Friday, December 30, 2005

And now with more cowbell




















I'm not sure it's even worth trying to convince myself not to buy this. Sequins, man, seeeeequins!!

!!!!

Well, this is a little odd

http://anonymouse.org/anonwww.html
http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://budapestbyblimp.blogspot.com/

Seems some people want to read me but only in secret.

Chicago! Chicago!

One week away from the fray. I cannot wait.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tribe.net and TOU

Hi guys! Nice to see you poking about - hope you enjoy what you've read so far!

For the time being, I've chosen to put my comments in Liz's blog. This could change, but she said exactly what I would have said, so in the current interest of keeping redundancy down, I'll continue there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

When the shoe fits?

(via)
Apropos of several comments from independent and unrelated sources:

The Black Queen
4 Power-Finesse, 3 Leader-Follower, 3 Unique-Ordinary, and 1 Offense-Defense
It is said that still waters run deep, and this is to some extent true
of you. You watch the backs of your minions, keeping them safe. You
allow your underlings to do much of the dirty-work, and then you use
your considerable power to bring the opponent to his knees. Preferably
at your feet. Your extravagant power is impossible to ignore, but
sometimes 'they' forget just how powerful it is. All this said, however,
beware the charming white knight, who alone of the pieces can steal your heart without you realizing it.

The What Chess Piece Are You Test by Gundark27 on
OkCupid

Sunday, December 25, 2005

"He was injured. Injured bad."

(via)
This boy has a serious future in storytelling.

'Tis the season!

Regardless of what and how you choose to celebrate or ignore this month's activities, may peace, joy and happiness find you and your loved ones healthy and close to your heart.

And in the words of the inimitable languagehat: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Grumpy Grinchdom to all (check any that apply).

Oh, Frisbee, I thought I knew ye!

Having heard from no one definitively (due to possible schedule conflicts), or not at all (due, I assumed, to definite schedule conflicts), I mentally downgraded Christmas Eve dinner to a movie night, relaxing alone on the couch with some last minute sushi from Whole Foods. I headed downtown to finish errands and ran into ooga at Whole Foods on his way to another dinner. In the course of conversation, he asked, "What should I bring when I head over to your place?" I told him not to really worry about it as I hadn't heard from anyone and was just going to chill. Accommodating fellow that he is, he invited me to his dinner, but there was a 'thanks, but no thanks' from me as I was enjoying the breathing room and quiet time of an unplanned evening.

No sooner had he walked off than DaShiv called asking what he could pick up on his way over. While on that call, kenko called to find out what the plan was (or at least I think that what his message said) and was ready to head on over. A 180 in under 15 minutes. Suddenly, there I was, standing in Whole Foods, with an hour and a half hour to pull together a dinner and drinks and make it back to the Mission to start cooking before people began to arrive. So...apple stuffed pork chops, braised root veggies, olives, cornichons, pickled peppers, bread, beer (DaShiv), wine, chocolate covered butter cookies and ruby port (ooga). BAM!

Right here is where a couple decades of restaurant work, menu planning and professional entertaining pay off: it was actually easier to assemble a dinner for three plus nibbles for four than it was to put together my own peckish pickings for the evening. And you know what? As much as I was looking forward to downtime alone and as exhausted as I thought I was, as soon as I heard everyone was on their way over, all of the fatigue evaporated. What this says to me is that I'm showing signs of approaching some semblance of being 'growed up, proper', because I love to throw 'dinner parties' at home! I mean, come on, first I use the word 'delightful' without irony and now I hold 'dinner parties'. And describe them enthusiatically. With explanation exclamation points(!)

Gaaahhhhh!!!!

Addendum: *coughs* Ok look, we're all friends here, right? I know for a fact that no less than 30 of you breezed on through here and read the above entry. Not a single person was so kind to point that I, in my joyful haste to describe the oh-so-It's-A-Wonderful-Life series of last night's events, allowed Herr Doktor I. Spelchekum to correct "exclanation" to "explanation" and not "exclamation". I find this to be not a little disturbing and let me tell you why. It's disturbing because this means y'all would let me wander around for hours in blissful ignorance about the huge piece of tarragon stuck between my teeth or with my fly unzipped or something unslightly unsightly (hee, mynx!) in my nose.

I just can't take you guys
anywhere, can I?

Sheesh.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas Eve!

I am drinking eggnog and wearing my cowboy boots.

