may 2001

click here for permalink May 25, 2001

I admit it. I can't take a hint. I usually insist that the hint spend long hours cross-training until it's a full-fledged exclamation. Then it can get my attention the old fashioned twisting my arm.

After all that pain and ice the other night you would have thought that I'd want to take it easy to let my wrists heal. What did I do instead? Rest for a day, then paint for 24 hours straight to help Mr. Pink with a tanning salon renovation. Well... heh. My hand is now in a brace and he's out there with a new helper (thank you, Jeff!).

On the bright side, I can look at that one killer shift as paying off my half of the slightly used tanning bed we're now the proud owners of. I'm trying not to think about things like where the hell we're going to put it in our already insanely crowded one bedroom apartment and what, if anything, it's going to do to our electricity bill.

I'm a proud mama today because one of my best friends has a brand new column on SFGirl. Check her out. She's made me feel incredibly lazy for sitting around whining about my wrists and what's on the Discovery channel instead of ranting eloquently about something.

That's the problem with being unemployed, though. It's not so much the lack of money... for someone who thrives on experience as a source for inspiration, it's the lack of annoying shit that happens to you day in and day out. Sure, I've been happier since I was laid off in September... and healthier. I used to get sick twice a year, like clockwork, at the same time as all the other workers trapped within coughing distance of each other in every badly ventilated building and on public transportation.

At first I thought it was just the lack of structure and deadlines that made me complacent, but now I realize it's actually the lack of aggravation. A year ago, I could go to a web site and get so annoyed at the unintuitive navigation and unsightly graphic interface that a 600 word diatribe on web design would virtually write itself.

I still annoy easily, but I don't think that rants about my landlady or the lack of anything good on TV between the hours of one and seven PM are really of interest to anyone but myself. I may have to resort to drastic measures in order to stimulate that dormant animosity into something creative. Maybe I'll take a bus out to one of those malls that are 45 minutes away... or force myself to watch nothing but talk shows for an entire week... or maybe I'll shamelessly hit my audience up for ideas. Anyone? Distract me from the boredom of contentment... tell me what's driving you to distraction at

click here for permalink May 23, 2001

No more painting! The bicycle painting project (Priscilla, Queen of the Seawall) is all finished and I have Mr. Pink to thank for it... not that I wanted to hand it over but after two weeks of almost daily painting...

I managed to reactivate a dormant case of borderline Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that hadn't bothered me for over six months. I woke up with the worst pain in my right wrist the other night and had to hold ice against it until the swelling went down — a "cure" that hurts even more than the injury. Now I can barely write, much less do manual labor — which I never thought I'd be complaining about!

At least I come by the habit of pushing my delicate limbs past their limits honestly — my mother and grandmother are similarly inclined. I constantly chastise them for the twisted ankles and aggravated arthritis pains brought on by an unwillingness to rest even after exhaustion sets in. Now I've got a lot more than fear of a botched manicure to prevent me from acting like Bob Villa for a while.

Here's a question, on a totally unrelated topic... why is it that microwaves are so much harder to clean than stoves or fridges? This is the kind of thing I'm wondering about while my horoscope says I'm in "the most commanding phase of my astrological cycle." Sad, really. I'm trying to rise above it.

click here for permalink May 20, 2001

I have embarked upon a task of unknown length and unforeseen difficulty... I decided that my new (used) bike, encrusted with dirt and grease from years in storage, could use a thorough cleaning and a paint job...

Well, all the spray paint colors available at Home Depot were hideous so, right off the bat, it was going to be a lot of work. Hand painting, no big deal, I thought, selecting a fortuitously mistinted pint of hot pink paint from the sale rack.

Hours later, sketching a roadmap of parts as I took them off and organized them in piles, elbow deep in black grime with ribbons of disembodied brake line snaking off in all directions, I began to wonder if my stick figure tool diagrams would make sense in reverse. They were scrapped in favor of winging it.

Mr Pink and I struggled with it for an hour but the chain would not be removed and neither would the pedals or the handlebars with their Medusa-like brake tentacles whipping around dangerously. Nevertheless, it's a rare project that can't be saved with Safeway bags and duct tape. I isolated and masked off the offending parts from the body and proceeded with the plan.

