Friday, September 29, 2006

Good Samaritan

I like to think that I often go above and beyond the call of duty. At The Grove one day I chased down a father who was carrying his daughter. She had lost not one but both of her sandals as he walked, and I followed them into Crate & Barrel to return them. These are the kinds of things I do, because if my kid lost her sandals, I would want someone to do the same for me. I’m not claiming to be some amazing philanthropist, but I’ve helped my share of blind people across the street.

Today I stopped at a stop sign on my way to Smart & Final to buy water. I waited an extra long time because an elderly lady was crossing in front of me. I waved at her to indicate that I had nothing but time to allow her to shuffle in front of my car. She came right up to the window with her hand extended, and I assumed she just wanted to thank me in that over-the-top way that elderly people sometimes do. Anything short of being run down at a stop sign in Los Angeles is probably a random act of kindness in their eyes, after all.

But she said, “Could you drive me to Stanley only?” Stanley is a street that wasn’t far from where we were. Without thinking, I said, “I’m sorry, I’m going that way” and I drove away. Now, it should be noted that the way I was going and the direction she needed to go were one and the same, a fact I did not realize until three seconds after I drove away. Stanley was only a few blocks further down the road from Smart & Final, and for some reason she was walking in the wrong direction, so that had completely confused me.

So, not only did I not give the woman a ride on a warm day in Los Angeles, but I also did not correct her so that she would at least make it to Stanley one day. The guilt was overwhelming, especially because I couldn’t figure out why I said no to her. The only thing I can assume is that it sort of freaked me out for her to ask, and I just reacted without thinking.

I called Christine, who is a good girlfriend. She told me she didn’t want me to pick up strangers when I was alone in the car (and, no, Jack being in her crate in the back seat did not count). When I told her it was only a little old lady carrying an umbrella, she said, “Yeah, an umbrella that doubles as a sword.”

That’s my girl. I can always count on her to turn an old woman into an axe murderer in one sentence. Now I can go through life thinking about how I narrowly averted death by not picking up this sad, old woman who was clearly only out for blood.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Decision Time

I’ve already addressed the fact that I have no hair (and found a great picture to prove it, in case you didn’t believe me or couldn’t remember what my head looks like). Well, today Doris from Hair Art called to let me know that the replacement piece they made has arrived. So now comes the scary part. It’s one thing to make a decision about the style of one’s hair when that hair will grow back. But what do you when the decision you make is permanent (or at least lasts as long as the piece, which is at least a year)? There are no changes. It will not grow out, and the best I can do if there is a mistake is keep going shorter. But that will only work for so long, and I don’t really want short hair anyway.

The first piece was big. It was originally sewn onto my head (to the existing hair) and it hurt like you wouldn’t believe. It felt as though someone was constantly pulling my hair from all sides. Every month or so it would have been necessary to go back and get it adjusted, because as my own hair grows, the fake hair (it’s actually real hair, but I refer to it as “fake” because it is not mine) gets loose. The prospect of that was just not pleasing. And after a few days with the sewn-on version, I realized that it was slipping backward already, making a bald spot right above my forehead. So I had to get it tightened, which meant that the pain that had just somewhat subsided (or to which I had become accustomed) was going to come back. And I couldn’t fathom the idea of doing that every month for the rest of my life.

So I got a clip-on version instead. Except there was so much hair. This had been true with the sewn-on version, since it was the same hair, but the pain had been the main problem and everything else seemed unimportant. The weave itself had about twelve times the amount of hair that has ever been on my head. And it just didn’t look right. It was so big that I was certain everyone could see the actual form of the mesh part under the hair. Imagine old school Doris Day or Sally Field’s hair in “Steel Magnolias” (remember how Shelby always said it looked like a helmet?). It just stuck out unnaturally.

I went back yet again a few months ago and got them to redo it with a different weave, and this is the one that’s ready now. I haven’t seen it, but I’ll probably go in on Saturday. I feel like it was a mistake to do this hair thing at all (even though it was completely my idea in the first place), but it’s been paid for and there are no refunds, so I might as well go get it. I just wish I knew what to do.

If anyone is even reading this, how about some suggestions for my hairstyle?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Running

So, I’ve been running. It sort of happened by accident, since I’ve always assumed that, thanks to my bad knee (two surgeries in the late 1990s), I wouldn’t be able to run without extreme pain. But in June, Christine was visiting her family in Texas and I was at the grocery store, probably buying candy (it’s what I do). At the checkout there was a running magazine that advertised a six week plan. I bought it.

