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Faces Came Out of the Rain

I have been feeling particularly trans-rational lately, although I could not put my finger on that exact terminology before the cover story at Salon. Then I put my finger all over it, and it felt good. Speaking of feeling good, I have been using a new moisturizer, which leaves my face a gooey mess but soft and smooth and radiant underneath.

At the therapist today, we discussed how my medication has left all of my less productive compulsions and phobias intact but thankfully robbed me of all of those pesky impulses to go to the gym or floss my teeth or watch what I eat. This stuff is like America in a bottle. No solutions were reached, but I did spill scalding tea all over my hands, which I interpreted as a sign from the trans-rational universe not to get too cocky over my radiant new skin. I have so much to learn.

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Um, I Might Be Going a Little Crazy

First, an update on yesterday’s socks and underpants mystery. Only able to find those I was wearing, I decided to do the rest of my laundry to at least clear the floor some. And guess what came out of the dryer when I was done: all of my socks and underpants! I don’t know how they got in there because they certainly were not there when I started. All I can imagine is that they were trapped in some other dimension, the dimension between lost and found, clean and dirty, fact and fiction.

Second, I wrote an entire entry a few days ago that I posted, I swear I posted, and yet it wasn’t there when I just looked, published or unpublished. I’m reposting it below. Has anyone seen this before? I think my brain may have run away with the spoon.

THE LOST ENTRY:

Content Challenge is over, and I won. OK, nobody “won,” because it was one of those things you were supposed to do just to feel good about yourself and also avoid eternal scorn. However, like Cleopatra after Actium, I shall sail into Alexandria wearing the colors of victory before hunkering down in the palace against the advancing legions of Octavian.

I mean, um. Well, who knows.

On Bearthday, Rob and I and two other friends went to see a play on Broadway. It was called Top Girls, and I had never heard of it, but it was quite breathtaking. Marisa Tomei, the Meryl Streep of our generation, was one of the stars, along with Martha Plimpton and some other peple. This is a play about how there is nothing new under the sun and how if anyone takes away your baby you should just suck it up. The first act was very static but static in a way that is like your laundry crackling with electricity just before you touch it: little movement but much going on just under the surface. Things sort of go a little haywire after that, as the play moves into the literal from the figurative, but not haywire in a bad way, just in that there’s a lot to keep track of, including how the themes of the first act overlay the action of the next two. Breathtaking.

In other news, while I was waiting for the crosstown bus on 86th Street, a guy dressed all in black with longish red hair began staring at me in an exaggerated fashion. His eyes first hovered at my face then darted down toward my waistline with something like alarm, then back up. He circled me several times making that whatever direction I happened to be looking in, he was in my line of sight. At first I cursed the stars because I was certain I had either been singled out by a vindictive mime or had done something hideously embarrassing such as forget to put on pants, but then I realized that I was dealing with autistic person trying to convey that he did not care for people to keep their hands in their pockets. When I removed them he was so visibly relieved that I almost felt sorry for him when I jammed them back in as far as they would go just as the bus pulled up. I gave him the stink eye as I got on the bus to disabuse him of any idea that he was going to sit next to me, but I think he was so stricken by my volley in our sartorial warfare that he moved as far away from me as he could.

And that, folks, is how you handle people.

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State of Affairs

This just in: I cannot find any of my socks or underpants, dirty or clean. Well, they'd mostly be dirty because I remember using all of the clean ones. I'm not one of those people who squirrels away his dirty socks and underpants in filing cabinets or under the eaves or what have you. I mean, I take them off and drop them on the floor just like everyone else. Then, eventually, I wash them and drop them on the floor. Except today when I went to wash them, they were all gone. This might be more explicable if I had been in a locker room lately, but I've been home alone: husbandless, Goblinless, and now underpantsless.

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Finale

Today is the last day of Content Challenge. Sadly, I’m too tired to type up my story, so it will come tomorrow. You are really very lucky people.

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Bearthday

Happy Earth Day! And Happy Birthday to Rob!

Goblin and I celebrated by taking a leisurely stroll down E. 88th Street to Carl Schurz park. Squirrels were chased, although even Goblin knew she had no hope of approaching them wearing her full-body leg brace.

On the way home, we were approached by two old women wearing official PETA badges. They eyed the Borg harness suspiciously. “Get me out of this thing!” Goblin pleaded. “It’s not ethical!” I explained that my dog had had a leg operation and needed to be in that contraption until it fully healed. While I was talking to one of them, Goblin bit the other one.

