Friday, December 31, 2004

Sleep is for the Working Class

I refused to acknowledge my bedtime. That happens. I don't know what I did all those hours. Television was involved. Let's see. I watched the last three episodes of Farscape season three -- two-thirds a trinity. There were TLC specials on Lizzie Borden and Area 51, and there were Thank You cards with fancy cursive. Lots of curliques. Peppered with music videos and generous portions of "Unfaithful." 6pm-2am is a blur.

I remember that "Unfaithful" got stupid half-way through, but I couldn't stop flipping back to it. I can't say no to Diane Lane.

So now, poor me, the cats have demanded their morning meal by jumping on my face and raking their claws into my books. Hellish demons, cats. I am completely within their power. They're sleeping hunger off somewhere, minutes after two bowls filled with chow mysteriously disappeared... I fear they've unionized.

What did I do yesterday? I engaged in the big time suck that is Web Surfing. I bought John Wayne stamps because they reminded me of "The Preacher" graphic novels. (They look real sharp on the Thank You cards.) I played Xenosaga on the PS2. And I went to the bank to set up an automatic transfer between accounts so that maybe I won't die in the gutter. That's about as close to a formal New Year's resolution as I get. Try not to die in the gutter. Again.

Here we are. My last day of pretend freedom. I guess that means I'm shackled to the laundry box... or the sink hole.

Or maybe I should sleep off the dregs of my insanity.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Breaking News! - Mark your Calendar

My play exists! And it exists at Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara, CA.

For information scroll down until you see DRAMATIC WOMEN PRESENTS ShePlays, February 11-12, 17-19. Or go to PresaleTicketing to buy tickets for Opening Night (or any night really. It'll probably require repeat viewings to absorb its full awesomeness. You better buy a bunch of tickets, to be safe).

My play is called "The Science of the Balance of Ultimate Power." Not only does it reach new heights in awesomeness, but it also (hand on heart) will clear your skin of all acne-related blemishes and hard-water stains.

TIMES: Friday-Saturday, Feburary 11-12, and Thursday-Saturday, February 17-19, at 8:00 P.M.
TICKETS: $15 general, $12 students, and seniors. Opening night all tickets $25.

It's an intimate space, black box style, open seating. THE social event of the season. Order tickets soon because it WILL sell out. And then when everybody else is talking about how awesome it was, you'll be sad. And I don't want you to be sad. Because I care about you. I know we don't normally let words get in the way of our true feelings, but there, I've said it. I care deeply and I wouldn't want you to let this exciting opportunity slip through your fingertips.

Do it for the children.

An Early Morning Sentimentalist

My mind is full of lists today, so that's what you're gonna get.

Yesterday I finished playing the game "Syberia II", reading the graphic novel "Preacher: Until the End of the World," and another fifty pages in "The War of Art." I paid a man to replace the band and battery in my watch, bought a couple wall calendars, had blood drawn, got stormed on, and baked an enchilada lasagna.

"Enchilada lasagna" is the best name for it. A multi-themed casserole. It didn't taste bad, but it was -- how you say -- heavy. The tacos morphed into burritos morphed into a 9x13 torte. Flexibility is the soul of domesticity.

The other big list caulking up the brain cracks is more of an introspective, year-in-review, what-did-you-learn, sort of thing. There's the bold bullet points, the boulders: new job, kitten, playwriting... and then there's the Indents, the little items, the pebbles. Enough time and pebbles shape you same as boulders. Pebbles are the authors I read, places I went, things people said... pebbles are the details.

The hard part is keeping the years segregated. Memory is too fluid and arbitrary to lend itself to the list format. But I try anyway. It'll be good to have on hand for when the Alzheimers sets in.

The bright side is my side!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The One Where I'm Spoiled

My vacation is coming to a swift and painful end. I am simultaneously aware that the next few days are stretched out before me like a big cozy blanket, and that I'm back to my cube farm on Monday.

The rain, uncharacteristically, has been steady for the last three days. Last night our power wavered twice, so I set myself up in the living room with a heavy flashlight and three lit candles on the television. Each candle had a different fruit scent. It felt festive. It smelled rotten.

The lights stayed on for the rest of the night. I sacked out on the couch and read Garth Ennis's "Preacher: Gone to Texas" and most of Stephen Pressfield's "The War of Art." I needed to get the cataract that was "Angels & Demons" out of my mind's eye. And then maybe I fell asleep watching "Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume Three." (#1 in the hood, G)

All right. That's enough with the corporate shilling. But man, I love me some Meatwad.

