31 December 2008

Before You Go

Before you go, 2008, I want to give you a sincere goodbye. Really. I'm glad you are going. The sooner 2009 gets here, the happier we will all be.

You weren't completely awful, 2008. You did redeem yourself with the Obama win (though, you still need to explain to me Prop 8). However, all the promise you had at the beginning fell flat. There's no need to go over all the wrongs, the insults, the humiliations. No. I think CNN has something on that. I suppose the only one who needs to learn the lessons is me. And I will.

Yes, 2008, it's over. I bid you farewell. I know that 2009 will be everything you refused to be and more. I will see to that.

30 December 2008

Single-Handedly Stupefied

It's rather irritating to break your own rule. To draw a line in the sand and then cross it. Of your own free wheel. Knowing the whole time that you're a mug for doing so. Yet, you still do it. (You, of course = me here.) I stupefy myself when I do something so silly. Which is why I try not to. But, sometimes, I still do it, even though I know better. Which is even more stupefying.

Even worse than that is, while you are breaking your rule, you are trying to convince yourself this isn't such a bad idea after all. It will be fine. Pleasant, actually. It will all work out. You'll see. This pep-talk goes on for the entire walk/wait/drive that is required to fully dismember the rule. Usually, it's quite a long walk/wait/drive, so you have plenty of time to perform this convincing. And it starts to work! You really start to believe that you were wrong for thinking this was wrong and soon you'll see it will all be all right! Hurrah for you! Stupid.

Then you get there. You step around the remnants of the broken rule, minding their sharp edges. Noting the mess you think, "Merde. I was right the first time. This was a stupid fricken idea and I'm a fricken idiot for not listening to myself. [Insert "again" here if it applies.]" Hopefully, though, you are not actually talking to yourself. Or at least not loud enough that others can overhear.

You go ahead and try to make the best of it. After all, you are already there and the rule is already broken. Rules, by the way, share the same DNA as Humpty Dumpty and once they are busted up, the king's horses and men can't help you pick up the pieces. You have to live with it.

At first, it's a total FAIL. You aren't enjoying yourself. It's miserable. You seriously consider cutting your losses and going back home, kicking yourself along the way. But, if you happen to suffer from pride of the stubborn variety, you will stick it out. You haven't walked/waited/drove all that way just to go back now. Stupid.

But then, the worst of the worst happens. You start to feel the situation soften. You ease into it. The next thing you know, you are smiling. Crap. You are actually having a good time. Now you are glad that you broke that silly rule and kick the scraps of it under the table...making it all the more easy to break another one in the near future.

But, because you don't want to think of yourself as stupid or silly, you reflect on that long walk/wait/drive home. While it might have worked out this time, that's no guarantee the next time you cross that line it will work out so well. Of course, this argument would be much more effective without that dopey grin on your face.

29 December 2008

She Said He Said

I've always been the chick who has more guy friends than girl friends. I didn't plan it that way. It just sort of happened. Perhaps because I preferred kickball to jumping rope. Not that I'm particularly sporty; I just liked the friendly competition the boys had going. I preferred it to the rather catty competition happening in the girls' corner. Come on, sisters, you know what I mean. Little girls can be big bitches.

As I grew older, I still found myself hanging out with the lads more than the lasses. Guys didn't mind that I was opinionated and prone to use language that would make sailors blush. With guys, I didn't have to mind my Ps and Qs. And the conversations weren't about clothes or hair or boys. Come on, sisters, you know what I mean. In high school, conversations ran about as deep as puddles in most cliques, no? [And I should really qualify all this by saying I grew up in a stucco-encrusted suburb I fondly refer to as Stepford.]

By the time college rolled around, I was used to palling around with the guys and usually being the only girl in the lot. That's when I noticed the whispers. Slut was a common slur. Because *obviously* I was sleeping with all of them. These guys wouldn't just be my friend if there weren't *benefits*, right? A girl couldn't be close friends with a guy unless they were very close indeed. This happened with more frequency and fervor if I was friends with a guy another girl liked but he didn't like her back. That suddenly became my fault. Because, at that age, it's always another woman in your way...right, sisters? It can never be that he isn't the right guy for you. No. It's the slutty girl "friend" re-routing the rooster.

I've come to find that there are some people who absolutely don't believe a man and a woman can have a truly platonic relationship. This is usually the thought pattern of those who sleep with their friends. I don't sleep with friends. I sleep with my boyfriend or lover, not a buddy. I'm not judging a buckfuddy situation. But, that's not what I consider a friendship. That's a quasi-relationship, ill-defined and prone to heartbreak or a bitter end. Most likely, you would not be able to sit across from that "friend's" spouse and have a pleasant conversation about all the fun times you two had without a few hesitations and awkward edits.

College is a heady time. Young adults and sexuality are much like baby rattlesnakes and venom -- we don't yet know how to control it. How much to give off. When to stop it before it goes further than planned. That's all part of growing up. And while I wasn't chaste, I was far from the hose-hound whore a some sorority sisters seemed to believe...and spread about. I can count my college conquests on one hand. And no, I don't have additional digits like Anne Bolin. I bring this up because, nearly two decades after the fact, I recently had to do a reality check. It seems that rumor and innuendo can fester into legend then harden into "fact". Which I found utterly baffling. So much so, emergency text messages were sent to two of my guy friends and a panicked after-midnight call was placed to a girl friend who, too, has her fair share of platonic male mates. Each of the communiques began with WTF?!?

It came in the form of an email in which she said he said, to which I said horseshit. At first, I really didn't care. I mean, seriously, WTF. But it was so outlandish that it began to bug me. What if all this time people were under the impression that actually happened? Now, I'm not one that feels the need to defend myself, nor do I really care what some people think of me, but I do care about the truth. I found myself going right back to sophomore year when I wanted to shout from a bullhorn at every kegger: Seriously, I'm not a slut! Just because we are hanging out does not mean we are making out...or anything else!