“Why did she bite me!?!” the woman said in the incredulous tones of DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM!

“I don’t know,” I said, wondering if we were going to get reported to AETP. “Maybe she doesn’t like you.”

“Hmph. How old is she? She looks old.”

“She’ll be eight this year.”

“Hmph. That’s not old,” she pronounced, and both of the PETA ladies walked away.

New York makes Content Challenge easy.

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Clearance

Wow, only three more days of Content Challenge. Where did the time go? Where did the Challengers go? These are philosophical questions best left to the ages.

Having just survived a whirlwind of a day, I am now about to leave for New York. Rob’s birthday is tomorrow, and he wants to celebrate by going to see some sort of show or another. He’s mentioned the name three times but it does not stick in my mind. There are so many shows in the world. I’m going to try to pack lightly; my strategy is to arrive on the train looking like a homeless person and then visit the Banana Republic clearance rack in the store by our apartment to find something nice enough to wear to a night on the town. They always have the best things there; it much triumphs over the Banana Republic clearance rack near my Baltimore house, which is geared toward a colorblind Lollipop Guild.

I am looking forward to the train trip, because that is time of pure relaxation and reading. Right now, I’m working my way though an autobiography by Agatha Christie, which is quite fascinating even though most of it boils down to “back in my day, things were different, and the world now sucks!” This was written, like, fifty years ago, so one can imagine how much more the world sucks today. Her bones must be rolling over in their grave. It must be odd to be old and see that the world you were raised in is now completely extinct. That is something that will not ever happen to me thanks to Photoshop and my ongoing misinterpretation of my birth certificate, but now the rest of you know what you have to look forward to.

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Sunday Not in the Park and Not with George

I think I might not leave the house today… for once not because of being too tired (although I sorta am) or because I have too much work to do (I sorta do), but just because it’s an occasional treat not to have to get cleaned up and face the world. Looking and probably smelling like a baboon, I have already faced Rob and Goblin, so now I can just go back to futzing with my website and that will be that.

The big news of the week is that Goblin went back to the orthopedic vet, who wants to postpone her upcoming surgery to see if her leg heals on its own, as it already seems to be doing. While this sounds appealing, I’m skeptical: instead of a ligament or a steel plate, it will only be scar tissue holding her knee together, and that seems to be leaving it open to all sorts of problems down the road. But right now, she’s happy and (most of the time) using all of her legs, and the last thing I want to do is tell her that she will have to convalesce all summer when there are trees to be patrolled and flowers to be watered.

In other news, Rob wrote an alternative rock song for a potential new show. It’s really good. As this came out of someone who hates listening to my iPod playlists when we’re driving, you could knock me over with a feather. Hearing Mr. Showtunes discuss Green Day and Foo Fighters while he and his collaborator plan their approach has been amusing. I hope everything works out because I can’t wait to hear his tribute to Marilyn Manson.

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Two, Four, Six, Eight, Guess Who Makes Me Nauseate(d)

I wish I had something profound to say, but I just woke up from a mind-scrambling nap. That it is nine-twenty p.m. bodes ill for my somnia this night. I think what would put me right out is listening to myself go on and on about my continuing lack of sleep, but unfortunately no one has secretly recorded me doing so, unlike Senator Asshole Who Wants to Rule the World was recently secretly recorded saying she hates the activist base of her own political party. This would be the same activist base that created an organization—MoveOn—in the 1990s with the goal of getting Congress to move on to more important matters than her husband’s sex scandal, so one would think that she sort of owes it to them to not blatantly lie about their record and current actions.

Oh yay, there we go, I can talk about politics. Not profound or even original, but it fills the column inches. Content Challenge expects nothing less.

Here’s what’s funny: although I often found myself in the odd position of defending him and justifying his actions even to myself, I didn’t like Bill Clinton. Indeed, while he always seemed like a nice guy, I rather loathed him on a political level (although compared to the horror that is GWB, he might as well be Gandhi). But I always liked Hillary in sort of a tough sister sort of way. Even when she was transformed by ambition into a born-again center-right warhawk, and I claimed to start hating her, I could appreciate her positioning and triangulation as the only way a woman, and particularly this woman, could hope to be taken seriously as presidential material. So I still sorta liked the Inner Hillary, and even though I supported Dodd and Edwards in the early primaries, I thought she would probably make a good president and the world would not end if she were the nominee. In any case, I liked Obama even less, and when Dodd and Edwards both dropped out, I was genuinely conflicted in my ideological priorities.

