June 15, 2005

Sikander the Madman.

I've been running around like the proverbial headless chicken for the last three days. It's the chaos and confusion of moving a small business and ten years of accumulated clutter into a new office that's still full of its own clutter. To sum up: chaos, confusion, clutter, cluck.

The title of this entry comes from the excellent book I'm reading, Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra. (Do not read the Amazon review on that page, because it's full of horrendous plot spoilers. Really.) I've had the book on loan from my sister for several months now, but have been totally unable to read it because of the dazzlingly evocative title. I've glanced at it on the shelf, picked it up and considered the cover, then thought of five hundred pages of sticky heat and thick sucking mud and decided to read something a little lighter. I made myself start it in a park in Ashland over the weekend (sunny, not too warm, pleasantly dry) and realized it's been my loss.

It's a grand epic tale told by a monkey with a typewriter. No, I'm not kidding. It has chapters like "The Game of Cricket" and chapters like "Sikander Learns the Art of War". I'm forming the suspicion that they have more to do with each other than is immediately obvious, but so far I'm still being strung along in ignorance. "Be wily," the narrator monkey is told in the second chapter, "be twisty, be elaborate... Let us luxuriate in your curlicues." Damned if that isn't exactly what the furry bastard is doing.

Posted by dianna at June 15, 2005 12:17 PM

i own that book! i also look at the cover every so often and then put it back down. maybe next time i'm in ashland i'll start reading it too.

Posted by: michele at June 16, 2005 12:36 PM

Yes. You can only start it in Ashland, but it's well worth going and doing so.

Once you've started it in Ashland, any municipal park or living room sofa will be all right to continue reading it.

Posted by: Dianna at June 16, 2005 01:41 PM

ohboy! you're reading it!

i loved it, at any rate. and see? i didn't steer you wrong about the frogs' legs, neiver.

Posted by: katie at June 16, 2005 07:30 PM

Do you think that store in Chinatown sells vegan frog legs too? On little wooden sticks, maybe?

Posted by: Dianna at June 17, 2005 04:17 PM

I don't know and quite frankly I can't even think about it. Ever since The Day Of The Lotus (buns), those horrible fake-fish items have been sitting in the freezer, quietly grossing me and my DH out.

Did I mention that the DH and I have to move, BTW? I guess I'll be moving horrible little frozen fake pinky crab claws with me.

Posted by: katie at June 17, 2005 04:52 PM

What? Have to move why? Explain!

Geez, you never tell me anything. And if you don't want the horrible fake pinky crab claws, you can move them up to Berkeley and I will store them in my freezer until I work up the balls to try to eat them.

Posted by: Dianna at June 17, 2005 05:48 PM

Sorry, I've been living under a log.
Our landlords want their house back. Well, Mr. Man does. The other half of the couple is not very happy about it since (a) he's kicking all the renters out, including her mother; and (b) she wanted to go back to school but he only makes a fraction of what she does so she has to keep working to afford the mortgage if they toss us out. But she's caving in to him because their couples therapist told her to, so she's just been upstairs moping and looking into senior housing options to shove her mother into.
I'm just hiding.

Posted by: katie at June 17, 2005 06:20 PM

So, aside from the standard things which you'd be disappointed in me if I didn't say (she should get a new couples therapist, then fire the new couples therapist because she won't need one because she's dumping his ass anyway and leaving him with the damn mortgage and going to school and fucking living in student housing with her mother if that's what she wants to do)... aside from those things, I have to say, at the urging of my more cynical side, the following:

Is kicking out the twinkly mother-in-law an excuse for kicking out the surly grad students, or is kicking out the surly grad students an excuse for kicking out the twinkly mother-in-law?

Posted by: Dianna at June 17, 2005 07:13 PM

Ha. Well, according to the infamous therapist, they need to kick out everyone and have their own space. I am a huge fan of own space, especially for couples. If you can afford it, which they can't.

