Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Thirteen years ago- or was in 14? I was at nice Grandma's house on New Years and the phone rang and my grandmother called me. That was very unusual because only family knew I was there. It was my roommate calling me from Toronto to tell me that Philip had been murdered. He had the dubious distinction of being that year's first homicide victim in Dallas. Mugged, shot in the head, cursed at as he lay dying.

I didn't know Philip very well. I was a second year grad student, he came in the year after me. But we were the only gay guys in the department and there was that little bond. He was over-tanned and more concerned about clothing and cologne than I was. He studied bones and I would see him outside my office while he was awaiting, with the other physical anthropology students, to dissect a cadaver. Finally at the end of the year we hung out a little and even went out to one of Phoenix's gay bars. And the next fall he decided to take a break and was working at a hotel that night. Walking home with a friend. The police in Dallas never made a great effort to find who killed him. After all, he was only a queer.

Although I didn't know Philip well, I knew he was more than that. He was a son, a brother, a friend of many people. He was handsome, perhaps a little too mechanically tanned. He was funny, smart, and yes, he was queer. He worried about the same things that other gay guys worried about. He didn't deserve to be shot in the head over a wallet and then called vile names.

On New Years Eve I often think of Philip and wonder what would have happened if he had left work five minutes early. Life, and death, can be so cruel.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Lessons learned. 2003 is almost done, about ready to be consigned to a shelf or an archive. So what have I learned in the last calender year?

1). First and second impressions are often wrong. In a good way or, more often, in a bad way, as in, "I didn't expect that..."

2). Confidence is sexy. Cave men are sexier.

3). Repeat a lie loudly and often and the majority of people will want to believe it is the truth.

4). Money and corruption pretty much go hand in hand.

5). Calling you representatives' offices and yelling at staff members is probably useless but is an excellent stress reliever.

6). Cats have short memories.

7). I have a long memory.

8). I'm going to be an annoying old person.

9). The internet is better than religion.

So what have you learned this year?

Monday, December 29, 2003

That night. Thawed out, the house is still pretty cold. A police helicopter is circling around outside and a siren grows louder and then softer, although can a siren ever really be soft?

Conversations with JR and Robert and Larry today. Robert is leaving the soap opera soon, starting his new show in Dallas. Luckily JR is not planning on going to Dallas, although that would be ironic. Instead he has started the process of making breakfast happen at Something Sweet. Larry spent his day dealing with the idjits who work for QWest, our local phone "service." And I struggled valiantly to the credit union, where unusually weird people stood in line in front of me. After one obviously drugged-up boy slurred to the cashier that he needed four, yes four, money orders, I muttered "This is pointless!" and left, a half hour of my life wasted.

Hell freezes over. I'm at home in my freezing cold house with frozen hot water pipes. Sigh. I need to get to work so I am heating up some water so I can at least shave. The pipes have frozen at work as well. I'll probably remember this fondly next summer when it is 115 degrees.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Cold Mountain. It is always a few degrees cooler next to Sentinel Peak, and today is the coldest of the cold days so far. My house absorbs cool, clutches it in the thick fired adobe bricks. Releases the wickedness inside where the cats huddle in certain spots for warmth. Puff slumps across the top of the monitor. Mama and Bear and Princess squat on the window sill. Joey is, as always, off on her own on a pillow, curled tightly.

The cats are mad. I've closed off the study and their bathroom, turned on the little electric heater. A closed door presents an obstacle, whatever is on the other side must be better, inside the cat's mind. They peer beneath the door, reach under with their paws, attempt to pull the door open. When they fail they become disgruntled. Mama Cat swats at Joey, Puff complains loudly. If they get outside they immediately want back into the warm sanctuary, where that amazing human, you know the one that feeds us and gives us pets, hides in front of the box that makes that funny sound.

I read the New York Times today. Eating a bit of chocolate, I set the paper aside for a moment because I can't eat chocolate and read about human suffering- earthquake in Iran, wounded Iraqis, exploited Wal Mart employees. To divert myself I check Google and am pleased to see that the unofficial Senator Santorum webpage is now ranked fourth. I imagine indignant conservatives stumbling across that website and it warms my heart. For a moment I forget about the cold.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Oh crap! Sometimes I wonder how much more I can cram into my head. I have so many names, dates, and anecdotes inside me I feel like I can burst. Sometimes I'm too smart for my own good. Sometimes I'm wrong but I won't admit it. I burn with embarassment if that turns out to be the case.

