Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Though D-Day was good, too:

Today (now yesterday) my first piece for BlackBook Magazine hit the stands. It's short, but they didn't alter a word. Eight months after I first pitched them, it's fun to hold the tangible results. (I'm reviewing The Long Winters' upcoming disc for BB's Dec/Jan issue, too. Yea!) Also, the new issue contains the winners of their "Hemingway Challenge Contest", wherein readers were asked to submit six-word stories inspired by Hemingway's renowned, "For sale: baby shoes, never used." I didn't know until this evening that I had made the cut ("We removed the wrong eye. Braille?") as did two members of my beloved and freakishly talented writing group. Bono graces the cover--literally--and Tony Bennett's version of "New York State of Mind" piped over the speakers as I paid at the newsstand.

This is, quite possibly, the best day of all time.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Damn it, I'll go over your head if I have to:

How cool would it be if "E.R." had some kind of internal power struggle that manifested itself in the operating room? Then someone could yell something like, "You just exposed this entire hospital to a lawsuit in there!" Then two staff members could have joyless sex . Really, they should look into that.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Of course, I would be The Godmother:

My parents and I went to lunch today at Niko's in Seattle's Magnolia Village. I had a mouth full of souvlaki when a woman approached our table and asked me, "Excuse me, but were you on a blind date about six weeks ago at The Still Life in Fremont? You and a guy were sitting at a table outside?"

"Um, yes. That was me," I replied, a bit startled.

"My friend and I were sitting at the table next to you and I want you to know we felt awful for you. That guy was a jerk. We talked about it after you left. You were all dressed up and funny and asking him questions and he was boring and rude and *then he didn't even pay.* We were mad on your behalf," she explained, genuinely fired up.

"Thanks," I replied. "It's nice to have it coroborated. He was an asshole and I can't understand why he kept emailing me saying he wanted to meet me, because when I got there he made no effort."

"I know," she continued. "He complained about *everything*. Like how his company sent him to London and he hated it? Who hates London?"

"Exactly! And what about when he said he hates New York?"

"That's when I knew he was sunk. Why would you go out with a writer and then say you hate New York? What's wrong with him? I hope you don't think we were eavesdropping, but the tables are so close at The Still Life that we heard everything. By the way, my name is Renee."

"Hey, Renee. I'm Litsa." We shook hands.

"She told me she thought the women at the next table caught on and were sympathetic," Mom said. "Remember, honey? The biotech researcher I told you about who made her pay for her own coffee?" she asked my dad.

"I said it then and I'll say it now: she should have poured it in his lap," Dad added matter-of-factly.

"Guys like that are the worst," the woman at the next table chimed in.

"I know," Renee and I responded simultaneously.

Renee had to get going, but I thanked her for her input and for objectively verifying my take on a crappy evening. The woman at the next table smiled at both of us and returned to her book.

Lately, I've been thinking that there needs to be a Girl Mafia. We wouldn't kill anyone--or even permanently injure them--but, when called, we would burst in and kick dickwad guys in the shins. So they learned a lesson. Behavior modification, as it were.

Of course, the world is full of bitches, too. I love my guy friends and I've seen some of them get their hearts stomped, but it's not funny to joke about kicking women because it happens all the time in real life. However, I've long maintained that a guy can use the "c word" if the object of his affection has crushed him, as long as two other women sign off on it. (Once, my friend, Tony, took a woman to Canlis and the Seattle Opera on a Saturday night. On the way home, she told him, "I hope you don't think this was *a date*. I would never go on *a date* with you." My friend, Eva, and I signed off immediately.)

Anyway, if you see a biotech engineer with an office in Belltown and a hideous dad-man golf shirt wearing shin guards, you can smile, knowing he's a changed man.

Postscript: I know the above examples only apply to breeders. I'm working on solutions to my gay friends' dating snags, too.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sick and tired of being sick and tired. Ha, ha, ha:

For those keeping track at home, my mom's surgery on Tuesday went quite well--much better than expected--and she's recovering rapidly. Thanks, all, for thoughts and prayers. I relayed messages to her and she was touched.

But here's what gets me: it's so fucked up that she needed surgery in the first place. The nerve damage from the fibromyalgia began loosening her teeth two years ago and they had been falling out since then. On Tuesday, she had to have all of them pulled and dentures inserted.

Mom has been in unremitting pain for over a decade and it breaks my heart. She hides it well and I'm amazed by how many folks haven't grasped the obvious: they only see her when she's able to leave the house, which, on average, is twice a week. She's wearing a cute ensemble and she's got her cane and she's lively and funny and makes self-deprecating jokes about how slowly she moves.

They don't see the hours that went into getting ready: showering from the night before and getting dressed in increments. Put on bra and underwear; lie down. Put on pantyhose and jewelry; lie down. Same for hair, makeup, shirt, pants and shoes. And this is someone who logged the second number of trial hours for several years running at the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

She's already outlived her own mom, who also had acute fibromyalgia--though no one was sure what to make of it then--and who succumbed to a heart attack at forty-eight after a two year stroke-induced coma.

