The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Gmail, Anyone?

I've got six gmail invites, and everyone I know who wants gmail already has it. If you want gmail, leave a comment with your current email address, and I'll happily send one your way.

Since everyone might not know what gmail is, let me explain as well as I know. Gmail is google's foray into offering free email accounts, ala hotmail, yahoo!, etc. There's a few things that make gmail different from hotmail and yahoo. One is good, one is different, and one is slightly concerning.

Good: Gmail gives you 1000mb of storage space. Until I got my gmail account, I used hotmail. Hotmail gives you 2mb. I've had my hotmail account for years and years, and being the packrat that I am, it's getting kind of full with only 2mb of storage available. That 2mb limit is also a pain in the ass when it comes to receiving large attachments. Basically, I couldn't because the hotmail account would bounce the email before it got to me because it was too big. I don't expect this problem with gmail since they are offering 500 times the amount of storage space.

Different: Rather than arranging email in a strictly chronological order, gmail has grouped the emails into "conversations." For instance, if you send me an email, then I respond, then you respond back, all of these emails will be grouped together. Hotmail (and most other email accounts) do it on a first come, first gets listed order. In other words, gmail will group all the emails in a "conversation" together no matter how much time has elapsed or how many other people have emailed in between. Hotmail (and most other email accounts) receives each email as a new entity--i.e. if I get an email and then respond and then ten other people send me emails, and then you respond to my emailed response (got that?) your response will come in after all the other emails and in no way be clearly linked to the original message (except by subject line if that has not changed). This is good in some ways, but I'm used to a chronological order, and I'm not sure if this is better or worse than that. I was happy with the way it was.

Concerning: Just like hotmail and yahoo! (and other free email services) gmail has ads associated with it. However, instead of just running random ads, gmail uses google (its parent) to search the content of your email and then display topic specific ads. So let's say you were writing about wanting to go to a Brittany Spears concert (I'm sure we've all written that email), the ads to go along with your email might be for Brittany Spears merchandise or for Tickemaster, etc. This creeped me out, the idea that the content of all of my email was being scanned. However, it's not a person scanning the email--it's the google search engine. And considering the no one's email is actually secure (how much spam do you get offering ways to get passwords?), I'm over it. The 1000mb is just too good to pass up.

And that's the deal with gmail for those who didn't know. If you did know, you probably didn't read all this, but if you did and you're annoyed that I explained something you already knew, tough luck. I'm doing this for me peeps at their request.

This post was originally about three sentences long. Thank you, foxymama, for forcing me to turn it into a long, drawn out affair (the best kind :)

Monday, August 30, 2004

More Bad News

As some of you might remember from an earlier post, I've been having a crappy summer. Everything seems to be going wrong. When I went to San Diego, I'd had hopes that I was putting my bad luck behind me. I was so desperate to believe that to be true that I even brushed off catching a 24 hour bug while in San Diego as no big deal.

Among my lengthy list of things that have gone wrong were my car breaking down and having to put off trying to get pregnant. Well, I got the car back two Fridays ago after turning over $700 to the mechanic--ouch. Especialy considering that we are planning on getting rid of this 15 year old car with 150,000 miles on it this winter (when we'll come into a little money). But until December or January, we're stuck with this car. The car's Pennsylvania inspection runs out at the end of August, so I took the car to my local mechanic (not the guy who fixed it two weeks ago) and found out that the crack in the windshield is not longer passable. This means that we need a new windshield. Did you just hear the cha-ching of a cash register? I know I did.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I heard from my doctor about the last, final lab test I needed to have run before being cleared to buy sperm. And guess what--it came back positive! So it looks like I have myco/ureaplasma, whatever the hell that is. I'm still not entirely sure. Apparently, it's something that a lot of women have, and it doesn't amount to much unless you want to get pregnant, and then it can cause infertility and/or miscarriage. It's not a big deal to get rid of. I just need to go on a 7 day course of antibiotics. However, that effectively means that I will not be able to try to get pregnant next cycle like I had been hoping. First, the 7 days of the antibiotic, then re-do the labwork and wait 7 more days for the results to come back, then finally send the completed application to the sperm bank and wait 7 more days for them to process it. Obviously, by this time I am well into the next cycle and it's too late, which means waiting AGAIN.

This might not seem like much to you, but it's killing me. I thought I was taking a four month break last February, which means I would have been trying again in June. Well, June turned into July, and then I really thought I could try in August. Then my gynocologist messed up my test, and August turned into September. Now I'm positive for this weird thing that my GYN had never even heard of before, so September is becoming October. Have I mentioned that I'm not getting any younger?

