Saturday, March 31, 2007

In Spite Of

I know I should be concerned it's been so damn dry in California, that the world is warming, that there was a raging fire near Hollywood yesterday (that I could see with so much clarity from work), and just general other environmental/social issues we are all facing right now, but you know what? It's sunny and 75 degrees. I woke up feeling better, rested, happy. I love spring in Los Angeles. And I registered for the GRE today: D Day is July 28, 2007. And even that made me excited. I like a challenge.

I'll go back to fretting tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Think I'm Gonna Be Sick

...oh, wait, I am! AGAIN.


Woke up today with a massive head cold. First that crazy fever. Now this. It's almost resurrecting my hypochondriac sensibility, which had taken me 20 years to shake.

Of course, I could just be sick because I got the Hilary Duff CD sent to me in the mail with this press release (excerpts below):

"Dignity isn't for sale. It comes from within. Hilary Duff has always carried herself with dignity, from her 2001 TV debut starring in "Lizzy Maguire," through big screen hits like "Cinderella Story" and "Cheaper by The Dozen" ...

At 19, Hilary has matured into a sophisticated singer and songwriter. Hilary has co-written all the songs on "Dignity", [misuse of comma is in the release] always aiming high and ultimately creating an album of depth and consequence...

Her music--and upcoming tour--remain front and center these days. And that's just how she wants it. Hilary Duff has always connected closely with her audience. Now, she's saying more--much more than ever, and with dignity--with her music."

I mean, that last sentence alone... jesus christ. Where do I start? Where's the bucket to keep next to my bed?

And yet, Hilary's smug--albeit DIGNIFIED--face is staring at me from my desktop and I feel like I did something to deserve this. Maybe it's penance and I need to find out what I did wrong.

There's little else to tell, really. The end of the month means mania at work, which was reflected in the weather today, as winds raged and hail came down and I tripped over tree branches..briefly interrupted to stare at some cute guy working on the roof of my office building. Oh, the weakness for my blue-collar brethren.

It's 9 p.m. and I feel like I've been up for days. Time to put Ms. Dignity into my "to sell" pile, pay some bills, and call it a night.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Is This What It's Come To?

I couldn't believe I was actually asking Tim if he wanted me to pay for a "day of beauty" for his birthday. Manicure, pedicure, waxing if he so desires.

Is this what I do for people's birthdays now?

Well, apparently, yes.

What I love so much about Tim, though, is that he was totally into it. Bless him.

I guess it's a sign of real friendship when your friend looks you in the eye and says what basically equates to: "So, how's about we both go fag out in a salon and I pay to have hair removed from your unwanted places? Happy fuckin' birthday, man!"

And honestly, I can't wait either. I think I need a little pampering myself.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What a Fever of 103 Hath Wrought

In 1995, I swore I would never return to academia.

I toyed briefly with the thought of grad school, and then seemed to shock some people by not going. I guess I always seemed the type. At least an MFA, said one of them. I balked.

I had been so sucked dry by Bennington that I just could not imagine school continuing past what I referred to as the 16th grade. I also couldn't imagine "tests" and having to be judged on some arbitrary numerical system that told me that what I created was an "A," "B," and so on.

Then why the hell am I sitting in Los Angeles at the age of 33 considering that I should indeed go to grad school?

Well, I could draw a flow chart or something, but it wouldn't do you any good. The serpentine path would make no sense. And the majority of it revolves around my fascination with death, design, and maps--like so many other people's dreams, I am sure.

I've been beating myself up for a while on this stalled death book. I write a paragraph; I erase a paragraph. I write a page; I erase 50% of it. I stare at the computer; I read the news on every Web site I can find.

And then, over the last few months, it's really dawned on me as I struggle with a variety of things that vaguely relate to my "purpose" or whatever you want to call it--the invisible pull toward something. I have always known writing will factor in there somewhere, but I can't try to make my living that way. And yet, there's death... sitting there, popping up around me in ways I am sometimes unaware of until I read the pages I've written.

Last weekend, I was quite ill--a fever of 103 that literally had me flat on my back, sweating buckets, shivering, crawling to the bathroom to fill my water bottle, too tired to make it downstairs to the kitchen. And in the midst of that fever, I had a flashback to my father's illness, to the moments when he could do nothing but look at my mother and I from bed, his whole face betraying the labor his body was enduring.

I hate to say I had an epiphany. I am not sure I believe in them. But I sat there in my sweaty stupor unraveling everything that had seemed like a giant knot two days prior, including what had been gnawing at me about death: I simply hated the way, after my father died, I was expected to stand in a sterile national cemetery and look down at a simple brass plaque on the ground, like thousands upon thousands of others, and remember him. In that context, he became no one to me. I couldn't remember anything--none of his jokes, his long legs in his shorts he wore to play soccer, his incredibly lanky frame stuffed into a Volkswagen Beetle.

So with my fever still raging, I began looking up cemeteries around the country that perform so-called "natural burial." In short, these spaces are more like parks or land preserves--with plants, trees, animals--in which un-embalmed bodies or cremains are buried, perhaps marked by a rock, some other natural form or object that can be engraved, and left in a space that can be enjoyed by the living as a beautiful sanctuary, a park, a befitting place in which to remember someone.