The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health have thus far concluded that: 1) one is probably born with a genetic predisposition to fibromyalgia and/or CFIDS; 2) the symptoms from both illnesses significantly overlap and are probably related; and 3) both illnesses tend to run in families. I, of course, developed CFIDS at twenty-four and my second cousin became severely ill with fibromyalgia in his early twenties, so the evidence is definitely born out in our family.

Last week I told Mom that I have a sort of survivor's guilt: I was struck younger than she and her mom, but I will probably benefit more from current research because I will be younger than her when a treatment or cure is discovered. Ampligen is in FDA test phases and, if approved, will be the first drug developed specifically for the treatment of CFIDS and fibromyalgia. If it works, Mom and I could have new lives.

Which isn't to say we don't love the lives we have. Like I said, Mom's spirits are good--we both have a deeply ingrained "never say die" mentality--and I have sold or placed fourteen articles since May. I love my family and my friends--here I'm truly blessed--and I'm going to New York again, halle-fucking-lujah.

But the toll has been high: I've been much less ambulatory and in much more pain since mid-July. I have daily intestinal cramps and a fever as often as not. I walk with a cane several days a week. I've made it out of the house less than ten hours all week and on Thursday, the chills were so bad, I almost cried in public. (If you know me, you know it takes a lot--like a fucking anvil on my head--to induce public tears.)

More so than anything, I feel isolated. I once wrote, "I don't want to live with my nose pressed against the glass" and I don't. Which is why I remain hopeful: the alternative is unthinkable.

For more on the new Centers for Disease Control study that concludes the U.S. loses $9.1 billion annually due to CFIDS:

CFIDS -- Legislative Alerts and Updates

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Preaching to the choir, loudly:

One of President Bush's Harvard Business School professors is publicly decrying his former student as a boorish, hypocritical ideologue. I wish both Democrats and Republicans would stick to the pertinent issues--jobs, health care, terrorism, Iraq, AIDS, the enivironment, the deficit, poverty, education--and stop debating who did what thirty years ago.

On the other hand, I got a kick out of this. It won't change anyone's mind--Democrats know Bush is intellectually deficient and Republicans don't care--but it underscores a point I've long maintained: If Bush had been born into Clinton's circumstances (or Reagan's, for that matter), he would be a gas-pumping dropout. He's accomplished nothing without his family's help. (Obviously, Gore and McCain benefited from their senator and admiral forebearers, respectively. However, both men proceeded to work their asses off. Therein lies the difference.)

Enjoy, fellow choir members: News | The dunce

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Best campaign '04 quote so far:

"Politicians are doing what politicians do. I liken it to when you go to the zoo, and the monkeys are sitting in there jerking off and throwing their shit. And you just gotta go, 'Well, they're monkeys.' But you can yell at the media and go, 'You know, your job is to tell them when they're being bad monkeys.'"--Jon Stewart, Entertainment Weekly, September 17, 2004 issue

Thursday, September 09, 2004

These little town blues are melting away:

I'm going to New York again in November and I'm literally counting the days. My friend, JT LeRoy, will have a new book out in December and I've been invited to the launch party. Also, I just found out I'm going to interview him again--this time for The Black Table--and I'm psyched. (I'm still sending out queries. Hopefully, I'll interview him for additional publications.) His upcoming novella, "Harold's End", is like a fish hook: it punctures you, gets under your skin and stays there. I can't wait to discuss it in print.

Near the topic, if not quite on it, at tonight's writing group Jade suggested a freewrite about "a city that we hate". She and Margaret thought that I should post my results here:

I can't be objective about this. I love my family and friends--adore them, really--but when I think about Seattle, I think of that Bob Dylan line from "Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight": "It's like I'm stuck inside a painting/ that's hanging in the Lourve/ My throat starts to tickle/ and my nose itches/ but I know that I can't move".

As anyone who's known me longer than ten minutes discovers, I love New York truly, madly, deeply. I feel at home there in a way I never do here. And as everyone who knows me finds out soon enough, I've been sick for the past thirteen years. I haven't had enough health and cash simultaneously to make the leap.

I'm optimistic, though. No one has heard me say I'm staying in Seattle nor will they ever. And like I said, I can't be objective about this because I feel like I'm being held against my will. I've lived here my entire life and what bothers me most about Seattle is the pervasive anemia, the toxic mellowness that hangs over it like a mushroom cloud. Obviously, there are notable exceptions--we've got some amazing writers and musicians, for starters--but ambition is a dirty word here and I don't get it. I return to this again and again in my work and in my life: this is finite and we're going to be dead one day. I can't see the point in *not* running toward the highest bar.