Sunday, January 30, 2005

Fun Stuff: Panic & Depression

Am pretty down this weekend, can't seem to do anything lately but lie in bed & read mysteries. Partly it's because I'm lonely, I really need to get some new friends - join something, I guess, a book club or AA or something. Or do the time honored middle aged lady thing and take up yoga and enlightenment - but unfortunately, unlike your standard issue empty nest middle aged lady, I have neglected to amass any money, which closes off a lot of those spa/retreat/enlightenment weekend things. So I'm spiralling downward into a familiar dark depression center, a place where I spend too much of my time, and maybe I'll put myself back on Lexapro although probably what I really need is therapy, but again, that costs money, and I don't have any money. I just sort of need a kick in the ass to get myself moving again. Right now I'm blasting Elvis Costello & hoping it will get me moving but it isn't working. Spike is the wrong album for that.

I do need more people in my life; I haven't seen a living soul since Friday evening and I won't until I go to work, and then I'll see F, and whether my coworker F can be called a living being is a moot point. I'm afraid I'm turning into him; this is like my worst and deepest and secret fear. He's worked at the museum for 15 years - averaging 12 hours a day, 7 days a week - and he has NO life, just 6 or 8 cats and a lot of creepy pathological habits.

I had great plans to write a concise and helpful guide to panic disorder but I've sort of lost interest. The key thing about handling anxiety & panic attacks is noticing them before they get a full hold on you - then you can subvert them. Become an expert on yourself - catch them as they start and you can shorten them totally. Of course, this doesn't always work. Sometimes, like in the middle of the night, they get you with no warning and there you are, stuck in the middle of one. Recognize it, greet it like an old friend, ride with it, keep riding it - move around, drink water drink water drink water - and it will eventually taper off and leave. I did it, I have done it, I have managed to handle 10 years of panic attacks and remain sane and get the fuckers under control. So either I'm incredibly strong, or it's not that hard if you just work at it. It's work, it's no fun - but it's doable.

Okay, now I'm listening to Mary Prankster which I had forgotten I had, and this may well cheer me up. Tits and Whiskey, and yes, "All I want's a boy who's not a violent sociopath." Which sort of cuts right to the heart of the problem, doesn't it? 6 months of celibacy and counting; it's getting me down a bit. And here comes Valentine's day, tee fucking riffic. I can hardly wait.
"I need a mohawked, tattooed, flannel-clad
Combat-booted lovely lad
To take me up to Punk Rock Heaven"
- Mary Prankster, who else?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Panic Attacks, Anxiety Disorder, and Weird Brooklyn Accents

I went out for a bit tonight with my best friend J. I had a really good time - for no real reason, but we just talked and got into this complete & utter girl girl girl talk: waxing, and have you ever had sex with a really hairy guy kind of stuff. Cracked me up, it was awesome, and the really hysterically funny thing, which I heard at the time but didn't mention, is that for some unknown reason, we both were talking really fast, in Brooklyn accents. I swear. Two South Carolina girls, whose normal voices would cause most Brooklyners to faint, were having this intense discussion in complete New Yorkese. I don't have the faintest idea why, but it was so funny, and we didn't even talk about it at the time.

One of the things we talked about fitted neatly into this thread, which I came on when I got home & decided to keep drinking and being online, when in a sane world I would have gone to bed (okay, I'm drunk) but anyway, I'm now thinking about panic, it's role in my life, and how it works, where it comes in, etc. Which is also partly about M, and his freakout on Strattera, which was so akin to my freakout on Wellbutrin. J.'s horrible boyfriend was there for a bit tonight, we talked about it - his son went to the same hippie school where M. goes, and he is on Ritalin & Wellbutrin (not the son, the boyfriend)and so we talked about dopamine, neuropinephrine, etc. Our thesis is that Wellbutrin & Strattera work on the same part of the brain, and M. has clearly inherited my tremendous mood sensitivity to such. That would probably be why the shrink looked so interested when I said that Wellbutrin had made me nearly catatonic - and why, FUCK, if it was so important, didn't she FUCKING ASK ME about what I had taken and how it had affected me? I am furious at myself for not volunteering the information - but how the hell was I to know? Gah. Now I'm going to put my son on Ritalin, should I say that I hated speed? Well, hated is too strong - speed was okay, I had some fun snorting black beautys back in the day - but it was never my drug of choice and meth was horrible, horrible, horrible - like angel dust/greens, gross and miserable and also, yes, panic inducing. But how do you know? When I was 17 and had 4 teeth pulled, the dentist used gas and it was awesome. Gas was great fun in balloons at various shows in my 20s. So when I went to the dentist for this miserable periodontal work 4 weeks ago, I asked for gas. He put the mask on and within 10 minutes I was FLIPPING out - pulled the mask off. And he said, in a very urgent voice "Do you have anxiety disorder?" and I said, "yes, yes" and he immediately gave me straight oxygen and said, "No, you should never have gas, it's completely contraindicted for people with anxiety." Note that he didn't ask BEFORE they gave me the gas.

On to panic. J reminded me of when I was on Wellbutrin, and I was walking down the street with her, turned to her and said, "I am freaking out, I can barely keep on going." And she said, "You looked so normal, I was really surprised, but then I could see behind your eyes that you were just lost." I had forgotten that specific day, but I immediately remembered it. You don't forget that shit. You never forget it for long enough.

The first serious panic attack I had was the day after my wedding, and I ended up in the emergency room, curled in a ball, hyperventilating to a point where I couldn't even feel my body at all, and the evil country doctor hissed at me: "What drugs are you ON?" Nothing, hangover, my period, the stress of catering my own wedding - and marrying a man who had already been unfaithful to me, who was mean as a snake (be fair - he was also as sexy as they come, and we tried, we both tried). So that is how I started learning about panic attacks, and how they feel, and whence they come.

