Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dead-Before-40... Partay!

OK, this picture, called "Oh Sylvia," that I just now found on some hipster's blog is just WRONG! :)

But it reminds me: My brother's turning 40 in the next couple of months and he's going to have a "Dead-Before-40" party to celebrate. Who else for me to be but Sylvia! And it's so easy: I just need a cardboard box that I can paint white and add some foil knobs-n-burners to and cut a door in and wear over my head like an oven. Maybe I'll scrawl some choice poem excerpts on the oven door.

I think my bro and sis-in-law are going to be Bonnie and Clyde... What people will possibly come up with is interesting to think about months ahead of time... We already have one friend who looks exactly like Jesus, but maybe he'll surprise us and come as Dimebag Darrell...


Wish List

I'm nearing the end of the 3rd week of high-paying 40-hours-a-week employment. As I mentioned in a previous post, it's only temp and due to end as soon as the project is done (the boss says expect 9/16 -- 2 weeks from this Friday -- but I can't see how it will be that long; I'm hoping for at least next Friday, the 9th). I've been 15 minutes EARLY to work every single day and am kicking some copyediting ass! ;) It's a great feeling to be gainfully employed at something I'm VERY good at, and in a pleasant environment to boot. Once it's over, though, back to the grind of trying to scrounge up stuff. At least now my resume is on file with a billion (OK, 7) temp agencies, so I just have to call in and reactivate my availability, rather than go through all the draining legwork I had to do in late July. And with this job, I've made a great new contact; rumor has it they have other projects coming up, so hopefully I'll be considered for those... The most important thing: At the end of the current gig, I need to NOT slide back into the mind-numbing nothingness of lying around the house all day. Yes, I'll have rent for the next 2 months covered, but it's important that I keep on this roll, even if it's low-paying secretarial stuff -- just to keep some income, er, coming in and to have a routine and to feel a bit productive...

Maybe thinking about things I want to GET will be impetus for taking any job:

A cat! For the past week or so, a black cat with pretty eyes has been lying under a tree outside my window looking up at me whenever I get home from work and peer down. Sooooo gorgeous! I miss sexy kitties!

But I refuse to have one in this tiny apartment, so that also means -- a nicer apartment! A garage apartment or duplex, one where everyone's not all on top of each other constantly. (I have an asshole loud neighbor who's moving out today -- HOORAY! "Asshole" because in the past 6 weeks that's he's lived next door, I've asked him politely 3 times to please turn down the bass on his stereo. I've even had him over into my apartment so he could hear what I was hearing... Many or most would say, "Oh, sorry 'bout that" and turn their shit down after a polite request. This guy? Nah. According to him, I must not know Austin very well; Austin's about MUSIC, man! When I told him that, aside from 2 years in San Fran and 3 years in NYC, I've been in Austin since 1983 and thus probably knew the town pretty well, he countered with, "Well, this is the EAST SIDE." When I told him that I used to live just a few blocks from here for 7 YEARS before moving to NYC, he said, "Legally, I have the right to play my music." Jesus H. Christ. Me: "I'm not talking about 'legal,' I'm talking about being a nice neighbor and not playing it so loud!" Him: "I can't even hear it when I'm in my bathroom." Me: "If I can hear it while I'm in MY bathroom, then I know that YOU can hear it in YOUR bathroom." Him: "I've gotta FEEL the bass!" Oh boy. In short, he never lowered the volume. He'd already told me that he was switching to an apt. in a different complex run by the same management by September 1, so I for the most part just tried to grin and bear it. Finally had a loud-music-stress breakdown last Friday night after 3 hours of his non-stop shit -- called the cops, left 2 messages with management, stormed into the management office Saturday morning to complain, etc. etc. In the past few days since then, he's been SLIGHTLY quieter, but not much. At any rate: Tonight's the last night I'll have to deal with it!)

So, um, what was I saying? Oh yeah: A garage apartment or duplex with not so many neighbors and so I can get a kitty-kat again! To achieve that when my lease is up in 7 months? Duh --- constant work, girl!