Three coats of primer later (preceded by scrubbing with a toothbrush, sanding and rinsing), I have finally covered the original color (and realized it wasn't really that bad after all). Now I have a clean slate and can see what this pink will look like... and boy, it the most flaming pink... I'm going to have to name this thing Priscilla, Queen of the Seawall.

click here for permalink May 19, 2001

The Discovery Channel is now doing for the Apocalypse what A&E did for the Mafia. Today, I watched a four hour Ancient Prophecies marathon featuring End of the World theories from all the usual suspects...

Nostradamus, the Bible, Native Americans elders, Christian Stigmata sufferers, the Mayans... even science fiction "prophets" like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells weighed in with their dire visions of the bleak future of humanity.

The most specific prophecies, naturally, were the most interesting; the Bible's 150 psalms, according to one specialist, seem to correspond to the years of the 20th and 21st centuries (conveniently, beginning at 1901). He pointed to Biblical passages that seemingly predict the Holocaust, the Gulf War and the American and European floods of 1993.

The Mayan calendar even offers us a date to mark on ours; December 21st, 2012. According to the Mayans, each "age" comes to an abrupt and violent end if humanity fails to learn to live in peace and appease the gods. The last age, according to Mayans history, ended as inanimate objects, livestock and household pets rose up against their human owners.

If their prophecy comes true, the narrator hints, we can expect to be turned against by an artificially intelligent army of our own high-tech gadgets. I know, I know... we all saw The Terminator...still, the image of cars rerouting their carbon monoxide and airplanes GPS-ing themselves into mountainsides is damned compelling.

One Native American prophet warns of earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes that will ravage North America and, of course, it's all the best places that are slated for destruction; New York, Florida, the entire West Coast... And the safest places to be, should the End of the World come with enough warning to pack up the SUV? Montana and Texas. No thanks...if it comes to that, I'll be taking a cue from Tool and learning to swim.

click here for permalink May 18, 2001

As television's Grand Finale week comes to a close, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the networks will finally stop inundating us with self-aggrandizing and misleading previews...

While some of these shows never stood a chance of living up to their pre-finale hype, others were well deserving of a few extra reminder spots to ensure the biggest viewer turnout. The final five minutes of ER, for example, were well worth the wait.

The West Wing's finale was even more gratifying. It had it all; death, blasphemy, ghostly visitations... all of which put me in a state of giddy anticipation for the finale of The Sopranos, coming up this Sunday.

As any smoker will tell you (me? No, but I hear things, you know...), the best way to speed up the arrival of your bus or taxi is to light up a cigarette. I think there is a similar law of nature that governs manicures. It's actually a proportional relationship, along the lines of this; the more elaborate, time-consuming or simply well-executed the manicure, the more likely you are to find yourself in Martha Stewart-worthy pursuits like gardening, painting, tiling or carpentry.

But I like the process of doing my nails — it's sort of artistic, takes concentration and patience, not to mention manual dexterity. It's like meditation for the vain and superficial... but the results typically last two days before I'm elbow deep in home improvement.

Luckily, I haven't paid for a manicure since my ill-timed college preoccupation with ladylike hands, when I went straight from drawing, painting and sculpture classes to the salon where they would scrub away for fifteen minutes in exasperation at my charcoal/oil paint/clay encrusted fingers.

click here for permalink May 17, 2001

A skin care commercial I saw recently talks about how using this product will "help reduce the seven signs of aging," but leaves it up to the viewer to guess what those seven signs are...

Well, I know that wearing cardigans and always thinking that the music is too loud are two of the signs... but I don't see what a new moisturizer is going to do to reduce them.

Does anyone else still use roll-up blinds? We recently bought some and intend to change the fabric to something semi-sheer and attractive to match our new living room color. We haven't gotten to that yet, but the ordeal of hanging the apparatus and learning how to apply the exact amount of pressure to lower and raise the damn things already has me questioning the sanity of the salesperson who convinced us this was a fantastic design concept in window coverings.

I got up yesterday to find that Mr. Pink had made the honest mistake of rolling all the blinds all the way down until the actual rod was exposed (which is not nearly as erotic as it sounds). Once the, heh, rod is exposed, the blinds will not pull down any further. Which means you can't do the little "pull to retract" move that raises the blinds. So, I had to drag the coffee table over to the window to just barely reach the blind holders (yes, that is the technical name) and remove every one of them, rolling them up by hand, then replacing them on the holders.