Sigh. Trust me, there are plenty of things I actually do that people can judge me on. That I welcome. Have at it. Spread it like wildfire. Whatever. But if I didn't do it...then I get a little pissy.

Rumormongering isn't just a girl thing. Guys were equally guilty of it. I remember one occasion where a dude in our crowd told the world I went home with a certain bloke. This, after I was nice enough to give him a ride home. Because I dropped him off first, I must have gone back to my dorm room with the other guy. When I heard about this, I was furious. The look on his face when I called him out on it -- in public -- was priceless.

"Why would you start a rumor like that?" I demanded. "Uh..." was all he could come up with. "Did you see us go into my dorm together?" I questioned. "Uh, no," he admitted. "Were we making out in front of you or flirting even?" He answered, "No." "Well, then what made you think he ended up spending the night with me?" I huffed. "I just...I...I don't know," he stuttered. "So you just made the whole thing up and spread it around? Kind of an asshole thing to do, isn't it?" He hung his head, muttered that he was sorry and couldn't look me in the eye for a month.

Now, if you'll notice, in my line of questioning I never denied going home with the guy. The truth was, I did. But, that wasn't for gossip guy to say. That was my private affair and none of his or anyone else's business. When the bloke and I later showed up as a couple, the gossiper called me on it. I explained that he assumed what happened and went about spreading the news like a twelve-year-old without asking me if anything had gone on before he did so. That's not what a friend does. But, like I said, some people don't think guys and gals can be friends. And, after that, he and I weren't.

Over the years, the ratio has shifted and I have a larger network of girl friends today. I still have a lot of guy friends, though. And, for the record, I can look every one of their wives in the eye. It's nice that we can all be friends. But it's sad when you stumble upon someone who's still sitting in the quad.

24 December 2008

It's All About Getting Your Stockings Stuffed

And so it is Christmas. Eve, anyway. I wish you all well. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday, free of drama, food poisoning, *misunderstandings*, hangovers and all the other *joys* this time of year can bring.

To me, the holidays are about the little things. A smile. A heartfelt holiday wish. A card from someone far away. See's Candies. Silk soy nog. Kisses under the mistletoe. My friends. And stocking-stuffers. I always got a kick out of what I might find there. There was always some sort of curious little surprise that I would end up adoring (a roll of toilet seat covers for one's travels), or things that I might need (double pack of Lady Gillettes or a plastic rain parka), or things I really needed (cash), or sweet treats (I have a thing for Mon Cherie chocolates). It seemed I could tear through the gifts under the tree in a flash, but the stocking-stuffers were endless, both in number and entertainment.

So here's to your stockings being properly stuffed, brimming with happiness and anything else you may need and/or want. And for a little treat I can't get enough of, here's The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. "Fairytale of New York" is the most perfectly beautiful dysfunctional Christmas song ever created. Enjoy. Cheers! xo

23 December 2008

Blah Humbug

There's nothing worse than having to go near a CostCo right before Christmas. But, if you are like me and need need need your venti-soy-latte, you tough it out.

I'm not off the sauce yet. I figured it was futile to try right now. That's what the New Year is for, no? So, I've got a few more days of daily pit stops at Starbucks. However, the last two days have been nightmarish. Crazed last-minute holiday shoppers plague the road, reading lists, yelling on cell phones, ignoring lights and signs and double-yellow lines. Merry fricken Christmas indeed. But, every once in a while, someone slips a smile and wishes you a happy holiday, and you recall what it is supposed to/used to be like.

Yesterday, in my battle to the 'Bucks, I got lucky. In spite of (or perhaps because of) the rain, I found a space on my first lap of the little parking area that falls in the hollow of my Starbucks, a Subway, a GNC and a Verizon store, which I think all CostCo shoppers should be banned from. Really. You have the rest of the acre. Let me and my people have this meager parcel. At least it's a quick turnover there, and thus should be left to those who are desperate for caffeine, lunch, vitamins, or like to overpay for spotty cellular service and not people buying an 87-pack of toilet paper and a two-ton ham.

Today's traffic was horrific. Probably because of the lack of rain. Tempers were flaring. You could see it through the windshields of the people parked in the thruways to the exits. The whole mega-mall itself is beyond a fustercluck. The way they set up the stop signs and traffic lights took special effort to make it all the art of bottlenecking that it is. Bravo, ass-hat developers and city planners who pay no attention and sign off on anything, bravo! Yet, the best Starbucks on my side of town sits there. And so, I deal.

I did one lap, and no luck. No one even walking out of a shop, which meant CostCo shoppers had infiltrated the lot entirely. Drat. I pulled into the little side lot because I saw brake lights. No luck. It was just someone who wanted to sit in the car and toy with people jonesing for coffee like me. I turned around and started to make another lap when a man and his son coming from CostCo smiled and waved and pointed over their mega-pack of paper towels to their SUV a few spots away. I smiled back and said thank you, pulled out and signaled toward their spot.

At the same time, a man in a Passat wagon was coming around the corner from the opposite direction. By the rules of parking lots, that space should be his. And, had he not been in the middle of the two lanes, I would have waved off the CostCo dad and kept going. But I had nowhere to go with the Passat-er at an angle hogging all the room. (It's a really small lot.)

