March 29, 2007

Haven't seen you in ages, but it's not as bleak as it seems.

I had the most amazing conversation today.

The payroll department: It's payday! Yay! We've just put a lot of money into your bank account.
My credit union: You have three dollars and twenty-two cents.
Me: Payroll department, are you sure you put a lot of money into my bank account?
Payroll department: By golly, yes! Lots of money!
Credit union: You have three dollars and twenty-two cents.
Me: Okay, I've got work to do. You guys figure this out.


Me: Hey, credit union, how about it?
Credit union: You have three dollars and twenty-two cents.
Cingular: How would you feel about paying us a bunch of money? There's no time like the present, you know.
Federal government: Congratulations on your recent graduation and perhaps now would be a good time to think about paying back your loans? For your convenience we have helped ourselves to some dollars which were just laying around in your bank account and we didn't think you were using them.
Payroll department: Here is your lots of money! This time we promise!
Credit union: You have three dollars and twenty-two cents.

Various financial entities: We do suspicious things with your money in the dark while you're not looking.
Me: But I want to buy tomatoes and art supplies and t-shirts and eat food with my beloved sister and pay off my IOUs to my friends.
Payroll department: We think that tomorrow might be a nice day for lots of money. If not, we are closed tomorrow please don't ask us any questionshaveaniceweekend.

Evidently my credit union, which has managed to deal responsibly with every other direct deposit transaction the library has thrown at it, has decided this time to pick up my paycheck, look wildly left and right, and then heave itself up out of the ground and run away to Mexico, cackling and leaving mahogany desks and tasteful potted plants strewn in the road behind it. At least, this is the impression given me by the library payroll department, which insisted indignantly all day that it had already seen my money safely to its door, kissed it chastely on the cheek, and driven off with a clear conscience. There's not a whole hell of a lot I can do about it -- I spent today alternating between going over to payroll myself and sending my boss to plead on my behalf, and all it got me was a stack of my department's other employees' paychecks handed to me to deliver if you wouldn't mind, thank you, don't worry about your own paycheck it's already in your account, now get out of here. Sigh.

After work I accepted an invitation to eat with a couple of my co-workers, one of whom, having heard me beating my head against my desk all day, kindly offered to buy my dinner. The gesture was generous and the food lovely, but at the end of it my sponsor found himself short on cash looking at a cash-only bill. The day was saved by my last five bucks leaping out of my wallet and onto the table, leaving me pleasantly full of parathas but considerably poorer than if I hadn't been treated to dinner in the first place.

It's a day of strange paradoxes. Tomorrow, I predict, will be a bit like Christmas, as Dianna springs from her bed and runs to open her [presents/bank account website]. Will it be toys? Candy? Horrible sweaters from Aunt Marge? I don't know how I'll ever sleep tonight with this suspense.

Posted by dianna at 08:58 PM

March 28, 2007

I'll be post-punk in the post-establishment.

I've got nothing to follow that up with, really. I just wanted to use it.

My house doesn't have regular dinners this week because it's spring break for UCB, and the polite fiction that the co-ops are not affiliated with any university in particular tends to break down around these times. Since I'm still in a state of temporary penury after a mathematical accident earlier in the month, I've been scrounging for workable meals around the house instead of going out to eat. What do you get when you force Dianna to cook creatively? Say it with me now: fucking deliciousness.

Last night was a work of staggering genius I like to call, "If I Were Winging It Any More This Soup Would Be Airborne." It's what happens when I decide to make Thai coconut-lemongrass soup but then realize that I'm lacking lemongrass, galangal, mushrooms, cilantro, and the recipe. I actually had the relevant cookbook, but it was in my room at the bottom of a large stack of books and I decided to forgo it and just pretend I knew what I was doing. So I mixed up some veggie broth and let it simmer with some sliced leeks, ginger, peppercorns, and a sliced half-lime while I dicked around cutting up other vegetables. The finished product had tofu, carrots, onions, the aforementioned leeks (although not the lime slices because I fished them out after 30 minutes or so), a few chunks of green bell pepper, red pepper flakes, a bit more lime juice and an absolute crapload of coconut milk. And it was amazing. A visitor from another co-op who found himself sitting near a bowl of it interrupted himself in the middle of a conversation to remark in wondering tones that it looked quite lovely (and yes I offered him some, but he had just eaten).

