REPORT A PROBLEM
I have been in Dahlonega Georgia for most of the week, spending time with Denny and David. It has been a fun and, more importantly, relaxing getaway for me. We spent a whole day getting soused wine-tasting at not one but two of the local vineyards, Wolf Mountain and Three Sisters, and other days simply touring the mountainous countryside, replete with its tortured, twisting roadways. For a rural southern town in backwater America, Dahlonega is surprisingly, effortlessly diverse, both culturally and artistically (although, I am sad to say, not ethnically, but we ARE in the land of Dixie, after all).
Denny and I went to Tallulah today, supposedly to take a look at Denny's exhibit at a local art gallery there. After driving through small agricultural towns, past numerous lifeless trees covered in kudzu and a gratuitous amount of Baptist churches (the welcome sign of one happily proclaimed "God has a photo magnet of you on His refrigerator" … God requires magnets??), Dennis sprung his surprise: we were going to climb into Tallulah Gorge. I was not dressed for it, nor did either of us bring water. So we hiked. In Georgia. In August.
Methinks Dennis wants to kill me.
Driving from Dahlonega we passed a squarish building that sported two side-by-side signs atop its roof – one read "Storage" and the other "Flea Market!" Hmmm.
I was disappointed that the High Museum of Art was closed for renovations, although the displays of Folk Art and Photography were open, and I enjoyed perusing them. I also attended the IMAX showing of Shackleton's "Endurance" adventure at Fernbank, which was really inspirational, and to the subsequent Shackleton photographic exhibit. Then, in a quest to be the quintessential tourist, I visited Margaret Mitchell's home. Who knew she wrote "Gone with the Wind"
My final evening in Atlanta. The nighttime view from my hotel window is spectacular – straight ahead my sights focus on the building at One Atlantic Center, its towering spire alight with gold, tapering upwards to a beatific white steeple rising towards its apex, acknowledging its presence with a cautioning, eternal wink. Still it has been a bit unsettling here on the 44th floor. A helicopter flew past at nearly eye level, and close enough to the building to make me feel squeamish. A fierce thunderstorm rattled my windows, and the fire alarm went off, subsequently ratified, thank you, as false.
I can understand how easy it is to become a barfly. Last night I decided to top off my final evening in Atlanta with a nightcap in the hotel's lounge. Absolute Citroen, straight up. Several of them, in fact. And I was being catered to by an overly solicitous bartender, who was perhaps moved to pity by the poor schlub drinking straight vodka, noting he was the only person in the joint flying solo while pathetically humming along with pianist, sweetly churning out a medley from
Phantom of the Opera
. It was the loneliest I have felt since David died.
During my entire stay in Georgia, Denny berated me for getting fat. At 5'7" and 145 pounds, I'm hardly a candidate for Jenny Craig. I'm now home but my self-esteem continues getting pummeled. A woman cut me off in the grocery line today as if I didn't exist; a car did exactly the same thing, eliciting the cry, "Is it my day to be invisible
?!" And then, while stroking the head of a sweet dog at the park, the pooch, without the preamble of kecks and surds which normally precedes such an event, suddenly vomited on my shoes. Waah.
I have finally seen the film
. The performances were solid, with the exception of Ed Harris, woefully, almost hilariously, miscast as a gay man dying of AIDS. Jeff Daniels was much more convincing in a role that amounted to little more than a walk-on. But otherwise I found the film to be heavy-handed and pretentious, with Philip Glass' dour, funereal score unimaginatively announcing upcoming moments of profundity – not unlike Emily's slant of light whose heft oppresses. Still, it rekindled my interest in the works of Virginia Woolfe, a visionary of astonishing depths, and for that I am grateful.
Today is not the anniversary, nor close to it; and yet, for some inexplicable reason, I am remembering the day we were informed of David's dire medical condition and its ensuing, deadly prognosis. The words "brain cancer" and "glioblastoma multiforme" settled upon me and seeped into my bones with a shivering, hollow clatter. My spine stiffened, and in a semblance of quasifortitude I erected hyperbolic, impossible promises, roused from a sincere if uncomprehending heart. Ironically, as is often the case, it was David who guided me into position, locked and loaded my sights, and prepared me for his inevitable departure.