"Nobody likes a crybaby," I say to Puff as he meows at me. Minutes later I realize the cat food dish is empty and he has been trying to tell me that he is hungry. Right now I can hear the crunch-crunch-crunch as he chomps away. In contrast, my stomach is full from Chinese food from Guilin, a leisurely meal with Larry and Eric. Too many spicy string beans. But a little room for chocolate when I come home. A missed call blinks on my forgotten cell phone. I often forget to carry it with me because my head is to full of other important things. When does your head say enough is enough?

Friday, December 26, 2003

Grilled. John R. is in town so he calls me and comes over and we go to the Grill downtown. It is a cool diner, ripped vinyl booths and cracked paintings. We sat at the counter and gossiped while John ate his mad-cow burger (very well done).

Painting on the wall at the Grill.

John moved to Phoenix a couple of years ago and I don't get to see him as much as I would like.


Afterward we went thrift store shopping- nothing to purchase. And then stopped by Something Sweet where Lacey brought out fattening desserts and we played cards.

As the picture suggests, I was having a good day.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

A cold perhaps? Or bad allergies, I am suddenly a snot factory. If only there was money in it.

Christmas dinner at Shane, Brian, and Ed's house. A small group of nice guys. We ate, drank, and talked. My cheesecake went over well. I sat between Shane and John. I had met John at my 40th birthday party and had been impressed by his easy going nature. So today we visited and later I sat on the front porch with his partner Gordon and Brian and talked some more. I purposely ate little and feel absolutely normal, except for the runny nose business.

John. I have a friend Mike who could be John's younger twin.

Gordon. He and John have a new pickup truck- nice and shiny.

Happy Holidays. At dinner with Larry and Eric last night I realized I was having a nice time. Such a contrast to a year ago.

Larry and Eric.

We went over to David G. and Abe's house afterwards. I, unfortunately, left the camera in the car. Abe's three sisters and his mom showed up. They are really funny, I watched as Mom mixed together a total white-trash (or brown-trash, I guess) dessert involving fruit cocktail, mini marshmallows, and whipped cream. Ohmigod, that is something that would have been on our table when I was a kid.

Then drove up to Rich's house out in the desert. Handful of people including Mitch and Terry and Rich's brother. A woman named Sandy who was remarkably youthful for someone with a 20-year-old kid. We played games. Rich was getting pretty toasted, it was fun to watch.

Huge saguaro at night.

Boojum lit up, with Richard and Terry.

Richard has some really bizarre and rare plants, including a boojum tree from Baja California.

Richard, Xmas eve.

Richard, who is one sexy man, has been a good friend of mine over the last couple of years. He is one of a handful of people that I can talk to about anything and Richard gives his honest opinion. And did I mention that he is sexy? Very easy on the eyes. As it happens, he is dating an ex-boyfriend of mine from Phoenix, which is nice and so typical of small world Arizona.

Came back home to find messages from Wayne, Patch, Sushil, and Mighty. Happy Holidays to my new friends around the country. Blogging had allowed me to get to know people I would never have met otherwise. That has been the best present this year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Kumquat. I've been urged, no, ordered to try a kumquat. After my moment of indecision a few days ago. So today I plucked some from the produce section and when safely at home I washed and then bit into one. Well..... underwhelming. Tastes like a tiny mandarin orange, perhaps a shade more bitter. I've done it though, busted through my kumquat virginity. And guess what? I also bought a quince. So this week I will have de-virginized myself with two fruits. If you add on the lychee that I tried at Gavin's house, that will be three new fruits for 2003. And who says my life isn't exciting.

Kumquat. I like starfruit better.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Silent night. As I drove home from shopping, I thought a lot of thoughts. Some were pretty basic, such as 'I'm feeling a little lonely' or 'I think that guy must be pretty drunk.' Some were complex- 'I wonder what the socio-political scheme of things will be this time next year?' Mostly I just drove in my old-granny way of driving. The Saturn is shaking slightly and I need to have it tuned up. But that will have to wait for three paycheck January.

I thought about how different Christmas is here in Tucson. No snow, warm enough for shorts. A grown-up Christmas with no kids, no partner. I'm getting two presents this year- one from mom and one from my ex-mother-in-law (she is still a good friend). I'm giving four. I went to JoAnn's Fabrics and picked out cloth for my two sisters- 22 yards. The poor woman had to cut them and we chatted. She is tired of Christmas shoppers, nasty customers. I have a way of making people feel better about things- don't ask me how- but by the time she was done she was smiling and happy. That made the loneliness kinda slip away. I then went to Circuit Shitty and bought the Age of Mythology game. When I was alone after He left last September I played Age of Empires for hours. It was an excellent way to block out troubles. Eventually I had figured the game out. I'm excited to see what the new version has to offer.

