Wednesday, August 31, 2005

lurking in the depths of suburbia...

Tomorrow night, hopefully Anna and I are going to go here Carol Queen speak about sexual freedom and read some of her own writing. The event is going to be at the Leather Archives and Museum, which is oddly enough about a block away from our house, on the corner of a residential street. We could almost see it if we stood in front of our house. It's fairly nondescript, without even the full name on the outside; the only clue as to its contents are two flags outside with big black boots drawn on them. I'm slightly skeptical that it's actually happeneing, since I can't find any listings on any pertinent websites and I only heard about it a few days ago in a listserv email from Chicago's feminist sex-store, Early2Bed. The talk is supposed to be a whopping $25 donation, so I'm hoping they will let us in for five or ten dollars since that's all we can really afford. I guess if they won't at least it's a short walk home.

we knew it all along

This is from Lauren's blog. I agree with her, I feel totally validated in my bad habit :-)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

you know what they say about the size of a man's mustache...

Things have been going much more smoothly since we stopped picking up furniture all the time. Thank god! Went to a drag show on Friday night, the first one we've seen since the random show in Kent, WA. They cost $5 before 10 and $8 after, and the shows don't begin until at least 11:15 usually, and since we're cheap we were sitting there for quite a while. However... Izzie Big, one of the co-founders and the MC for the show, came over to ask us if we wanted to go get 'transformed' (have fake facial hair put on) and we ended up talking to him for a long time, at least twenty minutes and maybe more. We talked about drag king techniques of facial hair, binding, and packing, and about how much things vary in different places in the country. For instance, Minneapolis has like 5 drag troupes while there are places like Seattle (where I would expect lots of public genderplay) that don't have any. And presentations and handling of gender are radically different depending on where you are and who's playing. Not surprising, but it was cool to hear such an experienced and well-known/traveled king talk about it. We also talked about the disbanding of the troupe, and he explained that people would still be doing stuff, and that there would likely be at least two more shows that were mostly them. Eased my mind a lot, knowing that there would still be activity, and anyway he said he felt like people were maybe becoming blase in Chicago, so maybe this will shake things up a bit.
We did end up getting transformed; Anna got what she called "a little gay mustache" like Charlie Chaplin and a little beard, and I got huge-ass sideburns. I got a lot of compliments, which was pretty funny.
Last night we tried to go to a queer political burlesque show, but failed miserably. When we got there, I swear there was a line around the block. We ended up going to a bar and playing Scattergories instead. Alas, my burlesque education will have to wait for another show.

Friday, August 26, 2005

the buffalo upstairs

The people in the apartment above us (three college girls) stay up until at least 2 every night, apparently constantly running back and forth and dropping thing and sometimes falling down. At least that's what it sounds like. The apartments are set up so that their living room is directly over our bedroom, and they kept us up last night for about hours after we went to bed. They also watched Dirty Dancing, I could hear it right through the floor. What do you do about something like this? We can't tell them to be immobile after midnight, but they are so damn loud it's amazing.
In other news... We went to the free day at the art institute on Tuesday, which was really fun. It's much nicer when you haven't paid $7, because you can relax instead of feeling like you have to see everything all at once. We are pretty much furnished, although we still need a dresser and coffee table maybe, and some end tables for the bedroom. That's about all, really. Things are calming down.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Why do people ever move? It's such a terrible experience. I generally dislike packing, and I'm not a big fan of unpacking either; it never seems like I have enough drawers or surfaces to put all of my crap. And this move is worse than normal, since this is the first time I'm moving into an unfurnished apartment and I own hardly any furniture to speak of. We've spent most of the last two days shopping, picking up furniture, lifting heavy objects, and steeping carefully around the twenty or so boxes and bags in our living room.
There are a few good things, of course. My biceps are awesome right now from all the lifting. We got a whole kitchen table with six chairs, as well as a super comfy armchair with matching ottoman, all for free! Craigslist is the bomb. We're waiting for word back on other things, too, like filing cabinets and dressers and such. We also bought a cool lamp for $10 today, with four snakey heads with colored collars on the ends in blue, red, yellow and white. Very funky.
However, right now I'm super sad because the Chicago Kings, our drag king troupe, is apparently disbanding. They are still doing the monthly shows where people do individual or small group acts, but the big group productions are stopping. It's sad; that's what this troupe is kind of known for, and they are astonishingly good at it. When they all perform together, it's awesome. Anyway, I'm bummed.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