You know you live in the sticks when you have a cautionary road sign that bears the warning "Turtle Crossing." Last month the homemade sign was replaced by the real McCoy. While there are, indeed, an astonishing amount of the shelled reptiles choosing that particular juncture to trundle over (caused by a dip in the road banked on either side by marshland), the sign is meant to protect motorists who stop to help the creatures along. I was one of those until a snapper took a chunk of my finger. I screamed louder and more feverishly than Janet Leigh showering.
Some people are able to concentrate and to work with music playing in the background, sweet or cacophonous. Some attain their inspiration within the sounds. I am not one of those people. I'm a Gemini, easily distracted, visceral, and wanting an "in" to every experience life has to offer, with perhaps the exception of realizing the sensation of placing a gun inside my mouth and pulling the trigger. Still, I do wonder. They say I would never hear the report of the gun, but who is to know for certain? The clamor of death may be tumultuous and metallic tasting.
I meet some real wingnuts at my supermarket. Like the elderly woman with the portable oxygen tank, who, when I inquired if I could help carry her bags, responded in a throaty, nicotine-tainted voice that I should go fuck myself. Or the middle-aged foreign gentleman who accosted me in his native Slavic tongue, a language I might have found beautiful had it not been performed at ear-splitting decibels and accompanied by ferocious fist shaking and other unpleasant hand gestures. My crime? My cart was barring access to the Cocoa Puffs. I'm petitioning the Pope to have the store manager canonized.
I ball my fists and, with the webs between my thumb and index fingers, gingerly rub my closed eyes, like a child struggling vainly against curfew, enjoying the ensuing light show against the back of my lids and wresting any crust flecks from their flanked positions. My eyes are very sensitive (it is nearly impossible for me to use eye drops, and even the phrase "keep your eyes peeled" makes me shiver) but I enjoy the sensation of pressing against them while closed, feeling them squeezed backwards in forced retreat, testing their malleability, experiencing their lubricious slide within their sockets.
Tonight was the first rehearsal for "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." It has been over two years since I performed on stage, and, although it was lovely to see everyone again, I am already experiencing a form of stage fright. I'm not certain I possess the confidence anymore. I don't sing as well as I used to, but since this show isn't vocally demanding (think: Sondheim), that shouldn't pose too big a problem. Still, I learned that one of the numbers I am in ("Highway of Love") will be staged as a "ballet in rolling chairs." Holy shit.
I watched the film
today. Odd little flick. I am not sure I fully understood it. But a movie with not one but two shots of George Clooney's bare butt can't be all bad. He had some very unglamorous moments in the film, for which I applaud him, but he is still so exquisitely handsome that it's criminal (or should be). Of course, my favorite George Clooney film is
O Brother, Where Art Thou
. Thanks to the Brothers Coen, his cheerful, chatty impersonation of Clark Gable is endearing and for my money the best thing he has ever done.
The long spell of belligerent weather has finally lifted, after days of sudden torrential rain squalls, violent thunderstorms and sweltering tropical temperatures. Despite air conditioning, which stood little chance against the humidity of making the apartment bearable, I was still having to take two and three cool showers a day. Still, I suppose we are better off than those in Europe (Bel? Claire? How are you faring with the oppressive heat wave you're experiencing?). The big news here has been the weather and, of course, The Blackout. We weren't affected in Massachusetts, but I think of the 100Worders who were.