CostCo dad smiled at me with thumbs up and rushed to pack up the back of his Suburban, really please he could give me his spot. I shook my head and pointed to the Passat-er. I mouthed, "It's his." The Passat-er and I made eye contact, which I thought communicated the situation. It shall be yours, dude. I've just got no place to go until you park. Seriously. If I moved forward, then the Suburban belonging to CostCo dad wouldn't be able to back out, the Passat-er wouldn't be able to get the spot, and we'd all just sit there in another fustercluck. So, I didn't move.

Now, I must admit that CostCo dad was totally ignoring the Passat-er. In his own way, he was bequeathing the spot to me. It was sweetly gallant, but it belonged to the Passat. It's Christmas. You don't want to be quibbling over a parking spot at Christmas. Do you?

CostCo dad closed his hatch and, to my surprise, the Passat-er sped toward me, made an abrupt halt and rolled down his window. With his cell phone still to his ear (illegally, I might add -- hello, hands-free), he said rather snottily, "You know, that spot should be mine, but I'm going to give it to you, since you are obviously so determined to have it. I'll just give it to you. I just wanted you to know that it should be mine." I noted the crusty stream of bird shit running down the side of his car door. It seemed a fair part of this performance was for whoever was on the phone.

"You know," I said, "I was actually not going to take the space, but, since you are such a generous guy, I'll take it! Thanks!" In the spirit of Christmas, I stopped short of calling him an ass-hat, flipping him the bird or pointing out the massive trail of avian dung his elbow was hovering over. Not worth it.

The funny thing was, the Passat-er had been blocking another car who was trying to get out, so, when he passed, and CostCo dad pulled out, there were two spots open. Room for everyone. And, were he not blinded by the holiday spirit, he might have seen that as well. I hope he caught a glimpse in his rear view mirror. Hindsight being twenty-twenty and all.

The Starbucks was empty. My latte was perfect, and I made a quick escape out of the mega-mall only to get home and realize I have a few more things to pick up from the store. Blah humbug indeed.

22 December 2008

So Lonely

Today, Salon has a article on loneliness. Because, I guess, it's that time of year.

While I don't quibble with people who suffer from depression, or those who have to deal with SAD each winter, I think most of the ho-hum that comes at the holidays is the clash of our natural instincts to hibernate by the fire with a cup of spiked nog watching "A Christmas Story" and the obligations to dress up, be cheery and bear the cold to make a meal of bad hors d'oeuvres while enduring mind-numbing chit-chat during this highly social season. Or maybe that's just me.

I politely cleared my schedule this weekend. I was tired, not feeling especially social, and desperately wanted to avoid the panicked-shopper traffic this weekend seems to bring. Most of my social obligations had been met by Friday anyway. The remainder can be made up after Boxing Day. So, I snuggled up, wrapped in my Four Seasons Hotel robe, and watched movies I've seen three hundred times before.

Don't ask me why I willing watch "Terms of Endearment" when I know I'm going to cry when Huckleberry Fox does after Debra Winger tells her sons she's not getting better. Ugh. But, sometimes, I long for weekends like this. Quiet time alone. Perhaps it's part of a certain type of writer's personality. I think we are solitary creatures by nature only because there are a bunch of characters living in our heads all the time. It's sort of exhausting, at least mentally. So, if I can get those characters to be quiet, I kind of blow off the rest of the characters in my life. Which sort of makes me a cruddy friend, I suppose. But, my friends are used to it to a degree. Writers are also like exotic pets to some. Our idiosyncrasies are considered part of the charm (as long as we don't claw the furniture or crap on the rug).

Inevitably, I get a bit bored at the end of my hibernation. Typically, as I'm getting my second wind, friends have lost theirs. They are donning their robes and either nursing lingering hangovers, or trying to psyche themselves up for Monday...or neither of us is willing to drive to the other's part of town, so we end up gabbing on the phone instead of in person. Which is just as well, because I was still in my robe and didn't bother blow-drying my hair after my shower.

Then, I stumbled on the Salon article. I've always been a loner but, for a moment, I became slightly panicked that I was actually chronically lonely, and without even realizing I was! I took the lonely test and ended up in the gray zone between the "normal" and "severe" range. Then I realized that I had forgotten about the "rarely" option. Never give me four choices. It's one more than I can handle.

There's a thin line between being lonely and alone. I'm quite comfortable being alone -- which is both a good and bad thing. I like the self-sufficiency, but it can also be a bit of a bad habit. Fortunately, I have friends that will call me on my idiosyncrasies and force me to be social. They know the magic words: "Drinks", "Hal's" or "A Votre Sante". And I love them for it.

Unfortunately, they disabled the embed (where's the love, Universal Music Group?), so click here for a little slice of Charlie Sexton. Just in case your beat's so lonely, too.

19 December 2008

Judge Me All You Want

I love, absolutely adore your comments and emails (please keep 'em coming), but I thought I would throw in some fun and let you judge me...publicly.

Feel free to "react" in the newly added Reactions part of the comment section below each post. You can even go back and judge past posts. Why? Because you are bored at work and this will help you look busy. Click on some ads, too, while you are at it. They are good ads. And some of the Google ones are hilarious. Who comes up with that stuff?

And, because I couldn't stuff everyone's stocking this year, go ahead and give yourself the gift of "The Slip". Got a long travel day coming up in the next week or two? This will help. You can thank me later (thank Reznor, too, because it's on him). Besides, downloading it will give you something else to do. We both know you're here killing time until happy hour. I'm just trying to fill that space with a little joy. And it's a great album. I can't believe you don't have it. After "The Downward Spiral", this is my favorite NIN. And, no, I'm not obsessed. I'm not. Seriously. Why do you think that? Sheesh. It's not like I'm calling the songs out by Halo numbers or anything. Jeebus.