On my street the holiday lights are festive- two of my neighbors have gone all out with inflatable snowmen, those lighted deer figures you see at Target, and lots of lights. My house is more sedate- big bulbs line the porch eave and you can the small multi-colored lights on my tree through the front window. I miss the crunch of snow and the bitter cold of northern Michigan. But at the same time I would rather be here at home with my cats, I guess cause this is my home.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Holiday cards. While waiting for Larry and Eric I worked on making some more holiday cards. In the past I have made cards using sponge prints or stencils and fleckstone paint. This year I used collages or glue and glitter. I don't have any pre-conceived notions- I just start cutting paper. Many turn out great, some suck. I surprise myself from time to time thinking, geez, that one looks nice!

Homer's cards.

Larry, Eric, and Jeffrey S. came over for Eggplant Parmagiana (except I used Mennonite cheese). Afterward I looked up some of their family on census and ship records with them. Jeffrey's parents were practically next door neighbors in 1930. His mom lives in Idaho so I'm going to make a copy tomorrow for Jeffrey to send her.

The plumber came today. $102.68 and he wasn't even cute.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Overheard at Safeway- a recorded advertisement of a woman's voice, exhulting because of a new product that promises an "integrated toilet cleaning system." What have I been doing all of these years? My un-integrated cleaning system is obviously flawed. As I weep, I sip my Safeway brand eggnog, pushing the cats away, who desire a lick.

While at the store I puzzle over the kumquats. What does one do with them? Are they worth eating? I just don't know. I didn't buy any. Perhaps that was a mistake. Will I regret it in the middle of the night?

In the background I can hear the Titanic movie on the telly. Kate Winsett is a genuinely mediocre actress. And on the small screen the computerized graphics look pretty mediocre as well. I was fascinated by the Titanic as a child.

I've decided to do my holiday shopping after the holiday. Perhaps a new tradition? I don't know.

Happiness. Larry and Eric are in town so I went over to their guesthouse and we went off to a party at Jane & Emilee's house, kitty corner across the street. We stayed for a while, chatting with various people. On the way back the boys had to snuggle up to the inflatable Santa that the cheerleader tenants put in their front yard.

Eric, Santa, and Larry.

Window frame, Jane & Emilee's backyard.

Afterward we went to Rosa's where I had a cheese enchilada and a green corn tamale. Nice. Then I went to David G. and Abe's house and hung out and chatted with them and their friends.

This morning J.R. came over and I showed him my place. He admired the cats. We ended up at the Cup Cafe, where Larry, Eric, Bob, and Steve were already eating. Later Jeffrey S. and John G. turned up. It was rather amusing- it was like I was being stalked by my friends.

J.R. says he doesn't like his pictures. I think he is really cute.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

A little later. For many people Tucson is a stopping point for only a short while. They arrive, explore life for a while, and then go out into the world looking for new adventures. Curtis is getting ready to leave, heading to London. I've always admired him- his knowledge of style and art, his easy going (sometimes frenzied) personality. He has been a good friend and going to his yard sale this morning was surprisingly difficult. I'm not sure if he even knows how much I will miss him when he is off in England. But I'm glad that he has been there to listen and for me to listen back.

Glass bottles, waiting to be sold.

Michelle is leaving too, in January, off to Israel and a new job. She's a sweetie, funny, interesting. I'm glad I've gotten to know her. This morning we traded Michael Jackson jokes. I laughed.

Thank goodness Brian is staying. What would a soap opera be without characters?

Brian and Michelle on a warm December morning.

The morning after a big meal I sometimes feel so full I don't want to have breakfast. Right now I'm sipping vanilla diet Pepsi and wishing I hadn't eaten all of the gnocchi arriabiata at Da Vinci's. I was there with Larry and Eric, who are in town for a couple of weeks from Vancouver. Afterward we went to Something Sweet and I had coconut cream cake and chatted with JR, who makes me smile.

