Tuesday, December 02, 2003

World AIDS Day
Yesterday, December 1, was World AIDS Day. I wore the red ribbon in honor of my friends, and missed them dreadfully. 41 million people around the world are living (and dying) with AIDS. Only 1 million of them are receiving any sort of treatment for this still always-fatal disease. And yet, even in 2003, there are those who persevere in thinking of this as the "gay disease," and look upon AIDS support as a "political statement." Someone actually found my ribbon offensive. Personally, I find the fact that my best friend, Steve Sutherland died at the age of 31 to be infinately more offensive. Until there's a cure, I promise not to give up the fight.

Monday, November 03, 2003

It rained last night. The first good, strong rain of the season. Fall has fallen. Last week it was warm bordering on hot. Today I pulled a favorite old sweater out of the bottom drawer and have once again found the joy of wrapping cold hands around a mug of hot tea. It's gray and dreary out, but I welcome this change.

Those who say California has no seasons are wrong. We do. Not, perhaps, as dramatic as the fall colors of New England followed by the deep white snows of winter. But we have our cool fall nights, our rainy winter days, the first, hesitant sunshine of spring, and the glorious heat of summer. I must confess, however, that I do occasionally get fed up with people who move to California, triple the price of houses in my home town, and then complain about how much they miss "real" seasons. If you miss "real" seasons so much, go back to the blizzard and let me buy a damn house!

Oh dear, that gentle musing on the weather turned rather bitchy, didn't it? Well, them's the breaks, folks.

Friday, October 31, 2003

I've had another brilliant idea!
I want to have a bunch of bumper stickers made up that read "Overcompensating for a tiny penis." Then I want to stick on on every Hummer I see.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Why does this have a cult following?
By which I mean Babylon 5, one of the most boring things ever. My husband is a big fan and recently bought the first few seasons on DVD. Any show where, when you tell a fan that you're watching the first season, immediately burstst into "it gets better! Really!", you know you're in trouble.

Where to start? Well, first off the lead (who I call Rex Ranger) is about as wooden as they come and seems to "emote" entirely by bugging out his eyes and saying his lines through gritted teeth. There's absolutely no charisma between any of the characters and for most of the first season....nothing happens.

Apparently there are "clues" that lead to the interesting bits in seasons 2-5....but by that time I'll be so asleep that I won't wake up when the explosions begin. I finally gave up and skipped the last 3 episodes entirely. My beloved watched them and then, when I asked what happened, proceeded to tell me about more developments in 3 hours than in the entire series so far. So I sat through all the cardboard and missed the dessert? Just my luck.

As I said, apparently "it gets better! Really!" so I've promised to watch the first 2 episodes of the second season...but so far, I'm bored out of my skull. Sorry, sweetie.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Hey, I've got a brilliant idea!
Since I hate the farce that has become the California recall, and since I work for a company that likes to fire people so that they can hire cheaper labor overseas, I think we should "outsource" the position of Governor of California to India. We won't have to pay the Governor as much plus (and here's the key), Arnold won't relocate so he's not a possibilitiy any more!

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

A single voice?

A history book that I've been reading makes the excellent point that we like to think of our elected officials as "leaders," but that many of them are really followers. Most of the important social movements in US history have been started by the people -- and by people on the fringe at that. Abolitionism. Suffrage. The civil rights movement. All of these started as people pissed off enough to do something, and committed enough to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve change. So, for those of us who wish we could do more, I offer today's piece of advice: don't give up. We may feel powerless, but that might not be the case. We just need to fight against the narrow-minded, war-mongering, conservatives who want to tromp over human rights in the name of "God bless the USA."

Monday, September 08, 2003

Oh please...
So I saw a print ad for the Hummer this weekend, and it had the tagline "big is the new small." Uh huh...and pointless is the new clever? Hey, I'm gonna trademark that. You heard it here first, folks, "pointless is the new clever™."

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Remember summer?

Remember the swish/slap of the screen door shutting behind you as you ran out to play in the warm evening? Remember eating peaches, with juice rolling down your chin? Remember playing tag, hide & seek, and Mother May I late into the night? Remember sleeping with the windows open so that you lay awake and listened to the world around you? Remember running through the sprinklers, eating popcicles, and laying on your back watching the clouds? Go do it. Forget being a grown-up. Forget that it's after Labor Day and summer is somehow over. Go play. Go on...I'll wait.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Bureauacracy reigns!

