Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I love to cook. I’m pretty good at it too.

The other night I stir-fried chicken in Asian fish sauce (yeah, you can actually buy that all over New York) and Thai Spicy Pepper Paste (that too) with enough sugar. You know, just enough. I got the idea from the label on the Thai Spicy Pepper Paste bottle. I thought it would be good with a box of instant organic couscous. The couscous had pistachio nuts, pine nuts, almond slivers, and dried black currants in it.

This was so yummy. Who knew? It smelled hideous when I was stir-frying (fish sauce, you know). But that subsided and I got a deliciously pungent, spicy dish. That couscous was awesome. Next time, I’m going to use plain, regular couscous and add the nuts & stuff myself – do the whole thing from scratch. And drink tea with it.

This goes to show: for a really fun evening, ya gotta have a few nuts.
My new favorite ethnic expressions:

Kvelling To quote the Zenchick: "I was kvelling every time my Yoga instructor said "Good, Betsy!" Although she would point out that it's not correct Yoga to be kvelling. But come on. Don't we all? (Note: Kvelling is the opposite of Kvetching, as in "I took too long getting ready to leave so he's been kvetching all night.")

Woolly Jumper From my dear colleague and friend Esme, who sadly left our office to return to her home of county Tyrone, Ireland. On our way up the elevator to begin a day at the office, we were all wearing sweaters and kvetching about how cold it was, at which point Esme exclaimed: "Everyone's got their woolly jumpers on!" A Sweater! I swear I swooned with delight.

To “be after” an activity From my roommate Irene, another lovely Irish Lassie from County Cork. “Will you be after eating?” It took me several months to break the news to her that I had no idea what she really meant. Does it mean “Will you want to eat” or “Will you already have eaten?” It means the latter.

Dupa Polish for butt. As my dad used to say “Talk about a pain in the dupa.”

Towlie (pronounced towel-ee) Ok, this isn’t ethnic, but I heard this from a quartet of dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkas, which is definitely a culture of its own. Now, the name Towlie comes from one of the first South Park episodes. Towlie was, literally, a walking, talking dish towel who only appeared in that one episode. The last two lines before the credits rolled were:

Eric: “Man, Towlie, you are the lamest character on this show.”
Towlie: (sadly) “I know…”

SO: I was on the subway train, and these 4 enormous, hockey-player looking guys sitting across from me were talking about somebody that they all work with. “I tawked to Bill about it but he’s such a damn towlie, there’s no tawking ta him.” They all chuckled. I did too. One of the guys noticed me giggling. “You eva know somebody like dat?” He asked me, grin on his face from ear to ear. I started asking him about the expression. For them, a “towlie” is a person with no personality, brain, or any defining characteristics. Basically a walking shell of flesh and bone. Of course, the grins and chuckling disappeared when they realized that they were being analyzed by a linguinerd. I felt bad. They were all very cute and seemed like good guys. During the course of the conversation I gradually slid into the New York accent and used a couple of off-color words, and one by one they all started grinning again. I keep forgetting how important it is to blend in while doing dialectal research.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Some comic-book philosophy from my buddy at the office:

Less is less.
More is more.
More is better.
And twice as much is good too.

Not enough is bad.
While too much is never enough,
Except when it's just about right.

I like to insert the word "beer," but other ...ah.... commodities... work just as well too. Use your imagination....

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Jackie Mason's Time Machine

It's funny - but you have to get in the spirit.

In the 1950's, the country was a different place. Civil Rights hadn't happened yet. Neither had feminism. The holocaust had. Jews, Irish, Puerto Ricans, and Blacks were the predominant - at least according to TV and the movies - minorities. Vaudeville was everybody's parent's entertainment.

I saw Jackie Mason's "Comedy Musical" show today. Now, generally I don't go to shows, which will shock most of my older friends, because Theatre used to be my LIFE. However, once Disney took over Broadway, and then the revivals, and then people stringing stories around 20-year old pop music... The Broadway of Lerner and Lowe, Sondheim, and everything that I loved and dreamed of doing when I was 15, is brain-dead. Every now and then an anomalous quality show pops up, and then I try to make it. But, for the most part, I'd rather watch TV.

This time, a friend has free tickets, and a bunch of my fave peeps were going, so what the hell.