I know I asked this same question in the previous post I mentioned earlier, but seriously, when is the world going to stop shitting all over me? Enough already! Back in early August, people told me that I was sure to have good fortune smile upon me since I'd gone through such a bad time. Where is that goddamn smile?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

To Advertise or Not to Advertise, That Is the Question

Normally when I log onto Blogger, I go straight to my dashboard and start blogging. This morning, I decided to take a look at the "Blogs of Note" to see if there was anything interesting. After scrolling down the list, my eye was drawn to the left, and I saw this sentence: "Read There's AdSense in My Blog! to find out more about how to start blogging for dollars." Like a dutiful child, I did what I was told.

I found out a couple of things. For one, when I first started blogging (way back in May), there were Google driven ads at the top of my blog. I was amused by these content derived ads, and even mentioned the ads in a blog entry. Then I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the ads were gone and seemed to have been replaced by the Blogger NavBar, although how Blogger was making money off of that, I had no idea. On top of noticing that the ads were gone, I then noticed that they seemed to have re-appeared (in a new format) on one of my favorite blogs. I wasn't really sure why that blog had them and others did not. Well, the above mentioned article explained all.

We bloggers are now welcomed and encouraged to authorize the use of ads on our blogs. Blogger.com has done the good deed of offering to share the profits from our blogging with us, the bloggers. If we want ads in our blogs, we set up an AdSense account, and I guess every time someone clicks on an ad from our blog, we get some money (as does blogger.com). How much, I haven't bothered to find out yet, but I can't imagine that it's more than a few cents. However, to increase how many cents you make, blogger.com offers some helpful hints from someone named Haughey:

Haughey's Hints for AdSense Bloggers

1. Focus, and be as specific as you can.
2. Write content related to real products.
3. Don't start a blog just for money.
4. Use a professionally designed template.

I find these hints distrubing. The idea that some of my favorite bloggers might start writing about Diet Coke in order to be product specific and thereby make some money is upsetting. I kind of thought of blogging as a way to just speak what was on your mind--a utopian state of free speech. I thought of blogging as something simple and pure. Maybe I'm being too melodramatic here, but I think you know what I mean. Can it be that this is behind us now? Can it be that my favorite bloggers will just start doing it for the money? They will no longer write what is in their heads and hearts but about Nike shoes instead because that might lead to extra change in their pockets? And even if they did do so, could I blame someone who was just trying to make an extra buck? And most terrifying of all, is this in my future? Like everyone else, I could use more money.

The blog I mentioned earlier that already seems to have enlisted in AdSense does not appear to be influenced by Haughey's Hints. I hope that she does not become so....

Friday, August 27, 2004

Fine: the Word that Means Nothing, but Everyone Wants to Hear

Many people have me how my grandfather is doing since my grandmother died. I tell them honestly, "Well, he's really depressed and lonely." Then they say something like, "Well, is he okay, though? Is he functioning?"

These are two very different questions. Is he okay? No. No, he's not. None of us are. People ask me how I'm doing, and I tell them I'm depressed, and they say, "You're doing okay." When I ask them what they mean, they point out that I can get up in the morning, feed myself, clean myself, have a conversation, etc. etc. Being able to fulfill these requirements does not add up to "okay" in my book. Yes, I do all of these things. So does my grandfather and my mother and my aunt. But we are not okay. We are in pain. We are sad. We are hurting. We miss the matriarch of our family, the woman who held us all together.

I understand the function of asking someone "How are you?" simply as a part of the social contract. You see someone you know, and our culture dictates that the exchange of communication begins in a set pattern: "Hello." "Hi." "How are you?" "Fine, and you?" "Good." That's the script. From there on out, it can go anyway you to take it, but you are expected to follow that script, almost to the letter, for the first ten seconds or so. And I'm willing to follow it. In fact, I like it. What pisses me off is when people try to interject that script into something serious, like inquiring about how someone is doing following the death of a family member.

When I am confronted with that script at the beginning of an encounter with someone, I still follow it, even though I am not doing "fine." Nonetheless, I will take part in the social contract. However, when I have been spending time with someone, and the subject of my grandmother's passing comes up, and then I am asked again how I am doing within that context, I am going to give an honest answer. And I hate the way people dismiss what I have to say. "You're depressed? But you can still get around and do things? Oh, then you're fine." Clearly, they don't want to know how I'm doing. They just want to hear that magic, meaningless word, "Fine."