back in the saddle

After another few days of power driving, we're finally in Chicago. We stopped for about 4 days in Moriarty, NM, visiting Anna's family and helping her mom set up things in her new bead store that's opening at the end of the month. It was pretty quite, all in all, but nice. I made a bunch of jewelery, and we played with the three kittens. Their names are either Felix, Callie and Fluffybutt or Felix, Missy and Cissy, depending on who you ask. Anna insists that Missy and Cissy sound like redneck southerners and holds out for Fluffybutt and Callie.
Finally, we took off two days ago and drove from Moriarty to Kansas City, Kansas. We crossed New Mexico, a piece of Texas (smelled like cowshit and looked like a desolate wasteland), went across the Oklahome panhandle (about the same) and then through Kansas (very flat). We stopped in Liberal to see the Dorothy house and the Land of Oz, but it turned out to just be a replica of the movie house fell of stuff from the time period. Kind of misleading, if you ask me. The next day, we drove across Missouri and Illinois, arriving here around sundown. We drove right down Lakeshore Drive, past the lights of downtown and the vast oceanlike expanse of lake. It was a nice reminder of the city, how it has its perks as well as its detractions.
Our apartment is really kind of funny. I still like it, but it's definitely not exactly like I remember it. It has weird-shaped rooms, lightswitches in strange and inconvenient places (like behind the bathroom door and between the fridge and the wall) and windows in odd spots (most notably the closet and on an interior wall between the bedroom and our "office"). It reminds me of the house on 10th street, with all of its quirky details like the window to nowhere in the kitchen and the bullethole in the back bedroom window. We picked up all of my old stuff today, and we went grocery shopping. Gah, tomorrow I'll have to start unpacking.

Friday, August 12, 2005

pleasantness is the machismo of the midwest

Here is a list of books that I have read this past week because no one I know lives here anymore:
Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros (This was great; it reminded me at times of One Hundred Years of Solitude, detailing a whole family history lovingly but without ommitting things. It made me wish that I could truly experience all these other ways of life that are so far away from my own.)
Woman Hollering Creek also by Sandra Cisneros (I overdid it on her a bit, I think. But stilla wonderful book.)
Harry Potter and the Half-Bood Prince (What can I say? I've read all the others, I might as well finish.)
Like Life by Lorrie Moore (Great short stories, I also loved Birds of America. She'll make you laugh but she will also depress the hell out of you)
The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places by Gary Nabhan and Steven Trimble (Essays on the authors' childhood experiences with nature, those of their own children, and more theoretical looks at the ways children experience and learn and thrive from even the most mundane of natural experiences, from actual day-to-day contact with wilderness to simply owning a dog or cat.)
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (I cried and cried, but what a complete chronical of grief! It deals with the aftermath of a family whose child has been murdered, from the perspective of the child up in heaven. It is a lovely book in many ways, but it tore my heart out.)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronical by Haruki Murakami (The first book I've read by him. I'm not sure if it's culturally stylistic or due to translation or just his way of writing, but rarely have I read such a meticulously detailed book. It reminded me of those old video games where all that happens is the entire scene around you is described and you type in carefully worded actions to be carried out. I was fascinated by this book, and really enjoyed it, but the ending did very little for me. Kind of like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, it's more about the bulk of the book than the ending. Sadly perhaps, I place too much emphasis on a satisfying ending, so I end up not liking books that end poorly as much.)