I hate my job. Not surprising, most people these days hate their jobs. I know a lot of unemployed people at the moment, but I truly am getting tired of the "you should just be grateful you have a job" lecture. I mean yes, I am grateful that I have a job....but I'm human. If I'm not happy, I want something that would make me happy.

At the moment, most of my frustration can be traced back to a life-long hatred of bureaucracy. After years of fighting against it, I found myself reluctantly "acquired" by a company roughly the size of Poland. I have gone from having complete and total editorial and artistic control of my job, to having only some editorial and creative control of my job, to now having absolutely no editorial or creative control of my job. Apparently I am no longer required to think...which makes me believe the company would be better off hiring a happy hamster and firing my disgruntled ass.

Yeah, I keep taking the paycheck. I like to eat, and I need more of a cushion before I bail...but I hate it.

Why do companies publicly advertise that they want "creative thinkers" only to tell them that they have no authority to make a decision? Why do they like to be seen as promoting "different" when they only want the same? And why, oh why, are so many incredibly talented, experienced, and once-motivated people left to turn into dust, their skills wasted, while mega-corps drone endlessly onward in the same stodgy direction they've always gone?

Friday, July 11, 2003

Stream of Consciousness
If Virginia Woolf can do it, so can I. Of course, she could do it better. But then again, she committed suicide, so look where "better" got her. Why is the phrase "tortured" so often placed in front of the word "genius?" Virginia Woolf. Van Gogh. Michelangelo. Is genius worth it if the price is madness? Of course, look at all those who achieved greatness without going mad. How connected are the two? Does one write (paint, compose) because one is in pain, or is one in pain because they are artists? And who did write the book of love? Why is reality television so popular? Why don't more people turn off their TVs when nothing is on? I Love Lucy will always be a much better show than anything that Fox comes up with. Where does apathy come from, and how do you motivate people to become part of the solution? Why don't the majority of Americans realize that the rest of the world would love to be able to talk with their mouths full. It seems senseless that there are people killing themselves by eating cheese puffs and Oreos, while there are other people dying because they can't get rice, meat, or clean water. Why does Keanu Reeves have a career? Why is Danielle Steele a bestseller? Who really needs an SUV? Why aren't I doing all the work that I should be doing...

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I'm having one of those "I'm wasting my life" kind of days. One of those sad, tragic, completely demoralizing realizations that you're never going to win the Pulitizer or save the world. The kind of day when your soul longs to be working in refugee camps, or writing the great American novel...only to find that your body is dealing with computer problems, corporate politics, and terminal boredom. Sigh...

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

The Best of Intentions
Go out the window with things like allergies, acquisitions, and anxiety attacks. Between feeling awful, feeling depressed, and generally feeling, I've not written in far too long. Prompted by a reminder from a friend (thank you), I hereby give you, in no particular order, things that are on my mind these days:
How good the combination of hot Latin jazz and cold margaritas is on a summer day -- why the universal standard of beauty is that freakish 1/2% of women in the world who have no hips -- how confusing it is when Hilary Clinton and Martha Stewart are both in the news. Aren't they the same person? They sure look the same. -- how I wish Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers had written more -- how extremely funny I Love Lucy really was -- the magic of Gene Kelly -- how it's possible to derive great satisfaction out of manual labor when one's job provides no satisfaction at all -- how lucky I am to have the friends that I have -- how glad I am that I don't live in Texas -- why do people watch reality shows --the irony of there being a magazine called Simple Life about how to simplify your life -- how much I love warm weather -- why people who own convertibles don't drive with the top down on days like this.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Earl Grey
Steam rising in bergamot-scented swirls into the cold room. Chopin, playing just for me, in the background. The wind knocks bits of earth against the window, and howls protests down the chimney. It is cold, inside and out. Beware of atmospheric kinds of days...anything can happen.

Monday, April 21, 2003

The Deck Stops Here
The faces of those within the Iraqi circle of power who are currently being sought by the allies should not be used as playing cards. Doing so trivializes the war. This is a bad idea -- much in keeping with the way most of the US feels about all of this. It's not a joke, people. End of rant.