Maybe I should just give them what they want in the future. I just won't talk about my grandmother and how I am grieving. I like to let people share in my life and what's going on, but as it turns out, they only seem to want to hear me tell my funny stories, and this story is not a funny one.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Over the River and Through the Woods, to Grandmother's House I Go

My grandmother died on July 24th. The last time I was down at my grandparents' house was for her funeral on July 29. I had been meaning to get down there since then, but when both my car and my grandfather's borrowed truck broke down (the car on July 28, the truck on 8/3), I had no way of getting there. Not exactly true. I have a motorcycle, but the week of 8/2 threatened rain, and it didn't seem like a good idea. The week of 8/9, I was in San Diego. The week of 8/16 was too busy dealing with getting the car and the truck dealt with. Now the car is back ($700 later) and so is the truck. I'm heading down there this morning.

It feels like the first time that I'll be going there, and she won't be there. I was there almost every day after she died and through the day of her funeral, but that period of time almost seems like it existed in a parallel dimension. All of my family was there--my mother, my aunt, my uncle, my cousin, and so many local friends of my grandparents. We were all so raw. We were in a haze, where we just tried to get through one hour and then the next.

So now it's been one month and one day since she died. Enough time has passed that when I go down there today, it will be "normal," except that she won't be there. She won't give me that fierce hug and that kiss on the cheek that almost felt like a jab with a pointed finger. My grandmother was soft and caring and happy to sit in the background and smile at you, except when it came to physical displays of affection. Then, she grabbed a hold of you so that you knew you were in the grip of something strong and real. Even a pat on the hand held the connotation, "Take that, take this love I have for you, it's yours, here."

I'm going to miss that today. I do already.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Spreading My Legs Again

I think I should invent a reverse thigh master. Instead of creating a work out designed to increase your strength in putting your knees together, I should come up with an aparatus designed to increase your strength spreading your knees apart. I'm sure that tons of men would buy them and set them under the Christmas tree for their girlfriends, wives, or fuck-buddies. And then there's people like me who need the practice for going to the doctor.

I was thinking about this because I was at the doctor again to get another vaginal culture. The last test to be performed in my race to conception. Actually, it's more like a decathalon as opposed to just a race. You need an entire skill set to get pregnant as a lesbian, but hopefully I have finally finished phase one: getting all the shit together to send to the sperm bank so that they will sell me millions of spermies.

As I walked out of the doctor's office, I felt a sense of relief. I thought, Whew, that's over. The last test. The last time I'll be spreading my legs to strangers in white lab coats. Then I realized that rather than that being the last time, I've barely scratched the surface of my leg spreading opportunities. Getting pregnant through artificial insemination means that I'll be spreading my legs probably 3-5 times a month from here on out until I get a little Oz in the oven.

You see now how valuable the reverse thigh master would be for me. I could start my leg spreading work outs and be prepared next cycle.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Kids Today

Yesterday I attended the wedding of a friend of a friend with an eye towards expanding my portfolio. They'd agreed to let me attend and give me a free dinner and access to the open bar in exchange for handing over all the pictures I took afterwards. Sounded like an arrangment made in heaven to me. I started out the day in the salon with the bride and her bridesmaids plus some mothers and grandmothers thrown in. One conversation I overheard was particularly inspiring, and it went a little something like this:

Bride: Yeah, one of my friends of mine got married two years ago and she got pregnant right away after the wedding and had a baby like nine and a half months later.
Random Bridesmaid: Wow, that's really quick.
Bride: Yeah, they're Catholic, so I guess they decided to quit the birth control after the wedding.
Random Bridesmaid: Oh, I guess that makes sense.
Bride: Or it could be because my friend was older, so they had to start right away.
Random Bridesmaid: How old was she?
Bride: 27.

Yikes. Talk about cutting to the bone. Yours truly will turn 30 in less than a month.

I've always had older friends, and I still do, but because the Bread Winner is younger than I am (26 going on 27), I've gotten a younger group of friends through her. It's very strange to be the oldest person in a group. Very strange indeed. Especially when the difference seems to be so big between the 20s and the 30s. Just a few years ago, I wouldn't have been that much different than those girls. Okay, that's a lie. I was different because I had older friends. But I did see the age of 30 as somehow more significant that 26, 27, 28, and 29. 30 denoted a level of maturity. And end of youth, sort of. Maybe the word I'm looking for is wisdom. I always thought I'd feel different at 30 than at, let's say, 28. But 30 is closing in fast, and nothing much has changed. If anything, I've gotten less mature, responsible and wise. But I guess I'm still older, no matter what else changes or doesn't change.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Dedicated to a Brave Hosta

The Bread Winner and I have many dogs and a rather small backyard. Last summer we noticed that the backyard had a certain odor. Our neighbors, whose backyards bordered ours, would step outside and say, "What is that smell? Is there something dead somewhere?" You might be thinking that the Bread Winner and I had failed to pick up after our dogs, and the odor was nothing more than shit baking in the sun. Au contraire. We do pick up the doo-doo. The odor was, in fact, the urine soaked earth itself. And what to do about that?