I appreciate the personage that is Jackie Mason. I think he's funny in the way that old vaudevillians from the 50's are funny. I can appreciate this humour - I think this is the only reason I can appreciate it - because I'm trained in theatre styles from a very young age. My parents raised me on old musicals - Camelot, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof. In the 80's, I because a Sondheim disciple. I also discovered Stephen Schwartz. There was so much to love, so much to do. I decided to major in Acting, and later attended a performing arts academy in New York where I learned the detailed history of musical theatre, vaudeville, and Broadway. I understand why Ethel Merman was so important and popular, how she uplifted people's spirits during a time of economic catastrophe. I know where the stereotypes of the effite (Read: gay) butler, the black housekeeper, the Irish cop, the Italian con-Artist, the Jewish Business Man, and the Puerto Rican hoodlum came from.

Back then, the only way to begin breaking down the racial barriers was to start laughing at each other - and do that, we had to laugh at ourselves. People went to see WC Fields, Sammy Davis Jr., Milton Berle, Desi Arnaz... they saw themselves up there, and things that would have sent them into a fighting rage suddenly had them looking at each other and laughing. It was an important step toward understanding.

Many people in my generation just can't get this. We weren't there; we don't know what it was like. Nowadays , as Jackie Mason style of "making fun" (his words!) of ethnic minorities is just not PC. His jokes really go far. He crosses lines. His "I'm so sick of those people" humour is shocking today. But the reason everyone laughs is because it's ridiculous. He's a proud Jew. He skewers his own tribe as much if not more than, the Indians, Puerto Ricans (Talk about dated, Jackie! These days it's Latinos), blacks (yes, he says black), Italians, wives (Oh, yes! Women aren't safe either!)... It's incredible. Frankly, people, it's South Park. Trey Parker and Matt Stone became Oscar-nominated millionaires for skewering Jews, Canadians, and in one especially offensive episode, the Japanese. Where do you think they learned how to do this? Jackie's been doing it since before they were born.

He's still doing it, and South Park was a fad.

I don't know Jackie Mason as a person. I have never read any interviews that he gave, and know nothing of his life. For all I know, maybe he really is a racist, who think Indian Cab drivers stink and believes that a good woman keeps her mouth closed. However, I wouldn't judge that to be the case from watching this show. I know Vaudeville. I know the history of Broadway in this country. I know a little bit about the history of race relations, and I know a lot about ethnic minorities in the performing arts and the struggle it’s been for them to escape the stereotypes that have been imposed on them. Jackie may not realize it, but he is presenting himself as a representative of another time – a time when people were less sensitive, when the race relations struggles were far less advanced than they are now. I think it’s important to know what things were like. Too many people take the advances of the times for granted. I am proud to be the grandchild of his generation. Jackie showed very clearly just how far we’ve come. This is not the message of a real racist.

The man is, frankly, hilarious. If my Irish Grandpa were alive today, he would have loved the show. He would have added some jokes about the Irish.

Here’s the best part: The most brilliant piece in the whole show, hands down, is a scathing review of Starbucks Coffee Bars. Jackie does a whole stand-up routine about it, then there’s a song-and dance number with an elderly Jewish couple and a hip, young Hispanic couple trying to find each other on cell phones to meet at the Starbucks, and eventually emerging jittery from caffeine overdose, while a green-aproned, black-capped Starbucks barista dances around them like a drug dealer – evoking the “American Dream” sequence from Miss Saigon. Let’s skewer corporate America while we’re at it. It was completely appropriate, hysterically funny, and something the whole audience could relate to.

He gets political as well. Even that didn’t bother me; he was bi-partisan.

So, I gotta give it a thumbs-up. And - hey - this was yet another occasion where I was one lone schiksa in a sea of Jews... I don’t think any of my Jewish friends have seen this yet!

Friday, October 24, 2003

My Favorite Cole Porter Song

Well, I don't really have just one favorite - but this one is definitely in the top 5.

The Physician

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Movie Review: Mystic River

I have to agree with the New York Times: Clint Eastwood does seem to be a whole new man. There is no gratuitous violence in this movie. There is, however, plenty of gratuitous emotion. There is no denying the powerful performances in this film. Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Laura Linney, and Marcia Gay Harden are always good - but in this film, they are incredible. Penn is especially riveting, playing an Irish mob boss whose daughter is found murdered. The film is largely about how these adult men deal with the violence in their community, after having experienced it as children, Robbins directly. (I was at times reminded of the film Sleepers - another Bacon project - at several times.)

