent me something and have yet to hear back.

On our trip, Rob and I will rendezvous with his sister Rindy in Milwaukee. He spoke to her yesterday, and she said she has been tracking our progress through this very blog. For some reason, I am reminded of the short story by Stephen King, in which a writer buys a painting of a demon at a yard sale. The demon is driving a hot rod. As the writer goes on with his life, he sees that the image in the painting is changing, that the scenery depicted is familiar, and (judging by the car’s changing surroundings) that the demon is getting closer and closer to where he is. In the last scene, the writer sees that the creature has parked its hot rod outside his house and is on its way up the stairs to devour him.

So, Rindy, imagine your brother, his boyfriend, and an enthusiastic (if not especially demonic) dog named Goblin getting closer and closer to where you are. You may monitor the journey of our hot rod (a.k.a. Volkswagen Golf) in this blog, and check back when you hear the pitter patter of little paws on the stairs.


Another on-location report. I am

Another on-location report.

I am in a rehearsal room in the music department of Cal State University, Fullerton. As I type this, Rob is practicing the music for his next play, a Christmas show calledThe Hopes and Fears of All the Years, a reading of which is being produced next week. In today’s rehearsal, he will teach the actors some of the songs so he can hear them sung by people other than himself. I have heard him sing it before, so of course I think it is brilliant. If I did not, I would have excused myself to sit in Starbucks for four hours. My sacrifice of several Vanilla Crème Frappuccinos for this experience should indicate the high regard in which I hold it.

It has been a delightful few days. Last night, I saw Vanishing Point for the seventh time, a performance made all the better by the attendance of my friend Bob, who lives in Los Angeles, attends beauty school, and has his own band called Shuga Whipped. It turns out that Rob dated Bob’s (female) cousin when they were both in their late teens in Tucson, Arizona, and she starred in the first musical that Rob wrote. Small world. After the show, we all retired to my rental car to listen to Shuga Whipped’s new CD, which is wonderful. I could dance to it all night long, should it be played in a smoke-free establishment. I love being around creative people.

Tomorrow is our first day free of the theater in a while (although it is rapidly filling up with social obligations), and we return to New York City on Tuesday on different flights. Wednesday, we are driving to Maryland, where Rob will meet my parents and we will spend time with my ex-boyfriend, Michael. We are then driving to Wisconsin and Michigan for two weeks, so please forgive any sporadic blogging. I am sure I will have a great deal to say, but my Internet access may be intermittent.


Sorry my blog entries have

Sorry my blog entries have been sparse for the past few days. I am on vacation.

Rob and I are staying in Homestead Suites, an anonymous but functional hotel in Irvine, California. We chose this establishment because each room has a kitchen (hence the “suite”) and a work counter. Each room does not, apparently, have shampoo, but luckily I stole some from the well-equipped Disney hotel we patronized two nights ago. Kleptomania has its rewards, most notably lots of stuff you would otherwise have to spend money on.

As I type this, Rob is sitting across the room in his underwear, writing music for his next play. I have been taking the past couple of hours to catch up on news of the world. Spending two days at Disneyland does much to insulate one from the headlines and Macintosh rumors. (Big rumor: new desktop systems within a couple of weeks!)

Last night, Rob’s play (a different production of Vanishing Point) opened here in the Los Angeles area. It was amazing. The best performance yet, and I have seen it five times. We earlier saw a terrible dress rehearsal that made my heart sink and my hair stand on end, but there was obviously nothing to worry about. We are going to see it two or three more times before we leave California on Tuesday. The director, the designer, and the actresses have all been extremely friendly and welcoming to me.

OK, I know this is reading like a chatty postcard, but I suppose it says something about me that I cannot make my good news seem interesting. In fact, these have been some of the best days I have ever had.

Just so you do not think I have been body snatched, I will relate the bizarre experience of my first night here. We stayed at the Motel 6 (chosen for its location more than anything else). The man who checked us in had the eyes of a lethargic serial killer. Rob and I named him “Uncle Creepy.” There was another woman behind the counter who had a sad prune face, and I secretly named her “Sad Prune Face,” but I did not share this appellation with Rob because we were too busy noticing the trucks labeled “Batesville Casket Company” that surrounded the building. The trucks bore the logo of evergreen trees surrounding a pond with a mountain in the distance. I found this inappropriate, but then again, I cannot imagine any viable alternatives. The room, which was the size of a Batesville Casket and smelled as if it had not been occupied by anything but mildew in twenty-five years, was ostensibly non-smoking, although it did contain an ashtray. An ashtray with a no-smoking sign affixed to it; there were also cigarette burns on the blankets. This establishment, as well, did not provide shampoo, and as I had not yet had the opportunity to pilfer essential supplies from The Mouse, I made do with the reluctantly bestowed bar soap, which made my hair brittle for the rest of the day.

