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I spent a cranky day

I spent a cranky day yesterday, my first on the South Beach diet. The South Beach diet, in case you were wondering, is an insidious program that forbids the consumption of my two favorite foods in the universe: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and orange juice. In two weeks, I can have chocolate soy milk again, but it just isn’t the same.

On the South Beach diet, I can eat as much low-fat string cheese as my little heart desires, but my normal breakfast of low-fat vanilla yogurt is strictly verboten. (Naturally, my little heart had to test the waters by eating an entire package of string cheese; my big stomach does not look any less big for it. I also ate ten stalks of celery, just because.) So instead of low-fat vanilla yogurt, I had bacon and eggs for breakfast. Excuse me, turkey bacon. The eggs were good, but turkey “bacon” is a crime against both humanity and turkeys.

I do not know how I am going to survive two weeks of this, but I must warn you against looking for any low-fat string cheese in your local market. It will be sold out for the duration.

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As if my first life

As if my first life were not problematic enough, I have taken on another. No, I have not embarked on a crusade of salvation as delineated by my personality type. I have joined an online community called Second Life. Second Life is a virtual reality that allows you to look any way you like and create anything you want out of thin air, just like a cartoon character pulling a stick of dynamite from behind its back. Your avatar interacts with the avatars of other people, and the whole thing is like being in a three-dimensional chat room.

The only point to the experience seems to be running around and showing off your adeptness at creating unique objects. As I am not adept at creating unique objects, no one seems to want to talk to me.
Just what I need as I turn twenty-four: to relive my high school years.

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And we’re back. I did

And we’re back.

I did not expect to be incommunicado for so long. I was visiting my family for the holidays, a hectic trip that featured weddings, infants, and presents galore.

My parents live in a vast, dog-infested fortress, where a new wing is under construction and the FOX News channel blasts its propaganda and misinformation into every room. The combination of these elements made sleep close to impossible and my nerves twang with tension, but it was a good trip. My mother made lots of delicious food (of which she continually implied I was not eating enough, even though I am currently bigger than an igloo), and lovely presents were distributed all around. From my parents, I received a guitar for my birthday, and for Christmas, a lovely set of enamel pots and a new Palm device. From Rob, I got the best gift of all: a song he wrote just for me. In middle of a room with my parents, grandfather, brothers, sisters-in-law, and nephews, I burst into tears when I unwrapped the CD and saw what it was. It did not seem as if anyone noticed this display of emotion, but then again, with the frantic gift-opening, there was wrapping paper flying everywhere, as if Santa’s sleigh had been sucked into a helicopter rotor (watch it live on FOX News!).

With all of that, the drive back, and today’s marathon closet purge (I had to fit the new gifts into my apartment somehow!), I am plumb tuckered out. I have not yet responded to the many well-wishers in my comment box, nor mailed a single holiday card, nor returned any phone call I have received in the past week, nor done an ounce of the work that is due by year’s end . . . but for the rest of today, I am just going to relax.

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Today is my birthday. I

Today is my birthday. I am in Maryland. Mercury is in retrograde. I got a guitar. I was tailed by the cops. I was denied another driver’s license. There’s broccoli for dinner. Mmmmmm, vanilla crème.

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Dogs have it good. In

Dogs have it good. In the dog world, if you want to claim territory, all you have to do is pee on it. Then it is yours. Until the next dog pees on it. Then, if you want it back, you have to pee on it again. It is all very democratic: being the first to grab something does not mean you get to keep it forever, and one good rain resets the whole system.

When it comes to people, fewer New Yorkers than you might think run around peeing on things, but we have all claimed territory. We each have places that we go that we consider our own. They may be isolated or they may be overrun with people, but when we are there, it is our place alone. Cleopatra’s Needle is mine, but it is cold this time of year. I am considering annexing the Metropolitan Museum of Art as my winter palace.

On Wednesday, I will be celebrating my twenty-fifth birthday. But tonight is my birthday dinner. I never have birthday dinners. No one is ever in town for my birthday, or they all have plans with their families. Even my Jewish friends manage to occupy themselves on Christmas Eve in mysterious ways that do not include commemorating my birth. But due to some strange configuration of the stars, a number of people were free to go out with me tonight.

I hope no one pees on the table.

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In the past three days,

In the past three days, I have been to two very different sorts of gatherings. Thursday night, I went to a wake for my ex-boyfriend’s father. Friday night, I went to the office Christmas party of one of my best New York friends.