The basic premise was that in six weeks I would be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. The first day consisted of running for one minute, walking for two, and so on. At the end, I almost threw up (though my knee felt fine). In no way did it seem possible that I could get to 30 continuous minutes.

But cut to about six weeks later, and there I was, running for a half hour. And it was fairly easy. So then I took a break. A long one, actually. Between August 18 and September 19, I only ran one time. I just couldn’t find the motivation, for whatever reason. My Nike+ system (learn about it here) couldn’t get me going. I needed a new goal.

Since I’m doing the Los Angeles AIDS Walk on October 15 (feel free to donate to me here), I’ve set a new goal--running at least part of the 10K (6.2 miles). Last year I just walked, but this year the current plan I’m on should have me being able to run about four miles.

I will never be hardcore. I take my five pound dog on runs, and I don’t think anyone can be defined as hardcore when he/she does that. I will never run a marathon. But four or five miles? I can handle that.

I’m still not sure I get the zen-like qualities that people talk about when it comes to running. Runners have this whole culture of their own, and they make the rest of the world feel like they’re missing out on life’s big mystery. But running does have a way of bonding people so that, even in Los Angeles, when runners pass one another on the street, they give a nod or a smile. This doesn’t happen between casual dog-walkers or shoppers on Melrose. This part of it makes sense to me--only someone else running can actually understand what the body is feeling. What better way to convey that understanding than with a smile or nod?

So maybe I’m on my way to understanding the brotherhood of running. And maybe I’m not. I mean, some runners seem to think that running brings them closer to god. I’ll say this--at times it certainly makes me feel a lot closer to death. And if that counts, I guess I’m a runner.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Beliefs

Given the title I chose for my blog, one should have assumed that eventually this would be about politics. And today it starts. I have a lot of opinions and beliefs when it comes to the current political state in this world, and most of them classify me as a hardcore liberal. This is just the way it is, and I am in fact very proud to be a liberal.

I was not always political. Of course, I am only 26 years old, so I haven’t had much opportunity. But it wasn’t until George W. Bush was elected that I really saw a need for a fundamental set of beliefs. His administration was (and is) busy telling the rest of us what we should believe, and I guess I believed it to be ever more important that I figure out what my values are, because I knew I would have to fight for them. What I didn’t know is how difficult a fight it would be.

At every turn, there are those attempting to make me and people like me feel inadequate, unpatriotic and just plain wrong. Here’s the thing, though--we’re not wrong. I know it sounds simple, but it’s actually true. We’re right. And we’ve been right for a while now. No matter how many times the president and his buddies try to tell me that disagreeing with them means I agree with the enemy, I am not backing down. Disagreeing with them is a right guaranteed to me in the Constitution. But disagreeing with them now is actually pretty easy, because they’re making it that way. Mistake after mistake, they continue to validate the opinions of the liberals in this country, to the point where we now have to wonder exactly what Mr. Bush would have to do to get impeached. Just where is Monica Lewinsky when we need her?

I now have a defined set of beliefs, and it certainly feels as though my government disagrees with every one of them.

They are, in no particular order:

1. I believe that all people, regardless of skin color, religion, sexual orientation or any other defining factor, are equal in the eyes of the law (I’m not alone on this one. You’ll find it in a few historical documents from the late 18th century).
2. I believe the war in Iraq was started on false pretenses. In short, we were lied to. And the evidence is there. There is a lot of it, and if you don’t know it by now, then you are really, really not paying attention.
3. I believe that the war is going very badly, and is making the world a much more dangerous place.
4. I believe that the government has an obligation to help its people in a time of natural disaster, when they have no place to go. Even if those people are poor. And black.
5. I believe that offering tax cuts to the richest 1% does not help anyone below that 1%.
6. I believe that dependency on oil, foreign or otherwise, will be the downfall of this nation, and that an effort to power our lives through other means is the only way for us to survive.
7. I believe that the Christian Right is as detrimental to a civilized society as Islamic extremists.
8. I believe that any consenting adult has the right to love, have sex with, or marry any other consenting adult. This does not mean an adult can marry a child, nor does it mean an adult can marry a goat. A child and a goat are not consenting adults. And guess what? 95% of pedophiles are straight, white males. So quit using that argument.
9. I believe that if the U.S. wants to police the world, we might want to set a better example. For one thing, how about we stop telling everyone else they can’t have nuclear weapons? We have a few of our own. What makes us more responsible with such a powerful force? After all, in the course of human history, we’re the only nation to ever actually use nuclear arms. What does that say about us?
10. I believe that people like Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly do nothing to further actual discourse in this country, and seek only to polarize the American people in an effort to sell more books.
11. I believe that George W. Bush and those most closely associated with them are bad people who don’t care about anyone but themselves and their other rich, white friends.