And then Clinton ran a campaign that, over a few weeks’ time, managed the astonishing feat of transforming me into an Obama lover—at least, he is now the candidate I reflexively defend and justify, and Clinton is the candidate who makes me want to vomit up the spirulina protein smoothie I make for breakfast every day.

I am not one of those people who think that Clinton should drop out of the race before the primaries are over. While it’s clear she can’t win the number of votes she requires popularly, I am a democrat at heart and will even support the candidacy of Ralph Nader against popular attack. If someone thinks they can and should be president, he or she should be free to compete in the race to the extent that it is possible given its inherent structure. If the primaries are going to go on this long (a ridiculously stupid system, but it’s the system we have—at least until the Revolution), then a candidate has the right to compete in all of them.

I do think that if a member of a political party is going to stay in the race to the bitter end, however, he or she owes it to other members of his or her political party not to divide and/or destroy said party while thrashing through his or her death spiral. Some examples of this might be not to use the other party’s talking points against your loyal opponent, not to generate inaccurate or irrelevant new talking points that can be used by the other party against your loyal opponent, not to have your donors act like a crime bosses and threaten high-ranking members of your own party when they have the gall to voice their opinions, not to imply that your loyal opponent’s supporters (the very ones you will desperately need should a miracle happen and you become the nominee) are unpatriotic monsters, and other loathsome acts ripped from recent headlines. Lying is the expected default for presidential candidates, so while one might understandably be annoyed by exaggerated stories of coming under sniper fire, for example, at least that’s a misrepresentation of your own personal history. Misrepresenting someone else’s, in the wide-eyed, disingenuous tones of a professional concern troll, is more problematic. It’s like padding your own resume vs. sneaking into the H.R. office in the dead of night and smearing shit over those of your opponents until they are illegible.

Generating and prolonging false controversy about non-issues is also not the stuff of which finest hours are made. Then again, High-Road Hillary, who saw the light of day a few times earlier in the campaign, seems to have been a constructed personality anyway, discarded when inconvenient.

The conventional wisdom former about President Clinton is that he was the best Republican president we’ve ever had. If present trends advance only slightly, it seems as if Senator Clinton is going to be the worst Republican presidential candidate ever. Will I support her if she manages to assassinate Senator Obama? Certainly, because McCrypt-Keeper is an infinitely worse prospect, and I DO think that much of Hillary’s current nauseating behavior is based upon political calculation, and the old tough sister Hillary I used to admire is in there somewhere. But when she sweeps the corrupt, corporatist, Mafioso Democrats back into positions of power just because they passed some personal loyalty test, how is that any better than what George Bush did when he resurrected the criminals of Republican administrations past just because they pretended to like him? From my perspective, that only means we’ll be sold out by slightly more competent people.

I’m still not a big fan of BHO, and I don’t understand the mindless devotion he seems to generate in the wider electorate. While “empty suit” is an overused and inaccurate criticism, for the longest time, it really did seem as if there wasn’t a lot of “there” there. Maybe it’s only in contrast to his pterodactyl of an opponent that I am starting to see his appeal. I do know that while Hillary Clinton may not have lost this election yet, she has lost my respect forever.

As a reformed Naderite and a harsh critic of his disastrous campaign in 2000, there were years in which I never thought I’d say it, but where is Al Gore when you need him?

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Sho Nuff Do Be Cookin in My Book

Regarding my post of a few days ago, where I posted my Photoshopped masterpieces, I have come under some criticism in comments that all I did was add hair to three guys and proclaim them hunks. This is not quite the truth (I added hair to two of them, but that was only the least subtle of my efforts in those cases). Because I was racing the chupacabra in terms of getting my story out, there is much I didn’t say about the origin of my experiment.

When I began studying how artists created “cover girls” with features largely unheard of in our species, I was struck by a number of thoughts. The first was that the “female ideal,” according to the examples I studied, required a certain age, a certain texture to the skin, a certain ratio of eyes and neck to head size and shape. Jaws are often softened, lips widened, noses whittled down, etc. There are ways of accomplishing all of these things in Photoshop, some of which is documented in online tutorials and some of which I figured out on my own.

