Friday, October 22, 2004

maybe I work on a hellmouth

Yesterday was one of those days.

Me: "Is it a full moon?"
My manager (distracted): "No, it's just the irrepressible chaos bubbling up from beneath this store...uh, why, is something weird?"

Well, let's see. Do you want to start with the guy who sat himself at the big desk in our mystery section, looked around, and said to me "Are you my secretary?" What I said: "No." What I sort of wish I'd said: "No, I'm a bookstore employee. I can, however, kill you in thirty-nine different ways with office supplies."

Or we could talk about the guy who wanted to chat with me about Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series. You know, the one about the Rapture, where all the believers get taken up to heaven, and then the only people left are the unbelievers, who have to suffer torments and start clubs and have incredibly sincere dialogues and watch the antichrist take over the UN?* It rapidly became clear that he was using this as an opening gambit to talk about Saving My Soul, which I avoided by saying things like "Yes, I also like my fiction to contain important messages."

Important messages:

Think for yourself.
Avoid hate and fear-mongering. Nothing good will come of it.
Find like-minded muppets with whom to share your life.
Love is a dangerous angel.
Cake? Yummy.

*For an in-depth-er look at Left Behind in all its horrible fascination, please see una crow's zine Monstress, "the devil is six" issue. to order yer own.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

it's beginning to look a lot like...Christmas.

Does it seem to anyone else that Christmas appears earlier every year? Some time last week I noticed that all the ads on TV have snow in them. Snow! I know that some of the country is getting snow at this time of year, but even the folks who are expecting it are crabby about it. Do we really need to be thinking about getting that cold yet? workplace is increasingly filled with volumes of product that far exceed our capacity to store or display it, leading my boss to say things like "So, we have a visit from head office, and we need to be thinking about presenting the store the way we would want it to look. So that's the focus for the next couple of days. And shelving. Oh, and the International Festival of Authors." Could we have a little more focus in our focus? Crazy. Clearly Christmas-induced.
Books with bright red covers are trickling in, as though if they show up one at a time, I won't notice. Well, I see you, Christmas product, and I am not amused!
I just hope the holiday mood does not descend on the shoppers before, say, December first. I can't take much more than three weeks of it. For a season that is so hyped as a time of love and family and togetherness, it sure brings out the crappiness in people. I am not immune. Thinking "Lady, if I could make your head explode with the power of my mind, they'd be steam-cleaning the carpet for weeks," does not capture the Little-Drummer-boy spirit.

I propose a ban on all things involving snowflakes, jolly men in suits, holly, ivy, and stupid light-up reindeer (no matter how much they're supposed to teach us about how we're all valuable even if we're "different") until we learn how to be just a little bit polite: peace on earth. Goodwill towards men. Now those are sentiments I could live with all year long.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

who knew how cool I was?

bell hooks
You are bell hooks (no capital letters)! You were
one of the first black wymyn to discuss in
public spaces the differences between being a
black womyn and being a black man or a white
womyn. You are the mother of intersectionality
and you couldn't care less about identity
politics. Thanks for making feminism accessible
and calling the white, middle class wymyn on
their bullshit!

I'm bell hooks! I'm bell hooks! You know, except for the actually being bell hooks part...

I was very excited to get this result, since I met her this year and she was very, very nice. She flirted with my boyfriend (I have the pictures to prove it) and seemed genuinely interested in everyone. Can you imagine how hard that must be when 90% of the people you talk to are thinking something like "Oh my god, I'm talking to bell hooks right now!" How would you remain a reasonable human being? She rocks.

I like quizilla a lot, too, although I have to confess I was confused about how positively Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon were portrayed in this quiz. They were waaaaay harder on Gloria Steinem who, while not my personal hero, has never to my knowledge cooperated with the religious right to pass anti-porn legislation that would primarily get used against queer and feminist communities.

I want to see Patrick Califia listed as a Western feminist icon.