They come from fucking nowhere, is where they fucking come. Actually I overheard these two girls at a bar once discussing them, and the one girl had a theory that they have to do with smell, that when you are a very small child something traumatic happens to you, and even though you don't consciously remember it, the smell of the room you are in at the time is lodged in your memory forever, so anytime you smell it again, you go into panic mode. If this is true, then I was horribly traumatized in a chamber of commerce boardroom, because while my triggers are many, and wildly spread, there's one sure one: I can absolutely depend on a corporate type meeting in a hotel conference room to trigger one.

Okay, I'm going to have to come back to this. I wanted to write a whole thing about how to deal with anxiety disorder, and I'm going to, but not tonight. Tomorrow is supposed to be a snow/ice storm and I'm ready; I'm so ready, in fact, that there is no way in hell it's going to happen. So ciao & goodnight, y'all nonexistent readers, hee hee.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Movie Column

Okay, so I have yielded to nonexistent pressure and become a movie watching lameass slacker. Now, for the first time in years and years, I have a movie player in my living room, and I am a happy little vegetable.

This is what I have watched so far, in roughly reverse chronological order:
Cold Mountain. Almost as depressing as the book, but not quite. Although the depressing effect of Nicole Kidman's really really bad Southern accent added to the overall misery.
The Royal Tenenbaums, okay, not as good as I had hoped it would be, but okay and featuring the to me adorable Owen Wilson, so good eye candy.
Bedazzled, 1990s version, not the really good 60s version. Not good but not as bad as I remembered it being either. I had actually totally forgotten that I saw this movie.
Garden State, I didn't like it. I am like the one person I know who didn't like it, but there you have it. I didn't buy that a 26 year old would never have dumped his meds, and I also didn't get why, if he left town as a 15 year old, he still had so many druggie friends in town. Why do they remember him?
Scotland, PA, ROCKED. This is the best. movie. EVAH.
Moonstruck. I am the only person who had never seen it, and I immediately paused it to do research - it was made in 1987, when Cher was exactly the age I am now (41) and Nicolas Cage (see also, Great Love of My Life) who is exactly my age in real life, was 23. Thus, it gives me hope that I can go ahead and seduce a 23 year old and it will all be okay. Other than that, well, hmmm, it's a nice movie, but not the best thing since sliced bread. Also, Cher's accent sucks. I think.
I, Robot. Will Smith is cute; movie makes no sense, on any level. For example: half the bad shit that goes down could have been prevented by the shocking modern introduction of. . . cameras. Yes! What a far fetched idea! Cameras on the roadway, security cameras in the buildings - I know it's crazy, noone will ever implement such a radical idea.
Princess Mononoke, why don't I just OWN this? Another best. movie. evah.
Spiderman 2: Yuck. Let Doc Ock have him, why the hell not?
Shaun of the Dead: YAY! Extremely funny & gruesome & all round great.
Mona Lisa Smile. Cute.
Around the World in 80 Days. WORST. movie. EVAH. But not bad enough to be good.
Napoleon Dynamite. Wonderful! Fantastic! And reminded me so much of my friend C! And I just genuinely liked this movie, it was so sweet, and muddly, and not quite put together right, like Napoleon. Really good, really really good.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is my favorite museum in the world and why I ended up working in museums, although I probably should have kept up with that early anthropology/archaeology interest instead of veering towards art, so as to avoid the doomed career path I find myself on today. However and alas, it is true, I love museums, and I love that one, in particular. I love the heavy mahogany boards around each big diorama** of death. I love the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Brontosaurus of my childhood, and I refuse to admit that they might have been assembled wrong.

The whole thing is so Victorian: marble, and high ceilings, and strange lighting, and big enormous hunks of mahogany everywhere, and arches, and nooks, and all the oddities that neo-gothicism could ever have gifted us with. Plus, dead animals, and mannequins dressed in "tribal" clothing. How could you not love this place? When I was a kid I wanted to grow up & work there; I thought I would have an office filled with bones, and a big dusty mahogany desk, and every so often somebody would come in and bring me a new bone, and I would look at it. That would be my job: looking at bones.

** NOTE: Their website SUCKS! I mean it SUCKS, in a big big way. It sucks just as badly as the website of the nameless museum where I work, which I assure you sucks on a professional level. I wanted to link to a picture here from the Hall of African Mammals, which is so awful and so awesome, so oddly 19th century - and I can't, because they bite. I'm doing it anyway, but I know they bite, I am not ignorant, just willful. Hee hee.

ANYWAY. The AMNH, if you have never been there, is full of dinosaur bones, and the Irish Elk, (that one's from Chicago, the NY one isn't online) which filled me with weird nationalistic pride at age 8, and the giant blue whale, which used to be over the entrance but now is beautifully situated over a BAR (or was, the last time I was there which I admit was 5 years ago,) and lots and lots of dioramas of taxidermied to the nth extreme animals shot by intrepid 19th century Explorer-Scientists in frock coats and top hats. Dioramas, yes, just like the ones you made in shoeboxes in grade school, only these are BIG, and have real dead animals in them, and beeee-yooo-ti-fully painted backgrounds complete with Renaissance clouds and birds, and hills, and horizons. The animals are posed in exciting tableau vivant, or, I guess, mortant, kinda poses, like the polar bear , who has just killed this seal, which is looking even deader than usual, fake blood and all. Meanwhile, the other seals are beating a hasty retreat in the background, going "FUCK! What the fuck was THAT?! WHOA!" This, in all it's strange mahogany Victorian glory, was one of my favorite places as a kid, and remains one today.

So, of course, I brought my own kids there. My daughter A., aged 5 or so, ran from water fountain to water fountain, all the way through the halls, and hardly stopped, the first time. We went back, though (we lived there, then, in a rat infested East Village tenement with a hermaphrodite homeless person on the steps and a crazy Puerto Rican lady on the first floor and a bathtub in the kitchen) and one day, in the Hall of Asian Peoples, she turned to me and said, in a hushed whisper "Mom? Are the people stuffed too?" And I don't think she ever quite got over it, or believed me when I told her no, of course not.

