30 May 2009

20 self portraits from 1996, day 17

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)

Day 17:
September 2, 1996
September 2, 1996
(Click to embiggen.)

That comforter is on my bed right now. It's reversible, woo! A couple years ago, I felt desperate for a new one just to have something different; I looked for ages without seeing anything I really liked for under a hundred bucks and nothing I loved for over that price. Then the economy tanked, and I realized I didn't actually need a new comforter and that there were so many other things I'd rather spend 100-150 bucks on.

The wood crate is from Vassar. I still have three. One is next to me right now as an extension of my desk. The day I saw a mover pick up one of these packed-to-the-gills crates all by himself (it was so heavy, I could barely nudge it along the floor), I was in awe of his strength.

The painting above the bed, Left Side of a Triptych With Skull, is my creation. Yes, I like O'Keeffe. Why do you ask? ;)

I wish I knew where in storage the Lartigue photos next to the painting are. The top is one of my all time favorites.

Under the bed, cans of film, of course.

And we've already covered Lois & Clark.

The rug I took with me to LA. I sold it when I decided to pick up and move cross country in about the space of a week. An Hispanic guy in a pickup truck tried to low-ball my already cheap price; I refused. Not long after, an Asian-American guy (Hawaiian/Polynesian, maybe?) walking along the sidewalk stopped by to check out what was left of my tag sale. He examined the rug carefully, holding it up to sniff it which wouldn't have occurred to me but seemed smart if you were going to buy a rug off someone's driveway.

"Why are you selling it for so cheap?" he asked.

I should've priced it higher. At least, I didn't cave to that guy in the pickup truck. "I'm leaving town in a few days."

"Temporarily, or moving?"

"Moving. I think I've had enough of this place."

He nodded and gave me a knowing look, as though he'd seen this before. I'm sure he had. He said, "Good luck. Have a nice life," and paid my asking price for the rug. I helped him roll it up, and he walked away carrying it over his shoulder.

Two years ago on TTaT: Cupola!

29 May 2009

New Pushing Daisies episodes!

As I understand it, the show is still cancelled but ABC is airing the last episodes they shot but had not previously aired starting tomorrow night.

An online TV guide I checked said Saturday 5/30, on ABC from 10:00 PM - 11:00 PM. Also the next Saturday, 6/6, at the same time. And I think the one after that as well though it wasn't listed.

I set my DVR to record all so I don't forget. Enjoy!

Easy was a long time in the making

kilax left a comment on my last post about coming out to my brother that read: "You make it sound so easy ;)"

I get the playful ironic tone which she intended (at least that's what I perceived), but I felt it was important to trace some of the journey to that moment so as not to make light of it.

My reply (with a couple of minor revisions):
To be fair, it was about 16 years in the coming, and a lot has changed in that time. The closest thing to lesbians/bisexual women on TV back then was pretty much Xena. There's a lot more LGBT visibility now.

When I was in middle and high school, the worst things you could call someone were: dyke, queer, gay, lesbian. I didn't know that I was bi back then, nor did I get called those names, but the fear of ridicule was very strong. I just stayed under the radar as much as I could. It was a really small school, and I'd known most of those kids since kindergarten.

Even once I figured out I was bi at a very LGBT-supportive college, I was still gunshy about being out for fear of ridicule, financial reprisals in the case of family, or actual violence.

The film I made in grad school about a bisexual woman was the first time I was out to my peers and people I didn't even know, beyond friends. My family either didn't get it or chose to deny it, but everybody else who saw it then assumed I was gay. (Binary thinkers, that group.)

I convinced myself that I'd made a good faith effort to bring the topic up with my family, so coming out to them didn't really matter to me anymore. It fell under the "If you can't ask, you're not ready to hear the answer" realm of thinking.

No one really made the argument to me that visibility matters until I was watching the Brunch With Bridget vlogs recently.

When I wrote about coming out to my parents and brother over these past few weeks, it probably did come off as easy, perhaps even inconsequential. So far, nothing has changed in our relationships. However, my outlook has changed.

There's now no one who could hear about my sexuality via indirect channels that would matter to me. Everyone from high school or my small home town (where I currently reside)--who cares?

To all the LGBTQ youth who come out to their families as soon as they know: you are brave, awesome rockstars. I admire you. The world needs more of your courage, passion, and integrity.

A year ago on TTaT: In the Frame

28 May 2009

Done and done.

Coming out to my bro was not on my agenda when I called him tonight to check up on him/keep him some virtual company. It really wasn't when I heard how groggy he was since I woke him up.

But then we were talking about Doctor Who which lead to Torchwood whose lead actor John Barrowman is openly gay. My brother was telling me about a documentary Barrowman was in where he had an fMRI and other tests which scientists are using to try to determine if homosexuality is a nature or nurture trait, to learn its causes, etc. (Barrowman feels his sexuality has always been a part of him but the tests weren't conclusive. E.g., he doesn't have the "gay gene." None of the results conveyed that he should be straight, however.) This is my opening, I thought to myself.

Without pause, my brother segued into Barrowman's Scottish parents and American upbringing, his Broadway appearances, and then other scifi related topics.

It was too good an opportunity to pass up though, so I brought the conversation back around so that I could say, "I'm bi, and I know a lot of people who are bi or gay, and a lot of them would say it's innate. It's an interesting topic."

"Yeah, there's the whole testosterone level thing too. I fell asleep, so I didn't see the whole thing."