I've got to get some blood drawn today in preparation for another round of appointments next week. Nothing serious. Just check ups.

And today I plan to make tacos. Well, burritos actually. It's just that the word "taco" is a lot more fun to say, but burritos are a lot more fun to eat.

And thus ends the philosophy portion of our tour. The clock chimes eight.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A Snob is Me

As I mentioned in the last entry, I'm reading Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons." Now I know like, a gazillion people live for this guy and his (slightly less) popular "The Da Vinci Code" but come on, I mean, come on... It's not revolutionary. Tom Robbins has some wacky religious ephiphanies between the covers of his books. This one's just, well, it's average. Not mind-blowing. It's like one of those SAT books (see "Tooth and Nail") where it's a thinly disguised reference book masquerading as an action-adventure. At least "Tooth and Nail" is honest enough to put all the multi-syllabic words in bold and link them to a glossary.

Don't get me wrong. This sort of thing has value. For one, it makes you feel virtuous. You walk away feeling like you've learned something and had a good time to boot. That's awesome! More books should do that. Especially books for kids in junior high, which seems to be the reading level you need to have achieved in order to read this book.

To be absolutely fair, it's meant to be fun. I get that. But then why are so many people fawning over it, cradling it close, making pilgrimages to crumbling churches in Europe just so they can see the cupola where such-and-such happened... It's so they can feel even smarter, without the hassle of actually knowing anything in context.

There's another benefit. The book targets an audience that might never have heard of Bernini or the Pantheon. There it serves a purpose. And as I continue to read it, I feel almost guilty that with each page I want to hurl it across the room. I want to tear it apart and poke its virtual eyes out. And then I feel even worse, because I'm a snob. Only snobs could hate a book that everyone else in the world loves with reckless abandonment.

Since you asked... I hate that everything has to be over-explained and rehashed. Someone might forget who Bernini was in the ten-page span since his work was last explained. I hate that nothing happens. I'm 400 pages in and it's a wild goose chase. Mostly the author just takes the reader on a (action-packed) tour of Italy. Hey, we're virtual tourists! Isn't that veird? I hate that there are hundreds of paragraphs that are two words long. I hate that the word Christian was misspelled once. (Okay that's just nit-picky.) But the biggest strike I hold against this book: I sympathize with the villain. I want the bad guys to win. You have no idea how badly.

Well, I've got a hundred pages left. Maybe something awesome happens right before the end. Like a twist or something. That'd kick ass. Or maybe right when I get to the last page? Some new-fangled brain-washing device activates and my mind cleanses itself of impure thoughts. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Chiana sleeps.

Patient Zero

I'm alive. Fresh from waking in my own bed after four days of not. We traveled with Vash and Chiana, kitty-corner in the back seat.

Wednesday morning I spent two hours in Urgent Care. A nurse ran a thermometer across my forehead. Then she asked me to change into a backless gown and said, "The doctor will see you shortly." I sat on the examination table and read Harlan Ellison's "Strange Wine."

After listening to my chest and looking deep into my ears, the doctor prescribed cough syrup with codeine and ordered a blood test. The test came back normal. My platelets are still low, that's no surprise, but my white blood cells were fine. While I waited for the blood test results, my endocrinologist called for an update. The whole blood cell count is a formality, there's only a slim chance the amount of Tapazole I'm taking would be a problem, but I'd done the right thing.

As soon as I got home (codeine cough syrup in hand) we left for our Grand Christmas Family Extravaganza. No computers. No updates. Two bereft back seat cats and a purse full of tissue, cough drops, cough syrup, and pills of many colors. That's how the Wise Men did it, right?

Family time was good. No controversy. I spent most of it doped up on one couch or another.

Our trip was secretly sponsored by the Masons. My dad gave me Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" to read and then with BF's family we saw most of "The Man Who Would Be King," and then "National Treasure." All feature references to the Masons. Hence my blanket statement.

And now it's raining. And BF caught my cold. A lot of people probably caught my cold this trip. I bet I sat next to you in the movie theatre sucking back cough drops. Or maybe I stood beside you in line at Pat & Oscar's. I single-handedly took whole families down, highlighting the inefficiency of flu-shot distribution. It was a political statement. Yeah, fight the fucking power.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

No Creature was Stirring...

The waiting is the worst part. I rather wish I hadn't remembered what the endocrinologist said, especially since the force of the recollection jolted me awake shortly before two a.m. (about 15 minutes ago).