The Bread Winner turned to her favoirte magazine for advice: Martha Stewart Living. Martha recommended planting mint and peonies. Apparently, mint, if allowed to, will grow rampant and become ground cover. Every time the dogs' paws tread over it, they crinkle the leaves, releasing a refreshing mint scent into the air. And peonies produce fragrent blossoms and are, according to Martha, dog urine resistent. (I joked to the Bread Winner, Maybe they should be called "pee-on-me's", heh-heh. She didn't laugh.)

Taking Martha's advice, we decided to plant mint and peonies this past spring. We knew mint would be easy to find, but it seemed that peonies would have to be ordered. We checked out the White Flower Farm Catalog and discovered that they were around $40 a pop. That seemed like a lot. We thought, Maybe we'll get one this year and see how it goes. Then my friend Beth-Marie said that she had peonies in her backyard that she would be happy to part with since she had so many. She pointed them out to me, and I proceeded to dig up six plants in early spring when they were nothing more than stalks a few inches out of the ground. I brought them home and planted them along our fence lines--two on one side, four on the other--hoping to create a pleasant scent buffer between our backyard and those of our neighbors.

Funny thing happened when the peonies started to grow in. Two of them were hostas. Who knew? Not I, clearly. The hostas had managed to organize themselves well--they were in with what I had thought were four peonies, and which were actually peony, hosta, peony, hosta.

While the peonies and hostas were growing in, we stuck cheap, little, white wire fences around them to keep the dogs from drenching them in urine while they were still adjusting to their new environment. But since we'd specifically wanted peonies because we understood them to be dog urine resistant, once they got to a respectable size, we removed the fence.

Then another strange thing happened: once the fence was down, both of our big dogs made a beeline for the first hosta and just pissed all over it. They did this time and time again. Every time they were let out into the yard, they headed for this one poor hosta and drenched it. I watched as they went so far as to strandle the hosta, positioning their penises directly in its middle, and letting it rip. Needless to say, it didn't take long (less than a week) for the hosta to wilt and turn yellow--not unlike the yellow urine raining down on it several times a day.

At first we thought it was just a quirk and they would move on, but when it was clear that the hosta was on death's door, we put the fence back around the plants and hoped it would make a recovery. It didn't.

Recently, we took the fence back down. The hosta is dead and has been for months. But the dogs still love to piss there. I don't know what it is about that spot, but we've learned our lesson. No future plant will be placed there. That space will remain a urine soaked memorial to the hosta that didn't make it.

Friday, August 20, 2004

It's a Girl! The Bean Blog Gets a Sister

Well, I decided to do it. Who knows? It might go the way of my tarot forum and be gone tomorrow, but we shall see. I guess what I decided was that I had a lot to say about other topics, but they seemed too involved to just dump in the middle of everything else going on in my life. Now that I think about it, it's more that they seemed too involved to just dump in the middle of the nothing else going on in my life. We'll just have to wait and see how the wedding photography blog does on its own.

I know what you're thinking: "Damn you, Oz. I have enough on my plate reading the Bean Blog and the twenty other blogs I read daily. You're sadly mistaken if you think I'm going to read two of your blogs. You're just not that interesting." I hear you, and really, I can't argue. I'm practically the least interesting person I know with the least interesting blog. So I have no expectation that anyone will read Weddings by Oz. Frankly, I'm still stunned that people read the Bean Blog with any regularity.

My first responsibility is, and always will be, to the Bean Blog. I would never let down my hundreds, no dozens, no pairs of loyal readers. I will never post anything on the Bean Blog that would force you to also read Weddings by Oz in order to know what's going on. They will be separate, but equal blogs. Well, no, actually, Weddings by Oz will be slightly less loved. Now I know how I'll be if I have two children--I'll pick a favorite and make sure she gets the best candy.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Grand Central or Multiple Streams of Information?

I am a big fan of a couple of blogs dedicated to one topic, Retail Blog and Where's My Hat? I love the dependability of checking in on those sites and always getting an entry about a familiar topic. What type of customer will annoy Tim today? Where is Dan's hat? Even though, very occasionally, these blogs veer slightly off course, by and large, they are always about their chosen topic, and I think that's cool. Okay, I'm not being very articulate here, but you know what I mean.