This also led me to wonder whether there was a “male ideal” that is equally propagated by media artists, or whether men were largely left alone except for the concealing of a few of less pleasant blemishes. In the photos I posted below, I actually applied the “female ideal” tutorials to George Bush. You will notice a smoothness of the skin, a reduction of the jaw, a reduction of the ears, an increase in the volume of hair, darkening of the hair, whiter teeth, brighter eyes, etc. The only things I didn’t do (which I should have except I was getting too creeped out by looking at this photo for as long as I did) were make the eyes larger and the neck longer.

Interestingly, I didn’t find a single tutorial for how to modify a male head and face to make it more visually acceptable in a stereotypical male way. Actually, the only thing I had to go by was something I read twenty years ago about drawing the male form for comic book artists. But I was more interested in the subtle differences of reality rather than the heroic form, so I began experimenting.

Guy #1 saw a decrease in wrinkles overall (see under eyes and cheeks and around neck), a lowering of the hairline, brighter blue eyes, and slightly whiter teeth. Guy #2 got the same treatment with the hair darkened in his beard (this last was not quite as realistic as I would have liked, but it definitely doesn’t call attention to the white). Also look at his shoulders, where the folds of skin have been removed. I went a slightly different direction with Guy #3, who was already “young enough.” Instead, look for a complete reworking of his skin, a hardening and widening of his jaw, and a widening of his mouth. And I also decided he needed green eyes. Nothing was done to his hair.

I can’t say what the point of this was; it certainly was not “the more hair the better.” I suppose I’m becoming more interested in the signs of aging since (I know you will gasp with horror) I have noticed one or two on myself. I suppose I wish they were as easy to address in real life as they are in Photoshop, but that goes back to that nasty question of who gets to decide what the “ideal” is. In the gay community, even at my ripe old age of 23, I am definitely considered well over the hill, and my endomorphic body type is not considered as desirable as certain other forms. I suppose I find what separates regular from idealized faces interesting because it’s been something I had been conditioned to worry about by the culture I chose to inhabit. Usually, it’s stuff that is so minor that the individual traits go unnoticed and only the overall effect is perceived. Guys #1 and #2 each look ten years younger just through the concealing of some minor features and the minor enhancement of others. Guy #3 goes from geek to chic merely by the very minor adjustment of his facial contours. The interesting thing is, despite what I did to them and the reasons I did it, I find the first two guys more naturally attractive in their “before” photos. I think I’m a good enough artist that one doesn’t necessarily look at the “afters” and think that there’s something not quite right; I didn’t make them into space aliens with long necks and big eyes. I just think I robbed them of what makes them interesting by reducing their deviation from what someone, somewhere has decided was the ideal.

All of this is to say that it’s not just about the hair. It’s about subtle changes that affect larger perceptions and the insidious mindset that forces one to interpret those perceptions in particular ways. This is something we have barely begun to internalize about how we’re manipulated to think visually about women, so I won’t hold my breath for an in-depth analysis of the male form anytime soon, but it’s a problem I expect to get worse before it gets better.

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Tax

I barely knew it was April 15 today since I actually did my taxes in advance this year. I barely knew it was Tuesday since I was so busy that my surroundings sort of faded into the woodwork. Or was the woodwork already my surroundings, who can say? I designed an ad that came out very nicely and then I locked myself out of the house and then I went to an event sponsored by a radio station I used to advertise on. It was a comedic event regarding American politics, and I took my friend Sen, who is from Mumbai. I was half worried that he wouldn’t get the jokes, but he had a better time than I did. Half of my fun was seeing his reactions and, while everyone else was laughing, hearing “Oh, that was so intelligent!” in an Indian accent.

Tomorrow is another action-packed extravaganza.

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Captain Caveman!

Me tired. Trained new employee today. Slept not well last night. Want nap, want nap bad, but holding out. Goblin good. Life good. Sleeeeeeeeep.

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Transfiguration Class

I am writing tomorrow’s entry today. Well, it’s technically tomorrow since it’s almost two a.m. and I’m not tired since I took a deep four-hour nap when I got home from work. This is where insomnia brings you: a magical land where it is simultaneously two days at once and no day at all.