Coming out to family members in casual conversation: now that's how it ought to be done.

Once more into the fray

So I stopped by today. She was chatting with her mailman--Steve, because she uses people's names.

Since she greeted me by name, Steve said, "Hi, Claire."

When he left to resume his route, Carrie said, "Say, 'Bye, Steve,'" so her toddler and I both called out, "Bye, Steve," after him. She laughed.

As she took things inside from the porch to close up, we had a conversation that for once was not just a series of sporadic snippets. This made it significantly easier for me to think and talk. In the flow of it, she casually mentioned her husband. I was relieved because it meant I no longer had to mull over the possibility of dating someone with kids. [Also, the tight jeans can go back in the closet. If not for Chala, I wouldn't even own a pair. Must confess Paper, Denim, Cloth is pretty comfy as long as you keep your pockets empty.]

Turns out we've both lived in CA before, having various opinions on its coastal towns and cities. When I said I prefer LA to SF, she looked stunned and said, "I don't know if we can be friends now."

I drew out an "Aw" to show that I hoped she wasn't serious. Then we compared notes on other CA towns.

She needed to finish closing so she could pick up her older daughter, but she said, "Will you come back tomorrow? I just got some cool new stuff in."

I looked at her for a moment and then said, "I'll try."

I meant it.

This outcome may seem anticlimactic, but I was proud of myself for following it through. For a time, I was able to tap into the self-possessed version of Claire I aspire to, not by pretending to be someone else but by letting that which usually makes me uncomfortable just be without judgment. If I can manage to hang onto that, there might be some great things ahead.

20 self portraits from 1996, day 16

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)

Day 16:
September 1, 1996
September 1, 1996

The soft focus was intentional for art, yo.

And yes, that is a skirt as unlikely as it may seem.

A year ago on TTaT: Juicy Fruit: the survivalist's gum; Not just for geeks, really

27 May 2009

20 self portraits from 1996, day 15

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)

Day 15:
August 31, 1996
August 31, 1996
(Click to embiggen.)

Yes, I'm holding a drill and my socks are too high. I'm standing by a coat/hat rack I designed and built.

A year ago on TTaT: I continue to loathe health insurance

26 May 2009

I'll just say this

I outlasted 8 years of GWB, I will outlast Proposition 8. Come on, California.

Also, hearing Lenny Kravitz's "Let Love Rule" on the radio made me feel a bit better despite today's ruling.

I knew it was a possibility

Figures that trash pickup would get delayed a day by the holiday. With my luck, the wild animals will come out to go through the garbage.

Here's hoping the carpenter doesn't take the garage doors off today. And that that end of the house doesn't collapse, 'cuz damn, the way he's cutting through that rotted support looks bad even though he added a beam behind it.

Where are the bears when you need them?

Or the fox, owl, or crows? Any scavengers really.

I was really hoping that some animal would come along and take the dead mouse from my driveway. I could take a picture to show you, but I'll spare y'all the image currently burned into my brain.

If it had died in a trap in the garage, I would've dealt with it right off, but I had nothing to do with this mouse's demise. Technically, I didn't set the traps in the garage either, but whatever. What I'm saying is: why did this mouse have to drop dead in my driveway?!

If the animals don't want it, I certainly don't want to touch it even with gloves or bags or what have you. I find myself theorizing ways to not contaminate the shovel or spade, but I'm not remotely optimistic about it.

Hmm, maybe I could use one to slide it onto the other. The dead mouse is between two vehicles now, so I'm envisioning some potential slapstick comedy from a bystander's perspective.

And then there's how to store it until tomorrow when the trash is picked up. (I'm writing this Monday night.) I do not want to deal with it first thing in the morning in my pajamas when I haul the trash cans to the curb.

Well, if I'm going to do it, I better get started before it gets too dark. Yuck.


Two pieces of cardboard triple-bagged did the gross trick. When I came in, I went all OCD scrubbing my hands and arms up to my elbows. If my sink was at a more convenient height, I'd probably still be there, but my back was starting to ache.

I still sort of want to disinfect my entire body and my clothes, but part of my brain knows that really would be overkill, so I'm resisting the urge to take another shower today.

Think I'll go play some DDR to reset my brain. Ooh, and then I can make myself a smoothie. I've fuckin' earned it.

A year ago on TTaT: Ah, Memorial Day redux

25 May 2009

20 self portraits from 1996, day 14

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

Day 14:
August 30, 1996
August 30, 1996

The top photo looks like the print. I applied auto level and auto color in Photoshop to the lower photo to more accurately represent my old bathroom. Both shots appealed to me: the top for the way in which my hand almost becomes an abstraction and for the illusion of being tan, and the bottom for how the highlights pop.

auto levelled and auto colored
Hey, there's my dog bite scar, just up and to the left of the H.

Damn, I miss that camera. Technically, I still have it but it would cost more than it's worth to fix. Over fifteen years, I took it with me all over the country, often shooting 10 to 20 rolls of film at a stretch. It was in Florida that I had to start giving it a whack sometimes to release the mirror after I'd taken a photograph. Damn humidity. Shooting hasn't been the same since that camera broke in late 2003.

I need to find a digital camera I like.

Happy Memorial Day, blog peeps!

A year ago on TTaT: Random Scan Sunday 1: Concrete Cylinders

24 May 2009

I don't know what this is except maybe a bad idea gaining momentum

I parked in an adjacent lot from which I could see the front of the store while I mailed some bill payments. It was open.