For the record, the Disney hotel also provided bathrobes, hand cream, a fold-up crib, an ironing board, an iron, a mini bar, a tasteful Bambi shower curtain, a shoe mitt, and dozens of other amenities that I did NOT steal. I must confess, however, my grabby hand was only restrained in the case of the shoe mitt because I could not imagine a use for it.


This weekend, I have been

This weekend, I have been a social butterfly, fluttering to and fro, all over Manhattan, on iridescent wings. A majestic Monarch butterfly with orange and black spots. Yesterday, lunch with Margaret and Sam and Joe, later a movie (Jurassic Park III) at Joe’s apartment. Today, brunch with James and Doug; drinks with Alison, my brother Mike, and some of Mike’s miscellaneous entourage; and a late-night trip to Barnes & Noble and McDonald’s with Joe. I also spoke on the phone with my boyfriend, both of my major ex-boyfriends, my best friend Viki’s father (twice), and several answering machines.

While I enjoyed every moment, the moment that took the cake was 11:15pm in the McDonald’s on Broadway and 81st. Under the unflattering lighting, Joe and I ate chocolate-chip cookies and performed NET testing on each other.

I will explain this.

NET testing is something we learned from our common acupuncturist, Roberta Mittman. The premise is that the body responds physiologically to mental stress, actually becoming physically weaker in the presence of untrue statements. To put it very simply, one person sticks his arm straight out and declares something about himself, and if it is true, the other person will be unable to push his arm down. If it is a false statement, the arm will fall instantly under slight pressure. I do not know how else to explain it, but if you do it right, it works every time.

Tonight, Joe and I tested such statements as, “I want to kill those screaming children,” and “I am not OK with the way that man has shaved his chest hair.” We then collapsed, laughing harder than I have laughed in weeks. Just what I needed.

In other news, I think someone is tapping my phone line, and I suspect either the U.S. government or Alison, who looked radiant this evening over her gazpacho soup. Alas, if only it did not have cucumbers, I could have shared in its delights.


I would like to reopen

I would like to reopen the topic of Aquaman. I have never liked Aquaman, largely because I have never liked the water. Further, I always considered him the weakest link of the Superfriends. Even worse than Zan and Jayna’s pet monkey, Gleek. Consider: he can’t really go anywhere or do anything unless there is water there (which resulted in water being written into the unlikeliest of cartoon scenes). His telepathy is only aquatic telepathy. Using those little white circles that shoot out of his head, he can talk to fish and get them to do his bidding. Who wants to talk to a fish? Even though he is handsome, he probably smells like the seafood counter at Met Food. If you have walked past the seafood counter at Met Food, you know what I am talking about. I would suggest this puts a serious damper on his social life were it not for Aqualad.

Batman had Robin (in response to particular rumors, he also got Batgirl); Aquaman had Aqualad. Same concept: a young tagalong in tight pants. Aquaman’s nickname for his youthful companion is “Tadpole,” which seems overly familiar even to my jaded ears. Naturally, on children’s television, they could not go without supervision, so enter Tuskey the walrus, their faithful chaperone. Tuskey the walrus means well, but you cannot turn your back on him for a moment. He has a good heart but an empty head, a portrayal that calls to mind the colored servants in the old Bobbsey Twins books I read as a child. Oh, that Tuskey, look at the trouble he’s gotten into this time. Better rescue him, Aquaman! Lawsey me, Aqualad, put some pants on!

In other news, I remembered my PIN number today. Actually, I did not remember it so much as stumble across it. I wrote it down, but it does not seem familiar to me at all, even though I have been using it for ten years. Is it possible to have amnesia just for numbers? I can think of things I would rather forget, including my entire life between seventh and tenth grades, my hairstyle in the late 1980s, and “Joanie Loves Chachi.”

I need a vacation.


It is four o’clock in

It is four o’clock in the morning, and I just got home from one of the worst travel experiences in my recent memory. My time in Rochester was lovely. I went to the airport three and a half hours early for my flight since my client’s flight was earlier than mine. I sat and read. My U.S. Airways flight to New York Laguardia, supposed to leave at 7pm, was delayed because of traffic and thunder storms. I sat and read. My flight was delayed further. I sat and read. My flight was delayed further. I sat and got into a conversation with a very nice woman who evoked Joe Pesci. My flight was cancelled, but I was transferred to another one that was supposed to arrive shortly. I sat and chatted with Ms. Pesci some more. My new flight was delayed. Ms. Pesci and I went out through security to the bar for a beer. New flight delayed more. Drank more beer. Delayed more. More beer. Delay. Beer. Delay Beer. Six beers. Ms. Pesci and I bonded.