This works, luckily, but the trick is to roll the fabric back up with the exact same amount of tension that would normally occur if you did it the proper way... too loose and it falls open all the way, too tight and you can't budge the thing... either way, a repeat performance of last paragraph is then called for.

My hand-rolling was too tight, it turns out, but I wasn't ready to give up immediately. I pulled as hard as I could with differing degrees of failure. The middle blind came halfway off the rod, exposing the highly scientific method of attaching the fabric — a half-inch glue strip. The second one gave a little easier, rendering part one of the "tug-and-release" method a success. Unfortunately, when I "released" the end of the blind, it shot to the ceiling with blinding speed, practically taking my hand with it, and wrapped itself around not only the rod but also one side of the "rod holder" and had to be manually extracted with much swearing and aggravation.

Anyway, I'm sure the attractive fabric will change all that... if not, another trip to IKEA may be in order. I'm scared.

click here for permalink May 16, 2001

I love shopping at thrift stores, even when I don't plan on buying anything or can't find an appropriate impulse purchase. I think there's something about all that stuff — other peoples' discarded crap...

I find it strangely comforting. I've moved so many times; packed and unpacked, furnished and redecorated so many apartments that I can't even look at a room full of my own stuff without silently judging, assessing, prioritizing.

I look at shelves full of knick-knacks and compulsively strategize more space-efficient or attractive ways to display them. I rifle through closets full of clothes and question myself mercilessly; "when was the last time I wore that?"

My shirts, sweaters and jackets live in a state of constant insecurity, lined up like finalists in a beauty pageant where the judge is fickle and unpredictable. Today's favorite could be unceremoniously disqualified tomorrow... ruled unfit and thrown into a box bound for the thrift store.

I guess I look at those foreign racks of floral-patterned shirts and shelves brimming with last decade's colored Tupperware and think; I don't have to pack any of that. If it's ugly, it's not my problem. In fact, it actually makes me feel better about the stuff I have at home, which is a feeling one could never claim to have upon returning home from IKEA or Pottery Barn.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with IKEA... I've been sucked into that place and wrung out of entire paychecks on what started out as a search for a single household item. No mater how innocuous my intentions when I arrive, every cavernous, artfully laid-out room holds treasures I will suddenly be desperate to possess. I scour every aisle, scooping items I don't need into that giant yellow bag.

It must be something they filter through the air conditioning... a trick learned from the Vegas casinos... ultra-rich oxygen to make us feel alert and stimulated, some unknown compound to make us feel wealthy and entitled to a little triviality. You can feel it begin to wear off in the parking lot as you load strangely shaped throw pillows, candle holders and stacking boxes into your car. What did I buy, you think, checking the foot-long bill, which is all in Swedish... a glance back confirms that the line to Returns/Exchanges is even longer than the checkout line.

But I guess that's what keeps the thrift stores in business.

click here for permalink May 14, 2001

Watched a Biography on Martha Stewart yesterday (isn't Biography great? For an hour, the life story of just about anyone becomes riveting). I actually found it rather sad... not that she needs my pity or anything. Heh.

I never knew that she had a husband and daughter who left her as her career began to consume all of her attention — her daughter, for college (but they implied that there was some "estrangement.") and her husband, for an assistant of hers. Ouch. At the time, they say she was becoming increasingly obsessed with her business and only slept four hours every night, dedicating every waking moment to catering, decorating and gardening, making TV specials and writing books (I can't relate, of course, but I feel her pain).

It's interesting... I never saw her in this light before but maybe she's like this tormented artist who can't rest for the visions in her head and will forsake anything else in pursuit of the ability to create, unencumbered. Only... her Sistine Chapel is the perfect holiday place setting... her 9th Symphony, a phyllo pastry-wrapped Thanksgiving Day turkey.

My favorite part was a clip of NYPD Blue's Denis Franz admitting that he and his wife are Martha devotees and that they recently collected fallen leaves from their yard, dried and pressed them and ironed them onto their dining table to create festive place settings. He had a glazed look in his eyes as he said it, like he would've been embarrassed, if only his mind were still under his own control.

click here for permalink May 13, 2001

Happy Mother's Day, everyone! I spent half the day sleeping in (woohoo) and now I'm off to spend the second half painting a friend's apartment with Mr. Pink. I wonder how many rooms I've painted, total, in my lifetime?