The last couple of times I stopped by, the friendly owner who introduced herself to me hadn't been in.

Perusing the store's myspace page, a little additional surfing, and some observations made me nearly certain she had a daughter. Dating someone with kids is really off my radar even if I assume she's not married or straight, but I don't know many people here and I liked her vibe.

When I walked through the door, shades still on, the owner was right there. "I know you," she said, pointing a finger at me, "but I don't remember your name."



"Right." I'd remembered but didn't get the chance to say so.

"So is this just a summer thing?"

I shook my head and said, "No."

"That's right, you were here in the winter. You should really come in more often. Stop by and say, 'hey.' It's not just for horses."

"So they tell me."

She laughed and then resumed looking after her offspring: two daughters, a toddler and a 6? year old. There were other people in the store but she wasn't having that sort of conversation with any of them. I think the main appeal for her is that we're probably about the same age, not a lot of us in this area.

I wanted to say that I'd been by since we last saw each other the day after Thanksgiving, but she hadn't been there. I didn't get the chance though as she went off to deal with an employee and then change a diaper.

When Carrie and her littlest daughter emerged from the bathroom, I was looking at the case of Carrie's handmade jewelry. The toddler was upset and screaming; Carrie was talking to her to calm her down and I almost didn't realize she was talking to me when she said, "Anything strike your fancy?"

I sort of laughed under my breath not because of her question but from witnessing the craziness that is trying to reason with a toddler.

"Claire's laughing at me," Carrie said to her daughter.

"No," I tried to assure her but she was already around the counter and checking on her other daughter.

"Are you guys ready to go home?" she asked them. They were.

I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye, but she was caught up in explaining how to close up shop to a presumably new employee.

"Ew, she's spitting on me," Carrie said of the toddler she was holding on her hip.

"Oh, I felt that," her employee said.

Apparently the toddler was sucking on a plastic portable fan and then hitting the button to make it spin spraying her spit everywhere. Carrie put her down.

I stepped out onto the porch and looked at some bags displayed there, killing time waiting for Carrie to leave.

The toddler said something unintelligible to me, so I said, "OK?" in response. Her sister watched me with a wary eye, so I moved further down the porch.

As the toddler approached the front step, her sister yelled, "Mom! I need you."

"OK," Carrie replied from just inside the door.

"Right now," the older daughter insisted, following her sister.

Carrie stepped out to the porch, and her daughter continued, "Parker's in the parking lot."

"OK, hold her hand. You can go ahead and put her in the car."

"I don't know how to do that."

Carrie looked at me and said, "I'm a terrible mother."

"No, you're not," I said. Carrie went to put her daughters in her SUV with the big magnetic peace symbol on the hood.

I started walking to the end of the porch in the direction of my car.

"You're not leaving, are you?" she said to me.

"Yeah, I need to get a paper before I forget."

"Stay. Shop! Buy things. We're the best store in ___."

"I know."

"Say, 'The best in ___.' Loud," Carrie commanded.

I glanced at the smattering of tourists walking nearby and took a breath to psych myself up while Carrie watched me. "The best in ____!"

Carrie grinned broadly and said, "Thanks."

"You're welcome." As she resumed buckling in her offspring, I walked off to get a paper.

I'm not sure what to make of our interactions. There seems to be interest coming from her, but of what sort I couldn't say for certain. What I do know is that cute, friendly extroverts make me tongue-tied. What the hell, man? I'm 35.

Being more social and outgoing are aspirations I've been leaning towards of late. With that in mind, I'm tempted to drop by again this week. If she's not there, I could leave a note in which I'd either sound more articulate or like an even bigger spaz than I am.

Going to the parade tomorrow would be a good excuse to be in town, but whether they'd be open or not would be up for grabs.

Thoughts on what I should say/write? Or how to be less tongue-tied with extroverts in general? I swear it's like my brain shifted to its slowest gear. Sigh.

Same lawnmower, same girl

But when I got back on it yesterday for the first time in over two decades, I didn't dress up as a cowboy.

~9 year old Claire mowing the lawn 1
Less aggression this time round too.

~9 year old Claire mowing the lawn 2
Oh man, I even went for the boots.

Mowing the lawn wasn't too bad except for the steep front hill which I had to do with the push mower: that sucked. I should really score some good daughter cred for it though.

23 May 2009


Thought I'd take a break from the old self portraits to put up one from yesterday.

Hair DNA
Hair DNA

3 years ago on TTaT: Sick of volleyball and croquet?

22 May 2009

20 self portraits from 1996, day 13

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

Day 13:
August 29, 1996
August 29, 1996
(Click to embiggen.)

Scenes from Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

I'd clipped a piece of the state on one of my cross country travels, but now I can properly say I've been to West Virginia.

After hours of enduring miles upon miles of construction, targeted enforcement areas, and safety zones in Pennsylvania, all with reduced speed limits and double the fines, I was thrilled to see the 70 MPH signs when I crossed the border into West Virginia. Wild and wonderful, indeed.

I parked under the carport of the hotel and called my Dad to let him know I'd arrived. He said he'd meet me in the lobby in case there were any problems.

Two guys--mid twenties to early thirties?--were working behind the counter. One handed a middle-aged male guest some extra towels, and then the lobby was empty except for the three of us.

I gave the clerk on the left my name and told him I had a reservation.

"I just need to see some ID and your credit card."