Some years later, in a stroke of mad divorced parental genius, I arranged to hand her over to her father for the summer there. All divorced parents know these handover points, so strange, so strained, so . . well, so. I hit on the bar under the whale, because I wanted to go to New York anyway, and I loved it there, and by that time I had M, who was about 3 or 4. A. was 10 or 11. We went there, and did the whole museum, and I was exhausted and very happy to sit under the whale with a beer, while the kids roamed the hall around it, exploring the polar dioramas. M had already had to be pulled off half the exhibits in the place, trying to climb the dinosaurs, of course. So A, never one to miss an opportunity, says to her younger brother, "Do you know these animals are DEAD?" "Dead?" he said uncertainly. "DEAD!" said his sister, "COMPLETELY DEAD! Everything here is DEAD!" M is charmed by this idea and yells "DEAD! DEAD! ALL DEAD!" at the top of his lungs. A eggs him on and they start racing from diorama to diorama, wailing "DEAD! DEATH, DEATH! DEAD AND STUFFED!" Sometimes M. throws himself down on his back, wailing "DEATH!" and the tourists and school groups parted like the Red Sea before them as they went. I nearly fell over laughing, meanwhile, of course, pretending I had never met these horrible morbid children. It was brilliant.

This is the kind of thing that makes my friends and family wonder about me and my kids. And it's the kind of thing that reassures me about me and my kids.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Serious Shit

M wigged out on his medication, got completely depressed and called me up in tears, begging to come home. That was last night. Talked to him on the phone for an hour, finally made him laugh (imitation of Toby as a farting, dozing off British general is what did it, for anyone who doubts my comic genius) and got him to go to bed. Met with the shrink today at 2:00; he's off Strattera, has a five day detox period, and next we try Ritalin. Ritalin works on dopamine, as I understand it, whereas Strattera worked on the neuropinephrine. The doctor seemed to think that my experience of becoming catatonic through Wellbutrin (increased the panic attacks to a point where I could no longer function) was noteworthy. I think the fucking doctors should have to TAKE every drug they prescribe, for a month, before they should be allowed to happily hand them out.

The whole thing has sucked so bad, from the teachers telling me "He's actually doing his homework and acting mature, he prioritizes and makes sense! Keep him on it!" to M on the phone sobbing "I'm so unhappy, I'm so stressed, I can't do this" to my old friend M from Baltimore telling me, "Get him off it! He'll have a heart attack in 20 years!" to me, up all Sunday night thinking about his chapped face on Saturday, and is this the onset of some horrible speed related OCD face licking picking thing? Until I called the school at 7:30 in the morning and said, cut the drugs in half, I can't stand this. And then M. wigged; I have not heard him like this since he was about 4, if ever. My gut instinct, as an overly doting mother, was to take Panda, who is still safely stored away in his room (13, you know, is still a little kid) and drive him up there, and then just hold them both, M & Panda, until it was all okay. And probably I should have, but I didn't, because, of course, he has to separate from me, we have been too close for too long, and he is making, now, his own identity.

It's a good damn thing I don't have any more kids because I could not go through adolescence again. It's just starting with M and already it's just so hard, so fucking hard.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Reports on an Incident, by Her Majesty's Army

Hrrrrrrrrrmmmuph, ahem. Reporting in, this is Colonel Tobias O'Finnerty McDougal O'Toole Von Heffernan. Must admit, ahem, last nights' incident got past me a bit. Not as young as I used to be, ahem. Hrrrumph. When I was a young pup, patrols were patrols, I say! And troops were troops! Damme, young Theophilus! Pay Attention! When I was a young pup, as I was saying, the Brigadier Ma'am's house and grounds and neighborhood, assorted nearby fields, Patterson Park and the butcher shop on Eastern Avenue, the one with the very reasonable, pleasant human in it, was adequately patroled. I looked out for my people! Nothing got by me! When I was a young dog, and the fields were green, and we went places in the car: the woods, and the salty water, there was no rat who would try to get by me. Furry tailed rats, rats on land, rats with long ears, bounding large rats with antlers - all the same, don't you see? I brought them all in. Kept my bounds, followed the perimeters, took care of The Boy and The Girl - I did a job. A good job. And the Brigadier Ma'am was pleased with me. Gave me a Bone of Milk. . did I tell you, young Theophilus, of one time those uppity cats. . . those uppity cats. . . and one of those squirrels. . . hmmmmmm. . . don't mind me. . think I'll take a little shut eye now. . . don't miss a thing really. . . damn that new kibble, takes a man by surprise, just a little healthy gas you know - no call to shout like that. . .

He's asleep again. He can't even get up on HER bed anymore. I'm not supposed to get up there either but she doesn't really mean that. She can't mean that. That would make me sad. Nobody wants to make me sad. I hate being sad. And when she's not here I'm in charge, after all! Yeah, me! Me me me me me me! Theo!! Theophilus Q. Dogge, at your service! I love you! I'll love you even more if you just move over here - no, not there, here. Okay, that's good. Now stay there. The cats and Toby were having some conversation about some other animal in the house. Hey, yeah, I say, the more the merrier! Let's have a party! I like parties! Party on, most righteous dudes & dudettes! Just make sure that you STAY IN ONE PLACE TOGETHER AT ALL TIMES AND NOTHING GETS OUT OF HAND. Hey! If you try to leave the room I'll make sure you all get back together in a nice clump. Can't figure out what it is, but I sure feel better when everyone gets all in a nice clump! And then I'd like to sit on your lap! Oh right, the new animal. Mr. Bill was going to eat it, I think. I like to eat things. Mr. Bill just laughs at me sometimes and that makes me sad. But then I put him in a clump and I feel better! I don't want to eat the new animal - I want to herd it into a clump with everyone! We'll all feel better than and when SHE comes home, she'll be so happy that I have everyone all lined up nicely on her bed. That is the best idea ever! She might give me a Bone of Milk! And The Boy and The Girl will let me sleep on their beds and lick their faces all night long and then, at 7:30 am prompt, I'll wake them up and herd them into the kitchen. That will be perfect.