Other things on the Wish List:

An iPod and iPod station. My cheap boombox (I sold my real stereo when I moved to NY and bought the boombox there, then shipped it back to Austin) is good for a spare room but not as my main source of music listening. I want to have fun downloading stuff onto a "newfangled" iPod, both new and all of my old CDs. And tying in with the not-so-close-quarters desire: I'd like to be able to crank up my own music! I feel guilty doing it here, with so many neighbors that I might bother!

A new laptop. Thank god for my current one, which a Joan Crawford-friend sent to me for free while I was in NY. It saved my ass once my 2000 desktop went bad, and it's been saving my ass ever since. However... it's from 2005. And it, too, is starting to slow down. As much as I'm on the computer, what with the Joan website and all, I need a fresh state-o-the-art computer.

Car? Honestly, I don't miss having a car that much. I'm certainly not a gal-about-town, needing to be all sorts of places! Work, the grocery store, my hairdresser... All pretty handy by bus. My family members live within 2 miles of me, and don't mind terribly picking me up on occasion. And the bus takes me right downtown to the library and my favorite bookstore. I guess I'd like a car to go to movies or malls, but... I don't do that that often anyway. So I think I wish for a BIKE. So I can independently go to and from family members' houses, plus to two cafes that are within a mile.

Furniture? Yeah: I'd like a chair or loveseat, and some real-wood bookshelves (instead of Target plastic). I have a built-in chest-of-drawers in this apartment, but in a new place, I'd need a chest also.

Clothes/shoes? More, more, more please! Luckily, my Marshall's gift certificate purchases of many pairs of pants around Christmas helped me look decent for dressing for work. But I've been wearing the same 2 pairs of shoes all week! And rotating the same 6 or 7 summer shirts. If I had my way, I'd go out and get at least 3 pairs of shoes and 5 shirts immediately!

OK, this all is for me to read once my current temp job ends and I'm feeling like sleeping in 'til 2pm: DON'T BE A LAZY ASS! If you want stuff, then hustle for some jobs!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

You're the one that I want.

After seeing this movie at the theater in 1978 when I was 13, I immediately went and bought a yellow "John Travolta for President" T-shirt at the Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth (at a "T-shirt shack" where you walked in and they had hundreds of designs to choose from on the wall -- you picked one and they ironed it on for you; do those places still exist? I used to love how they smelled -- of both latex and self-expression).

At 13, I thought Travolta was the sexiest thing! :)

Also recognizing now that I must have a weird fetish for men with greasy black hair: I'm mainly gay, but some men that I find very attractive and would sleep with: Elvis, Dean Martin, Andy Griffith (from "A Face in the Crowd")... oh, and Ted Hughes! No, not a "Daddy" fetish! :) My own dad was always military clean cut, with short blond hair! :)


Friday, August 26, 2011

The Fisher King



I've always loved "The Fisher King," ever since seeing it at the theater when it came out in '91. (From '82 to the early 2000s, I used to go to the movies constantly. Most notably from my late high school years in the early '80s through the mid-'90s -- in '94 - '95 I was in San Francisco for grad school and one of my two part-time jobs while there was as a popcorn girl for the Alexandria Theater in the Richmond District, just a couple of blocks down the street from my apartment. People who worked there got free passes to most movie theaters all over town, so I saw just about everything during that period, including things I wouldn't normally see... like "How to Make an American Quilt"!)

