Friday, February 25, 2005

dress me up in women's clothes, mess around with gender roles, dye my eyes and call me pretty

Yesterday when I got home from work, I taught myself how to tie a four-in-hand knot in a necktie. I also practiced tying a Windsor knot and a half-Windsor, but I couldn't accurately say I taught myself those, since I suspect that another attempt at them would produce something similar to my efforts at origami. So...bendy...
I own a tie, one tie, and I got interested in the notion of wearing it to work. Our dress code is not horribly restrictive, and the clothes I'm allowed to wear are pretty nice. From previous experiences with bright red polyester sweatshirts, I know that this is not a given in a retail job. It's just that after several years of going to work with pink hair in my stretchy leopard-print dress and fishnets, or slouchy boy-jeans and band t-shirts, I got spoiled. I am accustomed to wearing what I want. It's sad when a necktie is a symbol of fashion rebellion, and not in an Alex P. Keaton way.

I can't make the knot do that wedge-shaped thing, though. spook came home and tied it a couple of different ways and showed me a trick that helped, but explained that part of it is the fabric of this particular tie. He never wears a tie except for dressy reasons, and I got a sense of dislocation watching his hands wrap it around in one of the more complicated knots as though he was born knowing how. There aren't a lot of cosmetic displays of gender in our house--spook knows more about makeup than I do, which robs it of any fetishistic power it might have held, and shaving doesn't seem so alien to me now that I do it every once in a while. I was fascinated watching this unfold. Or fold up, as the case may be.

It took a long time for me to enjoy adornment. To get there I had to make peace with being a femme instead of desperately trying to attain the soft-butch look that I thought might help me fit in. Some of the things I've done in the name of dyke respectability are just embarrassing. The black vest and bad haircut in my high school graduation photo, for example, or wearing a suit jacket to take my girlfriend to a dance. I wasn't fooling anyone. In university, I shaved off my shoulder-length hair and then cried for a week because I felt so ugly. Every time I had to get dressed, it felt like drag. Somewhere in there, I started to understand that every time I get dressed, it is drag, which was a tremendous relief.
While Sarah and I were living together, we talked a lot about what it was like to be a teenage dyke in the early 90s in Toronto. The terrible defensiveness! The biphobia! The flannel! The seven Acceptable Lesbian Haircuts! Laughing about it and telling Jen-L stories about the olden days together helped me see it as a period of time, a narrowness born of feeling embattled and invalidated, rather than a comment on my personal flaws.
Despite the many people who cling to some of those crappy attitudes, we're moving on. Pie-baking and knitting can get the feminist respect they deserve, and not a minute too soon--let's face it, making clay yoni sculptures to honour the goddess doesn't do it for everyone, and no one was doing anybody any favours by pretending it would.
Punk, in my case via riot grrl, deserves my eternal gratitude for making it okay to do things imperfectly, just because I wanted to try them. Jennifer made me mix tapes of lady bands and Kathleen Hanna gave an interview where she talked about offering to do the music for a film and then going off and spending an hour trying to tune her guitar, crying, because she couldn't really play and she had to figure it out fast. If Kathleen Hanna could freak out and bawl, it was okay for me to do it too--and then to make whatever art I could, mistakes and all.
All of it comes together in my girlyman punk-rock feminist cowboy partner, who strolled into my heart and my life turning on lights in parts of my personality I'd buried so long I'd forgotten they were there. I remember turning to spook, then newly my boyfriend, and saying "You're the first person I've known who can hold my coat and respect my opinion," and feeling it unlock something in my chest.

I live here now, and although I get panicky sometimes over things like being expected to know how to walk in heels, I'm much happier. I can learn from spook's capable hands folding my tie over and under and showing me how to tighten the knot. I can put on hot pink eyeshadow and go to work.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

wanna go where the weather suits my clothes

Sun! Sun! Actual sunbeams in my apartment, spilling all over my bed and illuminating every cobweb and dust mote left by my shoddy housekeeping! Sun making my plants happy as I run around placing them in little slivers of light!
Even more miraculous, there was a sunbeam falling into my store today, over in my section. Folks, I work in a mall. There are windows that overlook the street, but they're clear on the other side of the store--mine mostly overlook Williams Sonoma. And yet through a convergence of skylights, weather, and luck, I happened to be shelving in the 'F's just in time to get bonked with full-spectrum, vitamin D producing sunlight.