My DH thinks that we had to fall as an excuse to kick out the twinkly mother-in-law. I think it's actually that they want no renters at all. It's the Weber-Fechner effect all over again: the difference between 3 renters and 1 renter, vs the difference between any renters and zero renters. That said, I'm not thrilled about the expensive pain in the ass of moving, but I think it'll be good for the DH and me to get our own place, especially since he's out of the state for almost two months and I'm now planted right in the middle of family psychodrama.

Oh, and it's not the guy's entire fault for being kind of a controlling dick and trying to run everything with his penis, although he kind of is doing that, and it's part of why I'm not too sad to go (I'm realizing that I really do not like the way that heterosexual men approach sharing space, especially with women). I'm currently much more out of patience with her for refusing to push him or stand up to him about anything, and just griping behind his back. Interesting perspective check on this marriage: they've been married less time than M. and I have. And they've known each other less total time too. They're at some couples-therapy retreat this weekend. My bet says they'll either be divorced within two years, or they'll totally pull through and just do this codependent crap forever.

Posted by: katie at June 18, 2005 05:11 PM

I would beg to point out that most couples can afford some kind of own space, say, a 2-bedroom cottage in South Berkeley or an apartment next to the train tracks in El Cerrito. Couples who need their own space and have any doubt about their ability to afford things should probably not choose a spacious, multi-story 5-bedroom house in Santa Cruz as the space which they will then attempt to inhabit by themselves.

For instance, you and your DH will undoubtedly find a charming apartment somewhere which you will wisely choose to rent for an affordable monthly sum instead of purchasing for a million dollars, and then voila! You will have a modest collective space and presumably each a small individual space and no mortgages, and this will mark you both as considerably wiser in my eyes than the people whose spare rooms you are currently renting.

Jacob wants to know what you mean about heterosexual men sharing space. He elbowed me out of the way to ask. Okay, fine, he didn't, but he did ask.

Posted by: Dianna at June 20, 2005 09:36 AM

P.S. Start using your fucking blog already.

Posted by: Dianna at June 20, 2005 09:38 AM

Well, really the DH and I, because we are stuck in Santa Cruz (at least until we both finish our exams) are going to end up renting a ridiculously priced shitbox we can't possibly afford on grad-student budgets, because that's what there is here, but yes, otherwise, I think your point is spot-on, and at any rate we won't be buying a huge house on the aforementioned budget. Cute cottage in Berkeley! And it now does appear that the landlords are selling their dream house because they can't afford to keep it on their own. Sad, but unsurprising.

Oh dear. This was not intended as a blanket criticism of heterosexual men, although it is well-documented that I consistently prefer the company of gay men to that of anyone else in the world except my darling baby sister. And oh gosh, Jacob is utterly wonderful and totally not like this, and I generally think of him in the "Jacob" category and not the "straight man" category anyway.

But most of the straight men I've lived with have done all this little shit that's made me really uncomfortable. It's something paternalistic that reminds me uncomfortably of living with Dad, and makes me feel like I'm not being treated as an adult or an equal. I'd say it's mostly men of a certain age, except that there were a couple of guys who were my age who did it too - like one certain person back in college who would intone in his best Dad Voice, every time I or our delightful faggot housemate would pop out of a room for a moment, "Turn Off That Light." Or the other roommate after college who, when I had to communicate with our landlord about something, kept trying to dictate my letter to me because he didn't trust me to write it myself. Or my landlord's friend who stood right in front of me in the kitchen making jokes about my landlord's wife's "cherry" - fucking gross. These are just random petty examples from my list of resentments, but you know how easy it is to feel offended by little crap like this, esp. when it's frequent. There's been a sense that even when they're being nice, it's because they're coming from a position of generosity, not equality - be nice to the girl, because that's what nice guys do, and girls need that. Or, when the DH and I were interviewing potential third roommates for this place, the entire parade of straight men who would walk in, take one look at the two of us, and butch it up about five notches like they were trying to prove something to the faggot and the little girl. It bothered me mildly, but it made my DH feel pretty threatened. I guess, thinking about it, that it's just me, but I'm far more comfortable with the gay boys and the girls.