All is well with the world.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Step 9 (Heartbreak, healing)

On my birthday, I received a letter from my mother. This was unusual, but not unprecedented. It was, in fact, precedented enough to trigger a depth charge of an emotional response from me for many different reasons. Those who have been along for the ride for the last 20 or so years will know exactly what I refer to; those who don't, will have to rest assured that there has been no shortage of dysfunction, chaos and trauma in the story. Not only does it pain and exhaust me to recount - thus relive - that past, the details truly are no longer important. I refuse to make a spectacle of the puzzles and heartaches that life hands us and how we sometimes crash and burn magnificently. That is our wreckage through which to sort and seek understanding and consider possible futures. That is a personal and intimate process. One that deserves to be honored, respected and nurtured.

So. The letter. It came on my birthday. I have waited 5 days to open it. I waited until I had my contingency plans and various methods of addressing said missive on hand. I considered every possible angle for her contacting me this time. I got angry and sad, weirded out, detached and indifferent, defensive. I laid things out and had responses for any of her potential ploys. I waited until I could accept any crazy assed, manipulative and deranged take she's sent my way previously. And here I will add some details: not once in almost 30 years of getting letters from her, in various circumstances, has a single one not been:

- an unmitigated assault on my character as a daughter and human being, usually containing the reminder that she really should have stayed on the table and gone through with my abortion X many years ago
- a crushing guilt rampage full of vitriol and abject misery
- a suicide threat
- a suicide letter 'intended to reach me after death'
- some sort of explanation of her imminent demise at the hands of an incurable disease
- manic and utterly incomprehensible
- any creative combination of the above

Not once has this pattern changed. In light of this, I got some sleep, waited until I felt settled. Ready as I'd ever be to, once again, defend my well being against one of the few people on this planet whom I should never have to address in said battle and on said subject.


I scanned the letter, first, quickly looking for the usual catchphrases. Seeking the guilted comments, the pointed fingers, the excuses and judgements and attacks, the everything that is such standard issue with these missives.

Scanning the letter, I stopped short and began slowly reading from the beginning. Carefully. I recognized the import of the language, timing and structure of what she sent to me. For the first time, she has done the one thing that I cannot do for her. She has sincerely apologized. Without conditions or qualifications or justification.
She made herself vulnerable and accountable. She has come back into the room, laid down the weapons that she never needed to use on me and stood up to be counted while naming the past.

Reparation.


It has been a long journey. While I have never sought vindication and no longer need validation, I have been vigilant in maintaining a safe place to thrive, because when I walked out the front door of her house 22 years ago, I realized that no one else was going to do it for me. Painful as the decision may have been, I was and have remained willing to make that trek alone in order to move on. But there are some kinds of wounds that require the presence of both parties for proper healing and while I do firmly believe that if you ask the Universe sincerely for something, you'd better get ready to hit the ground running, I realized that the odds weren't exactly stacked in my favor with this particular situation.

And yet...I am looking at the letter that I never thought I'd get.

In the last several hours, I have wept. Deeply. In joy and relief and disbelief and then belief and once more from the top, with feeling. Despair dissipates as
the biggest heartbreak in my life begins to heal. Of course, there'll be bridges to be crossed in the future, but the woods have been cleared and this part of the saga, at last, closes in a most spectacular and satisfying manner.

From the humblest, newliest healing place in my heart, I wish all of you the merriest of Christmases.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sometimes, I really miss Tribe.net

From
No connection between you and
SF Bay Area
0 friends
Date Wed, December 21, 2005 - 1:10 AM
Subject wats up
Message just want 2 say hi and u realy hot

I want to refer him to a tribe, but I can't decide whether it should be 'SF Drunks', 'Drunky Typo', or 'Beer Gogglers'. On the other hand, someone may have finally started the 'Nice try - No dice' tribe.

Because, see, here is the deal: while I appreciate the attempt at a compliment, I am not hot. Or hott. Or hawt. (Well, I'll take hawt, but only because the spelling is ridiculous, it makes me snicker.) Monica Belluci is hot. Cate Blanchett is hot. Penelope Cruz is hot.

I am not hot.

You can look at my pictures or see me walking down the street and you'll see cute. You may even see pretty. But, seriously, for the love of the English language and personal dignity, do not call me hot on sight alone. To do so smacks of being contrived, superficial and desperate. Three qualities I would hope aren't associated with me as a public or private person.

If you have gotten to know me in person or through some form of interaction, the appropriate usage of the description changes a great deal and warrants an entirely different discussion. If someone who knows me well, on an intellectual, platonic, romantic or carnal basis, wants to call me hot, you can be damned sure it'll put a wiggle in my walk. But trust me on this: my physicality runs the gamut somewhere between soccer mom cute and bedhead disheveled.