My gaydar popped hard even though I can't really articulate why, something in his demeanor. It made me smile and think more favorably of West Virginia. "Sure," I said as I pulled out my license and handed it to him. "It should be under my Dad's credit card. Do you need to see that?"

"Yes, I'm sorry, I do."

"That's all right. He said he was on his way down."

I heard someone coming down the hall, but it wasn't him. I shrugged and stepped back to scan the pamphlets.

The younger clerk started relating an interaction he'd had to the possibly gay clerk. I caught the end. "...Virginian. I told him, 'That's a whole other state, dude.'"

"Yeah," the other clerk agreed.

"When I was growing up, they always called it, 'By God, West Virginia.'"

I smiled, greatly amused; within five minutes of arriving, I encountered West Virginia/Virginia rivalry.

I could have told them,
To be a Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from the almighty God.
because my entire extended family, including my parents, is Virginian, but I had more fun keeping that to myself.

On Monday, I stopped in the lounge with Mom while she got herself some coffee. It was a large room with tables, chairs, the breakfast setup on one side, a sofa, some comfy chairs and a TV. Fox News was on and I immediately thought of changing the channel to CNN but didn't know the number off-hand.

"We're in Fox News country," Mom said, "I changed it to CNN the other night."

"I was just thinking of doing that. What channel is it?"


I walked over to the remote and punched it in.

"You've done your public service for the day."

My room was quite nice with a king-size bed, a mini fridge, a desk, and a comfy chair with a footrest. The possibly gay clerk--I don't like making assumptions about people so my gaydar doesn't go off much--hooked me up with a room three doors down from my parents which was awesome really. The hotel was mostly empty so that gave us both a nice sound cushion.

My only quibble would be with the well-lit bathroom mirror. At home, I only use two out of eight bulbs above my mirror because otherwise, it's like looking at the sun. At the hotel, every skin flaw was accentuated and all my grey hairs highlighted. I've had a small streak of grey by my temple since I was 16, but it's getting harder to deny the growing number of stray greys I've acquired.

Despite some street-less directions like "You will pass a Comfort Inn and Suites on the right hand side and continue on until you come to a traffic signal with a Sheetz Gas Station on the left side. Take a right at the traffic signal and continue until you come to an overpass," I did not get lost. Just irritated that I had to reformat a huge paragraph of prose directions into something I could read while driving. Clearly it's been a helluva long time since my dad had to drive without a navigator, aka Mom.

My brother looks awful. "Lost thirty pounds" didn't really sink in until I saw him. He has my father's father's bone structure which is also to say he looks at least ten years older than when I saw him in December. On the upside, he says he feels OK. He's just weak from the pneumonia and weeks he spent in the hospital, so it will take a long time for him to build up his strength again. Though this situation is ongoing, I don't think I'm going to write much more about it. I do appreciate all the kind thoughts that have been expressed on his behalf.

Before I hit the road, I stopped in for a quick last visit with my bro and his wife. I thought for sure they'd take the chance to hit me with the guardian question, but they didn't so I didn't bring it up. In any case, I want him to focus on getting and staying well right now, and that conversation would be a distraction.

On Monday, I went over to the hospital with my dad and brother so he could get his infusion. Dad pulled up in front of the doors and asked me to get a wheelchair. My bro said, "Don't try to take it through the revolving doors. There's a wheelchair entrance on the side."

I was glad he mentioned it because the automatic revolving doors were large enough, I might've tried it.

I walked in and looked around but didn't see any wheelchairs and wasn't sure where I was supposed to get one from. Several white-haired women were seated behind an information/check-in desk.

"What can we do for ya, honey?"

I'm in The South again. "Do you have a wheelchair?"

The woman kindly stole one for me from down a hallway somewhere. "I didn't see any patients waiting for it," she said as she handed it to me. I took it outside and offered to park the car while my dad took my bro inside.

For the first time since my dad got his hybrid a year ago, I slid behind the wheel, put my foot on the brake and pressed the on button. The car started, I shifted into Drive, but the car didn't move. He set the freakin' emergency brake. I looked around for the release between the seats, under the dash, and could not find it. I shut the car off, locked it, and jogged through the massive rotating doors hoping to catch them at the elevator. They were already gone.

I pressed the up button but the elevator was sitting on the fourth floor, unmoving. I was worried the car would get towed if I left it too long, so when I spotted the stairwell, I went for it even though it looked like it might be under construction. Two stairs at a time, I jogged up to the second floor.

I was grateful Dad and my bro were still within sight.

"That was fast," my bro said.

"No, it wasn't," I said and turned to my dad. "Howdoyoureleasetheemergencybrake?"

Dad looked confused and said, "It's OK if you didn't set it."

"No," I took a breath and began again, enunciating slowly, "How do you release the emergency brake?"

"You just step on it with your foot."

"Your foot?"

"Yes. It's on the left side. You step on it to set the brake and to release it."

"OK, thanks," I said as I took off back down the stairs through the lobby and out the revolving doors.

I'd looked for a hand release under the dash but a pedal hadn't occurred to me and was too far back to see at the time.

I parked the car, grabbed a couple of books, and hit the lock button. I tried the doors to double-check that they were locked but when I got around to the front passenger seat, the key in my pocket unlocked the door. Right. That's not going to work. I pressed the lock button again and walked away.

A year ago on TTaT: Green Porno, Again with the passive-aggressive?

21 May 2009


So I was concerned that I wouldn't get much decent radio reception during my long drives this week and I'd be stuck listening to my dated cassettes.