Now, I also like blogs like mine that don't have much linking one entry to the next except that they all have one author. Finding out what's on people's minds from day to day is very satisfying and sometimes surprising. Frankly, I think that it's the easier way to blog. I can usually come up with something to say, whereas many days can go by between posts from Tim or Dan because, I imagine, they don't have anything to say about their topic on some days.

I have been toying with the idea of creating sister-blogs to the Bean Blog (how'd you like that? now you have two windows of the same exact thing, mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha) which would be topic dedicated as opposed to Whatever Piece of Crap Enters the Mind of Oz. I thought I might have a blog that was just about my Herculean efforts to get pregnant. I also thought about having a wedding photography blog, as weird shit always happens at weddings.

We have now arrived at my Question of the Day. Is this too much? Would I be stretching the genius of Oz too thin? Is it better just to have everything here, at Grand Central so to speak? Or would you, my loyal readers, like to have the storylines of my life separated into multiple streams of information? I would still keep and update daily (or as close to it as I can manage) the Bean Blog (he he, I did it again). But there would be one or two other topic dedicated blogs to compliment my random musings. Hmmm, it's a thought.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Wedding Photography Business

You may remember me talking about trying to make some money from photography--mainly, wedding photography. When I first embarked on this plan, back in May, it seemed like a nice idea in a vague kind of way. I quickly got a job for late August. I felt good about it--out there in the distance. Well, my friends, August is now. Not only is that job almost upon me, but other jobs are lining up as well. I have two jobs scheduled in October and one in January. Could it be this easy?

I've tried to start other little "businesses" before. Once, I tried to set myself up as a dog walker. I knew many of the dog people in my neighborhood, and I thought, why not walk dogs? Fresh air, animal companionship, sounds good, eh? Except for the fact that I hate walking my own dogs let alone anyone else's. Every now and then, walking my dogs is fun. But day in, day out? No thank you. Especially not for half an hour to an hour, which is what people expect when they're paying you. Let me make it clear that I never had a dog walking thing going and then threw it away. I think I got two jobs out of my attempts to start the "business." But those two jobs were enough to make me see that it wasn't for me.

I also once tried to start up a zine. I never thought I'd make real money out of it, but I was hoping I could get enough advertisements to pay for the printing plus maybe a little extra--and I mean a little, like $20. But that fell apart, too, due mostly to the fact that I never did anything get any advertisers. I ended up printing the thing myself with a total cost of about $100 and a total run of about 100 copies. The first and last issue.

So when I said that was I going to start a wedding photography business, frankly I thought that it would go the way of these other "businesses." But it hasn't. I haven't even really done anything to generate business for myself. I've just been waiting for clients to reveal themselves to me, and then I go after them. About half the time, I've gotten them. Now I've started phase two: actually advertising. I submitted an ad to a little Philadelphia paper that runs ads for free. And I'm going to put an ad on whatever free online services I can find. On top of that, I'm going to put up some flyers at various places (like grocery stores, etc.) that have community bulletin boards.

In other words, this business idea of mine is becoming a reality. Honestly, it's kind of scary. No, it's really scary. I just booked a wedding for January. That means that I can't just decide to stop doing it, like the dog walking or the zine. These people are giving me a deposit, we're signing a contract, and I'm going to have to be there. That means that my business will still exist four months from now whether I do anything or not. Just like a little kid, I feel funny inside. The question is, is it funny-excited? or funny-scared-shitless?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Memories

This might have slipped your attention, but the Olympics are on, and I mean on. They are on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, and Bravo. Bravo? you say. Yes, Bravo. Bravo is owned by NBC, so why not? They've got all the sports no one wants to watch, but at least they can say they're on. And I'm happy about it. I spent yesterday morning watching the first phase of the equestrian 3-day event. This morning I'm watching phase 2, and it's bringing back memories.

Oz, I hear you asking: What's an equestrian 3-day event? Well, in my humble, biased opinion, it's the truest test of a horse and rider that competition offers--at least for English riders (and by English, I am referring to saddle style, not nationality). A 3-day event takes place over, you guessed it, three days. The first day is when the horse and rider compete "on the flat," i.e. dressage (this is an Olympic sport in and of itself). The second day is when the horse and rider perform various time trials concluding with a 6 mile gallop through open fields, water, hill and dale, jumping "natural-looking" jumps. This sort of brings to mind a fox hunt, although it's one horse at a time. This phase tests endurance and courage, and it's called "cross country." The third phase is show jumping (another Olympic sport unto itself), where horse and rider cruise around a little ring and jump over pretty colored fences. As you can see, it's three competitions in one, and instead of just testing the horse and rider at one thing, they must prove themselves to have a wide variety of skills. This sport, my friends, is what I used to do through out my childhood.