I am not hot and I am perfectly happy with this fact.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ah, yes:

Hi Bob!

*waves*

Birthday goodies

My birthday turned out to be somber and cathartic in a way that I'd not expected, and while on the upswing, I am still sorting things out. Auspiciously and appropriately, fellow Sag, amberglow, offered this video (via) by Sigur Ros as a collective celebration of the (not so prone to aging) Sagittarian spirit and I'd like to pass it on. Watching the video, it's not hard to identify who from my group of friends is whom and watching the role reversal age-wise in the video tickles much and the playfulness moves me a great deal.

Everyday, I meet some of the most physically beautiful and beautifully engineered people I've ever seen face to face. People who can, without concern, spend more on cosmetic adjustments/repairs/maintenance in a single procedure than I will make in a year. And do this repeatedly. However, what I find is that I'm drawn to are those who, instead of trying to fight or deny the 'ravages' of age and life, choose to incorporate them and wear themselves and their lives/histories much like well loved jeans. Offering equal homage to successes and failures, sharp minds and poor eyesight, salad days and quieter nights - taking all of it and returning the volley with deep, genuine smiles and compassionate actions even the midst of tears and stiff knees. Without dread, regret or apology.

I see a sharp rise of this most often in people 10 or 20 years my senior and I love each and every time I experience it for the simple reason that each and every time I see someone following a path that I strive for, I feel as though the way is being paved for me that much more on a daily basis. In short: such as looking at Mini Disc pics and feeling her confidence in the future shining through from the past, I meet older people whose qualities I admire and strive to emulate and feel as though the future is giving me a smile and nod of assurance about things to come. And with these reminders, the perspective shifts. And even the craziest things cease to be untenable and more like interesting pains in the ass. And fodder for good stories. And reasons to laugh bubble up: oh, the circus of it all - and that's what we have and this is what we do.

And that this is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Scenes from a restaurant

He: "That's impressive. How do you come up with such colorful descriptions?"
Me: "Well, sir, I do have a college education."
He: *laughs self importantly and smiles like a crocodile* "I have a college education and I don't think these things up."
Me: "I suppose it doesn't hurt that I'm a writer."
He: "Oh really? What do you write about?"
Me: *stares pointedly at him* "The things I see."
He: "Such as?"
Sir's wife: "David, she writes about idiots like you. Now, can we order dinner before she has enough material for a novel?"
Me: *smiles*

Friday, December 16, 2005

Oh noes.

A friend found my first silver hair when I was 13. (Go ahead...do the math.) So I've had 23 years to enjoy slowly losing my God given hair color, and truthfully, it's been fun. But the eyebrows? THE EYEBROWS. Don't I at least get to reach 40 before the eyebrows start throwing in the color towel?

Apparently not.

Endings and beginnings















How It Ends - Devotchka

Hold your grandmother's Bible to your breast.
Gonna put it to the test.
You want it to be blessed.
And in your heart,
You know it to be true,
You know what you gotta do.
They all depend on you.
And you already know.
Yeah, you already know how this will end.

There is no escape,
From the slave-catchers' songs.
For all of the loved ones gone.
Forever's not so long.
And in your soul,
They poked a million holes.
But you never let them show.
C'mon it's time to go.

And you already know.
Yeah, you already know
How this will end.

Now you've seen his face.
And you know that there's a place,
In the sun,
For all that you've done,
For you and your children.
No longer shall you need.
You always wanted to believe,
Just ask and you'll receive,
Beyond your wildest dreams.

And you already know.
Yeah, you already know
How this will end.

You already know how this will end.

Though perhaps seemingly morbid for a birthday contemplation, what I find so deeply moving about this song is its clear eyed assessment and embrace of benevolent faith in the face of an indifferent and sometimes malevolent world.

I look at the photo above and like to think that the Mini-Disc is smiling directly at me because she did know how it would end and had every ounce of faith that it would end good. And then begin again in goodness, to start the whole crazy cycle from scratch for yet another year with ever an honor of the past, two feet in the present and a keen eye toward the future.

Overwhelming gratitude for another hour. Another day. Another year. And sincere thanks for the wonder, pain, struggle and beauty of it all.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Notes from hither, thither and yon

Yesterday, 'pup came into the city and we walked around my neighborhood, had killer garlic noodles (that will ensure that I, at least, won't get kissed until some time in 2006) at a Vietnamese place down the street and then sat in the Irish pub on the corner watching the 'wildlife' pass by the window and a bowling tournament replete with the worst hair styles for men circa 1987. I laughed so hard it hurt a couple times, I didn't think about anything but the immediate present for several hours and this vaguely familiar feeling formed into recognition and I realized that I was relaxing. It was nice.