I just couldn't help but feel impatient - and then felt guilty for feeling impatient - with the excessive emotional scenes. These are Oscar-quality performaces. A 19-year old girl is murdered. Everyone is, of course, devastated. There is a lot of mourning onscreen. We see not just the sadness and grief, but we see how each of the different personalities experiences it, and we see how they are all filtering the experience through their own personal histories and viewpoints. It's psychologically riveting. It was just a bit much for me. Maybe it's because I was tired, the end of the workday, a Tuesday night, whatever. I felt like I should have been better able to empathize. Instead I found it indulgently maudlin.

When they started unraveling the murder mystery piece by piece, I was riveted. This is a great, well-crafted whodunit. The end is positively chilling. I won't say anything more about it.

So, Clint, you've done a fantastic job of showing us that there's far more to your understanding of violence than "Dirty Harry." And the core, by the way, composed by Mr. Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon isn't his only musical credit!) is beautiful and appropriate. I highly recommend the film - but be prepared for a lot of uncomfortable feelings. The quality of the acting makes it seem extremely intimate. Disturbingly so.

And, damn, Sean. I mean dammmmn. Were you always this good? I wish I had seen your other films. Maybe I'll go check out Dead Man Walking and I am Sam.

Monday, October 20, 2003

A New Alzheimer's Drug was approved not too long ago. I haven't had the opportunity read about it until today. I have an interest in these things, since my Grandma suffers from the advanced stages of what her doctors call an "Alzheimer's-like Syndrome." Which basically means that she has Alzheimer's, minus a few identifying symptoms.

My Grandma was my best friend in the world for most of my life. I am her only grandchild, so you can imagine how strong that bond is. It gets better. Mom is her only child. Poor grandma was just not built for having kids; Mom’s birth was very difficult for her and it took her years of trying, so once Mom was born, that was it. Between the 3 of us, Mom and Grandma and I comprise all 3 earth signs: Taurus, Capricorn and Virgo respectively. We also totally embody the 3 aspects of the divine feminine: maiden, mother and crone. We have been a pretty formidable force for years, when we are together. The knowledge that one side of this amazing trio will soon be leaving this earth is almost too much to handle. My Mom and I talk several times a week. It's not easy.

Grandma's disease has progressed very slowly. She started out just forgetting more and more things. Then she began having a hard time keeping food down. Walking became more and more difficult. Then the tremors in her hands became more and more pronounced. Then she became confused and paranoid. Finally the basic toilet functions went out the window. Now she can do nothing at all herself. I mean nothing. She can't even talk most of the time, she sort of babbles into the phone at me. Mom still dresses her up like a little doll, in her favorite red clothes, makes sure her nails and hair are done, because Grams is miserable if she feels like she looks less than her best. However, Grandma thinks that my Mom is her Mom and that my Dad is her brother Bill - both of whom have been dead since the 1950's. She hallucinates. She screams and kicks and bites when you try to wash her face. Her rage attacks are incredible. She doesn't know who I am anymore, really. She recognizes my face, and knows I'm someone very special to her... but she can't make the connection that I'm her granddaughter, and she can’t think of my name, even when I’m sitting in front of her saying “Do you remember my name, Grandma?” The first time I realized this I freaked out and cried for days. That was over two years ago.

The positive thing in all this is that my Dad is a Mental Health professional who has spent a significant portion of his career specializing in geriatric disease syndromes. He knows all the research and medicinal practices going back to the 1980's. He headed up an Alzheimer’s wing at a hospital for awhile. He teaches classes in it. Neurology, neuropsychology and neurobehavioral syndromes are his bag. He has received national awards for his work in the field. (Yeah, I'm bragging, I'm proud.) Anyway, he knows all the doctors who have the best knowledge of this. Grandma couldn't be getting better care. She also has a fantastic cocktail of meds, which her doctors adjust from time to time when certain symptoms become more pronounced. She is always clean, well fed, and generally in good spirits. My mother dances with her when she takes her from room to room, humming little tunes and bopping along in front of grandma's walker. It's adorable. Grandma giggles. Whenever I visit them I live to hear that giggle and see her smile.

The latest Alzheimer's drug takes a different tack than previous ones. Usually the drugs protect the proper workings of the brain, to slow down the disease process. To quote the article,

"The four other Alzheimer's medications - Aricept, Exelon, Reminyl and Cognex - work by delaying the breakdown of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is vital for nerve cells to communicate. In contrast, memantine blocks excess amounts of another brain chemical, called glutamate, that can damage or kill nerve cells.".