I am Barbieri, the Magnificent. Look on me, ye lowly, and admire. Ha! I saw the whole rat thing, I observed, in fact it was I, I and no other, who brought the prey to bay. I did it all! I allowed Mr. Bill to corner it, and play with it, and bring it to it's rodent knees - I often allow Mr. Bill the chance, you see, to exercise a little, to get a workout. I am kind to my younger brother. I am, after all, Magnificent and Alluring. Did you happen to notice that my coat is all gray? Do you see how slick and glossy and elegant it is? I've heard many good things about it, and my Abyssinian eyes. It would be terrible if I got blood or anything on a coat like this - I think it's a good idea to take care of your coat. So I kindly allow Mr. Bill to do that sort of thing. But it's really me, you know, I'm the ONE, I'm the cool one. I like to go outside and leap around, but not to the degree where it might mess up my coat. SHE laughed at me today. She has something warm and interesting looking going on in that hole at the end of the living room and I went over to investigate, and she smacked me and laughed and said something about me not having the instincts to know that fire is dangerous! Nothing is dangerous to me, I am invincible, beauteous and MAGNIFICENT! Perhaps I will bite her leg again in the morning, as I often do if she is slow getting the canned food out. It's the least I can do.

My world domination plans were interrupted by another experiment last evening. They call me Mr. Bill, but I think that Dr. Bill is really more appropriate. Or Generalissimo Dr. Bill, that might work. At any rate, I had almost worked out the formulae by which I could easily take over the world, too, and issued a press release. However, the proximity of rattus rattus gave me play to investigate some hypotheses I have often wondered about. Always difficult, dividing one's attention between the labwork, my sonata, or my current treatise on Hegel. This experiment, however, was a nice break - you know, mens sana in corpore sano and all that, a little physical exercise is often refreshing for those of us who dwell so in the world of the mind. I instructed Barbieri to flush it from the edge of the room (he can follow simple directions, words of one syllable and the like) and he did admirably. He is my brother after all. Blood will tell, or can it? I have been trying to isolate his DNA and match it up against mine. Then I proceeded to perform a slight vivisection and produced some fascinating results which I was about to process when SHE came home and made that appalling noise. Not helpful, the procedure was incomplete when SHE incomprehensibly sent the rodent on it's way. I will have to lure another one in here to complete my experiments; an annoying setback, to be sure, but not a final one. Fortunately, I was able to persuade the old windbag and the younger, stupider dog, that I was actually protecting the home. It's amazing what they will fall for.

Friday, January 21, 2005


I just got home after a nice evening out drinking and the cats had a fucking RAT in the dining room! At first I thought it was a toy, I couldn't believe that something REAL could squeak quite so loudly, but no such luck, it was a half dead rat. So I tried closing the doors into the other rooms while shrieking "Just kill it! Kill it!" but that didn't work at all, in fact the cats apparently had been waiting for me to come home so they could share. So I shrieked some more and got the broom, after throwing some cardboard at it, which accomplished precisely nothing, but I was thinking I could be tough and then squush it under the cardboard, but I am not that tough. SO I took the broom and I herded it to the front door and then I broomed it out onto the porch, and oh sweet jesus who I don't much believe in PLEASE make it have gone off and died somewhere else, because even though this is cruel and wrong, and if I had half a heart or was a sturdier soul I would go out and put an end to it's misery (with what, exactly? An axe?) I am a chicken shit mouse phobic terrified girly freak and I do NOT not not want to deal tomorrow with having to leave the house with a half dead or maybe horribly revived rat out on the porch. Oh holy shit, there are probably MORE rats in the house, and what do I do? I knew we had mice, but this was no mouse, this was a fucking RAT. Aaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuggggggggghhhhhhh!!!!

The update, thus far: the day after, 6:30 pm. Thank the gods for the monkeys, they're saving my sanity. And my other friend J, my brave friend who ventured to the basement & told me it was not too bad and then set some traps & said she would come back over to check them in a few days. My skin is crawling and I have the heebie jeebies to an almost unprecedented extent, but that may also be PMS, which is unfortunately currently controlling my emotions, so I keep starting to sniffle at my sad single state. I mean, this kind of thing is what boyfriends were invented for! Wish I had one. Or a roommate. Or a housekeeper, or an indentured servant, or something. A friendly robot.

I am going off the deep end, I just explained to Toby that he needed to shake this old age stuff and protect me from rats the way he always used to. Poor old Tobe, he can't help it, he is so old now and hasn't been feeling real well the last few days. It's not that I don't love Theo, annoying though he is, I do, madly - but Toby is the smartest most wonderful dog in the world, and now he's so old, so very old, and he can't see, and he can't hear real well, and he staggers and hobbles with the arthritis. Wish he had caught that rat last night, it would have given him a new lease on life. He was ecstatic when he caught the skunk two years ago, although granted that was not his brightest moment. Still he was protecting me and Theo, who was just a puppy then, and it turns out the folk tale about tomato juice is true, although the whole thing is really only funny in retrospect.

Last night, interestingly enough, it was Mr. Bill who had the rat, and Barbieri was observing intently from across the room. For all Barbieri's bravado and swagger, I have long thought that Mr. Bill, the "shy" one, was the real brains of the operation, and I was right. Mr. Bill has another scrape on his nose (he often does) and now I'm worried that they're rat souvenirs. I hope he can't/won't catch anything; what could cats catch from rats anyway? Baseball bats? Flats? Rodents can't have rabies, right? God I hope so.