It struck me that I've always got 80 things on my list; I've got a plan and an itinerary that I'm constantly amending - more accurately, adding to; I'm always a day late and a dollar short on some sort of self-imposed deadline that no one but me gives a random shit about, but that I'm inexplicably and passionately committed to; that I go until I drop and hit the ground running as soon as I've rested enough to get back up, or before, for that matter.

It's not a complaint nor is it something that makes me unhappy because not only does the work hard/play hard lifestyle have its merits and benefits but it also brings me a great deal of satisfaction. The industry that I'm in as well as the city where I reside demands that you bring your 'A' game, so this kind of drive is well suited, if not downright requisite. They will eat you alive, and pick their teeth your bones without a moment of hesitation or remorse if you don't and sometimes even when you do.

It's common knowledge that restaurant is intense and that this is the most intense season of the retail year; similar to a basic physics equation, that energy, that tension has to go somewhere and, pardon the vulgarity here, but since we don't fuck, we fight. As such, we verbally scrap like recalcitrant children almost every single night.
One of the things I've become especially adept at lately is biting back at work and though I've said to a friend that "it makes me want to cartoon punch everybody in the face", perversely, it also has its merits. For example, this 'response in kind' lets the boy's club in the kitchen know that I'm not soft. On some paleolithic level, it breeds respect in them, and I am therefore deemed worthy of keeping my spot by the camp fire for another night.

In spite of my inherent distaste for competition, I'd be painting an unfair picture of myself if I didn't admit to gaining a sense of satisfaction at being able to run with the pack and hold my own (truthfully, most guys can't cut it and being female makes it that much more unusual and, in some ways, that much more rewarding.) It's the truth in action of the phrase, "Living well is the best revenge." A quiet kiss-off to everything and everyone that's posed as an obstacle. Perhaps what is more important has been the acquisition of the skills to successfully navigate the slippery slope of 'doing as the Romans do' in the areas of the unsavory while maintaining my personal integrity in the process. No small task some days, and other days it's just plain exhausting, I'll tell you what.

So, as ever, it's a mixed bag: for every metric ton of bullshit, there really is a pony lurking about somewhere. And I'm hoping that the next pony that I find can tell me a thing or two about relaxing. Relaxing is some tasty goodness of which I could use a hearty helping.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Trainwreck fascination

Yesterday in Chicago, a Boeing 737 from Southwest Airlines, skidded off runway at Midway airport and came to a halt in a nearby intersection, killing a 6 year old boy and injuring several others. I am not a fan of "disaster-porn" nor do I relish catastrophes or the loss of property, limb or life, but there is something in my pre-reptilian brain that latches onto pictures such as this and this. Then my mind spins off and I cannot help but imagine the tiny, fleeting moments that cascade in multitudes, as they always do, but in this case establishing the threshhold that will forever demarcate 'before' and 'after' in some people's worlds.

Looking at the cars crushed beneath, for example, I imagine what it would be like to glance in your rearview mirror and see a plane literally barreling down on you, shoveling traffic poles and snow and other cars ahead of, around and underneath it. Unable to do anything but watch and, even if it was'only' a split second, how those moments seem to suddenly step out of 'normal' time and stretch themselves out impossibly. Also in the first one, with the car at angle, facing the jet engine as if awed into frozen immobility mid-escape, or perhaps simply at resigned rest in acknowledgement of the impossibility of escape, staring certain annihilation in the eye. Only to be spared by literal inches.

There's such an incredible collection of singularly significant moments collectively experienced in a situation such as this, intensified by the crucible effect of the specific circumstances. The scenarios abound and the mind buzzes at the juxtaposition of the big and the small, both of which form a kind of exponentially expanding enormity, because in their own and individual ways, each life is a kind of universe, in and of itself, but also within the greater fabric of life.

Part of what fascinates me on a purely human level about all of this is that it's such a stark reminder that for all of the fretting one may do, for most things in life one hasn't a prayer of a chance of predicting, let alone controlling the course or outcome. Or as Baz Luhrmann said in 'Sunscreen':

Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Understand that I think that life is a precious and wonderful thing, but it's a terminal experience, by definition. A terminal experience whose ending we cannot independently control. I guess you can be accepting of this fact or embittered by it, but either way, you can always hope for a part in a good story.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

And so the saga goes....