My grandma is already too far along. Her disease stage is far too advanced for this to have any effect except to prolong her agony.

The thing is, I want her back, and know I can never have that again. The lady who was so much fun to go shopping with and gossip about men with is already gone to me. My Mom misses her Mom dreadfully. Mom and I have each other, but we're sad. We just miss her so much, already, and she's still living in the house. At least, her body is, and her stubborn spirit. It's the mind that's all but gone.

I’ll be seeing her at Thanksgiving when I fly home to visit.

A couple of weeks ago, my parents had to move her to a nursing home. It’s a good home, but this is never an easy thing. They try to see her every day but I know that’s hard to do. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, seeing her there. I don’t know how the house is going to feel without her in it. I want to make a pumpkin pie and feed her some. She’ll love it, she likes desserts. One of the many things we have in common.

So, that’s my entry about my Grandma. She’s been symptomatic for around 4-5 years now. My memories of her stretch back for 30 years. I have tons of photos of her, of her and me and Mom together. When I have a daughter someday, that’s how she’ll get to know her great-grandma, augmented by stories from me and my Mom.

Crap, its late. Gotta run. Tomorrow’s entry will be more upbeat.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Guggenheim on 89th and 5th Avenue is my new favorite building in New York City. After 8 years of living here I finally went there for the first time with my friend Betsy.

(By the way, that's a phrase I'll probably use a lot: " After 8 years of living here, I finally..." I feel like in so many ways I have just moved to New York. More on that later.)

This building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He got a lot of flack for wanting to build it the way he did - it's the only round structure on a block full of square, rectangular, typically shaped buildings. It's extremely anomalous. And, of course, it works. It just looks fantastic sitting there. It makes all the other buildings look boring. It's the jewel of the block. And, for all its seven stories, it's a surprisingly small space.

Betsy informed me that the best way to "do the Guggenheim" is to go in, take the elevator up to the top floor and spiral your way down. We did. I was so enthralled with the building itself I had to make myself look at the art. Now, the current exhibit there is not to my taste. I felt assaulted by all that color. It was like 1986 fashion on those walls. There was one enormous canvas that was postitioned behind the balconies so that you had different views form different levels of the spiral. It broke the piece up into easily swallowed chunks - and being behind that giant white stone wall, I felt safe from it. Sort of like a zoo.

Enough about the art. The building IS ART. I remember leaning slightly over the top balcony saying "I'm not afraid of heights, but looking down, I can see how easily I could die now." (Why did that thrill me so!?) I remember being on a lower level and looking up through the spiraling balconies to the skylight. Just black metal and white frosted glass. Bright sunlight beyond. I trembled. I could have just stood there like that for half an hour.

Someday, if I ever do anything with my music (something else I'll have to write more about later), and become famous enough, I'd want to do a concert in this building. There is a small "stage" on the ground floor. Room for a small ensemble. I'd make it a party. Let people wander around. Let me sit on a stool with the band around me on that little platform, we'll jam, and everyone can listen actively or passively. There is an outdoor balcony on the 4th or 5th level; people can drink cocktails there. What an incredible space to be myself in, to feel myself and my sounds within those round walls, those spirals of stone. I'd feel as though I were being absorbed into the walls. Wow.

Some people fantasize about singing at the Met or at the Garden. The Guggenheim? I'm different.

Other awesome things about this weekend:
1. The Station Agent. Bets and I saw this at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, the 10:30 showing. It's so cool about New York, you can go to the late show and it's packed. This is an awesome movie. I'll probably see it a couple of more times, just because there is so much in the film, it will take a few times to get all the layers. Just my kind of picture. Betsy fell in love with the Italian guy who runs the coffee truck. I fell for the dwarf.

2. Dim Sum in Chinatown. Betsy's going to blog the Dim Sum experience. I can't possibly describe it funnier than she can. I'm laughing right now just remembering.

3. Shopping in Chinatown. After 8 years of living here, I finally shopped Chinatown - REALLY. Not just get off the train, hop quickly into one little storefront, grab something and dash the hell back out of there. I walked the blocks on Canal street with Betsy, we went into several nearly identical cheap-shit-but-gotta-have-it places, then turned down Mott Street to find the Dim Sum place. I didn't get the bubble tea drink that I had wanted, but I had so much fun just shopping down there, I may very well go back next weekend and get the bubble tea, and maybe this ultra-cool knockoff purse I saw for $20. I kind of have to go back down there because I want to get a set of blue china dishes for my friend in Chicago as a Christmas gift. Chinatown always scared the crap out of me because there are just too damn many people there. I mean, you can barely walk! The streets are packed. People brush past you constantly. Personal Space doesn't exist. I get edgy in crowds like that. I just hate them. I had to live and work here in Manhattan all these years before I learned to tolerate it. So, better late then never. I had great fun today. I bought myself a silver watch with a leopard-printed leather strap for $8, 5 star fruits for $2, and 2 bags of incense cones with burners for 6 bucks! Bargain shopper's paradise, if you can take the humanity.