Posted by: katie at June 20, 2005 01:26 PM

hey wait, do I have a fucking blog already?

Posted by: katie at June 20, 2005 01:26 PM

Don't you? Do you? Geeeeeene!

Amusingly, I said the exact same thing to Jacob yesterday: when attempting to create a picture of the behavior of straight men I automatically exclude Jacob as part of a different category altogether. Honestly compels me to admit that in fact, I tend to exclude him from consideration of the behavior of men in general. Sorry, honey. You can have your balls back now if you want.

I was getting all ready to tell you I just don't know what you're talking about, none of the straight guys I've lived with have been like that, when I realized that I can only think of one straight guy that I've lived with and actually had any social interaction with (still barring Jacobette here). So basically all I can say is that since I never got a paternalistic-dick vibe from Andrew, I can't back you up on this. I can, however, say that I do know how easy it is to be offended by the most minor disrespect if it seems to be part of a larger pattern or personality. So that makes sense to me.

Heheh. It's kind of funny that the guys you were interviewing butched it up when they realized they were looking at living in Girlyville. As I recall, when Jacob and I were looking at male roommates for the upstairs apartment the second time around, as soon as we told them "this is a queer-friendly apartment" they mostly tried to be less butch. I haven't got a clue if that was intentional, but it was pretty cute.

Posted by: Dianna at June 20, 2005 02:06 PM

Yeah, I realized that Andrew didn't seem like that either. And Jacob, whose gender status (and possibly corporeal existence?) seem to be in question at this point, has the most delightful presence of any neutered wraith I can imagine. Perhaps, then, I can make my observations even more specific and less helpful by saying that, whereas I am a prickly bitch and I don't like being told what to do, and whereas I have apparently chosen badly in terms of who I've shared space with, and whereas some people act one way and other people act another way, and I have apparently shared space with the straight men who act the first way, therefore I should not have lived with those guys I should not have lived with.

But if I said that, then I wouldn't be making the kind of totally offensive, sexist, heterophobic assertions that I made a minute ago.

Besides, it's not that my gay housemates never tell me what to do. It's just that I don't take too much offense to being told things like, "Bitch, give me my sweater back right now," which is basically the only conflict that the DH and I have on a regular basis.

Posted by: katie at June 20, 2005 02:21 PM

Reading this is really, really bad for my secretarial demeanor. Can you be slightly less witty?

I don't blame your DH, though. He's got pretty damn good sweaters. You can't get to wear them all the time, even if they look cuter on you.

Posted by: Dianna at June 20, 2005 02:49 PM

Hey, don't you have a no smorking policy at work?

1. I am wearing all of his clothes for the next month, because he is in Wyoming and can't stop me. Hahahaaa! Thank god we have the same pants measurements, and that the blue Kawasaki sweater I have been eyeing forever is just my size.

2. I cannot believe you didn't call me on the phrase, "...in terms of who I've shared space with." Urgh!

3. Have you seen the new Batman movie yet? Fuckin' sweet. I might see it again tonight.

Unless. Unless....you want to go to a movie Fri or Sat when I come visit?

Posted by: katie at June 20, 2005 03:19 PM

We DO have a no smorking policy! Or at the very least I'm expected to go outside to smork, but you have a way of making that difficult!

1. In that case, I want to take possession of your black sneakers that you offered to loan me last time I was in Santa Cruz. Not that you can wear your DH's shoes, but if you get to borrow stuff I want to borrow stuff too. What's he doing in Wyoming?

2. I didn't call you on that because I'd just gotten away with "...one straight guy that I've lived with and actually had any social interaction with." Relief overcame my usual policing instincts.

3. I haven't seen it yet! I want to! Jacobina wants to also! Should we go have Ethiopian food and see Batman? Friday? And then maybe on Saturday you could drag me along by my ear to Thrift Town and I could bemoan and protest all the way there and then go nuts over $2 shirts even though it's not like I want to?