Steve Earle and Condi, Condi

I was going to make this just part of my last post but I think I'll let it stand alone. I'm having a lot of trouble liking Steve Earle's song Condi, Condi . Now, I genuinely like Steve Earle. I went to see him at the anti mass media tour with Billy Bragg, and he was awesome, and blew me away, as did the whole thing, and then I kissed Billy Bragg on the cheek and that made my evening, if not my life. If I hadn't spent all my money on a bad-job-angst drunken bingeout with my friend D on Tuesday night, I'd even go see Steve Earle again on Friday (oh yeah, and if the one man in Asheville I never want to see again wasn't almost guaranteed to be there, there is that too, okay, I admit that.) I own one of his CDs and I'd like to own more. And I do not like Condoleeza Rice; I think she's a power crazed, lying attack dog on a not short enough leash. The kindest thing I can say about here is maybe she's just stupid and misled, and I think that's probably part of it, but only part.

However. This song is bugging me: basically, I think it's sexist. I don't think it's appropriate to protest a woman in power by turning her into a purely sexual figure, and that is what I'm getting from the song. I haven't heard or read any interviews with Steve Earle; I don't know what he meant, but that's my take on it. FWIW, I have a broad sense of humor and I rarely cry sexism, but this time I am being made vastly uncomfortable. I would love to find out I'm wrong, but I don't think I am, and that saddens me. I admire him less for it. I think, hope, he's smarter than that. But there is too long of a history of dismissing women with power by mocking them sexually, by claiming that they are nothing but their sex, for a song like this to be funny to me. And I have nothing against "women are dumb & evil" songs for the most part, hell, I laughed hysterically once at the Gray Eagle at a song about duct taping your girlfriend up in the trunk of your car - but this song is truly making me unhappy. Damn.

More Work Angst and Inauguration Woes

I am even more bummed out by this work thing than I thought I was. I thought I was pretty damn bummed, but in actual fact I sort of feel like I was hit by a truck. I don't like being passed over for a job by someone who is totally less qualified than I am. It sucks and I'm freaking out and it's sort of poleaxed me to the point where all I can do is sit and surf the web. I took yesterday off as a mental health day and went to the Goodwill and bought a dozen mystery novels (my big stroke of luck, I guess it was the silver lining) and I've already read three of them. I still want to know if it's really that noir in New Orleans (more James Lee Burke.)I know I need to get off my ass ASAP and get another job, but I just feel kind of like a deer in the headlights.

Meanwhile, of course, King George the Unpleasant is being crowned with great pomp and circumstance and I'm trying hard not to let it get me down. I am failing. I don't want to go all political but I am terrified for the future of this country, with a bunch of deeply evil, lying, corrupt, hypocritical Jebus freaks at the helm. All politicians are whores, yes, this is true - but the current crew takes the old and honorable profession of prostitution and to a new and deeper low. At least hookers bring some pleasure or at least a surcease from pain to somebody, but the Bush crowd are just out to screw us all.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Party Party Weekend: Festivus! Then Work Angst

My friend M's annual Festivus party, in exciting McClellanville, SC was totally fun and much great times, etc., was had by all. I rented a car - a shiny black groovy little Dodge which would have been perfect except for the fact that the CD player didn't work because someone had jammed a truly horrible sort of 70s rock cover thing in there - and drove down on Friday evening, came back last night. I got in around 10 Friday night and the elaborate smoking of two big pork shoulders was well under way with all kinds of high tech thermometers and worrying and huddling in conference and drinking PBRs around this truly cool huge cement block smoker/grill thing that M has built in his yard. Saturday was more setup, washing of oysters, making of baked beans from scratch (they didn't turn out too well IMHO, but now I know what to do next time) and cuddling of other old friend's adorable 6 week old daughter. Many many people showed up, lots of old friends, much beer was drunk, much bbq & oysters & crabs were eaten; there was music and fireworks and a huge bonfire, all good. And it didn't rain until after the party ended - and although it was COLD, it wasn't unbearable as long as you stayed near the fire. As soon as my film is developed I will post pictures, be excited.

Digital camera aside: I don't have one. And the reason I don't was actually reiterated at the party, where I was the only person taking pictures, with my trusty old point n' shoot, as well as being probably the only one who doesn't own a digital. The thing is, I can get mine developed & put on a CD for like $2 more, and then I have prints which I can immediately put into my obsessively organized photo albums, AND jpgs to play with. If they were just .jpgs I would never print them, which is what one of my friends at the party was saying: she never bothers to print them, so what good are they? After all, if we do go to war with Iran and it's the end of the world as we know it, and we have zero sum culture, a CD will do you no good. But you can huddle around the tire fire in the bombed out supermarket and flip through photo albums and have yourself a nice nostalgic weep.

Now the weather here today is unbearable. Which just makes being back at my job so wonderful, and then my boss just had a talk with me, and I didn't get the job I was trying to get here. And I'm pissed off. I am so qualified for this job, I would be so good at it, and it SUCKS that my boss didn't see fit to give it to me. So now I am just all upset. I knew she wasn't going to give it to me, and I know the reasons, and some of them are even what she just told me with sugar on it, which is that she doesn't think she can find anyone to do what I'm currently doing (masochists like me don't come along every day) but I'm still upset. So, blah. Must find new job. . . must find new job. . .

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Lucky this Morning

Not so hungover after all; possibly since I stopped drinking at like 9:30 last night and watched Shaun of the Dead (hysterical) and then, obviously, started scanning & posting images here. I'm a little worried about them actually and considering deleting; there's a school of thought that says you should maintain anonymity at all costs and never post your picture, lest the deranged stalker people find you and start their dastardly deeds. I go back and forth on this one. . sometimes I believe it, sometimes I think, the hell with it, go ahead and stalk, make my day. At any rate I kind of doubt anyone could recognize me today from those two pictures, LOL.