I’m posting this now because I have a busy day tomorrow and also because I’m organizing my computer files and just rediscovered something I wanted to share with you last year, but the chupacabra wouldn’t let me. At the time, it positively put its little cloven hoof down, but as it now seems distracted with a crumb of feta cheese on the kitchen floor, I’ll give you the skinny.

It all started when I saw this Internet commercial from Dove, from their “Real Beauty” campaign, or whatever it was called. I was completely blown away by the transformation of a perfectly normal woman into a space alien.

The peril of posting a year late is that I’m sure you have already seen it a million times, and possibly even this brilliant parody:

What the chupacabra has forbidden you to see until now is what happened after I became fascinated with the concept of using Photoshop to transform people into the version of themselves that other people would actually prefer to see. Below are three random photographs I took from the web to use as victims in my own experiments. The originals are on the left and my versions are on the right. I had hesitated to post these to protect their privacy, but then I figured, hey, this is why they’re always warning you about putting your pictures on the Internet. Anyway, the point is that three perfectly normal men have become hunks thanks to my divine* intervention.

The funny thing is, I originally began this experiment out of the spine-tingling horror that the things we see all around us—portrayed as reality—are really the objects of intense and deliberate manipulation. While as Dove has pointed out, this has always been true of how we depict the “ideal woman” with images that have airbrushed and distorted the poor creatures away from any resemblance to their actual species, what is even more disturbing is how the “news” has done the same thing with the figures their corporate bosses have chosen to champion.

Such a transformation is the object of my next study, where I applied an actual tutorial of how to Photoshop a cover girl to one of the most artificial figures of all time:

* This miracle of homoeroticism is really going to secure my godfatherhood, I can feel it in my bones.

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State of the Union

I can’t remember if I blogged already today. Usually that would mean I haven’t, but today, who knows? I’m having sleep issues again. Less than three hours last night, and I had to get up at seven to work all day. Yes, I could go and actually check my blog, but why suck the mystery out of life?

Anyway, today’s topic is SCORN and why so many of the people reading this entry deserve it. Content Challenge is not to be taken lightly. Content Challenge is a cruel and dangerous mistress. She is to be honored with your rigorous daily sacrifices, not flirted with casually. Woe unto the fickle, for Content Challenge will feast upon your bones and cackle when you are dust!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hmm, it looks like the sun is trying to come out.

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Four Legs Good, Three Legs Bad

Each day after wrestling Goblin into her torture apparatus, we’ve been getting a little farther on our walks, meaning her bad leg is getting stronger. This is a mixed blessing. To actually get her to use her leg instead of holding it up, we have to move at a snail’s pace, meaning that the timing of this promenade increases exponentially. I think she is proud of her progress, however; she will finally poop while wearing the harness (although she holds out as long as she can), and she resists turning around for home even when she is clearly uncomfortable. With luck, her leg will be back to normal just in time for her next operation at the end of the month.

In other news, a contractor tells me that the cornice on the front of my house is beyond repair and may indeed disintegrate completely at any moment. I suppose this means there is no logical way I can blame the chunks of rotten wood I’ve been finding on my front stairs on the art students, but luckily I have discovered all sorts of illogical ways of doing things. God* only knows how much a replacement will cost, especially here in Historical Wonderland, but I will soon have the most fashionably corniced poorhouse in town.

 

* Note use of deity = spirituality = suitable godfather material.

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A Deep Breath

Dear Internet,

It was a good day. All of my meetings and actions were at least semi-productive, and I made a new friend named Sen. We had tea and walked around the Washington Monument (the one in Baltimore, not the one in Washington). A warm and beautiful day and night, where for once I have more to thank my lucky stars for than to fret about.

Love and good energy to all.

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I Could Be a Sesame Street Skit

Well heavens to Betsy, a blog. Who could have left this old thing just lying around where anyone could trip over it. Kids these days.

I want to reclaim my mornings for exercise and meditation, but all I do is strap Goblin into her Borg outfit and drag her around the block at a snail’s pace. This hoopla takes two hours, and then I have to feed her, feed myself, and answer a hundred thousand emails. I haven’t been getting to work until 2 or 3 pm this week, which is a shameful example for my employees. Of course, I work late into the night and in the wee hours of the morning while they are happily engaged in whatever it is that happily engages them outside of work. There must be something; all of the sad sacks have moved on to browner pastures.