For those of you wondering what you could slip under my tree, don't even think about sending me sweets of any sort. Not after the box of truffles (it was a small box, thank God) I ate in the course of a couple of hours yesterday. Effing menses. Yeah, that's the fancy word for *period* you can say in polite company. See, not only do I entertain and help you kill time, I edumakate. This is the blog that keeps on giving. This is the blog that cares.

Now wasn't this a pleasant way to pass the time? Sure it was. I'm glad you stopped by. Now, go on...click away. Click click click. Come on. Show the lurve. And have a nice weekend. xo

18 December 2008

The Cake That Can't Be Frosted

I had an interesting conversation with two gentlemen over the weekend about relationships. They were a tad older than I, so they sort of bore the brunt of Feminist politics in relationships and the confusing dictate that women put out for men to be more in touch with their feminine side while still being a man but not a chauvinist. They had to deal with being yelled at for getting a door and weren't sure if they should pay the check, ask her out or wait for her move. Don't blame the trailblazing Feminists for this. They had to push hard to knock down barriers and tip the scales back toward equality. The pendulum has to swing to the other extreme before it gets to the middle, you know? But, what confuses me is that they remained confused about women and take solace in the words of Norman Mailer. Whatever. We all need to turn the page.

As the conversation progressed, I realized what the problem seemed to be. In the dance of the relationship, no one was leading, yet neither were willing to follow. Toes were stepped on, moves were missed and, at the end, someone left with a limp (and I don't think it was her).

I am a Feminist (note the capital F). I believe in equality, but I am also aware of gender roles. In a relationship, there is a male energy and a female energy -- or a yin and a yang if you prefer. Either person in the relationship can take either role. However, once you claim it, it kind of sticks. Sure, there are ebbs and flows to this, but, for the most part, defined roles make for more successful relationships. I think it cuts down on the confusion, and relationships are confusing enough as it is.

See, I had to learn to be the girl. Really. I remember dancing with my seventh grade choir teacher (who was also a family friend) at a wedding and him saying, "You need to learn to follow. We can't both lead." I got a little huffy and said, "Well, all the boys I dance with don't know how and I've got to show them." After all, I wanted an A in gym class (we danced when it rained), and if that meant counting out loud, giving direction and taking the lead, that's what I would do. It never occurred to me to seek out a better partner.

Many years later, after a very long, "equal" relationship, I absolutely melted when I dated a man who demanded to lead. Now, he didn't always present that in the most diplomatic way. It ruffled my Feminist feathers when he took the martini shaker away from me and told me to go sit down. Granted, we were at his house and in his kitchen when I kind of took over the cocktail making. But, when he said, "You be the girl, let me be the guy," it totally pissed me off. Who was he to say that? Why couldn't I make the martini if I wanted to make the martini? But, he was right. He was leading the dance. He wanted to take care of me. I needed to learn to let him. Because that was the kind of relationship I wanted to be in, not one where we were trying to be equal in power, equal in work, equal in effort. Because in that dance, when one reached the middle, that dancer stopped no matter where the partner was on the dance floor (unless the dancer was me, then I did all the extra steps, too).

There are lots of dances in a relationship. Some of them are fast, some of them are slow. Sometimes you want to dance when your partner doesn't. Sometimes you can't dance and your partner busts the moves. Even though one leads and the other follows, the dancers are a partnership. It only works when they move in rhythm together. That's the beauty of it. Sometimes, though, you can miss a beat.

For a while, I've been tapping my toes with a great guy. We had the makings of something amazing, but our timing was always slightly off. I wanted him to lead. He wanted to make up the steps as we went along. I waited for him to rise to the occasion. He was hoping I'd let down my guard. With one grand gesture, that wall would have crumbled. Though, if the wall wasn't so high, I'm sure I would have seen a bold motion. We had all the right moves, we just couldn't agree on a song. It was slightly disappointing. Sort of like a cake that can't be frosted: It's pretty good, but isn't quite right and we both know it could/should be better. We were a case of, "You can't have your cake and ganache, too." How very bittersweet. At the end, neither of us had to say it. We just smiled and kissed each other goodbye.

I tried to explain the dance analogy to the gents before throwing in the cake. One nodded, the other simply believed Mailer had it right. No matter how you slice it, here's the deal:

Don't go to a square dance if you want to hustle. If you'd rather not lead, don't count out the beats. You want a 50-50 relationship? I suggest line dancing or perhaps a Texas Two-Step. Me? I'm looking to tango.

17 December 2008

Change Anything Change Everything

I don't think I can wait for the New Year. I need a change now. Somehow, that's easier to say than do.

See, I don't want to change just anything; I want to change EVERYTHING. Absolutely everything. It occurred to me that I want to start living my life the way I want to live my life. Doesn't that sound utterly absurd? Like, what other way would I live my life? Well, around other people for one, and my wallet for another. And then there's the lack of time to do half the stuff I need to, not to mention what I would like to. I know I'm not alone in that. But, is that what really hinders us from living how we really want, or is that the easy excuse? Perhaps a little of both? I don't know. It just seems a shame that I have let those things stand in my way. But, no longer.

I suppose it was easy to let work or a tight budget restrict me. Some might even cite that as being responsible. I think what I haven't realized, now that I'm back working at home and not for a nut-job boss, is that I have the time I need to do what I should do for the life I want to have. There isn't a rush anymore. Sure, there are hours to put in, work to do and deadlines to meet, but I no longer have to look around to see what I need to avoid. I can just look at what's in front of me. How novel! And isn't it asinine that this just occurred to me? I know. I baffle myself sometimes. Whatever. At least the notion made its way through my thick skull and I can finally do something about it. Though, I might wait for Monday to set this change in motion. I'm too stoned on Midol to deal with it now.