At the wake, the chief topic of conversation was the funeral home organist, who nearly blasted us out of our seats with the ferocity of his playing, and who apparently lost his place midway through “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

At the Christmas party, I spoke at length with an actress named Hazel, who appears occasionally on a soap opera. I told her that if she could get me a job as a writer, I would make her character pivotal to all action, an evil schemer who has the town wrapped around her finger. She laughed and said I was her new best friend.

There is no real way to link these (other than noting that I wore the same pants to both occasions); I just think it is funny the way people come together, and the things they say.

My new nephew was born today, by the way. I am not going to share his vital statistics, as if he is for sale on the butcher’s slab, but he is pretty adorable. This of course means that my older nephew will suffer the horrors of no longer being the family’s center of attention. Welcome to the club, kid. In thirty years, this will be the sort of thing that comes up in psychotherapy with exasperating regularity.

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On Wednesday, I got up

On Wednesday, I got up early. As I dragged myself out of bed, put on the coffee for Rob, shaved, and jumped into the shower, I thought of all the poor saps across the city and across the country doing the exact same thing. Except they were all going to work, and I was going to the movies.

Yes, oh yes: The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King opened that morning, and I was all over it. Rob was all over it, too. Crash was all over it, too. Faustus was originally scheduled to be all over it, as well, but there was a change of plans.

The movie was exciting and enjoyable but nowhere near as good a film as the first two in the trilogy. Nevertheless, it was inspiring to watch the efforts of Frodo and the gang against the dark lord Sauron because after we got out, I had to dash downtown to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get my Maryland driver’s license converted to a New York driver’s license before it expires in a few days. Crash came with me because he needed to renew his own license.

Crash got his, and I did not.

What I got was a stack of forms and an admonishment to go home and not return until I could provide my passport and my original social security card. Now, I know I have these things in theory, but they might as well be in the middle of the dark land of Mordor for all my ability to put my hands on them anytime soon. Why must the New York Department of Motor Vehicles be so obstructionist? Frustrated, I actually threw the stack of forms in the poor bureaucrat’s face and went stomping out of the office. Crash, a talented diplomat, stayed a few extra moments to get more information about the requirements. He emerged with a sheepish grin and the stack of papers I had so recently discarded.

And then the King returned for real. The Burger King, that is. Mmmmm, hamburgers.

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Because they are anal-retentive chefs,

Because they are anal-retentive chefs, my boyfriend, Rob, and his sister, Rindy, decided that they would cook Thanksgiving dinner this year by themselves. This left me, Goblin, Faustus, and Faustus’s dog, A., with nothing to do. Which is a shame, because Goblin really wanted to cook her specialty, cream of poop. Mmmmmm, steamy.

Anyway, we decided to put on a play in the basement.

Following is the script and some photos from the special event, which will be simultaneously posted on Faustus’s web log. If you read both of our web logs, you cannot escape them. They are omnipresent. Submit.

By the way, this is copyrighted material, so do not steal it and put your name on it. Not to point any fingers, but you know who you are, David Mamet. I have my eye on you.

Without any further ado . . .

A Thanksgiving Play in Three Scenes

starring A. and Goblin

Scene 1

A.: Hello. I’m an indigenous person.

GOBLIN: And I’m a pilgrim.

A.: Let’s have Thanksgiving.

GOBLIN: Okay.

A.: Great. Here’s some maize.

GOBLIN: Thanks. Here’s some firewater and some smallpox-infested blankets*.

A.: Thanks.

(SHE begins to die, loudly.)

Argh! I’m dying from the smallpox-infested blankets! Argh!

(SHE dies.)

 

Scene 2

A.: Hello. I’m an indigenous person.

GOBLIN: And I’m a fat, greedy, rich American capitalist.

A.: You killed my people with your smallpox-infested blankets and then took all our land and then forced us all to run casinos. We want our land back!

GOBLIN: No. And now I’m going to win lots of money in your casino.

A.: Argh!

 

Scene 3

A.: Hello. I’m an indigenous person.

GOBLIN: And I’m still a fat, greedy, rich American capitalist.

A.: With all the money I made from the casinos you forced me to run, I’ve become a billionaire and taken over the world and also developed superpowers!

GOBLIN: No!

A.: Now I’m going to kill you!

GOBLIN: Argh!

