Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fingers Crossed

I don't want to jinx things, but I've just been offered a full-time job at a bar I actually want to work at and a guy I've had my eye on for a while has apparently had his eye on me too. I'm withholding names to protect the guilty.

Currently, life is very hopeful.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dear Sir

Dear Guy in the Powder Blue Ensemble at Fred Meyers,

While I'm flattered that you found me attractive enough to give yourself whiplash while strolling through a public venue, arms laden with sundry items and perishables, there are some things you need to take into consideration. First and foremost, there is a fine line between a subtle glance at an intriguing stranger and the leering grin of a potential stalker. You might be a wonderful and caring person, but it's a little hard to see that while you're twisting yourself near in half staring at me while never once slowing your forward momentum nor changing the direction of said progress down the aisle. Secondly, and probably most importantly, even if I were to find you attractive (the fact that there was a long list of reasons why this would most likely not be the case aside) there's something about having a cart full of extra-absorbent toiletries, assorted vitamins and fiber pills, and a small assortment of chocolate-frosted sugar-bombs that does not put me "in the mood" for the attentions of gentlemen. Much like when I'm trying to angle myself for minimum visibility at the pee trough in the men's room, I'm at the food market for a very specific reason, and I can assure you that that reason has nothing to do with things going into or out of my pants unless they're comfy and unflattering underwear. I just have my priorities, and at the market they revolve around at-register price reductions and four-for-five-dollar specials.

So please, sir, spend a little bit more time during your morning routine in front of the full-length mirror practicing your subtle glance. It will keep the objects of your desire from experiencing brief moments of panty-soiling terror as they wonder if they're going to have to apply for yet another restraining order, and your lower back will really thank you for not getting twisted into such odd contortions on such a regular basis.

Monday, June 19, 2006

That Essential Inch.

My dear friend Toddy recently endured a very ugly face of humanity, and it got the two of us talking about integrity and personal accountability. The conversation reminded me of a passage from the book V For Vendetta that's recently been made into a movie. They kept this particular part in the movie almost word for word, and I feel it bears repeating as it sums up the depth and weight of integrity to a point that it nearly overwhelms the soul.

The passage is written by a woman who is being tortured to death to another prisoner (one of the main characters in the story) and passed through a rat whole in the wall to someone she has never met nor seen, but is also being tortured to death for information. These are her words:

"I don't know who you are. Please believe. There is no way I can convince you that this is not one of their tricks, but I don't care. I am me, and I don't know who you are, but I love you. I have a pencil, a little one they did not find. I am a woman. I hid it inside me. Perhaps I won't be able to write again, so this is a long letter about my life. It is the only autobiography I will ever write, and oh God, I'm writing it on toilet paper."

"I was born in Nottingham in 1957, and it rained a lot. I passed my eleven plus and went to girl's grammar. I wanted to be an actress. I met my first girlfriend at school. Her name was Sara. She was fourteen and I was fifteen but we were both in Miss Watson's class. Her wrists, her wrists were beautiful. I sat in biology class, staring at the pickled rabbit fetus in it's jar, listening while Mr. Hird said it was an adolescent phase that people outgrew. Sara did. I didn't."

"In 1976 I stopped pretending and took a girl called Christine home to meet my parents. A week later I moved to London, enrolling at drama college. My mother said I broke her heart. But it was my integrity that was important. Is that so selfish? It sells for so little, but it's all we have left in this place. It's the very last inch of us. But within that inch we are free."

"London. I was happy in London. In 1981 I played Dandini in Cinderella. My first rep work. The world was strange and rustling and busy, with invisible crowds behind the hot lights and all that breathless glamour. It was exciting and it was lonely. At night I'd go to Gatew. This or one of the other clubs, but I was stand-offish and didn't mix easily. I saw a lot of the scene but I never felt comfortable: there. So many of them just wanted to be gay. It was their life. Their ambition. All they talked about. And I wanted more than that. Work improved. I got small film roles, then bigger ones. In 1986 I starred in 'The Salt Flats'. It pulled in the awards but not the crowds. I met Ruth while working on that. We loved each other. We lived together, and on Valentine's Day she sent me roses, and oh God, we had so much. Those were the best three years of my life."

"In 1988 there was the war, and after that there were no more roses. Not for anybody."

"In 1992, after the take-over, they started rounding up the gays. They took Ruth while she was out looking for food. Why are they so frightened of us? They burned her with cigarette ends and made her give them my name. She signed a statement saying I seduced her. I didn't blame her. God. I loved her. I didn't blame her. But she did. She killed herself in her cell. She couldn't live with betraying me, with giving up that last inch. Oh Ruth. They came for me. They told me that all my films would be burned. They shaved off my hair. They held my head down in a toilet bowl and told jokes about lesbians. They brought me here and gave me drugs. I can't feel my tongue anymore. I can't speak. The other gay woman here, Rita, died two weeks ago. I imagine I'll die quite soon. It is strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologized to nobody. I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Except one."

"An inch. It's small and it's fragile and it's the only thing in the world that's worth having. We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us. I don't know who you are, or whether you are a man or a woman. I may never see you. I will never hug you or cry with you or get drunk with you. But I love you."

"I hope that you escape this place. I hope that the world turns and that things get better, and that one day people have roses again. I wish I could kiss you. Valerie."

I hope that none of us ever find ourselves persecuted and tortured to death for being who we are, but I also hope that none of us ever allows ourselves to lose that last inch of ourselves. That last inch of integrity.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Darwin Meets God

Today I woke up with an extra set of arms and a letter taped to my chest congratulating a Ms Shelly Neaderson for her lifetime of dedicated faith and boundless altruism. It was signed God. God has a surprisingly sloppy signature, like a coked-up five year old actually. Don't ask me how I know what that looks like.