Not at the Olympic level, of course. Like most sports, there's levels. For 3-day eventing, there's elementary, novice, preliminary, intermediate, and advanced (advanced being the Olympic level). I was only a novice, but boy was it fun. Watching day 2, the cross country portion, makes me remember galloping through the fields myself, steering my horse towards one jump after another, being alone out there, the wind blowing against my face, just me and my trusty mount. Or not so trusty, as the case may be. I remember getting a great dressage score in one competition--my best ever--and then getting thrown by my horse in cross country (a 65 point penalty which there is no way to overcome and get a ribbon).

I don't know what it is about girls and horses, but I was lucky that I got to live out my dream more than most girls ever do. I lived on a horse farm one year, and I leased a horse during one school year another year. Someday I'm going to have a horse again. I don't know when, and I don't know how, but I'll get there.

I used to relish galloping around like mad and jumping anything in my path. I still want to do that, don't get me wrong. But as I sit here and think about my time with horses, I remember most riding in the mountains, just walking along with loose reins, and coming into open spaces where I could see the world laid out before me.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Photoblog Test

So it looks like blogger has finally done us Mac users justice and found a way for us to photoblog.  In case you haven't heard about this, check out this link:
http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=916

This is a test.  It's a shot I took at a wedding I did on 8/7.  The funny thing is that I was just holding the camera randomly, before the ceremony began and clicking the shutter so that the groom would understand how loud it was and make some decisions about when he wanted pictures (during songs, vows, etc. etc. when the shutter click might have been a distraction).  I downloaded my pictures later, and I found this one.  It was completely at an angle because I was just holding the camera in my hand, but I straightened it out, and this is what I got.  I like it.

Photoblog Test

Sunday, August 15, 2004

San Diego and the 1968 Dodge Dart

I was hoping that by running about 3000 miles away from home, I would escape my bad karma. It worked.... kind of. I did get really sick on Wednesday, spending the early hours of Wednesday morning hugging a toilet bowl. God do I hate throwing up. It's really, really nasty. I hardly ever get "throw-up" sick. I usually get sore throats or sinus infections. So this was an especially wonderful treat, to feel my partially digested dinner hurling the wrong way through my digestive track. But luckily, it was only some type of 24 hour bug, sent to let me know I wasn't off the hook yet. But I still had four wonderful days in San Diego. We spend three mornings at my favorite beach in the world, lovely Mission Beach.



We also went to the World Famous San Diego Zoo. I said "World Famous San Diego Zoo" instead of just "San Diego Zoo," because every single employee at the zoo referred to it as the World Famous San Diego Zoo. What was that about? Anyway, we forgave them because we got to see the baby panda, Mei Sheng!



He was very cute. Did you know that there have only been two pandas born in the USA which have lived past four days? Did you also know that both of those pandas were born at the World Famous San Diego Zoo? Mei Sheng turns one year old in just a few days, August 19.

The highlight of the trip, for me, was getting to drive my aunt's 1968 Dodge Dart 290. This car is super, super cool. I tried to find a good picture of it online, but there isn't anything out there close to it. Needless to say, I felt like all that and then some cruising around southern California in a beautiful, wonderfully maintained, 1968 Dodge Dart.

It seemed like my bad luck was cropping up yet again when Hurricane Charlie hit Florida and then began rapidly up the coast towards the mid-Atlantic. We all wondered if we'd be allowed to land the plane or if we'd be diverted to somewhere like Pittsburgh for the night. But it all worked out, and here we are back in Philadelphia.

My vacation stints are over now. You might be wondering, Oz, you're such a traveller! Maybe you have millions! No, no, my pets. Just lucky this summer to get a couple of free rides.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Pissed with a Capital Stream of Hot, Flowing, Neon-Yellow Urine

The last couple of weeks have sucked. Let's review:

1) Chester the dog blows out his right knee, requiring a $2000+ surgery in order to repair, a scant three months after we had just shucked out $2000+ to repair the left knee.

2) My grandmother dies.

3) My fish dies the same day.

4) On the way to the viewing, my car starts overheating and making unhappy noises. I barely make it to a friend's house in Delaware, and she graciously lets me take her car so I can make it to the viewing. That was great of her. However, I see dollar signs flashing in my head--first Chester, now the car.

5) While at my grandfather's, I ask him if I can borrow one of his three vehicles, and he lends me his truck (which actually used to be my truck). I did this because I knew I would not have time to get my car fixed before leaving for San Diego (which I'll do on Sunday), and I needed to have a car.