(SHE dies.)

A.: I win!

GOBLIN: And I’m a ghost!

THE END

*This line was actually “I bring you firewater and smallpox-infested blankets,” but Faustus is the one who created the transcript and so its official appearance is erroneous.

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I get letters, oh yes

I get letters, oh yes I do:

I wasnt sure if you were going to blog about this, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on Saddam’s capture.

David responds:
My thoughts are that Saddam Hussein was captured on a day that was quite inconvenient for me, given that I had a wedding to report on, holiday gifts to purchase, and many important work deadlines. Where were you, Saddam Hussein, when I was grasping at straws for things to write about? I know, I know, you were down in your spider hole—what on earth is a spider hole?—letting your beard grow out in your best impersonation of the Wacky Homeless Man I often catch peeing near the playground in Central Park. By the way, Wacky Homeless Man, if you are reading this, what’s up with that? There is a public bathroom just down the path, and it has running water and everything. All are welcome.

Seriously, my thoughts are myriad and contradictory. On the one hand, I feel joy. I have an unquenchable passion for justice in the world, and those exceedingly rare times when someone who has brought so much pain and misery upon a group of people can be made to answer for his or her actions are what give me hope for our collective future.

But the tragic truth is that Saddam Hussein did not act alone. He may not have had any weapons of mass destruction this year, but at the time he did, he obtained them from the United States and its allies, and he used them with our blessing and assistance. Meanwhile, lying hypocrites such as Donald Rumsfeld, who were deeply involved in helping Hussein consolidate his power and strengthen his arsenal, have only prospered from their crimes against humanity.

As for the practical results of his capture and potential trial, I am happy that many Iraqi people will be able to rest easier knowing that he will not return to power. This will give them a sense of closure and, I hope, awaken them to the potential for peace in their land. But sadly, I do not believe that Hussein had much of a connection to the current chaos of insurgency, which has continued unabated since his arrest. Even our National Embarrassment was cautious about the prospects for immediate tranquility. The general impression seems to be that most of the violence stems from those who would like to replace Hussein, not those who were trying to aid him.

We shall see.

There seems to be a meme brewing in the media that the capture of Saddam Hussein will help our National Embarrassment win the election in 2004. This is a possibility, if only because most Americans are idiots with the attention span of rabid squirrels. This misguided and illegal war was begun ostensibly because Saddam Hussein’s secret weapons of mass destruction were an imminent threat to the interests of the United States. As it became obvious that this was a complete fabrication, the stated causes shifted by the day. Of course, the goal was to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but that was accomplished early on. Suddenly finding him buried in a backyard, while an interesting development, should not be trumpeted as a triumph tantamount to winning the war. Indeed, the war was won months ago by corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel, who are profiting beyond all comprehension thanks to their no-bid contracts and their increased influence over the executive and legislative branches of our government. The runners up are the think tank, Project for the New American Century, and the highly placed administration officials who concocted the cockamamie invasion plan years before it was implemented for their own nefarious reasons.

The rest of us-from the American citizens who will have to pay for this nightmare in increased taxes and lost benefits (these are not the same as those who are making money hand over fist from it); to the unfortunate soldiers who are enduring danger and misery in the desert as they fight for a lie; to every Iraqi citizen who has endured unimaginable hardship before and since we took over their country; to Saddam Hussein himself, whose first mistake was to believe that the American criminals who supported the horrors of his regime would continue to do so beyond the point at which they personally profited from it-are the losers.

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Ah, weddings. What can I

Ah, weddings. What can I say? Regular readers here know of my general antipathy toward marriage ceremonies, but since I have had a year to bend my sister-in-law’s will in line with my own, I was rather happy with how this one progressed. Much to my surprise and delight, I did not burst into flames upon entering the church, and the service was mercifully brief. The bridal party rode in the limousine to the site of the reception, and when I say “limousine,” I mean “twenty-foot stretch Humvee” (given the general classiness of the event, it was easy to recognize the areas in which my brother contributed his two cents).

The photo sessions were manageable, although some will no doubt find it remarkable when I fail to show up on film. My only quibble is that we were once again introduced by microphone as if we were peculiarly formal contestants on a game show, but since I managed to down a couple of glasses of wine between photographs, I was feeling magnanimous and did not comment. (If you are getting married and cannot be persuaded to elope, at least do us all a favor and opt for a receiving line.)