Someday, I'll start a regular installment called "The Roommate Chronicles". Nothing snarky, mean or pejorative. Just the facts as they stand. Because I could not make this shit up.

Not in a hundred years.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Also:

Eggnog.

What more needs to be said, really?

10 days

I just got my first birthday rush.

Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes.

The madness has begun.

Monday, December 05, 2005

"Baby, it's cold outside!"

[That title's for mynxie, whom I think not so secretly giggles at my Brat Pack/old timey refs. Kisses!]

Ok, so it was only 42 degrees the last few nights, but even this heavily culls the herd of verbally effusive corner thug-lets and gives the fleeting illusion of living in a mannered neighborhood. And the "ooohh aaaahh" of sleeping with the heat off and window cracked open, buried under four blankets. Pure heaven.

I may not come out until March.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

December!

So, here we are again. Holy wow. I think I'd love it even if I hadn't been born in it, but as it stands, I was. In that weirdo, associative way that my brain works, December is like coming home after the longest day through bustle and bluster, rounding the last corner to see the light spilling from the windows and then closing the door behind you and stepping into the warmth and comfort and the shining faces of loved ones. Home.

Admittedly, the Scrooges and parade pissers have it right, to an extent, there's a great deal to be disgusted by about the Christmas season: it's commercial gluttony, it's social vacuousness, it's cultural vapidity, it's unrealistic pressures, it's propensity for exacerbating bad family dynamics, it's socio-economic inequality. Yes. These do abound. And having severely borne the physical, psychological and emotional brunt of all of those elements, I understand fully how much the season can suck.

But.

And I do mean 'BUT': We have a choice in how we perceive and react to our environments. For example, with a birthday nine days before Christmas, believe you me, it was a well-reheased exercise in hope, guilt and let down as child. Later, in high school and through university, it was frequently an irritating speed bump in the flurry of other activities and obligations. For several years, I personally remembered the day itself only because of birthday calls. Most of which I would miss.

One birthday that I did then and do clearly now remember, was spent at the Cloud Room, a favorite bar of mine in Seattle. It was a Sag birthday celebration and the piano singer was sitting with us after having sung a swingin' "Happy Birthday" to the group. He commented that it 'must really suck having a birthday in December', citing the usual litany of complaints.

If you've never been to the Cloud Room, as the name suggests, it grants a fairly amazing view of the city. Probably less so these day, but time was when you were afforded fantastic sights.
Listening to him talk, I looked out window at the city and through gaps between skyscrapers, across the bay, then around at the group assembled, many of whom could be here only because they'd come home for the Christmas holiday. In that moment, something I'd been trying to articulate for quite some time clicked and I replied, "How could I possibly complain when the entire city is wrapped up like a huge present and all of my friends and their friends - who would not otherwise be here - are celebrating for so many different reasons, right here, in this room, beside me? This is like being a guest of honor at the best party of the year. And I don't have to do a thing make it happen, just show up and enjoy it. Not too shabby, so says I." And so I still say.

As regards the holiday season on the whole, maybe it's the lucky star I was born under or the right slice of life scenario I've been dealt, but especially in the holiday season, my experience working with the public has been largely positive. Often, overwhelmingly so. People are a bit more prone to stress, but given the opportunity, their best behaviors surface more often than not and a little bit of grace extended goes a long, long way in this season. Just as it should and what I know is this: it's less about perfection in the material sense than genuine presence in the personal sense. It's about the spirit in which it's performed and the ability to appreciate the 'moment', however long that moment lasts or whatever form it takes.

All of this to say that I think what is most important is the filter that one chooses to draw their experiences through. The holidays, especially, are one of the weirder passages of time on this planet, but there it is, and so you have it. Nothing about that is going to change anytime soon but despite most circumstances, there is still a choice to be actively made as to whether the holidays are woeful or wonderful. And that choice is yours. So, things sucked before, but this is now and the beauty of this now is that it doesn't have to suck anymore. How 'bout that? I won't deny that it may require some effort and there are no absolutes, but I can almost guarantee that the investment and payoff will be well worth it.

If only for five minutes, reclaim the holiday. Hating it is too easy. Own it. Make it yours. Start turning it into what you always wanted it to be. Rewrite the damned tradition if the tradition doesn't suit you. You may be surprised to find out how many others disliked it as well and didn't have the courage to take a chance on mixing things up a bit. Or a lot, for that matter. Do whatever it takes, but whatever you do, don't settle. There truly is wonder out there to be experienced. You simply have to remember how to see it.

And go make a snowflake too, while you're at it.



Well?

What are you waiting for?