I brought some to work this afternoon for Wes, who's back after an incredibly unpleasant post-surgery weekend. Generous higher-ups in our department bought a ridiculous amount of pizza today as a thank-you lunch gesture for the people working over spring break, and while Wes and I didn't want to rain tiny vegan tears on their parade we couldn't help pouting just a little. So when I went home for lunch I inhaled a bowl of the leftover soup and smuggled the rest into the library in a big Tupperware. Why am I telling you this? So that I can brag about how the tangy, spicy smell brought our omnivore employees over to the supervisor desk to make small hopeful noises and stare with saucer eyes at Wes's bowl.

I've realized that my diet requires, above all else, one particular kind of motivational fuel. It's not moral outrage, although I have plenty of that. It has nothing to do with my health or the pleasant view from aboard my high horse. It's actually the thrill of creating the transcendent, tempting, ultimately irresistible meal, and going out and daring people to resist it.

I'm convinced that you get more thrill for your money when you're cooking vegan, though I'm not wholly sure why. Perhaps the ingredients are more subtle, more temperamental. Perhaps the flavor combinations require more finesse. Perhaps it's the difficulty of convincing people who think of meat and dairy as their staples to be full and happy after eating something vegan, which makes a meal that does so a matter for the Office of Happy Glows. And, of course, there's the fact that my present level of cooking skill has been acquired almost entirely since I went vegan, so that I don't have nearly the dazzling chops for cooking meat and dairy as I do for cooking vegetables.

In short, if I make it a point every week or so to engage in a dervish dance of ecstatic culinary self-expression, share my creations with others, and back in their enjoyment and admiration, I can probably spend the rest of my life as the world's most gleeful and self-satisfied vegan. If I don't do that, I'll spend the next two years crying in my room over lost fondue opportunities and then give up and start eating dairy again. I know which one sounds better to me, and I suggest you keep a fork and plate on hand and make a note of my address. In the long run, it can't fail to benefit you.

Posted by dianna at 02:43 PM

March 25, 2007


I now understand why my sister has had short hair for pretty much her entire adult life. I woke up this morning feeling blah, and didn't get my usual Sunday ego boost of people complimenting my brunch because my cooking partner talked both the workshift manager and myself out of having brunch at all. So I grabbed the clippers and went back and bzzzed off the only hair on my head in excess of an inch, which was the weird zone of 8-inch bangs that I'd been too scared to cut off. (While clipping I repeated to myself, "in the name of the beanie, the hoodie, and the holy head-rub" to exorcise the demons of follicular doubt.) And now, seeing as it's fucking freezing in my house, I can put warm things on my head without winding up with only part of my hair looking goofy*.

*By which I mean, now my entire head will look goofy. Which is, ironically, much less goofy-looking than incomplete goofiness.

Kingmanites: you must now try rubbing my head. It's so much fun that the Kentucky state legislature is already discussing a bill to ban it.

Others: speculate and be afraid.

Katie: when are you coming to visit when when when?

Posted by dianna at 01:24 PM

March 21, 2007

The grumpy feminist weekly reader.

I'm just realizing I had a whole ton of posts planned that I never actually made, including the grumpy feminist lyrics review and that whole modesty thing. Ah, well, no time for that now. I have a story to inspire and a story to distress. Which you do you want first?

Too bad. In defiance of all convention I'm going to give you the story to inspire first.

It comes to me via a Feministing post, but the story is here, at SFGate. A man on a date at a bar in Noe Valley slipped sleeping pills into his date's drink, and the waitress and bartender together took the drink away, warned the woman, stopped the dude from taking her home, and called the cops on his ass. Read the story. I can only hope that if I were in their shoes I'd have had the presence of mind to handle it as well as they did, and not, for instance, scream out in the middle of the bar, "Oh my god! He's trying to drug you!" and cause the whole bar to erupt in panic while the dude in question smooth-talked his date into believing it was someone else and coming home with him anyway.

The downside to the story is that after almost two years the man finally got a minor narcotics conviction with no mention of attempted rape or what basically amounts to poisoning. He gets six months in jail and won't be registered as a sex offender. Eh, so it goes. On the other hand, this woman wasn't taken home and assaulted under sedation, which is bloody excellent. I kind of want to go to that bar now and tip the bartender and waitress some ludicrous amount of money, while keeping in mind that you can't put a price on someone's personal safety and they obviously didn't do it for any kind of reward blah blah blah. Still.