You will not find it surprising that I and Rob both looked fabulous. I was proud to dance with him at the reception, even given his nineteen-eighties style maneuvering. At one point, my brother Timothy cut in on us and danced with Rob. He eventually danced with me, as well, and everyone but the kitchen sink. He was a dancing fool, that one. Long the family scalawag, Tim has grown up nicely. The mantle of Rascal has been claimed by a young male relative of my new sister-in-law, who sent several bridesmaids flying as he grabbed the bridal bouquet out of the air.

The cake was delicious.

I still hate weddings, but this one was nice.

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My brother’s wedding is tomorrow,

My brother’s wedding is tomorrow, and life has dissolved into a horror of logistics. Who is going where, when, and driving whom? Who is arriving at what time? Who is sleeping where? Where is this? When is that?

My only concern is: How am I going to get through this?

I tend to think that asking gay people to participate in weddings is like asking an overweight dieter to hold a chocolate cake while you eat it out of his hands. But this is not my chief concern. My chief concern is that my family is insane and that my hardy fortitude has not been sufficient to ward off the same fate.

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I am writing this on

I am writing this on an Amtrak Unreserved Coach train plodding toward Washington, D.C. This is all very well and good, except I started out on a somewhat zippier Acela Express in Business Class. Due to unspecified mechanical difficulties, this stopped for an hour in the wilds of New Jersey and then was put out of service in Philadelphia. I will arrive at my destination almost three hours late.

Atypically, I am not concerned.

Yesterday, I figured out why I have been lately making little progress on my personal goals (read: no progress). Due to an exhaustive regimen of acupuncture, psychotherapy, energy massage, kundalini yoga, and meditation-and the judicious addition of a certain medication and a special magical talisman that I will write about at a later date-the crushing anxiety that governed my life for years is subsiding. Since this was my primary motivation for accomplishing anything, I am left oddly aimless, my gym routine and novel languishing in an uncertain limbo. Even my germophobia seems to be fading: not only do I no longer clean my kitchen, in a thoroughly unprecedented turn of events, I recently swallowed a vitamin that fell on the dirty linoleum floor and rolled behind the recycling bin.

So here I sit on the Amtrak. A pudgy businessman has been braying into his mobile phone for an hour. Chunks of ice are jumping off the tracks and slamming into the bottom of the train, making me feel as if I am navigating an asteroid field in the Millennium Falcon. As usual, I hate everyone in the vicinity. But it is a cranky and abstract-almost perfunctory-hatred, and not the murderous rage I usually feel.

What is happening to me?

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Yes, yes, yes. It was

Yes, yes, yes. It was “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” by Lewis Carroll. Easy, but much beloved. If you want difficult, I can assign trigonometry problems for extra credit.

The secret surprise was an exclusive viewing of the following autographed photo, a full day before its blog premiere. All you Johnny-come-latelies can eat your hearts out.

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No time to come up

No time to come up with something original today. Here’s a stanza from my favorite poem. Whomever can identify it will win a special surprise.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat-
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

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I never lie, but that

I never lie, but that does not mean that I am honest. Truth is as much about what is not said as what is. You could read all of this and think that you know me, but you do not know me.

On the other hand, today I witnessed a lie that was the most honest thing I have ever encountered. It was called Caroline, or Change: a play, or a musical, or an opera, whatever it might be.

It has been open for days; its performers have been in other shows; its authors have scripted other works; I was near the back row, with dozens of heads between me and the stage. And yet, I had the feeling that it was created from nothing-from everything-just for me, that everyone else vanished when the lights went down and the washing machine began to sing the truth.

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Yesterday, I found out my

Yesterday, I found out my credit card number was stolen and that someone in Moscow has been using it for cash advances. I suspect Boris Yeltsin is up to his old tricks, but this is not so tragic as it might seem, since I am being issued a new account and will not be held responsible for the loss.

This ties in so perfectly with my commentary on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” that I could just die.

“Queer Eye” is a television program in which four magical gay men, as well as Jai Rodriguez, burst into the life of a clueless straight man and unleash his true potential. Presumably, said potential would remain forever untapped should the Fab Four + Jai not spend many hours and many, many thousands of dollars whipping their victim and his home into shape.

The process is both engrossing and infuriating.