4. Simchat Torah. Whoa. I have a lot of Jewish friends and have dated lots of Jewish guys (was married to one for awhile). I don't know why, but Jews love me. I like them too. They're smart, well educated, and funny, beautiful and articulate. I've been to Passover seders and hung out with friends where I was the only non-Jew there, but I have never experienced anything quite like last Saturday night before. I also learned the term "Jewish Geography" and all that it entails. Wow. I will have to do a whole separate blog entry about this.

5. Walking through the Guggenheim, and along the Museum Mile with Betsy, Amy was there. For the brief time I knew Amy, I knew I was lucky, and I miss her a great deal in my own way. Walking through the city with her best friend, I felt her. I think Betsy probably felt it too, though we didn't really talk about it. What an honor.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Several people have told me my blog is too personal. I almost feel like I'm embarrassing people. Sorry! I guess I'm just so out there. Most people who know me know there's very little I won't talk about. It is true that people who don't know me so well probably are a bit shocked at my first entry.
Well, maybe this will turn out to be sort of a test. If you read this blog, all 3 entires of it, I pretty much don't have any more secrets! So, crash-course in Deidre, maybe. If someone wants to hang around me, and isn't sure what Ms. Hyde will pop out, they can read about it first. :)
Sort of like a label in the grocery store. Warning: watches Bravo, talks about feelings, likes cats and has sick relatives.
I wish everybody came with one!
Yesterday a friend gave me a ride to the Metro North Station. For some reason, the little shuttle bus wasn't running, so I hopped a ride. We soon discovered the cause of the bus's delay: there was a horrible traffic jam, caused somewhat indirectly by the flooding in Manhattan. Well, since we were stuck in traffic, of course the conversation turned to baseball... and I learned that my friend is a Boston fan. Shouldn't have surprised me, I knew he was from Boston. He's also a stereotypical intellectual Boston type who seems to know the history of everything. He took the opportunity of an enclosed space to rant for a few minutes. I realized that I may be the only person in our immediate "crowd" who can listen to this objectively. To me, baseball, although thilling to watch, and fun to play, is, after all, in the grand scheme of things, just a game.


No, really. I can't help it. There are wars going on. There are people in this country killing each other and getting away with it. I have very sick family members who I care deeply about and can only pray they'll be alright. My cat doesn't seem to be able to stop throwing up. All these things matter a great deal more to me than the outcome of a sporting event.

That said, when I woke up this AM, and the first thing I heard was exciting, drama-filled music, I knew the Yankees had won. The first thought that ran through my mind was "my poor friend!"

Don't get me wrong; I enjoy sports. Some of my older friends would never believe it, but I've gone to several Yankee games, a Mets Game, I've seen the Nicks play at the Garden, and had a great time. There was a time in college when I could sink a basketball with respectable accuracy and distance. I've watched the Packers win in a sports bar, cheering over hot wings and beer. Heck, I have a Yankees T-shirt in my drawer! I have as good a time with this as anyone does. It's just that I never feel the agony of defeat because, really, to me, it's just a game. Hearing someone say scornfully "You're not a REAL fan" just doesn't bother me. My identity comes from plenty of other sources.

And, I know there are people who turn to sports to very important, excellent reasons. That's great, that's one of the best things about sports. It helps kids find a way to get through school, find self esteem, discover their own talents and self-respect. It's a great escape, like a good novel is for me or a great movie. (Oh heck, a great salad, who are we kidding.) I think all that is great! I just don't feel it myself. I don't begrudge anyone. I get it! It's just not for me.

So, New Yorkers, congratulations! Boston Fans, wow. You came so close. That's huge in itself! And Chicagoans, come on. Everyone tries to grab that ball. Don't scapegoat the poor guy. If he was a ten-year old - like at that Baltimore game a few years back - nobody would be making death threats. Come on. It's a game.