I'm tuned into sounds this morning. When I went out to pick up the paper at 7:00 am the roosters were crowing in the corral down the street. Now, a few minutes later, a bunch of birds are chirping in the orange trees, sounding very happy. Inside the house Mama Cat's claws go click-click-click on the wooden floors as she walks to the food bowl. Princess and Bear are playing in the living room, first at the scratching post and then at the Holiday tree. They have been taking one ornament off a day, and I think they are figuring out what will be the next one. The study is quiet, the only sound is the low whine of my computer and the clackety-clack as I type these words.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Recognized. A few weeks ago Wayne wrote about being spotted in the subway by a blog reader. Last night, at Delectables (a restaurant which I think is actually un-delectable), I was introduced to Jim, who had been reading my blog for a while. It is kinda strange to meet someone and realize they know a great deal about you.

In other news, on the way to work this morning a guy let me pull out onto Congress. I looked in my mirror and realized he was 1). very cute and 2). singing at the top of his lungs. And he caught me looking and when he passed on my right smiled at me and waved. I waved back. End of romance.

And on the way back home to await the plumbers I saw two well dressed business man spit on the ground.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Tomorrow, plumber. Something is wrong with the guest house toilet and bathtub. Real gross bad. Flush the toilet and "Old Faceful" erupts in the tub. So a plumber is coming tomorrow to remedy the problem, as well as fix the leaky pipes underneath the sink. I expect a lot of my paycheck will be spent sometime between 10 AM and 2 PM. The plumber better be cute (last time he was!).

Cold, cold, annoying Arizona cold. Which means it is in the upper 30s to 40s at night, 60s and 70s during the day. And my thick-walled house stays at about 55 degrees. Right at this moment I'm being white trash and have the gas oven door open and heating the house a little. It is actually pretty effective and the heat quickly seeps into the study. I still gotta go put my red wool hat on cause my head is frigid.

At Ace Hardware today I happened to look up at the security camera television. And almost blinded myself because there was the top of my head. Goddam I am going bald. I mean, is it possible for my hair to be falling out any faster? And what's worse are those well-meaning people who insist on telling me, "Oh, I can't even tell you are losing your hair." Yeah, right! And I'm Santa. Well, I am so going bald, and telling me otherwise isn't going to make it come back. And there are worse things in life, like having someone tell you, "I like you, but just as a friend."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Spencer is J.R.'s cute 9-week-old terrier. He is full of energy and wants to chew on everything, including my feet. Very adorable. And J.R. is pretty cute as well. I had a good time hanging out with them tonight.


This afternoon was the annual Cookie Exchange at work. I brought Lemon Tea Cookies, which I've made for the last four years. Everyone loves them, and they quickly disappeared onto plates or into people's mouths. I brought home a few cookies and some fudge and gave them to Michelle, who was having a little get together in her house. I have to go buy a snake thingy tomorrow and see if I can unclog the plumbing in her bathroom. Yuck.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I'm in love. With my electric blanket. Blankey is just plain hot. Niced to snuggle with. Easy to turn on. Never talks back, never pouts. Can't ever leave me. My cats really like him as well. The downside. He's silent, brooding. And he's kinda ugly, an unpleasant light blue. But sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the one we truly love.

Cold Homer and Princess.

I'll tell you who is hot, the new This Old House guy.

Kevin, This Old House.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Patsy Cline is singing to me. She and my mother were born in the same year. I wonder what would have happened if she hadn't taken that ride in that plane.

I'm sitting in my study, a little electric heater behind me almost warming me up. Puff is sitting on the monitor absorbing some warmth. The younger cats were chasing a roly poly around until I rescued it. Must have come inside with the potted plants which are still waiting to go back outdoors.

I'm feeling poor at the moment- I really need some winter clothes, but will make do with what I have for a while. I'm more interested in paying bills. And I know I will have an outrageous electricity bill in January. Sigh. I asked Puff to go out and get a job. And all he said was "Meow."

Catastrophe. I wish I could figure Joey cat out. She has developed mental problems in the last year and a half, basically when I adopted Princess and Bear. She didn't like the new kittens and started pissing on the furniture or on any piece of paper lying around. Now that Princess is no longer scared of Joey, the fighting has escalated. Joey attacks Princess, Princess fights back. Puff and Mama Cat come running to see what is going on and give Joey a few swats for being a brat. Joey runs off, beats up Bear, and then pees somewhere. Sigh. This morning she and Princess fought and then up onto the couch. Luckily I have an oilcloth draped over said couch so it doesn't actually get on the cushions if I catch it immediately.

I think Joey will probably be taking the next plane ride back to Michigan with me and go and live on my brother's farm. She will hate it, since she is an indoor citified cat. But I am tired of the mess and the fights and nothing seems to work.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

News Flash

Last night at the Denture Inn I didn't talk to the very cute redhead.