Turns out the reception was pretty good for most of the drive, but all the rock radio stations played was music from the same vintage as my cassettes: mostly 80s, early 90s with some classic rock and disco thrown in for good measure. I don't think I heard more than five songs released after 2000 the entire time I was gone. Not that that's bad, but after a while, I kept hearing the same songs across different stations again and again: in particular, "Small Town" by John Cougar Mellencamp and "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel.

A year ago on TTaT: Useless, Frakkin' health insurance

20 May 2009

Home, sweet sweet home

At least until the carpenter's show up tomorrow morning and continue the work on the house they started while I was away.

20 self portraits from 1996, day 12

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Day 12:
August 28, 1996
August 28, 1996

A year ago on TTaT: Additional tulips

19 May 2009

20 self portraits from 1996, day 11

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Day 11:
August 27, 1996
August 27, 1996

OK, so this one's actually a frak-up; my notes from back then indicate I accidentally set off the shutter. I kept a log of lens lengths, shutter speeds, and f-stops for this series. The next line indicates the shot I'd set up, but for some reason I never took it, so I'm using this one so I don't have to retitle all these posts. That seems to be my hair falling into the shot, so it still counts, right?

A year ago on TTaT: Windy tulips

17 May 2009

16 May 2009

Cassettes, people, cassettes

So my car has a cassette deck which compared to my last two cars is actually an upgrade from just radios, but I'm wishing I had a CD player just now.

I figured I'd take the ol' case that holds 15 in case the radio sucks on my way down. From the selection within, I've already weeded out 2 mix tapes from my ex, a recording of one of my radio shows, and a tape of women's folk music (an old friend's band).

Of the 75 cassettes I still have, old is the main adjective which comes to mind.

What I'm taking:
Blood, Sweat, & Tears-- Greatest Hits
John Cougar Mellencamp-- The Lonesome Jubilee
The Go-Go's--Beauty and the Beat
The Beatles-- Revolver
Wham!-- Make it Big
The Rolling Stones-- Story of the Stones
R.E.M.-- Murmur
The Doors-- The Best of the Doors disc 2
The Blues Brothers soundtrack
Liz Phair-- Exile in Guyville (yea!)
Suzanne Vega-- 99.9 Fahrenheit degrees (yea!)

and then various pieces of albums by:
Peter Gabriel
The Boomtown Rats
The Cure
Harry Connick, Jr.
The Black Crowes
Mose Allison
Hatari soundtrack
Talking Heads
Angry Samoans
Fine Young Cannibals
1 mix tape from the ex

OK, this'll work. I'll just have to be prepared for time travel.

All right, I really should get back to packing.

Mind the store, if you would

Heading out for a few days tomorrow to make the trek to visit my sick bro. Times like this, it'd be nice to have a laptop. Le sigh.

I've got some more self portraits from the 1996 series scheduled to go up, so if you comment and I don't reply that's why. But don't let that stop you from commenting; I'll get to them when I can. :)

Until then:
Will I find a way to casually tell my brother I'm bi?
Will I be forced to give him an answer regarding caring for my niece in the event of great tragedy?
Will my road trip overconfidence cause me to get lost on my way down tomorrow?

Stay tuned to find out.

20 self portraits from 1996, day 8

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

Day 8:
August 24, 1996
August 24, 1996

Apparently I was really into Lois & Clark back then. I probably shouldn't be drawing attention to that. Or the fact that I'm pretty sure I still have those posters in a tube somewhere, but then, that's more of a packrat thing.

A year ago on TTaT: Lick the light switch

15 May 2009

To the dude working at Jiffy Lube

When I'm sitting in the waiting room, one door away from the garage, watching you on the bank of CCTVs set up for customers to monitor their cars, I can HEAR you when you repeatedly exclaim that you think I only have water where there should be windshield wiper fluid. Not true, by the way based on my usage. However, if it is watered down, it's only because someone who works at this very Jiffy Lube put in watered down fluid the last time I was here. So maybe you should shut the hell up. Your co-workers had the sense not to respond to you, or at least to do so quietly.

The female grease monkey who ran my order and inspection for me, on the other hand, was very nice and professional.

20 self portraits from 1996, day 7

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Day 7:
August 23, 1996
August 23, 1996

A year ago on TTaT: Have you seen a shirt like this one?

13 May 2009

In good news...

I'm out of jury duty next month. Woohoo! I got summoned about a year ago and postponed it as long as I could (1 yr) thinking I might move out of the county before it came up. (Didn't.) The courthouse was far from where I live and would've been a pain in the ass to get to. I figured the postcard I got today was going to reiterate when and where I needed to show up but instead, I'm off the hook for now. Huzzah!

This opens up some travel possibilities which is cool.

Also, I saw Star Trek which was very good. And I spotted my red shirt cadet buddy Will in it. I love that my seeing an extras casting call notice lead to him being in an effing Star Trek movie. Awesome because I still remember the day over 10 years ago that we unexpectedly ran into each other at an ST con. It was the loveliest surprise.

Here's Will in his groovy cadet duds.

Dude... knock!

I was watching a vlog on my computer upstairs when I heard someone trying to open my front door. Not a casual opening the screen door sound but someone aggressively shaking the knob and putting some muscle behind it so that the door was moving against its lock.