But it is fun to win. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2003

If your immediate surroundings become a hurricane, be the eye. It's safe.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

My 100th Journal, my first Blog

Ok, maybe not the 100th, but it feels that way. I've been journaling since I was around 10 years old. Frankly I don't remember my first journal, but I do remember writing something about a summertime visit to Grandma and Grandpa in Jersey. Hopefully this blog will NOT turn into online rantings and ravings. The idea of writing something you KNOW everybody's going to see is pretty intimidating.

SO: enough of the disclaiming. There is so much going on in my life right now that I don't know where to begin.

I'm broke and trying to turn my financial situation around
I'm going through a divorce and trying to turn my depression around
I've been anemic, anxiety-ridden and just plain unhealthy for the last 14 months and am trying to turn my health around.
shall we say... I'm unhappy... in my job and am trying to turn my professional life around - preferably in a whole new direction
My bedroom in my apartment is tiny and I'm amazed I can turn around. Sometimes I think my cat can't turn around
My grandma is dying slowly of Alzheimer's and I'm trying... I'm just trying to deal.

In spite of all the above, I'm a pretty happy person. I have a lot of friends at my church (Look! a Link!) and am finding myself more and more involved there. I have a lot of friends just from life in general, and though we all live spread out over the country, I think we do a decent job of keeping in touch. I have 4 in Chicago, 1 in Colorado, 1 in Baltimore, 2 in Virginia, 1 in DC, 1 in St. Louis, several in downstate Illinois (I'm from there), 1 in Korea, and several in New York (where I live now). My parents and I have a fantastic relationship (believe me it took a lot of work) and we miss each other dreadfully. Not to sound wimpy, but I call them almost every day. Add to that all my family - who I actually don't mind being with - and my cat, and I am, truly, never alone. I also have strong spirituality and faith in the divine spirit. So, yeah. I mean yeah. I'm sayin' yeee-ah.

You know, I perked myself up just writing all that.

I have to thank Betsy for getting me started. She and I have this mutual admiration society - we each see things in the other that we wish we had. I think all friendships should be that way. I have an apartment in Manhattan and I sing. She has... Oh, man, she's almost got it all. Her blog doesn't do her justice. Maybe through my blog she'll start seeing herself through my eyes. (Getting nervous, Bets?)

Tonight at 6:30 PM I'm going to a Full Moon Circle at my church. Now, don't get me wrong - my church just lets us use the space. I'm a good, intellectual, feet-on-the-ground Unitarian Universalist. But, I happen to practice earth-centered spirituality. Do the internet research, I'm not going to bother explaining the details of Paganism or UUism, etc. The women I circle with are all smart, professional, funny ladies who I just love being with, and who I learn so much from every time we hang out. I get the majority of my spiritual sustenance from those circles.

Tomorrow I'm having a massage therapy treatment (Look! Another Link!) for the nasty huge knot deep underneath my left shoulder blade. I figure it will take about 4 or 5 treatments to work the thing out, then a few more to make sure it doesn't come back. Regardless of the name of the place, these are not spa massages. They usually hurt like hell. These people dig their fingers into the knots and break them into smaller ones and then massage the smaller ones until they disappear. I just take deep breaths and endure it. The fresh water afterward helps. The pieces of chocolate in the bowl by the door help even more.

Saturday I'll be dragging my lazy, tired ass and sore shoulder to Columbus Circle at 10:30 AM to register for the Walk for Farm Animals. My friend Marisa is the organzier for the New York Walk, and how could I not go? Animal rights are a sensitive issue for me. I'm by no stretch of the imagination a vegetarian, but the extremes to which the farming industry goes are unecessary... I just think that chicken I'm going to eat ought to be able to peck and scratch contentedly until its head gets chopped off. And don't get me started on downers.

Sunday I'll be singing at my church's annual Blessing of the Animals service, where everyone brings in their pets (seriously) and the minister blesses them. Well, not everyone brings their pets, some just bring pictures. (I'll be bringing a picture. Marge would freak out.) It's a way of honoring their companionship, and the interdependent web of life of which we are all a part. Singing at church is a huge part of my faith.

This blog will get more personal at time goes on. Right now, the only people reading this are my friends... and thanks guys! Gimme a while, eventually I'll start making socio-political commentary and bitching about Yankee Games and whining about how boring top-40 radio is, and all the usual stuff that we seach for to read in blogs. I'll pepper my entries with quotes from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and describe the socks I'm wearing. It'll be great.

Oh yeah, and i'll get some pics too.