Which Western feminist icon are you?
brought to you by quizzilla.
Go and take the quiz.

we go together like boogedy-boogedy-boogedy-boogedy-shoop

I suspect I am not supposed to come home from my retail job tired from the dancing.

Julia obliged me by digging up the soundtrack to Grease, always a crowd pleaser, and so I got to sing along through the last hour of my shelving, bopping gently as I smiled at the customers. Just before we close we always turn the music off--it's a signal, meaning "okay, pay us and get out now." I was snapping my fingers when the sound stopped, and she called "Sorry," across the floor.
"It's all right," I assured her, "I'm feeling the funk on the inside."
"Aren't you always?" she asked me, laughing. Yep. Yep, I am. I ride the funk train through a lot of crappy moments in the employment part of my life. How do people who don't like music survive customer service? I have to get a rhythm back somehow after the little things that throw you off--rude people, insane busyness, the phone ringing off the hook, not being able to find even one of the thirty-nine copies of a book you're supposed to have--I find it easiest to borrow someone else's.

Cookie and I stickered a whole whack of bestsellers along with "My Sharona," and I raced up and down the stairs a few times with magazines, "More Than a Feeling" propelling me along. Sears' obnoxious outdoor speakers were playing "Jenny From the Block," and that got me home.

My feet are tired, but my heart feels great.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

i lied about being the outdoor type (part one)

There is a school of thought which divides people into two groups: those who want to get back to the land, and those who want to get back to the hotel. Guess which kind I am.
My childhood summer camp featured giant puppet making and the occasional anarchist guest speaker rather than the traditional canoe-and-volleyball torture that appears in other kids' stories. I was under the impression that I wasn't missing anything until a disastrous camping trip I took with Pubah eight years ago. (Let us just say that there was a happy ending, but the middle bit had snittyness and mutual sulking in a tent that was just too small for those purposes.) I don't know how to put things up or start fires without matches or how heavy is going to be too heavy when you have to carry your own pack yes all day there isn't a trolley in the woods you know. So when spook suggested that we go hiking, my enthusiasm was not unqualified. But heck, eight years is a long time, and I like to think I know a little more about myself now--enough to at least warn the person I'm with that I will be no help if there are bears on the trail.
I was secretly terrified I would trip on a root and sprain my ankle or that my shoes would bug me and I'd be whiny or that one of us would take a bad step on the rocks and wind up in Minnow Lake. "When they say 'easy,'" I ventured like a querelous old guy, "how easy do they mean? Like, paved? Or like you probably won't die?" I followed spook, who it turns out is like a little mountain goat, only cuter, and more with the sharing of the food. And you know, it was really cool. I went from wondering what good the blaze was going to do me since I couldn't look up from my feet to see the trail anyway to actually leading for a while. When we finished our walk, all I could think about was how I wanted to do it again. Right now. Or next weekend anyway.
We went in to look at the Petroglyphs themselves, which was a whole other kind of mindboggling. The carvings are (they figure) between 600 and 1100 years old, and were probably made by Algonkian speaking tribes. There is no unbroken line of knowledge between then and now, so what the carvings represent is understood on a best-guess basis, the guessers being Native people, anthropologists and historians. I stared at the lines, wondering how they got them so perfect and how they can possibly be so clear hundreds of years later. I was especially interested in the snakes, and kept looking for them all around. Lots of them are carved in a way that suggests they're coming up from the rocks. There was a woman there who was answering questions, and she talked to us about coming back next year for their night programs, because apparently there are hundreds of carvings you can't see in the daylight, layer on layer of them. She told us the wolves had been calling in the park the night before.
All in all, I was feeling like the day was a gift, and that I couldn't be much happier. On the drive out, we came around a corner and there was a white-tail deer standing in the middle of the road. spook pulled the car to a halt and we watched her bound off into the cover of the trees, where she stood staring at us. We stared back.