Now the one that's pissing me the hell off and terrifying me at the same time, and all this from something that's never made a headline. Cast your mind back a few weeks, to a picture I posted of myself and a co-worker at a silly themed costume party. Fix your mind (though perhaps not your eyes if you have delicate sensibilities, given the costumes) upon the fellow in the picture, my 21-year-old co-worker Wes. Okay? He got jumped and beaten up by a couple of strangers last week, on a wide-open street in Berkeley a few blocks from his apartment. "Mugged" isn't the right word -- they took his cell phone as an afterthought, but only after spending several quality minutes holding him down on the ground and kicking him in the face. They never asked for, or tried to take, his wallet or anything in it.

I know, I know, it was the middle of the night on an empty side street way down in South Berkeley and he got too close to a whole gang of sketchy dudes, blah, blah, never happen to me, I'm careful, blah. Except that actually it was 10:00 in the evening in the middle of Southside and he walked past two high-school kids who whipped around and clocked him in the head and then went from there, just in case it matters where someone is at what time when they get beat up for no reason, which it doesn't. Still: we operate under the assumption that our picturesque campus is surrounded by an idyllic buffer zone of collegiate goodwill and perfect safety. It is in fact not. This is a problem.

What's also a problem is that, well, look at the picture again. Wes isn't exactly buffed out. Actually, he's a scrawny vegan who pretty much disappears when he turns sideways. So who the fuck, in their right mind, would walk past this skinny dude and think, "You know, it's really essential that I put this guy out of commission right now."? Nobody. Somebody who makes a priority of proving his stupid fucking machismo by beating up easy targets. This kind of somebody is not a commodity that I'm pleased to find in any part of my charming city, thank you very much. I happen to be an easy target myself, a fact of which I'm quite unpleasantly aware. I too am a scrawny vegan, lacking any extraordinary powers of flight or self-defense, and I keep an odd schedule which has me walking home late and alone two nights a week. What's more, I'm guilty of that ultimate error in judgement, being female after dark (as much as I would love to grow a penis and some decent muscles every evening at sunset, so far it's failed to happen). And what do people who fuck up other people for an ego boost do to women? Pat them on the hand and buy them a lemonade, of course. We all know that.

To return to Wes for a wrap-up here, because while this is disturbing for its implied threat to others it's also disturbing for the simple fact that one of my friends is hurt, he's had to cancel his spring break plans so that he can have surgery tomorrow to un-collapse his badly broken nose. He's been in and out of work all week trying to make doctor's appointments, in between midterms and without the benefit of a phone (because, remember, his was stolen). Today he got orders to stay at home and recuperate through the beginning of next week, which had him sighing. "I need to work more hours," he said, flipping through next week's work schedule, "so I can pay all these medical bills."

Think about that statement for a minute. Think really hard about it. I think it may actually be the most fucked-up thing I've heard in a really long time.

Posted by dianna at 11:36 PM

March 20, 2007

Let sleeping dogs lion.

I may have already been a bit giggly when I found this, because I'd been reading through old Questionable Content strips for at least fifteen minutes and they tend to have that effect on me. But that doesn't in any way invalidate the fact that this particular strip made me smork more than the national average of smork-inducing things. I recommend trying it in conjunction with this random proverb generator. Examples:

  • Penny wise, lion foolish.
  • It's the calm after the lion.
  • A friend in lion is a friend indeed.
  • Two wrongs don't make a lion.
  • Don't put all your eggs in one lion.
  • Where there's a lion there's a way.
  • Too many lions spoil the broth.
  • April showers bring May lions.
  • Live and let lion.
  • You can't make an omelette without breaking lions.


Posted by dianna at 09:10 PM

And if you're not mine, well, that's just fine.

I woke up this morning with a completely spontaneous faux-hawk. This is a 100% improvement over how I'm used to waking up, with one side of my hair sticking out and the other side plastered uncutely to my head. It unhawked itself as soon as I got in the shower, but I got to spend a few quality minutes making sleepy yet very hardcore angry punk faces at myself in the mirror.

I may never grow my hair out past an inch again. This is so much fun it's probably illegal in at least ten states.

Posted by dianna at 03:33 PM

March 18, 2007

One finger parallel to the sky*.

Things that I have today that make me happy:

  1. A beautiful spring day which is probably so nice as to be illegal.
  2. No homework and, unlike yesterday, no workwork either.
  3. A bus pass purchased on the black market from my co-worker, for going anywhere I damn well please.
  4. Extremely short, sticky-out hair (but not a camera, so too bad, suckers).
  5. The Complete Sherlock Holmes.
  6. Pumpkin bread.
  7. A very nice regional park just up the hill.
  8. Sunshine everywhere I look.
  9. Nothing better to do than use #3 to take myself and my #4-6 up to #7 to lay in the #8 and appreciate the #1.