"If you experience flu-like symptoms, go to urgent care."


In all probability it's nothing. There was a coughing child sitting behind us at the theatre on Sunday. I got sick after. That's a strong correlation, right? I'm sure it's nothing. However I can't start my Christmas fun until someone in a white coat checks my white blood cell count. I couldn't even begin to have fun until that happens, which is a shame because it's going to be a long day.

Urgent care opens at 8am. Even if I get in line at 7:30, that's still over five hours away. Five hours of tossing and turning and shallow dreaming, distantly conscious of the cough drop melting in my throat.

Again, I'm sure it's nothing. Just a sore throat and some coughing. Fucking flu-like symptoms. So much for an early start...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Chiana hides in the bowels of her new toy.

The Skies the Limit

Picture it: Costco, December, 2004. A man and woman stand before a display, discussing intently, sometimes giggling. Around them, passersby load bulk soda flats into their carts and wheel away. The woman runs her hands over the item, checking for dings and missing carpet. The man lifts one experimentally; it isn't heavy. They move the package of refrigerated chicken flautas aside, and stack their co-flats of Dr. Pepper and Diet Dr. Pepper on the bottom of the cart. Together they lift the item high over the side of the cart and set it down. It stands about ten feet tall, towering over the people. They giggle.

A fellow shopper stops to watch. "My cat would approve," she says.

And suddenly, we're those people. The mantle of invisibility is lifted and everyone is watching BF and myself wheel giant cat furniture towards the cashier. The place is crowded and every second person needs to comment. "Don't forget to douse it in cat nip!" "You're going to have some happy cats." "I wish I had the room!"

We skirt the main part of the warehouse, keeping to the edges. It's difficult to manuever a cat skyscraper, make no mistake. I run ahead to find Listerine and various oversized toiletries. Other people's eyes travel up the length of the cart and back down to us. I acknowledge their curiosity with a slight nod and a giggle.

"How come everything we buy makes us giggle?" says BF.

The cashier is short and the barcode is taped to the Penthouse suite. The cashier employs the bagger as a human ladder and for one brief shiny, moment, achieves the desired scanning height.

BF lowers the top of his convertible and we prop the cat skyscraper against the passenger's seat. He ties the tallest post down and I sit beside it, leaning in for support against the wind. Every third driver on the freeway passes us, smiling. Some wave.

Truly, dear reader, we found the holiday spirit. It lives in cat furniture from Costco. Spread the word.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Day at Play

BF and I saw a matinee of "Caroline, or Change" at the Ahmanson Theatre yesterday. I bought the tickets a month ago from -- a great site for discount theatre in LA. Our seats were "limited view" which means we couldn't always see what was happening on the far right, but that wasn't a problem. The real action was in the audience.

An older couple sat in front of us. The man was friendly. He chatted up his neighbors in good spirits; the woman scowled. Close cropped, moussed auburn hair, heavily rouged, fitted black leather jacket, thin, scarf wrapped artfully around her neck -- probably to hide her wrinkled, puckered flesh... and mean. When they sat, they were lucky enough not to have anyone in front of them. Two empty, perfect seats, which is just and fair because this woman deserved it. Though never speaking loud, she'd lean in close to her husband's ear and whisper. He'd shake his head, sigh, and then switch seats. Or listen patiently. Or look away. The woman rubbed his back with her crooked left hand in wide elliptical arcs, I suppose to soothe him.

It was a sold-out show. The only two empty seats in the whole wide theatre were in front of this lucky, lucky woman. Only... we were in limited view seating facing the far right of the stage. And to the right of these empty seats, sat two people. The show began, the seats were unclaimed, the two people slid into the empty seats.

The old woman bristled. She coughed. She jabbed her husband in the gut and threw up her hands in disgust.

At intermission she made small noises. Of the two people who'd taken the empty seats, the man turned around and said, "Are you having difficulty seeing? I could move one to the right?" And the skinny, old woman ignored him. The man repeated himself and she looked through him. When directly confronted she murmured something about her line of sight being completely blocked by this man's bald head. The old woman's husband assumed the cloak of "I'm not with her" body language. And while the woman continued her whimpering noises, we all laughed at her. I imagined the satisfaction I'd have with just a slight swift flick against the back of her head. And just so the reader's sympathy can't possibly lie with this woman, know that she could see fine. The seats are well-graded and spaced and she wasn't short or hunched over or otherwise visually challenged. Perhaps for vanity's sake she'd left her glasses at home, but that's not our fault. I could also mention spitefully that the old woman was white and the man in front of her was black and the tension seemed especially magnified by the subject matter of the play we were watching. But that'd just be petty and probably libelous, so I'll mention it only in passing.