Wondering why I'm thinking about the past and realizing that, while you're supposed to be much more confident when you're as old as I am, I actually have somehow gotten less. I think it has something to do with living near my mother for the first time since I was 23. I used to have tremendous confidence in my own ability to create and live by my own moral & otherwise code, to be completely unique, but then somewhere along the way I got lost and started trying to live by the dominant paradigm. With, of course, sort of unremittingly awful results. I'm not normal and I'm tired of trying to pretend I am. Also, I don't make enough money to be normal. And I rejected a lot of middle American socio/sexual mores a long time ago; when did I lose my mind and start listening to idiots on the media who were trying to sell me the Rules? Fuck that shit. I can't live like that, and I'm tired of wanting a relationship, so I'm just not going to want one anymore. I'm going to have fun, dammit, and stop worrying so much. The angst is wearing me down; I'm done with it.

fliss vermont 95

fliss vermont 95
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
And halfway between then and now, this is N's cabin porch up on the mountain near Lake Willoughby, in the Northeast Kingdom, sometime in the mid 90s, when I still had serious hair.

fliss at 17

fliss at 17
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Seventeen years old, American School of Mallorca, 1981. B-drinking at the Carousel bar in Terreno; spending weekends in Deia. And wearing a silver unicorn necklace like every other twee American teenager, sigh.

Waxing Nostalgic

That would be why I'm posting these photos. I need to give this nostalgia thing up, because it's poison, and I know it. But sometimes it's irresistible. Think we can pretty much bank on a hangover tomorrow, too. Work today was hideous. I have to find another job, or become independently wealthy somehow. Rob a bank, maybe, in a daring crime that will never be discovered, or something. There has to be something better than what I'm doing. I'm ready to be a secretary or something, anything that will make me some money and get me out of where I am.

Also, I got my scanner working again, and I know from bitter experience that when it works, I had better scan everything in the house, because there's no telling when it will work again. You have to reload the drivers every time you want to use it. . . (ominous music) . . . and that doesn't even work half the time. But, once it starts running, it will keep on going. It's pausing that's the issue. If only I could just scan continuously, without getting bored, or sleeping. Thus: lots of newly uploaded scanned pix.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

African Music and Buff Chicks and a Recipe

Okay, WNCW has been playing this band - Tinariwen - and I think I have to have their new CD. Click on the listen to this gig on the link and you'll see why. And it's quite weird for me, I don't usually venture out of the English speaking world for my music, I get too hung up on story over sound. But this is. . . awesome. It's the combination of the electric guitar and the ancient other warbling sounds I think that's getting to me. Too cool.

The gym is being inundated by buff chicks! This sucks! I can't stand it. My gym has always been a haven for aging lesbians and larger, water-aerobics-taking ladies in their 60s - it's a place where I can go in my 80s leggings and giant hideous T-shirts and not feel weird for my lack of spandex. Also, it's a place where I don't have to wait in line to use any of the three pieces of gym equipment I feel comfortable with: the treadmill, the elliptical, and the rowing machine. Actually I'm still a little unsure about the rowing machine. I've been going there for about 3 years and I like it, and until the past couple weeks, I have secretly reveled in the feeling that I was one of the buffest women there. Yes! It was the only place I've ever been that I actually felt like a jock. And a young, hip, jock at that. Well, it's all over now.

All of a sudden there are fit and fabulous 20 somethings in fancy exercise wear (why? Why fancy exercise clothes, oh lord? Why would you wear something all tight and horrible to exercise in? Why spend money on clothes you are just going to sweat in?,) and the machines are full, and you have to sign up, and the gym guy, who usually dozes at his desk with a magazine, is being forced to run here and there as people fight over the machines. This is dastardly. I love the YW, I mean, they want to eliminate racism, what's not to like? Okay that might be a slightly lofty goal for a small town YWCA with a gym, pool and day care center; but I think it's admirable - charming, even - that they have it. So I guess I now have to be glad that they're making more money and thus will be able to eliminate more racism. But all the contrast is now making my tummy look more realistic in the locker room: it looks, in fact, like the belly of a 41 year old woman who has 2 children, who likes to cook and loves to eat and drink beer. Rats.

So, to cheer myself up after the crowded gym, I made a diet meal. . .Post Party Mac N' Cheese! Wahooooo!!! Here is the recipe. Be impressed.

Boil water for pasta. Butter a ceramic lasagne type pan. God my brain is gone - what do they call those things? Like a roasting pan? Not as deep as a casserole dish, and rectangular, with rounded corners. Sometimes made of Pyrex. You have one. Everyone has one. Take all the leftover cheese in the fridge, especially if you have a lot since your mom bought tons for a party and can't use it. I mean all of it, the smoked gouda, the bleu, the parmesan, the feta - all of it. If you only have boring cheeses, then press a couple cloves of garlic in with your cheese. You don't need it if you have exciting cheese like stilton and stuff you don't even know what it is but it came from the Fresh Market and cost like $7 for a little wedge of heaven. Grate it all up until you have probably 2 cups or more assorted grated cheeses in your buttered whatever it is dish. Anyway, preheat the oven to 375. Crack an egg or two, or, for more heart attack, 3, into the cheese. Make a white sauce (there are two methods to this, the correct one, where you melt 3 tbsp of butter in a cast iron frying pan and then whisk in 3 tbsp of flour and gently almost brown it, at which point it is a roux, and then you gradually whisk in a cup of milk or the lazy one, which is what I did, and in which you whisk a couple spoonfuls of flour into an undetermined amount of milk, probably like a cup and a half, and then you nuke it for a minute.) Somewhere in here, you have cooked the pasta. What? You don't have any pasta? The hell with you. Go get some. I personally use Wacky Mac. Now cook it, you fool. Then mix the whole damn thing together, white sauce, eggs, cheese & wacky mac and put it in the oven, uncovered, for about 1/2 an hour or as long as you can stand it. Now pig out and realize that the life of a vegan is a sad and lonely one, and probably will be much longer than yours, but also probably not as worth it.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Post Holiday Blahs

Actually, I don't really have them. Blahs, I mean. The weather has been too nice, I can't get into my usual January/February/March state of suicidal angst and grim despair. I feel cheated. It's like 60 degrees out and sunny; it's supposed to be sleeting and gray to match my dismal internal anguish. So I'm obsessing over my Christmas credit card bills without the usual apocalyptic edge. Still true that I have to go bankrupt though.