A hell of a lot... comes from moving a hell of a lot and being a bit of a fanatic for attractive surroundings, no matter how temporary they may be. Well, my exciting Sunday plans aside, I'd like to send Mother's Day greetings to some of the women in my life...

My Mother, who performed beautifully in Friday night's ballet but is still critiquing it three days later... My maternal grandmother, who is probably doing grueling yard work with her husband in the Tucson heat... My paternal grandmother, who is battling an illness with incredible, admirable strength and bravery... Mr. Pink's sister Sherrill, the dedicated and loving mother of two boys... My father's wife, Catherine, mother to two bright and talented sons... and my cousin Bonnie, who became a mother last night to a beautiful baby girl named Bridget Erin.

Love to you all.

click here for permalink May 12, 2001

Looking through old photo albums is a lot of fun. Not so fun is that box that holds the overflow; negatives, duplicates, bad angles, bad lighting, scenery that seemed riveting until you got home from vacation...

I ripped through that box yesterday, in search of photos that are (as I suspected) in the photo albums after all, somewhere at the very back, bottom corner of the storage locker. The search did yield a wealth of images long forgotten — and happily so — from which I have distilled a top ten list of the most embarrassing.

  1. High-heeled jelly shoes
  2. the Kelly McGillis haircut
  3. Big, giant shoulder pad dress in big, giant floral print (it must have been a gift)
  4. the over-sized men's suit jacket over white t-shirt (thanks Sunny Crocket)
  5. Bright red hair color that I could never seem to maintain
  6. the "Just Do It" workout shirt (at least I did work out in it)
  7. my Vasquez-from Aliens red bandana phase (Kidding? No, I wish I were)
  8. jean jacket covered in buttons (highlights from which include an enamel "INXS/KICK" concert pin and a pink button stating that I'm "Just one of the Boys")
  9. Leg warmers. Pulled up.
  10. the rat tail

Of course, the horror inspired by those was slightly assuaged by the few looks that do hold up over time... the "Gypsy" look (part Stevie Nicks, part Cyndi Lauper), the ripped jeans (just one hole, in the knee), crimped hair (counter-intuitively, I might add) and the gobs of black eyeliner that never stays unfashionable for too long.

I was, however, suitably traumatized by the realization that throughout most of my life, I've actually had more bad hair than good (at least according to the overflow box), that I made an appointment with my hair guy. I'm now blonder than I've been since 6th grade and the cut has been modified into something that I actually love. Finally.

click here for permalink May 11, 2001

Tonight is the spring performance at my mother's ballet school and I wish all her students the best of luck — Mother, Sarah, Caydee, Kendra and Katy, Dana, Judith and Paula and all the rest, have a great night.

If the weather keeps up like this, we're going to have an incredible summer... which means searching for a bathing suit since my Miami Beach purchase of two summers ago is an underwire laceration waiting to happen. (How do they design bras and bathing suit tops so perfectly to resist mending when the underwire decides to poke out one end? Has anyone ever successfully recovered a bra from this point?)

Well, I haven't done much writing this week but, for some reason, I've been re-inspired (after almost a month of neglecting the project) to work on my tarot deck, which is sort of a collage of people I know and art images from all over the place. It's looking awesome, which I can say without vanity since most of the artwork isn't mine. The composition is the thing, though. Heh.

It's funny how one can never seem to be creative on command in the way that one plans to be... Two weeks into a writing class, I'm suddenly up till all hours working in Photoshop. It beats Freecell, I guess.

click here for permalink May 09, 2001

A friend was telling me yesterday that she has to read a book for almost an hour every night — to calm the storm of thoughts — so she can get to sleep, otherwise, she just tosses and turns for hours.

My mother is the same way... she works all day, teaches her ballet classes and then comes home, exhausted, but can't sleep because she's still choreographing in her mind. She watches movies, reads, emails me... it takes hours for her to unwind even if she's already been going nonstop for 16 hours.