I'm guessing that I sought out "Fisher King" at the time partially 'cause of good reviews and mainly because I'd been such a huge fan of director Terry Gilliam's earlier ('85) "Brazil" (though I hated his '88 "Baron Munchausen"). To me, "Brazil" and "Fisher King" are both profound --- engaging on every level. I guess the trope for "completeness" is: heart, mind, body, soul. Don't know about the "body" in these two cases, but my mind, heart, and soul were certainly all engaged. Just plain good storytelling at the core (maybe that's "the body" enacted; but probably "the heart" --- hey, "core"'s etymology is from the French word for "heart"! -- just looked that up!). But then Gilliam's capable of expanding that basis into the spiritual... in "Brazil"'s case, the search for "Truth"; in "Fisher King," the search for "Mercy" and "Redemption." And not only THAT, but Gilliam's also capable of extending his basic ideas into the most wild, complex visual and imaginative odysseys that almost seem to exist apart from the main plots, only... they don't. Everything's tied together via his vast, complicated imagination AND his down-to-earth technical skills. Just mind-blowing to me what he was capable of in those two movies. Aside from the visuals, stories with an extremely dark, deep sense of tragedy, but that also allowed you to laugh at the utter ludicrousness of life. AND keep a sense of hope. These movies remind me of Klimt's paintings in their utter sensuality and utter cold, hard plumbing of psychological depths.

"Fisher King": I was 26-ish when I first saw it. Was kind of sloughing about, working at a low-paying library job, having not yet decided to finally finish up my BA. My first lover had just broken up with me, so I was love-lorn and miserable. But I hadn't actually experienced TRAGEDY. As a child, my dad had been abusive, but no one had DIED or anything... just been vastly humiliated. And I'd had to cope for the prior 10 years with, first, not being out of the closet and, then, when I finally did come out in '89 (at age 23), my "first girlfriend" who was a bit too experienced --- not only was she a professional dominatrix (I later discovered), but she also slept around on me constantly while blaming MY jealousy for her creepy longtime pattern of behavior. Again, not TRAGIC. Just vastly humiliating.

That was the frame of mind I was in then when I saw the movie in '91. In a rut all the way around. While watching at the time, I was still more of an outside observer of life: Though especially horrified when Jeff Bridges's down-and-out onetime shock jock character dumped his old friends and girlfriend once he got another chance at the big-time. The character, Jack Lucas, had been REALLY down and out. And his new friends had been REALLY patient with him! Even I could see the pathos of his immediate rejection of them once he got another break.

Today, 20 years later, I was just thinking about Jack Lucas in the movie. Not that I'm about to break out of my own funk and leave anyone behind (ha! no real prospects and no one to leave behind!). But WOULD I act out a minor version of that behavior if I had the chance?? For instance: Once I get paid the $4000 - $6000 from my current temp job (depending on if it lasts for 4 or 6 weeks)... a crazy notion came into my head today to just take the money and RUN, RUN, RUN all the way back to Weehawken and/or NYC! Break my Austin lease, dump all my stuff (the few things left) on my mom once again, travel lighter this time (only my laptop, my boombox, a suitcase of clothes -- no having my mother mail me boxes of books and personal belongings, etc. Not that she would ever go through THAT again!)... In other words, be impatient with my minor steps so far to get re-established as a very PERSON (aka "having a place to live and having some, albeit sporadic, sources of income") and just uproot and gamble again. On the very same thing that I just got through gambling and losing on last year! Honestly, I don't think I have it in me right now, energy-wise, to do such a thing. I'm still kind of beaten up, in various ways, over "The Return" of Spring 2010!

In other "Fisher King" thoughts: Upon first viewing 20 years ago, I did identify most with Jack Lucas. But today, I see myself in all 4 of the main characters. I'm Jack Lucas, opinionated and cocky and needing to learn a REAL lesson more than once. I'm Amanda Plummer's "Lydia Sinclair" -- uber-awkward and distrustful and withdrawn. I'm Robin Williams's "Parry" -- driven semi-mad by REAL loss, but still hopeful and still trying to engage with life. I'm Mercedes Ruehl's "Anne" -- the voice of reason, I suppose, and rejected, while trying to shake/scream some sense into Jack AND simultaneously run her video store! :)

A final "Fisher King" note: I own the DVD and had left it, among many other of my DVDs, for my mom to keep at her house while I went off to NYC in 2007. When I returned in 2010 and was staying with her for a couple of months, we watched it together. The first 20 minutes or so of the movie were too phantasmagorical (aka, "loud and obnoxious") for her:

"Is it going to be like this the whole time?"
"No, Mom. No. Just watch."

At the end of watching it together, she said: "Those people were weird." That's all she had to say about it.