In other news, I submitted my neighborhood beautification plan to everyone on my block to survey their responses to the idea. I said that if I didn’t receive a fifty percent positive response, I would not move forward. So far, I have received a total of one response. This is why democracy doesn’t work. In a dictatorship—with me as the dictator, a la George W. Bush—everyone on my block would have wrought-iron fences and thriving front gardens instead of dusty, weed-choked patches of dirt festooned with the excrement of Goblin’s enemies. This would be paid for by cutting taxes on rich people and selling the organs of the poor. If I ran the world, the art school students would walk respectfully, single-file down the street, with no part of them crushing my plants or dropping trash on them. Also, some of them would be naked, but surprisingly few.

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Credentials

Hello, it’s April 8, 2008. 040808. That is a magic number. Spiritualism!!! What happened today besides meetings galore and lots of emails being blasted out into the ether? Someone (not me) bit Goblin’s ear until it bled. Someone (not me) refused to poop while wearing her new body armor, i.e. leg brace. Someone (not me) entered a million product codes into our point of sale system for an exciting new line we have coming in.

So what did I do? I can’t remember, but it doesn’t strike me that I stopped doing it for any great length of time.

Elizabeth told me today that she has been following this blog and it seems as if my life is hell. I do not mean to convey this impression. It is not hell. It is also not heaven. It is what is its. This is my daily foray into Zen.

Spiritualism!!!

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Hare Hare

I would like to redo one of the walls of our house in this lovely brick pattern, but Someone Else prefers it the way it is, a pale turquoise blue. At the very least, I feel it needs to be a deep turquoise blue because it’s not holding its own against the rest of the architecture. If it were a brick pattern or deep turquoise blue, I think it would be well complimented by a striking statue of Ganesha, which will not only give me spiritual cred for this whole baptism thing but might draw attention away from our hideous kitchen cabinets.

I don’t know for how long I can be expected to live under these conditions.

The second photo, the blurry one, is of the table my sister-in-law designed, largely out of products from my store, for the Green Gala we attended the other night. Candle flames offsetting blue ambient light is one of my favorite colors, right behind Ganesha Gold.

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The Ties that Bind

Today was my mother’s birthday brunch, starring the entire family, from the oldest, my grandfather at eighty-eight years old, to the youngest, my nephew at eight minutes old. Or eight days. Or something. He looks like Billy Barty, if that makes any difference to the story. Whenever I’m around my nine nieces and nephews, I feel hideously inadequate because they despise me to a one. I asked three of them if they’d ever like to spend the night at Uncle David’s house, a prospect they viewed with as exactly as much enthusiasm as a visit to Dracula’s castle. I don’t know what I do to deserve such horror. When I pay them to say I’m their favorite uncle, they take the money happily enough, but when push comes to shove, it’s the old heave-ho for poor Uncle Dracula. My only reward at these gatherings is getting to feel like Jane Goodall amongst the apes. People like Jane Goodall, don’t they? At the very least she was a saint to those apes. When one of my nieces arrived at the restaurant, she emptied a plastic bag of Disney Princesses onto the floor, attracting my other niece like a fly to honey. They divided this ladylike battalion between them, admiring their beautiful dresses and hair, and when my nephew asked to play, one of them shrieked and beat him over the head with Princess Jasmine.

Later, my brother brought his son over and, using him as a ventriloquist’s dummy, asked me to be my new niece’s godfather. This was an eerie moment, largely because of the particular vocalization the ventriloquist felt was necessary, but also because my first thought was, as an atheist, I might not be the most apt choice for this role. But then I figured, what the hell. My other goddaughter turned out well enough, and when she got married in a church, none of us burst into flames. When her real father unexpectedly died, I was there for her, and I seem to recall sending her a serape when I was in Mexico.

Last night, at an event with the potential baptizee’s mother, we discussed this very thing. If she was feeling me out as a candidate, she was very subtle about it, but maybe I was just distracted by all the dolphins. The point is, she said that as long as a potential godparent is spiritual, it didn’t matter to her if they were Catholic. Let me tell you, Internet, I am as spiritual as fuck. I take every movement of dust as a meaningful sign from the universe, my shamanic ritual to evoke good parking spaces is almost always effective, and at least three of my chakras are in perfect working order. I have experience with yoga, erecting wards to banish wicked spirits, reading tarot cards, casting runes and the I Ching, kabalistic folklore, karmic retribution . . . and I no longer feel like clawing my brain out when I try to meditate, which is a distinct improvement.