The New York Times Sunday paper is now being delivered to my neighborhood. I must remember not to read the online edition on Saturday, because most of the stories in today's paper were actually posted yesterday.

It is pretty cold in my house so I wear my red wool cap most of the time.

If I lie in bed too long I develop a horrible back ache. Yesterday I lay in bed too long.

I'm not looking forward to balancing my checkbook today.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

And speaking of hateful politicans... Strom Thurmond, was a miserable weasel who finally kicked off at age 100. During the 1940s and 1950s he was a big supporter of segregation, throwing the fear of racial mixture around to garner votes. And guess what, he fathered a child with a 16-year-old African-American girl when he was 22. Does this surprise me? No. It seems that people who deem themselves morally superior to others (i.e, Rush Limbaugh, William Bennett, Newt Gingrich, blech, blech, blech) always have their little dirty secrets. I wonder what Dick Santorum's secret is?

Hateful politicians. Are about as pleasant as boils or having an unexpected hangover. The internet provides an amazing way to vilify your least favorite Republican fuckups. Example, type in "Miserable Failure" into Google search engine and our George 'Wanker" Bush's Whitehouse bio comes up. And Dan Savage has been quite nice at using the name of "man-on-dog" obsessed Senator Santorum into a pretty disgusting word, well worthy of that cretin. By linking Senator Santorum's name to Savage's website, I'm doing my part to ensure that Savage's website will eventually be at the top of Google's search list when conservatives search for Senator Dickhead Santorum's website.

Fore more information, see Gogglebombing.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Coldness. It is supposed to freeze here in Tucson so I will be bringing a bunch of my plants indoors and putting them in the dining room, which is off limits to the cat. Have to pull out a sheet to drape over a few things that can't be brought in. I live next to Sentinel Peak (also known as 'A' Mountain due to an ugly concrete and rock "A" stuck on its side in 1913) and it tends to be a few degrees cooler here in the winter. That's enough of a difference to cause plants to freeze. My bouganvillea always dies back dramatically, and in the spring I have to cut it back, usually puncturing my hands on its thorns.

By the way, I hate the word "its." I had mediocre teachers in grade through high school and I've never been able to remember the rules for "its" versus "it's." And I know I ought to learn them, now that I am getting closer to the dreaded middle age years (I'm not there yet goddammit). But I have too many other exciting things to do. Like be amazed at a mosquito flying in front of my computer screen. Where did that come from???

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Die Mommie Die. It is somehow appropriate that I went to see this movie after the last blog entry. The movie was moderately funny, but nothing special. Afterwards went to a dessert restaurant, Sweet Somethings. Very nice cherry pie. Met a nice guy named JR who I wouldn't mind hanging out with. Altogether, a relaxed night out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Crazy grandma. Okay, so Corky asked about my evil grandmother. She was an only child, born about nine years after her parents married. Her mother beat her when she was a child, my other grandmother remembered that they could feel the welts through her clothes. She ended up getting pregnant when she was 17, in 1930. Two people told my mother that her parents chained her to the basement wall and her mother beat her with a coal shovel. She was sent to southern Michigan to hide out, gave birth to my father at the University of Michigan hospital, and then gave him up for adoption. My father's father found out, told his parents, and they went and found him. My father's grandmother raised him until he was about 4 years old.

Crazy grandma's mother Blanche (yes, that was her name) died suddenly around 1932 and grandma immediately married my father's father. They had another kid in 1938, my aunt. And sometime between 1938 and 1940 the marriage soured and she divorced him, and then poisoned her kids minds against their father. She married the hired hand in 1940, a weak-willed wimp, and in 1944 they had a son, my uncle Tom.

The evil really begins with his birth. Tom was spoiled beyond belief. He developed diabetes and the spoiling worsened. Step-grandfather would wake up at night and discover Tom sitting in their bedroom, watching them. He wanted to take Tom to a shrink, she refused, there was nothing wrong with him. She became more paranoid. She tried to control every aspect of her children's lives. One way to control people was to fake a heart condition and pretend to have heart attacks periodically. When my father married my mother, she refused to attend the wedding.

My uncle tried to escape, ran away and married. She tracked him down and forced him home. The wedding ended. Later he married another woman and moved across the driveway. He ate breakfast with his mother every day. When my aunt had a nervous breakdown after discovering her husband in bed with another woman, grandma tried to have her locked in an insane asylum to get custody of her two pretty blonde daughters. My aunt's in-laws had to spirit her away in the middle of the night to rescue her. My parents did nothing, my mother says "You don't know the power she had over your father."