Sometimes I fantasize that I have readers in Minnesota who pore over my posts and sigh and stare gloomily out their windows at skies full of snow and rain. Then I realize that even if I lived in Minnesota I could probably find better things to do than read my blog.

*This line makes no sense. The sky isn't planar. It's a diffuse mass in three dimensions. Even if you take the view that it's more or less a hollow sphere which appears from ground level to be suspended parallel to the ground, then a) parallel to the sky could be more clearly expressed as parallel to the ground and b) that's like finger mustache position. I harbor suspicions that what the songwriter meant to say was something more like one finger pointing toward the sky. Perpendicular to the way it appears to be facing, that kind of thing. But it lacks a certain lyrical something.

Posted by dianna at 12:57 PM

March 14, 2007

By popular* demand part 2: the hummus recipe you've been waiting for.

  1. Soak some garbanzo beans. My method is to select the size of container I'd like to fill with hummus, and fill it halfway with dry garbanzos. Add cold water to the top of the container, and let it sit 8-12 hours (say, from lunchtime to after dinner). You can skip this entire step by using canned beans.
  2. Drain the now-enormous beans and put them in a big pot with water up to about 3 inches above the top of the beans. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and cover. Simmer gently! for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Go and goof off, or do what I did the other week and make fudge while you're waiting.
  3. Peel some garlic and mince well. 2-3 cloves is good for a small batch, up to a head or more if you're making a gallon of hummus. Can I recommend that you make a gallon of hummus? It's a really nice feeling.
  4. When the beans are ridiculously soft, take them off the stove, pour off the cooking water, and save it. Easy trick: stand up a cup inside a colander inside the sink, and then pour the liquid from the pot into the cup. If you spill some, no problem; if you pour beans by mistake, just fish them out. You don't need all of the liquid, just as much as it's easy to get. Then drain the beans the rest of the way.
  5. Now haul out the food processor and assemble a batch that looks something like this (scale down for small food processors):
    • 3-4 cups of garbanzos
    • 2 tbsp of tahini
    • a small heap of garlic
    • a generous splash of olive oil -- 3-4 tbsp worth
    • an even more generous splash of lemon juice -- 4-5 tbsp
    • 2 tsp or huge pinch of paprika
    • 1 tsp or medium-large pinch of salt
    • 1/2 to 1 tsp or medium pinch of chili powder
    • 1-2 tbsp of dried parsley or a small handful of fresh
  6. Whizz briefly, then stop and pour in a generous splash of the cooking water that you saved. You'll know when you've added enough because the whole mess will start spinning merrily instead of getting stuck. Blend until it looks beautifully smooth.
  7. Break out a bagel or a piece of bread and taste. Adjust seasonings to taste and re-blend, then scoop out into a big container and repeat until you're out of garbanzo beans.
  8. Final and most important step: eat a crapload of it before putting whatever's left into the fridge for anyone you may happen to live with.

*Actually, this time I'm not sure there's any demand. But I'm doing my best to create some.

Posted by dianna at 11:32 PM

By popular* demand part 1: the milk dispenser scene.

Setting: the dining room, one quiet evening several weeks ago. Dianna is skillfully wrestling a 5-gallon** bag of soymilk into the milk dispenser.

Lisa: Do you want me to get a large male to help you with that?
Me: Of course.
Lisa: 'Cause I can tell that you need one.
Me: I'd definitely appreciate someone else taking over this manly task from me.
Lisa: Well, I know you're not physically up to it.
Me: And I just shouldn't be doing it, anyway. [disappearing into kitchen to recycle milk box]
Me: [returning] It's a lot less fulfilling when I do things like this myself, you know?
Lisa: You'd feel better if there were a male around. You'd start talking to him.
Me: My gratitude would be overwhelming.
Lisa: You could even hope to start a relationship.
Me: Isn't that the only reason for me to try to do this in the first place?

Contrary to what people like to say, chivalry is dead. That's my bad -- I stabbed it in the nuts*** with a fork and stuffed it in the compost bin.

*One person.
**40 pounds, according to my feeble feminine calculations.

Posted by dianna at 11:23 PM

The pants say take better care of yourself.

Eat something, they say, having only hurried toast and hummus for lunch every day isn't good for you. Get more sleep. What the hell were you thinking, going to broomball on Sunday and running around falling down on the ice and yelling at the top of your lungs for two hours? At least you dressed warmly, the pants say, but now your throat is killing you and you hurt all over and how now are you going to tell what's from being sick and what's from being stupid?