The stain. It's there, just there, just beyond reasonable and reasoning sight. A stain, a spot, a blurring blotted lightless whole – irrevocable, irreconcilable, irredeemable. It edges outwards from its darkening center, from its anus, its rude beginning; moving shapelessly, shamelessly, expanding its ribs with a foul and fetid air; excoriating the innocent, untouched borders with its defiled touch. It moves in stealthy, silent millimeters. Claiming new territory. Converting the blameless. Tainting the light. I curl myself inwards and upwards, tighter and tighter, avoiding its savage clasp. Afraid to make a sound, that it will find me. Afraid to even…
My very first car was a white '65 Chevy Biscayne that I purchased for $50. Then came the '66 Dodge Coronet that felt like I was driving a tank (I loved that car). Next I learned to drive a stick shift in a three-speed Gremlin (David said it looked like I was driving a giant tan teacup). After the Gremlin came a sunshine-yellow VW Rabbit that exploded six weeks after I bought it, quickly followed by a Ford Escort, the worst piece of shit I ever owned. Then a Mitsubishi Mirage, and now an aubergine Gallant. Admit it, you're enthralled.
Because I was dating Kyan Douglas, one of the Fab 5 from
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
, I was able to pull a few strings and arrange a very special episode with a twist –
Queer Eye for the
. I've been saying for ages that if anybody on God's green earth required a makeover, it was Jesse Helms. Jesse's m.o. was to throw on a lamé gown and some pumps, thinking he was good to go. And his dildo-infested house really needed work. Kyan thought it was a great idea, and Jesse became the Fab 5's next victim.
Queer Guy 2.
When confronted with Jesse Helms, Carson (Queer Eye's fashion expert) quipped, "Oh honey, you look like a refugee from Tragikistan!" And when Thom, interior design expert, got a load of Jesse's house, dildos aplenty and some still dripping, he moaned, "This is more like a job for HAZMAT!" Ted, food and wine connoisseur, seemed genuinely frightened to go into Jesse's kitchen, but finally mustered the fortitude and marched resolutely through the swinging door. His subsequent screams still gives me nightmares. ‘Twas the huge jar of what I always believed to be spoiled mayonnaise that precipitated Ted's breakdown…
Queer Guy 3.
always interviews friends of the "victim" for the show, so we all got into the act.
Me: "A man of his age just shouldn't use body glitter. I hope they can explain that to him."
George W. Bush: "Jesse Helms. My gosh. I've showed him how I apply my make-up, but he won't listen. ‘We're not spackling here Jesse,' I tell him, but he loads it on anyway."
Pat Robertson: "You could fill the Hoover Dam with botox and it still wouldn't be enough to help Jess."
Jerry Falwell: "Semen is not a men's cologne!"
Queer Guy Finale.
Making over Jesse Helms was a mettle testing event for the Fab 5, but the results were astonishing. My boyfriend Kyan worked miracles with grooming – Jesse's pate had the sheen of a freshly polished pearl, and his usually mottled, neurasthenic complexion was replaced by a rosy, not-a-day-over-70 glow. In keeping with Jesse's tastes, Carson elegantly attired him in a slimming, full-length, black and white gown, with black slingbacks for shoes and a wee virginal white chapeau and tiny veil atop. If photographed in soft focus and even softer light, Jesse resembled Mae West on an estrogen binge.
The huge regret in my life is that I wasn't trained as a dancer. I always wished for the grace of Astaire, the athleticism of Gene Kelly or Russ Tamblyn, the tap dancing skills of the late Gregory Hines (what a sad loss), and the body of Barishnokov. Alas, I am what I am. That is to say, an uncoordinated goobertron. At last night's rehearsal for "I Love You... Now Change," the choreographer has the men, for one number, entering on the count of four, leaping backwards and twisting round on five, and landing on six in formation. Fat chance.
Disruptive, emotional weather yesterday. A shattering thunderstorm, frightening my Mom and the cats and me, erupted during the late afternoon, sending down violent lightning, hail the size of golf balls, and harsh, torrential rain. Our saving grace was that the storm passed quickly, terrorizing us for not more than fifteen minutes. The clouds swept onward and a dusky sun burst forth. I was reminded of the time ten years ago when a pine tree was struck by lightning in David's and my backyard, not twenty feet from the house. Scary? Yeah! On the upside, however, our backyard smelled Pine-Sol fresh.