16 December 2008

Hypotheticals, Theoreticals and Totally Impracticals

So, the question has been posed: Internet or sex? I think if they had included internet porn and excluded "self love", there would have been a way different percentage for men. And, if they asked women if we could have two weeks of sex with any man we wanted, hands down we'd turn off our Twitter. (Sorry, my Sapphic sisters...you get to pick any chick you want.)

Since this is a hypothetical we are discussing, let's take it to the extreme. If I could have a romantic fortnight with Trent Reznor or the Clooney, or even the terrible ex that was really great sex (hypothetically, he would be his charming self for those fourteen days, not the asshat he actually is), it would be easy to ditch everything wireless. Even if it was the guy I'm currently not sleeping with, I would take his dingle over my BlackBerry. I prefer IRL over URL. That's just me, though.

I think either gender would want to take two weeks away from the internet as long as it came with the promise that we wouldn't come back to a shitload of work and an ungodly amount of emails to deal with (or a backlog of social networking madness). Don't we all want/need a break from the World Wide Wackness every now and then? Exactly. But we don't dare shut off for two hours let alone two weeks because it's too scary to leave it unattended. Digging yourself out of your inbox is never fun. Which is why so many said they'd go without than go wireless. Très sad.

But I do love these hypothetical, theoretical conversations about the impossible or impractical. "Hump, Marry, Kill" is a fun game, which is quickly shortened to "I'd Do Him" after a few cocktails, because no one is able to come up with three names or remember who they'd do what to if they did. We all have our "out" list (which I guess the kids are calling their "top five"), which are the celebrities you have marked as *saved* and you are allowed to shag without your significant other getting pissed off...because that is so in the realm of possibilities. I've even known couples to fight over that theoretical list. How daft is that? Then again, how dumb is it to ask someone to choose internet or intimacy? For as connected as we might be, there is a disconnect as well. I think we all need to log off and turn on.

15 December 2008

Something Old, Something New

You can run from your past, if you so choose. However, you can't hide from it if you are on Facebook.

In many ways, Facebook is wonderful. Extraordinary, actually. The way you can find old friends and reconnect is utterly fantastic. Last week alone I had dinner with one friend I hadn't seen in twenty years and saw two more I hadn't seen in over ten. You can always tell a true friendship by the ability to pick up right where you left off, as if it were only a week that had past since your last visit. These are people you were meant to know. Meant to have in your life, even though they were misplaced for a spell. Even those I haven't been able to meet up with, I enjoy our communications. Phone dates. Endless emails and electronic drink sending. Bad pennies, we are told, always turn up. On the flip side of that coin, so do dear friends.

Eventually, you befriend other long-lost classmates and, eventually, you will suspect a few might have "peaked" in high school, because, in spite of having careers and spouses and offspring, they somehow have the time to upload every picture from that time and tag the people in them. W. T. F? If I had that kind of time, I would be ruling the world right now.

I don't mind a stroll down memory lane every now and then. I like to hear what old chums are doing today, who is up to what. But, I don't expect them to be the same as they were when we were in grade whatever. Hopefully, we all evolve. Maybe it's a side-effect of getting older for some, this need to keep the past alive and well and part of the present. I don't know. I just prefer to move forward and take something old and turn it into something new.

11 December 2008

As the Economy Turns

So, the economy kept the gays from calling in, and I also hear that it is bringing back the lady bush. Stocks in razor companies soar! (Kidding about that, though it might happen.)

We see the unemployment rates climb as daily announcements of job cuts and company closures continue. With every shutting door, there is a ripple effect. That company's vendors. Those employees' retailers. Those employed by those vendors and retailers. And so on. Right down to your own personal shrubbery.

It's a scary time. We aren't sure when we are going to feel steady again. We are all tightening our belts hoping to make it through okay. Then you get a goofball like Kathie Lee Gifford (why did NBC hire her?) who goes on a mini rant that we can save "Hairspray" from closing on Broadway by buying "lots and lots of tickets." As if the theatre-going public is just being stingy. Sigh. Some people just don't get it. The rest of it are growing it out.

10 December 2008

Under the Rainbow

Today is A Day Without A Gay. If you can't/won't call in gay today (and you can even do that if you are straight), I thought that it might be nice to take a moment and give praise to the gays in our lives (that includes lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered, too). This might seem silly. We don't often get asked to reflect on how the Irish, Kenyans or Newfoundlanders have influenced us, or even the left-handed or hazel-eyed. But, it seems we continue to label gays as "different". So, vive la difference! Let's shine a light.

I'm asking you to share how a LGBT person has positively contributed to your life. Now, this could be as simple (and predictable) as the hairstylist who saved you from bad bangs or as profound as how that friend/lover/teacher/neighbor/doctor/boss/family member helped you when you needed it most. Here's mine:

Well, it's hard to pick just one. My first thought is to my friends. There is my gay husband who took me to my first gay bar back in the day where I had the absolute best time of my life (total belle of the ball moment) and opened my little suburban-raised eyes. My gay boyfriend who repeatedly talks me down from the ledge after long days with crazy blonde bosses (though, that phase is over -- thank God -- and, no, I'm not blonde bashing, it just happens to be a tonal fact). Then there is my gay doppelganger; he and I are sure that DNA tests will prove we are related. He has set me straight more than once (no pun intended). What they (and their friends) have given me is utter acceptance. Unlike other folds who have worried that I am too opinionated or lacking in tact, they wouldn't have me any other way than foot-in-my-mouth, no holds barred, my four-letter-word throwing self. They also don't mind wiping away the mascara streaks when I am deep in the bell jar. That absolute acceptance is something I deeply appreciate.

Whether it is a sweet story, a funny story or one that is life saving or changing, please share your story in the comments section. You can post as Anonymous if you like. My hope is that this opens a few eyes to the fact that we are more similar than we are different. Gay rights equals human rights. Let's bring down the hate and repeal Prop 8.