I have more, of course, but the secret to blogging is to keep it short and simple. So that’s it. Please, if you’re one of my Republican friends (if I have any left), give me some sort of debate here. I really want to hear actual rebuttals of the things that I believe, not the standard Republican talking points about how liberals hate America and want to appease the terrorists.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chicks

Last night Christine and I saw the Dixie Chicks tape a VH1 Storytellers episode. Hands down, it was the best concert-going experience of my life (and I’ve been to a few great ones), and one of the top five experiences of any kind of my life.

I got an email last week from the Dixie Chicks mailing list, announcing this taping. The venue would only hold 400 people--100 people would win a ticket, 100 could purchase them for $150 each, and I have no idea who got the other 200 (if they were even used). We paid for ours, not wanting to take any chances. And as a result we got to go to a pre-party, which consisted of free drinks and a few snacks, and we got a gift bag. Nothing special, but who doesn’t like free stuff?

Most importantly, we were in the second row, maybe ten feet from the Chicks. It was amazing. They’re energetic and real and nice and excellent performers. They made us laugh and cry, but mostly they made me happy that a bunch of idiot Republicans couldn’t push them completely out of the public eye, try as they might.

I wore my “I Still Hate George Bush” t-shirt, and got plenty of compliments on it from the crowd. And in the middle of “Cowboy Take Me Away,” Martie (one of the girls, the one who plays fiddle) looked at the shirt and smiled. Then, right before the question and answer portion of the show, she looked out and me and asked what it said, I guess to make sure she read it correctly. I told her, and she said, “Can we see it?” I started to stand up, but then some guy walked in front of her and she was distracted. A part of me will probably always think that by not standing up quickly enough (as Christine was trying to get me to do), I blew an opportunity to talk to all three of them. Oh well.

In short, the Chicks are wonderful, and nothing I write will ever do them or their music justice. And lest you think that their liberal speak is just for show, read this: Conservation. You think Toby Keith is doing that?

P.S. I did not take the above photo. I stole it from the Dixie Chicks MSN site.

Yes, I Have No Hair

I have no hair. It’s a plain and simple fact, and one which most people who know me either know or can guess easily. Hell, most strangers can probably figure it out. When one is female and is most recognizable for the Red Sox cap she is always wearing, there are only a few reasons for it. One is that she’s a lesbian, the other that she has no hair. In my case, it happens to be both.

Which is a shame, really, because I don’t like the word "lesbian." In fact, if it weren't for Christine, I wouldn't like being gay at all. I don't like gay pride, I don't like gay men dancing on floats in parades. I don't like women whose very presence necessitates the use of air quotes because, really, what about them is in any way feminine? I don't like being associated with any of these people. Which is not to say I don't fight for the rights of gays and lesbians. Obviously that's important to me. But I have issues with it. Internal homophobia? Probably. I guess the real problem is that I don't like that being gay has to make me different from the other 90% of the population. I don't like that I have to be classified in this way, when no one is attempting to classify me for having green eyes or size ten feet. I don't like that the number one reaction from everyone when I came out was, to paraphrase, "duh." I don't like anything about me being obvious, but mostly I don't like looking like, sounding, behaving like a stereotypical dyke.

But I have to wear hats, and therefore have to look somewhat unfeminine as a result.  Some girls can pull off a ball cap while still appearing cutesy and girly. I am not one of these girls.

Back to the hair. There aren’t many options for me when it comes to this problem. I’ve been losing my hair since I was eighteen, and while it wasn’t too noticeable in the first couple of years, it has degraded rapidly since then. And medical science hasn’t really kept up with it. So, Bosley can’t do anything about it, since they can’t transplant hair when there is really none from which to move it. And Rogaine for Women is a joke. Of course, there are incredibly strong medications out there, but they’re for men, and if I touch them or possibly even look at them, my ovaries might fall out or something.

My only choice is to pay $2000 to get some fine European hair sewn onto a mesh weave by a woman named Doris (or one of her employees). That hair is then clipped to what remains of my own. It looks pretty realistic when it’s all said and done, but it’s a pain. And the first piece was not so good, so I am currently awaiting a new one.

So for now, hats. If you see me on the streets, or out at a nice restaurant, or anywhere, really, and I’m wearing a hat, don’t question it. I hate having to explain it. It’s embarrassing, frankly. But, hey, Bosley says that one day in the next few years they might be able to actually clone my hair and grow it in a test tube for me. Let’s hope it doesn’t involve stem cells. Bush is already trying to get into my uterus. I don’t need him in my scalp, too.