The reason the pants are saying all of this is that I seem to be losing weight. Straight out of the dryer my snuggest jeans aren't as snug as I think they used to be, and I keep accidentally putting my belt buckle on the wrong hole. That's not good, normative femininity be damned. I'm a scrawny vegan with a fast metabolism who walks everywhere and needs calories to get up the hill to her house at the end of the day. I'd rather those calories didn't come out of my own body mass, but I'm finding it hard lately to keep myself decently fed.

I no longer have the long, languorous lunch breaks that last semester allowed me to tempt myself with beautiful stir-fries full of fresh vegetables and perfectly-seasoned tofu. I have time to run home from work for some toast and hummus, and I'm already in semi-trouble for not working enough hours to justify my salary. I could make my lunches the night before, but the self-perpetuating problem with that is that I've been too tired lately to face the prospect of cooking late at night in the exhausting mess that is my house's kitchen post-dinner. The fact that everything that I put in my mouth winds up hurting to swallow (shut up) makes the prospects of cooking and eating less than tempting anyway.

It's all part of why I'm starting to think longingly of the summer and living in a normal apartment again. If I'm not sharing my kitchen with 50 people's mess and chaos, maybe I can manage to do a little bit of cooking for myself. If I can't manage to cook, I can stock up on easy, ridiculous frozen things without feeling the need to pout about paying for house food that I'm not eating. I'll still pout about having a kitchen full of appealing meals I can't have, because I think my summer cohabitants are omnivores, but at least there are only two of them. Oh. Did I not mention I'm subletting that room I found on Craigslist, the furnished one in a nice little apartment a block and a half up my street? An actual block and a half this time. It'll be good. I'll have total freedom to chicken out of moving to Portland.

But that wasn't my point. My point was, if you see me, tell me to eat some vegetables, drink some tea, and get my ass back in bed. This viral bullshit has got to quit.

Posted by dianna at 12:05 PM

March 12, 2007

Son of a bigger gun.

I saw Children of Men this weekend. To the people who told me it was an amazing movie, I say a heartfelt: huh?

Spoilers are going to abound here.

My basic problem is this: I was vaguely underwhelmed by the book. It relied too much on ineffable mystery and deus ex machina, and it managed to end on a note that was both too pat and too inconclusive. Mankind's hope is stolen for no particular reason and the ramifications are endlessly expounded, boy meets girl, mankind's hope is returned for no particular reason and the glorious future is hailed in an incredibly uncritical way. Wheee.

That is not, actually, the basic problem. The basic problem is that after having had that response to the book, I went and saw the movie and still thought it failed to live up to the book. I'm serious here, this is where you'll want to stop reading if you don't want whole damn book and movie ruined.

One of the saving graces of the book is that, aside from the glaring exception of the divinely mysterious Omega affliction, its characters actually own the things going on in their lives. The mother of the first child since Omega isn't a scared, naive refugee girl, she's a self-assured woman who knows precisely what she wants both as an individual and as, well, a terrorist. The great tragedy in the life of our protagonist, the death of his only child, wasn't the random strike of illness -- he hit his infant daughter with his car. It was an accident, it was something he could have prevented, and that knowledge has been looming in the back of every decision he's made since it happened. All kinds of little opportunities for people to do things, for better or for worse, fall out of the story on its way to becoming a movie. Jasper's invalid wife? In the movie, sits passively while her loving husband gives her a euthanasia shot. In the book, resists being forced to join a mass suicide and gets clubbed to death by a policeman. Theo's cousin? In the movie, some oblivious arts patron. In the book, the fearmongering, repressive executive of the intolerable British government, whose actions actually fucking affect what's going on in the story, damnit.

I don't know; I suppose I'm just attached to the book more because I read it first. But I see it a bit like the difference between Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: to make the book into a movie someone had to choose which of several stories to extract and tell, and they didn't pick well. In this case, it's Hero Protagonist (Male) Heroically Protects All-Important Fetus (Incidentally Contained In Helpless Female), Against Overwhelming Odds, Until The Ship Of Tomorrow Comes Along To Save Mankind. Whereas it could have been Take A Good Long Look At What This Seemingly Incidental Change Has Done To Human Lives And Politics, And Now Watch The People Who Believe They Have The Potential To Change It, And How They Will Fight, Not To Sail Away To A Glorious Future Like The Fucking Elves Here, Just To Maintain Their Own Privacy And Dignity Because That Is An Integral Part Of The Change That They Want To See In The World. Not that the book necessarily told the latter story as well as it could have been told, but it tried a damn sight harder than the movie.