09 December 2008

A Day Without a Gay

For all of those people out there who are against of gay marriage, brace yourself for tomorrow. Tomorrow, they gays go on strike in protest of Proposition Hate 8. Rock it, my rainbow brothers and sisters! I'm here to lend my straight support. Because, there is no way I would be the woman I am today were it not for the gay guidance I have been given.

Imagine a world not touched by a homosexual in some way. Do you watch TV? See movies? Listen to music? Read? Eat? Wear clothes? Yeah, all highly influenced by the gays (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered). So, where does a homophobe go? Honey, nowhere is safe. Closets exist everywhere, so you can never really be sure. Just kidding. I'm not trying to scare anyone. But, you might as well get over your fear/hate/paranoia and just accept. Acceptance. It's what Jesus would do.

I would love to see the TV go blank tomorrow. The radio to be dead air. Movie screens to stay dark just to get the point across. It would be nice for businesses to shut their doors, for employees to feel good about not coming in, in spite of the economy and the rate of unemployment. Not everyone can call in gay tomorrow. But we can all be supportive.

If you can't imagine a day without TV or music or makeup, then go to the theatre and see MILK. Be reminded how far we haven't come. How much hate still lives here. How easily we will deny civil rights to our citizens. This is a part of our recent history. It's a part of now.

I don't understand why gay marriage is so threatening to people. Why does it need to be "protected"? Heteros haven't exactly done such a stellar job with it. And maybe like the neighborhoods gays move into and make more beautiful, elevating the value for all, maybe they can do the same for marriage. Why not let them give it a shot?

08 December 2008

A Little Bit of Me

For someone with a blog, I am intensely private. For as opinionated and "expressive" as I may be, I'm incredibly shy. As clever as I may come off, I've enough Dsylexia to make me hesitate. For as liberated as I am, I am a failure at one-night stands. They all turned into relationships. I've realized that monogamy is all I am built for. Not that it's a bad thing. I'm just always perplexed by the simple things I cannot do.

With an admission like that, I shouldn't be surprised that people think they know me. After all, isn't that the point of blogging? A literary exhibitionism of self and soul? I don't know. Is it? Sure, people know parts of me from my words. But even those parts exposed are only surface. It's not that I'm hiding anything, or bending the truth one way or another. No. I suspect that I also have a form of Tourette's which renders me brutally honest. It's cost me more than a few invitations to dinner parties. That's actually for the best since I'm allergic to smalltalk.

Persona. It's a queer conundrum. Even if you don't intentionally create one, one can be constructed for you. Without your consent let alone your input. Assumption is an uncomfortable fabric to be draped in, especially in front of people who believe they understand you. Instead of bringing forth commonalities, it can make me feel that much more isolated. How can a friend stop at a blog post and think they've got me all figured out? How should I react when I am greeted with, "Oh, you're that Sandra." It's kind of creepy. And, up goes my guard.

No one gets me. Well, not all of me. There are certain people I share most everything with -- a couple of BFFs and whomever my significant other might be at the time because I am a serial monogamist of sorts (cursed with high standards and low tolerance) -- but, even they miss some things, simply because it lived in a moment, and now that moment's gone.

As unsettling as it might be for people to think they know everything from the little bits I share, it serves as a good reminder for me not to assume I know anyone, no matter how close we might be. I should be continually surprised by the people I cherish. What the hell's the fun of knowing every move or punchline?

While the core of me might not change, I will continue to evolve as a person, as a writer, an artist, a friend, as a lover, as a part-time philosopher and a total goof ball. It's that whole enigma wrapped in a riddle thing. Though, I think I'm more of a pun.

05 December 2008

The Clompy Chronicles, Part 4

While I am spoiled both by location and price point, there are days when I long to move out of this abode. Find a place without a shared wall. With parking. A washer and dryer. Someplace not on a street corner because there's no human way to keep up with the dust traffic delivers. A quiet home where I can't hear my neighbors. Yes, that would be a dream.

I can't tell if they've installed a basketball court or a bowling alley, but Clompy and Boomer seem to run, crash and throw things a lot. Fortunately, they don't play all quarters or frames. Just enough to be disruptive and genuinely annoying. My favorite is when Boomer gets all Rocky and jumps rope in the bedroom. Slap, slap, slap, stumble, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap. The smoking has shrunk his lung capacity, so he can't keep it up for very long. Just enough to be disruptive and genuinely annoying.

The other morning, I heard a commotion outside their door. It was either the cops or deliverymen from the sound of the duo's deep voices and heavy feet. I refrained from getting up to snoop, since I trusted the thin wall to keep me appraised of whatever was going down. Then my phone rang and I got sidetracked. There wasn't any further hubbub. No one seemed to be getting arrested or ousted, so maybe it was the hockey rink their ordered. I just went about my day.

Somewhere around two, it occurred to me lunch might be warranted. Off I went to nab some. When I came back, something caught my eye.

They had flocked their pink flamingos.

This was as perplexing a site as the copy of "Bridal Guide" I got. I stared at the plastic fowl stabbed into their front yard and felt a deep sense of pity for them. How humiliating. Then I noted that Clompy and Boomer had also given the jade bush a heavy spray and added some "snow" to their windows.

Now, some people can pull this off with a sense of whimsy. Not so much here. I walked into my home and shut the door with the sinking feeling that I was no longer living in a duplex but a double-wide.

04 December 2008

Undoings

There are days where I feel like I am a tire just spinning in the mud. Getting nowhere fast. Making a mess of things. Oh, it's not all that gloomy, but you know what I mean. Just nothing is clicking, working, moving forward, or even moving back. Beige. Bland. Blah. Today was beyond off.