Monday, April 14, 2003

When Did People Become Stupid?
Or, more specifically, when did people stop discovering and/or inventing things that were creative, intelligent, useful, and good? I am jealous of those who lived in a world when a new creation led to improving, rather than diminishing, mankind. When the railroad made travel accessible. When the radio brought music and adventure and culture into the living rooms of millions. When the printing press made books possible. Today's inventions, rather than increasing the intellectual or cultural capacity of man, seek only to create a generation more stupid than the previous generation. Already the culture that looked upon Homer Simpson as a role model is raising a flock of young idiots who will spend their elder years reminiscing about the glory days of "Joe Millionaire" and "Survivor." Can somebody tell me how the career of Chris Rock, the music of Eminem, the words of Danielle Steele, and the continued production of reality TV make the world and society better? No...I didn't think so.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Comfort Foods
Much has been written about the healing power of comfort foods. And deservedly so. For in times of stress, there's much to be said for the healing power of grilled cheese sammiches, mom's famous homemade soup, or the simple comfort of hot biscuits. Whatever your own personal comfort food is (and one's comfort food is a personal and very individual choice), I'm sure it has gotten you through many a rough patch. I know that since the war began, I have started eating a lot more toast. (Which is, in my opinion, one of the best inventions ever.) (Toast, I mean, not war.) However, after an hour of CNN, I find that I derive much needed peace from two pieces of golden brown toast. (Yum.) And at the end of a long week (diet be damned) I crave the simple perfection of bread and cheese.

Of course chocolate is in a class by itself. And yet strangely enough (considering that I keep a full candy jar in my cubicle at work to help others less fortunate than I), chocolate is not my comfort food. I like warm things. I want yellow cake fresh from the oven, chicken soup, pot roast, and tea. Perhaps I manifest stress in a loss of heat (which would explain why I'm cold all the time). Anyway, whatever your comfort food of choice is, I say go for it. We all deserve some toast right about now.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

A Sun Day
Back in the snow belt, they have snow days -- where the weather is so awful that work and school is cancelled. I think we need sun days -- where the weathe is so glorious, we all get the day off. Today would be a perfect sun day. When the sky is a perfect renaissance blue, and the sun cooperatively warming winter out of our bones, it is morally wrong to expect us to sit inside our little cubicles and work. How can we? All I want to do is go outside and play. I want to drive down the freeway with the sunroof open and some cheesy, boppy song playing on the radio while I sing along in my best bad Aretha. I want to grab a book and find some quiet patch of grass in which to read. I want to walk along the beach and play tag with the ocean. But mostly, I just want the air and the light. None of this headache-inducing flourescent crap, thank you very much. And none of this "someone burnt the microwave popcorn again" lovely fragrance. I want pure sunlight and the scent of fresh-cut grass. How can we possibly be expected to work on a day like this?

Monday, April 07, 2003

There's a Melody in My Mind...
...and it's not going away. Strings first, intruding with light persistence into thoughts of schedules and deadlines. Then horns, a bit more pushy, a bit harder to ignore. Finally, a voice. She's singing with a husky sort of assertiveness that can't be dismissed. It's no use, I can't fight it any more.

I never want to get to a point in my life where work is more important than Ella Fitzgerald. I never want to lose sight of the fact that art, music, and literature should always matter more to me than endless meetings and pointless bureaucracy. And I never want to get to the point where Ella's voice, Django's guitar, Pablo Neruda's words, or Van Eyck's art fail to remind me of what is good and beautiful in the world.

Granted, THE COMPANY THAT SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED would shudder with disappointment that I actually feel art is more important than software, but that's ok. Because today, Ella is singing just for me. And I actually kinda feel sorry for those who just don't get it.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Why Should Anybody Care What I Think?
The internet has given rise to an interesting sort of ego-ism. People suddenly thing their opinions matter. Witness the rise of the blog. (And yes, I am aware that I'm the pot calling the kettle...) Anybody with access to a computer and half a brain can post their views on everything from the war (no) to junk food (yes) for the rest of the world to find and marvel at. And the weird thing is....people read it. I know many intelligent people who have spent hours wandering through the electronic ether, reading the often moronic and frequently misspelled rantings of somebody they wouldn't want to have lunch with. Why should we care that Paul from Toledo thinks that chick from Junkyard Wars is hot? Why does it matter that "Dippy-Doo" from "some planet other than here" feels pre-marital sex is sinful? And why should you care what I think? You shouldn't.

Face it, the internet has replaced that little pink diary with the tiny lock on it that girls in the 50s used to have. Only now it's cool to keep a diary. What's more...it's cooler to share that diary with the world. What used to be a completely private activity has now become a spectator sport. Secret musings about crushes and embarassing admissions about fat days have given way to public explorations of technology, politics, and how hot Jennifer Aniston is.