In 1971 step-grandfather died unexpectedly of a heart attack at my aunt's house. Grandma came home with Tom and opened a safe, destroying my grandfather's will, preventing my father from obtaining land meant for him. In the mid-1970s my uncle divorced his wife and my parents and aunt testified in my other aunt's favor. That was the last I saw of her. Soon afterwards a for sale sign went up on land that my father had been promised by his stepfather. Father went to see his mother, she said to him "Promises mean nothing." My father would die years later knowing that his mother had never loved him.

At the divorce trial a psychologist suggested that grandma and Tom were involved in an incestuous relationship. They frequently slept in the same bed, although my uncle was in his 30s. They paid off the Friend of the Court and got custody of my two cousins. The mind poisoning continued. In the summer the cousins would visit us with their mother and Grandma and Uncle Tom would drive by every few minutes in their RV to spy on them. We stopped that by running out and waving, shouting "Hi Grandma."

Later Uncle Tom was married three more times. The first two Grandma broke up. The last one worked with Tom to get Grandma's extensive property in his name, and when the last deed was signed, Grandma was thrown out of her own house. She went to stay with a cousin, and when the possibility of a lawsuit ensued, Tom snuck into the house with a gun to take her back. She died at 76, he died a few years later at age 53, crippled and broke after my cousin paid off his debts.

That fucking bitch did a lot more than this sparse tale tells. She was an expert at exerting control, her children her puppets. She ruined lives with no regard, instilling hate, warping minds. In turn, my father tried to control his children and never understood his role as a father. Luckily, his children are more self aware, and understand the reasons behind his actions. We've mostly escaped the mental torment that he lived through.

Do I feel sorry for Grandma? Yes, she was abused as a child. But that was no reason to do the things she did as an adult. Eventually you have to take responsibility for your actions, and she never did. She viewed herself as superior, beyond reproach. She was a failure. Her legacy is that all of her descendants view her with disgust. I don't think she would be happy about that. But then, I don't really give a fuck what she would think.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

New reads. Like a couple of other blogs that I have been reading, I've gone and updated my links section. I've dropped a couple of blogs that had ended or are on hiatus. I've added the weblogs that I have been reading for a while. Devon is an escort/artist from San Francisco. He and Geekslut's blogs should be avoided by the zillions of Born Agains or people with heart problems that read this. Sissy Spacechik makes me laugh. Robbie is a cute Dutch dental student. K3ith lives here in Tucson, probably only a few miles from me, though we have yet to meet. I've met Expurgate and he's a cool one. And Mark seems like a really nice guy.

Wrap star. Tonight at the Menlo Park Neighborhood Association meeting we heard about a plan to transform the old quarry on the side of 'A' Mountain into an artist's colony for people in recovery. Currently the quarry is a drug den and the location of random gunfire. Janis Joplin's brother is one of the backers, as is an artist and a local architect.

Afterwards we wrapped presents for the third through fifth grade students at Menlo Park elementary. Many are poor kids, and would probably get nothing for the holidays. I brought in 11 presents, four of them donated by my co-workers. We needed 180 and due to the efforts of my neighbors there were over 200, as well as presents for the teachers. Now that is what I think of as holiday spirit, not fancy gifts or schmoozy parties. Sharing what you can with people less fortunate than you. I am such a socialist.

Mama Cat is sitting on my lap purring loudly. She has apparently forgotten that she was the Cat from Hell yesterday. I wish my ripped up hands agreed, especially the swollen spot about a knuckle on my right hand. Ouch.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Emergency. At the staff meeting Val motioned me towards the phone. It was Karen telling me my mother had called her- Mama Cat had got outdoors. I called home, she answered. "Well I was in the kitchen and I saw the door was open and I got Princess, Bear, and Puff in but she ran away. She's under the bouganvillea bush."

My mother, at age 71, has developed some annoying habits. One is the seeming inability to correctly shut doors. Locks befuddle her. Where she lives they don't have to lock car or house doors. So I am constantly having to lock my mother's car door or check to make sure the front door is all the way closed. And this time she failed.