First, I worked until three ayem, trying to extract some corporate writing out of me. That's sort of like painting the Mona Lisa with my left hand instead of my right. It's painful, unnatural. But, it must be done. Sigh. Even after a Starbucks, I had nothing in me. I should've sucked it up and went to the gym. I should've just started the day normally, no matter how late it actually began. Lesson learned. I don't know why I kept thinking I can live it both ways (vampire nights and productive mornings). I'm just going to have to put the world on notice: I'll get there when I get there.

After a few false starts, I finally stalled. Even the most simple things became productions. For example, my appliances have turned against me.

My oven's never really worked, my microwave is inconsistent with the popcorn (which is likely a sign from God that I should be eating celery instead...though celery doesn't go quite as well with M&Ms), and now my refrigerator took its final crap. I woke up the day before Thanksgiving to find my soy milk was ice milk. I've kept a bare cupboard ever since, which is neither good for my pocketbook or waistline when everything is being delivered. (I'm waiting for my shrimp-only pad thai right now.) I finally got the call that the "new" one was on it's way and I went to work clearing the contents and taking off the magnets and clips that cover mine. What? I like a bit of collage art.

Right when the dudes were due, I got a call from my manager. "Sandra, I'm sorry, but you do not want that refrigerator. I should've taken a look at it when they brought it out of storage. There's just no way I could send that over to you." It must've been truly gagrific because she could barely get the words out. It will be another few days before anything else is done. I see a lot of deli in my future. The magnets and clips lay in a pile on my dining room table and I feel compelled to drink the splash of vodka re-chilling in my freezer.

03 December 2008

Ordering Off the Menu

On Tuesday nights, I go over to Santa Monica and chant with some fellow Buddhists. Yes, me. The opinionated, grumpy, snarky one is a Buddhist. Hey, enlightenment is a process. And judging me isn't going to help you get there. Ha ha. See, that's some Bodhisattva humor there for you. Buddhists are funny, in case you didn't know.

Anyway, the whole point of mentioning this was the fact that after our chant we chat. Share a little philosophy and whatnot. During the chat, one person brought up how sometimes you chant for something and you don't get it and you feel kind of gypped (though I believe the phrase "frustrated and confused" was used). This seems to perplex a lot of Buddhists (and "The Secret" users, though, they are more inclined to visualize), because I've heard this more than once (and from "Secret" fans, too). I even hear it from "traditional" prayer people. I have to say that I'm always a little stunned when people look at prayer/chanting/mediatation as a sort of wish list. Like Santa Claus is suddenly the Higher Power.

Don't get me wrong. I kind of dig the Law of Attraction (just don't get me started on the men it tends to bring me). However, I don't really "use" it as much as I sort of bump into it on accident. That's how my superpowers work -- accidentally. I put it out there, forget about it, then I sort of trip over it which reminds me of what I requested. On the flip-side of that coin, if I really focus (read: obsess) on something, I seem to drive it away. Kill it, even. Like George with the rabbit or over-watering a plant. (By the way, I no longer obsess.)

I do believe that you can will anything you want to you, whether that "anything" is good for you or bad. (This is where that saying, "Be careful what you wish for," should ring some bells.) So, when something I think I want doesn't come my way, I say Thank God or Rock it, Buddha! Because I have learned to respect the adage, "Man's rejection is God's protection." Can I have an Amen? It is so true. Sometimes you aren't getting what you want because someone is looking out for you. Say, "Thank you."

That's not always easy to do. Believe me. But, the way I figure it, God/Buddha/Brad Pitt isn't forgetful. If you let Him/Her/Brad Pitt know what you want once, it's duly noted. If you need it/it's good for you, it will come (not always overnight, but when the time is right). If it's not needed, you won't be bothered with it. Either way, it's a win. It just doesn't always feel that way. Trust me. I know. Right now, every aspect of my life is in flux. That's like trying to find a comfortable position on a bed of nails. But, this is when I have to take a look around and be reminded of all that I have, not all that I'm missing. Or, I simply go out with some friends and throw back a few. Either way, I win.

Life is a bowl of cherries, a smorgasbord or a cabaret. It is not, however, a fast-food joint where you can order off the menu and have it your way. Not all the time, anyway. Sometimes you have to peel off the pickles and remember that blessings can come in disguise.

02 December 2008

Tiffany Blues

Breakfast at Tiffany's was on cable this weekend. And there went my plans for the midday. Who doesn't want to be Audrey Hepburn for a couple of hours, even if she's a poorly disguised call girl? The clothes are so chic. She is so beautiful. George Peppard is rather dishy. It's a fun little escape in spite of the shoplifting, cigarettes and Mean Reds.

However, I am always completely annoyed by the repeated use of "Tiffany's". It's not like they are going over to a cheerleader's house for muffins. No. It is Tiffany. As in Charles Lewis. One fails to acknowledge the "Co" by adding the possessive. It's just Tiffany. But I'm funny like that. It's not a foy-yer but a foy-yay. Not nyk but nigh-key. And if you are going to swallow the price tag, might as well throw in the extra syllable and refer to it properly as a pour-sha instead of a porsh. I think this desire for proper terminology comes from finding my family's use of "chester drawers" was just a tad off. Don't even get me started on "you-tildie room" and "torlet". Then again, every once in a while I throw out "boughten", my own hybrid for those occasions when I cannot decide between saying "had gotten" or "had bought"; thus, I had boughten. I suppose we all have a touch of Lula Mae in us. Quel drag.