I am SO not like that. I can only imagine so frustrating it must be. For me, all it takes is putting on a rented movie that's already three days overdue... gimme ten minutes and I'm asleep on Mr. Pink's shoulder. Which reminds me, we really have to watch Wonder Boys tonight... and get a more comfortable couch.

click here for permalink May 08, 2001

Just walked home from seeing Bridget Jones' Diary and my feet are so sore. I'm slowly learning that size 7.5 feet + size 9 boots + two pairs of socks do not = size 7.5 boots, no matter how badly you want it.

The movie was great, though... very girly and well done. It's funny, when you see a really girly movie, the previews are geared accordingly... A romantic comedy with John Cusack is coming soon... of course, I don't need to see it now because I'm pretty sure I saw everything in the interminable preview but the last romantic kiss and the montage of the happy couple's future together during the closing credits.

Also coming soon is a romantic movie set during WWII about "Italian" beauty (I was tossed over which word to put in quotes there) Penelope Cruz and her love affair with soldier Nicolas Cage. Sigh. I really like him and I wish he would hurry up and star in something I can actually stand to watch — lately, he seems to be taking roles that Matt Damon and Keanu Reeves would turn down.

Writing class is tomorrow and — woohoo — I did all of my assignments. Today, in fact. Heh. I am SO glad I work better under pressure. I can be lazy and uninspired all week but as soon as a deadline is imminent, something like a survival instinct kicks in and I can sit down and write (or draw, as I learned in art school) for hours.

click here for permalink May 04, 2001

I'm so embarrassed. I watched the damn finale of Survivor, after all. At eight, I flipped around, wrote and watched a little V.I.P. — I love my Pamela but I can't watch a whole episode for some reason...

...then I landed on Survivor and had to stick around to see who won. I haven't seen a single episode but the finale sucked me in. I even formed an opinion and, luckily, the one I liked the most ended up winning! Yay, Tina. I'm such a geek. I'm going to go hang my head in shame now.

The weather forecast is for rain the rest of the week and I still haven't ridden my bike since last Wednesday. I know, I know... a lot of people ride in the rain, especially in Vancouver. Let me have my pathetic excuse.

click here for permalink May 03, 2001

My little writing group is like a strange oasis in the middle of the week... a bright, sunny Granville Island house with four other women that I leave brimming with ideas. Last night those ideas percolated in my brain...

...for hours, never making it to paper, dissolving when I fell asleep on the couch in front of The West Wing. It's possible that the detour into Pacific Sun Co. could account for my sudden sleepiness... tanning always makes me blissfully tired, whether it's in the real sun or the "Pryzma" (the Rolls Royce of tanning beds). And the smell of tanning lotion... mmm... there's just something about the combination of coconut, citrus and cocoa butter...

Well. I have a whole week to do my homework, so I'm not worried about crashing early last night. Writing about childhood memories has led me to grill my mother and grandmother on details of our trip from Seattle to Sedona in a converted school bus and the months we lived in the Florida Keys when I was five (think Jimmy Buffet, not Miami Vice).

This week my assignment is character studies of strangers I find intriguing. So, as I walk down Davie Street, ripe as it always is with a variety of potential characters, I'm watching everyone with an added attention to detail; the Chinese store owners arranging their buckets of fresh flowers, drug dealers on the pay phones at the gas station, gay couples reading the paper at Starbucks...

Well, time to take a walk and gather some material... and toilet paper.

click here for permalink May 01, 2001

My weekly writing class is tomorrow and, true to form, I've "saved" my homework for the very last possible day. Luckily, the subject at hand is one that flows easily once one gets started. Childhood memories...

Melba, our instructor, seems intent that I write about some of the more unusual childhood memories in my past — living in a school bus turned motor-home for a year, attending a performing arts school in ninth grade, driving across country not once but three very different times...

It's funny how the memories that I think of as pivotal or significant can be so different from the memories that strike others as significant when they hear them. Believe it or not, I never really think of the fact that I lived in a school bus as being particularly formative. But I guess it certainly is ideal for a ten-minute writing assignment.

So, it's May... beautiful and clear and sunny so far... I wonder if this will continue? Unlike the last two years, we're off to a good start; along the lines of the Summer of 1998 — weather-wise, the most perfect Summer I can remember. Come on, Vancouver, we've earned it.