Then my grandfather's truck starts acting like it's going to overheat. However, inspection of the engine (along the side of the highway) shows that the radiator has the appropriate amount of fluid in it, it's not boiling, and the fan is running. After consulting people who know more about cars than I do, we all agree that it's probably just the indicator that is faulty and that the truck is not overheating. Therefore, I drive the car on Tuesday, and when I try to start it to head home, it refuses to start. Now I have no four-wheel vehicles, and both vehicles are broken down at places other than my house.

6) In the midst of all of this, one of my other dogs, Blue, starts having horrible, pure liquid diarrhea. This starts last Sunday night. I wait patiently for his intestinal tract to heal itself. It doesn't. This is complicated by the fact that I have no way of getting him to the vet, as I have no car. On top of all this, I see not only visions of more dollar signs dancing in my head, I see Blue dead, just like my grandmother, my fish, my car, and my grandfather's truck. I also envision that he has passed on his terrible disease to my other dogs as well as all the neighborhood dogs. Once all the dogs in a 10 block radius have died, I will be banished from my neighborhood and possibly the entire city.

7) The only thing going somewhat right was that it looked like I would be able to try to get pregnant next cycle. Now that hope is gone, too. My stupid, fucking, idiotic, irresponsible gynocologist failed to inform me that the lab she uses was unable to run a test that is required by my sperm bank. And now it's the 11th hour. I leave for San Diego on Sunday for a week, so I will not be able to get the test run next week. The week I come back, I'll have my period, and I can't run the test then. So that means that I have to wait until the week of 8/23 to get the culture taken for the test. It will most likely take one to two weeks for the results to come back. By then, ovulation will have come and gone.

When my car broke down, my mother said to me, "Bad things come in threes--now you've had three." She was referring to Chester's knee, my grandmother's death, and my car breaking down. Well, three is a distant memory. Now I've made it past six bad things and am working on making it to nine. Can someone tell me when, exactly, all this shit is going to end?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

My Gay Cousin

I can't stop thinking about an encounter I had with my gay cousin at my grandmother's funeral. I had never met her before. She's actually my first cousin once removed (for those who haven't memorized the cousin tangle, that means that she is my mother's first cousin [in this case, the daughter of my mother's aunt] and therefore one generation removed from me).

As far as I know, she's my only gay relative. Again, as far as I know. Her name is Carrie and she lives in Florida. My mother mentioned Carrie to me shortly after I came out, but as I had never ever seen Carrie, the news of a gay relative meant very little to me at the time.

Fast forward ten years to now. We were at the part of the funeral process where we were at the cemetary. Regular people were leaving, but family members were hanging back before returning to the church for the reception (or whatever you call the food portion of the day that follows a funeral). I was standing around when Carrie and her mother, my grandmother's sister Alison, started some small talk with me. They mentioned that they were the rarely seen relatives who lived in Florida. This tickled my memory, and as I looked at Carrie, I thought, She's my gay counsin.

So let me go ahead and describe Carrie to you. She's somewhere in her 50's and somewhere around 100 pounds overweight--your basic standard for 50-something year old lesbians. Her skin was dark, dark tan, and her hair was bleached very, very blond. Personally, I can't stand that look, and I don't understand why people (generally from Florida) choose it. If you're curious about what I'm referring to, think about the old, neighbor lady of Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary.

I was curious about why I found the dark skin/light hair combination so disturbing until I figured out that it goes against nature. Look around. The lighter a person's hair is naturally, the fairer their skin. Think about the Scandinavians. They have blond hair and pale skin that fries like an egg in the sun. If you have darker skin, like let's say most Italians, you usually have darker hair. What I'm getting at is that nature never intended for one's hair to be lighter than one's skin. So when you are confronted with this combination, your first response might be (I know mine is), "What the fuck?"

Now, getting one's skin so dark that's it's orange is not an easy task, and there are penalties to pay. Cousin Carrie's skin looked dry and leathery. Also, getting one's hair so blond that it's florescent makes it look brittle and like it is in pain. In other words, even though both Carrie and I are gay, I had the feeling that she wasn't my kind of people.

Later back at the church for food, I was busy socializing with various friends and relatives. I wasn't avoiding Carrie, per se, but I certainly wasn't going out of my way to talk to her either. So what happened? Lo and behold, she came over to the table where the Bread Winner and I were sitting, a miniature photo album in her hand. She sits down and says, "I thought I'd show you some pictures of my family." Okay, there's a room full of people she's probably never seen before, but she's singled us out, and I knew why before she even opened the album. This was going to be her way of outing herself to me.