I'm off to get my last tooth filled, and then tomorrow (or possibly Sunday morning) it's off to Albuquerque!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

i'm all about a forked tongue and a dirty house

I just had three teeth filled. First, the novocaine shots made the entire right half of my head numb, so I actually can't blink my eye because the lower lid has no muscle control. This is painful, especially if there is any sort of air blowing on the exposed bottom lid. Then, the lower tooth wouldn't go numb, so I must have gotten about ten shots in that gum. When they drilled, it hurt so much and I started shaking and crying. God, I'm a wimp, but it's such a disarming pain. It isn't like cutting yourself. It takes away all of my strength. So now I look like Quasimodo, I can't move half of my face or blink, and it will probably take forever to wear off because I had so much more anaesthetic than normal. What a sucky day.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

just call me catwoman

I was having coffee with my friend Emily today when I remembered a strange dream I had when I was in Denali. In the dream, I was Michelle Pfeiffer, and I got killed in a plane crash in Anchorage and then postumously (for something I wrote after I died, as a ghost) won the Pulitzer Prize. Things like that, I just have to wonder what they mean :-)
It's rainy here, and all the people who I thought would be in town aren't so I'm pretty lonely. My family's also in Phoenix for the day to see a baseball game, so my plans for the evening are to cook an honest-to-god vegan meal for myself and maybe watch Evita on tv. Or just read, if I can find anything to hold my attention. I just finished The Wind-Up Bird Chronical by Haruki Murakami, which I loved almost to the ending, which left me feeling profoundly unsatisfied. I'm not sure if that is just because of the way the book is or because I don't read critically enough with fiction and missed some astounding connection or something, but it put a major damper over my enjoyment of the rest of the novel. I hate it when that happens.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

a vacation in denial, pt. 2

The day after Wonder Lake, Anna and I went back to Stony Dome to catch a picture of Denali out in full sunlight and then caught a bus all the way back to the entrance. We were on a lucky bus; they had apparently seen the wolves chase a caribou and a caribou calf earlier, and while we were on the bus we saw several bears and a crapload of caribou. One bear walked right past our window as we all sat inside and took zillions of pictures, and we also saw a mother and cub, very cute. I almost got whacked on the head by an over-zealous elderly man with a very large zoom lens (we all made a lot of phallic comments about this) during the bear-by-the-window encounter. By the end of that ride, we were both so annoyed by the other people on the bus, who would make us stop for ten minutes every time we saw a caribou grazing in the distance.
At the entrance, we drove to meet Erica and co. at a pizza place, and then we all headed over to the Salmon Bake (a bar/reataurant/club thing) to see a bluegrass band from Colorado. We slept at Jeff's cabin that night, then I drove all the way back to Toklat the next day using Erica's road pass. That was exciting, mostly because it takes about 3 or 4 hours and involves some very high mountains that are a little scary. We spent most of the rest of our stay taking walks and talking to Erica, plus one well-deserved day of mostly just reading at the end before we left.
I wish in some ways that we had done more, been more adventurous with our hiking or gotten out more or something, but mostly I feel like we did what we could with our time and energy. We didn't see the wolves, which I wish we had, but it's not like wildlife just appears at your beck and call. Mostly, I just enjoyed the beauty of the place, and I am so glad that we got to experience it in a kind of behind-the-scenes sort of way, so that we could be a little more than all the people who travel there and ride a bus for 8 hours and never get out and say to their friends that they've seen Denali.
The drive back was mostly uneventful: we missed a campsite by 8 minutes one night after driving 800 miles and had to sleep in a motel, and the next night we slept in the car because it was raining and we were too tired to deal with the tent one more time. Montana is beautiful, and I think that of all the places we visited I might like it best there, in someplace like Bozeman. It's beautiful. We went to Yellowstone for a night and part of a day, and hiked a little bit and saw old faithful and some wildlife. We watched a herd of buffalo cross the road right in front of us, eventually scaring a bunch of stupid tourists who had gotten out to take pictures despite many warnings about the danger, before crossing the Yellowstone river. It was beautiful and cool, but there were too many people. There are gas stations inside the park. For some reason that really bothers me, and I feel a little more in sympathy with Edward Abbey.
But now I'm home, the adventures over and no one to tell. We found an apartment in Chicago and have already signed a lease, and we're setting out in about two weeks. I guess that's where the journey will really end, for now.