When I got home I found Mummy in the backyard. "She ran into the shed." I enlisted Michele's help and had mother stand in front of a hole and Michele in front of the door, where there is another hole, and went inside. Instead of remaining at her hole, my mother starts to wander over to Michele to explain what had gone wrong. I had to yell at my mother again. Inside the dark shed I heard movement and there was Mama Cat. She ran toward the door and I was able to grab her. Oh. She was very scared. And used her teeth and claws on both of my hands. But I was able to hold on and carry her into the house.

And now I have 9.1 inches of scratches marks as well as two tooth puncture wounds. And when I came back home my mother had the front door securely locked. Thank you very much.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Cookie party. Oh that was a lovely party. All of the cleaning, decorating, and baking paid off. At times the house was so crowded that I felt claustrophobic, as people slapped frosting on cookies and made crafts. A couple of the people were really good at it- especially one man (whose name I don't know) whose cookies were coveted by everyone else.

Some of the 100 plus cookies.

Four of the guests brought toys for the neighborhood children toy drive. It was a diverse set, many people had not met before, but making ornaments and cards allowed them to chat easily with one another.

Matt shows off his card.

My bedroom is awash in glitter. I got most of it, but I'm sure I'll track it all over the house during the next few days. Clean up was surprisingly quick, and now I'm sitting here with Patsy Cline wailing in the background and my mother calling to Puff to come sit on her.


Saturday, December 06, 2003


Jeffrey S. came over and helped cut and bake cookies last night. I don't know how many total- probably 100 to 120. Sooooo happy that is done.

It is amazing how much a little cut in your mouth can hurt.

David M. came over for dinner last night. He has been in Chicago for over a month and it was nice to spend some time with him.

Corky wants to know if my evil grandmother was one of the wicked witches (specifically, Ms. East Witch). Yes, she was. I'll have to write an entry detailing the life of the fucking bitch from hell.

Time to start cleaning house. First thing- cleaning cat nose prints off of windows.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Christmas was always a big thing when I was a kid. We were pretty poor, my truck driver father supporting a wife and 5 kids. So Christmas meant the only new toys we would get (except for one on our birthday) and luxury foods like candy. When we lived in Traverse City there were three Christmases.

1). Go down to evil grandma's house for early Xmas Eve. She lived in a stone house down the road from our house. Besides my nuclear family there would also be Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Tom and Aunt Harriet, and their two kids. Grandma was a pyscho bitch from hell and didn't like my father, hated my mother, and as an extension didn't like us kids very much. So one of the memories of those nights was the time my two cousins got train sets from Grandma and my family got sweat shirts. Another memory is the time I got sick, threw up in her bathroom, and as I was kneeling over the toilet she came in and screamed at me. Pyscho bitch.

2). My mother always had to run home first and then we followed and Santa would have arrived and there were a load of presents under the tree. I never believed in Santa- as the youngest of five it was rather clear to me that Santa didn't exist. So we opened our presents and I would have a new toy to play with- lincoln logs, Tonka trucks, one year a Winnie the Pooh game.

3). Christmas morning we walked through the snow to my other grandparent's house, which was next door. There were a few new presents to open, and then the long wait for Christmas lunch. The usual foods- turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, Grandma's cranberry relish (she invented a recipe that Jello later published in one of their cookbooks).

After evil grandma's husband died she stopped talking to us and after nice grandma's husband died the Christmas morning get-togethers were not as fun. As an adult I still like to give presents but I'm not as fond as getting them. I hate to have to exclaim with delight- "Oh, a lovely set of coasters!"

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Peaches. Traffic was wretched last night on the way home from work. 40 minutes. Caught behind the world's slowest driver, talking on a cell phone. Got home, hurried my mother into the car, rushed to Dragon View to pick up Chinese, and then over to Bob and Steve's for dinner.

Their house is so cool. An 1880s adobe with 15 ft tall ceilings and wood floors. They spent years restoring it from ruins to a wonderful place, filled with interesting little things. Last night I looked at Bob's mother's scrapbook from when she attended Berkeley in the late 1930s.

Mummy was enthralled with Peaches, a little reddish Pommeranian that they found in Oakland as a stray this summer. She is the cutest dog in Tucson.. Barked a little until my mother picked her up, and then spent quite a lot of time in Mummy's lap.

Today is real busy. In fact the next few days are becoming heavily scheduled. Clean house, make cookies, cut grass, make cookies, make cheesecakes, clean house, yell at Joey for being bad, make cookies. It is going to be so much fun.