The Fisher King on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Library Day



It's been 3 months since I've been to the library! This week's take:

"Armadale" by Wilkie Collins (after reading an article about him in the New Yorker a month or so ago)

The intro to the above led me to "Victorian Murderesses" (Collins's main character in "Armadale" was apparently partially inspired by a spate of killings by women at the time.)

Then "Mrs. Lincoln" and "The Madness of Mary Lincoln," after enjoying the recent PBS series on the Lincolns.

Then Chas Bono's autobiography and "It Gets Better" (stories of inspiration for gay youth -- and hopefully for my middle-aged self! Being gay has rarely been easy for me, even now, over 20 years after I first came out. I'm still hoping that it all really will "get better.")

And finally, a bio of Nirvana. (I'll never forget where I was when I found out about Kurt Cobain's death -- April 8, 1994: At an office job, age 28, where I was having an affair with the state-official boss. He came over to my duplex after work -- after parking his car down the street so no-one would be able to place it in front of my house. I just wanted to watch MTV reports on Cobain and think and talk about him and listen to his music. My boss was 53 and had no clue why I felt sad and weird and didn't much feel like having sex. We had sex.)

Kind of a dark lot, I suppose! :) Well, not the gay hopeful stuff, but the rest is kind of sad-slash-sordid -- but in a good way! :) I love the description of "Armadale"'s main character on the back of the book: "The character of Lydia Gwilt horrified contemporary critics, with one reviewer describing her as 'one of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction.' She remains among the most enigmatic and fascinating women in nineteenth-century literature and the dark heart of this most sensational of Victorian 'sensation novels.'"

Unfortunately, despite Lydia's promised dark glamour, when I tried to start reading the book in the library, I couldn't really get into it for the first few pages and so set it aside. Back in college, I used to love 19th-century British lit, but recently have found it difficult. I tried to re-read "Middlemarch" a few months ago and couldn't get past the first 10 pages, even though I'd once read it all and enjoyed it. But with that description of Lydia Gwilt, surely it will be worth my buckling down and trying to get into the prose! (The New Yorker article I read earlier about author Wilkie Collins also made him and his work seem fascinating -- I've never read a thing by him, and it would be fun to discover a whole new author and world.)

I don't know why I don't make a special point of going to the library at least bi-weekly. I always feel good there. I love learning about stuff. It's like shopping, except, miraculously, FREE! One of my neighbors has been super-loud lately, so I just stayed at the library all afternoon. Partly just to be away from the apartment and the potential noise, but also because it was peaceful and nice of itself. And a great view of the Austin hills!

I guess 'cause football season is upon us and all the kids are coming back to UT this weekend, being at the library today reminded me of when I first started UT back in '83: It was a Saturday, a football day, and I was spending it inside the undergrad library with a stack of books, both for study and for pleasure. Swarms of vi(va)cious, pumped up girls-n-guys from the nearby sorority/frat houses were walking across campus in full Longhorn regalia on the way to the stadium, passing right by the huge library windows where I was sitting. I heard one guy say to his girlfriend: "Look at those losers in the library!" :) I smile now, but at the time, it made me feel really bad! And, embarrassing to admit, I also -- wanting to be one of the judgers rather than one of the judged -- subsequently tried for many years after to turn myself into one of the "fun people" who had "outgoing, fun" things to do on a Saturday afternoon and on Saturday nights. I disrespected what made ME, and my soul, feel good in favor of what supposedly "successful" louts judged should be my, and everyone's, behavior.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Am I back??

I dunno... was the 2-1/2 month break from this blog a Summer vacation, or should I really stop posting here for good and use the new, private blog so I can rave and rant and then delete the offensive posts without all sorts of people reading and being either pruriently nosy or personally offended?

(Hi, Dad! Nice to not see you in June 'cause you were pissed off about my blog! Maybe you should try talking to your own daughter rather than skulking around her blog... Just sayin'...)