If I was an intelligent girl, I would go back and gently edit that book post instead of being embarrassed by it. It's amazing how enthusiastic one can wax over authors when one has, uh, consumed a fair amount of champagne and beer. Also amazing how many times one can use the verb fuck. Oh well, let it stand as a lesson to us all. The hangover was brutal. I thought I was going to die; my head was throbbing, I thought I might yark, it was all pretty gruesome. I did get up and make hoppin' john & collards though, and served them (why? I've eaten them faithfully every New Years day for like most of my life, and I just keep on getting poorer) and then crawled back into bed, leaving the food on the stove until 11:00 that night, when I threw it all out. I really have ventured into a previously - or not recently anyway - unknown state of sloth and apathy. It's way disgusting yet I find I just don't care. I've also been somewhat less than a model employee this week; witness all my posting hither and yon.

Just went bowling with A. and my friend J. I wish they would sell those fabulous neon shoes to me, but they won't. I tried to buy some for my brother for Christmas but they refused to sell, the fools. The guy who runs the bowling alley has only one arm, and like sort of fingers coming from his shoulder where the other arm would be. He's very nice, but he won't sell his rental shoes, and he never will let me go and bowl over by myself. I hate being jammed in with all the Christian Nascar families with little kids, but he always says the same thing: "No, sorry, those lanes aren't working good. They're fixing them!" Which is clearly a lie, since then other people get to go over and use them. I'm just not cool enough for the lanes on the far right. I love the bowling alley though. There's a poster for anacin or something that says "Bowl through the pain!" and an old vending machine that has strange and arcane bowling stuff "Thumb-Lok" and peds so you won't have to put your bare feet into the rented shoes (although he sprays them out after you give them back) and unbreakable combs, and, wonderful and inexplicable, rubber snakes and lizards "Great Gag!" I wonder if you're supposed to mash them into the holes in the bowling ball and then watch to see somebody freak out: "OMG! There's a . . . neon rubber snake in here. How. . peculiar." And then you can sit in the bar area and drink $1.90 draft bud light and watch TV and smoke heavily - you don't even have to light up to smoke heavily in there. Also, I bowled quite awesomely and got an 85 on my 2nd game. That is, like, my highest bowling score ever. Perhaps I should go pro.

My brain has dried up - hungover again today, I swear it's getting like all I have to do is have 7 beers or so and day-um! Hangover! Heh. I've been hanging out a lot with my friend D. who drinks too much, like me, so we're a bad combo. We have a lofty and fabulous business plan - opening a big contemporary art center downtown - going and I hope we get it together and it happens. The only problem (besides our lazy alcoholic slacker natures) is that it involves raising about $300,000 and between the two of us we might have like $300. It's been strange though, talking and brainstorming with him about it, because for the first time in my life I am realizing that we actually could do this, that we are professionals with contacts and good ideas and all that kind of thing - it's not the same as when we were like 22 and saying Hey! Let's start a gallery! Which I, like all art students, did for a little while - talked a shopping center into giving us a vacant storefront for a couple months, cleaned and painted it and hung our art up on the walls and made obscure collaged posters (this was the 80s) to advertise it and threw a party. And that was that. This is a very different kind of project, and if it comes together it will be AWESOME, bigtime, real and lasting. Also I will have to basically live there and devote my life to it, but that's cool. God knows I need to devote my life to SOMETHING.

Am venturing back into the weird wild world of computer dating, it should be interesting. In the Chinese sense of living one's life in interesting times. I don't know why I bother, every time I've done this it has worked out miserably, I'm much too socially inept for computer dating. But, oh well, what the hell - it isn't like I have anything to lose. Stay tuned for details - film at 11! And, oh yeah, if anyone is interested, I added some pictures here.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

December Book List

And here we go:
Paul Hazel, The Wealdwive's Tale (lovely, strange, & I read it once before, a long time ago)
Simon Green, Guards of Haven (I like him. I know it's junk, but it's good junk.)
James Lee Burke, Sunset Limited (is it really that noir in New Orleans?)
Sean Russell, The One Kingdom (Okay, haven't finished this. Better things came along.)
Steven Brust, To Reign in Hell (awesome, awesome, awesome. Although it's kind of a copout to name a minor angel as actually being the bad guy, while Satan, Lucifer and Mephistopheles get off scot free)
Sara Paretsky, Blacklist (nice to see VI Warshawski again, it's been a while. The ending was a bummer; it's a detective novel, not Great Lit with Angst. Put the bad guys in jail!)
Peter David, Sir Apropos of Nothing (Cute. Instantly forgettable. I look forward to rereading it - except I'll have that uneasy feeling that I've read it before.)
Martha Grimes, The Blue Last (What is it with her and her creepy fixation on orphaned children? Also, her characters were never particularly believable, now they're caricatures of caricatures.)
Carl Hiaasen, Basket Case (I love him. Same damn book every time, but totally satisfying.)
Pat Murphy, There and Back Again (very nice. I don't usually like sci fi that's that hard, but I'll make an exception for this one. It was sweet.)
End of December now and what haven't I read?
Reread my way through William Gibson:
Virtual Light
All Tomorrow's Parties : layers on layers on layers of genius - if somebody doesn't, please god, come back and recognize Gibson as the closest goddamn thing my generation (or the previous one, okay, he's a bit older than me) has to Hemingway then Lord, there is something so very wrong with the world.
Steven Brust & Emma Bull, Freedom or Necessity, totally marvelous, I ordinarily wouldn't touch a novel in letters but they did it and it worked, oh damn, it worked so well that I feel like those characters are my family and friends.
Patricia McKillip, Shadow in Ombria (title isn't right) I have nothing to say about Patricia McKillip. I can't say anything - she's it, she writes the way I wish I could, she speaks my dreams, my thoughts - I - there is nothing I can say. The worst book McKillip could write (and this isn't it, by a country mile) would still be so goddamn much better than the best book almost any other F/SF writer could ever do - that the distance itself is instructive. Like reading LeGuin - the distance is so fucking staggering.