At 10pm, the bar closed. A bunch of drunken straight people from an equally delayed jetBlue flight complained, but nothing could be done. An announcement came on that we all had to go back through security because it was closing.

We went back through security with our beers. I forgot some pocket change in the x-ray machine. Our flight was supposed to be leaving at 11:15. At 11:15 they announced it had not left the other airport yet, but that it would. I booked a flight on jetBlue to New York JFK and decided to leave on whatever came first. Ms. Pesci went home and invited me to use her guest room, but I really wanted to get back to New York City because Goblin was unattended.

My flight on U.S. Airways was canceled. jetBlue was delayed more, but they ordered pizza. I called Rob and fretted. He calmed me down. Another jetBlue flight, also going to New York JFK, started boarding. The rumor was there were extra seats, so I forced my way on board and got one. At 12:30am, it took off. I watched cartoons the whole flight. Batman, Superman, Aquaman, and other Superfriends cartoons. Robin and Aqualad have very similar voices. Ted Knight also did some voices, I noticed. I was very impressed with Aquaman because he swam to Africa from America in about five minutes, in time to save some simple natives from a swarm of killer bees. He also can swim as fast as Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. If I had an invisible jet, I would not have been in that situation. Note to self: look into this.

We landed at 1:35am at New York JFK. Here I have to backtrack a bit. On Thursday, I realized that I had forgotten my PIN number from the ATM card I have had for ten years. Just completely forgotten it. I also have forgotten two phone numbers I use every day. I cannot explain this further except to say that I had only $26 in my wallet (I had spent the rest on beers), and no means of getting any more money. No one would take a credit card. A gypsy cab driver asked me if I needed a cab, and I said yes, but I only had $26. He said that he would take me to Manhattan if I could share the ride. I said fine. I got in. A shady looking man, whose business it apparently was to direct people into gypsy cabs, came and jumped in the car because he had just almost been arrested. The car drove off with me in the back seat. The two men in the front seat talked at length about eluding the police. One turned around and gave me a story I was supposed to tell if we got pulled over, because he thought the police were following us. I could not understand a word he was saying, but apparently it was very important I tell this exact story. I asked him where we were going, and he said they were going to go back and look for another customer. I wanted to get out, but we were on the highway. We got stuck in traffic on the way back into the airport. I tried to get out of the cab, but the doors would not open. Anyway, my suitcase was in the trunk. We finally got through the traffic and the two guys exited without letting me out. I contemplated climbing into the front seat, but the driver came back. I told him I needed to get out right then because I was going to be sick. He wanted to ask me for money, but I implied I was going to vomit on him at that instant. It was not far from the truth. He let me go.

While in the cab, I remembered what I had thought was my PIN number. I went all the way back into the airport to try it, but I was wrong. When I came out, I did not know what to do. There were no buses running at that time of night. A regular cab cost $38 (including toll). Another gypsy cab driver came up to ask me if I needed a ride, and I started to cry. I told him I only had $26, and he was very understanding, but he could not help me. The line for regular cabs was several hundred people long. I started walking up and down the line asking if anyone was going to Manhattan and could share a cab. The only people to answer were two Russian woman who had just flown in from Moscow. They said they were going to Manhattan and I basically forced myself into a cab with them. They were bewildered. I was grateful. The cab took them quite a bit out of their way, but they bore it stoically. I only know how to say “yes,” “no,” “what,” “thank you,” and two crude sexual invitations in Russian. I think I said “thank you” when I got out of the car, but they did look rather shocked, so I might have had a slip of the tongue.

So I got home at about 3:55am. I walked Goblin, who may have pooped on the floor, but I do not have the strength to look. Sorry, I wish this were written in a funnier style, but it was not very funny at the time. There are no sheets on my bed, but I need to sleep.


Today is my parents’ anniversary.

Today is my parents’ anniversary. They have been married for 32 years. I would like to be with someone for that long, but I will not mention any names lest I prematurely terrify that particular someone.

I am in Rochester, New York on business. One would not think much business existed in Rochester, New York, but here I am. At the Airport Marriott. The Airport Marriott with a complimentary high-speed Internet connection in every room. A high-speed Internet connection that appears to be configured to reject all contact with superior products, such as my Mac laptop. I had a word with the person at the front desk about this, but I might as well have been speaking to a marsupial (a marsupial with bleach-blond hair).

Back to civilization tomorrow.