After the play, BF and I shuffled down to the parking garage. There were more elderly people in front of us and as they struggled with their canes to enter Level 5 North, the line suddenly stopped. We could just see a pair of black boots supine against the pavement. Exclamations of, "Oh dear" and "Are you alright?" followed.

A woman fell. Most likely tripped on a step. It wasn't clear what she'd injured or how long she'd been there. Two men tried to help her up, which some of us thought may have been a bad idea, and BF ran off to find a valet or an usher or an authority figure with a walkie-talkie. It's near impossible to go up in the parking structure. They reverse the escalators and hide the stair entrances, but BF persevered and brought back help. A by-stander called 911. And the poor woman sat there, dazed, cradling her arm, and blinking wide against the light.

BF and I drove home without further incident.

Friday, December 17, 2004


I have this theory that everybody's got a filter. This filter lives somewhere between our mouths and our brain and it spends its time sorting and discarding and suggesting alternate ways of communicating. Society helped build it, but we've got no one to blame but ourselves when it fails.

My filter generally operates at 60% capacity. Lots of damning words (4 out of every 10) fall from these lips -- likewise, from these finger tips. The success of my filter depends on many factors. These factors include: sleep deprivation, hunger, temperature, caffeination, and inebriation. Sometimes my filter fails me out of spite, sometimes indifference, but environmental factors play the largest role.

It's hard to think of specific instances when my filter has failed me, yet I (heh, yet I makes yeti) can always remember how I felt after -- unclean, ashamed, woefully mistrustful of my social skills.

One of the earliest Filter Incidents occured at my sister's birthday party. A friend of my sister (for whom I did not care) presented my sister with a purse. I wasn't particularly filter-full when I said, "Yeah Mary Bell, that's great. And you know how I know it's great? She's got one already." I wish I could say I learned my lesson and never did it again. But then I'd be lying.

I vividly remember a large portion of my childhood, hours after one of these Filter Incidents, sitting at my desk and twitching. I'd be replaying the incident in my mind, my filter having turned on me. It'd scream, "This is what you should have said! Everybody hates you! Hide your shame!" And I'd rock back and forth in my chair, thinking dangerous thoughts.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I'm much better at ignoring my filter. I still shoot my mouth off and feel the old shame, only now I've got the gift of rationalization. Whenever I say something stupid, I can almost make myself believe that what I've said is the best of all possible things that could have been said. I'm brilliant and gorgeous and well-equipped to fight the filter demon. And if rational thought fails, well, there's always alcohol.

I love being a grownup.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Ides of December

Tonight I am getting gussied up for the company holiday party. At two I'll go over and help decorate. I'll hang my Stupid Bows and string clear bright lights and listen to the sweet sounds of ocean living. Then I'll race home and tear open my makeup kit and apply goop and powder and straighten and curl and wriggle into tight tight nylons. I plan NOT to put my thumb through the nylons like I usually do, because I only have black nail polish and if I tried to patch the tears with black nail polish I think I'd blow my girlish cover.

BF and I exchanged Christmas presents yesterday. I tried to hold out, I did, but I've got no will power. I bought him anime and video games. He bought me a 17" flat screen monitor. Wha? Where the hell did he hide that? I couldn't stop saying, "But how-- where--? You bought me a monitor?!!"

In order to attend tonight's ball, I must up like Cinderella and finish what I'm working on. Or no makeup for me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Joy of Bows

I don't have a lot to say. Mostly because all I can think about is work and how there's no way I'll finish everything I need to do before Friday. But that'd be such a downer. I could tell you how I worked through the weekend or until 7pm yesterday. Or I could go on for paragraphs about stress, but you don't want to hear it. So I'll just say that for some stupid reason, I volunteered to be on the Holiday Party Committee. In my free time, I make stupid bows. Before last Friday, I'd never made a bow. Now I've got 10 to my credit. They're fancy bows too, all dangly and sparkly and bow-like. The first bow I made though, it was like one of those malformed clone creatures in Alien 4. You could see a hint of bow in its amorphous wiggly mass, but really, looking at it made me feel all Dr. Moreau-like. What foul abomination is this? I asked myself. Certainly not a Floral Bow. I took it out behind the shed and put a bullet in its head. So much for a Happy Holiday.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Can I Get An Amen?