It is, unfortunately, all to rare to find a Web page with anything of more interest than adolescent rantings. And it's ironic that those that I find most interesting, are those which have been created by people I already know, love, and/or respect. Truthfully, I feel we need fewer Weblogs and more "salons"...where intelligent people talk to each other, share ideas, debate issues, and never once mention Jennifer Aniston.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Lighten Up
We all need to lighten up. Yes, there's a war on. Yes, people are dying and starving, killing each other and living on the streets. Yes, we all hate our jobs. But we cannot be miserable all the time. For one thing, it's counterproductive to actually doing something positive to end the killing, dying, and starving. (It's hard to be inspired enough to volunteer your time when you're exhausted from being depressed.) For another...well, we just need to have fun. Maybe it's insensitive of me, but I'm just really tired of being discouraged, disenchanted, and generally melancholic. And most pepole I know feel the same way.

So lighten up, people. We have a weekend coming up, and I want everyone reading this to do at least one (preferably more) of the following things:

  • Fly a kite
  • Play the kazoo
  • Don't watch the news or read a paper for 24-hours
  • Watch a Marx Brothers comedy, a Fred & Ginger musical, a Muppet movie, or your favorite classic sitcom
  • Bake cookies from scratch and eat them warm from the oven with a cold glass of milk
  • Skip down your street
  • Go for a long drive and sing along loudly and off key with cheesy one-hit wonder bands from the 80's (Come on, you know that you remember all the words to Walk Like an Egyptian.)
  • Speak in a funny accent for an entire hour
  • Read the Jeeves and Wooster Stories of P.G. Woodhouse
  • Hunt for interesting shells and rocks at the beach
  • Take a favorite book to a coffee house and read all afternoon
  • Have a milkshake, a sundae, or a banana split at an ice cream parlor
  • Do something you loved to do as a child...but haven't done since you "grew up"

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Duh...you hurt my tiny little brain
I hate the corporate equivalent of receiving a pat on the head and being told to go out and play. I hate the assumption that if you don't know technology, then you must be an idiot. If the phrase "database schema" doesn't make you perk up with excitement, then you're obviously of sub-optimum intelligence and therefore can be dismissed. Guess what, jerk? I've read The Iliad in the original ancient Greek. I can name every single one of Shakespeare's plays. Plus, not only have I read them all -- I've performed in several of them and seen most of them. I can explain to you the influence which Caravaggio had on the Dutch painters of the 17th century. I can discuss with some erudition (among other subjects) the War of the Roses, the course of WWI, the careers of Wilkie Collins (I bet you don't even know who he was, do you Mr. Database Schema?), Virginia Woolf, and Louis Armstrong, the creation of linear perspective, the orders of classical architecture, the Battle of Gettysburg, the sinking of the Titanic, the fight for university education for women, and the evolution of the hero myths. I can quote lines of dialogue from Aristophanes, Moliere, Shaw, Ibson, Shakespeare, Rogers and Hart, and Monty Python. I can use English properly, listen to opera without falling asleep, write poetry, and discuss hockey, baseball, and football knowlegeably. So I don't know what a database schema is? So f*****g what?

Monday, March 31, 2003

Here's the thing...
I can't fight violence with violence. Protesting the war by yelling at cops and getting myself arrested seems futile. Bush doesn't care if traffic is disrupted on Market Street. All that will do is cost the city of San Francisco money that they could have been spending on education, social services, and other projects to aid the human good. Instead, I decided to protest the war by supporting peace. I donated to the International Red Cross. I donated to the Mercy Corps. I sent money to organizations that will help Iraqi refugees. It's small, but it made me feel better -- and it's a hell of a lot more productive than carrying a "Food not Bombs" sign that no one will read.

Friday, March 28, 2003

If I don't write, I'll explode
There's a war on, folks, and it's inside my head. You know you've got it bad when you picture the CNN anchors when you try to sleep at night. I'm overloaded with terms like "embedded," "bunker busters," and "operation." When did things stop being a war and start being an operation? And why does that phrase always make me think "take out wrenched ankle?" In any case, I need to vent. I need to get these ideas out of my brain and onto something (paper, ether, someone else's brain), or I'll never sleep again. And trust me....me, without sleep is not pretty.