If nothing else, I can probably conjure up another serape. And of course, the unsuspecting parents have ample time to change their minds.

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Try Not to Read Too Much into the Statues: They Were Really Quite Tacky

Last night I had a weirdly detailed dream in which I inherited a dusty old store that sold used books, men’s clothing of antiquated style, and in one dilapidated corner, corny statues depicting sexual acts. The customer base was about as one would predict from this mix, and all of the salesmen had been there for a hundred years.

So I swept in and decided to renovate the space and update the offerings, banishing the sex statues entirely, going for a more Banana Republic look for the clothing, and just organizing the books instead of leaving them stacked in precarious piles. I also fired all of the employees because they objected to my sensible changes and all had hair growing out of their ears.

I can’t really remember what happened after that except that I ended up calling the police to remove some hooligans from the location while we were renovating. I find that the older I get, the less patience I have for hooligans; by the time I hit twenty-five, I fear I will be positively intolerant!

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Friday Chupacabra Blogging

I find two things interesting about the above drawing. The first is that the chupacabra’s intentions toward the sheep are ambiguous at best; the second is that it is signed “To Mom, From Graci,” with a little heart below the signature. I don’t know who this Graci is, but she certainly was raised right.

In other news, below we see Goblin in her brace. This what the vet CALLED a “brace,” anyway. I find it has more in common with certain S&M gear I’m not supposed to know about. It cost $400, takes literally 30 minutes to put on, and depending upon the angle viewed makes her look like an X-Man or a Borg. She’s supposed to wear it every moment up until her surgery at the end of the month, and despite the fact that *I* can’t figure out how to remove it, *she* has taken it off twice. It’s going to be a bumpy few weeks.

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Two-Point-Five Fourths

Fifth night out of the past eight with no sleep. That equals five-eighths for those of you who know fractions. I don't understand. I mean, I understand fractions, but I don't understand what is causing this imbalance. OK I might not understand fractions, either, not this week. I drift off for a little while when the sun begins to come up, and then the alarm rings, seemingly simultaneously with my eyes fluttering shut. Today I am getting a haircut and taking Goblin to get the custom brace for her leg fitted. She is going to hate it and try to kill me in the night. Not only will I not be able to sleep, I will have to be not sleeping with one eye open.

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And You . . . And You . . . And You . . . And You Were There.

This week is a dream. I’m not sure I mean that in any way beyond the fact that everything seems a touch unreal. I have had so little sleep at the customary times and my brain has shut down at inopportune moments. I’m not sure anyone has noticed. I would tell you what I did today but I can’t remember much beyond the macrobiotic lunch with Ted and then some brouhaha with a customer at work. It might not have been macrobiotic, but it tasted like it. I don’t really understand—and this has nothing to do with the macrobiotics—how someone can look at something, agree to it twice, once in writing and once verbally, and then call back and say, “Oh, my husband says that I can’t agree to that and you are horrible people to make me, so I take it back.” I mean, it’s called a policy for a reason, and that reason is not so I can waive the entire thing when poor little you gets yelled at by that Neanderthal you married. This is the sort of thing that sets feminism back a hundred years. And no, you don’t get special points for calling us awful businesspeople when our policy is the same as everyone else’s: it’s to protect us all from awful people like YOU. Wait, who am I talking to? Maybe I need to try to sleep again. I hear macrobiotic food is worse than speed.

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No Scorn Here

April Fools bring May flowers, but I didn’t have the strength to pull any pranks today. The best I could hope for was not to provide crucial information to those in need of it, which is unlike me since I’m usually such a Chatty Cathy.

My friend Viki bought me a copy of The Talented Mr. Ripley this week, which I was beginning to think was the victim of some sort of outlandish conspiracy. Not only is it not at iTunes (my preferred method of watching movies lately), I hadn’t been able to find it in regular video stores, either, and I really wanted to see it again. I watched it in bed last night on my laptop, and it was as good as I remembered. I once dated a “Mr. Ripley,” although somewhat less of an endearing one in person than Matt Damon would make it seem. On this viewing, I was struck by Cate Blanchett’s performance as Meredith and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Marge. Both play their characters stunningly, from Meredith’s fluttery insipidness to Marge’s more confident exterior that masks her own needs. And of course, the tragic circumstances of Tom killing the things he loves the most in order to preserve his fantasies about himself. I wonder how often people do this—not literally—in real life.