We sang along with our cds on the way home, the sunset glaring directly into our eyes for kilometre after kilometre. When they reopen the park in the spring, we'll be there. Maybe we'll even pitch a tent at Silent Lake and spend a couple of days. It's both scary and good to be at a point in my life where I'm realizing that when I say "I don't know how to do that" I can add "yet," and it's not just mouthing the word. Some of the things I can learn I will love, even if they're things I never thought would be part of who I am.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

there's no one I'd rather do nothing with than you

It makes me happy when all y'all comment on my blog. (Blog! Blog! It's the most horrible new word in the English language! AAAAAH!) Seriously, though--I would probably still write if I thought no one was reading, but it's better if someone is, even if it means that every time I write something inadequate or stupid, there are witnesses. It's hard to figure out how to stay connected to the people I care about. You can't really sit down after six months and say "So tell me all the deep joys and worries that are running through your life right now." You have to be there to see them, and how do you do that as people with full-time jobs and a gazillion life committments?
I hate this part of growing up. I feel like I'm beginning to understand how people end up with no friends other than their roommates, and since I only live with spook, I'm all "No! Nonononono!" He's a truly excellent little monkey, but he's only one guy. It's my nightmare to have no friends other than my partner, it's like the awful repetition of some imagined fifties hell. I would be Mrs. Robinson in no time flat.

So I write here, and that's one way you can hear what I'm thinking, although it doesn't replace the conversations where you make me laugh so hard I think I'm going to die. Just for Paul, though, here are the songs I've been listening to lately:
~The Weakerthans' One Great City! and Time's Arrow, both from their album Reconstruction Site.
~A tape Jennifer made me that has Jenny Toomey, Andrew Vincent and the Pirates, Mirah, and the Shirelles.
~Kate and the Ghost of Lost Love, by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, because spook and I have been singing it together for more than two years without really locking the harmony in, and I'm convinced it's my fault. Plus singing along helps me remember my breathing, and makes me think about phrasing, which all conspires to make me think that someday I might be a singer again, even if only in my own mind.
~A playlist I made myself that echoes a lost tape spook made, especially Toy by the Murmurs, Revelator by Gillian Welch, and Boy from Tupelo by Emmylou Harris.
~Aimee Mann's cover of The Scientist, which I think is an improvement on Coldplay's lovely original.

I love you.

Friday, October 01, 2004

"she thinks that heaven will be like the Only / with everyone you've ever known sitting at the bar"

First things first: there is no part of my university years that I would want to live over again. I like where I am, and getting here was hard enough the one time, thanks. However, there are a few things about it that I miss. There was a kind of enforced proximity, both geographic and emotional, that was the result of being at a small school in a small(ish) city. "I hate this place!" Dan erupted one day "Everyone's slept with everyone else--everyone's taken care of everyone else's cat--" But it had its advantages. For one whole year when I was too depressed to go out, I never had to. I just sat in my living room and my social world came to me. When some people tell me about how their university was like a continual beauty pageant, I can only stare. Where I went to school, the overriding fashion trend one year was baggy plaid pants and do-it-yourself bead jewelry. When not attending class (there was a lot of not attending class), we did crafts with glitter and markers. It was considered perfectly reasonable to receive my guests in my pajamas, and I did so, holding court and serving tea.

We gave each other help and haircuts, cooked big meals, traded frantic phone calls about crashing computers and missing roommates and personal crises, and it never took longer than twenty minutes to walk to someone's house, so you could do it even in the snow.

All of this is on my mind because I am thinking of ways to reinvent my life again, and it occurs to me that (minus the constant emotional turmoil) there are a lot of things I want to keep from that period. The sense of having enough time, and the community of creative people who encouraged me to be creative too, for example. I look around and find that I live in a slacker apartment full of crayons, surrounded by bits of spook's latest zine efforts and my own crafty detritus which, yes, involves beads.

This morning I went downstairs to get the mail in my pajamas.

strong enough for a woman

There's nothing quite like getting up in the morning, having a shower, towelling off, and applying the unholy stench of femininity. Deodorant companies cannot seriously believe that any woman living really wants to smell like this. Yeeuuch.