It's a dilemma. I like THIS blog better, and I missed it! :) It's my whole life history for the past 5 years! I didn't much feel like telling my other blog that many things. :( It's a weird psychological thing: I DO like it when my words are read; but I definitely DON'T like the repercussions when I've said something nasty here (usually at 5am, after 8 or 9 beers)... Hmmm. Maybe learn a little self control about what I post? Ya think?!

One GOOD thing that I do feel like telling THIS blog right now: On my birthday last week, I got a call from a temp agency offering me a GREAT full-time month-long gig (they said 6 weeks, but I don't think the project will last that long) that started this past Monday. The pay? $1000 a week!!! With 4 weeks, that's at least two months' rent/bills covered! And it also means that, yes, I have actually been getting my ass in bed by midnight, and getting up at the (previously to me) ungodly hour of 7:25 AM! (I tried not drinking anything at all for the first 2 nights; just ended up lying in bed with eyes wide open 'til 2 or 3 am and then feeling kinda sluggish the next day at work because of not enough sleep. Then I experimented with "under 6 beers a night and in bed by 12" for the next 2 nights... that worked a lot better. Once I got in bed after the FEW beers, I went right to sleep.)

I have been mightily enjoying the normalcy of getting up early, showering daily, having my bowl of cereal and juice, catching the bus that stops right outside my apartment complex, and taking the 6 MINUTE RIDE to the campus area! From there, it's a 10-minute walk. The walking part is not so delightful in this heat; however... the past 2 months of lying around workless (and, literally, "worth"-less!) and being depressed have left me completely out of shape and mushy-looking as hell. I've been swimming weekly this summer, so I'm a tan rather than a "pale-n-pasty" kind of mush, but still... it ain't such a pretty sight. This walking a mile daily for a month is a GREAT thing. Like back in my NYC-walking-days over a year ago of weighing 140 (pants all a size 8 or 10 -- I'm a 12 currently, and 153 pounds) and having nicely defined calves and no "muffin-top"!

And psychologically: After lying on my ass moping for over half the summer about not having any more at-home freelance work offers, in late July I finally snapped to and started putting in my applications and doing interviews/testing with various temp agencies around town. 7 in all. Just that simple thing felt good: Putting on "interview clothes" and scoring 68-71 on typing tests! Some agencies want you to call in your availability every day; some, only once a week. Just phoning in, too, felt a little productive, at least. It was kind of depressing to see that most of what was currently available were $10-an-hour receptionist gigs; even more depressing not to get any work offers at all for my first 14 days on the temp market! ("Hello, people -- I need rent money for September! I'll even pretend to be enthusiastic about being a receptionist!")

Then came the wonderful birthday call -- $25 an hour (my old going rate), doing exactly what I do best: copyediting! And this from an agency that had previously told me that their temp pool was full! Turns out, the guy in charge thought my resume was interesting; even though I got the generic e-mail from him saying they didn't need anyone in their pool, the man kept my resume in his files anyway... And just a couple of days later, an employer contacted him, wanting someone with JUST my experience! :)

I guess there always has to be lesson somewhere... In this case: Don't lie around on your ass! :) TRY! Speaking of "trying" -- In late July, I even put in applications at the local Target, and at the Fiesta Supermarket! Depressing, but I was TRYING! :) Actually, I wouldn't mind being a floor person at Target or a bagger/stocker at Fiesta (except for the low $8-an-hour wages). I'd hate to be a cashier and stand there ringing up annoying customers all day, but stocking and straightening and arranging groceries in bags -- I wouldn't mind that much...

So here I am... gainfully employed, doing what I like to do and am very good at, for the next month. (As for the job possibly extending... I was initially hoping, but as soon as I got there, realized that the department is in a huge flux -- the boss of 10 years just got laid off; 2 other full-time regulars just got laid off. It's a financial mess there! I'm pretty sure that once this emergency project is done, they're not going to need to keep me around.)

But even knowing that, I'm still extremely excited about my one month of $4000 and losing 10 pounds and SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE TO DO EVERY DAY! :) (Plus: I also like being able to fully appreciate SLEEPING IN this Saturday and Sunday, sans 7:25 AM alarm!)