Apparently Ms Neaderson had been praying for an extra set of arms, probably to help feed more homeless people at once or pray twice as hard for the plight of starving kids in Africa and China or some other goody two-shoes nonsense. Unfortunately for her not even the Celestial Post can be counted on to deliver consistently. I wonder if God tortures angels for this kind of screw-up, or if He turns them into self-hating minority Republicans. Hopefully he just lets them off with some light unspeakable torture and a stern talking-to.

I have to admit that at first I was bummed. The idea of spending the next week cutting arm-holes in all of my shirts and sewing sleeves back on to some of them (it is almost summer after all, having four arms to show off might not be such a bad thing) didn't exactly sound like fun. Not to mention it'd be pretty hard to hide any future criminal activities from the law. Being built like a gimpy arachnid makes you kind of obvious in a police line-up. It was really bumming me out until I decided to start looking on the bright side of things, sure I might be a freakish god-mutant now, but just think of all the things I can do! I can bartend twice as fast, hand-stands are gonna be a breeze, I'll finally be able to defeat my arch-nemesis Jeff in ninjitsu knitting class, I can deliver the ultimate pimp-slap to hos who be dissin' on me (yo), and there won't be a butt in the world that's safe from my clever hands!

It was at this point that hideous melodramatic laughter welled up from the depths of my soul and sang it's clarion of evil across the land, at least until my downstairs neighbors began banging on their ceiling with a broom handle. At least I like to hope it's a broom handle, you can never tell with creepy hobbit-looking hippies who smoke so much they stink up the entire apartment block.

While I'm sure I'll eventually have a change of heart and find Ms Neaderson to give her her rightful arms, I'm having far too much fun abusing God's gifts right now.

I wonder what he'll screw up and send me next time!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Blessed Art The Rons

Whenever I'm having a hard time with my fellow meatbags I like to remind myself of a time when a complete stranger saved me.

It was during the hurricane Rita evacuation down in Houston. Some of you may have seen the pictures from it, some of you haven't, but it's not an underestimation to say that the situation was both surreal and dire. It was the first time in American history (that I'm aware of) that both sides of a major four-lane highway were opened up to outbound traffic in order to expedite the evacuation of a city that has nearly two million residents.

Due to the fact that there had been no gas service for an entire week on account of all the damage that Katrina had caused most people were hitting the roads with half a tank or less. Also due to the panic that the hurricane was causing in light of what Katrina did to Nuevo Orleans many people were desperate to get out and so grabbed any vehicle they could find no matter how poor it's condition was. The result of these two factors meant that about a fourth of the vehicles on the road simply broke down or ran out of gas about a mile or two out of town, turning the already congested roads into a slalom course of derelict dodging. This was much harder than it sounds as the traffic was moving so slowly that you often didn't know the car in front of you had broken down for several hours as progress out of the city was measured in inches per hour.

As the road and the hours wore on the traffic was thinned some by the cars that could go no further. I was often reminded of the dinosaur scene in Fantasia where they're all making an exodus from the spreading dessert trying to find water and slowly dying off one by one until even the last stalwart survivors were only bleached bones in the scorching sand. It sounds overly dramatic, but the mind thinks odd thoughts when you've been in a car for an entire day.

On the second eve of our travel my roommate and I finally came to a rest stop and had nearly exhausted our supply of gas. It turns out that the golf coast produces gas for a large chunk of America, and no one had been able to ship or fly any new supplies in from elsewhere so there hadn't been any place to resupply the entire trip. The storm was due to hit any hour and we were stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a few willow trees to protect us from whatever the biopolar and chaotic maelstrom that passes for weather over the Atlantic had been cooking up. To say we felt scared and helpless would have been pretty dead-on. We noticed that there was an RV parked not too far away from us for the night and they had a large red plastic gas container. So I walked over there full of hope that I could convince this person to sell me some of their gas, a commodity that had gone beyond value due to the extreme rarity it had recently begun to enjoy. The man who's RV had the spare gas was a shorter grandfatherly type named Ron Tomlinson. Not only did he let us have the gas he refused to accept any sort of compensation for it. It was exactly half a tank's worth, which we were pretty certain would get us the rest of the way to San Antonio where a good friend of mine was waiting with extra beds and margaritas. We knew that Ron wouldn't accept any money, but we had no way to show him how much his simple act of kindness had done for us so we wrote our numbers on a piece of paper and told him that if he was ever in California or Oregon to call us and we'd be happy to put him up or buy him dinner as he'd been like an angel to us. We also folded about $80 into the slip of paper because we couldn't not give him anything, it just didn't feel right. Both myself and my roommate were moved nearly to tears that a complete stranger would insist on giving us his gas so that we could complete our trip. I'd run into a lot of extremely selfish people in Texas and I felt blindsided by this man's kindness. It was very humbling.

We completed our trip uneventfully. The roads after that last rest stop were clear of traffic as all of the cars that couldn't make it had been weeded out by that time. The drive from San Antonio to Houston takes about two hours on a good day. It took us twenty-seven hours to make the trip and that had to be one of the best and longest urinations I've ever had in my life when we finally got to my friend's house.

Friday, June 02, 2006

On Leadership #38

Leadership rule #38

"Any tyrant who demands that you sacrifice your life to invade a sovereign nation should be hauled into the street by an angry mob and murdered in the most convenient method possible.

Conversely, any leader who gives you both the knowledge and means to defend your home from the whims of tyrants should be glorified."

Seriously folks, anyone who has managed to miss the memo that war is an ugly business that makes monsters of us all should not be allowed to graduate from kindergarten.