Mummy and Peaches.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Okay, okay! Sometimes I get a little melodramatic when I write things. It is no fun and probably a little boring to write stuff like, "I had Mexican food for dinner. I petted the cats, I went to bed early." So sometimes I write about being a little sad about the way life plays out. That doesn't mean I spend all day thinking about sad things. Instead, I spend most of my time thinking about what things like, "When do I make cookies?," "I can't wait for Larry and Eric to arrive in two weeks.," "Oh! I haven't petted Joey in a couple of hours!," or "What can I write about?" So I really don't need Prozac and I am really not depressed. A few certain, selected topics do get me going and I am still angry at being dumped a year ago- but that is life and nobody is perfect. And I think it is altogether healthy to be pissed off about certain topics (George Bush, animal cruelty, ex-boyfriend are good examples) and writing about them is probably good enough therapy for me- at least I am willing to recognize the issue. End of rant.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The End of the World. Well, actually it isn't. Yesterday the City of Tucson began a Domestic Partner registry. And the world didn't end, despite what social conservatives might think. Today there was a small ceremony at Sunset Park, in front of City Hall, where a few years ago I uncovered the foundations of an 1860s building. I arrived shortly after 4:00, and there were already several dozen people there, many lined up to signed the registry. I chatted with Brian and Tom, who were beaming with happiness.

Tom and Brian, Domestic Partners.

I was happy too, but also felt a great deal of sadness. All around me were couples, excited that the $50 they were paying, while providing few real benefits, was still a symbolic gesture. The City of Tucson recognized each couple as a pair, a couple, partners.

And I was there by myself. It was rather obvious. I left after watching a few couple come out of City Hall with their certificates. This was not my day.

And some of the old bitterness arose. Five years wasted. Five years spent fooling myself. Five years. It's very depressing to dwell on, so perhaps I should think about better things. More frivolous things, like the pleasant smell of my house from the Holiday Tree or the warmth of Mama Cat sitting in my lap. And yet it all comes back to the fact that I wished I was signing my name to that registry today.

Do you ever feel like you are living in a soap opera? Sometimes I feel that I am a character in one. Of course I am the main character. When they show the cast at the beginning of the show I am first, whipping my head around to glower at the screen, dressed in some outlandish outfit. I think everybody stars in their own soap opera.

Right now my soap is rather dull. Special guest star Carolyn is making a cross-over appearence from her show, "Kingsley," which mostly focuses on crafts and reviews of mystery stories, with forays into the steamy world of the Amish. She has no romance (doesn't want any) or action, unless you call getting her van stuck in the snow action.

My own character also doesn't have any romance at the moment (attention writers!!!). And seems to have a Martha Stewart focus, since I tend to do more cooking in the winter and have been rather artistic lately. And I am having the cookie and craft party Sunday.

Now that is going to be a big event. Soap fans will get to see many of their favorite "Homer's World" past and present characters interact, some will be meeting for the first time, others will be catching up and re-hashing old stories. While there have not been any catfights at past parties, there have been some romantic entanglements. Even the Former will be making an appearance. Maybe I should start an exciting catfight. Or perhaps a replay of the infamous "You are EVIL!!!" scene will do. Or maybe I'll ignore Him and frost some cookies and flirt with a couple of nice guys. You never know what will happen on my show.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Oh Holiday Tree. Since I'm a non-believer and the Pagans or Romans actually started the custom of dragging trees inside and decorating them, I prefer to call it a Holiday Tree. Mummy and I drove over to Brian and Andy's tree lot. I think Andy is at this lot, a tall, lanky man wearing brown coveralls. He had thick blondish-brown hair pulled back in a ponytail and a country accent. Hot. I asked for a Charlie Brown style tree- in Andy parlance that is a "natural" tree. I dropped $50 on it, shocking mom, but you pay for quality. It smelled so piney in the car on the way home.

Once here I pulled out the string of lights and discovered I needed to go get another strand. A quick run to the store and back. Then mother and I decorated. I mostly have plain balls, old fashioned style figural ornaments, and some felt ones Susan made for me. Also a few pipe cleaner ones made at last years party. The tree stands in the corner of the living room, wired to the window locks to keep it from falling if the cats decide to be naughty and play on it. My favorite ornaments are securely wired on if that should happen.

Holiday tree, December 2003.

The cats have been behaving themselves- no messes, just a few fights. Mummy says it is because she entertains them during the day. I hope it lasts.

Joey as a demon.

Archaeology work appears to be picking up, so I am not stressed about that. I am trying to be more productive in terms of writing, since I have to basically have my portion of a large report done this month. It is do-able, I perform well under pressure.

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