After a few seconds the sounds stopped, and I jogged across the hall to see if I could see anything out the window. Nothing. I returned to my room and looked out the back in case the sound had been coming from the door on the deck. Still nothing. I jogged to the end of the house to see if anyone was in the driveway, but it was empty.

Then I heard a familiar engine rumble and saw a UPS truck leaving my street.

I went downstairs, checked that the doors were locked and closed; they were. Peered out some windows: no vehicles or anyone I could see. Then it occurred to me that if the sounds I'd heard had really been someone breaking in, it would've been better if my initial reaction had been to grab a phone so I could call the police if I needed to. Oh, brain, you're just trying to show me that I'd be the girl who would walk out into horror movie night even though I know better.

I opened the front door to see if a package I'd ordered but was not yet expecting had arrived. It was inside the storm door leaning against the actual door.

UPS dudes, I really wish you'd knock. You don't have to wait, just give the door a good couple of whacks before you take off instead of operating in stealth mode, or like today, sounds-like-break-in mode. Thanks.

20 self portraits from 1996, day 5

(Previous days: 1, 2, 3, 4)

Day 5:
August 21, 1996
August 21, 1996

A year ago on TTaT: Peaceable Kingdom, Bad Pet Rocks

09 May 2009

Now matters are worse

And fuck if I can't talk about it.

I'm kind of pissed but also indifferent.

But I've also seen some greatness in people I love. That's something.

fuck, well, it's quite stormy out, so I should shut down.

20 self portraits from 1996, day 2

(Day 1)

Day 2:
August 18, 1996
August 18, 1996

Two years ago on TTaT: My favorite place in LA is on fire

08 May 2009

20 self portraits from 1996, day 1

The longest break I had off during grad school was the August between my first and second years. Part way through the month, I decided to shoot a self-portrait a day: one roll of film.

Since I've been in a sharing mood of late, I thought I'd scan and post 'em. Here's day one:

August 17, 1996
August 17, 1996

3 years ago on TTaT: Toms

07 May 2009

Mio fratello

My brother being seriously ill is seriously weird. He's older than I am, but it always seemed more likely that I'd meet some untimely demise long before he died of old age. More likely to me anyway--I have a morbid streak.

Spoke to him today a little bit. He's still in the hospital for pneumonia, and now there's a blood clot in his arm, and there's still whatever lung thing started all this. He may get out tomorrow though to recuperate at home.

I still haven't been confronted with the custodial question my Mom warned me about.

For most people, I'm sure it'd be a no-brainer. He kind of asked me when my niece was first born if I'd be her guardian if anything happened to he and his wife. I told him I was in no position to do so and to think of me as a last resort.

I've never had a moment where I wanted to raise children. However, in a reluctance to limit my options, I used to think if I had a partner who really wanted kids, it wouldn't necessarily be a deal-breaker. Unless I was expected to get pregnant. I could only picture it if I was the daddy figure.

My niece is going to be six in a few months, and she's smart, silly, creative, and often hyper. I enjoy her company but it highlights for me all the ways in which I don't want to be a parent.

Should a person get sucked into parenthood via tragedy because their sibling had kids?

But then I look at the family trees, the other possible options for my niece if something bad happened to both her parents, and I am probably the best young option. My parents breezily say, "Oh, just say yes, it'll never happen." My dad's follow up was, "We'd do everything we could to help you, but she needs someone young, and that's you." Also, "She'll be eighteen in 12 years, and then you'd be done." That, of course, seems ridiculous because I know full well that parenting doesn't stop because you turn a certain age. Still, I imagine I would step up for her if she needed me as disastrously as my parenting efforts might turn out.

Anyway, when I finally got a word in towards the end of our phone call, I thanked my bro for the pony, and it clearly made him happy to think that I really liked it.

A year ago on TTaT: I thought I was doing better...

06 May 2009

I want to be awesome

(Its corollary: I want to be an asshole.)

Last week during the 25 degrees over normal heat wave, I busted out a shirt I don't often wear. It is the lowest cut, most form fitting shirt that I own. If not for Chala, I doubt I ever would have bought it. She owned it first, and I thought it was very cool. When we were out browsing Marshall's one day, I saw it and asked if she'd mind if I got it. "Not at all. You should get it," she said, because she's awesome like that.

When I was wearing the shirt last week, I felt like I looked like my age which flavored my interactions with people. The confidence of that persona I call my alter ego even though it's not an accurate term for it. It's aspects of the person I want to be that slip through from time to time. Sometimes just standing up straight can trigger the attitude shift.

Being that person is not that hard if I'm just out doing errands that don't require a lot of interaction. Where my suave alter ego falls apart is interviews, large social events, and meeting new people. Fuck, town meeting's tomorrow, I think--that'd be another one. Confronted with natural extroverts, my alter ego slips away.

I'm not a total mess of shyness--if I know how I fit within a group or situation, I'm fine--but it does sometimes get the better of me. Becoming an extrovert isn't something I aspire to, but the confidence and ease around people of it--that's something I wish I had.

I felt good when I got home, like I'd experienced a little What Not to Wear transformation (UK version!). V-necks, that's a change I could make. I took some photos, but seeing them I started rethinking all of it. Generally, I dress loose, like somebody who used to weigh a lot more who hasn't changed her wardrobe, or in my case is self-conscious.

In the photos, my body looked huge to me. OK, not huge, that's hyperbole, but it did appear larger to me than my internalized perception of it. I don't know what to do with that. If I do add more v-necks and girly shirts to my wardrobe, I'm going to need more sunscreen.