Grump grump grump. I suppose the world clamors for more stories about heroic defense and lots of fight scenes, and if they're at least stylish and gritty we have to congratulate them for making some kind of effort. And it is a stylish and gritty movie, and it does snap out of its guns-a-blazing drama now and then to introduce some worthwhile moral complexity. Sid the policeman, who doesn't exist in the book, is a horribly unsettling storyline all by himself and I'm delighted that he was invented. Actually, his "let's see your fugee face" line could probably buy my forgiveness for at least ten minutes of unnecessary firefight.

Still? THE FUCKING SHIP OF TOMORROW, GUYS. Are you kidding me?

Posted by dianna at 11:35 AM

March 08, 2007

City on the river.

I emailed the goblins in their house on the hill and told them I won't be joining them in their far-flung solitude. With no groceries or restaurants nearby I'm concerned that my tasty flesh might be the nearest convenient meal for them.

With that established, I've returned to trolling Craigslist for early summer postings. The most promising thing to turn up this morning was a summer sublet two blocks up the hill from Kingman -- two actual blocks this time -- starting a few days before co-op moving day and ending within a few days of the end of my job here. I bookmarked it and spent several quality hours arguing with myself. I need something long-term, I said. No you don't, said the voices in my head, you don't have a job in Berkeley after July. But I'll need to find a job after that, I said. No, they said, you'll have found something already and you can look for an apartment wherever your job is. I said, won't I just stay in Berkeley anyway?

This is where the voices started playing dirty. You don't have to stay in Berkeley, they said. I said, where else would I go? They murmured among themselves -- I vaguely heard a short name beginning with a P. Stumptown? I asked. You're not serious, are you? The voices took on a note of tried patience. You like Portland, they said. No, I love Portland, I said, but who do I know there? No one, they said, and what's the problem? The problem is I don't know anyone! I whined. They asked me, do you know how to stop being afraid of meeting new people? I said, no! They said, that's why you should move to Portland.

I tried another defense. Why Portland? I asked. They smirked. She says why Portland, they snickered to each other. Bridges and blackberry vines and trees and local beers, they told me, that's why Portland. Powell's. OMSI. A downtown you can walk across in ten minutes and rent like the Bay Area doesn't want to know about. I said, you're not helping. They said, Oh yes we are.

I checked back this afternoon and found the room listing already gone, and with it some of the immediacy of the voices. They're no longer gibbering at me to run-not-walk to this new house and prostrate myself for the room, but they haven't let up on the long-range pressure. There'll never be a better time, they say, but if you want to be stuck in Berkeley forever I'm sure that's your business. You'll get an apartment here and then a job near the apartment and then another apartment near the job and it'll keep you in the East Bay until you're 40, they say. You live in a co-op, they say, you have no furniture and you could fit everything you own in a station wagon. I don't have a station wagon, I tell them, and they tell me I'm 25 and could rent one to any city I like. I tell them I can't think about leaving the Bay Area right now, and they say no, you can think about it at the end of July. They say, you know, July, when your summer sublet runs out? I don't have a summer sublet, I say, I'm not even looking for one... and they say, oh yes you are.

It's not a plan, at all. Even I can't go from no idea to plan in four purely speculative hours. It's just that for all the time I've spent telling myself I could pick up tomorrow and move anywhere I please, it's never really occurred to me that I could pick up, not tomorrow in defiance of reason but in a few carefully-planned and financially stable months, and move anywhere I please and it might work. And it wouldn't be a way to burn out in anonymity on darkened streets, like my old Chicago fantasy, but a place to live in a brightly-lit apartment with my cat and go to work and come home and go for walks and read books and drink tea and do other things that Diannas find fulfilling. It wouldn't have to be Portland particularly (although there is the great Cementhorizon migration to consider). Pick a minor metropolis, any minor metropolis -- nothing fancy, just a progressive reputation and a small local music scene -- and go. There will be libraries, there will be museums, there will be room for Dianna.

It's weird to feel compelled to go, instead of just to leave. I seem to have fans and motors installed in my extremities all of a sudden. On the other hand, I'm still sick and my head is spinning and my ears ringing, so it's no wonder my mind is way off in the distance. It may come to nothing. But: Portland!

Edit! Extry! Extry! The posting wasn't gone after all; it just moved into the "sublet/temporary" section. Hot damn. I've already sent an email.