Posted by: Dianna at June 20, 2005 03:29 PM

1. They're the black ones that are like your brown ones, right? I'll bring 'em. I'll bring 'em in my DH's car, as a matter of fact, because I'm borrowing that too. I've been relearning how to drive a stick. It's been fun lurching around town. I want a sign for the top of the car, for the benefit of the tourists, that says: I REALLY DO LIVE HERE AND I REALLY DO KNOW HOW TO DRIVE. SORT OF.

2. I can't write at all anymore. I've been trying all afternoon to fix this part of my disaster - I mean paper - where I'm trying to talk about the iconic rebutchification of the character Shane, who has been more contested on the level of aspect than affect. What? And I can't get it below 17 minutes. I'm screwed.

3. We 3 girls should totally go see Batman. Totally. I will try really hard not to see it again between now and then, maybe. The plot is not what I expected; I quite like it. Christian Bale is an excellent Bruce Wayne. The gadgets are cool. And Cillian Murphy is a more delicious Dr Jonathan Crane than I could possibly have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Actually, my wildest dreams are often the ones where I'm a bee and the big pink flower is threatening to envelop me, or where I'm hiding in the library from someone who claims to be my kid and needs her diaper changed. So that doesn't really say much about Batman at all.

Posted by: katie at June 20, 2005 03:58 PM

Uh huh. You're a bee, and the big pink flower is threatening to envelop you. Nice example for a conversation in which people's genders and sexual orientations are in question.

Posted by: Dianna at June 20, 2005 04:08 PM

Oh yes indeed. Hey, Pat Califia has built a whole career on going from being a lesbian who likes fisting gay men to being a gay man who likes femme women. Er.

At any rate, it's sure convenient that I don't believe in psychoanalysis. Or possibly gender or sexuality. Especially since my official Tranny Crush Scoreboard now registers 1 FTM and 2 MTFs.

Posted by: katie at June 20, 2005 04:25 PM

You, too? I shouldn't be surprised. I do kind of wonder what there could possibly have been in our upbringing to give us both the genderfuck fetish.

Want to hear a good reason to live in Minneapolis? Dykes Do Drag. Check out these fucking pictures.

Posted by: Dianna at June 20, 2005 05:46 PM

Smokin' hot. To quote from Bartok in Anastasia, which I just Netflix'd, "Wow. I tell you what, wow."

I'm frequently frustrated by my inability to explain to people why genderfuck is so hot. And, for that matter, why I am so damn attracted to queeny girly pretty boys and hot butchy toughy girls. I really like pretty boys from the neck up, mostly. I really like girls who look like pretty boys from the neck up and have the added bonus of being girls from the neck down. I like the men's section at Macy's and can't really go into the womens' section anymore. I'm thrilled that years of buying shirts and ties for dad has actually given me a great lens into how I like to dress myself, including the gorgeous robin's-egg shirt and sepia tie combo I just very stupidly splurged on for my conference.

I also find it funny that my DH, for being delightfully queer in so many other ways, can be in some ways so rigid about gender and sexual orientation and shit. He's working on it, but he's still a traditionalist: straight men are all "he" and gay boys and women are all "she." Bisexuality is what you tell your friends in high school until you're ready to come out. Hot men = musclebound rough trade, and girls are boring unless they're your friends or Julianne Moore. His gay best-friend-since-kindergarten and his lesbian roommate sometimes shower together, a discovery which so unhinged the DH that for weeks he would sprint into the bathroom and lock the door behind him if I was home, while I sat in my room laughing at him. (Okay, I'm slightly exaggerating.) I think he found it slightly perplexing at our Pride, when the flaming-gay guy he's seeing and I walked around together all day gushing in complete agreement about who we found hot. J. kept pointing out butchy girls to me: "Oh my god, if you don't fuck her I will!" He got all giggly around this one girl I've had a crush on forever. And I kept pointing out gay-as-hell queeny boys to him: "Holy crap, couldn't you just eat him in one bite?" And the DH mostly followed along in his own little adorable world.

Posted by: katie at June 20, 2005 08:37 PM