I came home and got out of my grownup clothes and into a pair of spook's old jeans and my Tank Girl undershirt, and now I am listening to a tape I was given as a present in 1997 and resisting the urge to waltz my cats around. I'm sure they appreciate it, but probably not as much as they should.

Next, tea, and a little spring cleaning before I lose this sense of omnipotence.

p.s. Why is my hair suddenly cute now that I'm home by myself when it was hopeless all day? I want to talk to the deity responsible for haircuts. Surely this arrangement is a mistake.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

at the House of Steroids, we take your well-being seriously.

I went to the library yesterday even though I maybe shouldn't have, because I needed something else to do, and apparently reading was it. There are a whole bunch of things I want to do around the house, but some of them involve chemicals I ought not to be inhaling right now, and some of them involve more activity than I'm up for.
I was whiny by the time spook got home. I want to go out in the world! I want to see people! Of course, when they come over I'm too tired to enjoy them a lot of the time.
Does it strike anyone else as exceedingly sucky that my health benefits, which would pay a whole lot of the cost of my prescription drugs, start on the first of March? I now have colour-coded inhalers (one of which can contribute to thrush!) at the combined cost of about $80. Add to that a whole bunch of missed work, and spook's paying most of the bills again this month.

Know what, though? I feel better today. Some of it is probably corticosteroids. (I feel like an infomercial.)

I want my sari fabric to arrive so that I can begin the long and probably futile project of convincing spook that green curtains would be fantastic in our living room. I'm thinking of painting some picture frames later. I am encouraged by the sheer volume of email dedicated to including me in movie-seeing, whether or not it turns out to be possible. I'm feeling the love, whereas yesterday I was mostly feeling the inadequacy of my lungs.

Things I'm grateful for today: years worth of journals, black and white photography, Peek Freans fruit creme cookies, Sleater-Kinney, my messy office, Toronto Public Library, my enormous windows, people who still love me after discovering my fondness for Juice Newton.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I intend to acquire bionic lungs.

Despite reports to the contrary, I do not have the plague.
I also don't seem to have a bacterial infection.
Nope, what I have, ladies and gentlemen, is asthma.

Now, this is not exactly news. I was given this diagnosis when I was...twelve? thirteen? Anyway, a while ago. My horrible allergist told me to get rid of my cats and that I was going to have to have shots and when I told him I was afraid of needles, he said "You should be afraid of not being able to breathe." Uh, yeah, thanks, that helps. As you might imagine, I refused to ever see him again, and what were my parents going to do, drag me?
Aside from some minor inconvenience in grade school gym, asthma has not been a big deal in my life. I haven't had an inhaler in at least ten years, and I've never missed it. Ventolin gave me the shakes and made my heart race, and it tasted like rubbing alcohol. Bleah. But I've been home and out of breath and tired for going on a week now, and when the doctor prescribed it for me again, I went and filled my prescription.
They've changed the propellant so that it doesn't destroy the ozone layer anymore, and they've changed the cap at the end so that it took me a minute to figure out how to get it off, but it still tastes like rubbing alcohol. Hooray for the little things you can always count on.

I feel pretty crappy, and I don't like having a stupid inhaler. No one does. It's just that I had gotten to the point where I told doctors about it when they asked, but I was starting to think that they'd been wrong, and what I had was an allergic reaction to volleyball.

I suppose it's one more thing I can claim to need a toolbelt for at work. Do you suppose they'd let me wear a holster?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"Actually, I think most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare."

Food items available for consumption in our home last night:

a can of tomatoes
a can of creamed corn
two carrots
some cilantro that has seen better days
queso fresco
corn tortillas
pureed chipotle peppers
four slices of bread
a can of bamboo shoots
organic apple-maple jam
crema (much like sour cream)
condensed milk
pasta shells

We were pretty sure we were going to have to go out at nine o'clock and try to purchase groceries, but then, then I discovered a box of instant mashed potatoes, and all of our problems were solved. Although it took some experimenting to figure out the right temperature, duration of cooking, etc. we ate a hearty meal of fried potato and creamed corn fritters with a crema-chipotle dip.
It was mostly the challenge of it that did me in. (I'm forgoing mention of the laziness.)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

secret agent man

When I left work today, there was a guy standing on the corner with a megaphone shouting "Hallelujah! You--you there in the green coat! Jesus knows where you live! Hallelujah!"

Like Jesus works for the CIA, and he's going to show up with a thick folder to talk to you about your political involvements, and that time you smoked pot in your dorm room.