To start with the positive, the show is funny and entertaining, and it is based upon a premise that we knew all along: gay people are simply better than straight people in every way that matters. Thus is the “phobia” in “homophobia” explicable. They are afraid that if we are no longer oppressed second-class citizens, the sheer weight of our fabulousness will lead inevitably to world domination. All hail Emperor Carson the First!

But here is where things fall apart. Given our relative perfection, why are we wasting our time and skills and money on straight people? Would those resources not be better spent advancing our own cause? Television these days abounds in programming in which homosexuals or wannabe-homosexuals descend upon Breeder America (and occasionally Breeder Britain) bearing gifts: new fashion, new décor, new ideas for being fabulous. It is true this makes for good viewing, but at what cost to us? My apartment could use a new paint job and new window treatments, and something must be done about the stereo wires, but I don’t see any straight people lining up at the door to lend a hand. Hell, there are two burnt-out light bulbs I can’t get changed for love or money. Straight Guys, where are you when we need you?

Oh, that’s right. You are in your newly gorgeous homes, lounging around on the luxurious furniture Thom bought you, trying on the flattering new clothes lovingly chosen by Carson, applying hair product in the manner prescribed by Kyan, or eating the food whipped up by Ted. Well, get off your asses, because it is payback time! Home repair for starters, then how about taking a few minutes to write to your congressperson or the sanctimonious chimpanzee that calls itself “President” about our country’s deplorable state of gay rights? You have benefited from our resources for too long . . . is it not about time you returned the favor?

Oh, no . . . it’s bad enough you appropriate our time, energy, ideas, and money to transform your clueless lives, but now you have gone and stolen my credit card number and taken it to Moscow. I know it was you, Straight Guy. Don’t deny it. There are some things that gay people do not do. We do not wear hideous flannel shirts from the 1980s (except my boyfriend, god love him), and we do not steal each other’s credit card numbers and coax cash advances out of Communist ATMs.

I demand reparations.

P.S. If there are any Jai fans out there, I don’t want to hear from you because I will never, ever change my mind about him. Not only is he the spitting image of a terrible person I dated twice (who tried to ruin my life), he also doesn’t actually do anything on the show.

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After returning my rental car

After returning my rental car on Monday night (it was actually a rental SUV, a fact that makes me feel both rugged and dirty at the same time), I stopped off at the grocery store to buy some chocolate soy milk. I had gone a week without chocolate soy milk, and a week without chocolate soy milk is not a week worth living, in this man’s opinion. I also decided to pick up some organic vanilla yogurt; I wanted a big tub, but all they had were those little cups, which are not very filling, in this man’s opinion.

This man has a lot of opinions today.

Anyway, as I was paying for this, I became aware of an argument going on between a woman shopper and the store’s manager. At first, I thought this must be about some mislabeled or spoiled food. What else is there to argue about in the grocery store? As it turns out, there was indeed something else.

The woman had noticed that one of the store’s employees, a young Hispanic man, had cut his hand so severely that blood was actually pooling on the floor. As I watched, the employee attempted to address this problem by wrapping the wound in a paper towel and putting his entire hand in a plastic glove. The woman firmly, politely, and loudly insisted that the manager make sure that his employee was treated at an emergency room. The manager, on the other hand, insisted that the injury was not that bad and that his employee should keep working. The employee, smiling sheepishly, listened to this exchange as his glove filled with blood.

I’m not sure why this scene resonated with me so much at the time, but given a couple of days to think about it, it seems that it is a good illustration of the progressive vs. neoconservative political worldviews. To the woman who was shopping, the manager represented the evil corporate overlord, oppressing the well-being of his slave labor force. To the manager, the woman was a busybody, a loud-mouthed bitch out to make trouble in an arena that was beyond her concern.

It goes without saying that my sympathies fell with the hapless employee, injured in the line of duty. At this moment, I’m wishing I had become involved in this discussion. I tell myself now that, if I had actually seen the pool of blood on the floor (rather than merely heard the woman’s description), I would have. I do know that that anonymous woman was my hero of the week, and I will try to be more outspoken in pursuit of justice.

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Oh look, here’s some justice worth pursuing. I shall be outspoken about it:

The Human Rights Campaign is trying to generate 150,000 letters to Congress in the next two days opposing the proposed amendment to the constitution against same-sex civil unions. Click here to send an automatic (and free) letter to your representatives. Also, if despite my repeated haranguing, you have not yet signed the “Million for Marriage” online petition, please do so immediately by clicking here.