Perhaps due to Audrey as Holly, Tiffany holds a bit of allure for all of us. I recall the first time I went in to one. It was sort of like Fantasy Island; everyone had smiles. Everything sparkled. Everything was a tad out of my price range. I was there to exchange a gift. It just wasn't my style. And the things that were more of a fit were still beyond my dollar's reach, even with the exchange. After an extensive browse, I smiled and asked about the telephone dialer. The saleswoman tilted her head at me and furrowed her brow. Please. I wanted to tilt my head as well and say, "Look, lady. Borrow a sense of humor. You are in the Century City Mall Tiffany, not the one on Rodeo. Snobbery doesn't fly here. Ease up," but I didn't. I just batted my lashes asked her to please show me the key rings. I left with one rather cumbersome, U-shaped, heart-tag version of such, and a gift card for the remainder of my return.

There are many beautiful but very few practical things for me at Tiffany. So, the gift card stayed on my shelf for many moons. I considered it a boon when I discovered their appointment diary. See, I'm a pen-to-paper gal at heart. The worst thing I ever did was give up my Filofax. Had they kept making my coveted double-pen slot, money-sleeve and coin purse back, calf skin design (sorry PETA), I would still be on it (mine, after ten years, was beyond repair). But they no longer made what I needed. And there was a Palm Pilot on sale for less than the Filofax I was going to settle on (and the Palm Pilot was cute and matched my graphite Mac clam laptop). I've been forever ruined by that choice. Shortly there after, my life went on BlackBerry and my calendar quickly got screwed. I don't think BB and Entourage always get along. (Might be nice if RIM started actually supported Mac users.) After one too many pooch screwings (and having grown tired of writing everything down, putting it into my computer, then syncing the Berry in order to avoid accidental deletions), I decided it was best to keep appointments on paper. And so to Tiffany I went, gift card in hand, to get my "bible". That's what the appointment journal looks like. All 5.5"x8" of it in black leather (sorry again, PETA) and gilt-edged pages (or the silver version thereof). And I treat it as sacred.

For the past two years, that's where my life has been contained. It's a bit of a splurge, but it makes me happy. I jot down not only the appointments themselves, but notes on the day. Reactions. News. Since I've had this blog (for nearly eight years), I don't really keep a personal diary anymore (hello, redundant), so additional musings have been put on those Tiffany pages, mostly for my amusement.

While I was watching Holly and "Fred" go through the Tiffany aisles, I thought, "Merde. It's December already. I'd better get on the horn and order up a new bible. I mean, appointment journal." I've learned you can't call it a calendar. You can't even give out the measurements and price points to the people on the phone and expect them to find it. I found this out when I rushed over to the Century City store last year and was greeted with a pocket annual diary. So not in the same ballpark. Thus, I've learned the importance of specifics. I went to the website to get the order information. But my appointment journal wasn't there. Oh, they had the big one and the small one, but not the Goldilocks-just-right one for me. I called customer service. Perhaps it could be special ordered. Nope. It has been discontinued. I suppose the lack of order form in this bible should have been a clue. [Insert litany of curse words here.]

Not only will I have to spend twenty dollars more on the bigger annual desk diary version, but they don't even have it in black leather (I'm not apologizing anymore). Oh, they have black patent leather, but that's just too shiny. Oh, I could get it in pink leather, or Tiffany blue leather, but not in regular-leather black. Whaddafug? I mean, if you can't count on Tiffany for tradition and keeping classics classic, who can you count on? Who, I say! Pink leather? Come on.

I haven't placed the order yet. Still haven't made a decision on the red leather or black patent or to go back to Filofax (the Eton is as close as it comes to my old version...but at a steeper price tag...effing inflation). I have to bust a move soon, though, because my 2009 is already blowing up.

01 December 2008

Mad Ave Indeed

I went to my PMB the other day. Something I only do when I'm expecting a check. Hey, all of my bills are set up on auto-pay, and I've completely given up the idea of ever catching up on the magazines I've subscribed to, so the need to fetch mail is reduced to about two or three times a month. I always feel bad when someone has secretly overnighted something to me thinking I would get it right away, then understand the ice in their voice for the past week, caused by my failure to acknowledge their thoughtfulness. I'm difficult to surprise. I'm difficult in a multitude of ways, I'm sure. However, as a creature of habit and one of limited means, I easily fit into a certain set of demographics. Even with that, somehow Madison Avenue hasn't figured me out.

A few years ago, over the course of ten days, I received the oddest group of mailings:

1. An Olivia Cruises brochure
2. Samples and coupons for Enfamil baby formula
3. A Robbins Bros. engagement ring catalogue

Somehow, I seemed to have come off as a pregnant lesbian longing for a vacation and a commitment ceremony. So, perhaps I should not have been terribly surprised when I pulled from my mailbox a copy of "Bridal Guide".

I kept staring at the address tag. Yep. It had my name and box number. This was not a mistake. I mean, it was certainly a mistake, but not one of the ladies who put mail into my slot. Jeebus. That sounds pervy.

Anyway, I figured one of my friends sent me the ultimate gag gift. Many of the people I know have twisted senses of humor. And this certainly fits that bill. If it is indeed a promotional copy, they didn't really send it out in style. No plastic covering. No charming letter from the editor with an invitation to subscribe. If it's a sign from God, He and I have to have a little chat. Bridezilla I shan't be. Very little tradition or planning will go into whatever I do whenever that day comes. Besides, there's a whole lot of tacky on those pages. It's enough to make any girl stay single, or at least elope. I don't know that I could torture my girlfriends with those bridesmaid dresses. Unless one of them is responsible for the subscription. Payback may end up being a bitch in purple taffeta.

At the end of the day, though, it seems that Madison Avenue has gotten me all wrong yet again. I almost look forward to seeing what they come up with next. Almost.