bits and pieces

Here is Erica's advice on wildlife, delivered shortly after we got to Denali:
If you see a bear and it doesn't see you, walk around it or away. If it sees you, wave your arms over your head and say "Hey bear!" loudly. It might false rush you (!), but stand your ground. If "contact is imminent," curl up in a fetal position. Don't ever run away.
If a moose runs at you, run away. They don't false rush.
A caribou is just silly. It might hit you with a hoof or something as it tryto run away, but they aren't dangerous.
You could probably poke a dall sheep in the eye with a pencil as long as you moved slowly. They'll run away if you move like a wolf (I have no idea how to do that anyway).

I have found meat in my food three times in the past month, once in a truck stop outside of Portland (undefinable bit of something), once at a creepy roadside cafe in Canada (big chunk of sausage) and once at the Blue Willow in Tucson (ham, in the tofu scramble!). In the three years I've been a vegetarian, that's never happened to me before even once.

On the road back down from Alaska, I saw a truck full of pigs. What came out of my mouth was, "Is them pigs?" I was so shocked that that could come out of my mouth. It may be the most gramatically incorrect thing I've ever said.

a vacation in denial, pt. 1

After five weeks and over 10,000 miles, we finally reached Arizona again. We got to Flagstaff on Sunday, went to Tucson on Monday, I spent the day there yesterday and today I drove back to Flagstaff by myself. So anyway, now I finally have a bit of time to chronical a bit more of our journies.
After our day in Vancouver, we set out north through Canada. We drove for two relatively miserable days, alternately full or road construction or overly-curvy roads or really hard rain, making only about 500 miles each night. The third day, though, was beautiful. We passed by Lake Kluane, which I swear is the most beautiful color of blue I have ever seen. The rain slowed, and we spent the night in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon, which is actually large-ish and has a grocery store and everything! The next day, we drove through Watson Lake, which has an awesome signpost forest ( and I believe we made it all the way to Fairbanks. The next morning was chilly and grey as we set out for Denali, hoping for no good reason that we would be able to locate a way, preferably free, to find Erica out at Toklat, which is mile 53 on the park road.
Luckily, after some blundering around and ascertaining that Erica's "friend" Jeff would be driving a bus at 4, we ran directly into Erica at the entrance bookstore. I think we scared her a little, since we arrived fairly early (by a few days). We rode Jeff's bus out with her, and set up in the loft in her house.
The park is so beautiful. Even that day, with all it's rain and low clouds, it was really awesome. You can't drive, ususally, so everybody rides these big buses out to wherever and back on a windy dirt 1-and-1/2 lane road. We were really concerned about the cold, because we weren't really prepared for rain and cold. Silly us, not realizing that July is the rainy season! Anyway, the next day it began clearing up, and it was in fact beautiful and mostly-to-entirely clear for the rest of our trip.
Our second day there, we got on a bus at Toklat and rode out to "Fish Creek," which is really a branch of the Little Stony Creek but the park service thought people would get angry that they couldn't see Big Stony Creek or some such crap. Anyway, we rode out, and then got off the bus at a place called Stony Dome and hiked for a bit. Denali also has very few trails; mostly you just kind of walk around on your own and make a lot of noise so bears don't get startled by you. It was a really nice hike, tundra is so cool to walk in! It's like a big weird sponge that your feet sink into, sometimes up to the ankles, and then you kind of bloomp back out. We came back and walked until a bus picked us up. That night two more Tucson people, Patty and Pam, came into the park and we all rode in a park service van (with Erica driving!!!) to the end of the road, Wonder Lake. Beautiful, but very mosquito-y. We drank wine and picked wild blueberries and watched as Denali (the real name of Mt. McKinley) came almost out of the clouds. We started driving back at 11 in the almost-twilight that never entirely went away while we were there.
Whew! I'm tired of typing. I'll write more later. I still have the rest of Denali, the trip down, and Yellowstone.