From IMDB:
Movie Ordered To Axe Religious References

Hollywood studio New Line have banned proposed references to God and the church from new film His Dark Materials. Philip Pullman's screenplay portrays the church as an institution which is experimenting on its congregation in a effort to remove original sin. But the strong religious material terrified New Line bosses, and director Chris Weitz agrees changes were necessary for the scripts big screen incarnation. He says, "They have expressed worry about the possibility of perceived anti-religiosity. "All my best efforts will be directed towards keeping the film as liberating and iconoclastic an experience as I can. But there may be some modification of terms. "I have no desire to change the nature or intentions of the villains of the piece, but they may appear in more subtle guises."

Why would a studio make a movie based on these books if the studio was afraid of religion? Newsflash, New Line. The books are about religion. You take that out and there's no story. And that's a shame. Because so far -- I'm only half-way through the trilogy -- this is one of the best stories I've ever read.

Too bad New Line isn't doing the Chronicles of Narnia. I hear there's absolutely no references to God or the church in that. (ha) Or how about those Madeleine L'Engle books? No God propaganda in those either.

It's not like their target audience -- little kids -- will even get the religious undertones. They'll be so caught up rooting for Lyra and the armored bears, the subtext'll mean zilch.

Or maybe I'm just one of THOSE people. Maybe I'm saying these things to throw you off track. Maybe I eat kids. Especially unbaptized kids. Everybody knows they're the tastiest.

I'm just sayin'...

Pizza and Wine Make for Good Times

As a belated and preemptive birthday present for BF and me, last night our friend treated us to a wine and pizza tasting. The chef from Pizza Mizza -- my FAVORITE pizza place -- served up choice slices from their entire pizza catalogue while the folks at East Beach Wine kept our glasses full (to the one inch line). A 2001 Sangiovese from Di Bruno was the group favorite.

I was starstruck to meet the Pizza Mizza chef. At one point I found myself gushing about how much I like his goat cheese, mushroom, and red pepper pizza. He asked if I had any ideas for new pizzas and after blushing and saying "I don't know. It's all so good the way it is," I said "Gee, well, I love brie. Maybe something with brie?" Then he told us about how he used to own a bakery in town and one of his most popular items was a lattice-work baked brie. So I said, "Mmm, make the pizza like that. Just a big slab of brie with dough all around it." He asked me my name, I told him, and he said they'd call it after me. They'd have to, since I'm the only one who'd eat it. We laughed and laughed. And no, it had nothing to do with the wine, thank you very much. Or did it...

And then suddenly and without warning, everybody was run over by a truck.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Trixie McNasty

On Friday, February 4, 10am, I'm scheduled for LASIK. I've given the bookish thing a go, now I'm gonna try slut. Because hey, why stop at lasers? Extreme makeover here I come! With a little pluck here and a tiny tuck there, you too can reap the cosmetic benefits of our vain age.

I'm through being limited by prescription sunglasses. I want choice, damn it! I'm sick of seeing the world through a haze of greasy fingerprints. They never come clean! And the constant ring around the eyeball, blocking my field of vision? So stifling! It's enough to make a girl claustrophobic.

It sounds so futuristic. I'm going under the lasers. I'll be like that chick in Neuromancer -- I've always wanted to be that chick. Maybe the doctor'll screw shields over my eyes if I pay extra. That'd be awesome! Then maybe I'd find work as a cyberpunk assassin. I'll carve myself a niche in the cutthroat world of international espionage.

Hey, you don't know. It could totally happen.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The In-Between

I've been flitting above and around what needs to be done. Sometimes I swoop down to pick low hanging fruit, but mostly I'm too high for science. And tired. But then, I think we're all tired.

Crunch time at work. More doctor's appointments. Submitted my play to two places. Now we're caught up.

After too many pills and needles and vials filled with blood, the doctors (there are four now) decided I don't have Cat Scratch Disease. Whatever it is, it's viral and sneaky and going away on its own. There is still the thyroiditis and pills to keep my heartbeat steady and slow. Normally my pulse is over 100 beats per minute, but the pills drag it down to 80.

I am reading Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. It's one of those rare series that hook my skin and tug and poke and demand attention. It's magnificent.

It's Sunday. At 10am I went to work. I left at 4pm. I drank too much diet Coke. My head hurts.

There are books on style and structure I've got to read. I put the subject in the wrong place. My sentences are passive. My words don't flow. My outlines suck. It's frustrating because it's not about writing, it's about my ego. I've got to get past my ego. So much of this now is learning how to listen. And rubbing it raw.