Posted by dianna at 05:43 PM

March 06, 2007


  1. The Berkeley hills go a really long way up.
  2. Too far up, in fact.
  3. I went to see the house I mentioned previously and it is far as fuck.
  4. I'm never describing Kingman as "at the top of a big damn hill" again.
  5. It is apparently at the bottom of a big damn hill which contains, between here and the top, a lot of windy roads, a lot of dark, and, I'm convinced, goblins.
  6. So I don't think I'll be doing that.
  7. It is very nice, though, once you arrive and get your breath back.
  8. But seriously?
  9. No damn way.

Man, I am going to sleep like a baby tonight after that hike. Good thing I've got this namby-pamby sissy house at the bottom of the hill to sleep in. Stick to the flatlands, flatlander.

Posted by dianna at 09:54 PM

Oh my god! She's got a spnife!

You think you know who your friends are... and then one day they stab you in the back with a spoon labeled "knife". And they're not even sorry about it.

Kingman is playing Assassins right now, or as I prefer to call it, Asesinos! We're all roaming Berkeley with hunted expressions and concealed weapons waiting for the appropriate moment to do some dirty work. My assassin should have had an easy job -- I'm a sitting duck at my desk at work all day -- but he bungled it on Friday and tried to attack me in a safe zone, so not only am I alive, I know who to watch out for. For now.

Originally the plan was for the players to have standard squirt guns, but bulk squirt guns are hard to find in toy stores in March and co-opers aren't too patient. So it's up to each individual assassin to find a weapon and label it appropriately. As it turns out, I did have a squirt gun, and I dutifully wrote "Gun" all over it so there could be no ambiguity. I was fairly proud of my Gun gun until the 5th time it inspired Elliot to do his Jar-Jar Binks impression, and then I not-too-accidentally left it at work so I'd have an excuse to find another weapon.

I scoured my room -- X-Acto knives? No, wait, those actually hurt. Knitting needles? Too long to fit in a pocket. Pliers? Hard to justify as a deadly weapon. Slingshot? Good, but carrying enough projectiles to make up for my bad aim is a nuisance. I finally settled on something with less devastating range than the Gun gun but far more postmodern irony, namely, the spoon that says Knife. Who am I to deny its identity?

One of the rules of the game is that if you know who's trying to kill you, you can pre-emptively kill them for 24 hours at a time. I found myself walking to work this morning behind my would-be assassin, so I jogged up behind him and dealt him a vicious stab in the shoulder blade. He totally failed to crumple to the ground in agony, but I tasted the sweet thrill of temporary victory nonetheless. Stand back! I've got a knifespoon! And, well, it's not that I'm afraid to use it, it's just that there's no way of using it which could actually result in injury to you or anyone else!

Posted by dianna at 11:27 AM

March 05, 2007

Decatur, or, A Round Of Applause For Your Grandmother.

I'm still sick -- this morning I had my usual battle of petulance and guilt in which I eventually decided to stay home for the morning but drag myself to work after lunch. When I called my boss to tell her this, the first thing she said after hearing my voice was, "Oh my god, you're really sick. Don't come to work." So I slept until 2:00, which is how I've pretty much spent my weekend in accordance with ancient wisdom and what my mom told me to do whenever I was sick. I may not have been so successful at following the advice that my dad gave me when I was sick, namely, "Don't cough." Trying not to cough is kind of like playing The Game. Which I just lost.

I've found any number of fantastic ways to use 72 straight hours sitting blearily around the house. Sleep, obviously, gets a gold star for making the hours speed by. Watching Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes on my laptop while lying in bed is pretty damned awesome, but tends to make me feel like I'm becoming sessile by about the third straight episode. Commenting on political blogs isn't a top choice, as it requires me to keep a sharp stick around and jab myself with it any time I feel tempted to enter a flame war. Finding out how many cups of Throat Coat tea it takes to make me start to pee green is of course very interesting, but the trips to the bathroom get tiring (and no, I'm not telling you the answer, you have to find out for yourself).

Today I decided to try something actually productive, namely, writing to my grandparents. While venturing out to the corner store for cough drops I stopped in at a stationery store and bought some notecards, then came home and stamped and addressed a bunch of envelopes. There are some for my maternal grandmother, who's now rattling around with two attendants in the big house in Chatsworth where I used to spend as much time as in my own house. Her first card is already written and waiting to be mailed.