I look like a fucking vampire.
Claire in Diane Von Furstenberg
Since I picked the most flattering shot, my mental machinations likely seem out of whack, but the point is it's in my head. If I were on How to Look Good Naked, I'd pick a person skinnier than me. Sounds good in theory perhaps, but it makes reality a little unsettling.

Finesse optional

iMovie's a little crazy making having been brought up on film, Avid, and Final Cut. Not so much with the learning patience today... Nonetheless, enjoy the rough cut. (You'll probably need to turn up the sound.)

(run time 0:52)

(Other vlogs of TTaT)

A year ago on TTaT: Leafing out

05 May 2009

Compelled to add

My parents deserve some additional credit for their low-key reaction to me coming out as they are turning 69 and 70* in the next couple of months. That means growing up in the 50s. In the South. As Baptists. Well, my Dad's parents were atheist and Catholic, but he converted to Baptism (Baptism? Is that right? To being a Baptist in any case). Clearly, the religious stuff did not drag over to the next generation. My parents read Franny and Zooey and decided it was better to let my brother and I figure out religion on our own even though one of the characters in the book has a breakdown doing just that. Left to our own devices, my bro and I developed no real interest in religion.

Huzzah for that. Also for my parents moving hundreds of miles away from their families to the Northeast.

*They'd been married for 13 years before they had me.

A bondage pony and other adventures

I stayed up late Saturday night because I started watching a DVD commentary and then just wanted to finish it. I got up early for me on Sunday because I couldn't sleep, so I was exhausted all day. Still kinda grogged today.

If you haven't been reading lately, now would be a good time to catch up:
  • One identity of many

  • Well, it's out of my hands now...

  • While I'm waiting...

  • In short, a week ago, I started watching the vlog Brunch With Bridget which got me thinking about what it means to be out & proud. Friday, I sent my dad an email saying I was thinking of driving over to a Pride event. Saturday night, I got a noncommittal "Hope you had a good day on Saturday" email response from him, and Sunday my parents got back into town.

    During various trips of unloading their car, I welcomed each of them back separately. Got a good hug from each--not unusual, but sometimes the hugs are more half-assed. Then there was the usual relaying of trip stories and family news by Mom. She told a couple of stories about using the GPS and trying to find places that I could've easily segued into driving over to Pride, but I left it alone to see where they would take the conversation. Besides, she gets kind of excited and chatty, and it's best to just take it all in until she asks me what I've been doing.

    While making a couple calls to let people know they'd arrived home safely, Mom gave me some loot they'd brought back for me. First, a long sleeve tee with a picture of a s'more on it with the text: Less is s'more. It made me laugh, and I liked it even more when I read the small tag on the bottom: Do what you like. Like what you do.

    Then she told me about going to the mall with my five year old niece and telling her about how I like goats and how she can never find a good one for me. Then she pulled an awesome little stuffed goat out of her bag and gave it to me. It's worth noting that I sent down a big rabbit of mine for my niece in an effort to reduce my stuffed animal collection.

    Then Mom said, "C. wheeled your brother down to the hospital gift shop one day, and he said this made him laugh and think of you." She pulled out a chubby pony the likes of which I would never even consider acquiring and handed it to me.

    I laughed politely. "This made him think of me?"

    "It's very huggable," she said.

    I nodded. The pony had a harness around it's head, sort of like a muzzle, no reins. "He sent me a bondage pony."

    bondage pony
    Cue awkward courtesy laugh from Mom and Dad. I felt like a jerk because it was ridiculously nice of my bro to get me a gift while he was in the hospital, but I couldn't quite let it go. "So let me get this straight: I sent you down with an animal to weed my collection and now I have more than I had before you left." A better laugh from both that time.

    Before we headed out to dinner, I was washing up and thought, They might actually not say anything. This could be just like when I tried to come out in grad school. I put my hands under the running water. Act as if you're out anyway.

    I looked at myself in the mirror. What a bizarre way to think of it. "Act as if you're out"? If you act like you're out, then you're just out. I'm not an up-in-your-grill sort of person, but I was ready to be to get my point across. At least, in a passive-aggressive way.

    We drove up to the restaurant together, continuing the usual banter, except that I started channeling Bridget McManus's eye rolls. You know when you hang out with someone for a long time and you pick up some of their phrases or looks? Clearly, I've watched way too many vlogs in the past week. It felt pretty meta because I was aware I was doing it and thought, wtf am I doing?

    We ordered dinner, Mom relayed a couple more tales, and then she finally said, "So what have you been up to?"

    "Not much really," I took a breath, "I did drive over to Townsville yesterday." I looked at them across the table.

    Mom smiled and said, "Are you gay? Or just proud?"

    I wasn't actually expecting her to ask point blank, but I loved that I'd successfully trained her when I was young to not make any assumptions.

    What I hate in that moment is that I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. The only possible saving grace is that there have been times I felt like I was blushing really hard but was told you couldn't tell.

    In my peripheral vision, I could see the couple at the table across the aisle from us and wondered if they were listening. I said, "I'm proud and bi."

    "OK," she said and then went on to other things.

    My Dad didn't say anything, but then he's fairly quiet anyway. His face was pretty blank. Mom had her cool-mom game face on. I'll take it.

    I told them my getting lost on the way to Pride because of a detour story, a little about the event, and then we moved on.