The one I fell in love with is near Syracuse, NY, one of maybe 5 in the entire country that stay true to this philosophy. It was everything the cemetery where my father is buried was not. Instead of careful manicured, pesticide-fed greenery made banal by row after row of headstones and markers, pinwheeels, vases of flowers, this was somewhat wild, peaceful, and yet carefully considered.

And why aren't there more of these spaces in the world? Why are we so fucking hung up on pumping bodies full of chemicals, throwing them in hardwood caskets (that help essentially cut down forests) with steel, brass, and bronze fittings and lowering them into the ground, chock full of pictures, jewelry, and gaudy dresses? How much does the funeral industry (which is essentially a handful of major companies--akin to Wal Mart) brainwash us into thinking the best way to remember a loved one is to spend $10,000 at least to never see them "dead" and throw them in the ground of a fake, lifeless place?

Yes, I know. A fever. 103 degrees. Delirious. And yet, I've felt this way for a while.

I just never suspected I could actually do anything about it.

Hence the word I had avoided for 12 years: school. Could I combine, say, urban planning, landscape design, environmental studies, and sociology and study ways to build more and more natural cemeteries? Can I possibly convince some people that honoring the people who pass away in our lives should include more than a cheap-looking plot in a corporate-run cemetery?

The spark has been illuminated fully.

I am not sure what's next. But I feel like there's some elemental truth to this idea for me. It's as if it's inescapable. I never wanted to admit that I thought I was destined to do something that would help others. After all, I tend to hate most people. But there's that optimist in me. We can always learn, right?

And I can apparently entertain the idea of an academic pulse existing past the 16th grade.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lonely Is as Lonely Does

I decided since I am half brain-dead I should just title entries based on lyrics of songs I am listening to when I post. This one is from the song "Fish" by Throwing Muses, which (yikes!) is 20 years old now. My favorite lines in the whole song: "Lonely is as lonely does. Lonely is an eyesore. The feeling describes itself." I have never known what it means, and yet I somehow know all the same.

I've been cooped up in the house for over 24 hours, batlling what was at one time a 103-degree fever that had me lying on the floor in the living room sweating like crazy and watching the room tilt at an odd angle. After chugging some Tylenol, though, it finally broke and my temperature steadily dropped, until it was (oddly) 97.2 last night. I woke up today with what is (apparently) a head cold. Oh, how I love viruses.

I'd been looking forward to the weekend, as I was working all last weekend and was just exhausted by Friday, but, no, my body had other plans. I missed Tim's birthday celebration as a result. It's 85 degrees today and I can't do much other than sit here and look outside.

I feel like it would only take 72 hours of being ill and alone before I started creating imaginary friends in my head. The last time I was sick as I was yesterday was probably a year or two ago and I remember I was a pill then, too. Whiny, nearly infantile at points, and generally cranky.

I am still young enough to think that my body is somewhat infallible, even though I feel it creaking and groaning more often when I am playing tennis or when I am trying to run for more than 35 minutes at a time. Yet when I get sick to the point of being incapacitated, I am reminded how easy it is for something microscopic to bring you to a grinding halt.

No big epiphany, and probably not too interesting, either, I know--which is why I should go back to lying on the couch with my bottle of water, watching multiple episodes of The Golden Girls on DVD. I never realize how social of a person I actually am until I am forced to be home alone.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


There's ohhhhhh so much I could say about Ann Coulter essentially calling John Edwards a faggot.

I'm not surprised. Oh, no. That piece of crazy has been flying around in front of any TV camera she can find for years.

What I find more reprehensible is that she was invited to speak at the event where she made the comment and all the likely Republican presidential candidates were there and NOT ONE of them has said anything against her.

In a way, it's tres delicious, as we get to watch all these rich, stuffy white guys hem and haw while bony Ann cackles away in the background. The more uncomfortable they all get, the better.

As for Ann, nothing would make me happier than having her syndicated work pulled out from underneath her. Nix the syndicate that publishes her. Nix her book deals and recycle all of her stupid-ass pabulum that reveals her depth to be about that of a mud puddle. I'd also love to see that woman last more than a couple of weeks in a working-class, racially diverse neighborhood that might even include some homos on food stamps.(My favorite thing right now is her stupid diatribe about global warming on her Web site, in which she keeps trying to position herself as one of the "people" by making fun of the liberal elite who have homes in the Hamptons. But take a look at her bio:

"A Connecticut native, Coulter graduated with honors from Cornell University School of Arts & Sciences, and received her J.D. from University of Michigan Law School, where she was an editor of The Michigan Law Review."

Just the words "Connecticut native" are enough to know that, in all likelihood, she comes from at least an upper-middle class background, and knows jack shit about what it means to be a working-class person living in America.

Or what it's like to be gay, for that matter.

But can't you smell the reality TV show pitch already happening somewhere? C'mon, Bravo, where's your episode of "Project Runway" in which all the gay men try and make Ann look pretty and she has a complete meltdown when they start touching her?

If we can't truly dump her in the middle of Detroit and see how she survives on welfare (hey, Ann, how about you show us how "Nickel and Dimed" was part of the liberal agenda!), at the very least, please bring her to my house so she can call me a faggot and I can slap her.

Just once.

Pretty please?