My paternal grandparents are more of a conundrum. They're the side of the family -- actually, I'm pretty sure they're the specific two -- responsible for the sarcastic and slightly unbalanced eye through which I view written communication and the world in general. My grandmother, who emails me periodically, doesn't like to be called Grandma and has started signing her messages simply as Mary. My grandfather has always officially been Grandpa, but more often in practice has been addressed as Grump. I'm fairly certain they'd both be disappointed in me if I sent them a card addressed to "Grandma and Grampa", but using first names for my grandparents just seems too New-Agey for my taste. This search for just the perfect way to be affectionate and yet clever is the kind of thing I can do for hours, sitting with pen poised over paper while the ideas swish in my head. It's why, when I started writing two hours ago, I've still gotten only as far as making out the envelope. It goes as follows.

What Woolseys?
I don't know any Woolseys.
(Address, city, etc.)

Watch the post office mark this as "suspicious mail" and forward it to the FBI for careful inspection. If she doesn't know any of them, how did she know they were at that address? It must be ESP. Or espionage, which starts with the same letters after all. Oh my god, the terrorists are using their minds against us! Pass out the tinfoil hats, boys, we're in big trouble.

Posted by dianna at 08:01 PM

March 03, 2007

Jag ar sjuk.

In a rare instance of successful negotiation with my immune system, I managed to remain at a functional level of wellness all week and become horribly ill only today, when it's perfectly acceptable for me to spend all day in bed reading Soul Music and occasionally stumble conspicuously into the kitchen to sniffle and make more tea. I have to say that I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday, sore throat and runny nose notwithstanding. For a while I exploited the strange ivy-covered light well of a side yard that my room abuts by leaving my sliding door open and curling up naked in the afternoon sun on top of my bed, serene in the knowledge that nobody ever goes back there and if they did I still wouldn't care very much.

The only substantial downside to this arrangement, still leaving aside the malady which occasions it, is that while the sun was coming in full-strength through my window I had a deeply annoying dream. I was leaving someplace vaguely San Francisco-ish and trying to take BART home, but missed three trains on account of being unable to use the new ticket machines. They were oddly elaborate and presented me with confusing options and irrelevant animations, and I couldn't see clearly either what they were showing or what I had to push to make them behave normally because the sun was in my eyes. I was squinting painfully, constantly, no matter which direction I faced or how I tried to shield my eyes with my hands. The machines kept taking my money and leaving me unable to figure out how to get it back, so I kept giving up and trying other machines in the hope of just getting a ticket and getting out of the damn station. It went on for ages while trains came and went and I realized I also wasn't too sure which platform was which -- they were all kind of swoopy and Escheresque and seemed to defy their somewhat meager signage.

When I did finally get a ticket of some kind, I started walking across what seemed like the right platform but soon wound up on an elephant (or was it a hippopotamus?) flying in circles around the squishy, organic-looking Art Nouveau base supporting the platform. By the time it let me off at the bottom, the plan had changed from "get on a train and go home" to "wade barefoot through ankle-deep water in a polluted marsh with people who have appeared from nowhere, and I still can't see anything". It was kind of aggravating.

I leave you with this piece of information: how to say "sick" in American Sign Language. Spread out the fingers of both hands, and bend both your middle fingers inward so they're pointing at rough right angles to your hands. Hold one of these hands in front of your forehead so your middle finger is pointing toward the forehead, and the other one in front of your stomach in the same orientation. Move them side-to-side simultaneously (i.e. one goes left while the other one goes right) a few times. Look pitiful. I'm not kidding about that part.

Posted by dianna at 04:52 PM

March 02, 2007

Quick question.

Okay, if you were a landlord, how would you feel about this offer?

I was idly looking through Craigslist in anticipation of moving out of my co-op at the end of the semester. I'm way early, since the spring contract period ends May 18th and I was planning to move in mid-May if not the beginning of June. Naturally, what I found was an utterly amazing-seeming place available April 1st -- room in nice house in North Berkeley hills, beautiful scenery, cats okay, rent good. Walking distance from Kingman, consistent with my intention of being a visitor there in the fall. Space for my books. Did I say gorgeous?

What I want to do is email the people who put up the ad and tell them: omg omg your house looks beautiful and I want to live in it, but I can't start renting it in April (not only does it make no sense, I won't be able to afford the usual 1st-last-deposit at that point even with my shiny new salary). But what I can do is pay my last month's rent and deposit in April, and then pay rent from May onward. But I don't know if that's something a landlord would ever go for. Too strange? Too shady? Not worth passing up the extremely good odds of finding someone for April, given the desirability of the house?

What would you think of it if you were the landlord, and what would you do if you were the me?

Posted by dianna at 03:35 PM