So we go through the little album of about ten pictures, and when she gets to the money shot (so to speak) she introduces her significant other as her "lover." Ick. I hate that term. I rarely hear anyone use it anymore--it's so 80's--and if someone does use it, it's almost always a gay man. Every time she said something like, "My lover and I...." whatever, I cringed a little bit inside. It was almost as bad as looking at her white blond hair and orange skin.

So that was my gay cousin. She invited me and the Bread Winner down to visit her and her "lover" anytime we wanted. Something tells me I won't be taking her up on the offer...but then again, a free place to stay in Florida in January might just be worth it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Support This

Way back in September 2003, I began my quest to get pregnant. That sounds pretty damning, doesn't it? Like, Oh my god there must be something wrong with you, you've been trying since when? But really, even though it's been a long time, I only tried three, count 'em three, times. And one time doesn't even count as the timing was screwed up leaving virtually no chance of it working. So there. I've proved my case. I tried twice and didn't get pregnant. This is not a tragedy. This does not mean that I have fertility problems. This does not mean that I need...and I feel my skin crawling now...a support group.

Let me take you back, yet again, to fall of 2003. At the same time I was trying to get pregnant, another friend of mine, Carol, was trying to get pregnant. Carol and her partner Angel are good friends of myself and the Bread Winner. We were excited to begin this process together, although secretly, I felt very competitive and desperately wanted to get pregnant before Carol, please, please, let me get pregnant before she does, is that too much to ask? As further evidence that god does not exist, that bitch Carol got pregnant on her second attempt and is now in the third trimester.

Angel called me today, and after offering condolences about my grandmother and discussing various matters here and there, she said, "I wanted to ask you about something. We have some friends who have been trying for a really, really long time without any success. I was talking to them, and they were saying that they wanted to form a support group for other people who have also been having trouble, um, I mean, are involved in the process."

Okay, two points. Point #1) see paragraph 1. Point #2) I almost ripped my ears off of my head when I heard Angel say the words last winter, "Carol is pregnant!" I have this horrible, sinking feeling in my stomach that I will get to know these women, and I will become a magical fertility talisman for them, bringing them instant pregnancy while I send more and more money, month after month, to the sperm bank of my choice. And I think that I'll need my ears down the road someday, although most television shows do come with closed captioning, and I suppose I could make do.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Loose Ends

It seems like the time has come for me to wrap up some loose ends. Even when it seems like the world should be pausing around you, to let you catch your breath and understand what's happening, life goes on. So here are the conclusions to the three storylines of my life that were unfolding before my grandmother died.

I got the editing job. I still don't know what was going on with the whole email thing. The guy who was emailing me was one of the two owners of the small publishing company. The woman I talked to two Fridays ago is my direct supervisor. The "interview" consisted of her telling me what the job entailed and then asking, "Are you still interested?" No questions about me, my experience, or even references. Seems a little risky on their part, but they've got a good one with me, so it'll work out for them. Last week I signed a contract specifying work and payment, and I've already gotten started on the job. As they want someone sarcastic and funny, I like to think I'm a perfect fit. It looks like this will be fun, but of course that remains to be seen, and I reserve the right to bitch about it mercilessly in the future if I feel so inclined.

John Doe finally gave his official answer: No. Although it would have been much cheaper to use him as opposed to buying sperm from a sperm bank, I have to say that it's almost a relief. Now we don't have to worry about the legalities of it, and more importantly, we don't have to worry about his schedule getting in the way of my ovulating. The Bread Winner and I are looking forward to the stability that purchasing frozen sperm offers us. I still have to finish up some paperwork for the sperm bank. As always, I'll keep you informed.

The one other side story that deserves some commentary is that Chester, the Five Thousand Dollar Dog, will have his cast removed tomorrow (Monday). We were looking forward to the end of pet bills when we noticed a lump on Chester's side. Let me explain more: Older dogs tend to get harmless lumps referred to as "fatty tumors" (benign tumors). They don't cause any problems on threaten the dog's life in anyway. All they do is compromise the asthetic quality of the dog. When we got Chester last August, he had a lump on his side, and we've asked our vet about it, and we've always been told that it's probably just a fatty tumor and not to worry about it. Well, like I was saying, the Bread Winner and I noticed a couple of days ago that it looks bigger, and closer examination revealed that the skin of it is purple in color. Uh-oh. I see us shelling out another couple of hundred dollars to get that think taken out in the near future. By the way, have I mentioned that we are seriously considering giving Chester a new name: the Lemon.

I think that wraps up the loose ends that may have been (although probably weren't) causing you all to lose sleep at night.