And there are at least 5 or 10 books that I'm completely forgetting, which isn't fair, because some of them were wonderful, I'm just spacing. Right now I'm reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and what I really want to know is why? Why does this book get big billing in the New Yorker, and the NYT, and the other places where people who read books look? Why does this book get put into Fiction - when Cryptonomicon, which is much much much more Fiction than F/SF get put immediately into that ghetto? I'm not dissing the book - the book is not bad - but neither is it all that far off the fucking beaten track - and the F/SF ghetto gets me down, and I'm not sure how this book escaped it, when clearly, utterly clearly, that is where it belongs. I should ask my brother - but in the meantime, I am busy being angry for the real writers who's books languish in the ghetto: Stephenson, Gibson, Sterling, Gaiman, Delany, Hand, Crowley, LeGuin - these are people who can WRITE, really WRITE - and keeping them in one little eepy place in the bookstore pisses me off when others suddenly get called "Literature".

and a happy new year, I hope it's a good one, without any (something that rhymes with year and yet makes sense)

Okay, and this is your on the spot blog reporter reporting on New Years. Like 10000 of my peers are doing and better, although I bet they don't have to deal with a space bar that takes a mighty whack to make it work. Well, New Years. Amateur Night, as my dad used to call it, and yell at me not to go out, not to acknowledge this stupid shit. My dad, being a fairly professional drunk at the best of times, was understandably irate at holidays that saw the hoi polloi attempting to live his everyday lifestyle. That's mean, and unfair. . .

Tonight I was swayed by my best friend J into going to what was billed as a New Years Masquerade Ball at the Wedge Gallery. I was dubious immediately, because I have been to several parties at the Wedge, and they have all sucked beyond redemption. Which is a pity, because the Wedge is, like, the coolest place in Asheville if you go by location alone. It's down by the river, the coal trains go through the parking lot (bohemia is not bohemia without a train running through it, witness the incredible, no the ultimate, coolness of the Maryland Institute's Station Building, where I went to many quite truly amazing parties) and the Wedge, thus, especially John, the semi owner, who is so cool that he never quite seems to know who or where he is, is super cool. Except the parties suck. They attract these mid twenties people in ersatz 19th century Orientalism dress. These people are annoying, and tonight was no exception.

But I met my best friend J there and her horrible yet attractive boyfriend and his son. So we smoked a lot of cigarettes and did a champagne toast. Everybody had to make a toast, mine was: Dear God, let 2005 be at least a little better than 2004. Because, let's face it, 2004 pretty much unequivocally sucked for me. I mean it bit. Bigtime bit. Then they told D's son to make a toast, and, poor kid, he froze. So I made it for him: Let D make it through high school with his sanity and sense of humor intact. And he looked so grateful, and I said, look, being 16 sucks no matter how you cut it, just remember that in 5 years this will all be a memory and noone, but noone, will give a flying fuck.

So then I bailed on that party. I refuse to pay $10 to go in and slaver over a guy doing belly dancing - okay, I don't know much about belly dancing, which is totally my fault, since I have a friend in Vermont who is pretty much a major world authority on belly dancing - but I don't think, classically, that guys are supposed to do it. Even if they have gilded their nipples. Maybe especially then. Of course, if I hadn't of snuck in for free, after spending a bit of time drinking and whining on the porch, I wouldn't of known what was going on inside, except for the depressing middle eastern music which kept escaping out the door. Anyway, I went to Jack of the Wood.

At Jack, which is, btw, my pub of choice, especially in the months where smoking outside is feasible, there were like 3,000 people and it got to be too much. I ran immediately into friends who spirited me inside for free (it also helps that I know the doorman) and I was promptly given a Happy New Year tiara and one of those mysterious New Years metal things that you spin around and it makes a wonderful obnoxious noise. Why do you never see those things again until the next New Years?

I was/am all dressed up. I put on my bridesmaid dress for Lulu's wedding, which is, thank the gods, way too big, (that was in my fat years - I had 3 fat years) and I belted it, and put a black sweater over it, and biker cowboy boots, and major makeup, and my great grandmother's lead crystal "looks like you stole the chandelier" earrings and honey, I look GOOD. But there was nobody at Jack that I wanted to kiss. Except Donny, I might kiss Donny, but he was busy playing fiddle. Actually I did kiss Donny, but just in passing. (p.s. Donny's link doesn't work and I cannot figure out why. SO google: sons of ralph, click on the first link, that's the band, then click on bios. . . Donny is the 2nd on the left in the first picture.The band is Sons of Ralph and they really are very very good.)

So I came on home, at like 11:50, and gathered up M. and his friend S. who is spending the night, and all the various noisemakers from the very disappointing Xmas crackers, and a bottle of champagne, and we went up to the top of Riverview Drive and discovered, lo and behold, that this is a time honored place to see the fireworks. And it was actually, quite awesome. There were these horrible white yoboys, who I would never have spoken to in any other circumstances, but they were smoking a joint, and I handed them some champagne, and they were happy. And then the champagne that I brought made it's way down the line of people, and they were all appreciative, and funny, and sweet, and somehow, oddly, we all sort of drew together. Yoboys, Yuppies, Babyboomer landlords, adrift slackers, and me. All watching the fireworks through a frieze of branches, and my kid and his friend S dancing up and down the street wearing paper crowns and shooting off firecrackers, and that was okay. In fact it was great.

Every year for a good many now I make the same resolutions which were totally stolen from my friend Lu, who's bridesmaid dress I am wearing right now. Yay Lu who is married with kids now and living in FLA. Nevertheless, these were the resolutions:

Wear More Lipstick.

Watch More TV

Do More Drugs.

And actually I have done quite well on the lipstick front while failing miserable at the other two. But this year I think actually I want to get serious, and the main thing is, of course, the drinking: so this year is. . .

Have Less Hangovers.

Make More Art.

Get Laid.

Let's all hope they come true!