    A bit later, Dad and I chatted about my new computer (yea!) with our usual enthusiasm and that made me feel better about his controlled reaction.

    Oddly, I did not feel a huge sense of relief. Though it played out just about exactly as I'd hoped, it was so fast that I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    It's been another day though--in which it didn't come up at all--so that feeling is starting to subside a bit.

    Now there's just my brother. Tempting to be a jerk and just email him, "You know I'm bi, right?" when I'm near positive he doesn't, but the poor boy's back in the hospital today for his pneumonia and observation. So...I'll get to that after he's better, I guess.

    A year ago on TTaT: Why didn't we think of this sooner?

    03 May 2009

    It's still possible: an interlude

    So I was supposed to hear a decision regarding the long-shot grant I applied for in January by May 1st.

    On Friday, I got an email saying they hadn't made their decision yet and hoped to notify people shortly. It's probably just procedure, but if it was a definite no, you'd think they'd say so to eliminate your suspense. The idea I might actually get this grant kind of freaked me out. I'm actually more prepared not to get it. That's messed up.

    Not saying anything could be a kindness on their part, sort of like waiting to check your lottery tickets after the draw has happened to stretch out the anticipation and daydreams of possibility before confronting the reality.

    Either way, it has me thinking about what's next for me, what I want and how to pursue it. Do I create the project of my proposal even if I don't get the grant? Do I finish the book of short stories I'm stalled on presently?

    Ahem.neglected writing
    Click to embiggen.

    Do I start something new? Do I fucking start submitting something somewhere?

    Begin anyway, kiddos.

    ...just what precisely though?

    While I'm waiting...

    So, while we wait for my parents to get back into town... well, first a couple things on that.

    Note to self, vol. XVI: Use a return receipt when you want to know someone's seen your email! My dad usually checks his email every day, but on days they're driving, it's up for grabs. I had to be all patient for a day. Can't believe it didn't even occur to me use a return receipt until way too late.

    In reply, he updated me on their travel plans and also wrote: "Hope you had a good day on Saturday."

    I did, in fact, drive over for Pride yesterday. It was a decent event, good for diverse people watching, but it was a lot smaller than the ones I'd been to in San Francisco and Long Beach. Made me miss LA. (I should probably go visit so I can focus on the smog, the traffic, and the tiny expensive apartments to get that ass-kicking place out of my head.)

    It's worth noting that I spoke to my Mom briefly on Friday a couple hours after my email. She'd called and left a message while I was eating dinner; she couldn't remember the name of the show Pushing Daisies. I called back to tell her, not sure if they'd seen the email or not. It didn't seem like they had, but before she said goodbye, she said, "I love you."

    I said, "I love you too," and then just as she hung up, it sounded like her throat caught as if she was about to cry. This made me wonder if they had read my email, but if you've been reading lately (or for a long time), you know my Mom is emotional just regularly, and particularly lately with all the stuff going on with my brother's health. (He's home and getting better but once he is, I think he goes back for surgery.)

    So... I tried not to read anything into it and then got my Dad's email the next night.

    As I've said, I'm very anti-after-school-special about the whole coming out deal, but I've been opening myself mentally to the idea since this isn't entirely about me. Well, it is, but whatever. To infer and be non-confrontational is probably my default mode, but I'm sick of limbo, so I will endeavor to be clear if any follow-up questions arise. There's blog fodder to be had in that. How ridiculous is it that that is actually a selling point for the sit-down talk approach? I <3 blogging.

    That brings us up-to-date, so now I think I'll re-title and post this and then write the post I sat down to write.

    A year ago on TTaT: Free Comic Book Day- Today!

    01 May 2009

    Well, it's out of my hands now...

    Just sent my dad an email casually mentioning that I may go to a Gay Pride event tomorrow (I would normally just say Pride, but I thought I'd be clear) if the weather clears up which ties into something he'd said. So, casual and not out of context.

    Two philosophies I hold lead me to this move:
    1. Don't be such a fuckin' pussy.
    2. Grace, Humor, Integrity, Courage.

    The latter is a prescription, something I wrote down years ago about how I wanted to live my life.

    Integrity has always been important to me. This is why a lot of people's actions piss me off. I've tried to let up in the past few years, lower the standards of my word to others', which is good as an effort to take things less literally all the time and stay off the fucking high horse, but that's all. I don't think I'd have been considering and writing about this topic so much this week if I didn't feel my integrity was somewhat compromised.

    Grace, well, that's an aspiration. In college, I had a crush on my friend Splice. I was seriously involved at the time. (Was I saying something about integrity before? ;) My girlfriend actually pointed it out to me before I realized it; she was gracious about it. When I awkwardly confessed my feelings to Splice, she was awesome. She let me down in the most graceful way, not making a big deal of it, that allowed us to become better friends.

    I've seen people create monsters by handling situations poorly or by not being honest. That moment with Splice is a quintessential moment of grace in my mind, one I aspire to, and alas, often fall short of.

    Humor: a great reminder not to take myself too seriously. I think I'm getting better about that. Also, though it may not be my forte because my sense of humor tends to the oblique, I love making people laugh, especially my family. A great belly laugh from one of them--that's awesome. As is anything that makes me laugh out loud. As someone who struggles with depression, things that make me laugh are vital. The more things I have to draw from, the better. (Thank you for a plentiful new source, Bridget McManus!)

    •And what to say about Courage? Not e-fuckin'-nough of it most days.

    A year ago on TTaT: 5 actually could be the answer