I finally saw the film
today. It is a courageous piece of work, taking on not only some of the hypocrisies of the Catholic church, but its treatment of homosexuality as well. At the film's powerful, emotionally shattering climax , imbued with forgiveness and redemption and humanity at its shining best (along side humanity at its self-righteous, judgmental worst), I was copiously weeping. I can't recall a movie that had me wailing so extensively. I'm just relieved I didn't see this in the theatre. I can hear my companion now: "Butch it up, Mary, the lights are coming up…"
My bulked-up straight friend Jake came over yesterday to watch a couple of movies on DVD. I silently gasped when he walked through the door. His shaved head was wrapped in a blue bandana, a red tank top clung tenaciously to his muscular chest, and he had sausaged his lower extremities into olive-drab, camouflage fatigues, flaring his rump magnificently outwards and encasing his massive thighs with form-fitting integrity. He kicked off his sandals and strode barefoot towards the sofa, clutching the films
A Star is Born
(Judy Garland version). His favorites.
Regrettably iterated, Jake is straight. Unequivocally. Maddeningly.
I have only just begun the process of sending out résumés with the aim of resuming a life among the employed. Scold me heartily, if you must, for waiting so long, especially in these times, thanks to George Dubbya. But I believed a short sabbatical on my part was licensed and in order. Time to regroup, I thought, with a vague, short-sighted optimism. Instead, thanks to Netflix and TiVo, I'm turning into a night owled couch potato, sleeping luxuriantly late into the morning, living my life without the borders of work. It sings a wonderfully seductive aria, eerie and still.
Because of illness, June was a lost month to me, ergo no 100Words. I was more assiduous in July, until I began experiencing odd black outs. I was having coffee with my Mom and in mid-sentence I abruptly fainted. I came to in less than a minute, but the episode repeated itself twice more before my Mom called 911. I thought it was due to my head trauma in May, but the doctors initially focused on my heart. Ticker's thankfully okay. Experts were stumped. One guess is I experienced several mini-seizures, due to (what else?) my head trauma in May.
Leona and Beebe Minot were a diminutive couple and, due to a shared sensitivity of the teeth, drank beverages at room temperature only. But there was nothing sensitive nor diminutive about their fights, epic and raucous and – on one infamous occasion – felonious. Leona and Beebe activated one of their legendary battles in front of a visiting neighbor, Alma Hesketh, who attempted an intervention. The would-be peacemaker had her head ignominiously shoved into the oven, the pilot light set quickly to "high." Alma's heavily hair-sprayed coif exploded in a shiny rain of bobby pins, leaving third degree burns on her scalp.
A couple of years ago one of my cats was diagnosed with idiopathic feline megacolon (the "idiopathic" translates from med speak to "what the
"). Basically the motility of her colon is not as it should be, but she was responding fairly well to medication. However, her problem is back with a vengeance, so she has to undergo a colectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the paralyzed colon. It will be rather expensive, and a few heartless people have suggested that I should say "bye bye kitty" and put her down, but I'm not that irresponsible, nor so totally anthropocentric.
I used to be attracted to guys who were my age or older. But lately I'm noticing the guys I find physically attractive are in their thirties. Take a gander at Jeff Koyen's thirty-five year old mugshot, for instance. Is that not the face of a hottie?! It's a killer portrait of him, with those intense, mournful baby blues. Solving the puzzle in those eyes would be redemptive work. It brings out all my nurturing instincts. Incidentally, I have shared these thoughts with Jeff, so this will come as no surprise to him if he reads this entry. I hope.
I love the way a good book can take you outside of yourself, make you lose track of the time and of the space you're occupying. It is such a wonderful gift, to be able to give that to someone else, and I want it. I want to wield that power, to bestow that magic, that wills another person beyond their own scope and circumference. I often wish I could produce words of incredibly complex, powerful prose, filled with rich and dangerous imagery, and careful, inspirational nuance. Other times I would just be content to be a ripping good story-teller.
The Tip Jar